Florida part ll: Gatorland & Universal Studios

sorry it's taken a couple weeks to post these next two Florida posts. between school, Dylan, my business and trying to keep my house looking like a bomb hasn't gone off, i have had almost no time.

warning. this post and the next one are going to be overloaded with photos. i hope you are okay with that :)

so once we got to Florida, we were exhausted. it was 11:30pm by the time we got to our Marriott so we went right to sleep.

the next morning, we decided to go to Gatorland. i am terrified of alligators, but love to look at them, and Brett is the same way. we had already planned out our trip and the days we were doing Universal Studios and Disneyworld and that left us a couple of days to do what we wanted. and yep, we decided to go see what you can only see in the south. gators.

so as we left our hotel, honestly, the humidity hits you like a wave of water, except its a wave of heat and wet air. you can barely breathe if you aren't used to it. i haven't been there since our honeymoon, so i honestly forgot how bad it is. both of us were instantly sweating, and it was only 10am. we looked at the forecast and it was 82 degrees (and rising) with 99% humidity. we were in for a treat with the exact same weather for the next week.

this place was extremely ghetto looking. it's kinda sad. i wish i would've taken a photo of the outside. but, once you are in there it was pretty nice. and oh my gosh they did not lie when they said it was a land full of gators! there were hundreds and hundreds of them.

gross huh. it was crazy. they had a feeding ground (right above) where you could buy food and feed the gators. it was crazy to just see them crawl on top of one another to get to the food. and they were super aggressive. and there were some really scary birds there too. they weren't part of the park, but they were there trying to eat the food the people were throwing at the gators. i tried getting pictures or photos of them but honestly they were fearless and i thought they were going to stab my eyes out with their foot-long beaks if i did anything to offend them. just picture deformed vultures with almost no feathers. super creepy right? 

they also had a lot of different overlooks and shows that you could watch them tackle the gators, hold them, and teach you about them. 

this guy was pretty much suicidal. i think he is an owner of the place because he was in all of the shows and was the host at all of them as well. but he sat on the back of this gator (there are about 100 below him in a river surrounding this sand pit) and he is holding the gators mouth open with his chin. he is flat-out crazy. but it made for good entertainment. they also had shows about huge snakes and reptiles down there. it made me really grateful to live anywhere but in swampland.

speaking of swamps, Gatorland is huge. and a huge part of it is swamps where they breed the gators and keep the ones that are injured or hurt. they have walkways and pathways around the swamps. they were beautiful and super green. is that weird to call a swamp pretty? oh well. see for yourself.

right? i told you. and just ignore my makeup literally melting off my face. that is how i looked this entire vacay. what can you do? anyways, we loved walking through them even though it was SO hot, like 10 degrees hotter than out of the swamp, it was beautiful. we spent probably half the time in those just looking around and seeing gators all around in the water. it was scary but fun. and hot.

and then there was this guy...

talk about hide yo kids, hide yo wife right? or dogs i should say. seriously this guy was massive! the photos don't do him justice. although i was quite sad for him, his little cage was like 3 feet by 3 feet. sad, but maybe that's what you get for eating people's pets?

so that was our day at Gatorland. that night we went to the hotel pool to cool off and explore the place since we had melted the entire day. we were obsessed with our hotel. if we ever go back (which we will someday) we are staying there. they had fun stuff for guests every night, and that night they brought out a huge blow-up screen to the pool and played a movie and they roasted smore's too. it was so fun. no pics, sorry.

the next morning we woke up as early as we could bare (changing time zones is hard. we never got our sleeping schedules right, so getting up at 8 was excruciating because it felt like 6am) and got on our way to Universal. another bonus about our hotel, it was only 15 minutes from every park. it was awesome. but i wanted to get some good photos of the outside of our hotel so i could remember it:

to say this place is big is an understatement. this is just one side of it. it had at least 10 different buildings full of rooms, it's own lighthouse, boats to rent to ride around that pond on, 12 different pools and hot tubs, a full spa, game room with xbox's (no Brett didn't play) and wii's and tons of games and 4 on-site resaraunts. it was amazing. granted, we were way too busy to use any of it, but it was cool they had it all.

anyways, back to our day. we got to Universal and we were so excited. the parking isn't bad at all, and we got there early so we weren't parked super far away from the park (although they rob you blind with parking rates. $20 per day. ugh). but once we got into the park, our honeymoon just came right back. i was surprised at how familiar it all seemed (besides the part that wasn't there when we went there aka Harry Potter World).

when we got to the big Universal world ball, i remembered we had taken a picture right by it. so we had someone take one of us again. we hadn't realized how much they had changed it since we had been there last (the ball was way bigger and closer to the newer fence). kinda fun to compare though. we did it with some other places too as you will see.

after we took photos (along with everyone else in the park) we headed to the Island's of Adventure part of the park (we bought one day there and the next day was to be Universal Studios. dumb how they make it two separate tickets but whatev). and they have this cool app that tells you the wait time for all the rides. and i kid you not guys, we didn't wait longer than 20 minutes for any ride in either of these parks, except for the brand new Harry Potter ride that opened like a month before we had gotten there. we waited 2 hours for that one. and Disneyworld we waited 40 minutes for only one ride and the rest it was 20 or less. if you ever plan to go on a theme park vacation, go over Labor Day weekend. it was so worth every penny since we rode each ride multiple times. it was awesome.

so we checked the app throughout the day and obviously went to the rides with the least wait times. we both had remembered going on the Storm (from X-men) ride and since there was no wait we went on that one first. i love rides like this, the ones where you spin around. Brett isn't such a fan. but he was a good sport. you wouldn't even know it from the video evidence. all he is worried about is his phone. my nerdy husband ha. i just love him.

after that we headed to the Hulk which is right next door. it's massive but so much fun.

we went a few times. then headed all around Island's of adventure and rode lots of different rides and made our way to Hogsmeade. i was dying to get there. yep i'm a nerd. i was practically skipping all the way there.

this choir literally sang 4 different long songs. and they had to wear those dark cloaks. i felt way bad for them. i was dying and i was just in shorts and a t-shirt. 

we made it!!!!!!!

i may have gotten 3 of these in one day. i thought butterbeer was amazing. we got them cold everytime. Brett didn't really care for them. i am craving one as i type. yummmmm.

this happened when we were there on our honeymoon, only then it happened every single day. this only happened once while we were there. one minute it was sunny and nice, and the next it looked like a monsoon had hit. we were soaked to the bone. it was cool though, and didn't last very long.

waiting out the rain while we wait to get into spiderman.

we went on tons of other rides too, we just didn't get pictures. they had two Harry Potter rides in this park and they were both so much fun. one of them you kind of float around inside while Harry, Hermione and Ron talk you through. and the other one is called the Dueling Dragons. it's two rollercoasters that are right next to each other but do different things (if that makes sense). that was super fun. we rode it like 4 times. and that was our first day. by the end we were absolutely pooped. we were there from 9am until 7 that night. long but super fun day.

Monday (Labor Day) we went back and this time we went to the Universal Studios part of Universal Studios. oh we LOVED this park. and the best part? Diagon Alley. it was so cool! just look at the pictures :)

these are all photos from waiting in line for the Gringott's ride, and then inside. it was crazy walking in there. it was so realistic. these little goblins moved, looked around, blinked, everything. every single one of them. the one Brett and i snapped a quick pic with (the line was moving really fast at that point) he looked up and talked every minute or so. it was so realistic. i was dying. it was so cool. but don't worry, this ride was so not worth the wait time. i mean i think we would've waited regardless because it was brand new and i'm a huge Harry fan, but it lasted about 2 minutes and it was kinda boring. it was kind of cool to see all the actors acting like their characters again and doing things you hadn't seen them do before. 

now these are all outside of Gringott's and around Diagon Alley.

inside the Leaky Cauldrin where we ate lunch. super overpriced and not worth the amount we paid, but cool inside.

and this dragon here, we had no idea it spit fire. we had just gotten out of the wand shop (don't worry i didn't buy one, but i won't admit if i wanted too or not) and we noticed everyone staring up at the dragon on top of Gringott's. i got Brett's phone out and turned the camera on because everyone else had theirs on too, and just in time i got the shot of it spitting fire. it scared us because we weren't expecting it but it was cool to see.

they made Diagon Alley so fun and realistic. you really felt like you were there. and another cool thing about it was they have sensors all around the Alley and if you buy a wand, you can do different spells at different sensors and they do stuff (like turn on lights, make water come out of a fountain, stuff like that). everyone was doing them and it was fun to watch how excited little kids got when their spell worked. okay, even some grandma's were doing it. that was just funny.

this was so cool. this is the Knight bus that Ron, Hermione & Harry ride (i think it's the Prisoner of Azkaban). you see that little head, it talks. and it moves it's mouth as it talks. and it's head moves. just like in the movie. it's even the same voice. that "bus drive" standing by us would talk to it and told it our names and we had a conversation with it. i was really intrigued and thrilled, kinda like a 3 year old. i still have no idea how it was possible. it was magic.

now moving on from Harry Potter's land. and on to Universal and the studios. we rode the Mummy 8 times throughout the day. it was our favorite ride there. it has good drops, and it's super fast and fun. i miss it.

Back to the Future Car and Train:

my score in Men in Black. i beat Brett. i had to document that i beat him in a shooting game.

so they sold these nasty E.T.'s there when we were on our honeymoon. as you can see, we were still thrilled they still sold them. no idea how they are making any sort of profit off that guy.

i am sad they got rid of the Jaws ride. that thing made me pee a little last time we were there. but, they still had the shark.

i am sad i didn't get a picture of the Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster (so i had to steal the one above, thank you google). but this rollercoaster was so much fun. we didn't go on it until the very end of the day, and we wish we would've gone earlier. each seat has it's own speakers and you choose a song from a list of 10 or 20 and they are all hard rock and it plays as you go on the ride. it was so cool. i chose Evanescence "Bring Me to Life" and it went perffectly with the flow of the coaster. coing straight up was slow and steady, and right as we got to where it drops you the guitar and drums came in and it got me all psyched. sounds lame but it was so cool. loved this ride.

and that's a wrap for our last day in Universal Studios. it was so much fun, but by the time the second day was done, we were ready for a day break before we started Disneyworld. we couldn't have had any more fun. we just loved it. my next post will be our beach day and our two days at Mickey's land :)