Friday, November 11, 2011

Islands of Adventure - Rain or Shine

These are the pictures from Universal Studios Islands of Adventure.  When we went on vacation to Orlando, Eryn's goal was to go to Harry Potter World.  So in the interest of single threading our vacation (who was a developer?), I requested that we forgo Disneyworld during this trip and just focus on enjoying one theme park location.  I bought the family a three day "base pass" which meant we could go to either Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios, although not both in one day.  My assumption that Eryn would want two days at Islands of Adventure was correct.  In retrospect, two days seemed like a long time to spend at one park.  But the rain chewed up part of both days.  And we didn't get to the roller coasters until Eryn had a chance to work up the nerve on the second day.  And we discovered some things we'd missed by the second day.  And we had the luxury of no lines whatsoever.  If the lines had been 60-90 minutes long, two days might not have seemed like enough.

Doesn't it look like a great vacation?  Umbrellas on Halloween!  Guess who's dressed as Hermione for October 31st once again?  This was an interesting picture because Eryn was being super cute, and only twenty feet away there was a couple having a serious argument about going to the amusement park while it was raining and about how vacation was ruined and whose fault it was, and who understood better how miserable the kids (4 and 6?) were, despite that the kids looked to be happy as clams until they realized mom and dad were fighting and asked them to stop. I can't picture dropping $200 on tickets to Islands of Adventure and then fighting over who was more miserable.  At that point, the divorce is already a reality, even if the paperwork hasn't been signed.

But enough.  This is a damn cute picture.  We went and had coffee and muffins and waited out part of the rain while trying on ponchos only moments later, but it made for a great picture.

It also makes for a cute video, although the video displays a bit of the disapproval of going to an amusement park in the rain that the picture doesn't convey.  You can't just hop on that bike and ride it, by the way.  It's bolted to the stones.  Not that I tried.

We're going to go about this in a rather haphazard fashion.  This isn't the day it rained.  But it's Eryn's first time seeing Harry Potter World...or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (tm)...something like that.  It's impressive when you first see it with the snow on the roofs, the wand shop, the castle, the sweet shop, the joke shop, the butter beer (ugh...sickly sweet...not my cup of tea), the neap cart (which a British tourist told us was a turnip), and the animatronic doodads in many of the windows.  This obviously isn't very crowded and it's at least twice as crowded as the second day we went.

Back to the rainy day.  The Forbidden Journey ride is in the school.  You sit in a chair and it turns and twists and flips past animatronic trees and dementors, and almost seamlessly switches to video quidditch and a video dragon chase.  Out of all the rides in both parks at Universal, this ride was the only one I couldn't go on more than once in quick succession.  I had to have a 10-15 minute wait between rides or I'd have gotten ill.  And it didn't matter that we did it several times.  I was just as queasy the last time as the first time.

Another angle on Hogwarts.  They did a great job using perspective to make it look enormous.  It is enormous - you walk for a long time to get from the entrance to the ride.  But it's not as enormous as this makes it look.

I front loaded some of my favorite pictures.  I really like this one, because it turned out exactly as I wanted it to.  This is at the kids' playground.  The longest wait we had in the whole park was for the pteradon ride at the kids area because each flyer only seated two people at a time.  Fortunately, we'd mistakenly gone on the Jurassic Park water ride (damn is that a serious drop into a big puddle of water after you're faced with the T-Rex) just prior to the play area, so it was a good chance for me to dry out for 90 minutes while Pooteewheet and Eryn were in line for the ride.

Here's the ever-so-long Pteradon ride.  Looks like a great time, but you have to have a kid with you under a certain height to ride it.  That is Pooteewheet and Eryn on the ride. You can tell by my wife's red hair.  I watched a lot of riders go by before I finally caught them on film.

Crabby bird.  The Lost Continent area was the first area after the little kids Seuss Landing that we encountered.  It looked cheesy, but was very fun.  Posideon's Fury was a mixture of acting and ride, and sort of an Indian Jones finds a trident adventure.  The best part was that they led you into a small room and then flashed a strobe in pitch blackness.  In the second your eyes were adjusting, the walls of the room lifted away to the ceiling and when you could see again it had suddenly turned from a small room into a huge area full of water, enormous screens to show Posideon fighting an evil sorcerer, and a water and fire display.  Impressive.  What was more amusing than impressive was that in the staging area where they did the preliminary story setup, one of the archaeology books was a book by my company.

There was also a sarcastic statue at Lost Continent.  We talked to him on two separate days, and the second day he wasn't half as amusing as this day.  Listen carefully and you'll hear "Bob" talking to Eryn.  He sounds exactly like Louie Anderson.

This is for Kyle.  He needs to go to the Harry Potter area and he could find himself a date.  These women  look well balanced.  They have a hobby.  They can afford over-priced outfits.  And they have friends.  I bet they're a catch.

But if you're not into black-hatted witches, there are also women who dress up like Luna Lovegood.  The good news is they can find you if you're accidentally invisible, like I was.

Or even better, Pooteewheet and I conferred and felt you might like a crotch shot of Cathy.  Sexy!

A sunny picture of Hogwarts.

These photos are from Toon Lagoon, yet another area of Islands of Adventure.  Apparently neither Eryn nor I were smart enough to figure out how to appropriately use the Marmaduke picture kiosk.  You're not supposed to stand on the cloud, but on the ground, so it looks like you're being pulled through the air by Marmaduke.

It is true that I'm heavier than Eryn.  In that case, perhaps my picture is more appropriate.  Damn Marmaduke.

In the Marvel Super Hero Island area, we went on the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which was great, and then took a relative rest by riding the Storm Force Accelatron.  According to the cartoons around the ride, our energy was used to defeat evil super villains.  Yes!

Here's some video...the accelatron was actually sort of nauseating.

At the end of the day, we only had a few minutes before we had to get to the hotel shuttle, but Pooteewheet and I didn't want to sit in the parking lot, so we made Eryn go on the Seuss go round.  As you can see from both the video and the picture, she was not impressed at being made to ride the "baby rides".  That just made it more fun for Pooteewheet and me.

Here.  You can ride it with us and put on your own crabby face.

The train into Hogsmeade!  Across the street is Honeydukes.  Eryn bought a chocolate frog.  It's still up in her closest.  We brought back half a suitcase full of candy and stuffed animals.  Eryn's is dressed as Hermione, so you know what her first stuffed animal was don't you?  That's right, Crookshanks.

The Frog Choir played here when it wasn't raining.  It was Glee with realistic giant frog familiar puppets humming the Harry Potter music.  It was also the one place you could get a good picture with all of the flags from Hogwarts.

While trying to avoid the rain on the second day, we discovered that the Jurassic Park area had a dinosaur exploratory area.  You were encouraged to identify various dino eggs, and every half hour or so they had actors dressed as scientists show a hatching egg.  Eryn got to name a dino "Emily" and was extremely happy.  She'd wanted to be the person selected to talk to the wand seller (Ollivander), but only one kid out of a roomful is selected for that each time.

Another picture from the dino exploration area.  I always try to show me inappropriately touching an animal statue.  This time I show my wife inappropriately touching a brontosaurus.  I think she's milking it.

Toon Lagoon had too many water rides.  I say too many because it was pretty cool with all the rain, so no one was riding them during 2/3 of our visit.  But the few times people were on the rides, Eryn learned from a local that you could feed a quarter into a machine that allowed you to squirt unsuspecting riders as they finished their ride.  There was no escaping being wet.  And on Popeye's boat, you could use one of the guns to squirt people on the barges for free.  That may have been one of Eryn's favorite parts.  On this day, probably 30 rafts went by with no one on them.  I snuck down and got on one so she'd have someone to squirt at.  I figured I'd get a little wet, but the barge ride was nothing like the one at Valleyfair or the State Fair.  I was soaked top to bottom.  When we went past Eryn I looked up, and she yelled "Dad!" and missed me, squirting the guy next to me.

Get 'em Eryn!

Evil wizards were afoot.

The flight of the hippogriff ride.  This was the starter ride for anyone who wanted to work up to a big roller coaster.

A great time.  We had no ideas what to expect for most of the rides, and it was a treat to be on things so different than what I was on over 20 years ago.

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