Monday, July 18, 2016

Universally Awesome! April 2016 Trip Report, Day 2: Wizards and Simpsons and Bilge Rats (Oh My!), Part 5

The previous installment can be viewed HERE.

We said our goodbyes to Springfield and took the bridge over towards the London area.  Before we entered Kings Cross Station, though, I steered the boys towards the red phone booth.  There’s a little experience in there if they dialed in the number for the Ministry of Magic.  My plan was flawless…well…except for one small issue.

The boys didn’t know how to use a rotary phone.

My hair grayed entirely on the spot there, and I had a feeling that, back at home, hooligans were about to get on my lawn.

I got in and showed them how to dial it, and they got to hear the little spiel.

Well, THAT backfired.

We entered Kings Cross Station and used our tickets for entry into Islands of Adventure (yes, folks…you need a park-to-park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express).  We saw that the posted wait time was 15 minutes; I started timing the wait for Touringplans at 12:57.  I won’t spoil too much, but they carried the Diagon Alley theming into this area superbly!  The Platform 9 ¾ wall effect was really cool!

We crossed over, and there it was…the Hogwarts Express!!!

When we walked on, I stopped the timer…20 minutes on the nose.  We shared our cabin with another family that had a boy that was maybe 5-6 years old.  He made several comments about the “beautiful wall” outside our window, and that instantly became a running joke with our family for the rest of the trip.

The ride over to Islands of Adventure was quick, but, considering it’s also a people eater for both parks, it was expected.  Aside from a rather blech voice substitute for Hermione, it was a really neat attraction!

We made it to Hogsmeade Station, and we stepped off into Islands of Adventure for the very first time!

We turned and saw….the Hogwarts Express!  It’s a carryover from before Diagon Alley opened; it has remained a very popular photo spot.

The first stop was the bathroom.  Sheri just HAD to pick the one near a window that had mandrakes screaming incessantly.

I immediately decided that I liked Diagon Alley better.

All joking aside, Hogsmeade Village is also breath-taking!  I accidentally moved the setting on our DSLR camera from “Auto” to a manual setting, a lot of our pictures in this area didn’t turn out too well.  What made it worse was that I failed to swap the white balance setting on the manual shots (it was on the "Tungsten" setting, which, when slightly overexposed, introduced a LOT of blue into the picture).

We immediately made our way to the queue line for Forbidden Journey.  I started the timer as we entered the queue and then entered the locker area to stow everything for our encounter with our first Kuka Arm (more on that on Saturday’s report).  There were so many different areas of this queue area that it was slightly overwhelming (in a good way).  Upon entering Hogwarts Castle, we couldn’t help but get a little excited.  Exiting the castle and entering the Greenhouse area was a bit rough, though I snapped a pic with my phone while going through the switchbacks.  Once we got back into the castle, the theming hit us full-force, with trinkets from the books/movies all throughout.

Taken from the switchbacks in the Greenhouse section of the queue...great use of forced perspective

The portrait gallery was probably my favorite, though I have to admit that, when situated nearby the portrait guarding the entry to the Gryffindor area (with the opera singer), we got a surprise.  The guy behind us was trying to remember the password from the first movie to open the door to enter the common room...

Go ahead and try to remember it...I'll wait...

I gave it to him (“Caput Draconis”…I’m a geek…sue me).  He jokingly said it, and, whether it was supposed to be or just damn good timing on our part, the portrait started talking!!!

We got to the loading area, and it had a Haunted Mansion feel to it.  I had planned on taking my shoes off, but I got a late start getting into my seat, and I left my Crocs on.

With our first ride on this attraction, I voted Forbidden Journey as better than Escape from Gringott’s.  I knew that I’d have to ride each of them again to get a better feel for them to make a final determination, but I really liked Forbidden Journey!  The moves that they could emulate with the Kuka Arm (for Disney World fans, think of the Sum of All Thrills on steroids) had your turning in completely unexpected ways.  Since I had my Crocs on, I was cognizant of all the movement and did everything in my power to not lose them on the attraction.  Couple that with my not expecting some of the movements, and I was slightly blech at the end.  I knew that that meant for Wifey though – she was just about down for the count!

Yeah, yeah...I look bored, but I'm really enjoying it!  I love the expressions of the other three!

We left Hogwarts and continued on our journey through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Up next?  Dragon Challenge!  Sheri just plopped down in some shade and told us to go on.  Woohoo…no locker needed!  We ran to the entrance…

…and were told that we had to have everything out of our pockets…EVERYTHING!

We ran back to Sheri and gave up our phones, wallets, and loose change.  We also handed our lanyards to her.  I started to take my shirt and shorts off, but everyone (and I do mean everyone) told me to put them back on.  The boys and I entered the queue entrance and started walking.  After about 2 counties, we made it to a metal detector.  We then saw a place for Express Pass holders to go…and, of course, our passes were in our lanyards…back with Sheri...2 counties away...


7,932 steps later, we found ourselves at the point where we had to pick red or blue for the coaster.  I heard that red was better, so I decided that blue was this day’s selection; that way Sheri could experience red tomorrow.  The actual wait was minimal…it was just the walk that took forever.  When it was time to load, we all took our shoes off and sat on them #footfreedom!

We all loved it!!!  Aaron has definitely gotten over any lingering fears of coasters, considering he was trying to convince me to let him get back in line.  Eric, the adrenaline junkie, also chimed in to help lobby on his behalf, but I told him we needed to check on their mother.

(I neglected to tell them that I was feeling old and was also a bit wonky)

(continued HERE)