Child’s Play

I recently spent the day being childish. Not the usual tantrum thing, but actually being dragged back into a phase that I thought I had long grown out of. I went to Universal Studios theme park in Orlando. It was fabulous being a kid for the day.

It was decided that a day pass was going to be our Christmas present, so Bails, me and my sister in law Marilyn got up early (8am is early these days) and drove the 20 km to the park. We opted for valet parking thinking we’d be bushes by days end. We were right.

The weather was perfect: sunny and just warm enough for shorts (by looking at the locals in their winter coats you’d never know it was mud 60’s). We got our “park to park” passes and we were off. My most recent experience in a theme park was Canada’s Wonderland – this wasn’t even close. Immediately it was clear that this was the ultimate in entertainment. As Bails repeatedly stated: “they didn’t miss a beat”. Perfectly clean and organized and colourful and magical. Perfectly perfect.

Just inside the gates the first attraction is the Shrek ride. A 3D experience based on the hit movies. It didn’t disappoint. Strapped into our seats with our goggles on we became part of the show. The animation and effects can not be suitably put into words. Imagine Shrek winding up for a colossal ogre sneeze and as he lets loose you feel spray on your face. Literally disgusting and exhilarating at the same time. As Shrek and Donkey fly through the air to rescue Fiona you are jostled about in your seat with the distinct feeling you are in the scene. My childish persona was unlocked and the day of adventure begun.

The next ride was Jimmy Fallon in New York. What a thrill. I’ve never been a fan of late night tv so must admit I’ve never seen the show. But it was the set up of having us enter the “studio” as though we were at 30 Rock in the live audience. However the game of the show was to race Jimmy Fallon through NYC. Again, on went the goggles and the seat belts. This 4D spectacle was crazy! I screamed and sweat. It was only the beginning.

On to Kings Cross station in London. We boarded the Hogwarts Express en route to the infamous wizardry school. At platform 9 3/4 we enter the train and it’s better than the movie! I can tell you that I’ve yearned to experience Harry Potter for years; I was engulfed in the books and movies and anything Hogwarts. This was totally epic! We arrive at Hogsmeade and the wintry enchanted village is amazing. We cruise through the shops (including Ollivanders) and end up on the ride at Hogwarts. Leading into the castle we see all of the moving pictures and whimsical features. The ride is a thrilling mash up of everything Harry including the forbidden forest and quidditch. As we were again goggled up the experience was intimately realistic. Voldemort threatens our lives but ultimately we are safe and Harry, Ron and Hermione wave us off. Loved it!

So we continue on to Poseidon and King Kongs Skull Island … all fabulous. But it was The Hulk who swept us off our feet. Literally. The coaster of terror. Luckily the two small kids riding beside us didn’t mind our screams.

We wind up back to Hogsmeade and freshen up with a sip of ButterBeer before jumping on the train back to London. And Gringotts. Wow.

Back at Universal we wrap up with Fear Factor (totally gross .. drinking rancid fish and curdled milk!!) and Transformers. A coffee at Mel’s Diner and a water/light show that’s Mesmerizing. What a day. Almost 20K steps and tons of fun. Thank you Santa (Rudy) and Universal.

That’s all for now kids. Florida… f$&k ya!

PS. Valet parking was a must. Super efficient (that’s for you, Teen)

PSS. The washroom facilities (and the park in general) were super clean and fresh.

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