Our first day off of Disney property today. Universal Studios Islands of Adventure was the destination and everyone was very excited. We grabbed some bottled water and some bagels from the food court for the day and ordered an Uber to take us. The car that turned up couldn’t have been any better, it was a proper American Ford pickup driven by a guy called Dwight. The journey was 15 minutes and Dwight did not stop chatting to us about anything and everything, he was a WWE fan and was trying to get tickets for Wrestlemania the next day as he had a buddy that worked there and was trying to sort them out, we told him we were going along and he was happy for us. He was originally from Ohio and had a 60 acre flower farm that he and his wife used to run but they sold up 3 and a half years ago and moved to Orlando as his wife always wanted to work at Disney, turns out she worked in the office at the Boathouse restaurant where we had eaten a couple of days before. Since moving to Orlando he has worn shorts and flip flops every single day! Dwight was brilliant, the perfect driver for our journey, I already miss Dwight!!
We got through security and scanned our tickets, Stacey had made a plan of what things needed to be done at the park and first on the list was the main Harry Potter ride so we headed straight for Hogsmeade. All the Harry Potter stuff was right at the other side of the park so we passed by Marvel world and King Kong. We got to the ride and there was a queue of around 15 minutes so we parked up the buggy and joined on the end. I went on with the kids first whilst Stacey waited with Flo in the parent swap area. The ride was amazing, definitely the best thing we’ve been on so far this holiday. We left the ride and met with Stacey and Flo who were in a room waiting, a much better way of doing it than with Disney. It was my turn to sit with Flozza whilst Stacey went on with the kids, at the last minute Leila-Rae decided that she didn’t want to go on again so Stacey and Jacob were flying solo. Stacey loved it and agreed that it was the best ride so far. We got out of Hogwarts and as soon as we went outside there was another Potter themed ride called Flight of the Hippogriff, Florence was tall enough to go on this one so she went in a cart with Stacey whilst I was with Leila and Jacob was alone in one. The ride only lasted about 90 seconds but it was very fast for a 2 year old and Stacey was holding on to Flo as if her life depended on it, Florence did not like it either!
We had a meander around Hogsmeade and browsed the shops, Jacob and Leila both bought themselves some sweets from Honeydukes. We posed for a few photos then headed off to Seuss Landing where Flo wad able to go on a few of the smaller rides there as well as get some photos with the Lorax which she has recently just watched. We didn’t have any fast passes for Universal as the price for them was ludicrous so we had a few things we wanted to do and were prepared to queue for them, we did have an app that told us the queuing times for each ride that was updated live so we were keeping a close eye on it. We went through the World of Marvel and had a look in a few shops before deciding to queue for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. We queued for around 20 minutes and we were two people from the front before an announcement came over the tannoy saying that there was an issue with the ride and they would be sorting it out. We probably waited for another ten minutes or so which whilst was a pain happened to coincide with the full time results of the 3pm kick offs back home and even better than that was Spurs won away at Burnley 2-0 and Chelsea lost at home to Palace 2-1, couldn’t have gone any better. As soon as the announcement came that we could go back on the ride the whole place started cheering, as we were so close to the front Stacey and the kids were on the ride within 5 minutes whilst I waited with Flo in the parent swap room. They all came in 10 minutes later absolutely drenched, I was understandably hesitant but had no time to protest as the kids led me off to get on the ride. I’ve never been so wet on a theme park ride, head to toe drenched to the skin the kids loved it though and the ride was great fun, we didn’t stay wet for too long as the weather was extremely hot and the sun dried us out.
Next on the list was the Jurassic Park section. We got there and sat on a wall to eat our lunch. We bought cream cheese bagels and mini cheddars with us which were great, everyone kept quite and no one complained so a definite win! The queue for the Jurassic Park ride was about 25 minutes so we joined it and it moved quickly enough. The ride was fun but nothing overly special, the effects were great though and Jacob worried that actual dinosaurs may attack us, I’m pleased to report they did not! The kids all had a play in a park for a while whilst Stacey and I sat on some rocks. We moved on and walked through the Jurassic Park section checking out the shops and taking photos with various dinosaur themed things. We again ended up in Hogsmeade and we decided to go to Ollivander’s Wand Shop for a wand demonstration. We were led in to the shop by some wizards in full robes and told to stand in a row with tallest at the back and shortest at the front, the room went quiet and a wizard came down the stairs and told us about Oliviander’s shop. He picked a girl out of the people in the shop and picked a wand for her, every wand he picked for her made something bad happen in the shop until the music changed and the lights dimmed and he picked a certain wand from one of the shelves, he explained not that the wizard chooses the wand but the wand chooses the wizard, the little girl was blown away, her parents not so much when it turns out that if she wanted to keep said wand she it would have to be purchased for 53 bucks, her parents had no choice!
Florence had fallen asleep at this point so I waited outside for her whilst Jacob, Leila and Stacey looked around the wand shop, I knew that Jacob would come out with a wand it was just a matter of which one! Whilst I was waiting outside with Florence asleep in the buggy we sought out some shade under a parasol alongside a Hogsmeade shop, it was at this point that a sleeping Flo had a near death experience at the hands of a crazy huge woman on an out of control mobility scooter. I had literally just moved the buggy round 90 degrees to shade her from the sun better when all of a sudden the buggy next to us went flying, I looked over and there was this woman on a mobility scooter going full whack in to everything in her path including the parasol and a Universal hire buggy which someone had left outside whilst they were in a shop, they had bought wands and these went everywhere as well as everything else hanging on the buggy. I asked the woman what the hell she thought she was playing at and what on earth was going on (or something along those lines in my fury) and she was as unapologetic as she could have been, she barely even acknowledged that she had done anything wrong and was more concerned that she might have hurt herself, unbelievable. A couple of passers by helped out putting things back where they should have been with me along with a member of staff who were all as gobsmacked as I was. With my heart pounding I went and followed the woman for a bit for which I have no idea why but it made me calm down before I found Stacey and the big kids again. I told them what had happened but I’m not sure they understood the severity of it as they were all relatively disinterested! As predicted Jacob bought himself a wand, not just any wand though, an interactive wand that allowed him to do things around the park with it. He immediately headed for a shop where you had to trace the latter M in the window which made the water stop flowing, he was pleased with his wizarding skills and wondered when he would be asked to attend Hogwarts.
After all the excitement we made our way to the exit as everyone was getting tired and the weather wasn’t getting any cooler. We checked out a few shops on the way out and took some photos too. We ordered an Uber and were picked up by Yaser in his Honda Accord, he chatted the normal chit chat and was nice enough, turns out he was from Jerusalem, never met anyone from Jerusalem before so thats another tick off the list of life, Yaser was no Dwight though, no one could live up to Dwight’s standards. We got back to our resort and grabbed some food from the quick service which we all wolfed down, we even had pudding treats, the bog kids and I had ice cream sandwiched which is basically two bloody great cookies with a load of ice cream in-between. None of us managed to finish any of them but they were awesome! The kids went in the pool for a bit and played with some Americans before we headed to our room for some much needed sleep. Jacob and I have a HUGE day tomorrow with the small matter of Wrestlemania 33 and we are both extremely excited about it