Happy Thanksgiving!

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This past week was Sydney’s first Thanksgiving! I made it a point when Josh and I got married that I wanted to host all the holidays. Everyone always came to our house when I was little and I’m not too keen on traveling around on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We started a new tradition this year. I saw on facebook this woman would have everyone who came to dinner sign the tablecloth. Every year they would sign it in a different color so they knew what year it was. I thought this was an excellent idea and the perfect time to start it since it was Sydney’s first Thanksgiving. So I got out the orange sharpee and had everyone sign. It was nice because my sister was in from Texas and my Grandfather and his girlfriend were in from Little Rock.

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This year also marked a first for me as well, my first Turkey. My mom walked me through making the stuffing, stuffing the turkey, and then roasting the turkey. I must say preparing a turkey is kinda gross. I’m not too fond of cleaning/handling raw poultry to begin with, but sticking my hand in the cavity of the turkey is definitely my least favorite part about preparing poultry. I can’t even imagine preparing a turducken (a chicken, stuffed in a duck, stuffed in a turkey.) JUST SAY NO!

Anyway, I don’t mean to brag but… my first turkey was delicious! It was so moist, I was very proud. Now only to replicate it next year. Overall, the day was lovely. It was great to have all of my loved ones home and under one roof. It was a lot of work, but always worth it.

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1 Month Down…Forever to go… Part 2

syd1month.JPGAs you saw in the previous post, the week before Sydney’s birth was… exciting… to say the least. I did everything the doctor said those next 5 days. I took it easy, I checked my blood pressure twice a day, I went to my non-stress test… Finally, my appointment came on Tuesday. The doctor said there was no change with my blood pressure so we were going to be induced the following evening. The doctor still thought I had a good chance of having a c-section since I was three weeks early and we had to do what my body would have done over the next three weeks in just a couple days. She even told me to be prepared, we could be there for 3 days… I was definitely not looking forward to this…

I was told to be at the hospital by 8pm on Wednesday and they would begin inducing me. I was exited to finally get this show on the road and meet our little one. As directed, Josh and I arrived at the hospital and got checked in by 8pm. We went up to the labor and delivery floor and got situated. The nurse came in and put in an IV, hooked me up to the monitor and went over the plan. First, they would insert a dose of Cervidil. Basically they need to place this small fabric tab right on my cervix to help soften and dilate it. I would have to be laying down for the first 2 hours and then after 12 total hours they would remove it and check to see if it worked. During this time you are not allowed to eat but can consume clear liquids. This is so you are prepared if things progress and you go into active labor. If the first dose of cervidil doesn’t work, they repeat the process. After that’s in for 12 hours, it’s removed and I am rechecked. If I have progressed to 5cm dilated, they start giving pitocin and that’s when the fun starts happening. If i have no progressed… well… we would have a couple options then.

I knew the plan. I was ready to go. The doctor on-call had a delivery so by the time my first dose of cervidil was administered it was 11pm. It would stay in there until 11 am the next day. 11 am on Thursday, October 19th comes. The cervidil is removed and the nurse checks me for dilation (this seriously felt like she was scraping down my insides with sharp nails.) It wasn’t always so uncomfortable, I don’t know if the medicine made me more sensitive or what but I was in tears. I was pissed. Then, the nurse tells me that I have not progressed at all. The doctor would be in to discuss. By this time, a new doctor had arrived. One of the nurses mentioned to me that this doctor likes to do c-sections. I was very hopeful he’d just bite the bullet and cut Sydney out of me that day. Not so much. The nurse came back and told me that the doctor wanted to try it again. I was to eat lunch and get a shower and they’d be in. My second dose of cervidil was administered at 4pm on Thursday, October 19th.

12 hours later a new nurse came in and removed the cervidil. She checked me (this time it wasn’t as painful) and gave me the news. I still hadn’t progressed. She was going to go speak with the doctor and see what they wanted to do next. I sat there for three hours waiting for news. I was determined. I knew I was absolutely NOT doing that again and they would be ripping this child out of me that day one way or another. Finally, the nurse comes in, this time with a new doctor (they rotate every day at 7am). I was sitting on the edge of the bed crying, so upset. This was not what I had wanted. I didn’t want something long and drawn out. My anxiety was about to overflow. I was struggling to keep it together.

I greet the new doctor and apologize for my state. I knew I looked like a mess and was about to lose my shit all over again. First he asks me if I’m ready to have a baby today. I’m like hell yes!!! I like where he’s going. I’m thinking I’m going to be wheeled straight down to the OR and see this baby within an hour or so. Nope. He gives me the plan and it’s not what I want to hear. He tells me we’re going to continue trying for a vaginal birth (NO!). He wants me to freshen up and get some breakfast, I’m going to need my strength (you really expect me to eat right now?). He’s going to insert a foley bulb (WHAT!?!?) and push pitocin to get me dilated to 5cm. He’s very confident. It should only take 3 hours (thank God!). Once I’m at 5cm everything will move very quickly (you better hope it does). Then he says the best thing I’ve heard so far in this conversation, we’re moving down to a delivery room. Seriously, the delivery rooms at the hospital are like a penthouse compared to the room I had stayed in the past two nights.

After I ate breakfast (cereal and half a slice of french toast—it was gross) we moved down to the delivery room. We got situated and the doctor came in to insert the foley. This process wasn’t too bad — basically a rubber tube is inserted into the cervix and then inflated with saline to 5cm. When the doctor did this, he told me I had actually dilated to 2cm. I was pleased to hear that and was just ready to hold my little girl. So the foley was in and I just had to sit and wait. I expected to be there for the minimum of 2-3 hours. Low and behold, I sat there for 5 hours before the foley came out. Normally once your cervix expands to the 5cm, the foley will just fall out on its own. Apparently mine got stuck somewhere in there and he had to take it out (easily) when he checked my cervix. This is where the details start to get fuzzy.

I’m not exactly sure of the sequence of events that followed. I remember getting pain meds through my IV. I’m not sure if that happened before or after the foley came out. I also don’t remember when I got the epidural, whether it was before or after the foley. I remember waiting forever for the anesthesiologist to come up. He was awesome. I cannot complain at all about my epidural. It didn’t hurt AT ALL. I was very worried about the entire process there. My friends all told me all you felt was like a bee sting… I didn’t even feel that. The only thing that worried me was accidentally pulling it out (which didn’t happen). I have that fear about IV’s too.

I think after I got the epidural (which took away the pain, not the feeling) they had me sit a certain way because I wasn’t progressing (AGAIN!). So I sat up in bed and put my heels together, almost like I was meditating. I sat like this for a few hours… and then… it started. I was seriously under the impression that I wouldn’t be able to feel anything with the epidural, no pain (obviously) but also no need to push. My mom always told me they tell you to push but you don’t know if you are or not because you’re numb. Well let me tell you, I sure as hell felt it. We were getting close. I was very uncomfortable. I felt the pressure of the baby moving down more and more. I was feeling like I needed to push, but it wasn’t time yet. The doctor came in and checked and I was only 9 cm. They had me lay on my side so it was harder for me to let go and push. It took every single piece of self control I had left to NOT PUSH!

I was literally freaking out. I was panicked. My body was now running the show and I was having trouble controlling it. Josh was standing beside me, trying to keep me calm and keep me focused. I remember yelling, I CANT NOT PUSH! every single time I had a contraction. It took forever to get from 9 cm to 10 cm, or so if felt. I kept having them check me… not yet… not yet… I just kept breathing and telling myself to hold that child in. Finally, I was a sliver away from 10 cm. They told me I only needed to hold it in for 3 more contractions…after those three contractions I said “Guys that’s it, I’m pushing!” I flipped over to my back and pushed, the doctor wasn’t even there yet. The nurse hadn’t even taken out my catheter yet. I couldn’t help it.

Finally, the doctor came in, every one got in their positions and we went to work (well I went to work). The doctor and the nurse coached me through it. Josh was right there holding my left leg. I was so proud of him, he was in the thick of it, encouraging me the whole way. finally the doctor said he could see the baby’s head and asked me if I wanted to touch it. I’m like no. Then I pushed a couple more times and her head was out further and he asked me again if I wanted to touch it, and again I’m like no. This is one thing I kinda regret. The doctor was amazed at how much hair Sydney had the entire time. Finally, we were near the end, he said one more push… and then finally, I pushed and I felt her come out.

After three long days, and about 30 minutes of pushing, my little girl was laying on my chest crying. It was 8:56 pm, October 21, 2016. sydney1

I was so happy she was out and healthy. I was also thankful I didn’t just go through all of that to have a c-section. Josh cut the umbilical cord and they whisked her away to get cleaned and checked. I, on the other hand, had more “fun” to endure. So after the doctor delivered the baby, he also had to “deliver” the placenta. Of course this wasn’t easy in my case. The doctor eventually had to dig the last little bit out. Yay me! I also had second degree lacerations, so I had to get stitched up as well. This was probably the worst part. By this time my epidural had pretty much worn off (even the extra gush of medicine they pushed in when he dug out the placenta.) I felt every pinch of every stitch. Josh was over with the baby so I had to endure this part alone. Finally he was done and I got to hold my baby again!

Overall, labor SUCKS (since I was technically in labor for over 48 hours)! Delivery isn’t too bad. Looking back, I’m thankful my doctor talked me in to entertaining the idea of a vaginal birth. Sure, it’s now 5 weeks later and I’m still a little sore but I’m able to do a lot more than I would have been 5 weeks post c-section. After everything, the wait was well worth it and now my baby is 1 month old and the entire experience is almost a distant memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Month Down… forever to go…

It’s official. I am now the mother of a 1 month old! I can’t believe how fast this past month has gone. I’m sure all my fellow mothers can relate. And I’m sure they will tell me it only goes faster and faster as they get older.

My sister just flew in from Texas the day before Sydney turned a month old. With her arrival, I find myself reflecting a lot on Sydney’s birth. Already some of the details are fuzzy so I’ve decided to write them all down (as best I can remember).

Sydney’s arrival was, unfortunately, very long and drawn out (I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I wasn’t expecting it to progress the way it did). Halfway through my pregnancy the doctor told me that the baby was measuring very large, in the 96th percentile. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if Sydney weighed over 9 lbs by the time she was born. Basically, a vaginal birth wasn’t in the cards and it was highly likely we were c-section bound. As anyone can tell you, I was pro-c-section from the beginning. All of my friends had a c-section except one. It was what I knew, it was what I wanted. Pushing a baby out of down there just didn’t appeal to me. I can’t tell you why but it just didn’t.

After that appointment we just stayed the course. Sydney kept growing and measuring quite large, I kept the mindset that we would soon be scheduling a c-section. Then came my 36 week appointment on October 11th. Hello high blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia was always something I was very aware of during my pregnancy. My best friend had it and I always kept an eye on my blood pressure and swelling for that reason (I always was very aware of gestational diabetes for the same reason). Honestly, my ankles and legs were swollen throughout my entire pregnancy. I always asked the doctor if I was okay, every time she assured me I was still good, until that appointment.

My blood pressure was on the edge of being harmful. I was sent directly to the hospital for a non-stress test and blood work. We got to the hospital and check in at the ER around 2pm. This was where the girls at the doctors office told me to go and the ER would direct me further. Well… they didn’t. I was directed to a hospital bed in the hallway of the ER… to sit and wait for 5 hours. 5 hours later, the ER doctor finally came over and said I was going up to the labor and delivery floor for further testing. I got up to labor and delivery and the doctor on call came in and said “We’ve been waiting for you. Your doctor called earlier to give me a heads up, but you never showed.” By that time it was almost 8pm and I was annoyed.

They hooked me up to the monitor, took me down for an ultrasound and took more blood. I sent my husband to get me food. The doctor finally came back and said I had to stay overnight, the ultrasound showed low amniotic fluid and they wanted to check it again in the morning. At that point they had also started me on a 24 hour urinalysis. Basically I had to pee in a jug for 24 hours. Joy.

The next morning they came to get me for my ultrasound. As I’m being wheeled down I saw my doctor coming in for the morning. I came back up and low and behold, the amniotic fluid was fine, Sydney was just in a weird spot. But I was not being discharged just yet. They wanted me to stay and finish my uninalysis there. Okay, I can do that. Late that evening they took my jug to the lab and my doctor came back in with the news. -You are pre-eclamptic (just barely). You need to rest. I am giving you a steroid shot and we will plan to have this baby next week.- Nurse came in, I got the first dose of my steroid shot. I would need another dose in 24 hours. I was stuck in the hospital another night.

The next morning came. My doctor stopped by before she left for the day. She reviewed our new plan for baby Sydney – Shot at 9 pm. I go home and rest. I go to the office on Tuesday to check my blood pressure. I’ll be 37 weeks on Thursday. That’s when we can expect the baby.- She proceeded to tell me who the new doctor on call is and he’d probably be in to introduce himself. After our conversation I was relaxed, I knew our plan, and I was comfortable. Well, then came in Dr. A.

He introduced himself then proceeded to tell me that he needed to examine me… I was like uh what? He wanted to check my cervix for dilation and whatever else they did down there. Well, what was I to do? My doctor didn’t mention anything about this. I was under the impression I was just going to eat my breakfast and have another boring day at the hospital and see all the other women have their babies and be carted up to the mommy and me floor. Apparently not. So this man, with fat, big hands, proceeded to check me. Then proceeded to tell me he wanted to call Pittsburgh (to consult with the other doctors) to see if we should proceed with having a baby. I WAS LOSING MY MIND. THIS IS NOT THE PLAN. He left and then came back in maybe an hour or so and basically said -false alarm, we’re going to give you another dose of steroids tonight and shoot for 37 weeks.- WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS MAN TRYING TO DO? Was he second guessing my doctors decision? Was he just bored and wanted to deliver a baby? To this day I am still confused and furious by this.

Finally, 9pm rolled around. I got my second dose of steroids and get sent home (even though they wanted me to stay another night). I spent the next 5 days working from my recliner at home and rushing around getting things finished before our baby girl comes. We went from having a whole month left to having 5 days left to prepare.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Our Weekly Update

So I got the fantastic idea from my best friend to take a picture of Sydney every week on the same day and write about what she did that week. Babies grow so fast and it’s an excellent way to keep track of how she’s growing and all the fun things she’s learning. Sydney just turned three weeks old last Friday so I’m going to put weeks 1-3 in this post so we are up to date.

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Changes

Changes. Vague, but fitting as a title for this post. As you have noticed (or maybe you didn’t), I have been MIA on the blog for about 6 months now. Where have I been you may ask? Well, dealing with changes. The biggest change in our lives was when we welcomed our baby girl, Sydney to this world on October 21, a whole three weeks early. That was one hell of an adventure, but more about that later.

So, Sydney is the reason for these previously mentioned changes, but what are these changes? No, I’m not deleting the blog, or giving up, which I bet a lot of you thought was happening. I’m simply going to be transitioning the blog. Currently, Bosh Adventures is more about traveling and reviews. I want it to be more than that. Our family has grown by 1. 1 little person that is going to be the main focus of our lives for the next 18+ years.

From day one a whole new adventure began, parenthood. This is quite a serious adventure. This isn’t one that we can just get on a plane and go home if we’re not having a good time. This is a lifetime adventure, the biggest and greatest adventure of our lives. For that reason, Bosh adventures will be much, much more than just a travel blog. It’s going to be a lifetime blog, a chronicle of our adventures as a family, whether we’re taking Sydney to Disney for the first time or we’re marking a milestone in her life, like when we celebrate her first Christmas. This will now be a digital diary for our family.

I want to start living by a new mantra, everyday is an adventure. It truly is. God willing, I wake up every day and I really don’t know what’s in store and I love it. Every single day is different, we’re experiencing things we have never experienced before, and to me, that’s an adventure.

So, be prepared to hear the good, the bad, and the funny. Our family of three is on the adventure of a lifetime and I’m so excited to share it with everyone.

Stay Tuned!!!!

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Exciting Animal Kingdom News!

Hey Everyone! So I took a little vacation from blogging. We found out that we will be expecting a little one in November and she/he has been wreaking havoc…

I have so much new content I need to share with you! Let’s just say my little hiatus, while uncomfortable, has been very productive in the research department.

So I wanted to start off with some exciting new details from Disney’s Animal Kingdom! There was a lot of construction going on while we were there in December. It was almost unbearable to walk from one place to another around the Discovery River. Well… according to recent news, those walls are down and things are happening after dark at this “half-day park”.

As I have previously mentioned, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been dubbed a “Half-Day Park”.  This obviously hasn’t sat well with Disney for the past 16 years. Disney Imagineers have taken it upon themselves to change this conception with a whole line-up of nighttime experiences.

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The biggest addition to the Animal Kingdom park is Rivers of Light. This is a new show that takes place on Discovery River Lagoon. Disney built a 5,000 seat amphitheater around the river in the Asia sector of the park, right across from Expedition Everest. Back in April this amphitheater was filling with media representatives who got a sneak peek at the show. Below is some concept art and the Sneak Peek the media got back in April!

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Here is some back story on Rivers of Light.

I cannot wait to check this out. One of my favorite night time shows at the Disney Resort is IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot. Based off the preview, I think Rivers of Light will have the same feel.

Going along with Rivers of Light, Imagineers have also overhauled the Tree of Life. Periodically during the evening hours, the Tree of Life comes alive with light! Disney is calling these Awakenings. This is another experience I cannot wait to experience. Check it out.

My favorite experience at Disney’s Animal kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safaris and now guests can experience the safari at night! They even brought in more nocturnal animals, such as African painted dogs and hyena (these guys were adapting to their surroundings back in December when we were there). It also appears that lighting has been strategically placed for guests to get a good glimpse of the night time antics of these amazing animals. Here’s a little preview.

With the park starting to be open later, you’ll have more time to experience your other favorite rides, Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest and Primeval Whirl, in a whole new way. Even though you have ridden these rides multiple times before, riding them at night adds a whole new level of excitement. Disney is also adding some additional entertainment as you walk through the park. Street performers and nighttime dance parties will be around every corner as you walk through the park.

Most of these attractions, such as the nighttime safaris and the Awakenings of the Tree of Life will begin Memorial Day weekend! Rivers of Light has a start date that is still to be determined. In the meantime, Disney will be showing Jungle Book: Alive with Magic in the Discovery River Lagoon, which will also begin Memorial Day weekend and will run through the summer.

Sounds like an exciting summer is in store for Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

 

Universal 2015

During our trip to Florida in December we also took a day to check out Universal Studios.

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Universal was, unfortunately, crazy busy as well. We went on a Tuesday which is one of their “less busy” days that week but it was still nuts. Our main goal for the day was the new Harry Potter area. We had previously explored Hogsmeade two years ago.

Our first stop was Shrek- 4D. I thought our 4 year old friend, Bryce, would enjoy this. It’s a fun and silly ride… I enjoy riding it but if you have to wait longer than 30 minutes it’s not really worth it. Needless to say… we waited way more than 30 minutes… but you do things for a 4 year old you wouldn’t normally do…

After Shrek we went to find the Transformers… Bryce LOVES the Transformers so we were quite excited for him meet one. The Transformers “meet and greet” is directly behind Shrek, so it wasn’t a long walk. Bryce got in  line with his mom while Bumblebee was still out… Just as they got to the front of the line Bumblebee went “to lunch”. We were kinda disappointed because Bumblebee is Bryce’s (and my) favorite. About 5 minutes had passed and the “garage” opened up again… Out came Megatron… If you all aren’t familiar with Megatron he’s a bad guy… I was a little scared myself, but Bryce was like heck ya! It was so great to see his excitement…

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I was pretty impressed by these transformers… the Universal team member in the costume is on stilts! I dunno, I just thought it was super cool how they acted and reacted… I was impressed!

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So after we checked out the Transformers, Josh, Jimmie, and I headed over to see Terminator. This is something I had experienced when I was 8 and hated every single minute of it. I was terrified… So again, I had to do this for my husband and my cousin. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I remember it. I guess I am a lot older now. I highly recommend NOT doing this with a child… Like I said, I was terrified when I was 8.

Our next stop was lunch. My cousin, Jimmie, had his heart set on a Krusty Burger. Now, I’m not too big on the Simpson’s so I wasn’t too excited, but I thought it’d be cool to say I had a Krusty Burger. Lunch, which we went around 1-2 pm… was crazy. This was the only time in history that I have ever had to wait in line for an hour for lunch… It was totally worth it though… I must say, Krusty Burgers are pretty darn good!

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Krusty Burger with Kurly Fries... Yummy!!!
Krusty Burger with Kurly Fries… Yummy!!!
Josh's Sandwich... Chicken Waffle with mayo and maple syrup
Josh’s Sandwich… Chicken Waffle with mayo and maple syrup

On our way to Springfield, we come across the DeLorean. I think my husband is still upset that they replaced the Back to the Future ride with a Simpson’s ride. At least he got to take a picture with the DeLorean though!

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Once we had our Krusty Burger’s we headed straight to the Harry Potter area… There’s a small bridge you walk over and then enter “London”. I think I stopped right in the middle of the bridge in awe… It was impressive and I was only looking at the outside portion…10400899_1053706717983317_429163746588471613_n

The first area you come across is Grimmauld Place. This is where Sirius Black’s house and the Order’s Safe House is. Universal was so meticulous when designing this. You can go up and sit on the steps and take a picture… It’s crazy how it looks exactly like the movie! If you spend a couple minutes there you can see Kreacher, the Black family’s house elf, appear in the window above the door. It’s the little things…

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As you turn the corner you can see the Knight Bus. There was a Knight Bus driver there every time we walked past speaking with guests and the shrunken head, which is really good at interacting with the driver and the guests.

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We got a really quick glimpse of Kings Cross Station and then entered Diagon Alley!!!!

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That is the entrance to Diagon Alley. If you’ve ever seen the first Harry Potter movie you will recognize this. I was a little disappointed by the entrance. It doesn’t really look like the bricks are “folding away”. It looks more like a troll smashed through it. I know I couldn’t really get a close look at it since there was a cluster of people so I may have missed something.

And then…. you see it… everything you have ever wanted to see in real life since seeing the Harry Potter movies… Breathtaking. I knew it was going to be awesome, but it was truly unreal. It went above and beyond my expectations.

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We did a little walking about, saw some kids playing with their wands (we didn’t get one), then we came across Gringotts!

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I mean I haven’t seen a dragon in real life, but I bet it’d look like that! That thing even blows fire out of it’s mouth! It happens every 15 minutes… you can tell when it’s coming because there is a little blue flame that ignites in it’s mouth and the boom… it’s more like a roar-ish boom, regardless, you’ll jump outa your socks when that thing goes off. It was very impressive!

So we got in line for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. So I was expecting a pretty long line… it ended up being about 1.5 hours. I thought that was pretty reasonable considering it was the busiest week of the year… So here’s the rub… the line outside is crazy… it zigs and zags a million times and there’s almost NOTHING to look at. There are some ministry of magic posters and one of those carts used in the movie to find the vaults… I’m guessing this is probably authentic since the real DeLorean was there.

Once you loop all around in crazy circles, you arrive back to where you originally entered. This is where it gets interesting. So previously I was handed a ticket and told to get all the personals (bags, sunglasses, etc.) from the rest of my party. Once I got to the actual “entrance” to Gringotts, I was asked to leave the line and put our items in a locker. This is one thing I really like about Universal. They provide you with lockers for the length of the ride… FOR FREE!

Once I got a locker (it was way to small in the locker area and I was getting annoyed— the ride exits into there as well which makes it even more clustered) I was able to enter the line again with the ticket that I was provided. That’s when I walked into this…

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I seriously felt like I was walking into the REAL Gringotts like Harry did in the first movie… It was… amazing. After you’ve had your fill of pictures, you’re asked to go either right or left… this is where you come upon Bill Weasley. He gives you a little introduction and then says we’re going down to the caverns. They call this the “pre-show”. You exit to the left and there’s an elevator. This elevator was pretty cool. I’m sure we weren’t going down a million stories… I’m not sure we even went anywhere but it sure felt like we did. It was like an “open air” elevator. The floor of the elevator moved and made it seem like we were moving pretty fast and heading down.

Once you exit the elevator you meet up with the rest of the line…. it was seriously another 15-20 minutes to the ride after we got off the elevator. So we picked up some 3D glasses… because that’s how Universal does it… and headed back up some spiral stairs… For the life of me I don’t know why we went down so far on the elevator if we were just going to have to walk back up? Universal is stepping up with their creativity and decorative ability. It honestly felt like we were down in caverns… There were stalactites or stalagmites… whichever one comes from the top. It was cool and damp too.

FINALLY we get to the loading platform. The carts were there waiting. 4 across seating… and they were decently comfortable. The ride was cool. You spun around, saw some 3D images, experienced some 4D elements…

Honestly, the ride was like 2 minutes… 2 hours of waiting for 2 minutes of ride… I mean you TOTALLY have to ride it but man… sometimes I wish Universal upped the ante a little with a longer ride… I mean their rides are crazy, amazing pieces of technology… While I appreciate the quality ALOT, I just wish they’d extend the ride a little more…

I want to look at it another way though. Maybe Universal starts the ride well before you actually get on the cart. Maybe Universal isn’t looking at it as a “ride” in the traditional sense… It’s more of an experience… The moment you walk into the main area in Gringotts is when the experience starts. When you think about it this way, the ride is actually 20 minutes long! Mind-Blown.

Ok so maybe I’m stretching it there… but regardless… Universal is no longer Disney’s lesser opponent… They are now equals.

Alright, so we Escaped Gringotts and I needed a butterbeer. YOU NEEEEEEEEEEEED TO HAVE A FROZEN BUTTERBEER… It’s AMAZING! For those of you who don’t know, butterbeer is THE DRINK to get at the pub when you’re a wizard. In the movies and books it is an alcoholic beverage. Hermoine actually gets a little toasted on butterbeer. However, Universal’s real life version of butterbeer is non-alcoholic. You can get it frozen or regular. The best way to describe it is delicious… but seriously, it’s like a butterscotch cream soda… I like neither butterscotch or cream soda and I LOVE THIS!

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We got our butterbeers then explored Diagon Alley a little more. We found Knockturn Alley, checked out Weasley Wizard Wheezes and then headed to Kings Cross Station. Naturally we had to get a chocolate frog and some Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans for our journey on the Hogwarts Express.

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In order to experience the Hogwarts Express one must possess a park to park pass. You walk into Kings Cross Station and they scan your ticket. It seriously looks like a legit train station. You walk down the queue a little and you can see a nice nod to the movies.

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Keep on going and there are more and more decorations. I believe there is a section where you can see people going through platform 9 3/4 but I missed it. I was so exhausted by the time we got to this point of the day that I just couldn’t focus. 12508730_10208666998140251_8666170687038123024_n

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Finally you turn a corner and you’re there. Harry’s trunk and Hedwig are hanging out waiting for the next train. And then there she is… the Hogwarts Express.

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So this was a pretty cool ride as well. You load onto a train car… 8 to a cabin. As you start to travel the window mirrors what you would be seeing outside if you were on your way to Hogsmeade Station. Then Harry, Ron and Hermoine can be heard outside your cabin door. It was very well done and a nice breather from all the other action.

This is where our journey took and unfortunate turn. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was down. I was sad. I’ve experienced it before but really wanted my cousin to ride it. I’ll give you guys a pretty good write up on the Hogsmeade area of Universal in a later post. We ended up going home after we found out the ride was closed. By that time it was almost 11 and we’d been going since early in the morning.

Overall, I feel like Universal is seriously stepping up their game. The rides are getting better and their attention to detail is almost as good as Disney’s. I’m excited to see what Universal comes up with next!