Thursday, December 2, 2010

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure ~ Florida

We spent our last day of our vacation with my two sisters and their families at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando.  We had the most amazing time!  Boo really, really enjoyed the Dr. Seuss World.  Here they are on the Caro-Seuss-sel. 

The highlight of the day would most certainly be "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" for the older girls.  Punkin has waited since last summer when the attraction opened to be able to go.  I think the best part of the day for me (other than being with my sisters and our families) was seeing my Punkin's perpetual smile throughout the day.  Sometimes this can be a rare thing at age 15.

Here we are on "The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride".  We also enjoyed the Cat in the Hat ride.  Pardon the quality of some of the pictures here - I used my point and shoot camera at times, and I decided on this trip that it's almost not even worth it.  UNLESS you are in full sun, then the camera works great.  But, it captured the moment and thats what counts.

Kirsten and her cousin Casey were absolutely in heaven! They are both avid Harry Potter fans.   We are a little behind the craze since Kirsten never really had much interest in reading the books until recently.  (Combined with the fact that I had some pretty big issues with her reading about withcraft, sorcery, wizards and such.)  But she is at an age where she is able to discern and choose for herself what she can read.  She reads just about anything she can get her hands on.  I recently started reading the books too, and I have to say they really are great stories.   They are truly "The Wizard of Oz" of our times.  They are certainly destined to be classics.  I have only read the first two, but after reading them and realizing they really are aimed at a very young audience (the first few anyway), I decided to let Banana start reading them.  She had such a great time dressed as Hermione, and I'm glad she was "clued in" before we enjoyed our day there.

Hannah-Banana and her cousin Austin have become great buddies in the last few years.

Tasting the ever-popular Pumpkin Juice.  It was very yummy! It tasted like Pumpkin Pie.  The girls really didn't care for it much though.  They much preferred the Butter Beer - (which is like butterscotch cream soda - so yummy!)

In front of Hogwart's Express - if you aren't familiar with the stories - this is how the student's get to Hogwart's Castle, that is, after walking through the wall between platforms 9 and 10, AKA, Platform 9 3/4.

Here you can plainly see that Boo and Daddy weren't nearly as impressed with the place like the older girls and I were.  You definitely need to be familiar with the stories for it to have much meaning.  Although - my favorite part was the ride "Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey".  I'm really not a huge fan of any type of ride, especially roller coasters.  But this one was impressive.  It was a combination of a roller coaster, an IMAX type movie experience, and I can't even explain it.  Their website explains it like this ... Make your way through the familiar classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Then soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter™ and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with magical creatures! This amazing new attraction uses groundbreaking technology (and a little magic) to create a one-of-a-kind ride experience.

There's that smile again!!

And the highlight of the day was certainly this - after a tag-team effort of standing in a two-hour line to enter Ollivander's Wand Shop, my Hannah was selected from the crowd to take part in the "wand experience".  (I think it had something to do with the great costume her buddy had loaned her for the day!).  This picture below is terrible, but I love the look on Hannah's awe-struck face when Ollivander approached her and then said "follow me".  I love the look on her cousin's face too!

Again - you would need to know the story for this to have meaning, but when a Hogwart's student goes to the wand shop to get his wand, the wand chooses the wizard, instead of the wizard choosing the wand. 

The famous Ollivander measured Hannah, just like Harry, and she tried several wands - all with distrastrous results!  Finally, the perfect wand chose her, a wand of reed, with dragon heartstring, 11.5 inches.

(It was almost completely dark in here, which is why the pictures look so terrible - stinky point and shoot camera).

With authentic Ollivander's Wand Shop dust on it!!

This sign cracked me up - there were so many details everywhere.

The famous Sorting Hat inside Hogwart's.

This picture is so funny - my sister Karen was feeding all her "peeps" Dippin Dots - they were all standing there saying "chirp chirp chirp".

The 3D Spider Man ride was great!

Our last night together we enjoyed "The Fila".... mmmmm

waking up a tuckered out Boo to begin our long ride home back to MD!
Punkin "I don't wanna leave!!!"

Great memories!!


Karen said...

Looking at E in the bed makes my back hurt! That was such an awesome day! So many good memories and the kids will remember it forever and ever. So will I!

Carrie said...

Oh, how fun!! Love that last photo - the sky is breathtaking!! :)

Unknown said...

What a wonderful place and it looks like you had an awesome time! I love the Harry Potter books so it was great seeing all your pictures :-)

Caseybumpinalong said...

Great pictures!! You have me all psyched to go to Universal. I love Harry Potter books and that wand shop is wonderful!! Can't wait to check it out.


Mollie and I are drooling...

Nana said...

I may never get the HP fever, but looks like you had lots of fun. Glad the weather was perfect. Lots of great memories made.

Tessa said...

We are hoping to go next October when we visit my Dad. Looking at your photos made me even more excited!!!! I'm dreaming about the Butter Beer and can't wait to take Isabelle. Great photos, thanks for sharing!!!