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Trip Report The Many Adventures of the Figaro Family in Florida

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by Figaro Family, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I have been following your trip report and our trips did overlap! We just missed crossing paths at the Beach Club, we checked in there on Saturday the 26th.
    Maddie definitely enjoyed being sassy with me and the picture taking, I got a lot of eye rolls and then she would humor me with a good smile:joyfull:.
    I was going to comment on your report but will tell you here, your new kitten is so cute! She looks exactly like my Cricket when she was a baby:inlove:. Also, Yay Wisconsin! We lived in Madison for over 4 years while James was going to graduate school and Maddie was born there. I like to tell her about how she's really a Wisconsin native unlike her parents and brother who were born in Oregon. I'd love to go back there some day and show her where we lived!
     
  2. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    When we got to the Three Broomsticks it was a 20 minute wait in line to get to a register to order but the line was indoors so we were good with getting out of the humidity for awhile. They have a display window of what all the food choices are and I knew I wanted fish and chips but the portion size was pretty big for me. I decided to save money and not waste food by sharing it with Xander. Maddie had fish and chips too, I can't remember what James had but I took a picture of the corn cob that his meal came with, I thought it looked pretty crazy. I'll say here that I took no notes on meals during the trip so I can only go by spotty memory and what the photo evidence says. I do remember clearly that James and Maddie both had their second butterbeers of the day. I tried a cold pear cider, so delicious:hungry:. We ordered a lemonade for Xander and were ridiculously proud of him for drinking it without a fuss. He has slowly been expanding what he'll eat and drink. It's more about presentation and texture for him as well as his OCD impulse to only have certain things. At one time he would only drink milk and water and would scream at the suggestion of trying anything new including chocolate milk. That is very healthy, don't get me wrong, but its good to work on expanding options and flexibility. Once we talked him into just a sip of chocolate milk, he finally decided he liked it and since then that is all he wants at restaurants (we never have it at home). Recently we've added juice pouches and lemonade to the list of things he'll drink. Since Three Broomsticks didn't advertise chocolate milk on the menu, we held our breath and decided to try the lemonade and he drank it without a peep! It is also a new thing that I could be confident that he would share my fish and chips. Up to a year ago anything fish or meat related had to be presented to him in sandwich form in order for him to eat it. This made choices at restaurants a little limited until recently so I also proudly watched him use his fork to eat his fish!
    IMG_6949 (2).JPG IMG_6491.JPG IMG_6950 (2).JPG IMG_6954 (2).JPG IMG_6958 (2).JPG
    We took note that Three Broomsticks also serves breakfast until 11am and decided we'd like to try that the next day. All full we headed over to the Hogwarts Express train station.
     
  3. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    The Hogwarts train was the one place at Universal that we used the card we'd been issued for Xander's stroller to be treated as a wheelchair. We got to the platform on an elevator and were able to use a train car that could be converted so the stroller could roll in and Xander could stay in it. This was a little easier on us because that stroller is huge and difficult to carry when folded up.
    IMG_6963 (2).JPG IMG_6966 (2).JPG
    IMG_6501.JPG Sorry for the blurry picture. IMG_6493.JPG We only rode the train the other direction on our last trip so seeing this version was pretty fun. I almost forgot that going this way brings you to Kings Cross in "London" outside of Harry Potter world. We exited and I took a picture of Maddie in front of 12 Grimmauld Place.
    IMG_6968.JPG Then we entered Diagon Ally. IMG_6970 (2).JPG I took a lot of pictures of this view on our last trip which I think are better than this one. I am really glad that my first experience with Harry Potter world was going through this entry two years ago. Hogsmeade is really fun but Diagon Ally sucks you into the Wizarding World in a unique way.
    Escape From Gringott's would be the first "big" ride of the trip that we could all go on together. We rode it last time and James was fine with the screens and I did pretty well with my neck. The wait time was 45 minutes so l got us a return time with Xander's card and we decided to check out some shops while we waited. Maddie's first choice was the Magical Menagerie where you can find a big collection of magical creatures to buy.
    IMG_6971 (2).JPG IMG_6972 (2).JPG Last time she got Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Hermione's cat Crookshank's. This time she wanted a dragon. She was disappointed that they don't sell the dragon that is on top of the Bank but she was happy with a Hungarian Horntail. I forgot to take a picture of her with it in the store but he'll show up later.
    Next we checked out Knockturn Alley( too dark there for pictures) and the Quiddich shop. IMG_6975 (2).JPG It was finally time to get in line for Escape From Gringotts! Xander had been starting to ask for "hotel" and "swim" so our promise of a roller coaster next helped with keeping him in the mood for a little more park time:happy:.
     
  4. littleroo

    littleroo Well-Known Member

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    Following! What a truly beautiful and inspiring family you have!!
     
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  5. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    That is so sweet of you to say, thank you!
     
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  6. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    We visited Gringotts where the Goblins were hard at work.
    IMG_6506.JPG IMG_6508.JPG IMG_6509.JPG Xander is getting some squeezes from daddy here, he was losing patience and needing some deep pressure to stay calm during our very short wait in line.
    We escaped Gringotts in record time and decided to take a refreshment break in the back of the ally which mercifully has a roof mostly blocking the sun. Maddie wanted a pumpkin juice, James and I had that too and Xander got some cold water and munched on snack crackers that we'd brought.
    IMG_6983 (2).JPG IMG_6979 (2).JPG The pumpkin juice was pretty good but too many spices made it a bit rich for me. I didn't quite finish mine but Maddie loves the bottle with the pumkin lid so much that she still has the one from two years ago on display in her room!
    Xander was still asking to go back to the hotel but he had also asked for "Curious George playground" earlier and Maddie was hoping for a couple more rides before we took a break for the day, so we negotiated with Xander. "First Curious George, then Hotel". He does pretty well with "First, then" so this worked since he really did want to see the Curious George playground again. James and Xander set out for Curious George and Maddie and I made our way toward the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.

    Before we left on the trip Maddie and I looked over the description of all the rides at Universal since we aren't as familiar with Uni as we are with Disney World. I thought it would make things easier to have a list ahead of time of the rides Maddie really wanted to go on so we could skip the ones that didn't make the list and streamline what the plans were for each day. Rip Ride Rockit was at the top of her wish list. When we got there the single rider wait time was only 15 minutes! She ended up riding a second time in a row since single rider had dropped to 10 minutes by the time she came out from the first ride. This roller coaster was the biggest most intense one she's ever been on and she loved it. I was so tempted to get on it with her in a way I was not tempted by Hulk. It looked so fun, and you get to choose your music! I felt better about not going on when Maddie told me how intense it was.

    I guess I'll lay out the multiple reasons why I really shouldn't do most theme park rides here.
    In 1997 I had to have surgery for TMJ disorder. I was having terrible popping and clicking in my jaw throughout my senior year of high school until one day my jaw got stuck and I could barely open my mouth. It was very painful and I had excruciating headaches. We found out that my disks had ripped out of place and gotten stuck. I had to have braces put back on my teeth for my freshman year of college to get everything in optimal position then that summer my jaw was advanced and the disks sewn back into place. I have four long pins in each side of my jaw from that and still have to be careful with jaw movement and what I chew. (This is where my pillow pickiness comes from). Next I had arthroscopic surgery in 1999 for a torn meniscus in my left knee. I took a nice break from surgeries to have the two kids then was back at it in 2008 with ear surgery to replace the stapes in my left ear with a little metal piece because of hearing loss and severe tinnitus. I think I'm having balance issues with the ear lately contributing to me getting dizzy easily and motion sickness more easily on some rides.
    The big one came in 2010 when I started having pain down my arms and was losing feeling in my hands and feet. Turns out I had bulging disks in my neck, some disk degeneration and the disk at C5-6 was touching my spinal chord. My doctor advised a joint replacement in the worst spot rather than a fusion since I was only 32 and this would give me better range of motion. So I basically have a little plastic ball sandwiched between two metal pieces holding up my head:eek:. My surgeon couldn't hold back giggles when he looked at the x ray of my head at a follow up visit. All of the metal shows up but the plastic ball does not, so there is my floating head with metal in the neck, one ear, and what looks like 8 giant nails in the sides of my jaw! He was like "you look like you were attacked with a nail gun!" I had to agree with him and was laughing too.

    Anyway, I really have been pretty conservative with rides since then, taking a few more chances lately. I decided to save my neck and jaw for some of the rides at Disney World.

    Now back to the report,
    I forgot to take a picture of Maddie in front of Rip Ride Rockit because I was too busy watching the crazy people trying to get a good look at the impending eclipse.
    That's right! I almost forgot that it was eclipse day:D.
    I'll spoil the suspense here, nothing really happened right there in my little area of Florida. The sky dimmed slightly for a little bit and that was about it. However, there was a large crowd of people near the roller coaster waiting breathlessly in a large grassy area in front of an outdoor stage. What was really shocking/amusing to me was that I didn't see anyone wearing eclipse glasses but almost all of them were staring directly at the sun with cameras poised for very long periods of time. I hope their eyes are OKo_O. If not, it totally wasn't worth it. Back home in Oregon our friends and family had a way cooler show but also some nightmare traffic on I-5 afterward.

    After her two totally awesome rides listening to "Born to be Wild", Maddie and I started walking toward the Curious George area to find James and Xander. On our way there I forced Maddie to stop and pose for these pictures.
    IMG_6987 (2).JPG IMG_6993 (2).JPG It was her "punishment" for loving Barney when she was a toddler and subjecting me to the torture of his show:p.
     
  7. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    You're like the Bionic Woman!
     
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  8. Tuvalu

    Tuvalu Premium Member

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    Fellow sufferer of Barney torment. We saw the Uni Barney show when Em was 7 (when she was "past" Barney) but I still made her sit through it as retribution for my torture! :joyfull:
     
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  9. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    :joyfull::joyfull::joyfull:
     
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  10. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Yes it's true! James calls me that all the time and then we make the bionic woman sound effect:D. He's always trying to add my knee to the list but I remind him that no metal has been added there, yet:cautious:.
     
  11. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    ...Meanwhile Xander and James had been having a great time at the Curious George play area.
    IMG_6513.JPG IMG_6514.JPG IMG_6518.JPG Then Xander got sprayed with water in the splash and spray area. He hates for his clothes to be wet or dirty so he immediately demanded "clean shirt! clean pants!" James got him changed (we always have a backup outfit along for this reason). Then they went on the Woody Woodpecker coaster. Xander also communicates in echolalia, where he'll echo back something he's just heard and if it's especially pleasing he'll say that word or sound effect at seemingly random moments, sometimes days or weeks later. He picked up the Woody Woodpecker laugh from the soundtrack playing at the coaster and did a great imitation of it over the next few days!
    By the time Maddie and I caught up with them, they had returned to Curious George using a path outside the spray zone and played a little longer.
    IMG_7003 (2).JPG Curious Xander with Curious George:inlove: IMG_6997 (2).JPG IMG_6998 (2).JPG IMG_7011 (2).JPG
    One ride on our wishlist was E.T. which was really close by. Maddie was intrigued because we'd watch this movie together awhile back when she was home sick from school. I have vague memories of riding it in 1993 and being excited because it was still pretty new at the time. We decided to ride it all together next since the wait time was 5 minutes. James and I couldn't think why we hadn't gone on it together on the day we spent at Universal in 2002, we hadn't had time two years ago either.
    The first part was pretty good, sort of re creating some scenes from the movie. But then you are transported to E.T's home planet and it just gets... weird? bad? so weird/bad that it's good?
    We got off the ride and Maddie just had so many questions.
    "What was that? What just happened? Did you really like that ride when you were younger? Why did all the creatures on his planet look so weird? Why does everyone on his planet call him E.T.? he probably has a real name there." Very valid point on that last one. The home planet was very trippy let's just say. I honestly have no memory of that part of the ride, did I block it out from trauma? James and I kept joking the rest of the time at Universal that we should make time to go on it once more. "I think we have just enough time to go on E.T. again before lunch! We really need to go take a break at the hotel, but first E.T?" "What's the last thing you want to do at Universal Maddie? E.T. again right?"

    We had pushed Xander to stay at the parks long enough. It was about 3:30 and we started walking back to the hotel for a break and some swimming.
    This is where our plans for the day changed quite a bit from our very original itinerary. Originally we'd planned to be on the road to St. Augustine by 3pm to meet up with one of James' cousins, his wife and baby. A couple days before we left, the cousin called to let us know he'd gotten a promotion at work which was great news but unfortunately he was obligated to take a quick business trip up to New York and had to leave really early in the morning on Tuesday. The second he got back, he and his wife had to turn around and fly out for a friends wedding. The wedding was the reason why they weren't available the rest of our trip. We agreed that the meet up in St. Augustine was doomed:(. The cousins barely had any time to get ready for either trip along with their regular work schedules. We were really sad to miss seeing them, they are a really great couple.
    I just found out today on Facebook that they proactively drove out of state this morning (they live in Jacksonville) to get out of the path of Irma. I'm going to ask James to contact the rest of his family in the Orlando area tonight. I'm getting a little nervous about them.

    So back to the report, we decided to have a lazy late afternoon instead and to decide on a dinner location later.
     
  12. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    James contacted his aunt this evening and she says the rest of the family is getting ready to shelter in place for the time being and preparing as best they can. We'll be worrying about them all until Irma is through with Florida. I can't believe we were just there visiting with them last week!
    (just keep trip reporting, just keep trip reporting) this is my Dory style self soothing.

    Continuing from earlier:
    Sometime around our E.T. ride Maddie's sunglasses broke. I didn't know it then but this was the beginning of a curse on sunglasses during the vacation (just remember this later). Maddie and I wear sunglasses and were definitely needing them in the bright Florida sun. James hates sunglasses and Xander won't wear them. On our walk out of the park we came across a convenient sunglasses stand. Maddie picked out a pair that she liked and I paid the $20 plus tax. Not so bad I told myself (we don't have sales tax in Oregon so I have to get over adding that extra money onto everything when we're on vacation). We headed toward the path to the resort and everyone was happy.
     
  13. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    When we got back to the room everyone was ready for a trip to the swimming pool. So we changed into our suits and went down to the pool. IMG_8476.JPG IMG_8478.JPG IMG_8480.JPG IMG_8483.JPG IMG_8485.JPG IMG_8486.JPG This last picture is an ill advised selfie without those new sunglasses. "My eyes!" Says Maddie.
    We had a blast at the pool. Xander, Maddie, and James went down the pool slide. We all played with a beach ball and Xander worked on perfecting his back float which he's only recently been willing to try! He always wears a life vest in the pool. He can't swim safely without it but doesn't like anyone to hold onto him, so it gives him independence.
    Next: the big debate ( or general inability to decide) Where would we eat dinner?
     
  14. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Final installment of day 2, Monday August 21
    It was going on 6pm by the time we were wrapping things up at the pool and it had been a long time since our lunch at Three Broomsticks. Everyone was starving but couldn't decide where to eat. This is what comes of not having every minute carefully scheduled! We agreed that we were too worn out to go all the way into the parks but the debate was on as to whether we'd go to City Walk or try to find something at the hotel. Maddie declared that her feet were too tired for walking and "look there's a restaurant right there!" She was pointing at the pool bar that did have a menu for food. We checked out the menu and it looked pretty decent, I started to sway toward her choice. Although there are some other places we could try at City Walk... James was fine with whatever but it would be a pretty early night if we just ate right then and didn't have anything to do afterward. We decided to get cleaned up in the room and go over our choices. I looked up the list of restaurants and then tentatively suggested the one that I thought was kind of silly but knew James would be excited about. "How about Margaritaville?" James jumped on that suggestion with enthusiasm while our little old lady was like "I don't know, my feet are pretty tired from all that walking." Come on Maddie, we have over a week of park walking left to go. You've got to toughen up!" She finally relented when I showed her the menu had fish tacos and some other things that were similar to what she'd wanted at the pool bar. We also decided that we would try out the boat system instead of walking the path.
    With a decision made, we headed out the door. We got lucky and there was a boat pulling up just as we got to the dock. For the boats at Universal you go through security on the dock then the boat drops you off in the middle of the City Walk.
    IMG_7015 (2).JPG There it is, Margaritaville! Time to waste away and find that shaker of salt:rolleyes:.
    There was no wait to be seated if we were fine with the porch. The porch was big with a roof over it and sun shades around all the sides so it looked pretty good to us. We decided after ducking into the main restaurant for bathroom breaks that we actually liked the atmosphere outside better!
    IMG_7024 (2).JPG
    Hey, there's the salt, no worries now.
    James was in a great mood, there was live music playing Jimmy Buffet covers and he loves singing along to songs to drive Maddie crazy. Everyone was actually in a great mood. I had to admit that it was pretty fun and even though I don't remember what we all ate, I do remember that it was really good!
    While we waited for our drinks James started playing with the kids meal stuff that was meant for Xander. Instead of crayons they set out wikki stix, these bendy waxy things that you can shape and stick to paper. Xander was not interested in touching them so James got creative and amused both the kids.

    IMG_7025 (2).JPG IMG_7028 (2).JPG He hadn't even gotten his margarita yet when he first started the silliness. IMG_7042 (2).JPG
    There's the margarita:happy:!
    IMG_7044 (2).JPG
    IMG_6523.JPG I'm not a margarita fan myself so I got something else. Can't remember what it was but it was good! Second hard drink of the vacation for each of the grownups(real party animals right?).
    IMG_7031 (2).JPG Xander was pleased with his chocolate milk and Maddie had a Pina Colada (no alcohol of course). I didn't get a picture of her with it. Sometime during the meal Maddie took off her new sunglasses that we'd bought about four hours earlier. I noticed a big angry red mark by her nose and another by her ear. "Ouch Maddie! Let me have a look at those sunglasses." I examine them and discover that a rubber nose piece and earpiece were missing from one side of the glasses which left pointy plastic uncovered. Either they spontaneously fell off, or they'd been missing already when we picked them out earlier:facepalm:! I was so hot and tired at the time that I didn't take a close look. I was just happy she'd found a pair she liked.
    She was ready to shrug it off "they're OK Mom." but no, I couldn't let her wear them for eight more days digging into her face like that.
    After we were done with dinner we headed back to the boat dock and found another sunglasses stand on our way. I handed over another $20 plus tax for Maddie's third pair of sunglasses of the trip. These ones were carefully looked over for flaws.
    Then we got on a boat back to Sapphire Falls and turned in for the night a bit early. Xander fell asleep quickly as expected and all was well!
    That's it for vacation day two.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  15. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Tuesday August 22
    Alarm set for 6:15 again, I was up and feeling a lot more rested than the day before. James got up next and did a coffee/snack breakfast run downstairs. The mochas there were good! I don't have an appetite that early for anything else. Xander had what became his early morning staple of the whole trip, a cup of Fruit Loops. Maddie and James had donuts. Pretty soon we were set to go and on the path to Universal once again.
    IMG_7049 (2).JPG IMG_7052 (2).JPG check out Maddie's new (new) sunglasses. IMG_7055 (2).JPG This morning we made it to Islands of Adventure by 8am. As we arrived at Hogsmeade I told Maddie she could go ahead to Dragon Challenge since she knew where the entrance was. Then I saw there was no one in front of the train and tried to get her to stop for a family picture. She did not "hear" me and kept going, a girl on a mission. Oh well, a least I could get some pictures with Xander. IMG_7056 (2).JPG IMG_7059 (2).JPG We waited for Maddie at the ride exit while Xander looked longingly at the big roller coaster. Sorry buddy:(.
    Next we all went on Hippogriff to make it up to Xander.
    IMG_7062 (2).JPG IMG_7070 (2).JPG Amusing Xander with selfie mode on the iphone while waiting in line.
    I'm pretty sure that I got Maddie and Xander to ride this together that morning but didn't get photographic evidence. Maddie was not a fan of the weird net thing on her ankles either.
    After Hippogriff we all went to Hogwarts. Just like the guy had promised the day before, I showed Xander's card to the person in charge of the express line and explained that three of us were just going to tour the castle but our daughter wanted to ride. No problem, we could go on in! The inside of Hogwarts was even better than I remembered and James was really impressed with the detail too. I didn't take any pictures because I just wanted to enjoy it. We were able to get Xander out the exit by the ride without him getting upset about not going on, so bonus points there:D.
    After we reunited with Maddie the vote was to go ahead and eat breakfast at Three Broomsticks. It was 9am but everyone including me was plenty hungry.
    IMG_6531.JPG IMG_6537.JPG The food was really good, James had a traditional English breakfast, Xander had pancakes, and Maddie and I each had porridge which came with a fruit scone and a croissant.

    Next: Time to visit Jurassic Park
     
  16. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I'm just going to do more trip reporting today in between obsessively checking on Irma's progress. We keep thinking about how we were just at Beach Club two weeks ago and what it would have been like to shelter in the hotel room for two days.

    Continuing with Tuesday August 22.

    A visit to Jurassic Park was high on Maddie's wishlist for the trip. We'd finally watched the original movie with her and the latest one about a year ago. She loved the movies, before her current obsession with dragon's, dinosaurs were her favorite. She perversely giggled whenever a human met a grisly end via dinosaur. "What's wrong with you? How is this funny?" I cautiously asked my little weirdo. "It's not the dinosaurs fault, that's just their instinct! They're cute!" OK then...o_O.
    IMG_7084 (2).JPG The walkway to Jurassic Park went right behind Hogwarts.
    IMG_7085 (2).JPG IMG_7093 (2).JPG Look! Cute Dinosaur!
    We stopped at the Discovery Center first.
    IMG_7098 (2).JPG IMG_6538.JPG IMG_6544.JPG IMG_6548.JPG We had a good time trying to figure out the non-touchscreen "ancient" technology. We took turns having our faces scanned for a human/dinosaur hybrid. My facial features must not be balanced because I couldn't get my eyes to line up with the markers on the screen. James and Maddie made fun of the resulting one eyed long necked dinosaur. "yep, looks about right" "arrr pirate dino"
    IMG_6553.JPG IMG_7100 (2).JPG Maddie's turned out quite a bit better. Next we went on the Jurassic Park River Adventure. Fun ride, but the suspense at the top of the long drop as the t-rex loomed was ruined a bit by the family in front of us. The dad had his phone out determined to get a shot of the t-rex even after multiple warnings at the beginning of the ride to have cameras stowed. As our boat climbed to the top a voice came over the speakers "Sir put away your camera, Stow your phone please." repeat, repeat. He did not stow his phone and instead lifted it higher. Our boat came to a stop at the top. "Sir, this ride cannot continue until the phone is put away!" kind of ruined the illusion that we were in danger of being eaten by a dinosaur, thanks a lot camera dude:mad:. This guy was not cowed whatsoever, I think he was actually pleased that the boat had stopped so that he could get better shots of the t-rex! He took several pictures then calmly put the phone away in his pocket, finally down we went with a huge splash. I hoped that guys phone got really wet:grumpy:.
    Xander immediately started demanding "Clean shirt! clean pants!" Outside the ride there were a couple of booths that you could step into and pay $5 to get blown dry. James decided to try it and pulled Xander in with him. Xander covered his ears and they withstood the dryer as long as they could. it was like volunteering to be in even worse humidity than we already were and Xander was not convinced that his clothes were properly dry. He insisted on a change anyway. Maddie and I were actually happy to be wet, the sun was beating down a lot more today. The day before we'd had more cloud cover.
    The final thing to do in Jurassic Park was the Pteranodon Flyers. They have a height limit of 56 inches so I was hoping Xander would be short enough to ride. If there is one short enough rider then a second taller person can ride with them. Xander was almost too tall in his shoes but they let him through and he and Maddie enjoyed the flight together!


    IMG_7119 (2).JPG That was it for Jurassic Park. Xander had started asking for "Doctor Seusses" and Maddie wanted to visit Honeydukes in Hogsmeade for some candy and to check Dr. Doom's Fearfall off her ride list. We decided to split up, James taking Xander to Dr. Seuss land and Maddie and I heading toward Honeydukes.

     
  17. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    IMG_7128 (2).JPG IMG_7131 (2).JPG At Honeydukes I let Maddie pick out an assortment of bulk candy as long as it wasn't chocolate since I had visions of chocolate melting on everything in the heat. I promised that we'd be back for chocolate frogs before we left Universal for good the next day. Next we went to Dr. Doom's Fear Fall. The wait time was just 15 minutes and I was grateful to find out that it exited into an air conditioned arcade where I could wait for Maddie. She felt no need to repeat this ride. It was "just OK" the drops not really fear inducing enough for her. Alright then, that was another one checked off the list. She briefly considered a repeat ride on Hulk but the wait time was pretty high and we were wearing out.
    Meanwhile James took Xander on Cat in the Hat again and they spent more time in the splash play area.
    IMG_6556.JPG IMG_6557.JPG IMG_6565.JPG Maddie and I found them there, cooled off ourselves, and we consulted Maddie's ride wishlist. Poseidon's Fury caught Jame's eye since we'd passed it several times by then going to and from Hogsmeade. "Is this a ride?" "I think it's more like some kind of show?" I couldn't quite remember the description on the Universal site but Maddie had put it on the list because she'd enjoyed studying Greek mythology in school this past year. "Let's go for it" says James "OK" I shrug. It wasn't very far to walk and the wait time was almost nothing. We, along with a crowd of other unsuspecting victims, (er guests?) entered the first chamber and the show began.
    This is an attraction that will go down in our family lore as one of the best worst things we have ever seen, in the so bad it's good category. An actor welcomes you to an archaeological dig site where his boss has mysteriously disappeared, and what's this? we're under a curse and the chamber is sealed with no way to escape?! (At this point a steady stream of doomed tourists gave up and started heading out the exit doors into the bright sunlight). The poor actor gamely kept going with his lines ("this probably happens at every show" James and I whisper to each other.) We stuck it out to see what happened next. What happens is that you are shuttled to a series of chambers as the story unfolds, the actor finds and returns Poseidon's trident after battling Lord Darkenon who was accidentally summoned by the head archaeologist, something, something, Poseidon and Darkenon have a big battle and stuff, the end.
    The best part was walking through the whirlpool hallway between two of the chambers and all the dated special effects of the fight on the screens overhead between Poseidon and Darkenon. Maddie was completely offended by Darkenon, couldn't they at least have used a real Greek god? Of course this joined E.T. as the other thing we repeatedly joked about needing to see again:p.

    This is where I'm confused in hindsight about our next move. What we did was to ride the Hogwarts Express again to the Universal side. Nothing wrong with this, but we'd already gone this way the day before and after wracking my brain and photographic evidence, I've discovered that we didn't actually do anything after we got off the train except have a snack in Diagon Alley that we could have gotten on the Hogsmeade side, then we left the parks for a break at the hotel. Why didn't we just have that snack and leave from the Islands of Adventure side? I blame Lord Darkenon;).
    Anyway, here we are on that second fun but unecessary ride on the Hogwarts Express.
    IMG_7137 (2).JPG IMG_7134 (2).JPG
    Maddie in line with me for frozen butterbeers and cornish pasties:hungry:. IMG_7139 (2).JPG IMG_6569.JPG IMG_6572.JPG Making our way to the park exit, still drinking the butterbeers and excited to find a fire hydrant to splash through. We were a little delirious from the heat I think.
    It was about 2:30pm and we were more than ready for a break.

    Next: A nice afternoon break and family harmony leading up to a dinner reservation and, OH NO! an unanticipated Xander meltdown:bawling::cry:.
     
  18. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    It sounds like our Florida family is doing OK. Some power outages and flooded streets but not too bad considering. The Jacksonville cousins made a smart decision to evacuate when they did since the flooding there looks really bad. They won't know for awhile what the condition of their house is, but at least they're safe!

    Back to day 3.

    Xander wanted to go swimming immediately after we got back to our room, Maddie was not interested, she just wanted to hang out with her 3ds and draw. James was willing to take him but wanted a quick nap. We did the "first play toys, then swimming pool" thing and that satisfied Xander.
    IMG_7141 (2).JPG IMG_7144 (2).JPG IMG_7146 (2).JPG I worked on organizing the luggage while James was sleeping since we'd be switching hotels the next day. I also worked on a game plan for the next day to make sure we had seen and done everything at Universal that we'd wanted. After James woke up, he and Xander got ready and headed to the pool. I took advantage of the free time and took my own nap. I was jolted awake 45 minutes later by the distinct happy sounds of Xander coming down the hall towards the room. Pool time was very fun! We had to hurry to all get ready then, I'd made a dinner reservation at the Hard Rock Cafe for 6pm and it was almost 5. We decided to go on the boat again and leave the stroller behind like we had the night before.
    IMG_7150 (2).JPG IMG_7158 (2).JPG Everyone is happy!
    IMG_7161 (2).JPG IMG_7162 (2).JPG We had a longer wait for a boat this time so I took a couple of pictures from the dock. Xander remained in a terrific mood up until the point when we got off the boat at City Walk and started walking to the WRONG RESTAURANT! (according to Xander)
     
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  19. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Looks like a lot of fun except for Poseidon's Fury (I have yet to read a good review on it) and rude guy trying to get a pic of T-rex.

    Good to see Xander making a strong rebound!
     
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  20. Figaro Family

    Figaro Family Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    For the vacation I'd gone all out and made a power point spiral bound book that laid out the schedule for the trip and the general idea of what we'd be doing each day. I was worried it was a bit overboard but it really helped throughout the trip. When we first got to Orlando, Xander immediately wanted to go to Disney World. I got out the book and was able to say "look buddy, the schedule says we have to go here today, but on this day we'll go to Disney World." That satisfied him and whenever he started to get anxious about the schedule, out the book would come. He'd been so easy going overall, and hadn't had a problem with the restaurant the night before being within sight of the one we went to on the first night, that I let down my guard and didn't prep him about where we were going for dinner on this night. Looking back, I think he was OK with the switch the first time because we got there a different way. We walked the first night, then rode the boat the second night. The way his rules oriented brain works, he could have been thinking "boat equals Margaritaville". Or I'm over analyzing and he just really really loved Margaritaville!
    Whatever the reason, Xander just lost it. "Blue Restaurant! Blue Restaurant!" he kept sobbing and pointing at his beloved
    Margaritaville:bawling:.
    "You two go on ahead, I'll get him there" says James. We were a couple minutes past 6 so Maddie and I hurried ahead to check into Hard Rock Cafe while James struggled to get a wailing, resistant Xander to move. He was really wishing we'd brought the stroller right then. He finally had to carry Xander part of the way, not easy because he's getting really heavy. I apologetically explained the situation to the waiter as James tried to pry Xander's fingers from the door to get him all the way inside. He really really did not want to come into this clearly inferior establishment:arghh:. Our hope was that if we could just get him to sit down and eating that the situation would be diffused. We've had some tough moments in public places and have left a few times when we felt things were not going to deescalate, but we don't like to give up on Xander too quickly. I said apologetic "sorry's" to everyone in the vicinity of our table as Maddie looked like she wanted to crawl under it and disappear. The waiter was great. He brought Xander a chocolate milk and kept them coming until he was calm again. The worst of the meltdown only lasted about 5 minutes but it feels like forever while it is happening. The hardest part is feeling helpless because we're trying to think in the moment of the best thing to do while feeling totally stressed out and trying to remember that Xander isn't doing this because he wants to be a pain:cry:.
    We knew based on past experiences that if we could just get him calm that Xander would make a switch and decide that this was now the best restaurant ever! Sure enough, that's exactly what happened:rolleyes:.
    IMG_7169 (2).JPG IMG_7167 (2).JPG Chocolate Milk, it makes almost anything better:angelic:. IMG_7180 (2).JPG IMG_7173 (2).JPG Maddie did not have to hide under the table! IMG_7175 (2).JPG There's me, blood pressure slowly returning to normal.
    James and I totally ordered strong mixed drinks (third night in a row!) and used them to help calm our nerves. We ended up having a good time and as predicted, by the time we left Xander had a smile and look on his face like "this restaurant is the best ever! We should come here every night!"
    IMG_7182 (2).JPG food served on a guitar shaped plate? Totally awesome! Definitely not something to cry about.
    IMG_7188 (2).JPG
    Here Xander is showing off his patented two fries at one time maneuver. The fries have to be the exact same length, then you put one in each corner of your mouth walrus style and munch them at equal speed:cool:.
     
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