Monday, July 01, 2013

Tuesday, June 25 (Universal Studios, Day 2)

Having gotten our fill of Adventure Island the day before we headed to the regular, ordinary side of Universal Studios. We left not quite as early in the morning because we were all so sore and exhausted from the day before.

The first item on our itinerary was the Barney show, simply because we arrived just in time for it. We got to wait in the shade in front of Mr. Peek-a-Boo's house. I didn't know Mr. Peek-a-Boo was a Barney character at all. Maybe he's not. I don't know. But there was a lot of fun music and the kids enjoyed dancing to it while we waited. Benjamin was bouncing and yelling the whole time we were waiting.

The show itself was fun (and air-conditioned). After the initial surprise of Barney showing up with a big boom (which made Benjamin cry), all three children enjoyed the show. We got to sing some of our favourite songs with Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop. Afterward we got to meet Barney in his playground.

Benjamin and Miriam both loved Barney's playground. There was a water table, a sand table, a toy boat, a toy train, and many other things for the kids to explore. Rachel found it to be a bit too babyish.

Benjamin was cruising up and down the entire length of the water table as fast as he could go, splashing to his heart's content.

After we had our fill of Barney's playground we headed to Curious George's splash pad. Along the way we found a squirrel and took a picture for Auntie Em. I think Rachel was more afraid of the squirrel than it was afraid of her!

The girls were excited for Curious George.

We even got to meet him, which was fun.

The splash pad was more like a soak pad. Miriam managed to stay dry for a few minutes but Rachel was completely drenched within seconds.

Curious George is, as you can see, enjoying a ride in the fountain. When Andrew saw that he said, "Looks like Curious George will be needing to go to the bathroom soon..." We learned the hard way that you don't sit on the fountains at splash pads.

Rachel disappeared into the inner-workings of the soak-area—which was filled with leaking pipes and waterfalls—but Miriam stayed timidly on the outside for a while, which is why there are more pictures of her.

She, too, eventually disappeared inside and ended up getting just as wet as her sister.

Rachel found a rope that when pulled on released a bunch of water right on the puller's head.

Later, when I had taken Benjamin inside, Miriam told us to stand in one place while she pulled on a rope. I naively assumed that the water would end up landing on the rope-puller, but no. Miriam had strategically placed Benjamin and me in a spot where we'd get soaked when she pulled the rope while she stayed completely dry. The little trickster!

When we were all nice and soggy we went to check the line at Woody Woodpecker's roller coaster and...there was no line. So we rode it not once, not twice, but thrice! Right in a row! Miriam loved it; Rachel was less thrilled about it; everyone was excited that we got to go three times right in a row!

We probably could have gone a few more times but we were due to go see the Animal Actor show, which was quite good. Too bad Benjamin slept through it; he would have really enjoyed it. 

I believe we went over to E.T. next. The girls haven't seen that movie so they were a little nervous about it, Rachel especially so. She cried all through the woods while we were waiting. Both girls enjoyed the ride, however, especially the party on the Green Planet and the very end when E.T. said thank you to us.

Miriam is still thrilled that E.T. said her name and will try to mimic his voice.

"Thank you, Miriam."

Grandma told the girls the story of the time Grandpa told the guy giving out cards at the beginning that his name was Leroy. The girls thought that was hilarious. It's a long-standing family joke now and whenever Grandpa is asked to give his name at a restaurant or wherever there's a wait, he'll often say that it's Leroy.

We were excited to be in the old part of Universal Studios because every single ride in the new part (except for the carousel, and maybe One Fish, Two Fish) spat us out into a gift shop. It was so annoying! I don't mind the gift shops being there but I would much rather enter them by choice rather than being herded into them. We thought the old rides wouldn't have the exits built right into the gift shops and we were correct...except that they managed to herd us into the shops anyway. At the end of E.T. we went out the exit of the ride and were herded along a sidewalk into the gift shop, all other points of exit blocked by large potted shrubbery.

Can you tell they want our money or something?

Anyway, we headed to lunch at The Simpsons, where the girls shared a plate of chicken thumbs ("But chickens don't have thumbs," Rachel objected. "Chickens don't have fingers, either," I pointed out), Grandpa and I had chicken and waffle sandwiches, Andrew had a Krusty Burger, and Grandma got fish sticks.

We got a few drinks to share. The Flaming Moe was especially popular. 

After lunch we went to the M.I.B. (Men in Black) ride, but at the mention of aliens Rachel chickened out so we left Daddy and Grandma in line and went to catch up with Grandpa, Miriam, and Benjamin, who had headed back to Curious George's splash pad to do some more playing.

Rachel immediately got soaked again, but Miriam wasn't too excited to get wet again, having barely dried off, so Grandpa took Miriam and Benjamin back to Barney's playground while I monitored Rachel at the splash pad.

After Daddy and Grandma found us we wandered over to the "ball factory," which was a room filled with vacuums and balls. You could suck balls up and shoot them across the room in air-powered guns or use huge vacuum tubes to collect balls into a basket that would tip out onto the crowd of children below after it got full enough. 

Rachel was upset when a worker stopped her from playing and told her that she needed to have shoes on inside the ball factory. She ran back out to the bench where she'd long-since abandoned her shoes and put them on while she fought off tears. 

"I didn't mean to break the rules!" she sniffed. "There wasn't a sign. I didn't see a sign. I didn't know it was a rule. I didn't mean to!"

I told her that it wasn't a big deal to me. She didn't really get in trouble; she was just asked to put her shoes on. The poor employee in there had a tough job in front of her, trying to get all those children to put their shoes back on. The ball house is right off of the splash pad—you basically have to walk through the splash pad to get to it—and there were dozens of barefooted children running around. And there wasn't a sign that I could see either. I told Rachel she was just fine.

Andrew took Rachel back to the ball house while I took Benjamin on a little stroll. We found a bunch of lizards warming themselves on the curb. A couple of male anoles were trying to impress a female with their strawberry-themed dewlaps. I've never seen a lizard like that before but apparently they're rather common in Florida.

Before we left Curious George for good, Rachel had to stand in the face cut-outs. She had me take her picture in all of them, but I think the giraffe is the cutest one.

We watched the parade but unfortunately chose poor seats, which although technically on the route weren't in a place where we could watch the actual dancing of the parade. We chose seats right at the end. So Andrew and I walked the girls farther up in the parade so we could see the performers do their thing before they turned down the street we had originally set up camp at. The girls were most excited about the Despicable Me float and Dora the Explorer.

The Despicable Me ride was wildly popular, with atrocious wait times all day long. We skipped that in favour of the Shrek feature.

Every ride at Universal Studios has a huge sign boasting all the restrictions for the ride. Shrek was a 4-D movie but you had to meet a height requirement, couldn't go on if you were pregnant, and so on and so on. They said they had non-moving seats in the front row, so that's where I sat with Benjamin. Unfortunately, the usher failed to mention that not all the seats in the front row were stationary. Just a couple.

"Remember, if you need stationary seating, that's located on the first row," he said.

Only three people came up to sit in the first row after he'd made his announcement: me, Benjamin, and an elderly woman. Did the usher point out to us that we hadn't actually sat in stationary seating? No he did not.

So after the carriage we were riding on started getting a little jouncy, the woman moved to sit on the floor. The usher told her she'd have to move and helped her to one of the stationary seats, which were apparently located in the middle of the row somewhere. Benjamin, meanwhile, had started to scream his head off, having been squirted in the face with water and then blasted with hot air or something. He wasn't pleased. So I stood up and walked to stand on the side, well away from the seats, but the usher told me it wasn't safe and escorted me back out to the waiting room where I had to fight through a crowd of people to get back outside.

I sat down and nursed Benjamin until he calmed down and we were joined by everybody else. We went to the Twister show, which we were told Benjamin could've gone on (except that he was fast asleep and I don't think tornadoes are particularly conducive to napping) but Rachel wasn't about to set foot on a ride called Twister, so Grandpa kept Rachel and Benjamin while Grandma, Daddy, Miriam, and I experienced a twister.

Miriam was fine until the roof started getting ripped off.

We met up with Grandpa, et. al., by the New York Public Library.

Benjamin was very happy to see us.

Unfortunately for him, we ditched him and Grandpa once again in order to go on "Disaster." Rachel was wary of a ride named "Disaster" but it proved fairly mild until the end.

We waited in line for quite a while before we were eventually let into the lobby.

Once inside we had to do the casting for our disaster movie. Andrew was chosen to be one of the villains.

He ended up playing the part of a mad scientist, cackling maniacally while drumming his fingers together and then having rocks dumped on his head. He did great. 

Rachel screamed and cried when our metro train crashed/the fire started/the flood came/we were crushed by a falling semi-truck. It was quite the disaster and even though we assured her that everything was controlled she still panicked. Poor thing had a difficult time telling what was real from what was fake this past week.

That was the last ride we went on for the day. We had high hopes of getting the children to bed at a decent hour (like 11 PM isn't?) and remembered the long walk we had in front of us, having experienced it the night before (we again had to park in the E.T. lot at the very back of the parking garage). It was quite the trek, though not as bad as it had been the day before, considering we were making it at 8 PM rather than 10 PM.

Here's Rachel posing by a minion xing sign. She wanted to do that ride so bad, but the lines were still way too long even at the very end of the day.

And here we are posing in front of the Universal sign...

Grandma with Rachel

Andrew and me

There were a bunch of people on stilts, greeting the Cisco top-performers (who were evidently being treated to an evening at Universal Studios). We thought they were pretty cool.

Rachel and I ran ahead of everyone else and enjoyed the sunset from the top of the parking garage.

And that's it. That was our day. The only other funny thing that happened was that Andrew had been eaten alive a couple of days ago (probably at the Kennedy Space Center because there were bugs galore there, though we didn't see a single mosquito at Universal Studios (we're assuming they spray for bugs at Universal...and they wouldn't at KSC since it doubles as a wildlife preserve)). He scratched his legs and said exasperatedly, "Look at all the nuts on my legs!"

Then he tilted his head and said, "I mean bug bites. I don't know how nuts came out."

So Grandpa called him Nutlegs the entire day (and for days after).

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