Friday we went to Universal Studios with Bing, my sister, my brother-in-law and their three kids. This was our Christmas present from my parents. For a family of Harry Potter nerds, this was the BEST Christmas present ever! I’ve talked here in the past about Universal. I don’t handle 3D rides very well, so it’s never been my favorite theme park. That’s all changed.
We, of course, picked the only rainy day of the week to go to the parks. But the morning started off with nice temperatures, high 60’s and just some clouds. The older “kids” in the group started their day off with the Hulk roller coaster. I’ve been on the ride several times and opted to stay with the younger crowd. They rode some horrifying cartoon version of the tea cups. Next, everyone but me and my niece, Jesse, and Ian, who was wishing he hadn’t had a big breakfast before going on the Hulk, went on the Spider Man ride. Jesse and I scouted for snacks, hoping for an open ice cream shop, but settling for some very expensive chips and drinks. We left Ian flopped on a bench semi-moaning.
Once everyone was sufficiently nauseated from Spider Man, we headed to Jurassic Park for the water ride. It was still warm at this point and it seemed okay if we got a little wet. Fun ride. A little intense for young kids, as witnessed by the poor couple sitting behind us with a 5 and 7 year old who were terrified. A little drippy, we headed into Harry Potter world.
To say I love the Harry Potter books is such an understatement. The whole thing is a mix of great stories and lots of good memories for me. I actually thought I might cry as we walked into the venue. It was perfect. So perfect. And, like they were waiting for me, the Beaux Baton girls and Durmstrang boys were doing their act when we entered. I am pretty sure I squealed. Mike, who is the only one in the family who is not intimately familiar with all things Harry Potter, plowed through like nothing was happening – we lost him for a while. The rest of us gawked and oohed and ahhed over the details in everything. Behind me in the picture is Hermione’s dress from the fourth movie – can you say WEE? I could wear that thing as a garter. Still, it was neat to see it real life.
It was really fun because there were people all over from everywhere. Ian spotted our first manpri of the day. He was speaking French. Manpri’s are the equivalent of wearing a speedo in the US – sure they might be comfy, but … There was a Brazilian girls soccer team that was having a great time. There were people from Israel, the UK, Japan, Germany and those are just the languages I could recognize. And, every single one of them was a Harry Potter nerd. People had t-shirts, gowns, caps, scarves, wands, you name it.
The little shops, while very, very expensive, were beautifully detailed and full of all kinds of fun stuff to see. Hogsmeade was perfect from the snow on the roofs to the crooked chimneys to Ollivander’s Wand store. (I’m ready to go back!) Butter beer is delicious – it’s very sweet – I don’t know that I could drink a full glass, but it was yummy. Like a very vanilla-y creme soda but less fuzzy and the foam is amazing – not sure how that works. That’s Andy and Ian in the picture. Dan and Tim had fizzy Pumpkin juice with lunch and they loved it. I just couldn’t go there.
The younger kids loved the Hippogriff roller coaster. Dueling Dragons, the bigger, scarier roller coaster, actually had Mike skipping and jumping up and down to go on again and again. I really thought he was going to start hugging strangers, he was that happy with the ride. The coolest thing, though, was Hogwarts Castle.
The line for the ride is a trip through Hogwarts and die-hard fans will not be disappointed. The park was not crowded while we were there. Usually, that’s a great thing. In this instance, however, it would have been nice to go through the castle at a slower pace. There was so much to see – talking portraits, ghosts, Dumbledore’s office and so much more. It was really cool.
Now comes the stoopid part . . . I KNOW I cannot handle 3D. Heck, I can’t even handle sitting in the back seat of a car if the ride lasts more than 10 minutes. But, I really, really, really wanted to see the whole thing. Danny, who had already been to HP world, assured me it wasn’t that bad. Danny is a liar. If you are remotely prone to motion sickness, skip the ride. Trust me.
My first instinct as the attendant was lowering the shoulder bar over me was to say, “Wait, I cannot do this,” and get off the ride. But I ignored my instincts. Stupid is as stupid does. About 3 seconds in, my mom and Mike, who were sitting on either side of me, were shouting “Amy! Close your eyes!” I did and I spent the rest of the ride in a clammy sweat, praying for death or an end to the ride. Luckily, the ride ended. I was sweating and sick and in a panic. It wasn’t pretty.
Of course, the ride lets out into a gift shop. During our visit to the castle, it had begun pouring rain. The gift shop was packed with people buying ponchos (think $8 garbage bags) and trying to stay dry. As a rule, I do not shove strangers out of my way. Friday, I made an exception. All I could think was “Please God, do not let me throw up on some poor unsuspecting stranger.” People yelled at me, but I made it safely outside into the freezing rain and I just stood there breathing and breathing.
Eventually, Mike found me. I must have been absolutely ghastly pale, because Mike was freaked out. But, I felt better – the upside to cold rain! We went to the Three Broomsticks for lunch. Not bad for a theme park restaurant. And, it was warm and dry. AND, it was the Three Broomsticks!!!! There was, again, so much detail. If you’re not that into the books you might not be as impressed, but I loved it. We were all wet and I was soaked through after my nausea-induced rain dance. We stayed for a long time eating and watching the kids dare Bing to eat yet another mysterious Bertie Bott’s Bean. Even after an ear wax AND a vomit, she kept trying them. My mom is a brave hero. Ugh!
We spent the rest of the afternoon on rides and looking at everything and fuh-reezing!!!!! The rain never let up and we were damp and cold and cold. Everyone kept going. We had to leave to get home to get things ready for the Eagle Scout do on Saturday. Lynne, Paul, the kids and my mom weren’t far behind us. I don’t think there were ever people more grateful for a warm car in their lives! (Dan and Ian are actually not as miserable as they appear in the picture. I just stuck it in because it was funny.)
Luckily, we have 2-day passes, so we’ll be going back within the next two months. I can hardly wait.