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Old 05-21-2012, 03:29 PM   #31
bumbershoot
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I wanted to mention that this report isn't a full report of everything we did. It's been too long, and the trip was too weird to really remember everything, LOL.

We realized that if we do a bicoastal trip in the future, we'll *start* with the time change and the easy parks (Universal Florida), and *end* with the home time and "harder" parks (Disneyland). We felt like we wore ourselves out at Disneyland, then had to deal with a time change that worked to our detriment for early mornings. Whereas if we'd gotten used to Eastern time then went back west, we'd be at a bit of an advantage for early mornings.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:48 PM   #32
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Enjoyed reading this, thank you very much!
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Old 05-22-2012, 01:19 AM   #33
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Yay, glad you've liked it!


*************

And now for the rest of the 14th.

By this day, we felt like we were finally hitting our stride. Serious bummer that it was so late in the game, but oh well.

We finally decided to spend some time in the Discovery Center at Jurassic Park. It was really neat! The first thing we really went to was this sort of science area they have in there.

For those who haven't been, the backstory of JP is that it's JP *before* things went wrong. So there are clever references to all their fail-safe systems, to the way they have things set up so the dinosaurs will all be female and they have the amino acid in the food, etc etc. Everything they talk about for the park in the movie, before reality bites them in the face.

I find it all to be VERY fun. Eamon and I, back in December 2010, were incredibly lucky and got to do the Triceratops Trail, and we've never seen it open since. It's like it opened just for that day or something. And they really have the whole pre-irony thing going on; I can't really explain, but it's all so fun how the TMs get SO into their roles.

And the Discovery Center is full of things like that. And the area where they have the dinosaur eggs is probably the most intense part.

I had NO idea what was going on back there; I saw a TM scientist, writing notes and reading and doing things like she was really at work. OK I know she's at work, but she's not really in a science lab. And definitely not one studying dinosaurs that are going to hatch. Right? Hmm...right?

I was casually wondering about her, wondering what she thinks about while at work pretending like she's at work, etc etc, and then the scene started.

She acts like, again, she's at work in this lab, talking to tourists to Jurassic Park about their breeding program. It's all so real, and I just kept thinking "what a WEIRD job". Whenever I had a new job, I would dream about it vividly for weeks. I wonder what her dreams are like?

So then they have an egg hatch.




And then they have a child name the dinosaur. And that child, for that scene, on that day, was Eamon. These are velociraptors, but E named it Rexie. After the "scene" ended, another "scientist" came out and put Eamon's name onto a birth certificate for Rexie, as a souvenir. It was REALLY neat.


We played around in there for a good hour after that. You can do a game show sort of thing, you can have your "DNA mixed with dinosaur DNA" (aka they put your picture together with a dinosaur picture), you can learn more about dinosaurs and pretend you are an archaeologist using ground xray to see what there is to find. It's a really neat space.

At last we were done with it and moved along!

E and I rode Pteranodon Flyers (not sure if it was that day or another), and that ride is TERRIFYING. The rocking, the swaying, the far too excellent view of the concrete below you.... He loves it, Robert likes it, I do NOT.


Pretty sure Spiderman was down during our trip, and so Marvel island is a bit slow for us right now. I'm not going to deal with Dr Doom until I have to (aka Eamon is ready to go on it...I think he's tall enough for it now, but decided he wasn't ready for it when he re-saw the gloomy scary entrance to it), I'm definitely not dealing with the Hulk until I have to, etc.


Once again we were floating all around...I got some popcorn and a refillable bucket, and it was salty but good. Then the adults got more Richter's veggie burgers, to go with our popcorn, it seems. Eamon discovered that popcorn and mustard REALLY works for him.

At this point, I had developed a horrid headache, but now E was very hungry (mustard and popcorn might work for his taste buds, but not his stomach b/c it was empty!). We had promised him his Universal-favorite-food....cheese ravioli with pesto at Lombards Landing. Of course, Robert and I had just eaten, so we had to be super-nice to the server in order to make sure we got good service when just one person is dining. Robert and I got coffee (I was hoping the caffeine would help the headache, and it did) and Eamon chowed down on his adult-sized plate of ravioli. I only see one receipt, so it seems we didn't have to order him two meals like we did the last time we were there.

I keep asking if he'd like to go into modeling or acting, so he can maybe help us out with our future food bills, LOL.




This also might have been the day the guys did Bluto's Barges. I wasn't feelin' it, so I waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. As soon as they got one step away from the rotating dock (seriously, they were on the stairs going down and were on the step before the dock!) the ride went down. Some people left, many stayed. They stayed. And stayed. And stayed. There were people stuck on rafts for quite awhile until they fixed whatever they had to fix, and then they had to wait some more for all those people to be offloaded. At long, long last, they got onto a raft. And got stuck.

But finally they went, and at the very very LAST moment Robert remembered that his phone was in his shorts pocket, and he managed to put it in Eamon's shorts pocket, which was under his adult-sized poncho, and thank goodness, because Robert got SOAKED. Everyone in their raft was drenched right down to the bone. Except for Eamon, because had had the poncho on. He *felt* like he was getting went, he kept having cold water splashed all over him, but at the end of the ride, he took off his poncho and was dry. And so was the phone.

Robert used one of the full-body dryers, which would have worked brilliantly if he were wearing fancy wicking fabric. Wearing cotton, cotton, and more cotton underneath, however, reduces the effectiveness (effectivity?) of the dryers.


Here's another thing I did do. Eamon and I were both scared, um, something-less. But we did it anyway. Robert had to stay on the ground. He took pictures.



As we were going up, I suddenly wondered "how on earth is this 'restraint' system restraining us? How it is keeping us from going back, which would translate as well to going DOWN, if we did slip?" Seriously, how does it work? Both E and I ended up with actual bruises, because I had my right arm squashed up and over the restraint to hold E's arm, and he had bruises because I was holding him so tight.

Supposedly, this was actually our ride vehicle.




It was exhilarating, sure. It was less unpleasant than Dragon Challenge. But still....how do those restraints work? (and I still wonder this, after having made it off the ride without plunging to my death)


We were wiped out after this day and decided to call it a day! We didn't want to deal with walking to the boat, so we just walked back to the hotel.

















Swam, relaxed, and decided to go to Rainforest Cafe for dinner. It's so interesting to go over to WDW while on a Universal vacation; it's like whole different universe. Different world. whatever, I can't come up with a phrase that doesn't sound like I'm trying to make a pun.


ETA....

When we got back to our room from the parks, we found a gift basket sent up with a note from the Sal's employee that originally took our order and was so aghast that we had been forgotten. This picture was taken just before we left for the airport, so it's been emptied of things we wouldn't be eating and things we'd already eaten, but you can see that it was large. And very generous. And VERY sweet of her.

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Old 05-22-2012, 02:17 AM   #34
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The morning of the 15th was a lazy one. That was OK, since we had decided to NOT start in IOA.

Along with whatever else we did on our way into the parks, we then found ourselves at the Starbucks inside the Studios. They don't take Starbucks giftcards, but they do take Universal's cards! And they give you the AP discount. Their drinks were tastier than expected (while I'm not really a "fan" of Starbucks, I do partake of their iced lattes, and I've generally noticed that the further from Seattle you get, the worse the drinks are...but it seems the cross-country training has gotten better as of late)


There had been Food Network filming each day we'd been in that area, and today curiousity got the best of us.













Who IS that in the cab?


Various rides, various amounts of fun, etc etc etc. E got an airbrush tattoo. Rides, wandering, rides...

More veggie burgers! Aha, *this* was the mustard-popcorn day.






Oh, and this is a poster they have at Richter's...pretty disturbing!





Did two new things today! I rode The Mummy. It was a really great ride! R&E went on Twister while I did that, though I look forward to the day when they are able to join me on The Mummy again.

We also saw the Beetlejuice review show, which was FAR better than I thought it would be! But the main thing I took pictures of was the skirt that the Bride of Frankenstein was wearing. I want that skirt! I've been promising myself some really awesome Halloween costumes once I feel that I look good, and now that that's in the works, watch out! (OK you guys don't have to watch out, LOL)










We were trying to do a "best of" tour that day, but the heat had started to get to us. E had more pizza, played more, etc.



We were tiring...



This is a neat little area.



Fun to see "celebrities".




From there we went to IOA, for a "best of" tour there, too.

This pretty much only encompassed Wizarding World, of course, and was really for souvenirs.

Pigwidgeon the owl is now a part of our family, and Robert got a Hogwarts themed passport holder (that's actually kind of a pain to hold a passport in). I got E the Prefect pin, and snagged for myself, VERY quickly, that "teeny crest pin set" I took a picture of earlier. I didn't even look at what I got, since we were in a hurry and I was distracted by the Slytherin TMs playing with their Pgymy Puff keychains (that sounds even weirder if I leave out "keychains").


Got more butterbeers, headed on OUT of there! Goodbye parks, goodbye!
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Old 05-22-2012, 02:28 AM   #35
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That afternoon/evening we needed to pack, we needed to eat, and we *wanted* to relax.

While on our way to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner, we noticed Giftland on 535. For those who don't know, it's a HUGE souvenir store (not the only one) that looks fabulously kitschy. We have had shopping envy while passing by it and other places like it each time, but had yet to make the time to go.

While passing, we thought "well why not?" and went on in.

Nirvana! Not the band, but the state of mind.

E got a Marvel sweatshirt for very little. Robert got a Grumpy shirt for half price. I got a Tinkerbell sleepshirt. I got a WONDERFUL Florida-shaped, puffy (but hard) plastic magnet with a map of important things on it. Awesome!

I felt like a kid in the '70s again, going on a road trip with a parent, stopping at awesomely awful roadside souvenir places...it was great.

We will now be stopping at those places on our FIRST days from now on. Why wait until the end, when you've spent all your souvenir money, when you can get a lot of it done there, for cheaper? We did indeed see some "still in the stores" merchandise (remember we had been to DTD and did do a little sightseeing in the stores) there, for cheaper than in the parks.

If you have the means, I highly recommend it.


We then went to Sweet Tomatoes, which was....closed. Aw drat. I had remembered the times wrong. If we hadn't gone to Giftland, we would have made it, and Giftland was open *later* than the restaurant.

We had a sad and pathetic meal at TGI Fridays. Do you know how HARD it is to make a vegetarian meal from their items there?



Went back, packed up, went to bed. We had an early early morning for our flight out.
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Old 05-22-2012, 02:50 AM   #36
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The morning was a typical "ack we have a flight!" morning.

Packing the car, tolls, gas fillup, returning the car, checking in luggage. Main interesting part was the guy that stepped right in front of us, blathering about his status with United, as we were standing in the fancypants line (Robert flies them for work often and gets to stand in the fancypants line). He was told that he was not next, and that was nice. Later on, while boarding, Robert saw him...NOT getting on the plane with the fancypants people...nope, he was waiting for the regular boarding groups. So what on EARTH was he doing in that line? Let alone cutting in front of us? Grr.

Don't get me wrong (and since many of you might not have read my other trip reports and don't really get my weird brain it's totally possible that you're having a very different "take away" from this than I mean), we're not snooty or fancypants. (do fancypants people call themselves fancypants people? I don't think so) We're casual folk who sometimes get to partake in fancy things, and our very casualness sometimes undercuts the fact that we do actually have a right to be wherever we are.

Anyway, Robert has more experiences with this than I do (you would not believe the treatment he sometimes gets from fellow passengers and even airline employees, because he doesn't travel in a suit and doesn't look the part), and felt quite gleeful that the wannabe line cutter got his comeuppance.

I've been reading historical mysteries, therefore I'm using words like comeuppance.


Our gate was the same one E and I had left from before, with the tiny store that sells the ONLY breath-mints a vegetarian who avoids corn syrup based ingredients can get (VerMints), and I bought several tins of them. We relaxed, listen to highly stressed parents talking about how they'll never go back to WDW because the few days they'd had there were awful (heck yeah, a few days? stay 2 weeks and you'll actually have a vacation!)

Plane, Chicago, Brioche Doree at O'hare (caprese panini are delish!) (expensive but fab!), plane, HOME. Early morning flight = home in early afternoon. Delightful!





Soon after we got home and began the arduous process of unpacking and all of that, I looked at my "teensy crest pin set", and found that some sneakypants person had done a swap! It's supposed to have one teensy Hogwarts crest, and then a teensy crest of each of the 4 houses. Apparently, some sneaker has two (at least) Gryffindors in their household, and did a little bit of theft, taking the Gryffindor crest from the set that was to become mine, and putting an extra Hogwarts crest on! Augh, sneaky!

I asked around here who to contact, and was graciously given the information. I emailed them, and they said "yep, we'll help!" I did need to mail the one with the switcheroo back, and almost immediately they sent a good one back to me! YAY Universal merchandise people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



We had a GOOD trip. We were tired and achey, and it wasn't all perfect, but it was really good. As I mentioned before, if we did it again we'd do it the other way, but how could we have known how we would feel ahead of time?

We still have Universal APs that are good well into September, and if Robert were traveling more and earning more airline miles I would totally be plotting another trip. But we'd also bought Disneyland APs, and have yet to make them worth it (well, mine got a December solo trip as well as the Feb trip, so I'm caught up, but theirs have only been on one trip), and we *have to* make that worth it. So Disneyland is up first.

Then we appear to be planning a cruise for Feb 2013, one that encompasses our usual WDW partners in crime (my aunt, her daughter, and family) as well as my mother in law (who will have her own separate room). That will be interesting, to say the least! We have NO idea if that trip will be just a quick in and out to Canaveral, or if it will include theme parks...I guess the MIL mentioned to hubby and son on Mother's Day that she would actually be interested in a scooter (she's slowing down and is VERY sensitive to heat), so that perks up my ears a bit. But until we get closer, we won't really know.

The main bummer of the cruise is that I *want* a nice 7 day'er on a RCCL Dreamworks ship. But in our west coast family, only hubby and I have cruised. Sailing is in DS's blood, if you believe in such things, but the MIL is the wild card. She might love it, might hate it. And I'd rather find out she hates it on a SHORT cruise rather than a long one. Makes sense, eh? The cousin's family found their mad love for Disney Cruises last Feb (they had JUST gotten home from their cruise the day we visited), and they had already planned to go again in '13, and so...plans sort of got squashed together. Therefore, it seems that DS's first cruise will be on a Disney ship. Don't worry, we'll get him on a Dreamworks one as soon as possible!

But all that's in the future.



Here's my fave non-kidlet picture from this trip.





And now I've ended my February 2012 Universal trip report!
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:03 AM   #37
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Oh I really enjoyed reading your trip report. Fantastic pictures and loads of detail.

I smiled when you were talking about RRR and wondering how those harnesses keep you safe.

Before i went on it for the first time, I stood for half an hour and watched intently to make sure no-one slipped out or actually died on it before I would even consider it. Glad I went on it though

You sound as though you all had a really wonderful trip, I must try out the giftstore. Have seen it many times as we do wander over to that area a lot for meals, so maybe this year we`ll pop in.

Thanks again for the trippie
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:33 AM   #38
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it's been a fun 'read a long' with you!
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:29 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schumigirl View Post

Before i went on it for the first time, I stood for half an hour and watched intently to make sure no-one slipped out or actually died on it before I would even consider it. Glad I went on it though
So good to know someone else was worried about that.

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Originally Posted by macraven View Post
it's been a fun 'read a long' with you!
Glad you were here!
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:34 AM   #40
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Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:13 AM   #41
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Molly, late to the party but saw your TR in your sig in a post somewhere, and had a read. Thanks for all the pictures, they really do help remind me of the details.

I noticed a "pumpkin fizz". That's new since our last trip--what is it? We liked the pumpkin juice a lot, but it is pretty...dense...and more a cool-weather drink than a Florida drink! And great as it is, Hogsmeade doesn't quite have the climate you'd expect! ;-)

Thanks also for your enthusiasm about the parks, I kind of see them as "clutter" on my way to WWoHP, but I will try to look at it with different eyes next time.

I loved the story about the robes and the Three Broomsticks TM, had to read it aloud to my dh.

I grrrr'd on your behalf when I read about your pins but good on Universal for making it right. It looks like they've added a lot new pin designs since we went in 2011, I am looking forward to having a shop.

Haven't been to the Beetlejuice show, but I agree that the skirt is really cute!

Anyway, wanted to say thanks for the TR!
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:18 AM   #42
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great photos
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