Do you remember that one time I went to Florida? Yeah, me either. It was so long ago. I was just thinking about how I have finally passed the 8-month mark of my time in the US, and realised that it’s been over 3 months since I was in Florida, and that I never got around to writing in my blog about New Years Eve. So that is what I am here to do.
When we planned our trip to Florida, our decision was between spending NYE at either Magic Kingdom, or Universal. In the end we decided that, even though Universal doesn’t have Fireworks on New Years Eve, it would be a stupid decision to try and pile into Magic Kingdom with 99,996 people on NYE, and instead we opted to spend December 31st at the Universal theme parks.
The good thing about getting the 2-Park Pass for Universal, is that you can go back and forth between both parks on the same day. This is useful for two reasons – one, because the Universal Studios park (the one sans Harry Potter stuff) isn’t that great, and to be honest, I couldn’t spend a full day there. It only has two or three rides worth riding multiple times (The Simpsons, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and maybe The Mummy), and it doesn’t have quite the same feeling as Island of Adventures. That said, it’s a great park for short lines and a bit of space if the lines at IoA are too long and the park is crowded, so we planned our day around the two parks, with a break in the middle of the day.
We went a little more prepared than our first day, planning to ride water rides and get wet, so we all brought towels and a change of clothes in the car. We went to IoA first and rode the Hulk coaster, which usually has long lines through the day, and then we decided to head to Universal Studios, where there were no crowds and no lines, it was almost like a ghost town. We rode everything we wanted to ride again, and got a quick lunch, before heading back to IoA to ride the water rides.
We discovered that Ripsaw Falls has a single-rider line, and with the ‘normal’ ride 20-25 minutes long, we decided that we didn’t care if we rode together, and went through the single rider line again and again, getting more and more wet. We spent a LOT of time laughing at the ‘poncho people’ as we called them, wearing their ponchos on the water rides thinking that they’d keep them dry, and still coming out soaked.
About 2:30 we were done with the water rides, and decided it was time to go back to the condo for a rest. We headed up to the parking lot (this time we were parked on the roof carpark) and proceeded to strip off our wet clothes in the open parking lot. So funny when a security car comes driving up through the parking lot, and we thought that it had been called to arrest us for public indecency, haha. Luckily it was just doing normal rounds, and didn’t come anywhere near us, but it was funny to see us all, hiding behind car doors with towels around our waists scrambling for shorts and shorts. Haha!
We headed back to the condo, and I took a nap. I don’t remember what anyone else did, but after all the driving and walking I did through the week I was exhausted. Afterwards we cleaned the condo and did laundry, ready for our departure the next day. And then, one last time, we headed back to Universal to ring in 2012.
We rode the Harry Potter ride, and then went to the Three Broomsticks for dinner, the Harry Potter restaurant, and ordered the banquet for 4, which had chicken, ribs, corn, potatoes and a huge salad. We spent the evening riding different rides through the park, including the Dr Seuss kiddy rides that didn’t have huge lines. We then decided to ride the Harry Potter ride again, but since the line was still 30+ minutes long, we hit up the single riders line – again, and again, and again. The best thing about it was that the single riders line comes in near the FastPass line, and the use it to fill up carriages with groups of 2 or 3 people – but because it was so late, and there weren’t that many people riding on FastPasses, we just ended up getting on and riding together in 2’s, or all 4 of us at once! Shhhh. My little secret 😉
At one point we were looking at our watches and it was still early. We were all tired, and all we really wanted was for it to be midnight so that we could ring in the new year and then head home.
We headed back into ‘Hogsmead’ after riding a few times, and went into Ollivanders for the wand experience. I spent the whole time watching the clock, and at midnight nudged my friends. It was 2012. And then, as we finally exited Ollivanders around 12:02, a whole bunch of people yelled ‘Happy New Year’ at us, and that was it.
We decided to leave the park, hoping to miss the ‘crowds’, bun unfortunately everyone had the same idea. There was a big party on down in the restaurant/bar area of Universal, and thousands and thousands of people trying to leave at the same time. The travellator area was packed with people, and it was insanity, to the point where it was scary. I’ve never really liked big crowds (for reasons other than the obvious) and freaked out a little, and tried to stay near the edge as not to get crushed.
We finally made it to our car, and it then took us over 45 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Think the parking at Acer Arena and ANZ Stadium at Homebush on a concert/footy night. INSANE. I got a bit of parking lot rage, and there were people all over the place honking their horns. I may or may not have started that, just for fun.
And then, it was 2am on January 1, 2012, and we all fell asleep, ready to wake up in a few hours to fly home to reality…