Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Universal Studios

Continuation of our 20 Child-free Days adventures took us to Universal Studios. "Wait a minute..." you are thinking "you said you did things Ashley does not enjoy." For adventuresome as our girl is, and for as much as she loves Disney, she does not like roller coasters. Don won two tickets to Universal Studios through Comcast (NBC and Comcast merged a couple of years ago, bringing Universal Studios along for the ride). We were thrilled to learn they were true park hopper passes, meaning we could ride the Hogwarts Express. Score!

When the merger first took place, he scored four one park tickets to the park, and we went with Masumi and Hiroko (and Ashley). Back in January 2012, we wanted to see the new Harry Potter land, the Hogwarts Express was still a dream. 

Fast forward to July 2015. We started in the "other" Universal Studios park (Universal Studios instead of Islands of Adventure). It was pouring as we parked our car, typical Florida thunderstorm, so I left the big camera in the car. 

I was Don's "plus one." He entered the turnstile, and had to press his finger to prove it was really him returning. I could only re-enter with him. We left and returned about five times during the day (what is the sense of having a park hopper, if you don't hop parks?). Each time the person at the gate handled it differently -- some needed ID, some got flustered and just let us pass, one asked for my ticket. It was comical to see what combination would arise next.

I'll spare you the boring parts of the day, and post some pictures of the Hogwarts Express.

The "theming" is worthy of Disney.

You know me and my "lizards"

You walk through a "wall" to get to Platform 9 3/4

Inside you are seated in a compartment that barely fits 8 people. Once the ride starts, they show you a movie that makes you feel as if you are being transported alongside Harry and his friends. Of course we had to do the return trip, too. Yes, they show a different movie as you return to "London."

Other highlights of the day were seeing characters:

Marilyn was a major flirt. She made sure all of the men left with smiles on their faces. It was quite entertaining to watch the men trip over themselves to be in a picture with her. When it came to our turn, she surprised me by talking to me more than to Don.

When we started to stand in line, Fiona and Donkey were with Shriek. They all left when it rained, and only Shrek returned.

We did a lot of walking around, and riding coasters. They have some rides, such as Hurricane, where they will not let you go on it with anything extra. They do provide free lockers for up to 80 minutes, which made us a little nervous when the ride broke down. Do the lockers just open up at that point? The ride itself was not that serious. My purse would have been fine. We secured the hats in Don's cargo shorts. A little unnecessary stress at the end, though, when the locker would not open up for Don (he used his finger for identification). We also saw a couple of 4-D movies (Shrek and Minions).

A little better planning (i.e., figuring out what to do for dinner) and we would have stayed for the light show at 9:45. Instead, we left at 9 to forage for food. No matter how good it is, theme park food is never THAT great.

One bonus for the day -- the park was filled with Xfinity hot spots so I could text Ashley throughout the day. Yes, I know I need to go into the 21st century and get a phone that can do that. It was fun being able to stay connected to her throughout the day.

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