Posted in birthday, Universal

30th Birthday Eve: Universal Orlando

So Sunday rolls about and Chris and I wake up extra early to head to Universal Orlando! The park didn’t open until 9AM, so we meandered a little and I got my obligatory Starbucks. It was really nice being able to walk around and not be bumping into people. The crowds during the entire time I was down there were very manageable and not insane. Perfect for pre-peak season!

We had collaborated ideas on what to do prior to my FL arrival, and we agreed to hit up Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and the Jimmy Fallon rides first, as their wait times typically aggrandized very early on. Additionally, we popped into Shrek between attractions and the Beverly Hills Boulangerie for pastries.

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Universal Orlando is filled full of fun photo ops and I couldn’t resist putting a camera to my face as we made our way towards Diagon Alley:

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Diagon Alley

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We jetted over to Hogsmeade and Islands of Adventure next, under threats of rain. The cloudy skies made the summer day more bearable, as did the whopping fifteen minute queue for the Hogwarts Express!

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The train ride over is one of my absolute favorite parts of all of Universal Orlando.

 

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“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” -J.K. Rowling

Our wait time for Forbidden Journey was also super short, around 10 minutes. (How were we getting so lucky with these short wait times?!) We dined over in the Three Broomsticks after, and I got my Butterbeer and the rotisserie smoked chicken platter. Soooo delicious.

 

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Castle picture! 😀

 

After foods, we headed through Jurassic Park land en route to Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

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The wait was around 90 minutes, and the last time we had waited for this ride, it broke down. So we decided to try our luck. The queue was inside and out of the sun, and windy as it went around the walls of skulls and around the turnstiles and around this and that.   The ride did experience delays while they added an additional car to the lineup, so it was a good wait to get the queue moving faster. There are some jump scares in the darker parts of the waiting area. (The group behind me were so rude and screechy and kept pushing into me…I gave them several death glares and Chris flat out told them to knock it off. Trust me, I was two seconds away from summoning security. Lesson: mind your space.)

The ride itself is 3-D and you get glasses. You’re riding around in a Humvee-style vehicle deep in the jungle as you encounter the battle between dinosaurs, bugs (the bees are scary as hell. Don’t look if you have a fear. Trust me, I didn’t!), slugs, Kong himself…

Your Humvee is rattled and rocked in time with the ride, which is on two screens: one of the left and one on the right. Out of the battle scene, you’re slowly rolled around and come literally face to face with the beast himself…then you’re back at home base.

I honestly thought the ride was kind of a snooze. Definitely not worth 90+ minutes of waiting. While I could appreciate the aesthetics and concept behind it, it’s not the ride for me. Definitely a one-and-done.

And on we continued. At this point there were storms on radar, and it was starting to drizzle. This didn’t deter us from enjoying our day!

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Once out of IOA, we circled back around again to the front and went back to Diagon Alley! My cousin decided to surprise me a couple hours prior and told me to, “Go get yourself a wand for your birthday!” So off to Ollivanders!

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Ollivander’s was a madhouse as witches and wizards of all ages scrambled around, opening boxes, trying to find their perfect wand. I checked out every wand they had, character and non-character alike. After much debate…

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…I settled for Narcissa Malfoy’s wand. Out of all the wands there, the hilt of this one was the coolest.

 

Now off to make some magic happen!

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After Diagon round 2, we walked around Springfield and SpongeBob Storepants. (We wanted to go on the E.T. ride but it had broken down. Sad day.)

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Chris and I capped the night at Finnegan’s Irish pub, and saying a quick hello to my fellow chapter brothers Katy and Jacob at the Bob Marley restaurant in City Walk. (BTW, they got engaged the next day! Congrats to them!)

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Next up: 30th Birthday in Disney World!

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