Saturday, September 8, 2012

Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I miss it. As you all know, my younger daughter graduated in May and then studied two and a half months for her state licensing exam, which she passed at the end of July. I wanted to take a family vacation, but I needed to wait until after the exam. I came across this “package” to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure in early August. We had been there over ten years ago, before they added Islands of Adventure. My daughter had said she would like to go there and I wanted to make her happy, she deserved it. The package was for 5 days and 4 nights at a resort hotel (another blog on this will follow) on the premises of the park. Everything, except food, was included Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure. We all needed to get away, and away we went.

The week of Labor Day is a very slow travel week. Airports, hotels, and even the theme parks were virtually empty. I know it’s because school is open, but things pick up again next week, so I’m not sure why, because school is still open. Never-the-less, we lucked out because it was convenient for us and there were virtually no lines on any of the attractions. We saw everything two or three times in both parks and had time to enjoy the pool at the hotel. If you go there during this week, you only need two days to see both parks. They are not nearly as big as Disney World. 

At Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, there are quite a few 3D motion simulator rides. I really enjoyed those for the most part. The 3D animations have improved so much since the last time I was out there. We went on a Simpson ride and you actually feel like you are on an episode of the show! The motion simulator car you ride in makes it feel like you are on a roller coaster. It’s amazing what they can do to make you feel like you are going up or dropping. Since I can’t tolerate real roller coasters any more, this was the same kind of experience without the motion sickness afterwards. There were about three of the outrageous roller coasters that do loops and turn you upside down, but we skipped those. My younger daughter is the only one who can tolerate them and she didn’t want to go on them alone. I almost broke down and went on one with her, they were always my favorite, but the thought of feeling sick for hours in the hot humid sun made me think better of it.

At Islands of Adventure there is a Harry Potter section. It’s pretty impressive the way they designed the buildings. There was one ride there that was very popular. It was crowded and we waited until we got there early one day to go on. My husband and I decided not to try it. It sounded rougher than the other 3D motion simulator rides. There was a 30 minute wait. The girls went in and my husband and I found a cool spot to wait by the gift store. After 45 minutes we are expecting the girls to come out. Instead, a British woman passing by tells me the ride is broken and they don’t know when it will be fixed. I start to get a little panicked. The girls don’t have their phones because you have to check everything before getting on. After waiting a full hour, a woman from Ireland says 5 members of her family went on the ride an hour ago and haven’t come out. I told her neither have my girls. She proceeded to tell me this ride broke last year while her son was on it! I’m thinking what are the odds that this ride breaks twice while this woman from Ireland is at the park with her family??? It must breakdown quite a bit. I run around to the entrance to demand some answers. Are people on the ride and when will it be fixed. The guy tells me no one is on the ride and he has no idea when it will be fixed. I go back to my husband and the Irish lady and tell them what I learned. I console myself that the girls will use common sense and come out if it takes too long. Meanwhile, a lot of people are coming out in droves. They don’t want to wait around wasting their day with the uncertainty of the ride. After 75 minutes the Irish woman is reunited with her family of five, who tell her the ride is fixed. I am still a little anxious. Five minutes later both of my girls exit. They tell me they were near the front of the line when the ride broke down and were waiting for it to be fixed. That turned out the be a good decision, because that was the highlight of Islands of Adventure.

I have to say that many of the 3D rides had some very scary elements to them. I’m not sure too many young children would be happy, but I didn’t see anyone crying either. There was a flume ride and a white water raft ride that gets you soak and wet too. I never remember to pack shorts that will dry out quickly. We are always wearing denim and they never dry! All in all it was a great little getaway for the four of us. 

On the last day, as we leave to take the water taxi to the entrance of Universal, my younger daughter says to me, “Oh, I just realized it was MGM Studios that I wanted to go to.” My jaw dropped. MGM is connected with Disney World and is a whole other theme park. “You picked a fine time to mention that,” I reply. I was thinking that if she had maybe realized it sooner we could have taken transportation over to MGM for a day, since we had seen all of Universal. Not to mention the fact that I asked her more than once to look up Universal online and check out the attractions she wanted to see. Her response, “I want to be surprised.” So there you have it! Surprise!

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