As it turned out, Ben was up bright-eyed and bushy tailed! He seemed fine and wanted to go with us. As we were leaving the resort, I noticed a boy staring at Ben (something I notice – and he is beginning to notice). Then I heard the boy’s mother rip into him about it – THERE WILL BE NO STARING AT THIS RESORT – DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!! THAT IS NOT AN OPTION!!! Inside I was cheering her on – thankful that she took that instant as a teaching moment. I don’t think Ben heard her. I think it is so important to have conversations with our children about social behaviours. Even before we came to the resort, I spoke to the kids at home about the fact that we could see some really different looking people at the resort…people in wheelchairs or walkers, people who are bald, people who look different, and people who are (and look) really sick. We talked about how it is not polite to stare and that they can always ask me questions AFTER that person is gone. Kids need to be taught about and exposed to differences.
Anyways, we left the resort early for once. It took us a while to actually get into the park. We finally got in to Universal Studios and I picked up our free stroller and tickets there. We went on the Minions 3D ride right after we got in. I have to say that Disney was amazing to us. We weren’t expecting to be treated as well at Universal, but I have to say they were as much, if not more, accommodating to us. We were given a Guest Assistance Pass for Universal at GKTW. We were treated like Royalty there! When we went to go to the Minion show, they directed us to a different entrance where we avoided all lines. This was to become the norm for the day. When we got in line for most rides, the employee at the front of the line up would radio someone to come up and personally escort us to the front of the line. They were kind, funny, and charming. My favourite moment was when we went on the Jurassic Park ride. I heard the employee talking into his radio and I asked him “what did you call him?” (referring to Ben). He said “I told them we have a “golden dino” up front. Lol! I laughed. Anyways, Ben loved the Minions ride. After, we also went to the Shrek 4D show, which was funny and entertaining to all of us. Who doesn’t love a wet sneeze in a movie theatre? After, …Jesse and Hannah wanted to go on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket. I thought they were insane, but Ben and I had a drink and waited.
Afterwards, We were walking to another part of the park, when an amazing guy from Universal (who saw Ben’s GKTW button) stopped us and invited us to come meet Optimus Prime, which was super exciting for Ben.
We then went to the Animal Actors stage, which was phenomenal. They were so gracious and kind to us. They invited the kids to stay after the show to meet one of the animal actors in person. The show was fabulous and one of the (many) highlights of the trip for both kids. Afterwards, we got to meet the dog from the movie The Proposal and the kids took some pictures while we asked the trainer a bunch of questions.
Then it was time to head to London and see what was going on in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We checked out the Night Trolley and #12 Grimmauld Place, where I can’t be sure but I am pretty positive I saw Sirius’ mom peeking at us! We then headed to Diagon Alley to the world of magic. We decided to exchange some cash for Gringott’s notes – when in Rome – from a not-so-friendly goblin at Gringott’s.
We next went to Ollivanders to get interactive magic wands for the kids. We had been reading Harry Potter to the kids over the summer, and they LOVED it! We were also watching the movies. There were 29 interactive places to stand through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The kids could stand on the designated spots and flick their wands in a certain way (it had to be quite precise) and then something would happen…a toilet would flush (in Ben’s case) or a door would unlock (in Hannah’s case). They had a blast checking out their new magic skills. For future wizard families, I would recommend going there earlier in the day because it was very hot and crowded by the afternoon. Diagon Alley is set to mirror the close, crowded streets of London, so it felt a bit overwhelming at times. We enjoyed checking out the crazy stores and such then headed to lunch.
We went to the Leaky Cauldron for a pub-style lunch. Hannah had fish and chips, Ben had a meat pie, I had the fish pie, and Jesse had the Ploughman’s lunch. It was all very delicious. We drank frozen butterbeer, pumpkin juice (Ben’s favourite), lemon squash, and gilly water. The service was great, and we were glad we had gone. After lunch, we took the kids to Knockturn Alley, which is meant to be the “dark” place in Harry Potter world. It was also a very cool place, which meant it was nice reprieve from the heat as well. The kids played with their wands and checked out some more stores. Afterwards, Jesse and Hannah wanted to go on the Escape from Gringott’s ride, but we thought it might be a bit much for Ben (which Jesse confirmed afterwards). Ben and I wandered around a magic store while they were gone. When they returned, we all decided to go to Hogsmeade, which meant heading to a different Universal Park. Our intention was to quickly look at Hogsmeade then head back to the resort because Santa Claus was coming that night and there was going to be a big Christmas party. We went to Kings Crossing to get on the Hogwarts Express. However, we ended up getting stuck in the middle of the lineup. The train had stopped working, but because we had the stroller it would have been near impossible to sneak out of the line. We ended up waiting for over an hour for the magicians to fix the train. (locomoto-repairo) We finally got to the other end. It was extremely hot and crowded by that time. Jesse and Hannah wanted to go on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, so Ben and I waited and had some more Pumpkin Juice. Here’s what I would do different next time. Even though we didn’t think Ben could go on these ride, I would ask if he could walk through the lineup. I guess there were all kinds of wonderful things to see within these rides. The same goes for the Gringott’s ride. I think it would have been more interesting for us. Anyways, we quickly left the Wizarding World of Harry Potter after Jesse and Hannah were done. We had definitely missed a lot of stuff in HP World, but we needed to move on. We realized that it was already 5:30 by then. We had to make some executive decisions. I suspected by the time we got all the way back to the entrance, walked through Universal City Walk, caught a cab and got back to the resort it would be about 7:00 p.m. and the Christmas party would be over, or close to it. We took a vote and decided to stay.
We went through Jurassic Park and went to the Raptor Encounter, which was a visit with Blu from the movie Jurasic Park. Ben was a bit timid, but managed to hold out his hand for a sniff from Blu. Jesse on the other hand did not incite such warmth from Blu (Jesse said it was his manly alpha scent). Blu in turn went after Jesse (who may or may not have screamed like a girl and jumped out of his skin). It was pretty hilarious!
We then all went on the Jurassic Park river adventure. It was here that they took probably the best and most symbolic photo of our family. Mom (who didn’t realize there was a 80 foot drop) reaching over to protect Benjamin. Ben (having a blast) and saying “I’m ok Mom!” Jesse (oblivious to all of us and enjoying his ride). Hannah – always in the background – almost invisible!
After Jesse took the kids on the Pteranodon Flyers – a gentle flying ride over Jurassic Park. We then went to Reign of Kong for another 3D type of ride. After we were done, we decided to go on Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barge. I thought this was another ride like the Kali River Rapids ride we went on the day before, which technically it was. What I didn’t realize was how soaked we would get – different from the day before. I have had showers where I have not gotten as wet. There were waterfalls going down on us, kids shooting water at us from bridges, splashes hitting us from the sides. This ride would have been fantastic to do in the heat of the day. We laughed and paid $5 to stand in a gigantic dryer for 5 minutes. Afterwards the kids played together on Me-ship The Olive – a playground of sorts, while Jesse and I figured out our next course of action.
We decided that we were so late now, we may as well stay and have dinner. We hit the Amazing Spiderman 3D ride on our way out and headed towards Mythos – a beautiful full-service cave like restaurant where we could rest our feet and have a glass (or two) of wine.
During dinner, we had to make some decisions about the next day – the last day of our Wish Trip. Here were our options:
Go to Seaworld – we still had tickets
Go to Universal – we still had another day’s tickets
Stay at the resort
Jesse and I were both a bit surprised that the kids overwhelmingly wanted to stay at the resort again the next day. On our way out, Ben and I went on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride – a beautiful scenic tour of Seuss Landing. After that, we headed home and tucked two (very tired) kiddos into bed.