I could use more weekends like this one…
I went to Universal Studios in Orlando this weekend with my parents, brother, aunt and uncle…the main attraction being The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a fantastic day-trip and a nice way to shake up a rather typical semester of class. We arrived in Orlando Friday night around 9:00pm and left for the parks, which happened to be right across the road, the next morning around 8:30am. We figured getting there as soon as the park opened half an hour later we’d beat most of the crowd; even though the folks staying at the Universal Resort/Hotels are allowed entry an hour before everyone else. It worked for the most part…still more people than we expected…as I’m sure it’s what everyone else was thinking too. “Let’s all get to the park before everybody else does!” = Everybody just getting there early, haha…the shot from above isn’t that great a representation of all the people who were actually there before it all opened.
So, first up was The Simpsons Ride. I’m pretty sure it would’ve been much better if I hadn’t woken up nauseous because of the horrible pull-out mattress that made for the worst bit of sleep I’ve probably ever had; a mere 4 hours-ish. Well, to make a long story short, I just became more nauseous and felt horrible for the next little bit. I was convinced to go on the Men in Black ride…where visitors sat in carts that went around a track and basically played laser tag with the aliens. Every now and then the carts would spin around really fast to let you shoot the aliens behind you and such; this, as you could imagine, did not help the feeling of sickness and potential cookie tossing. I drew the line here for the next few hours. Aunt Jeanie bought me some really good peppermint bites from a candy store nearby to help calm my nauseous-ness. I snacked on those and baby-sat a bear in a tutu that my mom won in a Whack-A-Mole game while everyone went on another ride.
This next shot was just a quick one I grabbed as we were making our way to Shrek 4D. If I had the chance to go back and compose this a bit better, I totally would. The straight-from-camera image is actually quite fantastic. I just decided to make a few copies and adjust the exposures to merge in Photomatix and try out an HDR image. I think it turned out pretty well for just an impromptu on-the-go photo.
Shortly after Shrek 4D we made our way to Harry Potter Land and, more importantly, LUNCH!!! We ate at The Three Broomsticks and after a reasonably timed wait in line and nearly $100 later, I must say the food was pretty delicious and well worth it. We had the ‘Great Feast’ ($50), which consisted of 12 BBQ ribs, 4 big ol’ pieces of chicken, 4 cobs of corn, fried potatoes and mixed vegetables. Since that only fed a family of 4, we ordered a couple more dishes of the same thing. The Frozen Butterbeer was phenomenal…a butterscotch/caramel/cream soda concoction of some sort…and tasted as if it were ladled from the rivers of Heaven itself.
After lunch we walked around Hogsmeade for a bit and after fighting through the crowds we made our way up to Hogwarts Castle…I’ve never seen a line as long as this one for any amusement park ride ever. I can’t even begin to imagine what this place was like when it first opened. I’d say there were at least 400-500 people in front of us…but the ride/simulation moved rather quickly, so the wait wasn’t as bad as it sounds…maybe about 30-45 minutes. Inside the castle they had replications of the talking portraits that were totally legit; I was super impressed by how real they looked. We didn’t make it into Ollivander’s or the Owlery…however, we did make it into Honeydukes and Zonko’s. I didn’t get anything because everything is overpriced; which, I guess is fine considering it’s the only Harry Potter Park in the world…they could double their current prices and most people would still happily pay for it. Want an idea of how much this stuff cost? Just one chocolate frog was $10. But, overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the park and look forward to coming back when it’s a bit less congested.
This final shot was taken when it was almost completely dark. I thought it was a fairly decent scene to try and get a capture of…so, I found a rock post thing to sit my camera on and fire off a few bracketed shots…not the best, but considering what I had to work with, or lack thereof, I think it turned out alright…