Harry Potter Land! (err, Universal Studios)

Day 1 and 2 HERE

Day 3: Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure

So the next day was the one that I had been anticipating the most. Universal Studios... home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We had a more relaxed start since the hotel was across the street from the park (vs. 20 minutes from Disney), and the shuttle didn't leave until 10 (vs. 7:30!). So we got to sleep in a little (first day we slept past six, actually), get ready, pack our bags and get completely set to flight out the next day, and eat some breakfast at the hotel. We ended up grabbing a cab over since even with our lazy start, we were rearing and ready to go before 9!

First was the Dr. Suess area.

It was cute and fun, though I have to say I was a little disappointed in how many rides she couldn't ride. I completely understand the 40 in to ride alone, and I understand the faster rides that you have to be 40 in to ride, period; but there were a few that weren't that fast or crazy and she still couldn't ride them.  ::shrugs::

After that we headed on to Hogsmede! Where I proceeded to completely geek out, like a complete fangirl.  :-)

Butterbeer! We got some the second we got in there!

The reflection made it impossible to capture Sirius's face...
so Trav caught these other wanted criminals...

It was everything I hoped it would be! Gwen and I were both so excited, and I seriously couldn't stop smiling the whole time.

Trav and I took advantage of the Child Swap rooms Universal has (you both walk up to the ride, then one parent heads with the child into the CS room, when the other parent is done, you switch... one of the rooms was playing the first HP!) for two rides in this area: the Dragon Challenge and the one inside Hogwarts (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey). Very fun.

Thankfully this area also had Gwen's favorite ride of the whole trip... Flight of the Hippogriff. It was a rollercoaster that she could actually ride! And ride it we did, probably 8 times that morning alone!

After that it was time to refuel, so we hit up the Three Broomsticks!

The food was really good.

After that it was more Flight of the Hippogriff.

Hands in the air in the front row! That's my girl!

We tore ourselves away for a bit after that, heading into the Jurassic Park area. Gwen loved this pterodactyl ride that rode you high in the air.

We continued on through the comic section and straight to the superheros!

Just in time to see them come out on their bikes!

Gwen was in awe, and definitely wanted to stop and say Hi. Cue one of my favorite pictures ever!


Trav and I took turns riding the Hulk ride here (o.m.g.), then rode the Storm ride with Gwen before heading back to HP for a few more spins on, you guessed it, the Flight of the Hippogriff. Lol.

We must have got on this thing 20 times, but I'm not complaining.

Then it was time to buy a few mementos, take one last look, then head down the park to make our dinner reservations.

Our reservations were at Emerils, and I have to say... it was really great. The staff was so sweet to Gwen, the food was amazing, and our kid, she was just the best.

Here's what I posted to facebook that night:

"Kid brag ahead: despite early mornings, late nights, long lines, humid days and being too short for a good amount of rides, Gwen has been amazing on this trip. And it all culminated in our dinner at Emeril's tonight, where she ate so nicely, and talked quietly (though quite excitedly) through our 5 course [Chef's tasting menu] meal. We were able to enjoy said meal, unrushed, and she kept us smiling. The ladies at the next table even told us that she was the best behaved child they'd seen eating out, ever! I am so lucky to have my sweet Gwen. She has really made this trip."

Yes, she had her grouchy moments this trip, yes she fussed some and talked back a few times, but she also was excited and sweet and so polite to everyone she met. She charmed the heck out of everyone from the steward on our first plane (who slipped her some chips and a fig bar), to the waitress at Friendly's the first night (who would swing by our table just to talk to Gwen), to ride attendants, and the waitress at Emeril's who Gwen called her "good friend." Even on the plane ride home (which thankfully was event-free!) she made friends with all the attendants (one of whom gave her some cookies), who she treated to Dora stickers and lots of stories. We were in the very back, so we had some time to kill between landing and deplaning, and she held court! I was so impressed by my grown up little girl!!

In the pilot's seat!

Its crazy to be back home, but we relaxed all afternoon to bring our energy back down to at home levels. In fact, we watched some Harry Potter and ate (some of) this bad boy:

Now its back to real life...
I took today off as well, just to come back down to earth and have some quiet time, but Trav and Gwen are at work/school today. Its crazy how fast the trip went, but it was so full of fun! I can't wait to go back!! We are already saying we have to since they are opening Diagon Alley this summer!

For today, my only plans are some yoga, unpacking, and relaxing! Oh, and cooking a good dinner for the fam. 

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