Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Florida Vacation - Part 1

OK, so my next few posts will be a long ones. Just warning you.

We had known for months that Mr. Simple’s dad and his wife were going to gift us a trip to Universal Studios and Disney World over Thanksgiving, but we hadn’t told the children. We had only told them that we were going to Arizona (where FIL and his wife live) for Thanksgiving.

So when we were almost to the airport, we told the kids that we weren’t going to Arizona – and Super almost started crying. So we quickly told them that we were going to Florida instead. We expected screams and there was – Nothing. They didn’t believe us! Super had tears welled up in his eyes because he thought we weren't going on vacation at all. I pulled out the boarding passes and showed them to them and pointed out that they said Chicago to ORLANDO. Finally, they believed us and we got excitement. And we would be meeting FIL and his wife in Orlando, so it wasn’t like we wouldn’t see them. Now everybody was all full of smiles.

Our trip down was pretty uneventful. FIL and Grandma J met us when we got off the plane and we all headed to the rental van and then off to the rental house – a nice 5 bedroom villa that they had rented for the week. There was a private pool and hot tub as well as a game room and laundry room. Very nice. We got settled and headed to bed early for our first day at The Parks.

The kids by the pool/hot tub

Our first day was spent at Universal Islands of Adventure. Or for Flower – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She was so excited to go to, although her enthusiasm was dampened a bit by the fact that she is uh, nervous, around most roller coasters. But there is PLENTY to see and do in WWOHP even if you don’t go on rides. Most of the adults started the day off riding the Incredible Hulk Coaster, and then we went on HP and the Forbidden Journey (everyone but Grandpa and Super, although they still went through the “line” to see the tour of the castle – It was VERY cool.). Then we went on Flight of the Hippogriff and the adults were planning on going on Dragon Challenge, but most of us had a bit of an upset stomach at the time, and we decided not to go.

The entrance to WWOHP

A Hippogriff, I think. While you waited in line for Forbidden Journey, you got to tour the castle. It was very cool.

My little wizards
So from there, it was off to Seuss Landing, which was loads of fun and a nice break from the big rides. Then we got wet on Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. We went on The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman twice for Super, and Grandma J and Jelly Bean finished off the day with Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall.

Getting wet on River Adventure
(Oh, at Universal Studios, you can buy an add-on Express Pass – which is sort of like Disney World’s Fast Pass, except that a) it costs money and b) you can use it on many, although not every, ride. We thought it was well worth it though.)

That night, I got to see my older brother! That was so fun! He lives in Florida and I live in Illinois, so we don’t get to see each other in person very often. He came and spent a couple hours hanging out and talking. An extra special bonus to a Florida Trip for me!

Me and my older brother

The second day was the other park at Universal Studios. It is called Universal Studios (I know, it was kind of confusing.) There are a BUNCH of simulator rides at Universal Studios. We went on Shrek 4-D, Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast (we all laughed at the Chicken Dance Part!) and then most of us went to Twister while Grandma J and Jelly Bean went on Rip Ride Rockit! I took one look at this ride and decided “Uh, NO WAY!” but the two of them had fun. We went to the Disaster! Show and Mr. Simple was picked out of the crowd to be a scientist in the “movie” trailer. From here we did E.T, Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster, and Fievel’s Playground in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone. Then we did The Simpson Ride (this was one of my favorites) and then Men In Black (this was the one ride that aggravated my Meniere’s and made me VERY dizzy for an hour afterward.) There was an hour-long downpour when we came out of Men In Black, but we just waited it out. Then we went to Jaws and finished the day with two rides on The Mummy. Super was too short for this one, so Grandpa S stayed with him.

Going up on Rip Ride Rockit

Grandma S, Super, and Granpa S walking around by Jaws

This is where we waited out the rain

Overall, Super could go on MOST rides on this trip, but he is only 46”, so there were a few that he couldn’t. If you are going to go to Florida Theme Parks, ideally, you would wait until your child/children are over 48 inches (or 54 inches, if you want them to be able to ride on EVERYTHING.) Jelly Bean was too short for The Hulk and Dueling Dragons. Flower could ride on everything, but chose not to ride on some – like The Hulk and Dueling Dragons. And a couple at the Disney Parks too.

Oh, just another FYI about Universal. You can buy an a Photo Connect Card that for a little over $20.00 and they will put all of your ride photos on it and send it to your e-mail address. We purchased it after we had been on the Harry Potter ride, so we don’t have pictures of us on that ride, but we have some great shots of some other rides. We felt that this was worth it. The people at Universal don’t really explain it very well though unless you say “yes” when they say “Do you want the 8 x 10 picture with a Photo Connect Card?” Once you get the card, you don’t have to continue paying the fee. You can put continue to put pictures on the card for, I think, a year afterwards too. So I would recommend getting the 8 x 10 of the picture of the first ride you go on at Universal and buy the Photo Connect card so you can have all of your ride pictures. They might be entertaining shots - like these next few. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

That's me in the white. We call this picture "Scary Eyes" for obvious reasons.

This one is probably my favorite ride picture of me. I swear, I wasn't that scared on the ride, but you can't tell from this picture.

Shooting aliens. I didn't think this ride would make me sick because there weren't that many spins, but I was sick for an hour afterwards. But thankfully, I was mostly o.k. on this trip.

Picture #1 from The Mummy. Again, I wasn't really scared, I don't think, but it sure appears that way.

Picture #2 from The Mummy
We went home that night and relaxed in the pool and decided which Disney Park we would go to the next day.

Next Post: The Simples Do Disney!

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