Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | August 8, 2011

Baby, Let’s Cruise Away From Here: Journal Entry # 9

Well, this will be my last entry for this trip; I head back to Canada tomorrow morning, bright and early, and though I’m not quite heading to Yellowknife yet, I’m not planning to journal while visiting family.  So this is it until next time, kids!

Today, we took the shuttle and made it to Universal Studios, where the Island of Adventure was our theme park of choice because, of course, that is where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter happens to be. We had to walk through a couple of other areas to get to “Hogsmeade”, and it was a little crowded, but it would get much, much more crowded once we were in Hogsmeade.  The parks are amazing – we went through the Dr. Seuss area to start, and it was so colourful and happy.  Then through the Lost Continent with its mountains and fountains, and into Hogsmeade.

Hogwarts in Orlando!

I think the Harry Potter area is the most popular, crowded part of the park, even at early hours of the morning.  But it felt incredible and magical from the time I first stepped in and heard the swell of the music. We stopped at the owlery and bought some postcards.  We wrote them on the spot, on benches under where the owls sit on the roof.   The details are incredible: there was even fake owl poop on the rafters!

By the time we were done our postcards, the line to get through the shop had stretched to over an hour’s wait.  We decided we wanted to go to the castle, but the tour through is attached to a ride.  It was a 90 minute wait, and I was really nervous, especially with the warning signs for motion sickness and heart issues. Still, DW urged me on, as there were children in front of me going.  I’d handled rappelling and ziplining, she reminded me, so I had to suck it up and go on the ride.

The wait was really long, and I am glad it was morning, because it was quite hot in the areas that weren’t sheltered.  Still, there were some fans and places like the greenhouse (complete with mandrakes and devil’s snare!) were covered.  In the castle, we got to walk through dimly lit halls to areas with the talking portraits (including the fat lady to represent the Gryffindor common room!) and Dumbledore’s office, before Harry, Ron and Hermione (in video form) sent us to our ride.

The ride had us sit in these chairs of four and get clipped in, and they swung around through a few rooms, including some with screens so that it was like we were flying on brooms.  Some areas were more “live action”, like when we flew through the Forbidden Forest and a dragon breathed steam on us, then there were acromantulas (which I did not like, because giant spiders, ack!), the whomping willow, and even dementors.  We were tipped in all directions and the screens really made it seem like we were flying (even through a quidditch match!).  I had so much fun – I kept laughing (except with the spiders, when I closed my eyes).  Ironically, DW did not like the ride at all.  She kept her eyes closed most of the time, and was actually shaking at the end.

The rides here are a little more my speed.

After the ride, we went through the gift shop, so I bought a few (more) souvenirs.  Then we got some water and went to lunch at the three broomsticks. To be honest, the fish and chips weren’t great (some of the other meals did look better though) and everything in the park is expensive, but the Butterbeer was really good. Really, really good.  We did a little more wandering in Hogsmeade afterward, then went to the Jurassic Park area, which was much less crowded.  We didn’t go on any rides and I didn’t find a stegosaurus to take my picture with, but I did find a triceratops.  Then we decided to go back to the Dr. Seuss area, which DW joked was a little more her speed.  (Or maybe she wasn’t joking?  She really didn’t like the Harry Potter ride!)

We went on the Cat in the Hat ride, which had only a 15 minute wait.  The wait was also in an air conditioned area, which was much needed at that point.  The ride was pretty fun, taking us through the book with some spinning but nothing too dizzying.  Next we went on the carousel (10 minutes wait), then we had a pretzel, before waiting in line for the Dr. Seuss train ride (35 minute wait).  If I ever go again, I’m getting in a little earlier (a bit more time with less people) and shelling out for the express pass.

We nipped back to Hogsmeade because I had to pick up a few more items for friends, and we wanted one last Butterbeer. The shop was really full, but I did find my souvenirs. Also, as I noticed when I got out, the jostling of my purse over my buttons meant my shirt had come undone almost to my navel, which I hope my tie concealed enough that no one noticed because it is awkward enough when you aren’t in a crowded children’s park.

A delicious skein of butterbeer!

By this time, we’d been in the park almost 7 hours, and we decided it was time to head back to the hotel.  Especially me.  I was tired and hot and I’d been carting around some pretty heavy bags most of the day.  It was really, really great, though, and I’m so glad I went.  And given how much I hate noise and crowds, of which there were plenty, it is a pretty good testament of how much I really liked it.  I think I’ll get some amazing pictures (standing outside Hogwarts’ castle entrance was incredible and the detail everywhere was just impeccable) and can’t wait to post them.

The rest of the night has been pretty uneventful; watching television in the room, dinner (our eyes were bigger than our stomachs), packing.  We’ve got a very early morning tomorrow (5 a.m. so we can taxi to the airport at 5:30 a.m., and Florida is two hours ahead of the time zone we’re heading to) so soon I’ll not only have to sign off but head to bed.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this trip, because I’ve certainly enjoyed taking it!

Until the next adventure!

Bonus:  The Top Ten Things I Will Have to Get Used to Post-Holiday

10 – Being able to walk without worrying about falling over the side of the boat.

9   – Calories start counting again, so no more justifying dessert with every meal.

8   – Dinners don’t come in four courses.

7  – However many courses dinner comes in, I’m probably going to have to make them.

6  – The only towel shape is flat rectangle.*

5  – If I want to get into a bed with hospital corners, I’m going to have to make mine.

4  – That “no one knows me, who cares?” freedom.

3  –  No daily adventures; instead, working.

2  –  Saving, not spending, money.

And the #1 thing I’m going to have to get used to, post-holiday:

1  – Snow.


*Except at my grandparents’ house – I arrived in Wetaskiwin, my grandma showed me to the guest room, where she’d made up a towel elephant to welcome me, having read my journal entries on Facebook and googled how!

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