Park-hopping Universal Day 3 Fun!

Universal Day 3 dawns a bit cloudy and muggy. It is actually the most humid day we saw the whole trip and it wasn’t that bad. We were set for a 8:25am MEARS pickup and were all feeling pretty good other than PumpkinGirl still not having a voice. We all got up, got ourselves ready, and headed down to the food court for breakfast.

On the way out the door I snapped a pic of our window, custom decorated by Bean with her Pirate Stitch and her dragon collection from the Shrek gift shop.

After eating and pin trading Bean dropped off our lanyards and we settled in out front for the bus. Each of the girls picked a decade to relax in while we waited.

PumpkinGirl settled into the 90s

And Bean settled into the 80s

You can see just a hint of the green shirt Bean is wearing. We were all wearing matching green Grinch face t-shirts. We were pretty easy to spot in the park I can tell you that! While we waited we talked to this CM, he was a very nice guy and had fun using those Mickey hands

The bus was on time but it had to make a stop on property and another stop at an off property resort so it was around 9:30am by the time we were walking down CityWalk. We were starting our day back at Islands of Adventure with the Wizarding World as our destination.

After we walked through the ticket queues I snapped a pic of their version of express mail service

And then we headed under the arch

The Christmas Store was done up very nicely for the season

As I said our plan was to go straight to Harry Potter. But we came out of the marketplace and the girls realized they hadn’t had a ride on Hulk yet so we made a quick left into Marvel Superhero Island

Roxy and I had rode it last year and really didn’t want to give it a go so soon after breakfast, so we sent the girls on while we waited on the bridge. I did the ‘take pictures of every coaster train’ thing and then deleted the unnecessary pics once Roxy and I knew the girls weren’t on it. The girls wearing those Grinch shirts helped in spotting them, that’s for sure.

Soon enough their train came into view ..they were in the front row of course

Going up!

Beans hair is flyin!

A couple more loops and they are heading back down to us. They were pretty much straight down through there

Now they’re hitting the curve

They look pretty excited going into the tunnel!

They came out racing ..probably still pumped with adrenaline 😀

The girls came out of the exit from Hulk and I was ready with the camera. PumpkinGirl spotted me right away

Then Bean gave me a wave

We zoomed through Seuss Landing, planning on coming back there later to check out the Grinchmas show. On into the Lost Continent we went. I immediately fell behind as I wanted to snap a quick panorama of the lagoon

Then I had to catch up to the ladies, who were making a bee-line for Hogsmeade Village

The girls wanted to check out Olivander’s Wand Shop so we got in line. For anyone who has braved this one, it is the longest wait you’ll probably find in the Islands. The show takes 5-10 minutes and they can only fit around 15 people into the shop at a time. You can see how quickly that adds up. So the girls and I got in line around 10:30am while Roxy did some window shopping (the line is not ECV-friendly).

While in line Bean got bored and asked if she could ride Dragon Challenge as a single rider. I said fine, but if she missed Olivander’s it was her problem. The line continued to move forward until we were going to be the last party let in for the current group. I sighed and let the family behind us in and we waited another 10 minutes outside the door to Olivanders.

Bean showed up right after that so I waved Roxy over and we all went in. Overall wait was 40 minutes and was by far the longest line wait we had our entire trip. Once you get in Olivander chooses a worthy subject to bestow a wand to. Both girls of course wanted to be chosen but another girl had a birthday so she was the lucky one.

Here he is going through the wand choosing process

There are different effects for different wands, all of them problematic just like you saw in the first Harry Potter movie.

Finally the right wand is chosen and a warm light shines down on the girl

We stayed behind for a quick pic of Olivander and the girls.

Roxy and I both had pictures with him on our last trip so we moved on into the hustle and bustle of the shop. I must say this shop was not made for the level of traffic it sees. Even with a low volume day like this it was pretty crowded.

I stopped to snap a pic of the brooms

And then we met up with PumpkinGirl who chose two wands to take home ..Severus Snape’s and Sirius Black’s. We headed outside and we looked at a couple more windows.

PumpkinGirl liked the way the Quidditch balls actually moved in the case

Now it was time to take on Hogwarts again. On the way up we ran into a photo op, this time with students from the different houses and the giant toads.

Again a bit of a bummer that they weren’t doing the actual shows with them.

When we went into Hogwarts castle this time we didn’t immediately go to the ride queue. There is actually a self-guided castle tour separate from the queue that you can go on. It doesn’t allow you to see all of the stuff you see in the ride queue, but you get a little look behind the scenes, you get to see a different talking painting room, and most importantly you can check out everything at your own pace.

For those with wheelchairs/ECVs you take the elevator up. How many people would want to check out the No Muggles floor? I know I wanted to ..but calmer heads prevailed and we went up to Express.

The first room we entered was the talking paintings room it was very cool

We then came into Dumbledors Office

It was cool to see him in a pretty unobstructed setting

You could also see the Pensieve among other artifacts

The next room was Defense Against the Dark Arts

Harry, Ron, and Hermione give you instruction on how to sneak out of class and take a ride with them

Next stop is the painting guarding the Gryffindor common rooms

And the common room itself

From there you can look down the hall at the sorting hat but its pretty much the end of the walking tour. We took the elevator back down to the bottom floor and got in the ride queue line. Only a 15 minute wait, we rode it two more times to get our fill of flying on a broom.

When we came out and went to get more butterbeer in the Hogs head, this time just cold, not frosted. We walked down to the Three Broomsticks first and peeked in there.

Then on to the Hogs Head

Somewhere during the course of doing this we lost PumpkinGirl. We tried calling her multiple time and Roxy was starting to panic a bit when she came out of Honeyduke’s packing Pumpkin Pasties.

Once we made our position clear on wandering off and listening/feeling for phones when we do get separated we moved on, saying good-bye to Hogsmeade Village for the last time this trip

Which way to go now?

Thats right, back to Seuss Landing where the Whos were out and about again

We watched them for a minute and then moved on to here for lunch

After a hearty lunch of pizza and more pizza on the meal deal we looked for something to bide our time with while we waited for the next showing of Grinchmas.

We went outside and found that The Grinch himself was holding court in the bookstore next to the Circus. He was very pleased with our shirts!

When our photo op concluded we went out the exit of the bookstore ..and right into a pack of Whos coming out from back stage.

They were very merry until they noticed our shirts

You can see how they reacted to Beans specifically as they came out

The last two shuffled by as quickly as they could, not wanted to be contaminated by any Grinchyness

They moved on into the streets of Whoville to play with the park guests. I followed and watched their antics

We still had some time to kill so we went to an old favorite, The Cat in the Hat ride. Last time we rode it the girls looked like this

On we go! I didn’t start taking pics until about half way into the ride – I just wanted to watch it for a bit. It literally tells the whole story of the Cat in the Hat. Speak of the devil.

And the naysaying fish

You spin almost as much as those colors did when you get to this part of the ride

Thing 1 and Thing 2 make their mess ..and then the Cat returns to clean it all away

Everything back to normal, including the fish!

It was close enough to show time that we went ahead and got in line.

It was right next to One Fish Two Fish

Another one we rode back in the day

We were at the front of the line for people requiring assistance and were lead in ahead of the rest of the audience. They took us through the back lot area between Islands and Universal Studios Proper. You can see the top of the Rock-it coaster in front of us as we moved forward

Looking down Stage 20

And at the back of the Hard Rock and our destination – Stage 19

The only bad thing about the show is that is had been humid and then the sun came out in full force and there was no shade while we waited by the stage door. It got pretty hot standing out there. Soon enough we were ushered into the studio, which had a large grandstand seating setup. We were the first in so were seated stage right.

The narrator who (I think he was also the mayor) came out and gave the background on the classic Grinch story. It is played out as a condensed musical of the live movie.

Next up was the entrance of Cindy Lous parents Lou Lou Who and Betty Lou Who

..followed by the rest of the Whos as they danced and sang about Christmas and presents and such

Then the grand dame Martha May Whovier made her appearance

More dancing

Big finish to the song

The sleepy who that we saw snoozing against the Christmas tree on our first Universal day was just as full of energy on stage today

And now the Grinch makes his appearance up on the top of the snow-capped mountain

Much grumbling and griping about the Whos and Christmas in general from him of course.

Next we have Cindy Lou’s entrance all buried in presents

She asks those questions about the meaning of Christmas

Cindy Lou is still asking about Christmas, and the grand dame is more than happy to answer

Cindy Lou finishes singing “Where are you Christmas?”

We have another musical number

The Grinch is not pleased and starts to hatch his cunning plan

Time to make a Santa suit

And in he comes with a Grinchy “ho ho ho”

The narrator is not impressed with his evil plan and goes into a very good rendition of “You’re a Mean one Mr. Grinch”

At this point I want to give special props to the sign language interpreter for the show. She put a lot of feeling in and expression into the show and made it a performance unto itself

The narrator continues his scolding via song

..while the Grinch goes about his thievery

We have the run-in with our wee little Who as the Grinch steals their tree

The Grinch takes his ill-gotten goods and retreats to his mountaintop abode to gloat

But despite what he has done our Whos gather around the tree and sing “Welcome Christmas” despite all he has done

He of course starts out being aghast that he hasn’t ruined everything. But then slowly gets the true meaning of Christmas.

..and his heart grew 3 sizes that day

We hear him rushing down the hill with Max and soon they both come crashing into the village with all of their Christmas goodies

Presents were delivered, songs ensued, and there was Christmas joy for all!

The Grinchs good deed sparks happiness all around Whoville

The sleepy who even woke up – lol

Then we move into the musical finale with much singing and dancing!

Gathering around the tree

And then there were Whos running down to dance up front

They have some killer dance moves!

At the crescendo it started to snow!

Max was even out to join in the fun

The show ends with the Grinch and Cindy Lou singing hand in hand

..notice the sleepy Who reaching behind her back? She had treats stashed for Max so he would stay up front ;-]

It was a really fun and heartwarming show. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to feel the Christmas spirit, I hope I was able to deliver a small dose of it to you all with my pictorial recap of it :-]

We filed out of the theater while discussing our next move. PumpkinGirl had so enjoyed the Beetlejuice Rock n Roll Musical Revue that she wanted to see it again. It being Roxy’s favorite show at the Universal parks, it was a no brainer for her to go with her. Bean meanwhile wanted to check out more of Seuss Landing so I stayed with her.

The first thing we saw when we came out was good old Sam I Am.

We decided to forgo the line for him but it was cool to see him all the same. They have a walk-thru of the story of the Lorax including audio stops so Bean gave it a go.

The Truffula Trees

As we were about to move on Bean spotted a lizard and spent the next few minutes pursuing and then playing with it outside the Lorax’s house. We then started walking towards Marvel Superhero Island. The siren call of the Hulk Coaster was calling to Bean again.

On our way out we stopped at this little nook

..which lead back to the egg, which Bean was gracious enough to sit on

This harkens back to our 2002 trip when PumpkinGirl sat on it

She came out of there and thought it was funny how small the doorway was

We then moved on and PumpkinGirl did Hulk as a single rider. Yes, I skipped it again. I had honestly overeaten at lunch, going through the line multiple times at Circus McGurkus for some pretty good pepperoni pizza. Darn that meal deal lol Bean was fine with doing single rider and soon zoomed through and was back down to me.

We then strolled down to Dr. Dooms Drop, which had some decent theming inside

But more importantly for me was the view on the drop itself! Here we go heading up the tower

And the following wonderful view of the lagoon

I was even able to pull off enough level shots to give you a high-level panorama of the place score!

We then moved on to Spiderman and rode it twice. When we came out we found that we had just missed a live street show put on by what looked to be a mix of the X-Men with Spidey and Captain America thrown in.

We came out just in time for them to jump onto their motorcycles and take off down the street

We followed them out as we were also now done with Islands of Adventure for the day. Again, I love the theming of the marketplace.

I agree with this statement :-]

We came over to Universal and I ducked into a shop to find some quiet and reserve our MEARS bus for the trip back to POP. I called Roxy and we had decided to catch the 6:15pm bus and get some really good rest this evening before our Mommy/Daughter & Daddy/Daughter day the next day.

During our conversation I found out that while they were waiting for the Beetlejuice show time they got to be part of the survey audience for the Pilot of the NBC TV show called Do No Harm. They watched clips and viewed promotional materials and helped choose what went on the air for it.

While on my call I had left Bean in front of the Despicable Me attraction where they were doing a live show. I of course gave her the camera to capture the fun.

Bring on the Minion Dance Crew!

Here comes Vector!

Nice capture by Bean

High steppin’


I came out and grabbed the camera so Bean could enjoy the show

She was enjoying their antics

Vector was bustin’ some moves himself in the background

The minion dancers finish up

Bean gets a high five!

..and almost missed the “down low”

Meanwhile the dance had finished but Vector had not!

The dancer and Bean were having a great interaction

More Minion dancer fun!

Then another dancer got in on the act

Bean got to hold her lunch pail

Nice pose

Vector was schmoozing with some ladies when Bean walked up to him

He seemed a bit startled!

But came in for a good pose

While we were doing that Gru and his daughters were doing photo ops. We didn’t have time to get shots with the girls but we managed to be the last ones in line for Gru himself!

We did get to see the girls frolicking before they went backstage

After all of that fun we had to ride the attraction again. The line was a bit long but we lucked out when they called for two people to fill up a row.

We got to skip ahead of a whole bunch of people, saved at least 15 minutes of waiting. It was very fun of course and when we came out we were greeted by two minions!

Then I took a shot of us on the screen with dancing minions

At this point the ladies had finished watching Beetlejuice so we met up and decided to have dinner. Given where we were at it was a no brainer to eat at Monster Café again. Once we finished another good meal there we asked the girls what they wanted to do while we waited for the Macys Christmas Parade to start. They wanted another shot at the Mummy ride so off we went!

The big guy was very welcoming


They have a two-story statue in the center of the queue area very impressive

These look important!

Another fun ride and we were done in time to get good curbside seats for the parade.

I gave the camera to PumpkinGirl and we settled back for the show. For anyone unfamiliar with it, they actually bring down multiple balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and do a pretty good version of the parade itself called the Macy’s Holiday Parade every day during the holidays.

First up were the police motorcycles

Then we had stilted dancers and the main parade banner

How often do you see an elf on rollerblades?

Nice bellbottoms

Santa is flying high!

What a nice doggy

This float also contained the day’s Grand Marshals

They even had a full High School Marching Band!

A Macy’s star

Look at all the Christmas paradey stuff!

Hey look, it’s Betty Boop!

These guys were interesting

If you hadn’t noticed yet, it was a very good idea for me to hand the camera to PumpkinGirl. She had a LOT of the performers pose for her!

What Holiday Parade would complete without, uh, Bees?

Walking tall

Big toy soldier

I’ve always loved the sound of marching band drums

..but this guy took drumming to a whole nother level!

Here come some well-dressed maids and dancing books

..which was a very good lead in for Mother Goose

Behind her was Shrek and Fiona

Cute cookie

And the baker who made her

Those clown dolls always gave me the willies

And coming down the road was Scooby Doo, Football, and the Simpsons – what’s more American than that?

Yo Shaggy!

Here comes the pep rally

Is he calling the end of a play or pretending to be an airplane, you be the judge

Here come the Simpsons!

More Macy’s Stars

What could this be?

Why, it’s Woody Woodpecker and Winnie Woodpecker (had to look up her name – thank you google)

Here comes a, well, a girl on a big carved moose!

..and her tall lumberjack friend

She’s flying on her moose apparently

..but stopped to say “hi” to PumpkinGirl

And who is this?

That’s right, Marilyn!

Those must have been fun to walk in

Next up, it’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

…just seeing if you were paying attention 

He has a big friend

They were overtaken by rollerblading Jack Frosts

That’s quite a float!

Purdy horses

Looks to be an ice queen

Those are some sizable Christmas balls

Oh Christmas Tree, tall Christmas tree

And a not so little drummer boy

The Macys Bears

An interesting take on marionettes

That does not look like a happy rat

A very tall parade of Christmas cheer

Band geek mouse?

More marionette antics

And the mouse is back he just cant get enough of hamming it up for PumpkinGirl!

The other marionette team circles around to us

The mouse didn’t want to be upstaged and did a jump for PumpkinGirl

But it was hard to ignore the dancing spectacle of the marionette teams

Thats a big candy cane!

They were intermittently shooting colorful confetti from the rooftops during the parade

Here comes the candy cane with some candy cane girls

And then it was time for the big guy himself, here comes Santa Claus!

In the background you can just make out a group of Rockette-like dancers. They put on a show by the tree but apparently were separate from the parade and went right back inside

Back to Santa and Mrs. Claus and their elf helper

And that was it, there was another Macys balloon but it was apparently part of the Rockettes thing and was taken back stage

Again, HUGE kudos to PumpkinGirl for such good captures of all of that parade fun!

We walked back down to the tree to see it all lit up

Bean got a kick out of playing with the confetti

We started heading back to the front of the park from there, our day pretty much finished. Crowd levels were at their lowest I had seen which made it a nice leisurely stroll back towards the entrance.

The sun had gone down and the clouds were getting thicker

Roxy and the girls wanted to ride Minion Mayhem one more time so I told them to go ahead while I took a few more pictures.

They had some good cheesecake in here, I tried some samples. Very yummy stuff.

Lots of great sweets in here, we bought several things there the day before

I circled back to Minion Mayhem

Don’t you want to become a Minion?

The ladies came out and it had started to drizzle on us a bit. It was the first and only time we had rain the whole trip. By the time the ladies got out it was just after 6pm and we had a 6:15pm pick-up for MEARS. Bean and I ran ahead through the drizzle to make sure we didn’t miss our bus.

It was funny because each of us kept jogging for a bit and passing the other, then running out of steam and the other would pass. Bean ended up down at the bus area first and flagged down our driver. There was no problem and soon enough Roxy and PumpkinGirl were there and we got ourselves loaded up.

We had to do that off-resort drop off so it was a little longer getting back. Still we were passing back into WDW before 7pm

It has been a fun three days at Universal Studios. Lots of big rides, silly fun, and great live shows and events. Lots of laughs and smiles and unique experiences.

I am often asked how it compares to the Disney experience. I can only say that it is different. It is fun and exciting and even magical, but not in the same way that you feel in Disney. The magic can be more literal, at least in reference to the whole Harry Potter experience.

I really enjoyed the Christmas touches and can say that if you go, the Christmas holiday is a wonderful time. If you like a real scare I hear that Halloween is a must see and I hope to experience that at some point later in life – probably me and Bean and maybe PumpkinGirl on that one as Roxy doesn’t like being truly scared.

We got some snacks from the POP food court while Bean grabbed her lanyard and came back to pin trade. Then it was off to the room to load up lanyards, get the mad money for the next day, shower and PJs, and get our general plan together. Tomorrow was Thursday and was set aside as our Mommy/Daughter & Daddy/Daughter day.

Since PumpkinGirl had gotten about 2/3rds of a day with me at AK the day Bean had the bad tummy she was looking forward to reprising a full EPCOT day with Roxy. Bean meanwhile wanted to do some park hopping. She wanted to start early with AK to enjoy the day she missed the previous Sunday. Once she had her fill there her goal was to hit DHS and reprise our Daddy/Daughter day from 2008.

We were in bed pretty early and asleep very quickly – big day ahead for all of us!