Wednesday, August 6, 2014


After Charleston we continued south to Daytona to visit with our good friend Nancy.  She lives on the estuary between Daytona and Daytona Beach.

The view from her terrace is lovely, and we spent time watching the tides, the boats and the dolphins.  It's a five minute walk to Oceanside, and we had a clear view of the fireworks over the Daytona Speedway.  This was the only part of our vacation where we experienced any bad weather.  It rained a lot while we were there.  Babygirl wasn't feeling well, so we stayed an extra day, enjoyed the company and the view, and had a peaceful time.

We had planned to spend two days at Universal Studios. I'm a Disney kind of girl, but Hubby has been to Universal with his brother and really felt we were missing out by not seeing it ourselves so we decided to go for it.  But because of our delay, we had only one day.  So while we were waiting in line to buy tickets, we did some math.   Two day passes plus the cost of a night in between versus one day passes plus the extra fee to skip all the lines?  It was 95 degrees, 98% humidity, Babygirl was recovering (slowly) from a doozy of a headache and we had to keep her hydrated. 

Tickets to Universal are ungodly in price.  One day at Disney is $99.  At Universal it's $136.  The skip-the-line passes are nearly another $100.  Each.  Buying them makes one day cost as much a two, and you can't skip the Harry Potter ride lines with them.  We looked around.  There was a CROWD. 

There are things you can do when you have an only child that you cannot do when you have four of them.  And there are things you will do for a chronically ill child that you would NEVER do for any other child, or even for yourself. 

We bought the passes.  It felt like flat-out illegal bribery.

It was a good decision.  Babygirl was still reeling from the headache.  Keeping her out of the heat early in the day by bypassing lines to air conditioned shows and 3D movies gave her time to collect herself and feel well enough to move on to the simulator rides and things of that sort.  We never did do any coasters, but frankly we can do that sort of thing anywhere.  Spiderman and The Simpsons were unique.  And since Hubby is a big guy and can't ride a lot of the coaster type rides, it worked out well for all of us.

We got to explore Diagon Alley to our hearts' content.  We drank frozen Butterbeer (O. M. G.). We rode the Hogwarts Express (worth the wait and as close to Disney as Universal managed to come).

The ride inside Hogwarts, sadly, would not seat Hubby.  He steeled himself for a long, lonely time, as the sign at the entrance warned of a 90 minute wait, and our passes didn't bypass that line.  But as Babygirl and I were going in I spotted a "single rider" line.  I asked her if she cared if we sat next to each other or not.  She didn't.  We got into that line, which effectively bypassed 300 people and took us straight to the front, where they immediately needed two people from our line to fill a row in the ride.  (The ride is awesome, by the way - Hermione enchants a bench full of muggles so we can go and play some Quidditch, which is fine until Hagrid loses track of his dragon.  And his spider.)  We finished and popped out so quickly that Hubby did a double take.  So we rode it again.
It was a good day.  We opened and closed the park. We did in one day what we would barely have managed to do in two if it hadn't been for the skip-the-lines passes.  But for the money we could have done three days in Disney. But to give credit where possible:  Universal's "affordable" food was better than Disney's.

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