Our first morning in Florida we went to Universal. We had 2-Park Passes, so we could go to both passes on both days. The day was nice, and we wore shorts and tshirts to the park, even though it was only going to be about 23 degrees Celsius (taking into account that we’d come from below-zero Massachusetts the day before!). We were a little tired, due to our late arrival the night before, but we got on the road and got to the park just before 8am, when the gates open.
When you go to a theme park, you need a plan of attack. You need to know what rides are the most popular. Sometimes you need to go to the back (or most far away part of the park) and work your way back to the entrance. With Universal, you need to do both of these things – go to the most popular rides (Harry Potter) in the back of the park. If you don’t ride them early in the morning, the lines get to 90 or 120 minutes long. So that’s what we did.
We went straight to the Harry Potter park, where there was already a long line for Forbidden Journey (which is a simulator type ride, where you feel like you a flying along behind Harry Potter on an enchanted bench) and waited about 30 minutes to ride. Afterwards we rode the Dueling Dragons coasters (the blue is by far the best) and Flight of the Hippogriff (which is really a lame kiddie-coaster) for the sake of it. We wrote and mailed postcards which get stamped with a special Hogsmead stamp) and took a peak in a couple of the stores, before heading off to ride Spiderman and a couple of the other popular rides in the park.
Because we had the 2-park passes, when Islands of Adventure started to fill up, we left and headed over to Universal Studios, where we rode The Simpsons (which is a fun ride, although the line-up can be boring), saw the 4D Shrek movie, and then spent 20 minutes laying on the pavement in a simulator-inducted cloud of headache. After a few too many rollercoasters and simulators my head was pounding, and I’m pretty sure the other girls weren’t feeling too great either!
We rode Men In Black, and then decided to head back to IOA to ride the water rides. We’d come to the park with nothing except what we could put in our pockets – for me this meant I had a little camera case with my bank card, license, park ticket, lipbalm and cash in it, my iPhone and the car keys. That’s it. Although it’s nice to carry a backpack and have some (free) snacks and water, it’s annoying to have to (a) wait in the line at the entrance to have your bag searched, and (b) have to put your bag in a locker to ride a lot of the rides. So we didn’t bring bags. Even my jumper got left in the car. So of course, we didn’t have towels, a change of clothes, bathing suits. We just had what we were wearing. And we rode the water rides. And got soaked.
The looks on the faces of people as we walked through the park dripping wet was funny in itself. What they probably didn’t realize is that we’d decided that after we rode the water rides, we’d leave for the day. It was late afternoon (nearing 5pm) and we’d been there for 8 hours, and that was enough for us for one day.
So we headed to the parking lot, via the giftshop, where I was smart enough to ask the cashier for some extra (extra large) plastic bags. I figured we’d sit on them in the car, in lieu of the towels that we hadn’t thought to bring with us.
Instead, we made a fashion statement. I decided that the bag was big enough to turn into a skirt, and after stripping off in the parking lot (I took my wet tshirt and shorts on and put on my dry jumper) I fashioned a skirt out of the Harry Potter-printed piece of plastic. And Carmen followed suit. Larissa and Chrissie decided that they would just travel home in their jumpers and undies. Thank heavens we weren’t pulled over by a policeman on the way home – they wouldn’t have known where to look!
After going home, showering and resting for a little bit, we headed out to dinner at Cracker Barrel, via Walmart, where we picked up a bunch of groceries for the week. Having an apartment to stay in was great, because we had a full kitchen with a fridge, stove, microwave and the ability to make breakfasts, store food and cook a dinner or two. The great thing was that we spent less than $80 at Walmart, making a weeks’ worth of groceries (breakfast, drinks and snacks) less than $20 each.
Chrissie and I picked up our very first vacation souvenirs too that day…