Saturday, April 02, 2016

Universal Studios Day Three: Saturday, March 19

On Saturday, we all went to the park.  Mom had us all organized and eating breakfast at 8 and on the shuttle by 8:30, even Scary Bear.  We got off the bus, hiked the mile to security and got held up because NONE of us remembered that Dad carries a Swiss Army knife.  It's just a normal part of his pocket detritus, and he's had it for 40 or so years and didn't want to lose it.  Eventually, he checked the knife with security and we were free to go on our way.

We went on the Shrek ride, which was really a 3D movie in a theater with moving seats.  The movie was so clever and funny and of course there's a happy ending.  My favorite bit was the shout-out to the Blues Brothers.  After the show, we walked over to Diagon Alley, and the girls decided they wanted to ride the Gringott's ride again, and this time Mom and I went with them.  We didn't need a locker because we had Scary Bear and Captain Crossword!

There's a "gold" statue of the founding goblin outside Gringott's, a beautiful main gallery and lots of animatronic goblins hard at work with quills, parchment and scales.  The ride was as good as the Hogwarts ride, and I see why the girls wanted to do it again.

It was drizzling when we left Gringott's, and we walked over to the Magical Menagerie where I had gotten Fluffy.  Captain Crossword went across the street to get another Butterbeer and the girls and I went shopping.

There were giant toads in the window and they moved, plus an entire upper level full of animals and cages.

Both the girls fell in love, so I texted little bro and he came over.  Princess STEM got a phoenix and Princess Minnie got a hippogriff.  After that I got some ice cream from Florian Fortescue's and ate it while we all gathered under an overhang.

I got one scoop of vanilla and one of sticky toffee pudding, which was vanilla with chunks of the aforesaid pudding.  It was very good ice cream, but the rain was starting to come down hard.  We bunched together and talked, and decided we would go back to the hotel.  I led my merry band through Knockturn Alley, and lo, they were all brave and nobody got eaten by Dementors.

We exited by the Knight Bus and walked through the San Francisco section of the park.  When the rain got really bad, we stopped at the patio of a patisserie, where a very nice gentleman from Chicago offered Mom his chair and when she wouldn't take it, stayed standing anyway.   Captain Crossword ran across the "street" to grab some hot pretzels from a vendor, and Mom took Princess M inside the pastry place for something chocolate (of course!).  We ate our snacks standing around among a crowd of strangers, all with that curious camaraderie that comes from huddling together away from a storm.  Eventually, we decided that it wasn't going to lighten up any further, so we started walking back to security, where we stopped long enough for Dad to get his knife back.

On the bus back to the hotel, CC laughed because despite all the rain, Princess M still had chocolate all over her face.  When we got back, I tried to check in for my flights the next day, but American Airlines wouldn't let me check in without a seat assignment, and the only seat available had an upcharge of $50.  I'm still pissed at them for that little trick.  After arguing with a customer service rep over the phone and getting nowhere, I went back to the room and took a nap.

Mom woke me in time to get dressed for dinner.  We went back to the San Francisco section of the park, and waited a bit for our reservation at Lombard's.  While we waited outside, we watched an amazing street show of jugglers in the style of the Flying Karamazov Brothers.  We were actually behind them, so I didn't get any pictures, but the show was impressive even from the back.  Here's a video from You Tube:

Dinner was absolutely amazing.  We had an edamame combo appetizer with steamed beans plus garlicky deep-fried wontons, then I had an absolutely stellar steak sandwich with more garlic.  After dinner, we walked back over to Diagon Alley, and I treated Princess S to a lemon squash at the Leaky Cauldron.  I had to explain why Brits say lemon squash instead of lemonade because Princess S was offended that something as wonderful as a lemonade would share the name of a "horrible vegetable".  She enjoyed watching the barista squash the lemons, though!  We drank our lemon squash while everyone else went to Florian Fortescue's for ice cream.

CC got a killer shot of the dragon flaming and I just may be weakening on the idea of getting a smartphone.  While we were eating ice cream (those of us who had it), we saw a lot of kids with the interactive wands making windows light up, trolls dance and a thunderstorm appear.  If I manage to realize my dream of going to Universal Studios in California when they finish their new Harry Potter attraction, I will probably spring for one of those wands!

When the ice cream was finished, we walked over to Krustyland to get Princess S her doughnut sundae and show Scary Bear the doughnut fan what Lard Lad from the Simpson's looks like.  I was flabbergasted when I realized the 8" square pastry boxes I saw people carrying held not multiple doughnuts, but ONE, Lard Lad's signature Big Pink.  There's also a sculpture of Chief Wiggam and his police car jammed into a fire hydrant, so we got a pic of Princess S with the Chief.  I treated Dad to a churro while we were in Krustyland, but it was older and therefore not as yummy as the one I had the day before.

On our way out of the park, we stopped at P!Q so I could get some amazing artwork from Bianca Roman-Stumpff and have it signed by the artist.  I first saw Bianca's work on Epbot, and when I sent an e-mail saying I'd met her, John sent me a pic of Bianca and Jen together.  I got four gorgeous pieces of art, and had Bianca sign one for me and one for my friend K, who's having a rough year so far.  I don't have a picture of that one, but here are the other three:

After that, it was time to hike back to the shuttle.  There were two adorable little boys on our bus with Minions plushies, saying "Ba, Nan. A." to everyone.  If the bus ride had been longer, it could have gotten tiresome, but instead it was adorable.  We got back to the hotel and I washed my face, brushed my teeth, threw everything I didn't need in the morning in my suitcase, set two alarms and went to bed.

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