Posted by: JulieAloha | May 16, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 136: Universal Studios Orlando 

May 16, 2017

We spent our first full day in Orlando at Universal Studios Florida, the City Walk and Islands of Adventure. This was also our first experience with Uber, which was very positive for the most part; we had some issues with the App, but the drivers were diverse and informative and very friendly. After entering the Park we went straight to Rentals and checked out an ECV for the day, which saved our lives as Mom could not have walked all over the Parks each day – we thought we were very smart! Once Mom had her wheels we headed out around the central lagoon, traveling through Terminator, E.T., the KidZone, Springfield, MiB, and…


Diagon Alley! We shared a frozen Butterbeer, getting my sugar rush early in the day, and wandered about the Harry Potter Wizarding World. We went on the tour at Olivander’s and I bought my very own wand – I chose Ash, though according to Pottermore my wand should have been Acacia wood with a Unicorn hair core, 12.25″ – but Universal doesn’t subscribe to Pottermore… There are two kinds of wands, interactive and non-, I chose an interactive wand which comes with a map of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and shows you areas you can use your wand to “cast spells,” for example you can use reparo to fix a broken suit of armor or wingardium leviosa to make an object float at the Blacksmith’s shop. No spell calms the dragon atop Gringott’s bank though.


We exited Diagon Alley and toured the rest of the San Francisco and New York – we watched the Blues Brother’s street party and rode on the Race through New York with Jimmy Fallon ride. We were feeling hungry by this time, but made one more circuit and headed back to King’s Cross Station to ride the Hogwart’s Express to Hogsmeade. The train is amazing, but what made the best impression was the high level of customer service by the park staff who helped us navigate the elevator and platform with the ECV and made the transfers so easy. The ride itself was very fun with screens on two sides of each cabin, one on the “exterior” window showing you the view and activity outside and the other on the door side of the cabin with a shadow play of activities going on in the train car’s interior. Very clever!


At Hogsmeade we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks – Mom wanted a smaller portion, so she had the fish and chips from the Kid’s menu and I had the Cornish pasties with Salad and a bottle of Gilly water. Very tasty! We wandered about Hogsmeade after lunch, watched part of the performance of the Frog Choir, then got in line for the Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey ride. Once inside Hogwart’s castle we walked through rooms and past objects from the books and movies: talking portraits, the gryphon guardian to the headmaster’s office, the Secrets of the Dark Arts classroom and the Sorting Hat. We were behind a friendly family in line – the kids and their mom assured my Mom that the ride wouldn’t be too scary for her, but the dad kept teasing her and telling her things to scare her while seeming to reassure her – they were so funny! Needless to say, Mom survived the ride and we both greatly enjoyed it. However, this is a ride on which you cannot bring packages or things which might fly out of the ride and we did not enjoy the experience of having to secure our things in the very small and confined locker area for the duration of the ride – there were so many people crammed into the tight space and the locker rooms created dead ends which were very hard to either enter or exit. At the end of the ride (as was true for most rides) there was a shop for souvenirs and clothing – I bought a few little trinkets as gifts for friends and for myself.


It was quite a warm day and we were getting tired by 4pm, so we decided to call for an Uber and head back to the condo. We rested for an hour or so, then went down to the pool for a swim – the water was just like a giant bathtub, sun warmed and lovely, and there were only a few other people in the pool. What a relaxing way to end the afternoon! As we had the evening before, we got dinner and a few groceries for the next day from the little Deli on grounds and ate in our suite, then retired to our rooms to relax in front of the TV and kick back.

I walked 14,124 steps – 6.1 miles!


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