Final Day of an Excellent Adventure

As much as I wanted to spend a whole day either at Harry Potter world again or in bed, recovering from Harry Potter world the previous day, I let Jason plan our final day at the Universal Studio parks in Orlando. He decided we’d start at Islands of Adventure for all of the Marvel rides.

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I don’t remember when we decided to actually go visit Seuss Landing first, but a random table busser at the Three Broomsticks had given us a few tips on all of the other rides (she saw us checking out the parks’ maps) and she said that the Cat in the Hat ride was worth a visit.

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I know it’s naughty to take a video of the rides, but this is the only place I did it. We were sat in a tea-cup-looking car that tracked through an elaborate set as it told the story from the book. There was actually a good amount of spinning — more than I was expecting for a kid’s ride. It was a bit dizzying, but quite entertaining. I would ride it again!

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We also rode the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley, which gave us a very nice view over the whole park. It had a story that was loosely based on the star-bellied Sneetches, but was sort of hard to understand. I was also pretty distracted by the scenery.

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Then we finally headed over to the Marvel island, bummed that the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster was temporarily closed. We had heard good things about that ride!

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We headed to the Storm Force Accelatron first. It was sort of like a tea cup ride: everyone sat in their own little car and spun-and-spun-and-spun-and-spun-and… I let Jason do all of the spinning. It was fun, but not a very long ride at all. There were only a few other cars with people in them when we were there, so at least we didn’t have to wait to get in.

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We headed to Doctor Doom’s Fearfall next. Our busgirl had told us it can be fun, but not to wait more than 15 minutes to ride it. When we got there the wait time was estimated either right at 15 minutes or it was 20 minutes, but we decided to try it out. We had both agreed that it looked like it’d be almost identical to the Power Towers at Valleyfair, which are fun but over in a matter of seconds.

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There were Doctor Doom cartoons playing while we waited in line, though they were hard to understand and I didn’t know anything about this comic. We had already waited about 10 minutes when the operators announced that there were technical problems happening and the wait times were increased to 25-30 minutes. We considered our options for a minute or two, but ultimately decided to duck out and get on with our day. No Fearfall for us! (The Universal Studios app allows you to set an alert for wait times on rides throughout the park, and the Fearfall never got under 15 minutes for the rest of the day.)

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The Spider-Man ride was next, and it lived up to the hype! Similar to Gringotts, it was a 3-D ride where everyone rode in a multi-row car. I don’t remember why it felt so much different than Gringotts, but we came out feeling more thrilled and adrenaline-y.

And then we even met Spider-Man! So we had that going for us, which was nice.

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It was around this time that I started feeling a little bit hangry. We hadn’t eaten a real breakfast and it was nearly 11, so I didn’t want to just get a snack. We opted for lunch at Blondie’s (though we got hot dogs instead of Dagwood sandwiches) but they weren’t opening and weren’t opening and weren’t opening so we wandered around Toon Lagoon to try to distract my stomach.

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The rides at Toon Lagoon were all about various ways of getting soaked, which we opted out of. We had a lot of rides left to do on the priority list and the weather was actually pretty perfect — if it had been 10° hotter I could see these rides being more beneficial.

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Eventually I got fed, though, and it was delicious. Jason and I shared a brookie: a brownie baked into a cookie. (Since we hadn’t had our daily dose of butterbeer, we had to get a sugar rush from somewhere else…)

We visited the Jurassic Park Discovery Center next. Jason really wanted to ride the Pteranodon Flyers ride, but it was part of a playground for kids. Adult riders had to be accompanied by a child between a certain height range (and I’m short, but wasn’t short enough).

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You don’t need to run fast: you just need to outrun everyone else. (Sorry, kid.)

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If my DNA was injected into a dinosaur...

I had my DNA spliced with a dinosaur’s to create a new breed. Can you tell that’s an Amy-osaur? (I can’t, either.)

We also saw a dinosaur hatch, so that’s pretty rare.

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Face-to-face with a T-Rex!

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The other side of the park sure didn’t look far away, but my legs felt like we had walked for days. (Probably because we had, I suppose.)

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Hogwarts was just on the other side of Jurassic Park and the view made us laugh. But we were headed that way with good reason: next on Jason’s list was the Men In Black Alien Attack ride at Universal Studios, so we decided to let the Hogwarts Express take us there (the wait was short and we wanted to sit down).

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I’m glad we went this way because I didn’t realize that you could go into the backside of the Knight Bus for a quick peek. (You’ll also notice 12 Grimmauld Place just beyond the bus in this photo. If you visit, keep your eyes on the windows…)

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Yes, that’s a butterbeer.

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The Men in Black ride was interesting, but I was totally distracted by some awful people that we were in line with — and then wound up shoved into a car with. While you’re riding through, the car is spinning you around, pointing at various sets, and there are aliens all over. Everyone in the car has their own laser gun to shoot them and your individual scores are tallied in the dashboard in front of you. I started off strong, but lost interest in aiming or shooting and instead held down my trigger the whole time. I didn’t do too bad, but Jason definitely had a higher score. The wait for the ride wasn’t bad; maybe we should have given it another try. That was one of the rides that Jason was most looking forward to, but those people… Well, it was just bad timing, I guess.

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We headed over to the E.T. Adventure ride through the Simpsons’ world. Our busgirl told us it was worth a visit because it’s one of the original rides for the park and, due to some crazy copyrighting, it can never be torn down. I’m not a big fan of E.T., but Jason loves it. We both thought it’d be a cute ride; a classic.

We stood in line a little longer than we wanted. (Keep in mind that this is our third day of using our feet & legs for about 12-13 hours straight each day, so we are both feeling the burn quite a bit. But we sure maximized our time at the parks!) First everyone crowds into a room where you watch a cheesy video recorded by Steven Spielberg, then gets funneled through lines where you tell an attendant your first name and get an “ID badge” of sorts. Then you walk along a path in an elaborate forest set. There’s a giant version of an E.T. relative that tells you more of the story while you wait. And continue waiting. Then waiting some more.

Then someone announces over the speaker system that there is a technical delay and thank you for waiting. After a big load of people ducked out, we were pretty close to the front of the line, so we decided to keep waiting. More people left. Eventually we sat down on the path. I don’t know how long we waited, but eventually we were told that our patience was appreciated but the ride’s problems didn’t have an estimated time for being fixed so we were all given one free express pass to almost any ride in the park (not including the rides with the longest wait times, of course).

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The next ride that called our names was the Transformers 3-D ride (where we also caught a little bit of the Blues Brothers’ show while we waited in line).

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I know very little about Transformers, so walking through the story set up was a little boring but the ride was definitely in the top 5! It was very similar to the Spider-Man and Gringotts rides: a multi-row car of people that spun around and threw us around a little, but the interaction with the characters was really great. This was another ride where I flinched and held my hands over my face!

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After that ride, we headed through a sort of back alley to find our way to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster. This bathroom sign made me laugh — it’s attached to a replica of Mel’s Diner (which was very 1950s, of course).

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It’s Shrek! and Donkey! We also saw a minion up close while we waited in line for the rollercoaster, but we had both abandoned our belongings by that point.

The Rip Ride was entertaining, but it was another painfully slow-moving line with some technical issues on the tracks. Once we got on, though, we both chose our own music to help us get in the mood (I went with Beastie Boys) and then we were off! It was as crazy as the Dragon Challenge rollercoasters, but felt much shorter. We opted to not buy the $40 DVD GoPro-esque video of our ride, though we did watch it before we moved on. I think my ponytail had the most fun of all on that ride!

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For all of that time we spent waiting at the Rip Ride, I was surprised to see that Shrek and Donkey were still meeting & greeting. Unfortunately they were just wrapping up, though, so Jason took a consolation selfie instead.

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Then we got blocked by another parade, but we only had a couple rides left on the itinerary.

We headed back to E.T. and opted to use our freebie express pass to get to the front of the line. (Which we quickly learned was not necessary as it hadn’t quite re-filled with people again — oh, well!) We did the ID card with our names entered into the system then were quickly seated on a set of bicycles. It was, uh, pretty strange. Maybe it was more magical for E.T. fans but I was so distracted by everything around me that I missed (a) the E.T. sitting in the basket in front of our bikes and (b) the aliens thanked us all by name at the end of the ride. There was also a funky smell… but, you know? I can say I rode an original Universal Studios ride and lived to tell the tale.

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The final ride on Jason’s list was The Simpsons Ride, which was a little different from the other rides. We sat in a rollercoaster car that had multiple rows, but we were then raised through the ceiling into an omnimax theater. The car rocked around to simulate riding a real rollercoaster. The whole story was about Krustyland, which I really enjoyed because (shameful confession) I’ve been playing the Simpsons Tapped Out iPad game for much too long — it was just funny.

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There were a couple sites that we missed, but I really love how Jason decided to wrap up our last day: dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. We both ordered the bangers & mash.

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Universal Studios was closing an hour earlier than Islands of Adventure that night, so we hopped the Hogwarts Express back to the other park one more time…

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… and we rode the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride again. Twice. Back-to-back. Because Jason wanted to. (I knew he would have as much fun as I would!)

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We both collapsed into bed that night, but we were oh-so-satisfied. We conquered Universal Studios… and we would easily go back for more.

We actually still had one more day of vacation, though, so we had time to go to the beach!