Need to catch up? Read about Day 1 and Day 2 here.
This was it. The big day had finally arrived. It was Universal Studios Islands of Adventure day, or as my kids like to call it "Harry Potter Land" day.
Julie, especially, is a huge Harry Potter fan. She has read all the books several times and watched all the movies. She's played on the Pottermore website and loves the Lego Harry Potter video games on both the XBOX and her DSi. For over a year now she has been waiting and anticipating visiting Islands of Adventure and going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The rest of us love Harry Potter too.
Julie just loves him more.
Unlike the two previous days, on this day we woke early and got to the park an hour before it opened. We weren't the first people in line, but we were close. As a true type-A personality, I had researched the park and knew that the Harry Potter part fills up early. Everyone goes there first then goes to visit the rest of the park later in the day. So our strategy was to do all the other stuff in the park while all the crowds were in the Wizarding World, then go see Harry Potter Land a little later when it was less crowded. That strategy kinda worked. We were just so excited about the Harry Potter part that we couldn't stand to wait too long to go there.
We started out on the Hulk roller coaster. Tim and I had to do the child-swap option because David wasn't tall enough - poor kid. Julie got to ride it twice, once with each parent. She absolutely loved it. Tim and I liked it but came off with a headache so it made it a little less fun. Then we did the Spiderman ride - absolutely phenomenal. We rode that one again later in the day. It's one of those rides that combines a moving car with 3D images on big screens. We all liked that one. Julie and I rode Doctor Doom's freefall. It was fun but kind of anticlimactic. I was expecting it to be scary but it wasn't at all. Tim and David were very interested in the Marvel stores and all the cool comic book paraphernalia they could buy there.
|Spiderman happened to be in his store when we got there and|
we had an impromptu picture made with him.
|Spidey riding away with Wolverine.|
|Hanging out in Wolverine's claw.|
|The Hogwarts express|
|We're finally in Hogsmeade!|
We visited Zonko's joke shop and Honeyduke's Candy store. Then it was on to the wand shop. If you just wanted to buy a wand, you could go directly into the shop. If you wanted to see the magical wand presentation, you had to stand in line 45 minutes. Our kids wanted to see the magical wand presentation. They let in about 30 people at a time and they only pick 2 to take part in the presentation. Our children were not picked. But it was still a cool presentation - drawers move, magical little sounds and lights come on. It was fun.
Then our kids got to go into the store and pick a wand. They give out wands by birthdays but since both Julie and David are June babies, Julie picked a different month's wand so we could tell them apart. Tim decided he needed Dumbledore's wand.
At $35 a pop, they are making a fortune in that store.
We rode the Dragon Challenge dueling roller coasters. Well, Julie and I did anyway. It rattled you around a lot and I wasn't a huge fan, but the styling of the queue was pretty cool. It was from the fourth book where Harry competes in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
We got to eat lunch at The Three Broomsticks. I think it was some of the best food we had all week. They had real food - roasted chicken, fish, lemonade - you know, the good stuff. It was jam packed but they did a great job of finding tables for people. I was impressed with that place.
In Hogsmeade, the kids also made their biggest purchases of the trip. For this trip we told our children that they needed to save up their own money to spend. Julie saved up $250 and David had $150. The only things I bought them were pin lanyards, a Lego board (for David) and an ornament (for Julie). Everything else was up to them. So they each decided to get these.
Hogwarts robes. $110 each. Yes, you read that right. They decided to spend almost ALL of their money on robes and a wand. As much we we tried to discourage them, it was their money. I strongly believe your children need to be able to make mistakes with their money now so they can learn for the future. Better to waste $100 now then to waste $10,000 later in life. They both still say they were glad they made that purchase, however David was very wistful in the Lego store later when he didn't have money left to buy anything. Needless to say, these are their Halloween costumes this year.
While in Hogsmeade we also rode one of David's funnest rides of the trip, Flight of the Hippogriff. It's a little roller coaster that was more his size. I loved to see his grin and hear him yell "This is totally awesome!" into the wind. I love to see my children happy.
This is getting to be an incredibly long post so I will sum it up here. Universal Islands of Adventure was great! It had fast roller coasters as well as great theming. There were rides that each of us loved there. It wasn't my favorite park of the trip but it was a close second. For Julie it was her absolute favorite.
We ended up leaving about 5 and getting dinner at the resort. Of course that was after we had Cinnabons and ice cream in the park for snacks. Nothing like thoroughly ruining your dinner because you are on vacation. And just because you can.
Onto Day 4.