42 - The answer to life, the universe, and everything
Monday 8th December
None of us woke until 6.30am. In fact I think Adrian was the first one out of bed. Thatís the first time thatís happened since well before Steven was born. Better get moving then. Nanny Lesley knocked on our door at 7am to see if we were ready to go down to breakfast. Well Adrian was in his underwear giving Steven his bath so I guessed that meant a big no. Big Steve and Lisa had bought some supplies and were breakfasting in their room to conserve shopping funds for more essential purchases. So Nanny Lesley got her breakfast and she must have taken it back to her room because when we ventured to the food court shortly after, there was no sign of her. No sign of any cheerleaders either. There was not a single person in that food court that resembled a cheerleader. In fact I was beginning to think that the whole Pop Warner thing was a ruse hatched by Disney suits to trick people into laying out for deluxe resorts to avoid potential cheerleader problems.
Anyway Adrian had a breakfast platter, Steven had toast and a banana, and I had a western omelette which are seriously good in this food court. After this we went back upstairs to prepare for the day ahead. I knocked on Big Steveís door to see how far they were from being ready and the door was opened by a totally naked Harry. This boy seriously needs to get some inhibitions. Everyone else is ready though so itís just a case of dressing Harry and we are off to the cars.
Today is Universal Studios day and we have a nice clear run up I-4 again and it only takes us about 20 minutes to reach the parking lot. The car in front of me seemed to be taking an awful long time to part with its $8 parking fee and we sat patiently waiting and watching. The car in front was actually paying its parking fee by credit card and the Universal person had to phone to get the payment authorised and we were on the verge of hissy throwing, but instead decided to back up and go through another booth where there was no idiot who didnít have $8 in cash on them.
We were parked in King Kong again and we knew the routine now so we were quickly at the elevators before any groups of 50 people could hold the doors open and stop us from reaching our goal. On the way to the park entrance Nanny Lesley fell off the end of one of the moving walkways. I swear she does it deliberately to embarrass us. No falling to the ground this time though, just a major stumble. As we turned right and headed to the entrance to the park, Ellie spotted a pressed penny machine hidden in the side of a photo booth. This kid must have pressed penny radar: no one else could see the machine until we were right up close to it. We pressed a penny and somehow managed to avoid the army of official photographers by the big Universal globe and made it safely into the park. Where the first thing we did was visit a restroom.
Now, when Ellie was about 18 months old she was absolutely crazy about Barney. This lasted until she was about 4. Adrian and myself both think that Barney has been sent to us by Satan himself. On our last two trips here Adrian and myself had to endure the painful experience that is the Barney store in order to secure suitable gifts for our favourite (and only) niece. Under intense questioning Ellie had assured me that as she was now 6 she no longer cared for Barney and that he was strictly for babies. Under further intense questioning she absolutely promised me that Harry did not like Barney one tiny iota. Great, no having to visit the Barney part anymore. Imagine my despair then, when Big Steve tells me that Harry loves Barney.
As we start to make our way through the park Harryís Barney detector swings into gear and he runs off ahead as fast as his little legs can carry him Ė which isnít very fast Ė in the direction of the Barney bit. Somehow we managed to divert him towards ET as no one wanted to see Barney first thing in the morning. There is no height restriction on ET but the sign outside said that handheld infants could not ride. I enquired further about this and was told that as long as the child can sit in their own seat they can ride; they just cannot be held or sit on your lap. So this was a big moment for Steven: his first ride in his very own seat. We gave our names to the people that give you your magic passes and made our way through the woods. Ellie and Nanny Lesley were way in front of us and got on the seat of bikes just leaving while the rest of us had to wait for the next one. Big Steve, Harry and Lisa sat in the front with Adrian, Steven and myself behind. Steven sat on the seat in the middle and we pulled the lap bar right down and we held him from each side. He looked very grown-up sitting in his own seat like that. He seemed to enjoy the experience too, and didnít try to wriggle out at all.
After weíd helped ET get home Harry made a break for the Barney pit but whatís this? A big sign saying that Barney and the Woody Woodpecker Kidzone did not open till 10am. Hoorah! A temporary reprieve!
What to do between now and 10am then? Well Back to the Future is close by so we walked up that way to see how the line was. There wasnít a line. There is however a height restriction which Ellie made but Harry didnít. All of the grown ups wanted to ride, even Nanny Lesley, which surprised me greatly because on her last trip she rode it and she found it very gairy. We were standing by the entrance discussing how we were going to tackle this when the Universal person standing by the entrance suggested we take advantage of the nice warm baby swap area. Duh. Baby swap. Why do we never think of the obvious?
So we baby swapped on Back to the Future. Itís easy to do: you all enter and when you get to wear they assign you to numbered rows tell them you wish to swap and the riders are sent to a row and the non-riders are sent to the waiting area. Nanny Lesley, Big Steve, Ellie and myself rode first, and then Ellie went again with Adrian and Lisa while the rest of us waited. Harry and Steven had great fun chasing each other around the waiting area, which was as the man described it, nice and warm. Nanny Lesley still rates this very gairy.
Itís past 10am now. Thereís no getting away from it. We have to go there. We turn and head for Barneydom.