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Day 3 – Our First Orlando Theme Park / The First Time 2011

Day 3 of The First Time 2011, the first of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today we head over to Islands of Adventure – our first Orlando theme park ever!

The First Time 2011 Trip Report Index has the full list of days for the trip. You can also check out my 2011 Pre-Trip Planning Report to find out more about us!

Day 3 - Our First Orlando Theme Park (The First Time 2011 Disney Trip Report)

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Day 3: Islands of Adventure

Lunch at Mythos Restaurant

6th August 2011


I found the first few days of being in Orlando, that we were waking up at around 4:00 am and being wide awake.

I’d get on my iPhone and check in with Facebook (the wireless internet in the villa was great!) before forcing myself back to sleep.

When we (re)awoke, it was off to Islands of Adventure (and not Universal as planned yesterday!)

Still full of cold, I was struggling to breathe too, which was making me feel really miserable, and to make it worse, I could not even remember when I last had a cold, so why did I have to get one now?!

A beautiful sunrise greeted us, and it was lovely to see all the hot air balloons in the distance – what a sight to wake up to!

With Homer telling us where to go, we soon found the Universal Orlando Resort and were driving toward the car park.

Having Homer Simpson as our sat-nav guide was brilliant – he got ever so excited when you joined the interstate!

Universal Boulevard Sign
Universal Orlando Resort Sign

Feeling grotty and not knowing how far the car park was from the theme parks, we did pay $20 for preferred parking.

With a pink piece of paper slipped under the wiper blade and told to turn on our hazard lights, we drove towards the multi-story and parked in Jurassic Park 403.

Universal Parking Lot - Jurassic Park 403

There was no direction of where to park once inside (looking into the future now, unlike Disney which is military precision when parking!), so we just chose a space, took a photo of where we parked so we wouldn’t forget and made our way down the escalators and along travelators to the bag check.

Universal Travelator

There was a booth to make dining reservations, so we booked into Mythos for 12:45 pm.

Having read that this restaurant has won several awards for best theme park food, we were looking forward to eating there.

My Husband & Son at Universal Orlando

It was great to walk through City Walk and see the things we’ve read about online and in guidebooks!

We stopped off to buy me a cap as the sun was beating down, and I forgot mine (left it in the UK, whoops!) and then had to exchange the vouchers that we got from Virgin (a great freebie!) for real tickets, which thankfully didn’t take too long.

Universal City Walk Orlando
Hard Rock Cafe Orlando
Margaritaville Bench
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Universal
Universal's Islands of Adventure
           

Grabbing a couple of maps, we were fingerprinted and through the gates.

The first port of call was food and drink as we didn’t have breakfast. I’m such a responsible mum – Liam had popcorn, while Steve and I, had a corn dog.

I have no clue what the time was, but hey, we’re on holiday!

With an “oooh, that’s yummy” from the pair of us, and a tick off the “foods we must eat in Orlando” list, we decided to move anti-clockwise around the park.

Whether this is the “right” way to go around, who knows – anything we read in the guidebooks or online as to theme park strategy, went pretty much out of the window!

Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure - Fruit Stand
Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure - Beer Stand
Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure - Turkey Legs
Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure - Corn Dog

We hit Seuss Landing first, which I thought was fantastically themed and I took plenty of pictures here. Liam got a wet surprise when he tossed a coin into the fish’s mouth!

Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando
Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando
Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando
Lemon Slush Cart - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando
If I Ran The Zoo - Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando
My Son at Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011
Green Eggs and Ham - Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish - Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011
The Cat in the Hat - Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011
Seuss Landing Gift Shop - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011

The wait time for The Cat in the Hat was just 10 minutes on the sign, but we pretty much walked on.

It is a quirky little ride that whips you around quite forcefully in some parts! Little ones hold on tight!

Plus-size rider guide: There is a lap bar which was enough room for me (UK size 24/26, with most weight around my middle).

High in the Sky - Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011
Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011
Seuss Landing - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando 2011

We continued with Seuss Landing (with me still marveling at the theming) and then went on the High in the Sky ride, which again said 10 minutes, but was a walk on. It was cool to see the park from a different view.

Plus-size rider guide: There is a lap bar which was enough room for me (UK size 24/26, with most weight around my middle).

The Lost Continent - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando
The Lost Continent - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios Orlando

Nothing else must have taken our fancy in this part of Islands of Adventures, so we moved through into the next land – The Lost Continent.

We located Mythos for our reservation later on…

Mythos - Islands of Adventure - Universal Studios

…and then went to queue for the Jurassic Park River Ride. The official wait time was 15 minutes, but it felt like only 5.

Jurassic Park - Islands of Adventure
Jurassic Park River Adventure - Islands of Adventure
Jurassic Park River Ride
Jurassic Park River Ride

We hopped aboard our river boat, which had a shared lap bar across the bench of 5 or 6 people.

No problems from a plus size point of view, as there was room.

But I did feel bad for the thinner people (i.e., everyone else) in the same row, as of course, with me sitting there, the bar wasn’t as close to them.

I did ask the staff as we got on if this would be okay and he said it was fine.

It was a nice gentle ride…until the big drop!

Great surroundings, but Liam, horror of horrors said he didn’t really like the noise!

I was SHOCKED – he LOVES dinosaurs!

The wicked mum that I am, made him go on again – just to make sure that he really didn’t like it…he complained even more!

I was dumbfounded, if not a little upset. He’s not really been on rides, so maybe the big drop was a lot bigger to him than I imagined.

Steve and I, however, thought the ride was great.

After that adventure, Liam wanted to go into the Discovery Centre and explore in there.

It was pretty empty, so he could pick and choose what to interact with.

It was lovely and air-conned in there, so Steve and I just sat and chilled – literally!

My Son at Jurassic Park Discovery Center Islands of Adventure
T-Rex - Jurassic Park Discovery Center Islands of Adventure
Jurassic Park Discovery Center Islands of Adventure
My Son at Jurassic Park Discovery Center Islands of Adventure 2011
Us at Jurassic Park Discovery Center Islands of Adventure 2011
Velociraptor - Jurassic Park - Islands of Adventure
My Son at Jurassic Park Islands of Adventure 2011
My Son with a Dinosaur Egg - Jurassic Park 2011
T-Rex - Jurassic Park Universal
My Son with a T-Rex - Islands of Adventure 2011

By now, it was time to make our way back to Mythos for our reservation. We only had to wait about 5 minutes from the time it was booked for.

Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure
Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure
Mythos Restaurant Menu - Islands of Adventure

We were led to our table to sit down…the chairs were H-E-A-V-Y! So just a heads up on that!

Our server, Laura, presented us with menus which we perused whilst she brought us drinks and some delicious rosemary bread.

But, as with Paradiso 37, all she did was take our order, bring us our drinks (and bread) and present us with the bill at the end.

It feels weird to tip someone who didn’t do the whole service, but perhaps this is the way things are done in the US. It was only our second dining out experience.

Since the corn dog we shared a few hours ago had done its duty of providing energy and was now used up, we were all pretty hungry so we ordered both starters and mains.

Mythos Pizza - Islands of Adventure 2011

Liam had the Chef’s Signature Pizza ($8.99), which if I can recall was a cheese pizza with BBQ chicken as the topping. He certainly enjoyed it and ate it all.

Mythos Pizza - Islands of Adventure 2011

Steve and I shared the Fried Shrimp Sushi ($8.99), which despite my reservations about frying sushi, was pretty tasty – but let’s face it, most deep-fried foods are!

From my diary, the starters were the highlight of the meal, as the mains weren’t as nice as it would seem.

Liam chose to have a Cheese & Bacon Burger ($10.99) and finished most of it (that kid can eat, he doesn’t get his slim genes from me, I can tell you that!)

Mythos Bacon Cheeseburger - Islands of Adventure 2011
Mythos Chicken Wrap - Islands of Adventure 2011

I took a bite of his cheeseburger and it was yummy – it made me wish I had ordered that instead of the Chicken Wrap ($12.99) that I had ordered.

Mythos Crab Sliders - Islands of Adventure 2011

I actually slipped most of my wrap onto Steve’s plate of food and he ate it all (don’t know where he puts it either!).

Although to be fair, his main course of Crab Sliders ($12.99) was pretty small for a main dish, which he was less than impressed with.

They didn’t taste all that either when I had a sample, but then, with my cold, maybe my palette was off-kilter that day.

Again, our mains were brought out whilst we were still eating our starter which was really annoying, and my chips were on the cold side of warm.

Normally I would complain, but it was quite busy in there, and trying to get the server’s attention proved difficult, so I didn’t bother.

We didn’t bother with desserts as we thought to get something sweet whilst walking around the park a little later on. From what I recall, there wasn’t much choice anyway.

The total bill was $65.72, and I think we left a 15% tip since we didn’t really see our waitress at all.

All in all, aside from the yummy warm rosemary bread and the sushi, from our point of view it was a bit of a letdown food-wise; although Liam enjoyed his starter and main.

The service was a bit meh. For a restaurant that’s won all these awards, we were expecting something a little bit more.

We left feeling a little deflated really, which was a shame.

The price, for a theme park, wasn’t actually that bad, so they do have the cost thing going for them, and the interior design was lovely.

Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure 2011
Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure 2011
Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure 2011
Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure 2011
Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure 2011

We made our move out of the restaurant and went to see The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, but the show had been cancelled due to some sort of technical problems, so on to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Hogwarts - Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2011
Hogsmeade - WWOHP
Hogsmeade - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This part of the park was noticeably busier than everywhere else, but it wasn’t unbearable.

We were able to walk around the shops in Hogsmeade without too much jostling.

Hogsmeade - Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogsmeade - Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express
Hogsmeade Snowman

Hogsmeade was just wonderful. To see all the things you read about in the books (and then later saw on the big screen) come to life was fantastic!

The snow looked a little out of place in the blazing sunshine with people striding around in shorts and t-shirts, but oh well!

Pumpkin Juice - WWOHP
Pumpkin Juice - WWOHP
Hogwarts School

We bought a bottle of scrummy pumpkin juice from a cart outside. I have a small obsession with pumpkins and initially bought it just for the bottle to use at my Halloween party!

Honeydukes Sweet Jars
Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans
Chocolate Frog Box

Into Honeydukes next to look at the sweets and then discovered that pumpkin juice was a dollar cheaper there!

I guess because they add the tax on at the till inside, whereas it is already added outside?

I don’t know…but at the time I was all “OMG it’s a dollar cheaper in here! We’ve been done!” (as she continues to spend her husband’s money like it’s going out of fashion!)

We knew a Chocolate Frog wouldn’t survive the day in the heat whilst walking around the rest of the park, so hoped they’d sell them at a store near the exit.

We went into Zonko’s for a quick look around before Liam decided that he must have a wand.

Zonko's - WWOHP
Zonko's - WWOHP

The queue outside Olivanders was hideous. There was no shade cover whatsoever, and I absolutely refused to wait in line!

The wait would have been horrible and I hear that the shop is tiny, and didn’t fancy being squished in there.

Later, however, we did find a cart that sold wands, and he chose the Harry Potter one, declaring that at Halloween, he will be dressing up as the wizard himself!

Olivanders
Wands for Sale in Hogsmeade

It was a very, very hot afternoon, so we ducked into The Three Broomsticks for a mug of Butterbeer (which could also be purchased outside).

Having remembered that the two kinds of Butterbeer were very different, Steve was under instruction to buy both, whilst Liam and I bagged a table.

It wasn’t all that busy, so it was an easy enough job.

The Three Broomsticks - WWOHP
Butterbeer Cart - Islands of Adventure
My Son in The Three Broomsticks - 2011
Butterbeer Barrels
Beer Taps - Three Broomsticks
Butterbeer - WWOHP

Interesting, yet strange, yet scrumptious is the only way I can describe butterbeer!

I definitely preferred the frozen one, but both were very sickly sweet, and I think on top of our earlier meal, we over-did it!

The price for both was $7.50, which I thought was quite reasonable as they were pretty large (plastic) glasses. You could buy souvenir mugs, but we didn’t.

I couldn’t finish mine and Steve finished them off…a recurring trend!

Two Kinds of Butterbeer - Islands of Adventure
My Husband and I at The Three Broomsticks

And then came Forbidden Journey with its test seats outside. I knew that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of me fitting in this ride, but Steve insisted I at least try.

I did, and getting my behind into the plastic seat was fine, however, the over-the-shoulder restraint wasn’t having any of it.

I had pre-warned Steve that this was likely to happen and had psyched myself up for not riding this ride, and insisted that they both go on it…but they didn’t want to without me.

Instead, we walked through the castle which was impressive. The queue for the ride itself said 45 minutes.

Harry, Ron & Hermione - Forbidden Journey - WWOHP
Dumbledore - Forbidden Journey - WWOHP
Pile of Books - Forbidden Journey - WWOHP
Marauder's Map - Forbidden Journey - WWOHP
Death Eater's Mask
Hogwarts Castle

You exit the castle into a gift shop where we bought a fridge magnet.

We then reached the Flight of the Hippogriff which showed a 25-minute wait.

Wanting to ride something in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWOHP), we queued up. It was only about 10 minutes before we were at the front of the line.

Plus-size rider guide: There is a lap bar which was enough room for me (UK size 24/26, with most weight around my middle).

Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff

This ride went a LOT faster than I was expecting, and as I was sitting in a car on my own, I did get thrown around a fair bit! Fun and would recommend it!

We had planned to do Islands of Adventure and WWOHP on two different occasions, but having visited Hogsmeade and done the rest of the park in a day, it had now freed up a day to do something else.

By now, late afternoon, Liam was waning and didn’t want to do the two water rides in Toon Lagoon that we had planned – Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges and Dudley Do Rights Ripsaw Falls

Dudley Do Rights Ripsaw Falls

…so we made a mental note to come back and do them another day was made and we moved through Toon Lagoon and into Marvel Super Hero Island.

Toon Lagoon
Popeye & Olive Oyl
Blondies - Toon Lagoon
Dippin' Dots Cart
Toon Lagoon - Islands of Adventure
Hagar the Horrible - Toon Lagoon
Betty Boop - Toon Lagoon
Toon Lagoon
Bullwinkle - Toon Lagoon
- Toon Lagoon

Seeing that the Spiderman ride was just a 15-minute wait, we went through the queueing system and grabbed our glasses. We sat in the front row of the vehicle!

Plus-size rider guide: There is a shared lap bar which was enough room for me (UK size 24/26, with most weight around my middle).