Universal takes the lead.....

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by Mysteryincorp, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    This is my first attempt at a trip report....reading others have helped me with planning so I’m hoping someone will learn something from mine! While I took a million pictures This will be word heavy as I’m not sure I know how to post pictures and my family is kind of anti- splashing their mugs all over the internet.
    This trip was my mom, my husband and my daughter....
    Saturday November 24 - travels and delays
    As this was thanksgiving weekend, delays were to be expected but still quite a frustrating way to start our trip. First delay was 1.5 hours, then another hour, then another forty five minutes. Not cool. We ended up landing at MCO after midnight and were greeted by Ron (who is Tony’s night driver), he helped us with our luggage and parks right outside baggage claim so we were on our way to RPR right away. Great service, highly recommend. We got to RPR and hit the sack. We were exhausted. I had planned on placing my order for Amazon prime as we travelled to the hotel but with all the delays I figured I would just do it the morning....this proved to be a profitable but time consuming wrench in our plans for the next day.

    Side notes/Thoughts on RPR
    I lreally like this resort. We got connecting queen rooms so everyone would get their own beds, though my daughter ended up sleeping with me every night. Not cool kid. Refrigerator was perfect size, fit milk, waters, snacks. Bathroom was great, water pressure and temperature was amazing, fastest hot water I’ve ever gotten in a hotel room. I can see how people don’t like the opaque bathroom door, not very private if you were sharing with friends, not a problem for us, but I could see the downside. Lots of storage room, clean, great housekeeping.
    PSA - could we all agree to be quiet in the hallways in the mornings? I get it, this is a family friendly location, kids are everywhere but do you have to stand in the hallway at 7am and yell at your child? this was very frustrating especially since w had gotten in so late, being woken up early by inconsiderate people was brutal. I had a sound machine and could still hear the shrieking banshees outside my room before sunrise. Not cool. The following nights I would place a towel under the door to muffle the noise, that helped. Never heard a neighbor but the hallway noise was annoying.
    EVERY SINGLE employee I encountered in this hotel was polite, kind, and accommodating. We watched the Christmas tree and surrounding decorations go up over the week. One of the women was working on the gingerbread houses around the tree in the lobby and saw my daughter drooling over the candy canes and gave her one and explained how she was decorating and what the final product would look like, my daughter was thrilled.
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    Walking to the parks is the way to go, we were in tower two and felt like the boats were in the wrong direction. We used the boats twice and waited for the boats both times.....not a long time but my mom and I were both commenting that while the boats are great for saving some steps, it’s not really a time saver.
    We ate at Orchids grab n go breakfast every morning and loved it but got tired of the selections by the last few days, would love to see more “quick service” offerings for breakfast and dinner. But i can’t fault the food at this hotel. Jakes is amazing, had one of the best steaks of my life there....but more on that later!

     
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  2. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Sunday November 25th - Jose!!
    So after getting very little sleep,we were all a little cranky. I sent my husband downstairs for breakfast and we got some eggs and ham croissants to share and some coffees and fruit. Just to give those wondering an idea of prices (though I’m sure they are posted in the sticky), each item was around $5-6, so with fruit, coffee, etc,... breakfast was usually around $20 for the three of us each morning.
    Amazon prime story - My daughter eats cereal every morning and they don’t carry Honey Nut Cheerios, which is her jam so I ordered from Amazon Prime now. Waters, cereal, snacks, about $40 worth of food. Here comes the in the plans. So if you order from Amazon prime now, they assign a delivery guy and you can literally track him on a map, so you know when he or she will be delivering your order. So I placed my order and got the message when Jose (our designated delivery man) was just about pulling up to the hotel. I walked downstairs and watched the little dot approach the hotel.....and then disappear! Where did Jose go? Did he disapparate? Does he have an invisibility cloak? Alright things happen, no big deal. Called amazon and enquired as to why my order was now noted as undeliverable, and where did Jose go? The man I spoke to was very nice, could not figure out the problem and apologized profusely. I explained we were waiting for this delivery as we wanted to hit the parks but I totally understand, things happen. He refunded my order, and then for my troubles credited my account $15 and waived the extra free on my next order so we could get essentially instant delivery, great. Good customer service, I was happy. Placed my order and received the message, Jose was my delivery guy again. Uh oh. Watched the dot approach, closer, closer and then disappear! Order undeliverable again! *** Jose?!?!? Called amazon again, checked the address, spoke to bell desk, yes they get amazon deliveries all the time....what’s the deal? This next lady was amazing, she got my phone number, called the delivery manager and watched my order herself until she knew it was completed, then emailed me to confirm delivery. AND credited my account for the entire cost of the order. Thankfully, we got Claudio, who did not disappear and after quite the ordeal received our groceries! Success! just for others infor....the bell desk said they would,be. More than happy to refrigerate any items but I really wanted to pack snacks for the park.
    Long Story short, we got everything for free and having the cereal, snacks and bottled water in the room saved us a ton of money. Amazons customer service was amazing and as we were up early anyways because of the shrieking banshees outside my room, it didn’t eat into park time too much. And now we had 6.5 glorious days stretched out in front of us.
    We took the boat (this was the first time) and headed into US. Weather was warm but not humid. It was really nice actually, high of 79-80. I was fine in jeans and a tank top. We went straight to Diagon Alley and wandered around then hit Gringott’s. Express pass is amazing. Diagon Alley is amazing. Gringott’s is amazing. Universal really hit this one out the parks, and all of us commented (after our two Disney days) that Universal had Disney beat for us this trip.
    We then took the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade as my daughter wanted a wand from Ollivander, she didn’t get picked but more on that later. We then went on Forbidden Journey. Walking up those steps to the portraits and through the classrooms, seeing Dumbledore.....I know I’m a huge nerd but this is my happy place. I love Harry Potter and this ALL does it justice. Great ride, great atmosphere.....I just love it.
    We ate at the Three broomsticks and got the table right under, well the Three Broomsticks. The details in this restaurant are amazing, the leaky cauldron too. I had the Shepard’s pie which was flavorful and filling. My husband had the ribs which he said were dry but good and my daughter had the Mac n cheese, nothing spectacular.I can’t remember what my. Mom had. The rest of this day is a little fuzzy, I know we did the hippogriff ride and FJ again and then wandered around Hogsmeade. I think we headed to Seuss area and I know we had Toothsome for Dinner but again, details are fuzzy. We were all really tired.
    Toothsome was fabulous. My mom and I had the quiche and French onion soup, really good. And we each had a glass of wine. My husband had some massive burger that he loved. My daughter spilled her entire glass of water on me, that was awesome. For dessert, my husband got the chocolate milkshake and my daughter convinced me to share the confetti birthday cake dessert with her which looked like diabetes but it was actually very good. Not too sweet and the ice cream was amazing. Total was around $125 which is not bad considering we got drinks, appetizers and dessert (we got the bruschetta which was ok). Headed back to the hotel and hit the sack. My husband snored and kept me awake all night, usually the sound machine drowns him out but for some reason it didn’t dawn on me to turn the volume up until many frustrating hours later. Oh well, sleep is for the weak. Just kidding, I was miserable the next day.
     
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  4. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Love your report! Can't wait to hear more!
     
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  5. bobbie68

    bobbie68 DIS Veteran

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    Hi so glad that you had a great trip! I love the boat transportation it is so relaxing! We visited RPR and had a throw away room there one night which we visited. It is a pretty resort. Oh I hear you on DA and all HP stuff. DA is our favorite and we could spend all day there. We are HP fanatics so yes it is a happy place! Gringotts is just so much fun and one of my faves. I think FJ is a great ride I just don't like it due to motion sickness and claustrophobia. The HE is so amazing I could ride that back and forth all day! Sorry your daughter didn't get picked for Olivander's mine never did either and was sad. However, it didn't stop her from getting a wand every trip. We enjoy the Three Broomsticks but we enjoy Leaky Cauldron a little better. However, Hogs head has the best pumpkin juice on tap!

    Sorry to hear about the mix up with the amazon delivery. I haven't done a delivery to the resort yet. We drove the last time and will next summer. I will keep all of your experience in mind if I do. I agree that having snacks and water in the room help save money. Actually my trip this past summer to Universal and staying at Portofino club level really saved us a lot of money for a family of 4.

    Toothsome is one of favorites and go every time we are there at least twice. My DH had the quiche last time and enjoyed it. We like the Gnocci and mole sauce. The deserts are great just really filling. I know what you mean about looking at a diabetic nightmare LOL!

    We also have a white noise machine that we sleep with. I have been in the situation with noisy hall guests in the morning. I just don't understand what possess people to do that:sad2:

    I am glad that Universal one you guys over this time. It really is our favorite to visit!

    Look forward to hearing more of your trip.
     
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  6. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Glad I’m not the only one...DA and Hogsmeade are such magical, happy places. We were in US/IOA last year and only spent a few hours in each area and I felt absolutely robbed. This trip we ended up spending hours and hours in the HP areas. Time kind of slips away for me there....I would suggest just a quick ride or pop into a shop and start wandering and before I knew it half the day was gone.

    And I agree, I liked Leaky Cauldron over Three Broomsticks but the Shepard pie was tasty. I love the Orange fizzy drink they sell in the Leaky Cauldron!!

    I thought about changing to club level but am glad I skipped it. for how long we were there we spent very little time in the resort, so I don’t think it would have saved me money. But the offerings look delicious, Maybe one of these trips will turn out to be relaxing like I originally plan!!!

    Universal is grossly underrated and way overshadowed by WDW, though I’m glad it is....more room for me!!!
     
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  7. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Monday November 26, the day the weather turned....
    So today’s forecast was low 80’s but the hourly forecast showed rain and a significant drop in temperatures by the end of the day.
    We started out with some breakfast at Orchid Lounge and then walked to the park. We hit Spider-Man, walked through the Toon Lagoon and watched people getting soaked and then headed to Kong and Jurassic Park. Watching unsuspecting people get drenched in the Bilge Rat ride was so much fun and I seriously could have spent hours here. Great views too 37AE9BFC-2487-4F01-B412-D20CBF6407D5.jpeg

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    We wanted to try Pteranodon Flyers but it was down so we wandered around Camp Jurassic and then headed into Hogsmeade. We hit FJ again, took the train over to DA and then Escaped Gringott’s.

    I just spent 20 minutes trying to remember where we went to lunch and dinner. I checked my credit card bill and I still can’t figure it out. Ahhhhh! I just remembered, we went to NBC Grille. My mom and I shared a hamburger with mushrooms that was unfortunately tasteless and my husband got a FULL rack of ribs which he devoured and said were absolutely delicious. Meat was falling off the bone and he kept trying to get me to take a bite. We also shared the spinach artichoke dip which was very salty but pretty good. My daughter got the sliders and she hated them....shes very hot or cold. She either loves something or hates it. She hated them and since I didn’t like my burger either, this place was only a hit for my husband. Still, great service and very easy to pop into from the parks. We were all pretty tired so headed back to RPR for a rest.

     
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  8. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Continued.....

    Still can’t remember what we had for dinner, but moving on. My mom wanted to stay in the hotel and rest so my husband, daughter and I decided to head back into the parks. BUT the temperature had significantly dropped and it was pouring rain! We don’t get rain in our area....like ever. So my daughter was thrilled, I was ready for an adventure as well so grabbed some ponchos and headed out. My husband was much less enthusiastic.....we got to the walking path and it was seriously pouring. Like zero visibility pouring. He looked at us like we were insane but my daughter was shrieking with glee and so happy to be experiencing “weather”. We all put our ponchos on and started walking to the parks....and this walk ended up being one of the best moments of the trip. We were laughing and splashing in puddles. My daughter was thrilled, I was acting like a loon and giggling and skipping around and my husband was tolerating our ridiculousness. By the time we got to the parks the rain had pretty much stopped and we were ready to explore.
    We headed through Seuss land and loved the Xmas decorations and seeing the park lit up. It was awesome. We headed into Hogsmeade and were able to get spot pretty easily for the first Castle lighting. I had a mild panic attack as it was pretty wall to wall people and I get claustrophobic pretty easily. I couldn’t miss the show though so I just powered through. The show was great, only about ten minutes but really well done. We were really happy to see it as we missed it last year. Very festive and I loved the music and small fireworks at the end. It’s not a Disney production but I enjoyed the ease of watching, not staking out spots for hours or shelling out hundreds for preffered viewing and a dessert buffet.
    After the show the masses started shuffling back and we darted forward to ride FJ.....even the standby line was empty. We took our time walking through castle and just soaking it all in. We had an interesting experience where right as the ride ended our ride vehicle got pulled off the regular track for handicap loading. The engineering behind this ride is just amazing and seeing how they pulled our car off to do a stationary load was really interesting. We then had to take two elevators to make it back to the exit and we saw a little bit of the backstage of the ride....nothing too exciting but kind of cool.
    Right as we exited the ride the next show was beginning and honestly viewing right by the castle was much less crowded and the view was only slightly less impressive. I knew this would be a better way for my mom to see this how as she has some issues with crowds and gets very dizzy and disoriented easily (she has a brain tumor that messes with her balance and spatial reasoning).
    We headed out with the crowds towards Jurassic Park and were a little disappointed to see that the park was closing very soon. The park closed early every day we were there which was a bit of a bummer. We jumped on The Jurassic Park ride and didnt get a drop of water on us so we thought hey! Let’s go again ! Well this time we were the only people in the boat and got pretty drenched. Good thing, our ponchos stayed nice and dry in our backpack....d’oh!!
    We walked out of the empty park and just soaked in the lights and emptiness! Perfect ending to the day.
     
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  9. cynditech

    cynditech Mouseketeer

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    Great trip report!!! We stayed at HRH last month - and had a very similar experience with Amazon Prime now lol. Same thing, guy was on his way, and then, poof, gone with no order. Checked with bell services, etc. Had to call Amazon, they refunded everything and I placed another order. When this person showed up, bell services called our room and said I had to come down to accept the order. We've ordered from Prime Now a ton of times at Disney (with similar problems a couple times). Getting ready to try it again next month. I love the convenience - and of course the savings!!!
     
  10. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    :woohoo::woohoo:
    Sorry it happened to you too!! I use the service at home every couple of months and have never had a problem! And last year we used Amazon at Disney and everything was delivered without a hitch. I hope t works out better for you this time....though it’s almost worth the hassle. We bought a case of water for less than $5....that’s as much as you pay for two bottles in the parks. My daughter finished off a box of cereal in the week we there that was less than $5 instead of the $8 a DAY I would have paid at the hotel. I don’t mind splurging on meals and wands and souvenirs if I can penny pinch on bottled waters and Honey Nut Cheerios :woohoo:
     
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  11. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Tuesday November 27- Disney day
    Since this is a Universal board I won’t go into too much detail for our Magic Kingdom day. We purchased Early Morning Magic tickets which got you in the park an hour and 15minutes before opening with access to Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and also a pretty good breakfast buffet. We hit PP and then we were next to load the SDMT when it went down! They got it back up and running right as the event was ending but it really messed with my plans. They also gave unlimited FP for the ride until 11, which also messed with my plans because I hadn’t planned to stay around this area of the park. Nonetheless we got a lot done in the first few hours of the day but then crowds really increased. We ate at Be Our Guest which was really fun and the food was pretty good. But by about 5pm, we were done. Done with the crowds, waiting in line, no FPS available. MK was kind of a let down after the freedom of Universal. I had really wanted my mom to see the castle lighting but we were all tired and cold so we ubered back to Universal.
    My thought on WDW.....I do love Disney and they know how to put on a show but the crowds are just miserable. The planning it takes and prebooking meals and fastpasses 30, 60, 180 days is just ridiculous. I’m glad we went and I’m glad my mom experienced the Magic Kingdom,,but we won’t be back.

    Universal night....
    My mom was exhausted and my daughter was freezing so they wanted a quiet night in the room. That meant a date night for us! We bundled up, it was mid 50’s which is cold to us, and headed to IOA. I had never been on Hulk, so we went on in it three times in a row. So much fun! We weren’t sure if we liked the front or the back better! Then we hit Dr. Doom, which was also my first time.....holy @@@@@ that was super fun! Lost my stomach the first time but we went the next day with my daughter and I was prepared so it wasn’t as thrilling,still fun though.
    Now the best part of the night....A nIce dinner with a cocktail and live music at Antojitos.
    We had a good, strong cocktail at the bar while we waited for our table, it was about ten minutes before the park closed so we squeaked in before the masses arrived. After the park closed the wait looked massive.
    We shared the Queso Fundido and i had the chicken tinga tacos, which were small but excellent. It was more than enough food, the salsa was excellent the chips were fresh and a small band came out and played some music. Service was great, atmosphere was fun....it was a really fabulous night. Nice to spend some alone time with my husband.
     
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  12. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Great trip report
    Really enjoy what you presented to us


    Many peeps do the motherland and the darkside parks in their vacations

    There are things about both of them many of us like
     
  13. Pumpkin1172

    Pumpkin1172 Mouseketeer

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    Loved your trip summary. I think many people visit both parks. There are bonus and negative points for both parks, and it seems like it's comparing apples to zucchini. You can't compare the two. They are very different from each other. I have enjoyed days at both parks and won't apologize for liking both. Thanks for your story of amazon prime delivery. I'm just glad you got your groceries, even if it wasn't at the best of times.
     
  14. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    I agreee it’s probably not fair to compare the two parks. There has always been this special magical feeling I have felt at Disneyworld and unfortunately for us this trip it was just not there. Maybe it’s the crowds, maybe the people, maybe it’s because my daughter is older, I’m not sure. To be honest, the Magic was fading our last trip and that’s ok....as our family changes our needs changes as well and maybe that’s all it is? It made me sad....Disney has always held a special place in our family.
    Conversely, the excitement and magic seemed to only increase at Universal....mostly due to the immersion in the Potter worlds we felt. I’m sure one day that excitement will fade too. :(
    I don’t begrudge anyone enjoying one park over the other or finding the magic in one while losing it another. And to be completely forthcoming. Disneyland will ALWAYS be my favorite park. But when we are on the East Coast, Universal takes the lead
    We did Animal Kingdom Thursday and while it was alsocrowded we enjoyed it more than MK, more on that to come
     
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  15. mumzie2three

    mumzie2three DIS Veteran

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    I know what you mean, I was overcome with the same sadness after our last family Disney trip in 2013. The stress of the planning required and the crowds can take some of the fun out of it. I was feeling like it was my last trip. This coming Jan, just me and my youngest are headed to Universal for 3 days and then Disney for just 3 hours......doing the MK After Hours event because it is my favorite park and it will hopefully allow us to ride with less crowds than visiting during the day. We are also staying at RPR, 2nd time, and nothing beats Express Pass! Then staying at Disney CBR for our MK night....trying someplace new and hoping to spend last 24 hours reclaiming a little of the Disney magic.
     
  16. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Yeah, I’m not knocking Disneyworld, I’m just sad that the magic is gone for our family.
     
  17. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Wednesday November 28th...finally rode ET!!!!
    It was chilly this day, sunny and beautiful....but chilly! We started in US and rode Minions, which my mom loved but gave me a bit of a headache. It’s like my stupid brain can’t figure out what to focus on with the 3D glasses. We did Mummy which I love but my normally very daring, brave daughter gets really shook up by this ride. Not sure why, she’s says the fire really freaks her out? I would do this ten times in a row but she was getting really upset so we moved on. Finally did the Fallon ride....what the heck is going on with this ride? I obviously don’t get it. I don’t think I will ever go on this again. We took some pictures, it was absolutely gorgeous today. So clear and cold, it felt Like Christmas for some reason. The tree by Fallon was beautiful. We hung out in the concert area and had a snack, sorry Universal but your churros are pretty poor compared to Disney! We hit transformers which we all loved and the wandered over to the wharf area and got eaten by a shark. We then decided to head over to Diagon Alley and it was super crowded....before we went in we talked to the Knight bus conductor and had a great interaction. He made very subtle reference to my daughters name which is a prominent Potter character. It was really sweet. We did Gringott’s again and it was a very long wait for Express, they only had one side working. We then had lunch at Leaky Cauldorn and I got my long awaited Orange Fizzy drink....this is seriously the best Potter drink, I’m not super in to Butter beer, though my husband had one almost every day. 8A14B5D7-E982-4435-8A9E-0E48E9ABC6AB.jpeg D39490AE-E293-44A6-BC48-71DE274D535E.jpeg 4D72C6A2-A0A1-4554-9994-059CF6AE2310.jpeg 2CE6B9E9-2235-4260-A0AA-A7BB4004896E.jpeg 7EE86E3A-5EF2-4ACB-BB4C-BB9EE38EB271.jpeg 59DA0926-1110-481A-B54E-93E2900E052E.jpeg BE032B9F-B39E-4951-8E33-A473423CF725.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
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  18. Mysteryincorp

    Mysteryincorp DIS Veteran

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    Men in Black was next and my husband crushed me. I pretended like it didn’t bother me but it did. The sun was in my eyes or my gun was broken or something.....
    My mom was really starting to fade at this point, she felt dizzy and crummy. So my husband walked her back to the hotel. My daughter and I went back into DA to ride Gringott’s again but it was closed so we did some shopping. I Sent my purchases to the front of the park which I liked but felt like I needed to stay in the same park and that felt a little restrictive. Not a big deal though. DA was really busy now so we headed out to an area we had never really experienced....and rode ET. What a fun and weird ride! I seriously loved this ride and couldn’t wait for my husband to come back and ride it again. We also explored Feivels playground and the Curious George area. My daughter obsessively watched Curious George when she was smaller, so much in fact that we used it as a measure of time. If we were driving somewhere and she wanted to know how long it would take, we would say 1 and a half George’s and she would totally understand. Haha. My husband finally made it back and he decided to take her on the little water slide in feivels area even though it was like 40 degreees. His pants got soaked but luckily my daughter was spared....
    We did ET again and he loved it just as much as I did.
    The animal actor show was having a meet and greet with the “stars” of the show and I think this might have been one of my daughters favorite memories of the trip. We spent a good thirty minutes meeting the dogs, talking to the trainers and getting our dog fix. We would double back later in the trip to see the show which was super entertaining. We also stopped by the Simpson Area for a big pink donut which was delicious and rode the simpsons ride which was not delicious. It made all three of us sick. We’ve been on it before in US Hollywood and I remember it made me queasy then too. Just not for us I guess.
    We headed back into DA just as the sun was going down, this area is beautiful at night. So perfect. And we just happened to be walking by the wand shop and there was no one in line. We got a private show with the wandmaker and of course, my daughter WAS CHOSEN!! It was so fun, I think i was more excited than she was. And of course, we had to buy the wand,...you know the wand chooses the wizard and all! We did some spells and wandered around and were surprised to be told that the park was closed. It was only 6pm but there was a private event. We thought about walking over to IOA but decided to just head back. The park is so pretty at night, so we just slowly walked out and soaked it all in. My moms was feeling better so she met us at Jakes for dinner. My daughter had pasta, i had the spinach artichoke pizza. I enjoyed my pizza but my husband had the meat lovers pizza and it was really, really good. I was having some mean food envy. Had a nice glass of wine. Good but a little slow service and reasonably priced for what we got. This was a great meal and we would visit Jakes again and have an even better meal a few days later.
    Overall, a great day. Spent ALOT of money on souvenirs today...ALOT. Such cool Harry Potter stuff though, it’s so hard to resist!!
    Up next is our Animal Kingdom day...
     
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