Despite being a huge Harry Potter fan, I'd never been to any of the Wizarding Worlds...
Part 2: Universal & Wizards & Dinosaurs & Such
On August 28, we visited Universal Studios. In order to get from Anaheim to Hollywood (a 35 mile trip), you pretty much have to take a vehicle. Supposedly, the most efficient method, other than driving your own car, is taking a charter bus...
What with the traffic, the fact that the bus driver kept waiting for latecomers at all the hotel stops, and the banshee masquerading as a toddler who wailed the morning away, it was not a fun ride. Oh, and did I mention it took THREE HOURS?
The company was LuxBus. It cost $28 per person round trip. If I were to do it again, I'd bring noise-canceling headphones and a good audiobook.
Eventually, though, we did arrive...
We had read that for best results and shortest wait times, we should visit Harry Potter land first. Apparently all the other visitors to the park got the same memo. The line for Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey wasn't long, but it was insane. They make you put all your stuff into lockers. The lockers are free, but you have to use a kiosk to access them. Now imagine a cavernous room with about 200 lockers, 8 kiosks, and 7,004 people.
Yeah, whoever was managing that area should be fired.
Eventually, we did claw our way to the front of the lines and each got lockers.
There was essentially no line for the ride after this. The line/queuing area is pretty neat....
Ravenclaw, do better!
The ride itself is pretty thrilling. You're in these seats and the seats move, and you see all these scenes on projection screens, so it feels like you're actually covering a lot of distance. There were several parts where we were "flying" and did a fast drop. Heather and I both had to close our eyes a few times. It was a bit intense for me, and I didn't care to ride it again that day.
Next we visited The Three Broomsticks, which is an enormous quick-serve eating establishment. I ordered the "Continental Breakfast Served With Croissant And Scone."
It came with a beverage, so I got Pumpkin Juice.
Heather ordered a Butterbeer.
After breakfast, we explored some of the shops, including Honeydukes...
Later in the morning, we headed to the lower lot at Universal to go on the Jurassic Park: The Ride. Heather had ridden it before, but I had no memory of it. We had read that it gets you wet, so we were prepared with some extra outer layers. What I was not prepared for was the huge drop at the end -- not steep so much as long and seemingly endless. But I survived, and while we did get a little wet, it wasn't too bad.
We got some coffee at Starbucks, then returned to the upper lot to ride the Studio Tour.
This is the one ride I make sure to go on every time I visit the park. It's always fun seeing the changes that have taken place. For me, it had been 17 years since my last visit, so, yeah... there had been plenty of changes. But it's also nice to see ol' Bruce the Shark pop up from the lake, as always.
Biff's car? That was new (to me.)
We did pass the Lyon Estate signs... they were prominent, but they had been painted a hideous color. I wasn't fast enough to get a photo, though.
After the tour, we returned to the world of wizards. Heather rode the Flight Of The Hippogriff coaster, and I went to the wand-choosing demo. I had heard about it from people who'd done it, so I kind of knew what to expect. Perhaps for that reason, I wasn't particularly awed.
I did not buy a wand.
Here are some random people riding the Hippogriff coaster...
Before we departed from HP Land, we got some more Butterbeer (Butterbeer ice cream for me!)
We also visited the bathrooms, which is important to mention because they're themed, too! Moaning Myrtle's in there!
We went to the Kung Fu Panda show, which I enjoyed.
After this, Heather and I split up, and I went to the Animal Actors show.
Troy and Abed and a laaaaab rat!
They had dogs, cats, chickens, a raccoon, rats, and lots of birds trained to run (or fly) across the stage, trigger events, and wow the crowd. It was very cute & entertaining.
Heather and I met up again after this, and we went to the Special Effects Show. This was mildly entertaining. The cramped bleacher-style seats left a lot to be desired.
Afterward, we browsed some of the shops...
Look, I love BTTF as much as the next fan, but... WHY DOES THIS EXIST??
We also walked to parts of the park I had not yet seen that day...
By this time, we had seen all we really wanted to see inside the park, so we headed out to the CityWalk. Even though I hadn't been inside the park since 2002, I had visited the CityWalk a couple of times in the interim. There's a HUGE candy shop. I went in, nearly fainted from the glory of it, and left without buying a thing. I call that a win.
Then it was time to get on our bus. The ride home was a little bit shorter than the ride there, and thankfully, our hotel was the bus's first stop that evening. (It had also been the first pick-up that morning, at six freaking fifty a.m. I'm not bitter. Really.)
All in all, it was a rewarding, yet exhausting, day. We spent five hours on the bus and eight hours at the park. I bought no souvenirs whatsoever. Not even any candy. I already own enough HP merchandise, and the candy is overpriced. So. Until next time, Universal....