The first day with my fifth graders and new ‘chaperone’ friends : ) had been wonderful. BUT, the second day sealed the deal. We were all a wee bit tired after our first adventure filled day, but when we saw the sign for “Islands of Adventures” welcoming us, the thrill of adventure did indeed take over each and every one of us, and we were ready to embrace the day!
On our second day we broke down into smaller groups, switched groups, formed new groups. It was SO wonderful to once again witness joy through a child’s eyes, but this second day was so nice, because friendships that had started the day before were reinforced and solidified. As the music teacher of these awesome students, I rarely get to know the parents well. What a WONDERFUL experience it was to find so many new friends: Mike and Jennifer, Hyacinthe (I love that name!), Jocuilyn, B.J., Shell, and so many more. I felt so blessed, and have come to understand after meeting these incredible parents, and now friends, why these kiddos were so ‘Crazy Special’! These kids were receiving some amazing love and careful guidance and direction from these people I am now honored to call friends.
SO OUR DAY! We decided we would head RIGHT to Harry Potter’s “Wizarding World” since we knew the lines would be long. Before we got to Harry Potter, we passed through several ‘photo worthy spots’! I loved the whimsical décor in Seuss Landing, and although we did not stop there, I loved the whole ‘Seuss’ theme throughout . I love Dr. Seuss’ ‘childlike’ philosophy, and it is so beautifully evident by the creators of Seuss Landing. One of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes: ““Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”~ Dr. Suess
We also RAN through the Lost Continent, a Sinbad Themed section of the park. Fun to look at, but NO TIME TO STOP, as Hogwart’s was calling!
I cannot tell you the sense of PURE ENCHANTMENT I experienced as we walked through the gates of Harry Potter’s World. I felt like I was being taken back into the books I had read aloud to my children, OH SO many years ago. Islands of Adventure, truly outdid themselves on this Village. I was thrilled to see the Hogwarts Express, Hogsmeade Village ~ where a stop in Honeydukes for family gifts, and a refreshing Pumpkin Juice for myself was a must~ Honeydukes was always such a big part of most of the Harry Potter series, and the thought of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every-flavored Beans lured me in. The shelves are lined with all manner of colorful sweets, including Acid Pops, exploding bonbons, Cauldron Cakes, treacle fudge, Fizzing Whizzbees, and Chocolate Frogs, which contain a wizard trading card in each box. Inside the shop you can fill up a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans. I KNEW my family would love the treats I chose for them!
Then the Hogwarts Castle loomed over me. I literally felt as if my breath was being sucked away from me. It was ALL that I had imagined it to be and more! We entered through the towering castle gates and made our way down the familiar passageways and corridors of Hogwarts. We saw Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, talking pictures and more. And then we came to the ride:
“Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”.
“Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”.
It was SO much fun to feel as if you were soaring above the castle grounds with Harry and his friends. We met the Womping Willow, the Spiders (EWWW), magical creatures, and so much more. This was an unforgettably thrilling, one of a kind, ride experience. And had the line NOT been so long, we would have ridden twice. Crazy fun and laughter was experienced by adults and children alike!
Next we took a quick trip through Jurassic Park, where many of the scenes looked as if they were straight out of the movie. I was very glad that we visited this part of the park during daylight hours. That T-Rex looked mighty hungry. We were starting to feel a little hungry too, but decided to continue on for a few more rides before a pit stop.
We were then off to Toon Lagoon. It was hot and we decided that a ride on the ‘Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls’ ~ a water log ride, would be just what we needed to cool off. Unfortunately it was a very LONG line as everyone else had the same idea, but it was worth the wait! The setting is the Canadian North Woods. And with a Dudley Do-Right ride you can expect the usual characters: The villain: that notorious scoundrel Snidely Whiplash. The hero: bumbling Royal Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right. The “I NEED RESCUING” Nell Fenwick. This ride is so much fun visually, and the plunge to the bottom at the end? GUARANTEED to leave you breathless and ummm… WET! And I did not mind the crazy, long line (2 hours), because it gave me more time to bond with my new friends! (You know who you are!) The kids were sweet as pie, which to me was a testimony to the fabulous parenting and character building these mom’s and dad’s are giving these kiddos!
You accelerate from zero to 40 mph in two seconds flat, with the force equal to that of a jet taking off an aircraft carrier. It is simply WILD! The world
turns upside down as you experience a weightless "zero g" roll. Then you feel a surge in power as you pick up speed and a menacing roar fills your ears. All you can do is hang on as you experience the rage, power and fury of the Hulk, smashing through the sky and plummeting down to earth on a high-speed roller coaster rampage of destruction. This a must ride in Islands of Adventures…. Next stop…
“Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall”! This ride made my hands sweat as I waited for my turn to sit down and fly up into the clouds, and then take the plunge. Again, the set up and ‘attractions’ before you hit the ride are so much fun!
All hail Doctor Doom!
All hail Doctor Doom!
With menacing Doombots watching your every move, you are strapped into your seat. The ‘scariness and tension’ build, and, suddenly the countdown reaches zero and you are rocketed skyward, 150 feet into the air, then hurled back down faster than the force of gravity itself! But never fear, the drop is a bounce drop, so it is not a roaring crash to the bottom!
Blondie's looked like a fun place to eat also!
And alas, time for lunch! We ate at the “Comic Strip Café”. All your favorite comic strip characters line the walls of the Comic Strip Cafe, a fun cafeteria-style food court where you have your choice of Fried Chicken, Fish & Chips, Hot Dogs, Burgers, and even Asian & Italian Dishes. The café was cute and the Meal Deal once again was definitely the way to go. We certainly needed to
re energize for the rest of the day.
re energize for the rest of the day.
After lunch we stayed in Marvel Super Island and Rode “The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman”. This ride will make you laugh and laugh and laugh, and maybe squeal and scream too! Join your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in an amazing 3-D adventure that has you swinging and soaring high above the city streets. You feel as if you are right in the middle of all of the action, I will not spoil any of the surprises, but there are quite a few things ‘thrown’ at you that will keep your eyeballs bulging! The best part is the simulated 400-foot free fall at the end of the ride. I literally laughed my way through this entire ride!
After the ‘Spidey’ ride, we had fun shooting some of our own ‘comical pictures’ under the ‘thought bubbles’ in Marvel Island. It was so much fun watching everyone running around to find the thought bubble they liked best. Of course I chose a thought bubble to facebook to my family back home!
We then met up with one of my most favorite people in the world Cassi, and she led us to the BEST RIDE EVER:
& Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges~
a water raft ride! Set sail for uncharted hilarity.
Brave white-water rapids as this twisting, turning raft ride makes you wish you'd have brought your spinach... and a towel. Don't be surprised if you’re completely soaked when it's all over! We rode this ride 2 times in a row, and we were all wet, from head to toe,or the rest of the evening!!!!
The moments were ticking away, so we decided that we would have time to choose just a few more things we wanted to see. Our group decided on the “Dragon Challenge” back in Harry Potter’s World. We made a mad dash, well as fast as we could move in wet clothes! As we approached the coaster, I must admit, I did feel some heart palpitations! This coaster looked ‘crazy’ insane!
You will definitely need the courage of a Triwizard Tournament champion as you mount one of two dragons – an aggressive Chinese Fireball or a ferocious Hungarian Horntail – that twist, loop and nearly collide in an intertwining roller coaster chase across the sky. Dragon Challenge is actually two high-speed roller coasters – each "dragon" is a completely different ride.
Climb aboard and hold on tight as the two dragons twist, loop and nearly collide with each other in an intertwining roller coaster chase across the sky
We were crazy enough to ride this ride 4 times in a row. When we finally headed back to catch our ride to the hotel, I had a hard time walking, but OH the laughter, the “do you remember’s”, the smiles and joy radiating and beaming from each tired face! We adults laughed at the fun we had AS adults. For one day, we had escaped from, and forgotten about all of our ‘adult’ issues, and we became kids. WOW! It was an a-ha moment for me as I realized how relaxed and at peace I was, and it was at that moment that I decided to make sure that I have more “kid days”, more play days! And you know what? I already have my next day planned. I do believe a day at the beach with my kids and their friends is in order. I cannot wait to splash in the waves, search for some seashells, and take some MORE pictures, because I am DYING to share my Crazy, Beautiful, Pensacola Beaches with you! NEXT BLOG! : )
I hope you have had fun traveling through Islands of Adventure with me. You really must take a trip there for yourself. Here is a great link to their site, with all the rides, attractions, eateries and deals. And if you can’t make it down to Orlando, Florida, there is no reason why you could not come up with your own PLAY DAY! I would love to hear all about it! Still living, laughing, and loving the memories…
Great Link to Islands of Adventure: