east coast Florida Islands of Adventure road trip southeast travel Uncategorized Universal Universal Studios

Day 5 It’s been awhile Orlando

Day five was another early rising day. Not only because I get up early. Today we were also leaving Fort Myers Beach and heading to Aventura Hotel at Universal Orlando. We were last in Orlando back in December and I couldn’t wait to come back. Our annual passes are up in August so I wanted to make sure I got to go at least one for time.

I loaded everyone into the car and went down the street to 7-11 for some Ice. I needed to buy a bag of ice to fill up the big cooler. It was around 0520 in the morning and I knew we would be arriving to Orlando around 9 and I was sure I room wouldn’t be ready that early. I needed to make sure the food and drinks stayed as cold as possible while we waited for our room to be ready.

I was on the road by 0530 and was projected to get to Universal’s Aventura Resort a little after 9 in the morning. I had several different routes to pick from but this time I picked the fastest route. I wanted to get there as soon as possible.

Most of the trip was uneventful. I spent a lot of time on some back country roads and some highways. It just seemed like ever time I looked at my projected arrival time it was slowing ticking up. First we were going to arrive at 0903. Then it was 0913. As I was getting closer and closer the time keep slowly ticking up.

I-4 was a mess. Once we got on we hit a slow down about a mile into our trip on I-4. With every minute that passed the time kept increasing. Before you knew it we were not going to arrive at the hotel till around 0930.

Now if I was going to Disney first we wouldn’t have it as much of the traffic. We ended up passing the Disney World exits before we hit the last major slowdown. Good thing I have driven up and down I-4 plenty of other times that I knew I could get off and find a faster route.

There was only one problem with that. It seems like many other people had the same idea. At least the traffic on the side roads wasn’t at a stand still. It sill took a lot longer than it should have but we managed to make it to the hotel before 0945. I just couldn’t believe how long it took me to get here.

I’ve dealt with bad traffic on I-4 before. It was never like this though. I am not even sure what caused the back up.

It wasn’t a great start to our Orlando portion of our trip. I do have to say I am glad we weren’t going to Disney first. I probably would have missed out on our first Lightning Lanes if we did. At Universal we were not going to have that problem.

I pulled up to Aventura and went to the front desk to check in. The night before I received an email to check in online which I did. All I needed to do was stop by the front desk and pick up my keys. Once my room was ready I would either use the keys they gave me or get new ones.

All I know is once I get my key I can pull into the parking garage and park the car till it was time to unload it. We parked the car and got out my daughter’s Harry Potter Robe so she could wear it to the park. I can say I will never understand how she can wear that robe in the Florida heat but she does and doesn’t complain at all.

We took the elevator from the parking garage to the lobby and walked out the front door. We could have took the bus but it was a nice day so far and not too hot just yet so we decided to take the Garden Walk. Besides, we need to stretch our legs out a little. We were in the car for a little long than we expected.

The walk from Aventura to CityWalk only takes about twenty minutes or so. Plus it is a nice relaxing walk. At least I think so. Even after a long day at the park I prefer to walk than take the bus.

By the time we arrived at CityWalk it was around 1040. We could have went right to one of the parks but we decided to eat something first. Now for the longest time we always go to Bubba Gump at least once on our Universal trips. This trip wasn’t going to be different.

We waited till 11 when they opened and were quickly seated. Our drinks came to us quickly but the rest of the meal took a little bit of time. There had to be about a dozen other tables with people at them where we were sitting and I think I saw two maybe three servers. You could tell they were a little short staffed at this time.

It may have taken a good amount of time for us to get our food. However, when it came out it was very delicious. There food always is and we never seem to have an issue with it. After we ate lunch we headed over to Universal Studios.

Now my mother purchased her tickets through her job. She just bought the wrong ticket. Instead of getting a park to park ticket. She got a one park a day ticket.

It wasn’t a big deal it just meant we had to pick one park and stick with it all day. My daughter and I both have Universal Annual Passes so we could go between both parks freely. We just wouldn’t be able to bring my mom.

We go through the front gates with no problems for any of us and make our way back towards the Wizarding World section of Studios. My daughter has been dying to show her grandmother her magic. It was a little after 1230 at this point and it was really starting to heat up.

It didn’t take me long to buy my first of many bottles of water for today. I was a little mad at myself for forgetting our refillable cups back in the car. I will just have to try and remember to bring them tomorrow. For now I would just have to buy some water.

The sweat was pouring down my face and into my eyes. I am so used to sweating in Florida but this was different. Maybe it was because of my sunburn or maybe just something else. I don’t think I will ever know. What I do know was that bottle of water was gone so fast.

Now in the past year I have been to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure at least 10 different days. I couldn’t believe how long the lines were for every and I mean every attraction. Currently E.T had a 45 minute posted wait. In August and even December I never saw it go above 25.

Today if we decided to do any rides we would have to wait in a long line. Long lines are something me and my daughter try to avoid at all cost. We would rather walk around than stand in a line.

Before we made it back to Diagon Alley we had to stop and place a call with the Ministry of Magic. I think my daughter was getting permission for my mother to join her. Next thing you know some bricks were moving and we were hit with a huge crowd of Wizards, Witches, and Muggles.

Everything shop and store was packed. Ollivander’s had a line outside the store. I guess everyone knows that if you want a wand, you have to get it from Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

We walked around Diagon Alley for about an hour or so. We checked out Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Plus we got in line for Ollivander’s.

Ollivander’s was so packed you could barely move. Like it was shoulder to shoulder full of people. We didn’t stay long before we exited the store to try and attempt to do a little magic.

We couldn’t even escape the lines for trying some magic. The only place where the lines were a little lighter was in Knockturn Alley. Of course, that is probably for two reasons.

One most people don’t even know this area exist. The second is because it is very dark and hard to see. Like it takes your eyes way to long to adjust to the darkness. While here we also visited Borgin and Burkes.

Borgin and Burkes is where you will find all your dark wizard appeal. There is no better place to by your very own Death Eater mask than here. Perhaps you might even be able to speak a little Parseltongue to the snake within the shop.

Before we left the Wizarding World of Harry Potter we stopped to watch a show. Well I stopped. My daughter and mother kept walking till they realized I wasn’t in front of them anymore.

We stayed at watched Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees sing two songs before we left Diagon Alley and headed over to see one of my good friends. Of course, I am talking about Bruce the Shark. We always have to pay Bruce a visit when we are in Universal Studios.

Now I like to visit him for two reasons. For one I just think it is a really cool photo op and it is right near a smoking area. Besides, this is a great place to people watch too. I always find enjoyment watching all the families come up to get a photo with the shark.

You might be amazed with the things people do with Bruce. You might also be amazed by the amount of adults that are a little scared of him too. Children are also pretty funny when they approach him.

From here we walked around the park going into shops and drinking water. Drinking lots and lots of water. We also ended up going and doing Jimmy Fallon Race through New York. It had a posted 30 minute wait.

We figured it might not be that long and it would get us out of the sun for a little bit. It did get us out of the sun and the wait was only about 15 minutes. It also helped me get an understanding of what rides my mom could and couldn’t do.

You see, she has always loved going to theme parks. She is just not a big ride person. Like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World is too much for her.

While she did enjoy the ride. It was a little too much for her with the moving and screens. She’s not even sure if she can still do one of her favorite rides at WDW. Guess we will just have to find out in a couple of days if she can handle it or not.

After this we did some more walking around and tried to find rides with lower wait times. Almost everything had a 45 minute wait or longer. Some were 90 or more. However, Islands of Adventure had some rides that were only showing 30 minutes.

The only problem was my moms ticket was only good for one park today. I had to get that changed but wasn’t sure if we could. Luckily, we were able to upgrade her ticket to a Park to Park ticket and it was only $20 more a day. Spending that extra $60 was well worth it for the chance to swap between parks.

We just wouldn’t be taking the Hogwarts Express over. There was a 60 minute wait at the Kings Cross Station. It would take us no more than 30 minutes to walk to Hogsmeade from our currently location so we decided to walk over and catch the train another day. Platform 9 3/4 wouldn’t be going anywhere, any time soon.

The walk from Universal Studios to IOA was a quick one. We even popped our heads in to Toothsome’s to see if there was any seats available at the bar to grab a milkshake. The restaurant was packed and so too was the bar. Maybe later in the week we would have better luck. For now it was off to Islands of Adventure.

We scanned our tickets and headed towards Dr. Seuss land. Before we went any further I purchased a refillable drink mug. I hated buying one since I have two back in the car but we needed some drinks and Icee’s too.

We rode the High in the Sky trolley and proceeded towards Jurassic Park. My daughter really wanted to ride VelociCoaster but I wasn’t sure if my heart could handle it. She too wasn’t too sure if she wanted to go upside down.

Luckily or unfortunately, the ride was down. It didn’t come back up for a couple more hours either. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure head a two hour wait and Hulk had a 50 minute wait.

Even at Islands of Adventure the wait times were long. The only one that didn’t have a long line, well longer than 15 minutes was Doctor Dooms Fearfall. That only had a 10 minute posted wait.

At this point it was a little after 1730 and we still hadn’t received a message about our room being ready. It was time to go back to the hotel and see what was going on. We were all up early and out in the heat for a good amount of time. Plus we were all getting hungry.

My daughter really wanted to ride the boat back to the hotel. Since she was being very good and we were on our feet all afternoon we went to grab the boat back to Sapphire Falls. We might have only waited five minutes before the boat came.

The ride back to Sapphire Falls was a quick one. It also had a nice breeze that helped cool us down. Plus it felt good sitting down for a couple of minutes. But right when I really started to relax we arrived at the hotel.

We disembarked and made our way out of Sapphire Falls and back to Aventura Hotel. There was only one other group in front of us when we arrived at the front desk and the staff got to us really quickly.

I told them we checked in online yesterday afternoon and stopped by this morning to check in but still didn’t get a text about our room being ready. The girl checked and wasn’t sure why we didn’t receive one but handed us new keys and give me the room number. She was very nice and really helpful.

Before we unloaded the car we decided to grab a bite to eat. My daughter got the chicken fingers and my mom got a buffalo chicken sandwich. Both looked tasty but they were not as tasty as what I got.

I ended up picking a steak wok bowl. This thing was so tasty. Everything I got in it really went well together. All the vegetables were cooked perfectly and the sauce was so delicious. I do think this was the best meal I have ever gotten from a hotel food court. It would be hard to top this meal.

After dinner we unpacked the car and placed everything into the room. We were on the 9th floor and the view was amazing. We could see Cabana Bay and Volcano Bay from our window. I really did love the view.

Even though it was starting to get a little late. My daughter still wanted to go swimming. This girl would live in a pool if you let her. Since she was being so good we went downstairs to check out the pool.

I had to get some pictures of the pool anyway along with the gym and anything else I could think of. It really was a win/win. Now the pool isn’t huge.

Pretty sure it is the smallest pool out of any of the Universal Orlando Resorts. It doesn’t really matter though. We could walk over to Cabana Bay or Sapphire Falls if we decide to have a pool day and use one of their pools.

My daughter went swimming while my mother and I just relaxed. It was a long day but a good day. Tomorrow was going to be an even better day. It was still going to be an early day we just wouldn’t be going to Universal in the morning.

Instead, tomorrow we had reservations for Discovery Cove. My daughter and I both really enjoyed it last year and my daughter really wanted to her grandma to experience it as well. Tomorrow should be a really great day.

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