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A Magical Trip, Part Two: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios

Posted Jun 23 2012 3:26pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed my recap of Harry Potter world ! How cool that many of you have been there or plan to go there soon. It really is amazing when you think about the impact J.K. Rowling has had on so many people in such a variety of ways. Her imagination has created a passion for a story that I hope will last for many generations to come.

OK. Enough with my inspirational soapbox. :) Onto the next leg of our trip! Following our feast at Three Broomsticks , we headed back into the Islands of Adventure. Our first stop: Jurassic Park.

We decided we needed to cool off with the Jurassic Park River Adventure . The raft ride starts off by lulling you into a false sense of peace with its happy dinosaurs and slow drift across the current, but pretty soon things head south and the dinosaurs escape – including the T-Rex.

I wasn’t expecting to get that wet but boy was I wrong! Mama Bender, who conveniently opted out of riding with us, caught this video clip of our boat hitting the water after the last drop. We were sitting in the front row and needless to say…it was a splash.

I take that back. We got soaked!!!!!

But I wasn’t about to let Mama Bender leave without a blackmail worthy picture of her own.

Looks good on you, Mama B. :) At this point we were completely cooled off and decided to head into the superhero section of the park. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man was the first ride on our list. It was awesome! It reminded me of the Harry Potter castle ride in that it was a simulation, but was different because it was 3D and had you riding around in a car rather than flying on a broomstick. As a group, you follow Spider-Man as he goes after the bad guys through the streets – and on top of skyscrapers – in New York.

The ride definitely left us feeling like superheroes, so we decided to show off our strength.

Not quite at the level of The Incredible Hulk , but we’re working on it. Speaking of which…

The Hulk roller coaster was next on our list. This ride was an adrenaline rush, for sure. It accelerates from zero to 40 mph in two seconds flat, with the force equal to that of a jet taking off an aircraft carrier . You are then launched into the feeling of weightlessness as you experience a series of upside down loops and twists. Bobby and I rode this one together and our enjoyment was pretty obvious in the picture they snapped of us.

We also checked out Doctor Doom’s Fearfall , which rockets you 150 feet into the air and then drops you back down to the ground at lightning speed. As someone who is terrified of heights, this one really made me sweat – but I loved it! As much as my fear gnaws at me before these rides, it is always worth it afterward. (But ask me to go skydiving and I will say you are crazy.) ;)

It was getting to be late in the afternoon on our first day, so we headed over to Universal Studios to explore for a bit before dinner. The rides and attractions there aren’t nearly as exciting as Harry Potter and Islands of Adventure, in my opinion, but we still enjoyed the Terminator 2: 3D show (which probably hasn’t changed since it was created in the 90s) and the Men In Black Alien Attack ride. Apparently I put on a serious game face when it comes to shooting aliens. Who knew?

Once dinnertime rolled around, we headed over to the CityWalk dining area for a meal at Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando . I was expecting to hear, “BAM!” when I walked in, but it sadly did not happen.

Luckily, the food more than made up for it! I started with an Abita Amber , which has been voted “best beer” in numerous New Orleans polls and is used frequently in recipes of Louisiana chefs.

It had a nice, smooth taste that paired perfectly with a bowl of Chicken and Andouille Gumbo.

Bobby and I split a White Truffle wood-oven pizza for dinner, which was incredible! It was served with confit crimini mushrooms, gruyère cheese and a black truffle emulsion. Yum.

For dessert, our whole family shared a delectable chocolate soufflé. I’m drooling just looking at it.

Pleasantly stuffed and re-energized, we returned to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for round two of rides and exploration. It was pretty incredible to see Hogwarts castle again at dusk.

We went on the castle ride and dragon roller coasters several more times before calling it a night. It was our plan to stay for the fireworks show at Universal, but unfortunately a concert delayed them until later in the evening. We were pretty spent and knew we had a big day ahead of us on Sunday, so decided to head back to our hotel around 10:30 for a little extra sleep in preparation.

Before we left, though, I had to pick up a chocolate frog or two.

I ended up with the Salazar Slytherin card. Wonder what that says about me? ;) I also couldn’t resist a journal emblazoned with the Hogwarts coat of arms. I figure using J.K. Rowling’s inspiration as a place for notes about books and writing can’t hurt.

Our first day came to a close, but there was still plenty of adventure to be had! I’ll be sharing all the details from the next leg of our journey – M-I-C-K-E-Y – in my next post.

Hope you all are having a great weekend. Any big plans to celebrate the start of summer?


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