Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Part 5 - Universal Studios Orlando and Wheelchair Woes!

So after traveling to Florida, adjusting to the heat, and two days at Disney theme parks - our third day we opted for something different - Universal Studios!  In the package of theme park tickets we received from Give Kids the World, we received a 2 Day Park Hopper Pass to Universal Studios Orlando, which has two theme parks - Universal Studios, and Universal's Islands of Adventure.  Both had a portion of their theme park dedicated to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - so being a Harry Potter buff, I was TOTALLY EXCITED for the day to start!

It was a little difficult to get the boys to wake up that morning, and Jenelle was sitting up in bed giggling, so I took the opportunity to meet Disney Characters on site at Give Kids the World.  Our first visit was with Goofy!  I truly believe he is her new favorite!  We met him in the Castle of Wishes and enjoyed the cool air conditioning.

Meeting Goofy at Give Kids the World!
After spending some photo time with Goofy, we walked over to Julie's Safari Theater to meet Micky Mouse.  On the first day we arrived at GKTW, Jenelle was given a stuffed Mickey Mouse. We brought the toy with us, and Mickey autographed the foot!  Below are some great photos from our time with Mickey - it was special and so very individual because we had all the time in the world.

Special time on stage with Mickey Mouse!

Mickey autographs Jenelle's stuffed toy.
I brought back Breakfast to our villa and found the boys watching TV.  We rallied quickly and hit the road for Universal Studios!  Since it was closing early, we decided to visit the Islands of Adventure park first.  Our first stop was in the Dr. Seuss themed area where we rode rides about the Cat in the Hat, the Sneetches and Red Fish, Blue Fish.  It was pretty hot with no rain in the forecast (I actually think the days with rain were hotter than days without) so before entering Hogsmeade (the Harry Potter Themed village), we stopped to hydrate!

JD chilling after some Dr. Suess rides!

Sweet Jenelle enjoying a cool down
with a shoe photo bomb by JD.
Soon we arrived at Hogsmeade, and this is where JD discovered faster rides than Disneyland!  Just like the Genie Pass with Disney, we had a "Golden Pass" at Universal which worked the same way in allowing us access onto fast pass rides regardless of the time.  The first ride in Hogsmeade was the Dragon Challenge which is a high speed hanging roller coaster with two tracks that intertwine!  JD and I rode the "smoother" track and immediately fell in love with the thrills!  Brett, who sometimes doesn't do well on rides - depending on the ride - rode a second time with JD and even he enjoyed it.

Just outside the Dragon Challenge, I found the Three Broomsticks (which is a restaurant/pub in the book.)  I had to take a photo throwing my "delta" sign (for Tri Delta) in honor of the Delta that hangs above the entrance.  JD thought I was nuts, but took a photo for me anyway.  Once a Tri Delta, always a Tri Delta!

Delta Sighting with Delta Love!
After the Dragon Challenge, we walked to Hogwarts and learned that there was a ride inside the castle.  The ride was called "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" and it was absolutely JD's most favorite ride of the trip.  It was a lot like Star Tours, but in 3D and much more jolting.  Brett was OK riding once, and even I felt a little dizzy after getting off the ride.
Looking up at Hogwarts Castle
While I wanted to walk back and take the Hogwarts Express to the second park and Diagon Alley - the boys wanted to continue through the Islands of Adventure park into Jurassic Park and to ride the Hulk.  No knowing that we were about to experience a delay, I agreed to walk the loop seeing the rest of the park and then onto Diagon Alley.  Unfortunately, we ran into a snafu when Jenelle's wheelchair broke in Jurassic Park shortly after lunch.  And by broke - I mean... the wheel came off her wheelchair and the hubcap was lost forever leaving us unable to repair the chair!

Entrance to the Jurassic Park area - just like the movie!
The Incredible Hulk ride from Jurassic Park.
Big Brother helping his sister walk as we
looked for the hub cap to her wheelchair.
JD and Brett road a roaring rapids type of ride at Jurassic Park, and just as they finished, we had the problem with the wheelchair.  We were getting close to the closing time of the park, and spent a good hour and a half trying to find Jenelle's hub cap.  Unfortunately, we gave up just as security was telling us the park was closing and we had to walk to the exit.  The worst part was that we were at the farthest point from the exit, so it took us literally an hour to get to the main gate.

At that point, we only had two hours left until Universal Studios closed, and we were pretty hot and tired.  We decided not to fret as we had a "two day pass" and decided to relax at Universal City Walk with drinks for Mom and Dad, and ice cream for the kids at Cold Stone.  It was a pretty exhausting experience.

Margaritas at Margaritaville!

Kids relaxing at home after a lot of walking.
Sadly, we didn't make it back to Universal for our second day.  It was truly one of the most exciting (and different) parks we've experienced, and we hope to go back someday (or at least to the park in Hollywood!)  Blast you darn wheel!

GKTW engineers tried unsuccessfully to repair our wheel!
This is a good place to end Part 5 - next up - Kennedy Space Center! Thank you again to Make a Wish Orange County Inland Empire and Give Kids the World for this amazing trip!

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