The flight over on Wednesday night was luckily pretty smooth. We left Milwaukee around 6:30cst and arrived in Orlando by 9:30est (there was a massive tail wind!). Once we got to the airport we got our baggage and headed to the rental car counter and ended up getting a Toyota Rav 4 (Sister’s favorite!). We drove from the airport straight to our first hotel of the weekend, a Holiday Inn that was right by the front gate of Universal. When I first reserved the hotel room at Disney, I wasn’t sure if we would come on Wednesday or Thursday, so I only got the hotel room from Thursday – Monday. It ended up being a good thing with our Universal plans to stay so close (and we saved money on the hotel + parking for Universal and that’s never a bad thing!).
Thursday morning we got up and Sister and I attempted to find a Starbucks for our morning java. We first went in one that was in a hotel, but they wouldn’t take Kinley’s Starbucks Gold Card and we didn’t have enough cash on hand. Luckily, the manager told us of another Starbucks (just across the street in the parking lot) that was a normal Starbucks and would take the Gold Card. So we walked across the parking lot and found the real Starbucks – darn hotel Starbucks not being really real…
After our coffees, a light breakfast of some homemade muffins and peanut butter, we got ready and mom decided to hit up a grocery store to find some additional breakfast foods, plus water to refill our Camelbak’s. I then had a second breakfast of cocoa pebbles (not the healthiest, but gluten free!) with a banana on top. We were going to take our hotel shuttle over to the park, but it didn’t leave until 10 and we were ready by 9:20. We decided to bypass the shuttle and just walk over (around .8 of a mile to the gate).
The only reason we were going to Universal (Islands of Adventure) was for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. That was the only thing I knew about the park and the only thing I wanted to do. I have a one-track mind when it comes to Harry. We got to the park, entered, and headed straight back to the Hogwarts™ ride since I have read and heard the line can get really long so it’s best to go there right away. The line was loong, and the wait was already over 100 minutes, but there’s not really a ton to do in HP World so it was worth the wait for me. We ended up being in a line full of morons – how does that happen?! The lady in front of us was with one of her kids (who was not tall enough for the ride) while her husband and other kids went who knows where. She kept looking behind (waiting for them to catch up?!) and not moving forward and was super distracted. The group behind us yelled at us at the start of the line because we tried moving around them when they weren’t even in the line yet (and waiting for other members of their group yet again). Their group ended up getting split up then because of the little fit to not let us move around, and ended up moving back in line after the ordeal. Seriously lady, either your group needs to be together or you need to let others in front of you. And if you make a fit? There’s no way the rest of your group is going to be able to move ahead… Courtesy is all I ask for.
The line went okay but then the entrance to Hogwarts was a disaster. Apparently you can’t have any loose items on you (even though my purse was not loose) so you had to get a finger print activated locker. After a brief losing of mom in the line, we got a locker, put in our stuff and then decided to go in the single rider line since there was no wait vs. the 45 minute stay in your group wait. Sooo incredibly happy we did that because you couldn’t even see the people besides you. I guess when kids can’t really go on their own ride single riders are out for families and that’s a majority of who is there! The ride itself was pretty cool, it was half real and half special effects with the seats moving like we were flying through the air on a broomstick! Once we got off the ride we went back out to the main street at Hogsmeade™. I had wanted to go into Ollivander’s to see the wand demonstration and possibly purchase a wand, but the wait for the demonstration was 45 minutes and there was also a line for the shop – seriously Universal, a line to get in a shop?! We bypassed on that, figuring I really didn’t need a wand and it would have just been clutter. One day, one day…
There wasn’t a line to get into Honeydukes™, so mom and I went in there, I got a couple of chocolate frogs and some jelly beans. There was a line to check out (of course), but along the way I spotted Pumpkin Juice! I had originally wanted to try Butterbeer, but it kind of looked gross and I think it sells for $11, so I went for the more reasonable $5.99 Pumpkin Juice. It ended up being quite tasty. It was a mix of apple juice, pumpkin and some spices – pretty close to apple cider consistency.
After that round of Harry Potter, we decided to circle around the park to find something for lunch. We ended up getting turkey legs, popcorn and potato chips (oh-so-healthy, right?!) in Comic Strip land. We decided there wasn’t actually anything else that we wanted to do, so we went back to Harry Potter to see if the lines had decreased at all. They hadn’t, so we went into Honeydukes again to get some fudge for dessert and found Zonko’s that was at the other side of the checkout line in Honeydukes. One thing that I found absolutely crazy about this section of the theme park was that everything was so TINY. There was barely any room for anyone in the shops, lines to get in the shops, the street was packed, lines for Butterbeer went up the whole street. I’m not sure if this was their plan for this park, or if they totally under-planned how many people would want to come to just this section. Kind of a disappointment, but I am glad we got to go!
After we were done at Universal, we walked back to our car and headed toward the hotel. We decided to stop at a Super Walmart on the way to pick up some food to have on hand at our hotel. Checkin at our hotel, Port Orleans French Quarter, started at 3 and we arrived shortly after. We moved all our stuff into the hotel and then sat around for a bit before heading out to our next destination. We decided to take the river boat Port Orleans offers to Downtown Disney because that’s where we thought the race expo was. Apparently the ESPN is not in Downtown Disney… whoops, so we walked around there for a bit and found Babycakes!
We ended up getting a mix of six different things because it saved a little money. We got a coconut doughnut to eat right away, and then a coconut doughnut, a chocolate crunch and a vanilla crunch doughnut for the next day, and a chocolate mint brownie and carrot cake cupcake for after dinner. The coconut doughnut was SO GOOD. We will definitely have to come back for more goodies later on this weekend!
We decided to pass on the expo for this day and go the next, and Magic Kingdom was going to be the next stop of the night for their nighttime show/fireworks. We’re not the hugest fan of Magic Kingdom, but wanted to see it so nighttime was the perfect opportunity. Before we found the bus there, we figured it would be best to get dinner at Downtown Disney. Bad choice… we ended up at Portobello where Kinley and I ordered caesar salads with chicken – telling them we were allergic to gluten, so with no croutons. Everything seemed fine at first, so we were eating and then all of a sudden a crouton falls onto my lap from my salad… rather than remaking a salad they had just picked the crouton off – leaving crumbs and pieces behind that had fallen to the bottom of the salad. Not okay! Luckily we got the salads without dressing so after looking further we saw the crumbs… if the dressing had been on it we probably would have ended up eating the whole thing. Needless to say we just left, both incredibly annoyed and disappointed that we had to put up with that ordeal on our first night here. Hopefully we didn’t eat anything, or not enough, to make it impact the race on Saturday…
We found a bus that could sort of get us to Magic Kingdom. We took the one to the Contemporary resort and then walked across the street to the park. We entered and then walked around. People were already lined up for the parade starting at 8. We tried finding a spot to stand, didn’t have any luck so we wandered around aimlessly, trying to go to Space Mountain (it was having technical difficulties) and then found an off the street spot to stand/semi watch the parade. The parade was pretty good – the floats were pretty with all their lights but the music played the same music over and over again. It got really repetitive. The castle was gorgeous with its icicle-looking lights tho!
We left shortly after the parade to head back to the hotel and go to bed. My legs were already extremely tired – not a good sign for the race since we still are headed to a park on Friday and not much rest is in store!