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danI’m hard pressed to say who was the perfect age for our trip. Everyone found moments of inspiration and places of great content.

Our girls were pushed out of their rather sanitized existence, and urged, guided and, er, forced to try everything.

They rose to the challenge; falling in love with rides they never thought they’d like, and finding inner strength for ones they couldn’t wait to get off of.

One such ride was Splash Mountain.

Miss S declared Splash Mountain her favourite, before riding it. Annnnd the minute the log moved, she crumbled.

This is how, in yet another priceless mothering moment, I found myself reaching forward, hugging my shrieking six-year-old with all my might, as our log teetered on the edge of the 50ft drop.

You do not want to be leaning forward as your log nose-dives into the brambles. You do not want to choose between somersaulting out of said log, or letting go of your petrified child.

Fortunately, the photographic evidence taken 1/3 of the way down our plunge reveals I chose both: one arm around Miss S, one arm bracing the plastic log. Fewf.

Miss Q and Miss C, on the other hand, loved Splash Mountain.

It is interesting to note that Splash Mountain, with all the warnings of the 50ft drop, has no seatbelts; but The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a 60 second, one-level meander, and I do mean meander, through Pooh’s daydream has a safety bar.

Thankfully, Miss C had either an uncle or father to act as her seatbelt on her multiple voyages with Briar Rabbit, but still.

Incidentally, Pooh’s ride was one of Miss C and Miss S’ favourites. Mad props to Grandma, who took one for the team, agreeing over, and over, and over again to ride with them.

Mini cheer for Uncle G who also indulged my daughters’ multiple requests for him to be their responsible plus one.

Team building continued at It’s A Small World. Let’s be honest: once through is great, cheerful, joyous and, yes, I’ll say it: pleasant. Two, three, four times?Its

I lost count of how many times Miss S and Miss C rode the 20-minute ride, but Grandma was definitely a good sport.

Historical side note: my mum and her family went on the ride when it debut in the New York World’s Fair in 1964 at the UNICEF pavilion under the name: Children of the World.

In the no rhyme or reason category, a ride Miss S enjoyed, but her sisters did not, was the Haunted Mansion. She ain’t afraid of no ghosts… unless they’re in our basement.

aAutopia was our pint-sized Danica Patricks’ absolute favourite. Even though she was a hair too short to work both the gas and the wheel, it was the only ride Miss S wanted to do on our last day.

We tried twice, once in the early morning, and once at dusk, and both times after waiting 20 and 40 minutes, the ride was closed because a “wild animal was on the tracks.”

Ironically, Disney’s “wild animal” was – wait for it – a Canada goose.

Apparently it’s not Disney’s policy to run them over.

However, because we’d been goosed twice, we were able to walk straight to the front of the line at 10pm.

Watching Miss Q drive off, alone, into the full-moon Saturday night gave me pause, or rather, a reason to step on the gas. This move reignited Miss S’s cackles of glee as she held the wheel and expertly steered after her sister.

Nine more years, Mr. Toad, nine more years.

A side note about Autopia: it stinks. The fumes from the “gas powered by Honda” cars are plentiful, and possibly the reason Disney has tucked a smoking pit next door. Hopefully Honda will soon take a cue from the fact the ride is in Tomorrowland, and splurge for those new-fangled electric cars everyone is talking about.

In four-year-old land, Miss C started her vacation by telling me she did not like Disneyland. “I’m not going to like any of the rides you know.” She punctuated this by crossing her arms and frowning.

Her displeasure with Disney melted like Olaf in summer on the Dumbo ride. She loved that big-eared elephant so much she bought herself a stuffed baby Dumbo and now thinks I’m crazy for thinking she said she didn’t like Disneyland.

Seeing Disney through the eyes of a nine, six and four year old was enough for this mum. In my dreams, the trip was never as grand as what it became.

We couldn’t have created this reality without a massive boost from my mum-in-law, and for that we are eternally grateful.

The chorus of the diamond celebration parade is When can we do this again?

And, my friends, I’m not sure we ever could.

lin

60Seven miles. This is the minimum distance we walked while in Disneyland and California Adventure. Yes, that says miles.

While most families were getting an early start to the park, leaving at lunch and returning after dinner, this family arrived around 9:30am, and staying long after dusk. No siestas. No meltdowns. No strollers. No wheelchairs. Nothing. Nada.

On our last day my Fitbit tracked 10.6 miles. We came in at 7:00am, Miss C, my husband and his mum left after the parade, while and Miss Q, Miss S and I stayed until 11pm.

Indulge me for a wee moment: we have the most amazing kids ever.

Of course it’s easy when you’re in the happiest place on earth, and everywhere you turn there’s something around every corner for your kids to do, eat or see.

We had five-day passes. This meant we picked which park we wanted to go into and stayed there all day. It worked out really well, and my only regret was not upgrading to an annual pass so we could return tomorrow.

We were in Disneyland on Tuesday, May 17th, Wednesday, May 18th and Saturday, May 21st.

The crowds were light on Tuesday and Wednesday and heavy on Saturday, thanks to the grads, combining with the usual weekend busy. But overall we never felt squashed or deprived.

Like any good mum, before we left, I tried to research all the ins and outs of Disneyland: where to go, what to see, how to be the master of FastPasses. But in the end, I had to stop. All the tips and tricks were hurting my head. There are many, many, many different ways to see Disney. For this mama, figuring it out as we meandered through the park was the only way to go.

Having said that, we used four FastPasses: twice for Splash Mountain, once for Soaring Over California and once for Radiator Springs Racers.

Though I wouldn’t plan days around them, I would say it was a lot of fun passing the line of people who’d been waiting for the same ride for over an hour.

A lot of fun.cc

Revisiting the food situation, we went to Target almost directly after we arrived and bought bottled water, boxes of tea, and some snacks for the week.

It costs $10 one-way to Target by taxi from the Best Western Park Place and though it was nice to have the bottled water, really nice, you can also get free ice water from the snack places in Disneyland, so this trip may have been excessive.  But we had tea, and probably should have bought carrots.

Every day we went into the park my husband’s backpack was filled with five bottles of water, and bagels and cream cheese from the hotel’s continental breakfast. Security didn’t seem to mind his extra cargo; in fact, it was yours truly who kept getting asked to step out of line and stroll through the metal detector.

On our last day, I found the source to the containers of grapes I’d seen people snacking upon: Main Street Starbucks. For $4.99US you could purchase containers of real-live produce.

I felt like the Oprah of red jewels as I doled out containers of fruit to outstretched hands. You get grapes, and you get grapes, and you get grapes.

Souvenir wise, the sweatshirts we got the girls pretty much sums up their experiences: Miss C got Elsa, Miss S got Belle and Miss Q got Chewbacca.

All I wanted were silhouettes of the girls from Silhouette Studios on Main Street. Not to sound like a used car salesman, but they were a super deal: $9US for two copies of the portrait. For $23US more you can have them framed in a Disney frame that has 24 hidden Mickey’s in it.

I may have said ‘no’ to the frame, returned to my hotel room, instantly regretted that ‘no’ and sped-walked through the parade crowds to the store to buy the frames at 10pm.

Every time I pass the silhouettes on the wall, I am thankful I had that burst of crazy. They are lovely.

To make them, the girls took turns sitting in a wooden chair and staring at the wall. The woman who did the silhouettes sat in her chair, looked at the girls’ profiles and snip-snip-snip was done. Skeptical Sally might wonder if they actually looked like the girls and I will confirm: we have three different silhouettes that look exactly like our girls.

Have I mentioned we all want to go back?  But, Miss S tells me we need to wait until she turns ten. Not sure why, ten, but we’ve got three years to save.

disney

Mum Travelling Tip:

  • Pack clean Ziplock bags. I don’t know why I tossed them into my suitcase in the first place, but they were very handy for holding bagels.

JediIt’s a proud day when your youngling signs up for Jedi Academy. Prouder still when she is green lightsaber to red lightsaber with the one and only: Darth Vader.

We used our one-day-only, early entry to the park (7am) to beat the Saturday morning crowds and sign Miss Q up for the Trials of the Temple show in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.

This free experience was for kids 4 -12, which left at least two disappointed adults in the crowd. Miss S and Miss C were given the option, but chose to cheer from the safety of the audience.Jedi 3

Before showtime, my husband dropped Miss Q off with the Jedi’s, while I staked out our front row seats, hoping the Jedi’s wouldn’t lose my child.

Grandma and Miss C chose to sit under the umbrella covered tables, which was smart, as sitting for 30 minutes on the cement was a toasty experience.

At 10:30 sharp, the Star Wars fanfare began.

Music certainly likes to call the lump to my throat, as that, combined with the rows of future Jedi’s cloaked in brown and green robes parading onto the stage threatened to release the mama tears.

Jedi1Hood on, Miss Q walked in front of us and took her spot as the main actors started their script: Now that the Empire has driven the Jedi to the distant corners of the galaxy, the training must proceed in secret at ancient Jedi temples.

Miss Q received a green light saber. She learned how to block, duck, and strike. They then used the Force to lift the stage. Smoke billowed and the ground rumbled as it rose. It was quite the visual.

Jedi2Suddenly out strode Darth Vader. Like the real Darth Vader. Like he looked as though he’d just walked out of the movie, Darth Vader.

I waited for my little padawan to shrink, but she looked amused.

The Seventh Sister followed Vader out of the lair. She swung her red lightsaber skillfully and menacingly at the audience.

After some conversation, the Seventh Sister took her spot on the cement in front of us, while Vader took centre stage. The Jedi younglings split into two groups and used their new knowledge to fight the villains one at a time.

VaderMiss Q went sneaker to boot with Darth Vader in the centre of the stage. She masterfully blocked his attack. Each time he swung his lightsaber it sounded like, well, a lightsaber. Within 30 seconds the battle between good and evil was over. Good prevailed. Miss Q took her spot off stage.

Regrouping after their individual fights, the Jedi younglings used the force to push Vader and the Seventh Sister back to whence they came.

But the battle wasn’t over as the actor Jedi Knight in training still needed to learn how to calm her mind. Out of a cloud of smoke jumped Kylo Ren who tried to tempt her to the Dark Side.Kylo

Together, the younglings helped her use the Force to push Kylo out of her mind and seal up the den.

Victory. All of the Jedi younglings received a pin for their efforts and were released back to their adults.

Pin or no pin, Miss Q was pretty pleased with the entire experience.

Sorry, Vader, it appears the Force is strong with this one.

Ariel’s Grotto

Before we left Victoria, I made reservations for lunch at Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure. Like everything on this trip, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was Ariel’s Grotto was the only spot in both theme parks where one could meet Ariel, and dine with her princess friends.

It sounded like an amazing experience for our girls, so I ignored the $$$ symbols beside the restaurant reviews and booked it Dan-o.

Food seemed to be the hardest thing to conquer our entire trip. Our hotel’s continental breakfast was efficient, and allowed us to take bagels and cream cheese into the theme parks for our girls to snack on, but eight days of choosing from the same eggs pressed into circles, cereal and baked goods wore thin.

In the theme parks themselves, the food was decent, but other than Mickey and Miss S’ approved meal: a bag of goldfish crackers, a bag of carrots, a bag of apple slices, a banana, one yoghurt drink and a container of milk for $5.99US, our vegetable intake was few and far between.

The only tip I’d read about Ariel’s Grotto was everyone attending the restaurant had to line-up and meet Ariel before going to their seats. So when our pager went off, I told my husband take everyone to the spiral staircase while I checked in. This little action put us ahead of about ten families, and apparently didn’t matter as it was assigned seating, but still: small victories.

To be honest, I expected Ariel to be in full tail sitting on a rock, so when I saw her with sea legs, in her blue gown in front of a curtain, it felt like a missed opportunity for Disney, but the girls didn’t care. They happily made small talk, smiled for the photographer and followed our host to our table; where they were given paper crowns, jewel stickers and the requisite crayons.

With such a bounty of children’s activities bestowed upon us, we were tricked into thinking this was a leisurely lunch, and were puzzled when the waiter approached our table three times in the span of five minutes to take our order.

It quickly became clear our waiter was just trying to help us help ourselves, as we were the only table without the first course when the squire announced Belle’s arrival. Yes, we were on the experience’s timeline, not ours.

Miss S didn’t care about the food, she was in princess heaven watching her favourite princess swirl to the front, curtsy, then dance with the squire.  As Belle twirled off to greet her luncheon guests, we quickly scanned our menus and placed our orders.

It is worth mentioning that no prices were listed, but when in Grotto…right?

The food was delicious: three courses of yum that included our first real servings of vegetables in five days. I had salad, beef, mashed potatoes, and gave Uncle G my asparagus: my taste buds were in heaven.

Miss S became our table’s head princess greeter. Between bites of her plain noodles, she leapt to hug each princess as they checked in.

Prince Charming – er – Uncle G worked his magic with the ladies in costume, kindly volunteering his services to act as the buffer between them and Miss C. By the time the fourth princess, Tiana, came out, Miss C had joined Miss S in a cautious princess heaven.

Miss Q reminded me of Prince John from Robin Hood with her crooked crown and sideways applause as if to say: amuse me princesses.

Desert was a three-plate sampler. For the kids: blue Jello, a cookie and chocolate dipped strawberry. For the adults: s’mores, crème brulee, and a chocolate dipped strawberry.

Then the bill arrived.

All I could do was laugh, after my minor heart attack.

If I had known in advance that it was $40 a plate for the adults and $24 a plate for the kids? Oh heck, we probably would have still given the girls the experience, but like the wand, paying $328.51US ($433.63 Canadian) was a major sticker shock. However, there were seven people eating, we were on vacation, and the girls enjoyed themselves.

What more could you ask for?

CACalifornia Adventure was so empty, on Thursday, May 19th, that we were seven (Uncle G was now with us) of maybe thirty people strolling Buena Vista Street. The park was our apple, and we had only a vague idea of what the “must sees” were.

Our first stop was Elsa and Anna’s Royal Welcome. It’s the only place where you can meet the royal duo, and Miss C was ready.

Dressed in her fanciest Elsa dress, hair braided, Miss C was all chatter as we joined a rather short line-up around 10am. Thankfully the experience is inside an air-conditioned building, as around 11:15 we were finally ushered into the royal home. It was the longest we had to wait for anything in six days of theme parks.

Waiting + anticipation + seeing the princesses live and in person = one overwhelmed four-year-old. Miss C couldn’t bring herself to look at them; she was in such shock and awe. Thus, our picture with the princesses is of me, smiling at the camera, and Miss C’s back, as she buried her face into my shoulder.

Miss S, on the other hand almost burst when, after saying good-bye to Elsa and Anna, we rounded the corner and walked straight into Olaf. How Olaf didn’t melt under her enormous hug is beyond me.

The building also contained Belle’s Library, Turtle Talk with Crush and the Animation Studio.

At Belle’s Library you can take a quiz as to what fairytale character you’re most like. Guess who got Ursula? (Insert dramatic pause while you guess.)

We went to Turtle Talk twice. On our second visit, Crush asked Uncle G who he was with. “My three nieces,” he replied. After some human to animated turtle bonding, Uncle G asked Crush if he ever hung out with the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. Crush deftly ducked that wrong franchise question, and moved to the next child in the audience.

AnimationWatching my nine-year-old, who loves to draw, take direction from a real-live animator in the Disney Animation Studio, was almost too much. Miss Q and her grandma could have stayed at the studio all day. As it was, they spent a good hour learning how to draw Baymax, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and my favourite, the Cheshire Cat.

Everywhere we turned in the park, we found something cool or amazing to do or see.  Surprisingly, we all took a giant pass on the Tower of Terror, but Uncle G and Miss C leapt onto the more tame Jumping Jellyfish.  Jumping

Miss C became the resident dare-devil, or test-pilot, depending on your perspective.  Often after she tried something, her sisters, seeing that she landed safely, would then join the line-up.

We walked onto Mickey’s Fun Wheel, in record time, thanks to a park worker randomly handing us a front of the line pass. Let’s just say, Mickey’s Fun Wheel looks a lot smaller from the ground. From the top, everyone looked like ants.

In a ‘take one for the team’ moment, Uncle G said yes to California Screamin’. His nieces enjoyed watching him zoom and hang upside down. I took pictures for my mum in case she needed a few more grey hairs.California

At Bug’s Life, we made the fatal flaw of allowing our children to get soaked in Princess Dot’s Puddle Pad at 4:30 in the afternoon without a change of clothes or running shoes. It was so hot, and they’ll dry out, we thought. So they didn’t? The wind picked up, and the World Of Colour laser light show wasn’t until 9pm. Hooray for Starbucks, with hot chocolate!

The girls’ favourite ride in Bug’s Life was Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em buggies. Like Jumping Jellybeans, the ride felt like it lasted 30 seconds, but it was a good bumper car driving lesson.

California Adventure was where we had our second celebrity sighting of the trip. As we walked off the Monster’s Inc ride, three teenaged girls excitedly asked if they could get a picture. As they weren’t talking to me, and the plaza we stood in was virtually empty, I looked around to see what the big deal was.

Kim Kardashian, her daughter North and niece Penelope were checking out a kiosk under the supervision of a plaid coat Disney employee. The only thing I would note is that after been at a theme park all day, KK looked more put together than this mum.

California Adventure was created to showcase the state of California Adventure. Our west coast blood found immediate kinship with the Pacific Wharf section, and our taste buds, and wallets, were happy for the free samples of sour dough and chocolate. Seriously wish I could live off of only sour dough and chocolate…

Many have asked us which theme park was better: California Adventure or Disneyland. The jury is undecided amongst our travelers. I suspect, though feel slightly stingy saying so, that California Adventure might have been a mouse whisker better for our kids. It was filled with all the Pixar movie characters, had Miss Q’s favourite ride: Grizzly River Run, and there was an overall relaxed vibe you really couldn’t beat.

Ursula

So I see unique possibilities bubbling in my cauldron. Who doesn’t?

HogwartsWe had Miss Q at Hogwarts. She could have begun and ended her vacation right then and there at Universal Studios Harry Potter World. There was the Hogwarts Express, butterbeer, and Hogwarts itself perched high on a hill.

The details were all too real, too amazing for even this 39-year-old to describe; but I’ll try!

From the magic zipping around Zonkos, ringing bells, moving curtains, to the ornate carvings on the sides of the buildings, we had truly entered J.K. Rowling’s imagination and it was all so very, very good.

When Miss S saw the pygmy puffs in Zonkos she knew she had to have one. I tried to talk her out of yet another stuffy, but she insisted, after all, her favourite character, Ginny, has one.  (Purple, his name is Arnold.)

She picked out a purple pygmy puff and brought it to the ornate counter. One sales-wizard placed a large bell in front of the sales-wizard who was serving us.

Our sales-wizard asked Miss S her name.

Miss S told her.

Our sales-wizard asked what the pygmy puff’s name was.

Miss S said she didn’t have one picked yet.

The sales-wizard told Miss S that pygmy puffs spent their nights cleaning boogers and earwax from their owner’s ears.

Enlightening.

The sales-wizard then rang the over-sized bell three times and called for everyone in the crowded store’s attention.

The store went silent. Even the magic stopped whizzing around.

The sales-wizard cleared her throat and said, “Can I have your attention in the store please. Can I have your attention? This is (Miss S) and she is adopting this pygmy puff, which will be named at a later date. (Miss S) promises to look after her, feed her, and give her water every day. Can I get a round of applause for (Miss S)?” The whole store broke out into cheers for Miss S, whose chest puffed out about a mile.

It was my turn to be a puddle of verklempt at all the kindness being bestowed upon my beautiful beaming daughter and her new pet.

Apparently Harry Potter World had one goal and that was to fill my mum heart until it was about to burst.

The peak of Miss Q’s vacation was when, out of a crowd of twenty, she was chosen by the Ollivander in his wand shop to have a wand choose her.Wands

I was waiting for her to shy away, but she strode through the dimly lit shop to the desk and answered all his questions with a giant grin and zero hesitation.  She was in heaven.

Ollivander pulled the first wand out of its box, described in great detail its features, and handed it to Miss Q, asking her to hold it up to the ceiling.

No sooner had she held up the wand, then the room erupted in thunder and lighting. Ollivander quickly took the wand away from her, saying it was much too powerful.  Miss Q nodded in agreement and looked a little relieved to hand the wand back.

Finding another wand and describing its inner craftsmanship, Ollivander asked Miss Q to pick it up.

This time he had her perform a spell.

She did and all the bells in the room rang.

Laughing they put the wand back in the box, agreeing it wasn’t her wand, and Ollivander searched his shop high and low for the wand that wanted to be Miss Q’s.

He found one on a high up shelf, blew off the dust, and presented it to Miss Q, saying at this wand’s core was ivy; a wand for nature lovers.

Miss Q was asked to take it from the box and hold it up in the air.

As soon as she took the wand a white spotlight shone down on her, wind blew up from below her and a choir sang.

I kept waiting for the director to yell, “CUT.” It was so Hollywood.

Miss Q’s smile couldn’t get any bigger as the dear wand maker fussed over her and the wand that had chosen her.

Everyone clapped for Miss Q. Ollivander asked Miss Q’s family to stay behind as the rest of the crowd was ushered out of the room.

It is then that I began to wonder how much this wand was, but oh no, Ollivander just wanted to meet Miss Q and her family. He told her how special the wand was and then left us in his assistant’s capable hands.

The assistant, I thought. He will be the one to lower the price boom.

But no, the assistant examined the wand and gushed over the fact Miss Q was very special to have been picked and this wand was powerful.

We were then handed off to another assistant as we walked out of Ollivander’s shop and into the gift shop. Ah, this was the rub!

The THIRD employee we were passed along to gushed over the wand that had chosen Miss Q. She pulled it out of the box, examined it from all angles as Ollivander and his assistant had, then put it back in it’s case.  She then smoothly turned the case around and said, “Now, this wand is $47 (and some change).”

My husband and I looked at each other. Miss Q was already flying through the air on her broomstick with her wand… It had chosen her, after all.

Oh, we’d been chosen.

But if your child is Harry Potter’s number one fan, AND has just been chosen; had three characters, including the one and only Ollivander gush over the fact she’d been chosen. Have I mentioned she was chosen?! You’ll pay anything to hold onto the moment.

Precisely $47US – this is why I work, my friends. This is why I work.

But can I also add a cynical: seriously, Universal Studios?? You couldn’t have a cheaper wand or, hey, since three adults have now gushed to this young Potterhead, a free wand? You could do that, right?

Okay, snark over, I will say that in spite of my feelings for the marketing tactics of Universal, watching your daughter realize her dreams was another one of those verklempt moments. I was overcome with joy for my beautiful, deserving child.

The wand that chose Miss Q actually performed magical feats throughout Harry Potter’s World. So it was useful.

There were spots throughout the area that if she stood on a brass cap in the cobblestone, and followed the movement etched in the metal caps, along with saying the magic words, whatever she was pointing at would either flip on/off or stop/start moving.Foot

Miss Q was impressed with how well she and her wand worked together. She’d watch other kids struggle with their magic lessons, then step up to the plate and knock the spell out of the park. “My wand’s more powerful than I thought.” She’d beam.

Back in the hotel room, my computer cord fell onto the floor after Miss Q had uttered a spell and pointed at it.  I swore she saw me coil it back up, but she whispered another spell, saw the cord had re-coiled and was so proud her gift continued outside of the park.

Harry Potter World was definitely the saviour of our Universal Studio’s trip. And though I got an epic brain freeze, the butterbeer was absolutely delish.

Mum Notes From The Road:

  • Southern California bus tours was the way to go. Had a tour through LA on the way to Universal.
  • Lesson learned, Universal Studios was definitely an adult theme park. Miss C was too young with Miss S coming in a close second.
  • Universal has A.C. Slater live and in person. Hubba hubba.  There was a rumour Skreech was there too.  Not so hubba hubba.

 

Universal Studios was our first theme park stop, so Monday morning we stood in front of our hotel waiting for the tour bus. Miss S was particularly giddy when she saw that it was a double-decker bus. Yes, we hail from Little Britain here in Victoria, where double-decker busses are commonplace, but she’s never been on one, and has desperately wanted to. This was her chance to sit up high and watch the world go by, or as we soon learned, spy down on six to eight lanes of traffic, depending on the highway we were on. But it was a great view.

Universal Studios did not disappoint in star sightings.  We walked down the red carpet, through the iron gates and voila: A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) was filming EXTRA right there in the main gate! My husband and mother-in-law would not have used an exclamation mark. I, on the other hand was told to take my picture and move along by a bouncer. AC

Scooby Doo, Curious George, and Woody Woodpecker were all wandering Main Street. Miss C was not impressed. In fact it is here that we lost our four-year-old. Oh not literally, thank goodness, but mentally.

She was so very overwhelmed by these walking creatures, that for all of our first shots of Universal, she is buried into my neck.

DonkeyBy the time we stumbled upon Shrek and Donkey’s show, Miss C was a hot mess. So while Miss Q told Donkey that Miss S was evil, and he subsequently listed all of Miss S’s evil powers, in his Eddie Murphy donkey voice; Miss C was with my husband being soothed with logic and keeping her distance from anyone wearing a costume.

Thankfully Miss C recovered in time for us to have a moment as we strolled through the gates of Harry Potter World. We had arrived. HPW

The first and only ride we did in Harry Potter World was ‘The Flight of the Hippogriff’.

Here’s the break down: after bowing deeply to the hippogriff we passed on the way up the ‘small’ hill, the rest of the 60 second ride was intense, filled with pull your heart out through your back circles.

Miss Q loved it; Miss S was curled up in a ball shrieking with fear.  It took me the rest of the morning, a box of popcorn and a Gravol to recover.

All I could gasp to Miss S was, “You should be proud of yourself for trying that ride. It’s over. It’s over, and you never have to do it again. But you can say you rode it now.”

Harry made riding hippogriffs look so easy.

We decided to recover from the Hippogriff by taking the always friendly, Studio Tour on those gentle trams.

Seriously, people, the last time I went on that ride, and I’m not sure one could call it a ride, we were toured through the Leave It To Beaver houses, saw the giant phone from Honey I Shrunk the Kids, said hello to Jaws, experienced a little avalanche and an earthquake. Badda-bing, badda-bang.

For some reason, all three of us adults missed the part that said the backlot tour had changed: for the better if you’re my husband and mother-in-law, annnnd, for the absolute pit of the worst for Miss C and Miss S. This ride for our four and six year old was an EPIC FAIL.

They spent ¾ of the ride, ears covered, tears streaming down their cheeks, shaking with fear. Miss C was wedged between Miss Q and I, while my mother-in-law comforted Miss S, who had her head buried in her hat and had once again folded in half, resuming the crash position.

What made it such a fail for a 4 and 6 year-old:

  1. The 3-D glasses that they dawned in the first dark space. Where they saw dinosaurs peacefully eating the fauna, where we were told we were looking at Skull Island, as in King Kong, where King Kong is no-longer a banana breathing animatronics, but a 3-D fighter who throws dinosaurs at the tram and then the dinos do what 3-D dinos do best as they fight a 3-D over grown ape.
  2. The 3-D Fast and The Furious finale. Where we were enclosed in another dark tube and found ourselves in the middle of a car chase/gun fight with explosions going off and if you looked at the road it felt like the tram was flipping, not that any of the girls were looking at this point.

All you could do was laugh, because jumping off the tram with your kids as propane tanks explode around you and the roof collapses in a simulated earthquake is frowned upon. I kept looking back at my husband shaking my head. What. Had. We. Done.

Miss C and Miss S were on such eggshells after that ride that we couldn’t stay in Simpsonland, the tram ride’s neighbour, because every so often that area would have a nuclear meltdown and while Miss Q enjoyed it, it was terrifying for the littlest littles.

Thankfully ice cream soothed all frayed nerves.  And we found Minions who never fail to make our girls giggle.

 

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