Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 4- Universal Studios

I have to this point in the vacation I was beginning to feel a little like it wasn't a vacation anymore.  The heat was almost unbearable, there were long lines everywhere we went and I was sick of sweating!!  Ha!  Isn't a vacation supposed to be relaxing??  So far, I hadn't really relaxed.  As most of you know, I am the Type A personality, the organizer, the one who makes sure we get everything done on "The List" and we don't miss a thing!  We had been going nonstop and by Thursday, I just wanted to spend the day at my friend's house, soaking in the rays by her pool.

However, we had an opportunity to go to Universal Studios for free (thanks to free passes from my friend!)  And I just felt we couldn't pass it up.  We figured, if the heat was too much or the lines were too long, we'd just leave- and be out no money.  I really didn't know that there would be much for Andrew to do there, but we proceeded with caution...
And we are so glad we did...
We had one of the best days of our vacation!  And there were tons of things for Andrew to enjoy!  We were pleasantly surprised.  We stopped at Cinnabon on the citywalk which leads to Universal Studios.
Andrew and daddy pretending to surf (at Citywalk)
We really didn't know much about what to do there, so as we walked in we just stumbled upon this... the Shrek 4D movie.  Yeah, I wondered what 4D meant, too.  It means not only do you wear 3D glasses to watch, but your seats move, too!
So you actually feel like you are on a ride.  This little guy finally wore his 3D glasses the whole way through (after much prompting and practicing during many shows at Disney!)  I think he finally realized it looked fuzzy without them!
Andrew thoroughly enjoyed the movie!  In fact, he wanted to see it again!  We had quite a time in the Shrek gift shop, too!  He had to pick between Donkey and Shrek, and I was surprised he picked Shrek.  He loves Donkey!  The Shrek ears were more for me-- I couldn't get over how cute they were!  Craig wouldn't let me buy them because apparently he thought Andrew would never wear them??
The best part was, on our way out of the movie...there stood Shrek and Princess Fiona (or "Mommy Shrek," as Andrew calls her!)  Donkey was even there, and he interacted with the people- it was so neat!  Andrew was the only kid who wanted to give Shrek a "big hug!"  Ha!
I had no idea that there were going to be characters there, too!  I thought we had seen it all at Disney.  Much to our delight, there were plenty more here at Universal!  (Remember, meeting the characters was one of our favorite things!)
Again, we were amazed to round the corner and see the Mystery Machine parked by the curb!  I ran over and about fell over when I saw Scooby and Shaggy there greeting kids!  We jumped in line just as the lady came around to shut the line down.  Whew!  Andrew has been introduced to Scooby Doo recently by his big cousin, Jack.  Jack loves Scooby Doo and you may recall that Andrew's first real nightmare occurred after we were at Grandpa and Grandma Huegel's one weekend and Andrew watched one of Jack's Scooby movies!  I kind of backed off Scooby for a while after that, but Andrew wouldn't have any of it.  He wanted Scooby everything after that- right down to Scooby fruit snacks!  I gave in and bought him a couple movies and he now watches it without nightmares.  Although I am a little reluctant to let him watch it right before bed.  Ha!
It was so neat, Scooby and Shaggy got in the Mystery Machine and drove away, right down the main drag!  It was too cool!
The characters seemed to make more of a "grand entrance" at Universal than they did at Disney.  The next thing we knew, we were walking down the street and see this coming...
That's right, another one of Andrew's favorites!  This movie is dearly loved by him, it is already starting to skip because he watches it over and over.  The lion is his favorite character, and again, watching the joy spread across his face when he saw this was priceless!
He gave every single penguin and the lion a big hug!  He was completely in his element.
This picture cracks me up because the penguin was totally being naughty and bumping into me!  I kept falling forward and Andrew was getting a kick out of it!  Ha!
After our character fill (even though it wasn't over yet!) we made our way to the section of the park made more for kids (didn't know there was such a thing!)  They had a Woody Woodpecker roller coaster, which Andrew loved.  He just made the height requirement, which I couldn't believe!
It was actually a pretty big roller coaster with lots of hills and drops!  Andrew laughed the entire time.  He wanted to ride once with mommy and once with daddy!  I think he could have ridden it all day!
This was one of the neatest parts of the park for kids.  It was a Curious George themed splash park!  We had no idea this was here before we came, so we were not prepared with a swim suit for Andrew, but we improvised!  
It was so cute, it was the story book "Curious George Goes to Town," and the whole thing is set up like you are in the story.  There is a fountain with George and a truck and carnival car that kids could get in and play.  Then beyond that is the splash park.
It was too hot to not let him go in the water, so we just took off his shirt and away he went!  (The easy part of being a boy!  Ha!)
Kids could run in and out of the doors and go up and down 2 levels of splashing!  It was so fun!  I got more than a little nervous a couple times because Andrew moves at the speed of light!  I was so scared he was going to get lost!
You have no idea how good this must have felt!  I was dying to get in the water myself!  It was so hot!  Ha!
This was part of it as well, but no water here.  It was a giant "ball"room, where you could shoot balls across the room, slide and much more!
See Andrew and I on the balcony??  
Of course, another highlight!  Meeting George and Ted!  To say Andrew was overjoyed would be an understatement!  I think he saw every single character on our whole trip that he loves most.  Curious George has always been a favorite, since he was a baby in the NICU.  I have incorporated George into his room in subtle ways as well, and of course, we can't forget the Curious George 1st Birthday Bash!!  He is our little monkey, after all.
We stopped at a neat little diner to cool off and have lunch.  They had delicious burgers and fries, and we all shared a Root beer float!  We just had the best day!
After lunch we decided to hit a couple more of the "adult" things that kids could do.  Craig was excited to get to pose by the Back to the Future car!  Ha!
We only hesitated slightly to take Andrew on the E.T. and Jaws rides!  We really wanted to go on them, and he met the height requirements.  These are like, the most famous rides here!  I remember riding them as a kid, and I really wanted to see what they felt like as an adult!  They didn't let you take pictures on either ride, but we enjoyed them so much and Andrew wasn't scared at all!  Not even of the giant shark that jumped out of the water at him on the Jaws ride!
He is such a tough guy!  No more baby here!  He and daddy were pretending to be eaten by Jaws!  Ha!

It was so sweet, my very first student teacher I ever had (when I was practically a kid myself, and a relatively new teacher!  Ha!) lives in Florida now and just had a baby boy.  We have kept in contact over the years, mainly through my blog.  She is such a sweet person and wonderful teacher.  It's amazing she learned anything with me because it was only my 3rd year of teaching and we just had so much fun with my awesome class of 2nd graders!  It was a wonderful first experience of having a student teacher for me, because Amy was so good.  I have had plenty since and they had to work pretty hard to impress me after her!  Ha! 
Anyway, she contacted me and drove almost 2 hours to see us that afternoon!  It was so fun to meet her son, Liam.  He was such a sweet baby and so happy and cheerful, like his mama!  Andrew is thinking about something here...
That's right!  Put baby Liam in a choke hold!  Ha!  Poor kid!  He was doing it with love though, I'm sure he was just trying to give him a "big hug" like he'd been doing for 4 days of meeting characters!  Ha!
Anyway, thanks for making the long drive Amy, it was great seeing you!  Even though it made me feel old that you are old enough to have a baby!  Ha!
We headed back to my friend's house after our day at Universal and meeting Amy.  This is where we had the rest of our fun!  This is my best childhood friend, Carrie.  She knows me as well as anyone.  We have been friends since we were 8 years old.  I am so sad she lives so far away, but it was so fun to finally get to visit her in Florida and stay with her!
This is her precious baby, EJ.  He was born in January and almost weighs the same as Andrew!  Ha!  (Not really, but close!)  Andrew's faces in some of these pictures are cracking me up!  He looks like such a stinker!  He loved the "baby's house" as he called it.  He loved swimming in their pool and playing with all EJ's baby toys!
I have no words... all I can say is we turned our backs for a second and he ended up in the jumperoo!  I think he remembered this was one of his favorite things when he was a baby!  Ha!  (What's sad is that he's 3 1/2 and fits in it!)

The vacation posts are almost over!  We have two more special outings in Florida, and in the meantime, we've been having some fun around here!  I am getting so behind but I'm trying to keep up!  I have tons and tons of pictures to sort through (you have no idea!)

More to come...

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