Pirate mini-golf, Universal and HARRY POTTER!!!

Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
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Trip End Jan 22, 2013

Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday was a relaxed day (finally!)

We woke up and went searching for food. After passing many gift shops, restaurants, putt putt golf and hotels, we settled on "Cafe Tu Tu Tango" next door to Pirate mini-golf (you see where this is going?)

"Cafe Tu Tu Tango" is a tapas restaurant. Most dishes cost around $8/$9 and they were entree size made for sharing.

I was tempted to try the alligator bites but chickened out. We got hummus, marinated olives, feta and sundries tomatoes, pork, oriental steak and noodles, and tomato and cheese flatbread. For dessert we had cheesecake bites dipped in chocolate! So good. Their dessert menu was off the chain.

We then headed over to the pirate mini golf (bet you didn't see that coming) and played 18 holes in which I won. By a lot. There were a thousand tiny lizards everywhere. Orlando reminds me a lot of Queensland.

It was then time to check out some outlet shopping which took up the rest of the day. We bought some nice shoes and clothes but nothing crazy. Clothes prices here are very similar to Australia. No real crazy discounts.

Friday was...THE WIZARD WORLD OF HARRY POTTER day! Although we are across the road from Universal, it's still a bit of a hike so we got the free shuttle. Parking costs $15 there so it wasn't worth driving the car over.

We got there half an hour before the park opened and waited patiently to get in. When they let us in, everyone headed straight for the giant Hogwarts castle in the distance. There were squeals and shouts of excitement (and it wasn't just coming from me).

I had seen a lot of photos of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it looked exactly like I thought it would. TWWOHP is only a very small area of Universal Studios. It's not an entire theme park by itself so there are limited things to do.

The first thing we did however, was line up for "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" which is a ride inside the castle. Just lining up is amazing in itself! You walk through Dumbledore's office, the defence against the dark arts classroom, you see many statues from the movies and even spot the Sorting Hat.

The ride is AMAZING! We went on it twice and plan on going on it again when we go back on Monday (we have a 2-day pass). You sit in a row of four and get tightly strapped in. You can't have bags or anything. The ride twists and turns. There's video footage, puppetry and lots of drops and turns. You encounter dementors, a dragon, Aragog and spiders and the Whomping Willow. It is just the most well done ride ever. Not for those we suffer from motion sickness though! It is pretty full on.

We then went on "Flight of the Hippogriff" which is a very tame roller coaster. I was super disappointed to discover that "The Dragon's Challenge" ride would be closed for 2 weeks but it is what it is.

It was time to try the famous Butter beer at the "Hog's Head"! It is very sweet and reminds me of butterscotch. Very tasty but hard to finish!

We lined up for "Olivander's" (a wand shop for you Muggles who don't know what I'm talking about!) and saw a funny show in the shop in which an audience member was picked and had a wand chosen for them. It was basically a reenactment of when Harry gets his wand.

It was lunch o'clock after all that waiting around so we ate at "The Three Broomsticks". There were a lot of people lining up for food.

In fact, there's just a lot of people here in general. However, the cleaner was telling me in the toilets that it was the least busiest day since its opening! I told her there were still too many people for my liking. Whilst in line for "Olivander's" another Universal employee was talking to us. I overheard a lady ask him what "Olivander's" was. When he was talking to us, I told him about my disgust in how the lady didn't know what Olivander's was. I said "shun the non-believers out of the park" and he replied "No, we have to bring the Muggles in to teach them the ways!" Which made me laugh. When I asked him why the "Dragon's Challenge" was closed he told me a "dragon got loose".

A few quirky details that Harry Potter lovers will appreciate are things like: you can hear Moaning Myrtle sooking in the female toilets over speakers, Zonko's sells things like Extendable Ears, U-No-Poo and you can adopt a Pigmy Puff, there's a Pensieve in Dumbledore's office in the castle, and there's a Howler in the window display of the Owl Post that talks and moves.

After looking at a few gift shops, we had a look at a few other areas of the park.

We went on the "Jurassic Park" ride and got a little bit wet from the big drop into the water at the end. Unfortunately Stu thought it would be a marvellous idea to do all the rides where you get soaked. First we went on this ridiculous log ride with a bunch of loud Brazilians. I got soaked from head to toe.

Then, since that wasn't enough, Stu made us go on a river rapids-type ride. If I wasn't soaked before, I was now. My hair was dripping and my shoes were squelching. Not happy!

To top it off, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and we had to walk around with wet bottoms for the rest of the day.

We tried going on the Hulk roller coaster to dry off - didn't work.

We tried the Spider-Man ride - we got sprayed in the face. More wet!

The Cat in the Hat ride didn't help either.

We headed back to TWWOHP and rode the Hogwarts ride again. Then I spent farrrrrr too much money on merchandise.

We finished the day with dinner at "NBA City" which was a cool basketball themed restaurant on the Universal City Walk area.

CaptainG
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