I ran out of time and energy last night. Here’s the rest of the vacation story. :)
Days one and two.
Day Three: Islands of Adventure
After waking up early for the early park admission deal, then staying out very late the night before, we decided to not set an alarm this morning. Alan decided he wanted to go to the gym for awhile, so I took the kids to Islands of Adventure, with a stop at Voodoo donuts first!
We took the water taxi to the donut shop while Alan went to the gym. We enjoyed it, but keep that in mind if I start complaining about how awful I look in all of these pictures!! #consequences
Voodoo Donuts. This place had soooooooo many options. We were pretty overwhelmed!
Voodoo Donuts had so many options. There was a rotating display of all of the donuts (display ones, not the ones you actually buy) and even after watching that for awhile we couldn’t make up our minds! We ended up going with a cake donut, a jelly filled donut, a blueberry donut, and… a glazed donut. Then we split them all and shared. :)
Off to find Spiderman!
First stop in Islands of Adventure was Super Hero Island. Turns out it’s called Islands of Adventure, because each section of the theme park is considered its own “island.” Not that they are actual islands in any way, you just walk from one themed area to the next, noting the signs in the pavement telling you when you’re entering a new island. :)
We went on the Spiderman 3D ride (Eve’s favorite!), bought some churros (it’s a Spiderman thing), ate a terrible lunch at the Comics cafe on Toon Island, explored Jurassic Park island, then met up with Alan. He and Eve did the Spiderman ride again then we all headed back to Hogsmeade to see what it looked like in the daytime.
Danger: Book May Bite!
Notice the tongue is not coming out of the mouth. They did a good job on this “book.”
By this point we were all exhausted again and ready to head back to the hotel, but not without a visit to Seussville first!
We took a silly Sneeches ride which gave us a view of the whole of Seussville.
Circus McGurkus up ahead.
Sylvester McMonkey McBean and his money making machine. I was really hoping we get stars on our bellies, but sadly, we did not.
Then back to the hotel for some downtime. The kids grabbed devices, I grabbed a book, and Alan grabbed a towel and headed to the pool to sunbathe. :) After awhile we met up again at the pool and had a little snack. I’m not normally a foodie photographer, but I had to take a picture of this meal:
They had tofu available as a topping! I was not expecting that!
Eve got a smoothie that came with a gummy fish on top. She was thrilled! She decided to keep it for a pet… until we made her throw it away a few days later. :)
Then we decided to head back to the parks so we could try taking the Hogwarts Express in the opposite direction. We were told “they are two totally different experiences!” I say, meh. Both stations looked different, but you still waited on line and rode the same train.
We saw a dance-off between the girls from Beauxbaton and the boys from Durmstrang.
Waiting for the train at Hogsmeade Station.
Back in Universal Studios we happened across a character parade. That was fun to watch as we walked past.
We did the Transformers 3D ride and later saw Bumblebee doing some dancing in the streets.
On the way back we did the Transformers 3D ride and the Simpsons 3D ride. Both were fun. I think I’m getting all of this in the right order. If not, oh well. This is where my photos for the day end, so I’m trying to remember what we did for dinner. I think this was the night we went to the fancy Italian restaurant at City Walk (the area just outside the parks where there are lots of restaurants and shops). We marveled at the wide range of fashion at the restaurant. Some were clearly dressed to the nines for dates or celebrations, while others (like us) were clearly fresh out of the theme parks. It was a great meal though and the staff didn’t seem to care how we were dressed! We also enjoyed seeing the family next to us all reading at the table! :)
Day Four: Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay is the third park that’s part of Universal Studios Orlando and Volcano Bay is purely a water park. We decided to spend the third full day of our visit there because it had the best forecast with the least likely chance of rain or tornado warnings. Unfortunately we did a lousy job prepping for this park and mostly ended up not enjoying it. Sadly. We woke up and got ready, no alarms or rushing out the door, then took the bus ride over. By the time we got there and got into the park it was already 10:30 am and super hot. (mistake one) We found some chairs in the sun (all the shaded ones were claimed – mistake two) and tried to apply sunscreen. We should have done that back in the hotel because at this point it was hard to tell what was sunscreen and what was sweat! Already we all felt kinda gross. (mistake three) Because Volcano Bay is a wate rpark, they have these fancy wristbands that link to your ticket and credit card so you can stow your stuff in a locker and just wear the wristbands. They also let you “check in” for rides and add your self to virtual wait lines. What they didn’t do was tell you the time of day (their mistake!), so although I looked at it a hundred times wondering what time it was, it never told me. It was also harder than it needed to be to get the tickets and CC info into the not-watch, so by the time we were actually read to go have fun it was probably 11:00 am. Here was my only picture at Volcano Bay.
My one picture before locking up my phone in a locker for the day.
We walked around, burned our feet on the pavement (no water shoes – mistake four) despite the park’s effort at keeping the walkways cool with water misters. We got in a virtual line for one ride, went on another that didn’t have a line, walked around some more, did the first ride, maybe did another one, it’s all kind of a blur. By this time it was clearly lunch time, I could tell because the sun was past it’s high point and starting to descend, how’s that for primitive time keeping! They only had a few restaurants in the park and each were themed, which made it hard for this picky family to find something to eat. Alan wanted to eat at every restaurant, but we eventually found one that had stuff me and the kids would eat. Of course we weren’t the only ones with the lunch idea, so the lines were ridiculous! We were all hot and hungry and having no fun at this point. The restaurants were all grab-and-go type places too, so after waiting in long lines, you then had to find a place to sit and eat.Alan went back to the lockers while I waited in the food line, and returned with water bottles and sunscreen. By this point we were well past sunscreen reapplication time as well, so we reapplied while standing in the sun, eating at a burning hot table and generally wishing we were back in the AC at the hotel! I also hated walking around in a bathing suit all day with nothing to carry. Sounds dumb, but I missed having my phone (clock!) and water and access to sunscreen, clothes, etc. It just wasn’t for me.
We were on a virtual ride line during lunch, so we did that ride and then decided to call it quits. This fair-skinned New England family knows when it’s had enough time in the sun! We headed back to the hotel for showers, water (oh, so much water!), and a few rounds of Spades.
Can you tell we’re feeling better by this point? :)
Lessons learned: Go early or late, bring food, wear water shoes, wear a waterproof watch, wear a coverup, or just skip the water park altogether! :)
After showers, cards, and dinner at the hotel we were all feeling much better. Eve started talking about dessert so we decided to venture into Islands of Adventure again to check out a cafe we’d seen: The Croissant Moon Cafe. We had croissants and cheesecake! Yum! Then we wandered into Seussville again to check out the bookstore and ride the carousel.
Another attempt at a family photo. :P
Books, and some other stuff too.
Once again we closed the parks, walking out with the crowds after park hours.
Day Five: Parks, Friends, and a Tesla!
We had spent three full days in the parks, which was our plan, but since our tickets included a few free days as well, we decided to swing by one more time before checking out on Saturday morning. We’d heard a rumor that the guy at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes would do an adoption ceremony for pigmypuffs and that the Owl Post would mail postcards, so we made our way back to DIagon Alley. Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron (more pancakes!)
The Leaky Cauldron was a pretty cool place.
Haha.. the adoption ceremony was a surprise! A story best told in person.
The Owl Post
Postmarked Diagon Alley. :)
Then, I took the kids to pick up our luggage while Alan went to pick our rental car — a Tesla! It was a pretty sweet ride!
One happy guy right here!
Next stop, Mike and Andrea’s house! They were kind enough to host us for a few days while we detoxed from theme-park overload! :)
A little time in the pool.
Days Six and Seven: Fun with friends
We went to a science museum, did lots of swimming, watched movies, ate ice cream, and generally had relaxing fun with our Florida friends.
Alan was so impressed with my mad balancing skills. I told him years of practice, hanging out at science museums with young kids. You get pretty good at balancing disks and spinning pennies.
Video games everywhere! College flash-backs! :)
We had a lot of fun with the greenscreen and on-air weather reporting.
Day Eight: Traveling home
The day finally came to head home. We were sad to leave, but happy to be heading home as well.
I told Eve to make sure she had everything…. she tried to pack Max!
Florida gave us a pretty cool farewell sun at 6am.
After our last flight out of Orlando (2013 – many years ago) I learned my lesson to get there early, preprint tickets, and not check luggage!
These two are travelling pros! I gave up all hope of controlling screentime while traveling.
We had an easy flight to Raleigh, NC then a long layover. During the layover it got even longer when bad weather over New England delayed flights in and out of all the airports. Our 3pm flight got pushed back to 4pm, then 6pm, then a ticketing agent rebooked us on 5pm flight and gave us $60 for dinner!
We did play a lot of Spades while we waited too.
The 5pm flight was delayed for awhile, but we eventually took off with a fun and funny flight staff and arrived safely in Boston with our luggage and senses of humor in tact.
This girl is a pretty good traveler too. :)
All the delays gave us lots of time for cards. And junk food. And more cards.
We arrived back in rainy Boston, picked up our dirty not-Tesla, and headed home. We were all hungry (funny enough) and so we stopped at a super yummy restaurant at 9:45pm for a late night dinner. We were home by midnight! Over 18hrs of travel, but we all kept our calm and had fun with each other.
Now we are enjoying a no-plans week at home!
If these selection of photos wasn’t enough for you, feel free to view the whole Google Album. There are some videos in there as well. Enjoy!