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Old 27 Feb 20, 11:29 PM  
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Lisa_Lollipop
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Charlie's First WDW Adventure - Sep/Oct 2019 - Day 10: IoA, Universal Studios & Hard Rock Cafe

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Tuesday 8th October

The alarm went off at 6:30am but after such a busy one the day before I allowed myself a snooze until 7. On finally dragging myself out of bed I got myself shower and dressed and then set about packing up as we would be checking out of Hard Rock Hotel that morning before heading over to the parks.

Whilst we were getting ourselves ready Joan and John popped down to the hotel shop to pick up some coffees, water and cereal… all for the eye-watering price of $45! Ouch! Despite it now being 8am Charlie was still asleep and in the end I had to wake him up as we needed to get going. The busy days were certainly starting to hit him now, he was so tired!

After getting Charlie dressed we gathered all our things and headed out of the room at 8:25am. On making it down to reception I plotted up on a sofa with Charlie to give him some milk and a banana whilst the others took all the bags to the car.



Once they returned we once again headed out the back of the hotel and made the walk over to the parks. At this point it was looking rather bright… that was all soon to change!







We planned to start the day in Island of Adventure so on arriving at CityWalk we walked past the Universal globe and down the side of the river where Hard Rock Café lives. It was at this point Charlie had enough of walking, yet refused to get in the pushchair so went on strike and wouldn’t move! (I am getting quite a collection of these photos on this trip aren’t I?!)



In the end I had to carry him most of the way there (again… my poor back!). On arriving at the entrance we scanned our tickets and heading into the park, first on the hit list today was Seuss Landing. We made a quick stop first at the photographer stationed at the entrance though to get a few shots of us all.







As we were passing, Paul ducked into the patisserie as neither of us had eaten anything at that point and we were both starving. A couple of chocolate croissants would keep us going for now



Once inside Seuss Landing we had a wander into the If I Ran The Zoo play area… again something that we had never even noticed before! On walking in I had to check with the TM that is was actually open as there wasn’t another person in sight! It was indeed open and we had the whole area to ourselves!









Charlie absolutely loved having the freedom to run freely in here, it was so bright and colourful (even though the sky had completely clouded over and was looking very dull!). He was particularly taken with the water jets that made the creature pop out of the bath when you sprayed it!










After finally luring Charlie away from this area we stopped next at The Cat in the Hat. This ride has a 36 inch night restriction so we were dubious if they would let him ride but once again the TM on at the entrance sent us through to have him checked inside. On making it to the loading area they measured him again and gave the green light so on we went! I always forget how much you get spun around on this ride, which I guess explains the height restriction!



Next up was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish… a first for all of us! It was getting very gloomy now so I was a bit apprehensive to ride this have heard tales of how wet you can get!





We joined the express pass queue which oddly had more people in it than the normal queue! It was very quiet though so we were loaded onto the next ride to start. This really made us all giggle, and Charlie ended up getting the most wet out of all of us! Whoops!







Continuing our tour of Seuss Landing, the next stop was Caro-Seuss-el. Another great family ride, Paul rode next to Charlie whilst I stood next to him, although I probably didn’t need to as he sat beautifully the whole way round!









The last ride to tick of our list in this land was The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. This was another attraction that has a 36 inch height restriction. The TM at the entrance waved us through but the one at the loading station did ask to measure him but was happy for him to go on which I was most relieved about as I knew he would love this one! He looked beyond cute sitting in his own seat, and so grown up! I really like this ride, such beautiful views of the park from up there.











It had been so lovely and quiet that we managed to get through all the rides really quickly. There was so much for Charlie to do in this area, particularly as he passed the height requirements! It’s an area we have never properly explored in the past so it was great to take some extra time there on this trip!











We left Seuss Landing and made our way over to Hogsmede. Joan and John hadn’t ridden Forbidden Journey on our last trip but were keen to try it this time so we decided to tick that off the list first.







As we all wanted to ride we decided to change tactics of one of us waiting outside with Charlie and instead we decided we would use child swap. Universal’s system is different to Disney in that you take the child through the queue with you and then one group wait in the family room close to the ride loading area whilst the other group ride and then once they are back you swap. In my opinion it is much a superior way to do it as it prevents having to go through the queue twice!

The standby queue was posted as a 75 minute wait but going through the express pass queue we literally walked straight through to the front without waiting at all… it was amazing! And it was so lovely to all walk through the castle together and for Charlie to experience it too.



On making it to the loading area I went and sat in the family room with Charlie whilst the other three rode. They had a screen in there playing Harry Potter (what else?!) which Charlie had no interest in but I easily kept him occupied with his magnetic drawing board and some veggie straws!

The others soon returned and it was my turn to ride… I say it every time but I much prefer this to Escape from Gringotts! On the ride finishing I met back up with the others in the family room and we all headed out of the castle together. The child swap system had worked brilliantly! On walking through the gift shop I made a quick stop at the photo kiosk to get our ride photos added to my account (John’s face makes me giggle!).





On making it out of the castle we stopped outside the castle briefly whilst Paul went to retrieve the pushchair (it turned out he had parked it in an area not designated for pushchairs and it had been moved so it took a few minutes for him to track it down). Whilst we waited I got some photos of Charlie in his very appropriate Harry Potter t-shirt and also of the castle which was looking beautiful in the sunshine!





Joan, Charlie and I started making our way out of Hogsmede whilst the boys held back and watched some of the show that had just started on the stage opposite the castle. As we approached the bridge we spotted a photographer so went over to get some photos… it ended up being quite a photo shoot as Paul and John returned we added them in to make sure we got snaps of everyone! I absolutely love these photos, I am so pleased we paid out for the photo package as I really think we got our money’s worth from it.







We made our way through to the Jurassic Park area and went into the Discovery Center to have a wander around. Charlie takes great interest in Dinosaurs so he was really engaged with this whole area.











Whilst there we also stopped in the gift shop and Joan and John bought Charlie this super cute (and sometimes very apt) little terror t-shirt.



Leaving Jurassic Park we made our way in the direction of the Marvel area as we were all ready for some lunch (it was now 12:15pm) and we fancied giving Café 4 a go as we had never eaten in there before. On the walk over Charlie fell asleep in the pushchair.









On making it inside Café 4 we ordered food, going for a variety of pizza and pasta dishes. Given this is quick service it was actually very good!





Charlie was still sound asleep so we had a very peaceful lunch and decided we would get him something when he woke up.



Once we finished eating, Paul and I decided to make the most of Charlie being asleep and went off to ride Hulk (yes straight after lunch, probably not our wisest idea to be fair!). The standby wait time was 25 minutes but with express pass we were on and off within 10 which was great. I love this coaster, I always forget how fast that first launch is!





Meeting back up with Joan and John we found Charlie was still asleep so wanting to make the most of the time we headed over to Spiderman. Joan, John and I headed in to ride whilst Paul waited with Charlie.





On coming out of the ride we found the heavens had opened and it was absolutely pouring with rain! We couldn’t see Paul in the gift shop that you exit into so after giving him a ring we discovered he was in the shop opposite… but the rain was so torrential we had to stay put for the time being as even just crossing the street we would have gotten drenched! We did eventually manage to make a dash across when there was a slight ease in the downpour! We found Paul easy enough and Charlie was still sleep oblivious to the awful weather!

It didn’t seem like there was going to be any let up any time soon so after standing around for a while we made another mad dash over to the arcades that is adjoined to Café 4. It was at this point Charlie woke up. We had a little wander around the arcades.





With Charlie now fully awake and full of beans we knew we needed to get him some lunch so we went back into Café 4 and ordered him the spaghetti and meatballs from the kids menu ($7.49). Unlike all other kids meals we had come across this one didn’t come with a drink or any sort of side dish. Charlie loved it though and devoured the whole lot!





Once Charlie finished up eating the others dashed over to ride Spiderman (it was still raining!)



Whilst they were gone Charlie and I had a walk around the arcades. Whilst wandering around he informed me he had filled his nappy, lovely! Luckily the others soon returned so I could dash off to the restrooms to get him changed!





It was at this point I realised I had lost my room key/express pass! I think I had put it in the pocket of my shorts so assumed it had fallen out when I had gone to pull my phone out! I knew I had it when I had ridden Spiderman and we hadn’t travelled far since then so I had a thorough look around but no joy! I was feeling pretty sad as I had wanted to keep these cards as a memento of the trip… I was now glad I had taken that photo of them the day before! The problem of course was that it was my express pass so I still needed it! Paul and I went over to guest services and thankfully they were able to issue me with a new pass in replacement… what a wally, I still can’t believe I lost it!

Express pass sorted we had to make a decision of what to do next. It was still raining but we knew we were losing valuable time waiting inside for it to pass… it really didn’t look like it was going to pass any time soon! So we made the group decision to buy some ponchos and just keep going! Paul and John popped to the nearest shop and picked up 4 ($11.26 each… not cheap but worth it just so we could get moving!)



We then had the task of coaxing Charlie back into his pushchair so we could cover him with the rain cover… he was not happy about this idea and was much more keen to just run out in the rain!



We eventually bribed him in with raisins and were finally ready to get going! We made our way to the exit, stopping for a quick photo on the way out!



We exited the park and started the walk over to Universal (this felt much longer than normal when doing it in the rain!)





On making it into the other park we made a beeline for Minion Mayhem, going through the empty express pass line. I assumed we would have to rider swap on this one as it has a minimum height requirement of 40 inches but on making it inside the TM informed us Charlie would be fine to ride as long as he sat on the stationary seats at the front. I was really pleased he still was able to experience this one as it’s so bright and colourful it seems a shame that little ones miss out on riding! It was also really funny sitting at the front with him and seeing the others in the moving seats behind us! You really notice how much they move when you are watching from afar! As we exited the theater a minion was just coming out for a meet and greet so we were first in line to get a photo with him.







Waving goodbye to the Minion we exited through the gift shop and found it was still raining! We wanted to ride Jimmy Fallon next so it was another quick dash over to there, thank goodness for those ponchos! This was another ride that Charlie was too small to go on so we needed to use rider switch again. We made our way through the different queuing areas together and then before entering the theatre I was directed to the family room to wait with Charlie whilst the other rode.







The others came back and I tag-teamed with them so I could go and ride. This was the first time we have experienced this attraction and having read so many negative reviews I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed it!

On emerging back outside, yes you guessed it… still raining! Our next dash was over to The Mummy, one of my favourites! Joan and John had avoided this on our last trip but were feeling brave this time around so decided they would ride too so we all went in together.





Joan and I rode first whilst John and Paul waited for Charlie in the family room and then we swapped over. Again, this child switch system works so well as we managed to get on and off so quickly without having to leave anyone outside in the rain! I’m not sure Joan and John were overly in love with this ride, but I am super proud of them for giving it a try!





On leaving The Mummy we found a miracle had happened… it had stopped raining! Hallelujah!



As I hadn’t ridden it the day before, I wanted to make a stop at Transformers. Joan and John came on with me whilst Paul waited outside with Charlie. The standby line was showing a 25 minute wait but we were on and off within 10 minutes (the joy of express passes once again!)



On meeting back up with Paul we found he had coaxed Charlie into the pushchair with his dinosaurs and some rice cakes (what else does that boy need in life?!)





Thankfully the rain seemed to be done for the day now and the sky was actually looking rather beautiful!





Our next stop was at ET. I have to admit I was a little nervous about this one… Charlie easily passed the height restriction of 34 inches but I was a little concerned about him sitting on one of the bikes on his own rather than on our lap like he does with all other rides! I had absolutely nothing to worry about, he sat there amazingly and was mesmerised! These photos are a little blurry given how dark it is in there, but they are too cute not to include… watching him holding onto the handlebars of that bike made my heart want to explode!





Having successfully returned ET home we carried on our walk around the lake, stopping for an obligatory photo with Lard Lad (I have the exact same photo of Joan and I from our first trip!)



Our plan now was to ride Hogwarts Express back over to Islands of Adventure so we headed into Kings Cross. I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work with the pushchair but it was super easy and on loading onto the train they took it off of us and wheeled it into an open area at the end of the carriage so it could travel across with us (we didn’t even have to collapse it as I was expecting!)





It was dark by the time we arrived over in Hogsmede and we found the dementors out and about… I am not going to lie, I found it a little scary (I would never be brave enough for Halloween Horror Nights!). At one point there was one standing over Charlie… he wasn’t phased in the slightest but I was having a mild panic attack!







We noticed that Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure was closed (not surprising given how bad the weather had been that day!). I was sad we hadn’t had a chance to ride this, but it’s the perfect excuse for a return visit as I am desperate to experience it!



Joan, John and I wanted to get one last butter beer fix so stopped by the kiosk to get one each ($25.50 total).





Whilst we were in Hogsmede the castle projection started but it was so busy they had roped off the walk way so we were unable to get any closer.



It was now approaching park closing so we made the walk back to the entrance as we wanted to have a last wander around the shops before heading out. We started in the Christmas shop where I picked up a personalized Minion tree decoration for Charlie ($9.99) and a Minion cookie plate which was in the sale ($14.95 down to $6.99)



Paul proved that he can pull off any type of hat…



Whilst the other continued to browse I stopped by the photo shop as we had three prints included with out photo package. I picked out one of the minion shots and also got two copies of us all in front of Hogwarts on the bridge so I could give a copy to Joan and John too.

We then popped into the main gift shop opposite where we picked up a cuddly Minion for Charlie, a Universal Studios beach towel and Charlie got me a marvel ‘Super Mom’ mug.



We finally made it out of the park at 8:35pm and heading in the direction of Hard Rock Café as this was where we had planned to get some dinner to finish off our days at Universal. On approaching the check in desk we were told it would be a 30 minute wait for a table but we were called through in less than 10! On making our way to the table we stopped to have our photo taken (which we then of course later bought… Joan and I are a sucker for these photo packages!)





We were sat in one of the side rooms on the ground floor which worked out great as we were tucked out of the way and it was much less manic and noisy than sitting in the main dining room. We got Charlie settled in a highchair and ordered drinks.







We had only been sat down about 5 minutes when Charlie managed to spill his entire cup of milk… it went everywhere! Our waiter was great in helping us mop it up and kindly bought him another cup (which we were more vigilant to keep out of arms reach when he wasn’t drinking it!).

We ordered food… John and Paul both had steak, Joan and I both had salmon and I ordered the pasta for Charlie (loving the guitar shaped plate it came in!)







I also ordered Charlie a side of broccoli… he seemed quite confused by this strange green stuff after 10 days of eating pretty much only pasta!



The food was delicious and we all really enjoyed the dining experience. We settled up the bill, leaving the lovely waiter a healthy tip!







Joan and I had both ordered lemonade which came with a souvenir glass so we made a stop by the gift shop on the way out to pick these up. I also bought a t-shirt while in there too (John also bought the same style in the men’s version so we have matching!)





Despite it now being 10:50pm Charlie seemed to have found a second wind and was full of energy! We left Hard Rock Café and started the walk around the lake.









We were on a boat over to Hard Rock Hotel at 11pm (none of us had the energy to walk all the way back!). On arriving back Paul went to collect the car whilst we waited in the lobby. I make a quick stop at the restrooms and couldn’t resist taking some photos… they were the fanciest toilets I have ever seen!









Paul soon returned and it was time for us to wave goodbye to Hard Rock Hotel, all of us was sad to go… it’s such a beautiful hotel!







We made a quick stop to look at the guitar fountain out the front and then loaded everyone into the car to start the drive back to the villa.





Unsurprisingly Charlie was asleep in minutes! We arrived back at the villa at 12am (another very long day!) and I took him straight up to bed. With him soon settled we all sat down in the living room for a while snacking on M&Ms. Finally at 1am it was time to call it a day and go to bed!

Wow I feel exhausted just writing about these past two days, they certainly were jam-packed! But so much fun! As with our previous trip, we came away wishing we had done more nights at HRH, it is such a fab place to stay and the express passes really make it worth it a million times over… I can’t imagine doing Universal any other way now! That said it was lovely to get back to the villa, it really did feel like home!

Join me for the next instalment where we have a morning at Florida Mall and then head to Hollywood Studios for more Star Wars fun!

Day 11 can be found here

Edited at 06:00 PM.
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Old 28 Feb 20, 01:35 PM  
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MaryMendes
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I love those toilets in HRH too. It’s my favourite hotel anyway.
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Old 28 Feb 20, 03:02 PM  
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The HRH really sounds like a dream. What a shame you didn’t get to use the pool but always saved for next time. You guys really live up to that rock star reputation up til 1am!

Sounds fabulous being able to nip in the express queue. On and off super fast.

Charlie being absolutely amazing again today. Only one sitting on the ground episode is a good day imo xx
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Old 28 Feb 20, 03:50 PM  
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Wow that was a long but brilliant day, despite the rain! Charlie did so well lasting so long.

Love the HRH, can’t wait for our stay this summer. I need to track down those toilets!
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Old 2 Mar 20, 03:01 PM  
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Loving Charlie’s t-shirt today!

I also prefer Forbidden Journey to Gringotts (apart from the spiders, anyway). I can’t believe you rode Hulk with a belly full of pasta and pizza, good work!

Ooh I’ve never seen an on-side Spiderman photo before! Hilarious.

Glad you enjoyed Jimmy Fallon. I still can’t remember the last time a ride made me feel so ill - not including The Simpsons, anyway!

Oh my…I didn’t know that the dementors roamed Hogsmeade after dark! Eeeek! I feel like the castle projections are a myth, everyone I know who has tried to see them has failed.

What an absolutely brilliant couple of days though, no wonder you were shattered, bet the step count was through the roof!

More please #chophop
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Old 4 Mar 20, 07:17 AM  
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That’s a busy, long, fab day right there in spite of the rain!
Memories: Your heart melting when your son on ET bike 😍
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Old 4 Mar 20, 06:27 PM  
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Originally Posted by MaryMendes View Post
I love those toilets in HRH too. It’s my favourite hotel anyway.
Such a beautiful hotel... we had debated staying at Royal Pacific for this trip but I'm so glad we went back to HRH!

Originally Posted by sheluk View Post
The HRH really sounds like a dream. What a shame you didn’t get to use the pool but always saved for next time. You guys really live up to that rock star reputation up til 1am!

Sounds fabulous being able to nip in the express queue. On and off super fast.

Charlie being absolutely amazing again today. Only one sitting on the ground episode is a good day imo xx
I definitely recommend HRH... staying up to 1am is of course optional!

Originally Posted by SuziQz View Post
Wow that was a long but brilliant day, despite the rain! Charlie did so well lasting so long.

Love the HRH, can’t wait for our stay this summer. I need to track down those toilets!
Haha you must check out the toilets, totally worth a visit!
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Old 4 Mar 20, 06:29 PM  
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Originally Posted by HelenJNT View Post
Loving Charlie’s t-shirt today!

I also prefer Forbidden Journey to Gringotts (apart from the spiders, anyway). I can’t believe you rode Hulk with a belly full of pasta and pizza, good work!

Ooh I’ve never seen an on-side Spiderman photo before! Hilarious.

Glad you enjoyed Jimmy Fallon. I still can’t remember the last time a ride made me feel so ill - not including The Simpsons, anyway!

Oh my…I didn’t know that the dementors roamed Hogsmeade after dark! Eeeek! I feel like the castle projections are a myth, everyone I know who has tried to see them has failed.

What an absolutely brilliant couple of days though, no wonder you were shattered, bet the step count was through the roof!

More please #chophop
I had never seen a photo on Spiderman either! Is this new?! I assumed we had just missed it on previous trips as had exited through the other door of the gift shop and hadn't seen the kiosk!

Oh Universal step counts are always insane aren't they?! I seriously wished I had put a Fitbit on Charlie for this trip, he probably trumped us all!

Originally Posted by flo-tinka View Post
That’s a busy, long, fab day right there in spite of the rain!
Memories: Your heart melting when your son on ET bike 😍
That ride on ET will be one of my most loved memories ever!
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Old 17 Mar 20, 09:09 AM  
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$45 for water, cereal and coffee?! You know that hurts my cheap Aberdonian soul!

Ahh what a fun morning. I bloody love the Red Fish Blue Fish ride, so silly and fun! Charlie looks so happy on it!

So do they not let someone ride again with you at Universal on the child swap thing? I feel sad that you went on your own!

Such a shame that you lost your room keys

Ahhh I love the Minion photos, so cute! And what a result that Charlie got to ride And bless him on ET, tooooo cute!

Like H, I have never seen a Spiderman ride pic! Looks like you got the value out of that package for sure!

Now those area some fancy pants toilets at HRC! Wow!

What a long busy day! Charlie is such a trooper! xxx
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Old 27 Mar 20, 03:17 PM  
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Originally Posted by Redrach1903 View Post
$45 for water, cereal and coffee?! You know that hurts my cheap Aberdonian soul!

Ahh what a fun morning. I bloody love the Red Fish Blue Fish ride, so silly and fun! Charlie looks so happy on it!

So do they not let someone ride again with you at Universal on the child swap thing? I feel sad that you went on your own!

Such a shame that you lost your room keys

Ahhh I love the Minion photos, so cute! And what a result that Charlie got to ride And bless him on ET, tooooo cute!

Like H, I have never seen a Spiderman ride pic! Looks like you got the value out of that package for sure!

Now those area some fancy pants toilets at HRC! Wow!

What a long busy day! Charlie is such a trooper! xxx
Yes we could have ridden in pairs with the child swap but the others went as trio... I'm not really sure why!

Still a bit sad about that lost room key... and annoyed with myself for losing it!
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