Graduation/Family Vacation: Universal Studios

The greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memories. ~ Og Mandino

Day 2:  Universal Studios.  I was never before a big fan of Universal Studios and that hadn’t changed over the years.  Why you may ask?  It was boring to me the first time I went to the California park, and since then I’ve never had a desire to go back.  This time was different, though, because I did enjoy myself! 

We started our day at Universal Studios planning the rides we wanted to take. There was no ride I wanted to go on, but I did want to see the Jurassic Park area.  As we strolled through Universal Walk on our way to the park, my nephew stopped at the gift shop and the next thing I knew, I was being summoned into the store just to “look” at Harry Potter items. I knew when I rolled into the store on my scooter this was not about looking at Harry Potter items, and I was about to buy something, but I went in anyway.  By the time I got into the store, my nephew already had his eye on two things:  A broom and a robe. (I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books, nor have I seen any of the movies, though I do know who Harry Potter is.)  We began talking to a father and his son about Harry Potter. The entire conversation was over my head, much like I imagine it feels to the other person when I speak to someone who has never seen Star Wars. (That still baffles me!) My nephew picked up the broom and asked me if I would get it for him.  I have an “Auntie price limit” when it comes to buying things for my nieces or nephews.  If the item is $50.00 or less, I will buy it for them. So, they have a choice. They can either get one thing for $50.00 or many items that add up to $50.00.  I looked at the price, $34.99, and said yes.  He knows this rule very well.  He also wanted a robe, but I told him that at $139.00, that is a mom or grandma gift, not an auntie one!  We looked around the store some more and it was fun to see that even though he is 18 years old and heading off to college in the fall, he still loves his favorite childhood character.  He showed me the different wands that belong to each character.  When he got to Harry Potter’s wand, he had to have that, too. I never looked at the price before we headed to the checkout.  It was not until the clerk rang up the broom and wand together that we were over the auntie limit, and he had to choose.  He couldn’t make that choice, so I decided for him by asking the clerk how much the wand was – $60.00.  Well, needless to say, he walked out of the store with the broom in hand and was very happy.

Once we got into the park, we began setting up the times for the rides. Just like at Disney the day before, it was HOT!  While my family was waiting in line for their ride, I went looking for water and a cup.  I waited for them in the shade by the Betty Boop shop, but it was still hot. No matter how many fans I had blowing on me, I could never get cool. I just had to endure it. 

To me, it was another day of waiting to get on a ride, ride the ride, and then wait some more. We did more waiting than riding.  During the waiting time, we met up with other family members and had lunch at the Monster Café. I don’t recommend the food here because the food was very bland.  The ambiance of the restaurant was good, but the tables were disorganized.  After lunch, those who did not go on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It roller coaster waited outside for those who did to exit.  After that ride, we moved around the corner to wait on the Return of the Mummy Rollercoaster.  While waiting, we took pictures and tried to stay cool. One of my nieces bought me a churro.  It was very dry.  My three teenage nieces got their picture taken with Marilyn Monroe and were very excited. I loved seeing their faces light up with excitement over the iconic star.

After the Return of the Mummy Rollercoaster.  We then started making our way to catch the train to Harry Potter Land.  As we turned a corner, I saw a very familiar site – Pier 41 in San Francisco.  (Remember, I had never been to Universal Studios in Florida before).  I was amazed at the resemblance between this reproduction and the real one! It felt good to see familiar sites.  We stopped to take a few pictures and, of course, I was left behind.  I needed to take it all in.  As I began rolling on my scooter, I saw a bookstore that looked out of place for San Francisco.  It was not until I saw the Underground sign that I realized I was in London.  I had no idea why I was there, but I was excited to be in London!  I continued to scooter slowly, as I again took in the atmosphere of London. Once I saw the King’s Crossing entrance, I figured this was related to Harry Potter.  (Maybe I need to the books, or at least watch the movies.)  We sat by a purple bus that had something to do with Harry Potter, while waited to ride the Fast and the Furious ride.

Now was the time for my nephew’s dream to come true – he was going to see Harry Potter!  (I know exactly how he felt because I couldn’t wait to see Star Wars at Hollywood Studios.)  We took an elevator to the train platform. I had to switch from my scooter to a wheelchair.  Once we were on the platform, I got my scooter back. The train station was set up beautifully and I could see the excitement in my nephew. He was amazed at the Harry Potter décor.  Once we got on the train, he was looking at the window as it showed clips from the movies.  Getting off the train was a challenge for me with my scooter.  The space was tight, and it was hard to manipulate the scooter to back up without taking out the train wall. (I did hit it a few times). I would suggest that you don’t ride the train if you have a scooter but take the long way around to get to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Once we got off the train, it wasn’t just my nephew that was in awe. I was, too! Traveling through the village, I felt like I was actually in Hogwarts Village. It was simply AMAZING!  Not wanting to lose my family, I begin filming the village as I scootered toward Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  My family had reserved their time, and once again we were waiting. The wait time was 50 minutes.  That is a long time to wait.  While waiting, we met a family from Oklahoma and started talking to them about the different rides and things to do while in the park. It was getting late and the sky was getting dark, so I knew we weren’t going to have time to do most of their suggestions.  Finally, it was time for them to go on the ride.

While waiting for the riders to return, I heard thunder and then saw the lightning. My first instinct was to turn on my scooter and get out of there. But I couldn’t do that because I was watching everyone’s belongings! I thought maybe I could get everything on my scooter, but it was too much stuff.  The sky was getting darker, the thunder was getting louder, and then I felt a drop.  One drop of rain came down, followed by more drops, and then full-on rain. I was stuck on my scooter watching all this stuff, including the sacred broom, and all I had was my umbrella.  That umbrella was no match for the summer rainstorm and I was soaked.  By the time ride was over, the rain had stopped.  While hurrying through the park to exit, I realized how much more of the park I didn’t get to see, which was disappointing.  Luckily, at the very last minute, I remembered to get my pictures from the picture package I had purchased.  This was also well worth the price. 

I don’t ride rollercoasters but if you do the must-ride roller coaster at Universal Studios is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It.   This ride is not for the faint at heart as it takes you up and down and has sharp turns.  Be careful when riding this ride, one of my nieces passed out while on the ride.  She recovered nicely only to go on the Return of the Mummy. As my family rejoined those who did not go on the ride the Mummy Roller Coaster, we were told that was the best ride they have ever been on.  For the Harry Potter Fans, make sure you ride on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Both rides take you through Harry Potter’s adventures and make you feel you are actually in his world.  If you are not a rollercoaster fan, make sure you see Pier 41 to see the famous San Francisco landmark. Of course, there is nothing like the real thing, but you will feel like you’re in San Francisco.  I went to London in 2019 and I was glad to go back in 2021 – even though it was just a replica. When walking through this London, take your time and enjoy everything that this replica has to offer.  If it was not for the heat, I would’ve thought I was actually in London, England!

Seeing through my nephew’s eyes how Universal Studios brought places, characters, and ideas to life (especially in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) helped change my mind about the park, and I did enjoy myself this time. I have some unfinished business, though, since we ran out of time to see Jurassic Park, so I will go back to Universal Studios Orlando again – just not in July. 

Graduation/Family Vacation…Universal Studios

A special thank you to K. Sheree Photography who captured our memories.

Next blog: Epcot Center


Published by nolimittravel2020

I love to write and travel, now I have put the two together. I am very excited about what the future holds and more excited to help you with your travel needs.

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