Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Islands of Adventure

Today was the day we were all overly excited for! ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE! We have visited this park a few times already but this would be the first time now that it had the Harry Potter section added to it.

Again, we were up bright and early. We arrived at the park around 8am. Apparently the also do their version of 'magic hours' and let guests of their hotels (I didn't realize they had one) and certain employee's of related companies enter the park an hour earlier. Well they actually did let us enter the park but we could only get past the first little concession area. They had roped everything off leading to the different 'islands'. Then on top of all that, they knew most people would be heading to the Harry Potter section, but instead of corralling people around the short way, they made us go around the long way. Past the Marvel Comics, Toon Town and Jurassic Park areas. Eventually they allowed us to move farther into the park but then once we past Toon Town, they had it roped off AGAIN and wouldn't let us pass. It was really strange. But we were one of the first 20 or so people in line so we knew it would be alright. Finally around 9am, they remove the rope and I tell the kids to stick close because people as a group are idiots and I would worried they'd get trampled to death. It was a semi-mad dash to get there. Poor Cassie was NOT feeling it. In fact, it pretty much put us all in a kinda foul mood the way it was all handled. I mean, I can understand why they do it that way but then you have the idiots who run, pushing you out of the way to they can be one of the first people to get there. Which I don't understand. We're all gonna ride the ride, and you know you're gonna have to wait so why in the world do you have to be jerks about it?

Making our way in...




There's the castle and that's where we're headed!

The Lost Continent...

Seuss Landing...



Slowly walking towards our next waiting point...


We round the bend and THERE IT IS!

ANYWAY, we finally make our way to Hogwarts Castle and it is AMAZING! I swear, it felt like we were literally IN the movie! Once you enter the que for the ride, you are immediately taken to a locker area where you absolutely have to put all your belongings (handbags, cameras, packages, etc) in these 'only free for 30 min' lockers, pay for them (because you know you'll be in there much longer than 30mins) using your credit card and then proceed to the line again. It was mad chaos trying to figure things out. With so many people there and most of us trying to figure out how to work the lockers (it's all electronic where you have to use the little kiosk that assigns you locker to you and then you have to go and try and find that locker), it was turning out to be stressful! In fact, Cassie and I had a slight blow up at each other which once we got out of there, I felt horrible for and apologized about. This was not how a vacation was supposed to be. Seriously! I know it's a new(ish) ride and that there are TONS of people about, but common curtsey is still the decent thing to apply here. OY!!

Thankfully, we finally get out of the locker room and make our way to the actual line. It was a pretty fast moving line considering the amount of people there. You start off outside and wind you way through the 'green house' until you enter the castle. Once inside, it's everything you can imagine the Hogwarts Castle should look like. Pretty much JUST like the movie! You see the phoenix winding staircase that leads to Dumbledore's rooms. There's also all the portraits handing on the castle walls - and some of them even MOVE, the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom and the Gryffindor Common Room. So many awesome things that were from the movie that they incorporated into this castle!
Love that it's 90 degrees out and there's 'snow' on the castle!






I'm gonna put a little disclaimer in at this point. These next few pictures, we didn't take. Since we were in line for the ride, you have to stow everything in the lockers. (We found out later that you can take the scenic line, which leads you through the castle but you DON'T ride the ride. You exit out before then.) I got the next few pictures of a website online and 'borrowed' them.
The line that makes it's way through the 'Greenhouse'...

The Hippogriff that becomes a winding staircase leading to Dumbledore's chambers...
Dumbledore's Chamber's where he offers advice to us Muggles....
The portraits that cover the castle walls...
(End of 'borrowed' pictures.)

The ride itself was AMAZING!!!! You follow Harry out for a Quidditch ride but get chased by a dragon, spiders, almost crushed by the Whomping Willow and  are attacked by the Dementors. We all loved it! Even Jack! After the ride ends, you're ushed out to the gift shop where we were told that wands were being sold outside on a cart or at Ollivanders Shop in 'town'. We head to the cart that is right outside and let the 'boys' all pick out a wand.

Here's Jason's wand - Dumbledore's!
 Jack's wand - Sirius Black's!
 And finally our biggest kid of all, Jon got Lord Voldemort's wand...
I had to admit, the wands are pretty cool. The kids didn't want to put them down pretty much the whole day!
After picking out the wands, we went over to where Hagrid lives and caught a ride on the Hippogriff.



Once we finished that ride, it was time to head into 'town' and check things out...

The boys posing by the banners with their new wands...


Hanging around in town...

The Owl Post - Is it bad that I almost bought an owl? lol





In case you're wondering, yes, the picture on the poster was animated. Just like the movies...

The Three Broomsticks - this is where we had our lunch of Fish & Chips, Shepards Pie and Bangers and Mash.

The Hogwarts Express - sadly on this side of the tracks there's not 9 ¾....

Look at all these people!

Cassie ending up buying a chocolate frog at Honeydukes....

...and she got Gryffindor's card with it!








Finally, FINALLY it was time for BUTTERBEER!! The main drink of the students of Hogwarts. Apparently there are two different versions you can order here. Regular or frozen. When we asked what was the best, we were advised to get the frozen. Which we did, along with a bottle of Pumpkin Juice. Another staple of the wizard's diet while attending Hogwarts.

So GOOD!

Jon posing with the Pumpkin Juice. It tastes kinda like liquid pumpkin pie, just not as thick. I actually really liked it. The kids didn't.

Jon and Cassie decided at that point to go on the Dragon Challenge ride. And since the boys were not feeling roller coasters and I was starting not to feel good, we sat down in the train station and just relaxed.
The boys showing me their wands...


When Jon and Cass got off the ride, we decided it was time to go check out the rest of the theme park. Right after Harry Potter is The Lost Continent, which houses one of Jon's favorite attractions - Poseidon's Fury. It's actually a kind of show.


Walking into the Lost Continent...


Poseidon's Fury...




Immediately after that is Seuss Landing...

We ending up taking a ride on the Trolley Train...





We also rode the Cat in the Hat ride...
It was at this point that we headed BACK to Harry Potter and had our lunch at The Three Broomsticks. So after we were done with that we thought might as well travel backwards and decided it was time to visit Jurassic Park (cue theme music...)

Jon had been jonesing since we started hitting up the theme parks to do one of those water rides where the raft goes flying down a slide and we all get soaking wet. Since it was STEAMING hot out, we let him talk us into it. Thus, our journey on the Jurassic Park River Adventure.

This time I had to 'borrow' some pictures from the IOA website since we stowed everything (like our billion dollar camera) in the lockers provided so they wouldn't get wet.  Unfortuantely, that meant that WE would be. And not only did we just get a 'little' wet - we got put right in the front seat and got SOAKED. I was not a happy camper. I was wearing a WHITE shirt! GAH! Jack looked like he pee'd himself (which, if I was his age and saw a huge T-Rex about to devour us, I probably would have) and all of us were just drenched.

That is what I get for letting him talk me into these things....


It's about this time that I realize that I REALLY am not feeling good. Like I said, it was a steamy day outside, loud, we had been banged around already by a few rides and now I was starting to get a miserable headache. Jack wanted to ride the Pteranodon's Flyers ride and they only let little kids (plus one adult) ride. Jason wasn't feeling it and Cassie and I weren't either, so Jon went with Jack while the rest of us headed to the Discovery Center and I let Jason and Cass goof around while I tried to cool and dry of in the air conditioning, while hoping my headache would go away.

Cassie did a mash up with Dino DNA and this is what she would look like if she was a dinosaur!




It's at this point that we make our way back over through Toon Town and over to Marvel. Toon Town really is just kinda dated. I mean, it was ADORABLE the first time we visited the park but now that we've been here a few times, it just seems kinda old. Not because it's based off of 'older' cartoons but it just doesn't have that staying-wow factor of the other sections of the park. That's just my opinion though....

Now we get to the part of the park with all the superhero's in it and a roller coaster that knocked the socks off of us the first time we ever rode it - THE HULK!


The boys said they were absolutely NOT going to ride that ride and since my headache had turned into a full blown migraine, I told Cass and Jon to go ahead and ride it without me. Once they left to get in line, the boys and I headed to the shops to see if I could find some meds. I actually ended up buying some extra-strength Excedrin. Which I NEVER take since it ALWAYS makes me sick to my stomach, but at this point I just wanting the misery to end. 
Anyway, we just wandered the Marvel Super Hero Island until Jon and Cass got back....




When Jon and Cass got back some of the characters were starting to make appearances. The only ones they really recognized is Dr. Doom (Fantastic 4) and Woody Woodpecker....


At this point I need some sort of massive caffeine shot - STAT! So we headed to a bakery that was towards the front of the park where Jon, Cassie and I ordered iced cappuccinos (I got a double shot of espresso in mine) and the boys got some chocolate milk and we all got some sweet snacks to munch on.
Right outside the bakery they had these cute little animals just begging to be sat on...the boys happily obliged! 




By this time in the day, it's starting to get late and we're all starting to get tired. But we all agreed we wanted to get another Butter Beer before leaving the park so back to Harry Potter we went. But first we had to pass by Dr. Seuss Land again. But this time, we were in luck! The characters had come out to play as well!
The Cat in the Hat with the kids...


And then THE GRINCH!





Once we got back to Harry Pottery Land, we knew that we had luck on our side! They were also doing little character shows. This time it was a type of scene with the different Wizard Schools for the Tri-Wizard Tournament - The Beauxbatons and Durmstrang's.







We also decided that since we had gone through the castle so quickly when we rode the ride, that this time we'd take the scenic line and just go through it to look. These were the only good pictures we could take.... It was very dark in there!


Back to The Three Broomsticks for our Butter Beers. This time we decided to buy the commemorative mugs and everyone else decided to get the frozen version, I decided to get the 'normal' one.

Here's a pic of our Butter Beers. The 'normal' one on the left and the frozen one on the right. Both are delish! I tend to lean towards the normal one. It was so good!

After some more roaming around, it was time to head back to our condo. It was our last night in Orlando and the kids wanted to swim a bit more before having to call it a night. Our theme park vacation was coming to a close, but we were still very much looking to heading to Pensacola the next day to see some very dear friends of our that we haven't seen since we lived in Charleston - Jeremy and Michelle! Stay tuned for that blog!


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4 comments:

  1. Made me feel JUST like I was there with y'all......

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  2. Stacy, it was great! I wish we had went while we were down there!

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  3. Sigh. Lived there for years and only went to Disney. I kinda wish the Hogwarts thing was there when we lived there - that would have been cool. Maybe once the kids leave home ... ;)

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  4. That sounds awesome! We will definitely go there our next trip down. Love the whole Harry Potter area! What exactly is butterbeer? Sorry you had such a headache and didn't feel your best. And where is the picture of you all wet and in your white t-shirt? lol.

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