Is that Harry? Harry Potter?

It’s Day 2 and we’re all meeting up to have breakfast together before heading off to Universal Studios. I made sure to be up early so I could make a run to Walgreen’s before the others got here. I needed to get some big band aids to cover my big blisters. Hopefully that will get me through the walking we will have to do today.

When Joe and company arrived at my condo we put their luggage in my suite and then took my car to Shoney’s for the breakfast buffet. I’d never been to Shoney’s but I’d heard of it. I think it’s more of a southern chain. The buffet was quite varied and certainly filling. I think we all were fully fueled for the day. 

Once we arrived at Universal and parked we had to make our way to the gates. It seems like you have to walk forever to get from Universal’s Parking area to the park. No busses, trams or trains here just the occasional moving sidewalk. Then another long walk through a section of push carts and vendors. Once the gates come in sight you prepare yourself to stand in line.

Entering the Islands of Adventure

The line wasn’t too bad. There was a gate attendant working the line taking out anyone paying with credit cards so it made the whole line move faster. I had a voucher for the 4 of us so we had to wait but once at the window I was treated very nicely and the ticketing process went smoothly and quickly. Islands of Adventure here we come.

Entering the Islands of Adventure

The big draw for us all was the Harry Potter Ride

First Glimpse of Hogwarts

and even though we wanted to make a bee line for it we did detour long enough to take the Spiderman ride.

Inside Spiderman attraction

 It’s been updated since I was there in 2010.  You really feel the heat! That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is planning a visit.

Good Guy or Villian?

Outside of Spiderman we passed a Super villian…I think he was a villan…signing autographs. Then the little comic section ..Gasoline Alley, Beetle Bailey and there was Boris and Natasha.

Those two villains from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show are two of my favorites! There was also a Dudley Do-Right ride with a run-away log shooting down the flume.

A bronze Popeye was a popular spot for  photos.

Popeye the Sailorman

Then we entered Jurassic Park but to our disappointment most of the attraction was shut down.

 We lingered for a few photos but for the most part followed the winding path through the prehistoric era to enter the mystical world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter.

Any true Potter fan will feel their heart start beating faster when you first see the entry to Hogsmeade with its snow covered roofs and crooked chimneys with the majesty of the Castle that is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looming over it all.

It may stand back but it is still the prime showcase of the attraction.

Today the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang and a young woman from Gryffindor are standing in the square between Hogswarts and Hogsmeade allowing  the “muggles ” to take pictures with them. 

 We turned left and headed to the castle. It was time for THE RIDE.

I caused the first delay. Having been here before I knew we couldn’t bring any large objects but I had seen many people with Point and Shoot cameras so I had mine in a small shoulder bag. I was stopped at the gate told to put it in a locker. I tried to refuse but was told I couldn’t ride unless I left it behind. The lockers were packed with other people who were being forced to leave their belongings behind and only one attendant to assist. He was clearly overwhelmed.

First the computer said there were no open lockers. The when I saw one become available and grabbed it, the computer assigned me a different locker. I couldn’t reopen the one I’d snagged to get my bag back out. I had to wait for the harried attendant to get to me to cancel the previous transactions and let me request another locker. I don’t know how long it took but it seemed like forever, especially since  my 3 friends refused to go one without me.

The line itself moved fairly quickly. As the  horticulturist  among us, Tim was appalled at the condition of the plants in the greenhouses that lead up to the castle. Once inside the queue moved almost too fast. You never got to see the scenes play out, from Dumbledor’s speech in his office to Harry, Hermione and Ron explaining what the ride was about. (Sneaking us muggles out of the castle to play Quidditch)

As we passed through the various halls the pictures on the walls moved and offered commentary  and then we were there ; stepping onto the moving sidewalk and getting plunked quickly into a seat. In an instant an attendant was there locking you in with a heavy bar that really restricts your movements. I would think if you were prone to claustrophobia that about now you’d be going crazy but almost immediately after the lock down you’re off!

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You are swept up and away , twisting , turning and dodging. There are huge spiders and tons of dementors. You weave between the flailing branches of the Whomping Willow. You are riding a broom and dodging fire-breathing dragons, swooping over the spires of Hogwarts following close on Harry’s heels as he encourages you to keep up. And then as fast as it started it’s over.

In my case I staggered off the moving sidewalk and waited for my heart rate to come back to normal. Everyone else was off and as exhilarated as I . The exit took us back to the lockers where I retrieved my camera and we headed back to Hogsmeade to explore the little town and have some lunch.

Much better to eat after the ride…not before ! 🙂

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