Oops! I completely forgot about finishing these vacation posts. I really thought I'd already done this! Let's get this finished, so I can move on to more current stuff like the first day of school.
Monday was our dedicated Islands of Adventure day. David agreed to get up early with us this morning. The boys and I ate breakfast in the lobby area again while David did his ManFlow Yoga (don't ask) and then we all headed out to the water taxi. We headed straight to Hogsmeade for the early entry hour the same as the previous day.
Since David was there to be Charlie's buddy, I finally had a chance to do the Dragon Challenge roller-coaster with Tommy. I loved it! It was so smooth! I had been very hesitant to try it, but liked it enough to go straight into the re-ride line with him so I could try the second track.
David and Charlie did Ride of the Hippogriff once and then Forbidden Journey while Tommy and I were doing our thrill rides. While we were waiting for them to finish, Tommy had a pumpkin pasty and more pumpkin juice. So yummy!
Our plan was to head in the direction of Jurassic Park as soon as the rest of the areas opened at 9. We ended up backtracking a bit because I somehow didn't realize that the path is right there by Hogwarts Castle. Rookie mistake! We loved the Jurassic Park river adventure. Yes, we got splashed quite a bit, but it wasn't too bad, and it was hot enough to feel refreshing.
We wanted to do the brand new Kong: Skull Island ride before it got too late, so we skipped the other Jurassic Park areas. I'm kind of sad we didn't take the time to do those. Kong was very worth it though! The express pass line was super fast - maybe 10-15 minutes total. I really liked the combination of screens and animatronics and creepiness. This was pretty much the last grown-up ride that David did for the rest of the trip. He just couldn't handle the queasiness factor. Poor David.
After Kong, we had a long discussion about the Dudley Do-Right and Popeye water rides. I forgot to bring flip-flops for everyone, and I really didn't want us to all have wet athletic shoes for the rest of the day. They eventually agreed to wait until later for the water things, but then we never went back for them, so I guess I should have let them to them. Poor deprived children!
We headed into the superhero area next. The boys and I did Spider-Man. Then Tommy did the big Hulk coaster while Charlie repeated Spider-Man using the single rider line. He LOVED the independence of the single rider line. There was no wait and all and he could be in an out out by himself quite quickly. Finally, the boys and I did Storm Force Acceleration, which is an X-men themed spinny ride. It's a good thing I can hold my own with spinning things, because the boys had us going round in circles non-stop.
After a browse in the excellent comic-themed shop, we were done with the superhero area. It was around 11 am, I think. We still wanted to do the Seuss area before lunch. The boys were more excited about this area than I thought they would be. They were feeling very nostalgic.
The boys and I loved the Cat in the Hat ride. It reminded me a lot of Pooh in MK. The boys convinced Dad to ride it with us a second time. "It won't make you sick Dad. We promise." It did make him a little sick, sadly, but he didn't tell the boys this. Then we went up to do the Seuss Trolley. It was very cute. David looked funny in the tiny seat.
It was just starting to sprinkle a bit of rain towards the end of our time in the Seuss area. We had planned to go out to City Walk for lunch at Margaritaville, but we knew we'd get soaked while walking. Tommy still wanted to eat at one of the Harry Potter restaurants, so we hustled over to the Three Broomsticks instead. The line was long. I knew it would be. We were inside for the whole hour-long rain storm though, so it worked out perfectly.
I think my biggest suggestion for dealing with summer rains at Universal is to have some places in mind where you can get a snack or a meal when the short summer storms come through. Go there BEFORE the rain gets bad. You can see it building. We got into the Three Broomsticks before we got soaked, and the crowds trying to get in 10 minutes later were wet and cranky.
We were able to get back to Royal Pacific in between showers after lunch. The water taxi was running whenever it wasn't too bad, so we didn't have to walk. Our room was clean when we returned. It rained on and off most of the afternoon. We all tried to go swimming during a sunny stretch, but they had to close the pool again about 10 minutes after we got there. I'd really been looking forward to cocktails and nachos by the pool while the boys went swimming, but it just wasn't meant to be. I did get my pool-side slushy cocktail, but I had to take it back to the room.
We started getting bored around 4:00, and it was mostly clear by then, so we headed back out. We had a great dinner at Antojitos Mexican Restaurant. I highly recommend this restaurant! The food was SO good. We had been missing good Mexican food since moving from New Mexico to DC. I know they must have good Mexican food somewhere around here, but we haven't found a favorite local place yet.
After our dinner at Antojitos, we decided to split up. Charlie's feet were tired, so he didn't want to go back into the parks. He and David did some shopping right there in CityWalk and then headed back to the room for an early night. Tommy and I wanted more Diagon Alley time, so we went there. It was drizzling, so we bought a big Griffindor golf umbrella and that was perfect for us - WAY more comfortable than ponchos!
We didn't do the Gringott's ride. We were just in the mood to wander around, looking in shops and casting spells with Tommy's interactive wand. It was a nice evening for the two of us. We were very tired by the time we got back to the room. The Harry Potter areas are so far from the park entrance! It works well to do the early entry and latest hours combination for Harry Potter things, but it's a lot of extra walking to split the day like that.
Day 4 - last day...
We planned to spend our last day back in Universal Studios because it did not have early entry. We needed the extra time the pack up our suitcases. We got everything packed up before we left the room, and I put a set of dry/clean clothes for each of us at the top of one suitcase. We went through two changes of clothes every day during this trip! Sometimes it was because of the heat/sweat and sometimes it was because we were soaked by rain.
I requested late checkout, and we did eventually get a message that 1 pm would be our official late checkout time. This late checkout was a huge benefit. We made a plan repeat some favorites at Universal Studios from 9 until about 12.
The boys and I started with Despicable Me, since we'd missed it the first time through. It was cute! The three of us also did the Mummy again, because it was our favorite. Then Tommy and I did the Rip-Ride-It-Rocket roller coaster together, while Charlie re-rode Transformers using the single-rider line. David was still in NO MORE QUEASY RIDES mode, so he tagged along and waited for us in a variety of shady and air conditioned places.
After our highlights tour of rides, we went into Diagon Alley so Tommy could catch one of the Beadle the Bard puppet shows. You miss the shows if you only do the Harry Potter areas first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The boys and I also rode Gringott's using the single rider line. Holy moly, that option is super fast! You don't get to see much of the bank, but you go right to the front of the line. We also had pumpkin pasties for breakfast, and finally saw the dragon breathe fire. I'm so glad Tommy got plenty of time to do and see everything Harry Potter during this trip. He was so, so happy about it all.
We had about an hour left at this point, so David and I went to hang out in Moe's Tavern in the Simpson's area while the boys did Men in Black and the Simpson's ride together. It's nice having kids who are old enough to go off on their own for a while. They didn't have any trouble finding us when they were done, and got a kick out of sitting at the "bar" for a while.
Then it was time to say goodbye to the parks. Our last boat ride back to the Royal Pacific was kind of sad. We'd had such a lovely time!
We went back to our room and took VERY quick showers and changed into the not-sweaty clothes that we had set aside. We were down in the lobby by about 12:50. We checked out and left our bags with bell services. Then we went back to Tchoup Chop for a leisurely lunch. Their lunch menu is very different from their dinner menu. We loved this lunch. It's very affordable and so easy to eat at the hotel instead of traveling back to CityWalk. Everyone was in a super good mood.
Our flight was at 5:30, so we left for the airport at 2:30. We probably could have waited later, but I don't like to feel pressed for time. It's so easy to get a car from Royal Pacific. The people at the front have cars lined up and they call one over for you. Uber might be cheaper, but this was easy and worth the extra in my opinion. We said goodbye to the Royal Pacific and headed back to DC to get ready for the first day of school. Vacation over. Mischief managed.