Every morning we head down the road to the parks and we see the same exit for Kissimmee, and every time we sing Kissimmee, Kissimmee Mucho to the tune of Besame Mucho. Besame means kiss me, fyi. The song weaves throughout our day; in the car, on the street, at Walmart, in the men’s restroom at Diagon Alley.
When Jenn (and I) began envisioning this trip years ago, it was out of our love for the Harry Potter franchise. Harry Potter at Universal had been on our minds for a long time. I could hardly bear the idea of actually being in a detailed replica of Diagon Alley where the young wizards and witches bought all of their school supplies, where Harry got to stay a whole week by himself and get history lessons while he ate free ice cream from Florean Fortesque, and discovered that he had a small fortune in the Gringots Wizarding Bank run by Goblins. Jenn had heard that in order to get to the ride, we’d have to be there first thing, so she hurried us along at breakneck speed. Fortunately, the crowds were relatively light and we didn’t have any problems.
The first thing on our list was butterbeer. We have been fantasizing about this product from the first mentions of it in the books. It delivered big time. It is a crisp cold creme soda drawn from a barrel and topped with a thick, sweet cream. I’ve had three so far!
We nosed around shops for awhile and then began to make our way to the Gringots ride. It was just Chris, Jenn, and me. Alli had a rough night’s sleep and decided to sit this one out. Gringots is a huge Roman, bank structure with a golden dragon on top which breathes a huge jet of fire once and awhile; big enough that I could feel the blazing heat. The line was short and therefore entirely indoors. The first room was the Gringots lobby.
Chris remarked that the animatronic Goblins were some of the best he’d ever seen. They were eerily life like. The structure, although smaller than in the movies, was still pretty enormous. Along the way, in line, we saw moving and talking paintings, moving newspapers, and a phenomenal holographic scene with Bill Weasley and a goblin. We were dazzled. I don’t want to spoil the ride for you, but it was thrilling and scary. The others didn’t think it was scary, but I insisted that it was, in fact, VERY scary. I tend to immerse myself in life experiences a little more deeply and imaginatively than a normal person. It has its pluses and minuses.
The Simpsons Ride
The Simpsons Ride is a simulated roller coaster. It seemed like something that would make us sick, but it didn’t. But we have this picture, so…
I don’t want to talk about the Rockin Rollercoaster or whatever it was called. It was a long line and a rough ride.
When we got back, Alli was feeling better and she and I decided to go back to Diagon Alley. I was game, the others were exhausted. All of that lap swimming has paid off with endurance and energy. It was pouring ran, but Alli and I were warriors!
But the rain stopped on the road and by the time we got near to the park, the sun came out. We mused that we were being rewarded for staying tough.
When you’re driving somewhere with your wife and the nice lady at Google, you tend not to pay attention to the directions, and so when we got to the park, I got little confused.
As we were pulling into the parking toll booths, a started pulling into a lane and this guy whistled me into another. I believe this started a chain of small confusion events, let’s call it.
He said, “Ok, buddy, you’re going to go to the end of this road and turn. That’ll take you to the parking garage.” Or at least that’s all I heard.
Confidently, I headed down the road behind a red minivan. When I got to the end, it appeared that there were actually three possibly turns all cluttered with orange cones. The station wagon turned left and I feebly followed him. I began to notice the following signs: Van parking, RV parking, Kennels. Kennels? This isn’t right. Did this guy have his hunting dogs in the back of the van? The guy moved on out on the highway again and so did I. I could tell by now that he was just as confused as I was. The next time around I went to a different booth and ask the lady for very explicit instructions because I had gotten lost before.
She looked at me like I was one fry short of a Happy Meal, pointed down the road and said, very bluntly and slowly, “Go straight! Turn right!”
Alli laughed and said, “She know what she doin!”
Alli had been burning all week to go shopping at a girly place called Lush where she could get some handmade bath bombs. She had looked it up and found that there was a Lush at City Walk, which is the name of the outdoor shopping center in front of the Universal parks.
We looked for someone to help us. We found a security guard with an Africanish accent…Nigerian?
Alli: Do you have a shop here called Lush?”
Guard: There’s no Blush here.
Me: It’s a shop with soaps and stuff? Smells really good?”
Guard: You can try the concierge over there.
Leaving, I said, “This guy obviously doesn’t know what we’re talking about.”
We found the concierge and she confirmed that there was, in fact, no Lush. Then I felt like a total jerk for thinking that guy was just ignorant. It turned out that the Lush at City Walk was in California. There was one at a mall nearby, though, to check out later.
Diagon Alley: Act II
At the park we went straight to Diagon Alley and got us a butterbeer. CHEERS!!!!
Alli was just as mesmerized as I was, but she was uncomfortably hot, so we headed for the ride. I was super excited and feeling the need to micromanage Alli’s experience. I couldn’t contain my glee. I wanted her to have the same experience I had had in the morning. When I realized I was doing this, however, I backed off.
As we were getting in line something happened that really upset me. 3 punk kids cut the line by about 100 people. It was a coordinated event. Three punk girls raised a fuss with security and the three punk boys slipped by as quick as wink. PUNK. KIDS. But I took a deep breath and said, “Well, that’s not really going to slow us down much, so whadya gonna do?
In line, Alli began smelling a dirty feet odor. I smelled it as well. There were two teenage boys next to us and we were certain it was them. In my mind, I began bashing them. I wasn’t in the most level state of mind. Here was the conversation (in my mind).
“Hey guys, can I ask you a question? Do you have girlfriends?”
“Well you won’t for long with your feet smelling like that!”
“Hey guys, can I ask you a question? Do you have girlfriends?”
“Well I can tell you why. Your feet STINK!”
But after they were gone, we still smelled it. Alli asked, “Did you get your socks wet in the rain? And were those clean socks?”
So, yeah. It was me. And I should have known better.
The ride was just as thrilling, but I wasn’t scared this time…haha. Alli described her experience as pure joy the entire time. Imagine that. How many times in your life will you experience pure joy, and for several minutes?! These are experiences we will never forget.
We found Lush at an upscale mall not too far away. I told her I would be in the Cheesecake Factory drinking coffee. They have fantastic coffee there. I thought I would just take a seat at the bar, but there was only one and it was between two well-dressed, good looking people who probably smelled good, and it occurred to me that I had stinky feet so I decided to go elsewhere. In usual David fashioned, I walked right passed the Starbucks to the help desk and asked if there was a place nearby I could get coffee. They both pointed to the Starbucks and together said “Starbucks”
I sat by the fountain in front of Lush and pondered the idea of sticking my feet in, but it was only a fantasy.
We closed the day with enchiladas and swimming. What a wonderful day!