Monday, July 9, 2012

More Fun at Universal Studios

Day 1

Okay, so besides basking in all kinds of Harry Potter glory at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we also checked out other parts of Universal Studios with our 2-day tickets. We were reluctant at first, almost opting to just go to Harry Potter World twice, but we decided to use our other ticket to explore the other park (you had to choose a park and stick with it). Small it may be, but we could've happily spent two full days in Hogsmeade without a problem.

So, on day 1 there, we spent most of our time at Harry Potter World, as we like to call it (and please, if you haven't already, be sure to enjoy my gigantic post about what we mostly did -- Harry Potter World -- on Day 1). But we spent a little part of that day checking out the rest of the "Islands of Adventure" theme park. About mid-afternoon, Mark went back to the resort to check on Scout and walk with her a bit before rejoining us at the park. So, during that time, the kids and I did a little exploring.

Not gonna lie, we had fun and we found a few gems - Thing 1 got to ride some ridiculously scary rides, including and Incredible Hulk roller coaster and Dr. Doom's Free Fall, we got refreshingly wet on some rides, the kids talked to a magic fountain, we saw some super heroes, and we enjoyed the Spiderman 3D adventure ride -- otherwise, we were missing Harry Potter World, so we pretty much booked it through the rest of the park and high tailed it back to Hogwarts.

 Found this shop and couldn't resist taking a picture

Popeye's spinach makes you strong!

 Love this picture

Our happy family after a MAGICAL adventure

We left the park when it closed, went over to City Walk -- a haven of noise, music, shopping, food, and drinks -- and enjoyed dinner. We got pretty good on this trip at ordering in a way that avoided leftovers. No small feat for us -- usually when we eat out, we get meals and they feed us twice, but on this trip we sometimes would share one appetizer and two meals or something like that anyway. We enjoyed dinner at Pastamore and discovered just how beat we were. We water taxied home, took showers, and went right to bed.
 Leaving City Walk to hit the hay!

Day 2

Children of the 80s, prepare to be saddened . . . 

We got up early the next day, ate granola bars in our room for breakfast, and water taxied over to the Universal Studios Theme Park (there are two: Islands of Adventure --which we did the first day -- and Universal Studios).

 Bright and early on day 2!
OMG, I love our family!!

First person we saw when we got there was LUCY!! I love Lucy. Yeah, I know. It's a little on the nose, but it's true! She was fantastic -- she had all the mannerisms and speech patterns down. I felt like I was really hanging out with Lucy McGillicutty Ricardo.

I told her how our family has visited her hometown of Jamestown, NY (true story) and eaten her favorite rye bread there and her childhood homes and her museum (I didn't mention her grave, though). She played right along. It was so much fun! Made me sad to think of how many kids walked right past her not having any idea who she was. Lucy was a BIG part of my childhood. I was so sad when she died.

We did the Shrek 4D experience and when we exited the theater, we got to visit with them. 
They were hilariously crass.

 Thing 1 rode the Rip Ride Rockit -- this crazy roller coaster that blasts rock music as you ride.
She again did the single rider option a bunch of times since the rest of us are all either chicken or have motion sickness. So, Mark, Thing 2, and I hung out and waited.

 Universal Studios is almost entirely set up as a movie set.

 Another part of the "movie set."

Another part that made me so sad. There used to be a "Back to the Future" ride and now, not only is there not a ride, but the DeLorean -- complete with flux capacitor and Mister Fusion -- was relegated to an out-of-the-way shaded spot in a corner. WHAT?!? Bah.

 Hey, check it out. We're in San Francisco.

This was awesome.

Ah, how they humor me.

 We met a ton of characters - Homer Simpson


 Mark and I saw Woody Woodpecker. I'm telling you, this park is SO dated.

 And there were these really odd, generic film characters. They stared and followed and mimed and were generally more creepy than funny. I don't even think it's what they're supposed to do. I think it's just how the workers keep themselves entertained.

 Oh yeah. They were a little flirtatious, too. But it was creepy. Because they were mimes.

 We saw Marilyn Monroe. Most kids said, "Who's that?"
I'm proud to say that our kids knew just about everyone they saw! We make a point of exposing them to the pop culture of the 80s (and earlier). The only thing that was new to them was knowing more about the Simpsons and we're remedying that.

So, rides/experiences we liked here included Shrek 4D, meeting the characters, the Men in Black ride, the classic E.T. ride (which I'm guessing will soon be demolished) -- and yes, our kids have seen E.T., and the Simpsons ride. 

A note about the Simpsons simulator ride --- it felt VERY real and it was HYSTERICAL. The kids and I loved it. It definitely pushed Mark beyond the limits of what he could handle when it comes to the dizzy factor on rides. He was dizzy for weeks after our trip -- not even kidding. But that ride in particular did not help. As we exited the ride, he was way ahead of us (totally not like him) and I could tell he wasn't feeling great. Even during the ride, I knew it was probably too much. He needed air and water and basically to not ride anymore rides. So, he didn't ride it again, but the kids and I rode it about 4 more times after lunch.

We ate lunch at the world's largest Hard Rock Café

 Back at the Simpsons ride -- it was awesome!

 Mark was happy to hang out and wait for us.

We saw Doc Brown! 
And yes, our kids have seen all of the "Back to the Future" movies.
We homeschool. It's imperative that they have an excellent education.

Thing 1 in front of the aforementioned, crazy rock music roller coaster.
She's crazy. It's like my children are on near-opposite ends on a spectrum. 
She's daring. He's cautious. And I want them to both move a little closer to the middle. :P

After riding rides and generally enjoying ourselves, we called it a day and went back to the resort to lounge by the pool, eat dinner poolside, and generally relax. It was soooooo nice. The Portofino resort was beautiful. Almost felt like we were actually in Italy. Definitely made me really want to go to Italy even more!

 The resort pool - love that it's surrounded by sand!

 The entire feel of the place is Italian.

 Kids playing in the resort pool - water slides, pools, hot tubs. Ahhhh!

 We were happy to relax pool side before joining the kids in the pool 
for games and water slides and then we all enjoyed pizza and salad by the pool, too.

Me and my honey.
While the kids played, Mark and I had a "mini date" 
and played pool by the pool!

 We all went back at the resort and got cleaned up 
and then strolled the piazza with Scout
and enjoyed some delicious gelato!


We left the next morning. More on that in posts to follow . . .


Dave Johnson said...

This all looks like SO MUCH FUN. Especially the Simpsons ride. And you're right - that whole area looks very much like Italy.

Dr. Mark said...

It maks me sad to relive the memory of seeing the Delorean hidden away. And those mimes? Creepy is right! Don't forget how they stopped running after people when they reached the invisible border of their "area" of the park, as if they would turn to dust if they crossed it. I was just glad we could eventually leave them behind.

It also made me sad that I couldn't enjoy the Simpsons ride. It was so incredible. The vertigo still hasn't totally resolved. Whenever I do a few spinning kicks at Tae Kwon Do it all comes back. I think I'm getting old . . . ;)

Emily Foley said...

I love amusement parks. My kids have been watching woody woodpecker on Netflix lately so I'll be sure to show them your picture!

Those "thing" shirt pictures cracked me up!

Do you know Dave has never seen an episode of I Love Lucy? Crazy.

Emily Foley said...

Mark, should we start calling you Lucille 2?

Dr. Mark said...

Lucille 2? Um, no.

Boquinha said...

Ewww, Mark, I'd forgotten that. Creepy indeed. Also? That sucks that you're still dealing with the dizziness from the trip!

Em, that IS crazy! It's such a great show and it's ALWAYS on, somewhere in the world, at any given time. True fact.