Hey, friends! We are here. Universal Studios live updating! Let's start with a few notes from the drive. For those of you not familiar with the infinite joys of route I95 down the East Coast of the USA, please take note of my infinite sarcasm in the first half of this sentence. Actually the drive was pretty good. We got out on time and only hit three rough spots of traffic. We lost about 30 minutes during the dreaded south of DC section. But, the real issues were 15 miles north of the South Carolina/Georgia line, where the construction area resulted in 2 miles travelled in 30 minutes AND the car that lost it's boat trailer just before the I4 exit. That one was about 5 miles in 30 minutes. But there was one great highlight. Finding the Huske Hardware House restaurant in Fayetteville. Great little brewpub with some very good beers and solid (that's a compliment, just not a huge glowing review) food as well. Our daughter really liked the food, we were partial to the beverages! Once we arrived at our Best Western (here's the review...it's a Best Western) we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then walked over to Universal. We bought Annual Passes to Uni this year (knowing that we will be back early next Summer for a few days) and didn't want to waste the $20 on parking for the first day, so walk we did! Made it to the gate around 7:40am and finally were into Hogsmeade ready for rides at 8:05am. We started with a family ride on Forbidden Journey (the Hogwarts ride) and then, with the lines still low, the girls rode it a second time. Then we all rode the Dueling Dragons (or whatever it is called now) and once again, the girls then rode it a second time. By this point, it was a bit past regular park opening, so we hopped on the Hogwarts Express and made our way over to London. Once there, we stopped into Diagon Alley for our daughter to have some 'wanding' fun and also to see the Ollivander's show. Some time during this, I made 'reservations' for the Jimmy Fallon ride at 10:20am. For those who might be heading to Universal and haven't experienced this...you make ride time reservations on your phone via the Universal Orlando app. After that we went back to Diagon Alley for early lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. With a little energy in us from food, we headed to Men in Black to defend the world against Aliens. The listed wait was 40 minutes, so we did the single rider line and walked right on (and were seated together) - it was weird, but the standby line was being held! At this point, it was getting close to noon and we were pretty tired, so we started to head out...but, wait! The girls had never ridden the E.T. ride before. I don't know about any of you, but I find the end of that ride (on E.T.'s home planet) to be just about the most alarming and disturbing thing I've experienced. And it didn't fail to have the same impact on the girls! Exhausted and a little unsettled we headed back across the road to our hotel hoping a room would be ready. Which it was! Excellent. Showers and naps all around. Refreshed and certainly with a lot more energy, we headed back into the fray at about 4pm. Our plan was to get an early dinner and after quite a bit of discussion and debate during the planning of this trip, had finally decided on the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (the name of which is really twice that long, but anyway...you know what I'm talking about). What a great choice it was! Drinks were great, food was excellent, atmosphere was enjoyable and Madison (our waitress) was exceptional. We just may be back there again tomorrow! From the top left (clockwise), that's the Country French Toast, the Berries and Cream Crepe, the Baked Brie appetizer (with beers), and the steak sandwich. All were really excellent and definitely got us ready for the evening of touring. Which finds us back at Universal and heading to Terminator 2:3D. I had forgotten all the live action in this show, but had not forgotten all the cheesy 3D effects. Still enjoyable, though! Then over to Springfield to ride with the Simpsons. Enjoyable, but that one does a bit of a number on my stomach every time. So, we headed back to Harry Potter-land for the relaxation of the Hogwarts Express ride back to Hogsmeade. We took a relatively casual walk through Hogsmeade and Jurassic Park so that we could ride Kongfrontation (wait...it's not that anymore? they changed it?). Well, Kong: Skull Island was well done (amazing Kong animatronic at the end) but not a favorite of our daughter and certainly not something I need to do again. We exited right at 9pm, so things were closing down. Which meant we were heading back to the room and now...this posting as the girls fall asleep. See you tomorrow!