Day 3 – Our First Orlando Theme Park {Orlando, Florida, Flashback Fridays}

6th August 2011

Islands of Adventure & Mythos Restaurant

I found in the first few days of being Orlando, that I was waking up at around 4am and being wide awake. I’d get on my iPhone and check in with Facebook (wireless internet in the villa was great!) before forcing myself back to sleep.

When we (re)awoke, it was off to Islands of Adventure (and not Universal as planned yesterday!). Still full of cold, I was struggling to breathe too, which was making me feel really miserable, and to make it worse, not even remembering when I last had a cold, why did I have to get one now?!

A beautiful sunrise greeted us, and it was lovely to see all the hot air balloons in the distance – what a sight to wake up to :)

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With Homer telling us where to go, we soon found the Universal Resort and were driving towards the car park. Having Homer Simpson as our sat-nav guide was brilliant – he got ever so excited when you joined the interstate!

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Feeling like grot and not knowing how far the car park was from the theme parks, we did pay $20 for preferred parking. With a pink piece of paper slipped under the wiper blade and told to turn on our hazard lights, we drove towards the multi-storey and parked in Jurassic Park 403.

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There was no direction of where to park once inside (looking into the future now, unlike Disney which is military precision when parking!), so we just chose a space, took a photo of where we parked so we wouldn’t forget, and made our way down the escalators and along travelators to the bag check.

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There was a booth to make reservations, so we booked into Mythos for 12:45. Having read that this restaurant has won several awards for best theme park food, we were looking forward to eating there.

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It was great to walk through City Walk and see the things we’ve read about online and in guide books! We stopped off to buy myself a cap as the sun was beating down, and I forgot mine (left it in the UK -__-) and then had to exchange our vouchers that we got from Virgin (a great freebie!) for real tickets, which thankfully didn’t take too long.

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Into Islands of Adventure we go!

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Grabbing a couple of maps, we were fingerprinted and through the gates.

First port of call was food and drink as we didn’t have breakfast. I’m such a responsible mum – Liam had popcorn, while Steve and I, a corn dog. I have no clue what the time was, but hey, we’re on holiday! With an “Oooh, that’s yummy” from the pair of us, and a tick off the “foods we must eat in Orlando” list, we decided to move anti-clockwise around the park. Whether this is the “right” way to go around, who knows – anything we read in the guides books or online as to theme park strategy, went pretty much out of the window!

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We hit Seuss Landing first, which I thought was fantastically themed and I took plenty of pictures here. Liam got a wet surprise when he tossed a coin into the fish’s mouth!

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The wait time for ‘The Cat in the Hat’ was just 10 minutes on the sign, but we pretty much walked on. A quirky little ride which whips you around quite forcefully in some parts! Littluns hold on tight!

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Plus size rider guide: lap bar – enough room for me!

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We continued with Seuss Landing (with me still mrvelling at the themeing) and then went on the ‘High in the Sky’ ride, which again said 10 minutes, but was a walk on. It was cool to see the park from a different view.

Plus size rider guide: lap bar, enough room for me!

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Nothing else must have took our fancy in this part of IOA, so we moved through into ‘The Lost Continent’.

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We located Mythos for our reservation later on…

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…and then went to queue for the ‘Jurassic Park River Ride’. An official wait time of 15 minutes, but it felt like only 5.

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[I took this photo later in the day, when the waiting time had leapt to 80 mins!]

We hopped aboard our river boat, which had a shared lap bar across the bench of 5 or 6 people. No problems from a plus size point of view, as there was room. But I did feel bad for the thing people (i.e., every one else) in the same row, as of course, with me sitting there, it wasn’t so close to them. I did ask the staff as we got on if this would be okay and he said it was fine.

A nice gentle ride…until the big drop! Great surroundings, but Liam, horror of horrors said he didn’t really like the noise!!! I was SHOCKED – he LOVES dinosaurs! Wicked mum that I am, made him go on again – just to make sure that he really didn’t like it…he complained even more! I was dumbfounded, if not a little upset. He’s not really been on rides, so maybe the big drop was a lot bigger to him than I imagined. Steve and I however, thought the ride was great.

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After that adventure, Liam wanted to go into the Discovery Centre and have an explore in there. It was pretty empty, so he could pick and choose what to interact with. It was lovely and air-conned in there, so Steve and I just sat and chilled. Literally!

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By now, it was time to make our way back to Mythos for our reservation. We only had to wait about 5 minutes from the time it was booked for.

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Led to our table, we sat down – the chairs are H-E-A-V-Y! Our server, Laura, presented us with menus which we perused whilst she brought us drinks and some delicious rosemary bread. But, as with Paradiso 37, all she did was take our order, bring us our drinks (and bread) and present us the bill at the end. It feels weird to tip someone who didn’t do the whole service, but perhaps this is the way things are done in the US? It was only our second dining out experience.

Since the corn dog we shared a few hours ago had done its duty of providing energy and was now used up, we were all pretty hungry so we ordered both starters and mains.

Liam had the chef’s signature Pizza ($8.99), which if I can recall was a cheese pizza with BBQ chicken as the topping. He certainly enjoyed it and ate the lot!

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Steve and I shared the Fried Shrimp Sushi ($8.99), which despite my reservations of frying sushi, was pretty tasty – but let’s face it, most deep friend foods are!

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From my diary, the starters were the highlight of the meal, as the mains weren’t as nice it would seem.

Liam chose to have the burger ($10.99) and finished most of it (that kid can eat, he doesn’t get his slim genes from me, I can tell you that!)

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I took a bite of his cheeseburger and it was yummy – it made me wish I had ordered that instead of the chicken wrap that I had order ($12.99)

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I actually slipped most of my wrap onto Steve’s plate of food and he ate it all (don’t know where he puts it either!). Although, to be fair, his main course of crab sliders ($12.99) was pretty small for a main dish, which he was less than impressed with. They didn’t taste all that either, when I had a sample, but then, with my cold, maybe my palette was off kilter that day.

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Again, our mains were brought out whilst we were still eating our starter which was really annoying, and my chips were on the cold side of warm. Normally I would complain, but it was quite busy in there and trying to get the waitress’ attention proved difficult, so I didn’t bother.

We didn’t bother with desserts as we thought to get something sweet whilst walking around the park a little later on. From what I recall, there wasn’t much choice anyway.

The total bill was $65.72, and I think we left a 15% tip since we didn’t really see our waitress at all.

All in all, aside from the yummy warm rosemary bread and the sushi, from our point of view it was a bit of a let down food wise; although Liam enjoyed his starter and main. The service was a bit meh. For a restaurant that’s won all these awards, we were expecting something a little bit more. We left feeling a little deflated really, which was a shame. The price, for a theme park, wasn’t actually that bad, so they do have the cost thing going for them, and the interior design was lovely.

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We made our move out of the restaurant and went to see The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, but the show had been cancelled due to some sort of technical problems, so on to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

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This part of the park was noticeably busier than everywhere else, but it wasn’t unbearable. We were able to walk around the shops in Hogsmeade without too much jostling.

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Hogsmeade was just wonderful. To see all the things you read about in the books (and then later saw on the big screen) come to life was fantastic. The snow looked a little out of place in the blazing sunshine with people striding around in shorts and t-shirts, but *shrug* lol!

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We bought a bottle of scrummy pumpkin juice from a cart outside. I have a small obsession with pumpkins and initially bought it just for the bottle to use at my Halloween party!

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Into Honeydukes to look at the sweets and sicover that pumpkin juice was a dollar cheaper in there – which I then guess because they add the tax on at the till inside, where as it is already added outside? I don’t know…but at the time I was all “OMG it’s a dollar cheaper in here! We’ve been done!” (as she continues to spend her husband’s money like it’s going out of fashion!)

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We knew a chocolate frog wouldn’t survive the day in the heat whilst walking round the rest of the park, so hoped they’d sell them at a store near the exit.

Into Zonko’s for a quick look around before Liam decided that he must have a wand.

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The queue outside Olivanders was hideous. There was no shade cover whatsoever, and I absolutely refused to wait in line. The wait would have been horrible and I hear that the shop is tiny, and didn’t fancy being squished in there. Later however, we did find a cart that sold wands, and he chose the Harry Potter one, declaring that at Halloween, he will be dressing up as the wizard himself!

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It was a very, very hot afternoon, so we ducked into The Three Broomsticks for a mug of butterbeer (which could also be purchased outside).

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Having remembered that the two kinds were very different, Steve was under instruction to buy both, whilst Liam and I bagged a table. It wasn’t all that busy, so it was an easy enough job.

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Interesting, yet strange, yet scrumptious is the only way I can describe butterbeer. I definitely preferred the frozen one, but both were very sickly sweet, and I think on top of our earlier meal, we over-did it! The price for both was $7.50, which I thought was quite reasonable as they were pretty large (plastic) glasses. You could buy souvenir mugs, but we didn’t. I couldn’t finish mine and Steve finished them off…a recurring trend!

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And then came Forbidden Journey with its test seats outside. I knew that there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell of me fitting in this ride, but Steve insisted I at least try. I did, and getting my behind into the plastic seat was fine, however, the over the shoulder restraint wasn’t having any of it. I had pre-warned Steve that this was likely to happen and had psyched myself up for not riding this ride, and insisted that they both go on it…but they didn’t want to without me. Instead, we walked through the castle which was impressive. The queue for the ride itself said 45 minutes.

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I only hope that the ride is still there when we go back in 2013 because I make it my goal to go on it!

You exit the castle into a gift shop where we bought a fridge magnet. We then reached the flight of the Hippogriff which showed a 25 minutew wait. Wanting to ride something in WWOHP, we queued up. It was only about 10 minutes before we were at the front of the line.

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Plus size rider guide: lap bar, enough room for me!

This ride went a LOT faster than I was expecting, and as I was sitting gin a car on my own, I did get thrown around a fair bit! Fun and would recommend!

We *had* planned to do IOA and WWOHP on two different occasions, but having visited Hogsmeade and doing the rest of the park in a day, it had now freed up a day to do something else.

By now, late afternoon, Liam was waning and didn’t want to do the two water rides in Toon Lagoon that we had planned – Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges and Dudley Do Rights Ripsaw Falls…

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…so a mental note to come back and do them another day was made and we moved through Toon Lagoon and into Marvel Super Hero Island.

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Seeing that Spiderman was just 15 minutes to wait, we went through the queueing system and grabbed our glasses. We were sat in the front row of the vehicle.

Plus size rider guide: lap bar, enough room for me!

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The ride started in all its 4D glory and was AMAZING!! We LOVED this ride. Words cannot describe how awesome we all thought it was! We made plans to make sure we come back and do it again. In hindsight, I don’t know why we didn’t just go around again – maybe the line time jumped up or something. Oh well!

By now, we were all waning and started to make our way to the exit. this part of the park (according to my diary) felt a lot hotter as there wasn’t very much shade. But as with the rest of the park, I thought the themeing was fab, and took pictures of the Hulk coaster which looked stomach-churningly awesome, but which I knew I would be able to go on.

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We picked up a Cinnabon (another tick on the “foods we must eat in Orlando” list) on the way out to take home…

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…and walked in and out of the shops and their wonderful air-con!

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Having recalled where we parked from our earlier photograph, we started the drive home.

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It was very nice to be able to get into our own private pool and relax our muscles after our first day at an Orlando theme park.

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Still stuffed from Mythos, we didn’t bother with dinner, we just had some tea and toast (how British!) and crashed out for the night!


All photos from this day can be found on my Flickr!

Read the next day:
Day 4 – The Three Ps: Ponderosa, Publix & Pool 

Read the previous day:
Day 2 – Our Second Wedding Anniversary: Downtown Disney & Paradiso 37

Read ALL the days:
Orlando, Florida Vacation, Flashback Friday Series Index