Well, we figured if he wanted to go to Disneyland on Tuesday, and Universal Studios closed at five, we could just meet him at Disneyland. Ha, ha, ha, I was way more opportunist than that--we suggested he could have picked us up from Universal, thus securing ourselves a ride home. He didn't want to pay $27 for parking to not go to Universal Studios, which is totally fair. But the point is, somehow we ended up spending an hour and a half on the phone, when we already knew our time would be limited, because we would be leaving that evening to stay at a hotel closer to the park.
What we didn't know is that we wouldn't be leaving for the hotel until after our usual bedtime, but our concentration was already destroyed by the setback, and we weren't really able to reset our attitudes to their previous levels of positivity. Instead, we just work work worked until our ride showed up, and still didn't finish our first draft of In/Spectre.
Things got better after that, though, because we shared a room with Sarah, and we had a great time staying up and talking about Disney movies and church musical programs and Miraculous. We had such a good time, in fact, that we felt like we totally hadn't destroyed our health by not getting nearly enough sleep that morning. We set off for the theme park in good spirits.
When we got there, we were starving, so instead of waiting to get to the Three Broomsticks, we stopped at Voodoo Doughnuts on City Walk...and then went straight to the Three Broomsticks, where we met up with Aurora and her significant other. We all enjoyed breakfast, which, alas, no longer had french toast, but did have pancakes that are better than the ones at Disneyland. And somehow we ended up with an extra pumpkin juice, so Athena and I decided to try it, and once again proved that our tastebuds are really weird compared to everyone else's. Aurora likes to get her pumpkin juice fizzed to cut the sweetness, which almost everyone in the party agreed was a bit excessive, but for me the drink was too tart, and for Athena the drink was too spicy.
And then! we got to go on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I feel like our family wasn't as impressed with Hogwarts as we were, which is kind of a bummer, but when I stopped worrying about how much they were enjoying it and focused on feeling the ambiance for myself, I had a much better time. Also, we had talked to some Disneyland cast members about the ride since our last visit to Universal, and they mentioned a trick to prevent themselves from getting motion sick! So I tried it, and it worked! Mostly. I was just a teensy tiny bit carsick at the end, but I recovered quickly, and it was great.
After that, we had a quick strategy meeting to figure out what all everybody wanted to do. In retrospect, instead of just sitting back and letting everybody else chime in (which they didn't really do anyway), I should have just said I want to see everything. The thing our family is trying to overcome is our fear of being judged by each other, and that was exhibited very well in this strategy meeting.
For better or worse, though, society has declared that the studio tour is a cool thing to do, so we all readily agreed to do that, and so off we went. Aurora is a tram tour guide at Universal Studios, so she used her connections to get us our first choice of seats on the next tram. Our tour guide turned out not to be the best. We don't know the tour as well as we know the rides at Disneyland, but Aurora, who knows the tour even better than we know the rides at Disneyland, said there were a lot of video clips she didn't show. Sarah commented on the Jaws part of the tour, where you could see the shark's dorsal fin, and then it disappears, and things get knocked over and exploded. The tour guide was like, "Is it attacking...the dock? Is it attacking...those crates?" and Sarah said it was like Dora the Explorer. I guess Sarah has seen a lot of that show thanks to her kids.
At the end of the tour, Aurora ran into one of her coworker friends, so she stopped and said hi, and then her friend gave us a bunch of front-of-the-line passes. That was our cue to go to the lower lot and see about using them. Aurora had already mentioned that since the Jurassic World ride was new, it was one of the few things she had any interest in, and others had agreed they'd like to see it. In fact, I wanted to know what they'd done to upgrade it, since the original Jurassic Park ride had some of the best storytelling I've ever seen in a theme park ride setting. But that drop is just too much for us, so instead I said, "I want Sarah to go on it so she can tell us all about it."
This must have triggered flashbacks to previous theme park trauma, where we prevented Aurora from going on all kinds of rides at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm because we were too scared, or maybe she was upset that I wanted Sarah to tell us all about it instead of her... In retrospect, I'm not 100% sure why I said that. Actually, it's been my experience that no one's great at telling us what rides are like, and thinking about it, Aurora probably would have been the most qualified. Well, it's too late now, because for whatever reason, that made Aurora decide that Athena and I had to go on Jurassic World, and I almost think she would have been okay if Athena and I were the only ones who went on it.
As you may imagine, we weren't too thrilled with this plan, but we lacked the will power to fight it, so we just followed along. We tried to explain that we weren't scared of the ride; we just happen to know that we don't enjoy the sensation of falling, so we don't like the drop. Our concerns were dismissed because, "It's only like 1.2 seconds long." I wish I had thought to reply that getting shot in the head probably takes less time. At any rate, Aurora's solution was to make sure we sat in the middle of the boat (with people on either side of us), to make the ride less scary. I'm really not sure how that would make the drop less drop-py, but I think everyone was distracted when I brought that point up. Gaston later pointed out that everybody knows the boat falls differently in the middle.
The line was only a little bit longer than the first time we went on the Jurassic Park ride, which meant we had to wait for one set of tourists to get on the ride before us. Everybody got distracted again while we waited for the next boat, and Athena pointed out that we could probably walk away without anybody noticing, and the idea was tempting. I don't know why, but we decided to stick it out anyway, and in retrospect, I think it was the right decision because now we can say that nobody convinced us to go on the ride but ourselves, by which I mean, the decision was 100% our own.
As for the ride itself...well, they didn't completely mangle it from the original version, but I don't think it's quite as good. They added a part with some really big screens to make it look like you're going through an aquarium to see the Mosasaur, and it looked pretty, but it was screens, and we're so over screens. The perspective wasn't really working for us, either--even though they had the Mosasaur eat a great white shark whole, it still didn't look that big to us. But it was cool how they added splashing effects, and it was really pretty. (...Stunning visuals.)
Then we saw the stegosauruses, and they were super cute, and then we went to the Indomitus Rex (or whatever that dinosaur's name is supposed to be) enclosure, and already everything was messed up and covered in blood. See, the reason I loved the original Jurassic Park ride (despite never wanting to go on it again) is that they show you hints here and there that something has gone wrong before they go into full red alert mode. I mean, I get that you want to have an impact, but...I don't know, I just like to have a few hints before the kaboom. The subtle build up was just really cool, that's all.
Then we went inside the building and started going up the ramp, and that's where I couldn't pay attention as well anymore, because I saw how high we were going up, and I knew we'd already gone up some, and now I was anticipating the drop. I did have just enough presence of mind to be like, "Oh, I guess Chris Pratt gets to be in two theme park rides now." And there were the scary dinosaurs...I think some of them were still in their enclosures, because they looked more like zoo habitats than emergency escape routes. And then there was a velociraptor falling out of the ceiling and holding onto a couple of exposed electrical wires...it was kind of a surreal experience. I definitely think it felt more surreal because my heart was pounding super fast in anticipation of the giant fall we were about to take. All I knew was that as soon as there was some kind of Rex coming out of a waterfall, we were doomed. And then there it was, and it didn't look as cool as I remembered it from the original ride, and I tried to sing a song but the acceleration due to gravity was too much for me, so I just screamed instead.
On the bright side, the prayers I had been saying in my heart throughout most of the ride were answered, and the drop didn't feel very long. I was still shaking afterward, too, so I had some physical evidence that I'm not just spouting hot air when I say I Do Not Like Drops. After that, I guess Aurora realized we weren't kidding, and she said that was the last time she would make anybody do anything they didn't want to that day.
And that's enough for now, because we really should get lots of sleep tonight. Today I'm thankful for getting to spend some quality time with family, getting to hang out at the Three Broomsticks, getting to see Hogwarts (Universal Studios version) again, getting to see the new Jurassic World ride, and never having to go on it again.