To give Evie a break after two days at Disney parks, we used our first day of Universal Studios tickets on Wednesday. We also were expecting some nasty storms that day and decided that if we were just going to get caught sitting around somewhere, we might as well do it in a place serving butterbeer. Since our second day at Universal (Friday) would coincide with the Harry Potter Celebration, we also wanted to see all the Harry Potter stuff on Wednesday to avoid the crowds.
I tell ya what, Wednesday was the absolute PERFECT day to be at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. There was NO ONE there. We couldn’t believe how empty it was. The fear of storms must have scared off most people, but it only drizzled most of the day. They took our picture when we first got there. I have no idea what Aleyna is doing.
So first up was the Jurassic Park ride in Islands of Adventure. This was Aleyna’s #1 priority here, so we wanted to hit it before the possible storms rolled in. She was NOT happy about getting wet, but absolutely loved the ride. That picture of them on the ride is one of my favorites. It’s absolutely hilarious.
Next we wandered over to Hogsmeade to grab some lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Fish and chips, butterbeer, and actual beer. I’m a Harry Potter fan and had just introduced Aleyna to the first book and movie so this was all pretty exciting for me, but Ty actually loved it, too, because it had the feeling of being at a great little pub. And butterbeer. Ohmygoodness. How is that so good?????
After eating, we went over to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Because we had the stroller, we had to go a different way to get up to the ride and it was pretty neat getting to see inside the Hogwarts castle. I’m a nerd. I know. Unfortunately, the ride was so much scarier than I’d anticipated. I thought I’d done my research to make sure it would be fine for Aleyna, but I spent most of the ride trying to cover her eyes and telling her it would be over soon. Poor thing. I wish I had gotten the picture from that, though. I’m sure it would have been pretty funny.
They did have a great little rollercoaster called Flight of the Hippogriff outside the castle, though, and Aleyna had so much fun riding that one. We thought it’d be way too fast and scary for Evie, but after seeing how she fell in love with the Woody Woodpecker rollercoaster, I’m wishing we’d given it a shot. She seems so fragile to us still and it’s hard to think about putting her on a wild roller coaster!
While both girls chilled for a bit, Ty went on the Dragon Challenge roller coaster and had a great time! The girls and I just wandered around and looked at the train they had for pictures and then we all caught the Hogwarts Express to ride over to Universal Studios. Evie was SO excited to get to ride on a train!
One of the gentlemen we’d struck up a conversation with in Hogsmeade suggested we get ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s over at in the Diagon Alley Harry Potter world over at Universal Studios. They have a wide selection of unusual flavors and since Evie LOVES ice cream, that was something we had to do. After ice cream, I managed to convince Aleyna to go on the Escape from Gringotts ride. She basically made me look like The World’s Worst Mother. This ride is significantly less scary than the Hogwarts ride, but she was in tears before we even got on. In the end, she DID enjoy it and was only really scared by one part. She rode it a few other times on Friday, so she wasn’t REALLY traumatized.
We left the Harry Potter world and walked over to the Men in Black ride for Ty and Aleyna to ride. By this point the drizzle had picked up, but this made Evie VERY happy. She insisted on getting out of the stroller to help push so she could jump in all the puddles. I had to chuckle as I watched all the people in their ponchos and carrying umbrellas, trying so hard not to get wet, but there was my medically fragile child jumping in puddles and having the time of her life. I loved getting to see her enjoy the world around her. And bonus: Evie’s hair gets really curly when it’s damp, so it kicked her cuteness up to the next level.
Evie seemed in the right mood and her energy was up, so we decided to try a few things for her next. First up was the Woody Woodpecker ride. It took a little convincing, but Evie finally agreed to do it. Once. She liked it, but then signed that she was ‘all done’ and that was that. We were excited she enjoyed it, though!
Right next to this ride was the Barney show. Evie loves him. Why do kids love him? This was a partial hit. On the one hand, Evie was in total sensory overload. It’s dark, then there’s lights, it’s loud. It’s a lot going on. But she also LOVED getting to see Barney. She spent the entire show with her head on my lap, peeking out at what was going on. It was very very exciting to meet the dinosaur himself, though.
From there we rushed over to the Animal Actors show. We really thought Evie would enjoy this, but she just couldn’t take anymore sensory wise. At this point, I should have pulled out a device for her and allowed her the time she needed to tune out the world and get herself calmed down, but in the moment, I just thought she was being naughty. She and I watched the show from the side, but then afterwards they let the girls have a personal meet and greet with one of the dogs. He was such a sweetheart and Evie liked petting and hugging him.
After some more puddle jumping, we finally got the hint from Evie and handed over the iPad. It was just what she needed. I’m sure it looked like bad parenting, but for a kid that has led a life in fairly quiet environments (especially with the hearing loss), she was getting so overwhelmed. Once she had the iPad in her hands, she could focus on JUST that and tune out the world enough for her to calm down and reset. While she chilled, we took turns taking Aleyna on Transformers and waited for the parade to start. Aleyna loved that ride so so much. It really was a fun one. And you can see how crowded it was for the parade. I mean, we could hardly find a spot. Even the staff were amazed at how empty the park was. It was just crazy. And it was PERFECT for us.
At this point the need for more butterbeer kicked in and we went back to catch the Hogwarts Express back over to Islands of Adventure. Again, the train was VERY exciting for the girls. And it’s a different ‘ride’ going each direction, so that was especially fun. Ty went into the Three Broomsticks to order drinks, but it was so empty we all went in and grabbed a table. Again, total perfection. We ordered a frozen butterbeer this time, too, and that was the CLEAR winner. Oh my. Amazing. It was just such a nice ending to the day. It was drizzling, Evie was relaxing, and we just sat in there chatting and having some drinks. That’s my kind of evening.
And that was that. We drove back to Give Kids the World and ordered some pizza to our villa and just relaxed before bed. I was so stressed about this day as I saw the weather forecast, but everything worked together to make for such a relaxing and fun day for everyone. And it was nice to know that we’d have another day to explore more on Friday so there wasn’t as much pressure to do and see everything all at once. Really one of my favorite days, though I think I’m saying that about each day.