Sunday, November 30, 2014

We Are Home!!

This is long and pictures are near the bottom if you wish to skip.

We had a fantastic time and despite the naysayers who said we were not going to have enough time to do everything in just the 2 days we were there, we did. We saw and rode everything we wanted to in 2 days.  The things we didn't see were basically things G had no reference point for like Toon Lagoon which were comic strips (Hagar the Horrible, Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker and the like).  G doesn't read the comics because we don't receive a printed paper.  I Love Lucy memorial thing I might would have enjoyed looking through but G didn't know who it was.

She has never seen Beetlejuice so the activities there were not interesting to her.  Transformers ride was a no go because she hasn't ever seen the movies and was not interested.  We didn't do the water rides because I didn't bring clothing to change into again because of not bringing a backpack.  We did ride a Dr. Suess ride which was just in G's words, a baby ride over the Dr. Suess section.  So maybe we could have stayed a lot longer and seen everything but there was no point.

We headed out for our vacation on Tuesday, stopped by Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, picnicked in the car in the parking lot there. I packed supper for us from home so when we stopped in Albany, GA, we ate supper in the hotel room. I had a cooler that managed to keep everything cool until I could get more ice. We only had to eat lunch on the way into Florida and we stopped at a Subway then.

We arrived at the CoCo Key Resort in Orlando just after 3pm. Our room was ready so we checked in. We initially had a $22/night fee for the water park but due to the cooler temps that was reduced to $9/night and the water park was limited time from 11am-5pm and then Friday it was not open at all as far as I know because when we came back to the hotel before 5pm it was totally closed. I don't think it opened all day.  So the cooler temps was a financial blessing because I was on limited funds due to the car problems I had earlier this fall.

 Well, when we got to the room G had time to play in the water park but the room key didn't work. A very kind employee came to our rescue, showed us where G could change while I figured out the room key and ended up getting us a manager who realized our initial room was locked from the inside because her key wouldn't work either. She upgraded our room from a standard king with no microwave to a studio with a microwave, kitchen area with table/chairs, mud room, bathroom, king bed and living room area. I am telling you this was a God thing. He moved us to that room.

G and I, after getting her a hot shower from playing in the heated water park (the temp was still cool), headed to a Walgreens for supplies. We got breakfast foods for Friday and Saturday and supper for Thursday and Friday plus snacks to take to the park Thursday and Friday. We brought some of the food home and most of the snacks. That cooler even kept our milk we bought for breakfast cold to get home.

Back in June or July I booked this trip that gave us 1 hour before the park opened and I also booked us a breakfast for Thursday morning at the Three Broomsticks on the Adventure Island side that didn't allow for the early entry. So on Thursday we arrived at the park and lined up for the breakfast. I realized that we could have gone to the main park at 7am and had plenty of time to look around before the breakfast at 8:30am.  That information was conveniently not explained until you arrive.    But I figured out what needed to happen on Friday morning to maximize the time we had left.

We had a fairly good breakfast Thursday morning and then hit the Dragon Challenge ride. Because I had a backpack, we had to use the lockers which were free for 30 mins. Thankfully there was not a wait time on the ride. G gave me her jacket to put in the locker but after the ride which was terrifying to me and exhilarating to G, we inadvertently left the jacket in the locker. We didn't realize for 4 hours that the jacket was gone.

 We had already left the Hogsmeade/Hogswart section of Universal and gone to Diagon Alley by the time I realized the jacket was gone. We were having lunch at the Leaky Cauldron at the time. Lunch was really good as was the butterbeer which tasted like butterscotch. I drank mine hot and G had a cold one she actually couldn't finish.  But I was upset about the jacket so I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't lost the jacket.

So after lunch we headed back to Hogsmeade to the lockers after asking many people about lost and found and maybe left on the train etc. to look for her jacket. I was praying the whole time that we would find it. We get to the lockers and low and behold, God put that jacket on the top of the lockers through some kind person who found it left in the locker we used. I could not believe it and am very VERY thankful for it being found.

As far as the snacks and backpack I carried on Thursday, we drank the water near the end of the day and ate none of the snacks, so Friday I determined not to bring it nor any jackets. So much better without. We didn't need it. We didn't snack and we didn't buy snacks. Other than lunch on Friday, I bought one Starbucks drink.  We were basically too busy exploring to snack. We avoided the lockers without a backpack, thereby avoiding potential loss.

Also as far as purchases, Universal offers this great service to have all packages picked up at the front of the park (from whichever park you are sending) at the end of the day so you don't have to carry anything around except food stuffs, like chocolate frogs.  Of course as the day would go, it was fairly cool Friday so I did end up purchasing hoodies for the both of us and we agreed to wear them all day no matter what.  We didn't really need to take them off as the high reached 64 I think.

I had a small purse I wore under the top layer of my layered shirts to keep our phones for the cameras with us. We were able to ride with them and there by take pictures on the way to the rides. I didn't have them with me on Thursday so no pictures of the inside of Gringotts or the Dragon Challenge.  And there was some very cool stuff to see.

Right now, I feel like I am going in a million different directions.  I am trying to finish unpacking, fixing lunch and loading pictures to Shutterfly.  The fire phones photos and video are pretty good.  If you need a new phone but can't afford the I-phone, the fire phones unlocked are $199 and with contract I think still .99.  I am not getting paid for saying anything but G and I do like our phones.

So back to Universal, Thursday we rode the Escape from Gringotts and had an hour wait which was the longest we waited for any ride.  We did not purchase the express passes because the main rides we were heading for didn't allow them.  Granted in the middle of summer the wait times I am sure are much much longer but if you purchase an early entry I just don't think the express passes are worth it.
The Gringotts ride was very cool.  G and I were in the front of the second car which during the ride became the front seats to the ride.  And I screamed and G screamed.  I think that was my favorite ride.  They really made you feel like part of the wizard battles with the 3d glasses and roller coaster combined.  Funny thing, every ride we got on, G would bring her lap bar or whatever down too tight.  Every time I had to ask the workers to release hers so she could re-do it.  I mean every ride she took.

Friday we got there by 7am and were lucky enough to ride the Despicable Me minion ride which though it is not a roller coaster, it was still pretty fun.  And no line.

After that, we made it to Kings Cross station to head to Hogsmeade before that actual park opened its gates.  We rode the Hogwarts roller coaster and that is the one on which I did feel nauseated.  That pretty much ended my rides for a while.

While we were walking around, we walked into the Simpson's section of Universal studios and G rode the alien ride in Krustyland.  She of course didn't get the Simpson reference as she has never watched the show.
Hogwarts Castle

The Sorting Hat

The Knight Bus 

Hogsmeade Station

No. 12 Grimmauld Place with Kreacher peaking out

9 3/4 platform for Wizards and Witches

The Gringotts Dragon that really blew fire.  We could feel the heat.

Going through the wall at 9 3/4 platform

Anyway, the trip was really good.  We had a great time.  Universal really made the whole experience feel real.  Now we are back into our real world, I am exhausted. We left Orlando at 8:30am Saturday and arrived home at 11:15pm Saturday night.

We found a really good Japanese restaurant in Oxford, AL, because G again decided she was hungry for Italian, Mexican or Chinese (Asian) on the way home.  She did the same on the return from Kentucky last year.  G also fell asleep and had a 2 hour nap on the ride home. I had to wake her up and then put her back to bed.

Now for the real life, off to the store for groceries.

1 comment:

Vivian M said...

So many blessings! Glad you got upgraded and your lost jacket was found, thrilled you had a great time and got to do/see so much, and happy you are home safe and sound!!