We decided to stay an extra day in Orlando so we could go to Universal. Dana and Lynn had never been before, and I couldn’t do much of anything the only time I had been, so it worked for everyone. Lizzie and Doug had planned to go that day, too, so we caught a ride to the park with them.
We went to the Universal Studios side first and walked straight back to the new Harry Potter area, Diagon Alley. The Knight Bus was even parked outside of the entrance. Not surprising, the attention to detail was so impressive. And the Escape from Gringotts ride was really cool.
After we explored a bit, Dana, Lynn, and I decided to go ride a couple of the roller coasters in other areas of the park. We did the Mummy one first, which was awesome. Then we headed to the insane-looking Rip Ride Rockit coaster at the very front of the park. (The big issue with Universal is that no bags, purses, or sometimes even cell phones are allowed on any of the rides, so you have to put everything in lockers near each ride. It was a royal pain, and since we didn’t have our phones, we didn’t take many pictures.)
We ended up catching up with Lizzie and Doug on the Rockit, so we all took a break after we rode it. We went to Finnegan’s Irish Pub for lunch (delicious burgers) and then walked back over to Diagon Alley for a round of hot butterbeer. So tasty.
We said goodbye to Lizzie and Doug after that, who needed to get back to the girls, and went to catch the Hogwarts Express to the other park, Islands of Adventure. So very cool.
We did the Dragon Challenge coaster twice right when we arrived in Hogsmeade. Awesome. And then we finally got to do the Forbidden Journey ride in the Hogwarts castle. It unfortunately made Lynn sick, but I thought it was incredibly cool and very well done. While she recovered, Dana and I hopped on Flight of the Hippogriff, and then we left Harry Potter land.
We walked through Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, and finally Super Hero Island. All three of us really wanted to do the Hulk coaster, which did not disappoint one bit. It was incredible.
After conquering the Hulk, we decided to leave the park and go check out an awesome new restaurant that Jackie told me about: the Chocolate Emporium. We timed our arrival perfectly; it was not crowded at all and we were able to get a table on the outside patio overlooking the rest of City Walk.
Our waitress Lauren was great. We ended up hanging out there for two hours, ordering a couple of appetizers to share for dinner and then splurging for gigantic milkshakes for dessert.
We took our shakes to go and caught an Uber back to our room at Art so we could pack up and be ready to leave the next morning. We got an early Magical Express to the airport and saw Lizzie, Doug, and the girls as we were checking in with Southwest. They were on our flight and were ecstatic about three extra pairs of hands to help them with their stuff and the girls, who were angels on the flight.
I came home exhausted but really excited to see my three boys. Kenny unfortunately had to leave that same afternoon for an overnight trip to Houston, but I got to see him for about an hour before he left. And then I got to pick up the boys from school and give them their presents I brought them. I found a Wall-E and Eve ornament in Epcot!
What a trip. It definitely didn’t go how I anticipated, but we made the most of it and had a great time.
Just don’t be surprised if I end up back in Orlando next January……