Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Disney (Not Disney): Day 3a

Universal, Halloween Kingdom and achin' feet

Day 3!! The day we got to go to Universal. It was really kind of amazing how different the energy was - we came in through the City Walk area (stopping at Starbucks - I was like to DIE without some good coffee - and Cinnabon (insert Jim Gaffigan jokes here, because we sure did)) to meet with our benevolent host by the lighthouse - all the while removing our magic bands and any other possibly Disney-themed paraphernalia...I still wish I had pulled the trigger on those Harry Potter bows, but I don't even know what house I'm in anymore..........<wails in existential angst>

The sky was gorgeous. No smart comment, just an observation.

We met our new best friend (I'll call him Tim, because he kind of looked like Healthy Tropical Santa, and Tim Allen played Santa, thus...) and I hope we sufficiently groveled in thanks. He walked us through the turnstile (VIPs!!) and we asked him to take a picture with us, which I think pleased him more than the groveling. He was so nice - and Kate got to display some of that grace she got from her mother when he started in on the Auburn-hate (still so proud of ya, girlie!). Before he went back to work, he actually apologized to us, that he was in meetings all day, but very kindly offered to escort us over to the other park if we were still there at five. Unfortunately, we knew we wouldn't be, as we had hard tickets for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (six words are too many for a title), but we assured him that if we were still kicking at that point, we would absolutely call him.

First up was The HULK. Which deserves those caps, folks. It was so much. We had to check our belongings in the 20-minutes-free lockers, which left me, the glasses-wearer in kind of a lurch - I decided to roll the dice and wear them on, hoping that the force would plaster them to my face. Unfortunately, I was way wrong on that one. I spent the entirety of the (still awesome) ride with my arms up in the zombie position around the chest harness, fingers spidered over my temples and cheeks, simultaneously trying to keep my glasses from flying off into the great beyond and prevent them from being smashed by my own hand. Next time, I'm just going to make Kate guide me by the hand like a toddler. Which I'm pretty sure happened at some point...

Even the sign was fierce.

I knew we had to go on the Spiderman ride - had read online about what a big deal it was - but I was a little anxious. I have trouble with 3D anything; it feels almost like motion sickness, but more in my head? I guess - I haven't spent a great deal of time trying to break it down into words, as I'm usually too busy telling people, no, I haven't seen whatever fancy movie you're talking about because I don't do 3D. But I figured I had to give it the old college try, so we wound through the queue, which was such fun. I remember being secretly entertained by those cartoons when I was older and watching my brothers on Saturday mornings while Mom and Dad ran errands (back in the States at this point in my personal history, if you're keeping track), and it was a lot of fun to walk through the old school newsroom (and the old computers! and DESK PHONES! I wonder how many little ones have to have that technology explained to them now). We got to ride in front, so we got to feel the flamethrower and the mist and all of that up close and personal - it was a thrill! I didn't feel too bad, either, which I attribute to the more readily fixed distance to the screens (as opposed to being at a movie theater), so I was pretty excited about that.

Look! It's a BUILDING!

We strolled through the rest of Marvel Super Hero Island! (there's no exclamation point on the logo, but it feels like it wants one, right?) and into Toon Lagoon, and even though it was still really early and nothing open, I was utterly charmed. Along with the Disney cartoons and VHS copies of the free Disney channel preview weekends, my dad's sister would also use about a year's worth of newspaper comics to mail us our America's-still-here packages, so Cathy and Snuffy Smith and Beetle Baily and Dagwood and Blondie are in that pop culture mix that runs through these veins of mine. And OH-THERE'S-AN-ENTIRE-ROCKY-AND-BULLWINKLE-AREA-AND-DUDLEY-DORIGHT-HAS-A-RIDE!!!! This was huge. And looooong. If you recall my previous whining about the length of the queues at Epcot, this one had the beat. Hands down. It just went on forever. Every time we turned a corner, I thought, here it i-nope, more dividers. But it was worth it. I must really like flume rides, because Ripsaw Falls was for sure my favorite ride at Universal. Love-love-loved it. Just a pleasant little surprise around every corner! (As an aside: I don't think we talked about it, so I don't know if Kate noticed this or not, but I did see a lot of things that I don't think we were supposed to - mechanisms that I think were supposed to be masked or that needed to be repainted to better blend in...maybe it was just brighter than usual? My experience didn't suffer for it, but it definitely woke up my inner tech...)

YAY!! I took a ton of pictures of the Rocky and Bullwinkle stuff - it's my dad's favorite - and it was a good thing, too, because I did not see one single souvenir featuring them. I know the movie was terrible, but C'MON! 

Next up was Jurassic Park - AHHHH! It looked great all through this area, but I am still severely miffed that you had to have a child to ride on the pterodactyl flyer thing. We enjoyed the River Adventure, but I take issue with anything that suggests that the TRex was the scariest part of that movie. I understand it's easier to menace with something house sized as opposed to something ostrich sized, but c'mon - velociraptors are terrifying. And the big drop at the end looked much bigger from the bridge than it felt on the ride.

Look how happy we are...right before we were DEVOURED!

Now, the moment we've all been waiting for: Hogsmeade. Harry Potter World, people. It's so, so real. And it was PACKED. I'm sure that it's not as crazy as it gets. But it seemed like everyone who was at Universal was in Hogsmeade. But who could blame them?


We dared mingle in the town square for just a moment before we joined in the line to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Best. Queue. EVER. It was wonderful. The greenhouse, the classroom, the common room, the PORTRAITS. Amazing. Just amazing - no other word for it. We got strapped in after being assured that if we could handle Spiderman, we could handle this. I'm sorry to say, but they were way wrong. I keep telling myself that the ride was fun, but I don't quite believe me. We were both sick as dogs. We got told to scoot along at the exit, but had to stand there holding up the wall for a little while.

We thought we'd try and settle in a little bit, then maybe try some of the other rides - so lunch it is! Got to walk straight into Three Broomsticks (which was AMAZING. So much with the all caps here, but they earned it. EARNED it.) and to the waitress/cashier, who talked us into the strawberry-peanut butter ice cream, along with Kate's turkey leg and my pasties and the FROZEN BUTTERBEER. Allow me to shout that again. FROZEN BUTTERBEER. I will give them All The Money if they will figure out someway to make that widely available. Or to get an Icee dispenser that I can keep at my house and refill at will. All The Money for this stuff.
You don't care about the rest of that, though it was perfectly tasty. But trust me when I tell you that you wish you had an interdimensional straw .

The strawberry-peanut butter ice cream was less than. It was like someone had melted down astronaut ice cream and tried to reconstitute it. And chalky. I tried to like it, but it's a Not Recommended. But that's okay because FROZEN BUTTERBEER.

Enough of that. I'm making me sad. Which I suppose is okay, because we were a little bit sad, as there were no more rides, especially no more roller coasters or dark rides, in our immediate future. We puttered around Potterverse (and I didn't even try for that one) a while longer - buying candy by the pound and being tempted by all the toys. Pictures by the Hogwarts Express, and a stealth concert (SATB quartet, music nerds!), then we pushed on...

To Suess Landing!! Guys, this whole trip was just a giant, hmmmm, what makes Heather happy? experiment. To wit: here's me with the Lorax.

THE LORAX. No worries - I apologized for my one-and-only-one-use bottle.

And there were Sneetches, both star-bellied and not, and Gertrude McFuzz and Myrtle and I'm all but certain I saw Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose. (He may be a product of my feverishly excited memories.) I took a turn on the elevated train ride that runs above the whole area - mistake, I'm afraid. It was lovely to see the areas that were clearly designed to be viewed from that vantage point, but it was vertiginous - or maybe I was. Either way, my head was very unhappy with me. 

I'm sorry to say that we didn't even explore in the Lost Continent area - at this point we were both just feeling seasick and awful, and it was unspeakably hot, so we stopped for a palaver at the electronic wait-times sign, and headed on out. (The internet tells me it was a mere 89 that day, but it is a lie - a false lie.)

But wasn't it gorgeous? Courtesy of Kate, as is the Lorax above.

Took a cab back to our resort - I can't recall our driver's name, but he was from Morocco and he talked to Kate about the inauthenticity of Epcot (I was rather antisocial, even more me - I felt like I was hanging on consciousness with both hands) and offered to be our personal, on-call driver for the remainder of the trip. Which is good business, folks.

I've decided this one will have to be a two-parter - there's just too much to talk about between this and the Halloween party and all of its wonderfulness. So come back later and read all about how I'm such an old lady and to hear me complain about my feet hurting instead of feeling seasick!