The day began early for the sousaphone and drum line…report time was 6am. The instruments had to be taken from the storage room and brought to the busses for a 7:15 departure to the Hard Rock Cafe for breakfast. The report time for the rest of the group was 6:45. Chaperones diligently knocked on doors, woke their charges up while others stayed on the floors to roust the slow pokes. With busses loaded we were off.
Breakfast consisted of (you guessed it) scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries and French toast sticks. Of course, there was also juice, tea, coffee and biscuits. We were entertained by a HRC staff member who asked trivia questions, first about the Hard Rock and then about Londonderry. In anticipation of the band coming to breakfast, this staff member had done some research about our town. Students were able to correctly answer that Londonderry introduced the potato as well as other questions. Our host was quite impressed with our crew.
We had a full day with our park hopper pass and were able to visit both Universal Studios and Island of Adventure. Harry Potter is in the building, and what a building it is. As we walked through Jurassic Park we were treated to the joyful site of Hogsmead, the fictional town Harry and his friends visit when not at Hogwarts. But then we turned around and there is a magnificent structure…the castle that is Hogwarts. Inside no expense has been spared. There are pictures on the walls, but not the pictures we muggles are used to seeing. No, these pictures are pictures that move and have conversations with those who hang nearby, or pass nearby, as we did upon our entry to the ride. The wait was not long. This is not a busy week at the parks by any stretch of the imagination. For even the most popular rides the wait is less than 20 minutes. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lives up to the hype. The castle experience is breathtaking. The ride within the castle puts the rider on an imaginary broom. The rider swoops, pivots, dives and soars above and around Hogwarts, through a quiddich match, away from a dragon on the loose and bumps by Malfoy attempting to de-broom the rider, as they ride to the final destination, the room of requirement. The rider is, of course, successful, but the experience is one that made some of our Lancers wishing it were real! Besides all the food and candy, (Berthy Botts every flavor beans, chocolate frogs) there is delicious butterbeer. It can be purchased cold or like a smoothly, frozen. Both ways are a delight to the pallet. Olivander has a wand shop and of course there is a joke shop. The window of the joke shop features a student throwing up into a bucket, which can be done to avoid classes with the taste of one of Fred and George’s concoctions.
Jurassic Park boasts a river cruise that takes the rider though the jungle and into the restricted area where the velociraptor is loose. There is a chase during which the boat climbs a high “mountain” only to plunge into the river drenching those inside. Body drying stations are available for just $5 a session.
The Lancers were given 2 food coupons for Universal, one for lunch nd one for dinner, different than the $30 food cards they had at Disney. The food coupons listed the restaurants the students could go to (which included BubbaGump, the NASCAR restaurant, the NBA restaurant, among others) or there were buffet type places were they could get a sandwich, burger, chicken tenders and fries, a drink and a cookie.
Sally and Bill Young, retirees, recent of Londonderry, found out we were going to be here and drove the hour from their Florida home to see the performances yesterday and the parade today. They are enamored with the music program and it was obvious they miss the opportunity to see the band at football games or in the gym, even if it means enduring the uncomfortable bleachers for the concert. Another woman from Nashua was pleasantly surprised to see the band, a neighbor from home, here at Universal as part of the afternoon’s daily parade. She said that she was surprised by the size of the band, commenting that she didn’t think there were that many people in Londonderry. The band rejoined the others in the park after changing back into street clothes. There was still two+ hours before the busses were to return and there was still more fun to have at the park.
A bunch of people had dinner at BubbaGump remembering the great fun they’d had there when they were in Baltimore. Others ate in the park so as to maximize ride time. Still others just relaxed in the park like setting in front of the “city hall” or played frisbee.
8:45 arrived and the masses descended on the exit to be sorted into bus assignments and counted before the walk back to the parking lot. Once aboard the bus students were informed that they were allowed to swim until 10:30 (when the pool closes) and that room checks would begin at 10:45. Tomorrow there are no performances. The Lancers will spend another day on the Universal properties and end the day with Cirque de Soleil.
NEW PICTURES ADDED TO THE SLIDE SHOW