Our drive along the 192 into the parks takes us past numerous eating establishments but at the very end there is a formal looking building with the words “Bob Evans” above the door. Initially I thought that it might be an estate agents or a realtor in the local parlance but a quick search identified it as a restaurant. I then made the mistake of suggesting to the rest of the occupants of the car that as it had Evans’ name above the door it must be a more up market restaurant. This was quickly shot down in flames as it was pointed out to me that if having your name above your eatery was a mark of good quality that would make Wendy’s, Denny’s and McDonalds all fine dining. They had a point so I quickly drove on. I’d like to say that nothing was said of it again but these things have a way of coming back to haunt you.
Today’s park was Universal which is actually two parks but they are so small (compared to Disney) and so close together that we consider them as one. Universal feels a lot more adult in its theme with rides based on the likes of Harry Potter (of which there are many), Transformers, Simpsons and Fast and Furious.
We made our way straight to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride for which the signs said there were 10 minute wait times. I can only assume that was the wait time to secure a locker because beyond that and the long walk to the ride itself there were no delays (as seen below). In keeping with many of the more recent rides in Universal this makes use of screens to display action as you are moved from scene to scene in some sort of cart. This is a lot more effective that I have made it sound here. The best example is probably the Transformers ride which seems very immersive.
Next stop was to Hogsmeade station where a trip on the Hogwarts express awaited us. This is what appears to be a real steam locomotive pulling four carriages. It is incredibly realistic. Once you are seated inside you really could be on your way to Platform 9 3/4 as the windows are replaced with TV screens projecting images of your journey including a number of iconic movie places and a very realistic run into London. It was very impressive. You step out onto Kings Cross station which too is very realistic.
That is not an accusation you could lay at Universal’s newest ride Fast & Furious — Supercharged. It had only been open a week and today was the official opening. Despite this, like the rest of the park, it was pretty quiet and we got on it easily albeit slowly. We all came off the ride saying the same thing – “is that it?” It was very short and pretty tame compared to the high octane films. I don’t think we’ll be rushing to go on it again.
Today was the first time ever (I think) that I have gone completely camera free on holiday. Instead all the pictures were taken with my phone and don’t seem to have suffered any for that. I did feel a little naked not carrying the camera round though and it is much easier to hold and use than a phone so I may yet still take it out with me.
For our evening meal we went to The Cheesecake Factory. I was feeling bloated from all the other meals we have had so I ordered off the skinnylicious menu where the salads were under 600 calories. What turned up was the biggest plate of salad I have ever seen and while it was delicious I could still only manager half of it!