For those of you playing Starbucks bingo, then this is nil points day. In the words taken from 'Frozen', "For the First time" Karen did not have her daily caffeine fix. Will she make it through the day with her sanity intact. Read on to find on.
The morning was another early start as Neil & I were off to Volcano Bay for the first time. Karen had elected to stay at the Villa as water parks are not really her thing and this one seemed to be aimed at the more adventurous type. The rather large entrance price all played a part in her decision. I had also spent time messaging Barry at Gatwick and checking on his flight.
We packed a couple of rolls each and some snacks and hit the road. I was slightly apprehensive about the day not knowing what to expect and wanting to protect my back from any damage. The drive was easy and I kept relatively calm as I handed over another $25 for parking. The parking was in the Universal Studios parking lot and from here we had to catch a shuttle to the water park.
We joined a short queue to get into the park, but nevertheless I was still annoyed when we were not allowed in despite our paper tickets stating in bold letters on the top - proceed directly to the turnstiles. We had to go back to guest services to get 'proper' tickets - grrrrrh.
Finally we were in the park and found a couple of sunbeds to base ourselves and leave our stuff (safely locked away in the Pacsafe that Neil had bought me for my birthday). We headed to our first ride, Neil with anticipation and me with trepidation.
I needn't have worried, it was tremendous. The aqua coaster is apparently the longest and fastest in the world. You sit in a kayak type thing and it is really just like a roller coaster. You fly down hills and then shoot up other ones via magnets underneath the coaster. It is very smooth and very fast. I really enjoyed it. It was a good job we rode it then without any wait as by later in the day the queue grew to 85 minutes.
Without wishing to detail every single ride/slide there are a couple of others that are worth mentioning. We went on one that the raft we were in experienced zero gravity apparently. We were shot down a very steep slope and around a couple of bends before went up the side of a very steep slope until we were virtually vertical and then came down again. It was exhilarating to say the least.
Most of the other rides featured extreme bends twist and features that were really a leap ahead of anything else I have experienced at any other water park including Disney. The theming was all very impressive as well.
The last slide I tried was a another tight twisty tube one that you did on your own. The difference was that rather than coming straight out into the water, this time you could either choose a 3 foot or 6 foot drop into the water. We took the stairs up and I didn't realise you had to make that choice at the bottom not the top. By the time I did I thought 'in for a penny, in for a pound' and what could possibly go wrong and waited the 5 minutes for my turn with the 6 foot drop. The slide down was fine, but somehow when flying out of the tube at the end I wrenched my shoulder badly. I felt in go in mid air and knew that I would pay for it afterwards. The pool at the end is 10 feet deep and you need most of that due to the speed at which you hit the water.
I was sore afterwards and am feeling it even more 24 hours later. I'm still glad I did it though.
From here we went to the 'Furious River'. This is a Lazy River like no other. You have to wear a life vest. The water is warm but only 3 ½ foot deep. Yet the sides of the river are still 6ft above your head. This is because there are large wave machines along some side which cause enormous waves, rips and currents. You bob along at a tremendous speed, get sucked under, ride waves and spun around. It is fantastic fun and worth the admission price along. We went round 3 times before we clambered out with big beaming smiles on our face.
I needed some chill time so went back to our sun beds whilst Neil went to do a couple of rides that had vertical drops to start with and I had decided to avoid to protect my back. When he returned and had his lunch he went into the large pool and I eventually followed him. Then we went to the normal lazy river which was actually cold and although themed well seemed tame compared to the Furious River so we went back to that and went around a couple more times.
By now the sun was burning down and I went for another chill and to message Karen as well as check again on the progress of Barry's flight.
After a slow wander around we headed out of the park with the warm glow of having had a really good time. We caught the shuttle back to the car and had an easy drive back.
We then sat outside for a while before getting changed to go and pick Barry up. We left enough time to play a round of Pirates Cove golf en route. Despite my protestations that I should have been given a 3 shot start due to my badly injured shoulder, I was not allowed it. The scores were nip and tuck all the way round, and despite having taking 2 fives - Neil & I were tied coming to the 18th. I went for a glory shot from the tee and went off the course leaving Neil in the end 2 easy putts to win. Being not so competitive he took them with ease and celebrated in style.
We then drove to the Cell Phone waiting lot at the airport and arrived 15 minutes after Barrys flight had landed. Unfortunately his flight had landed just after other 3 other international flights and it took him 95 minutes to get through Immigration. It was a long wait for us and must have felt even longer for him. Despite this we were delighted to see him when eventually he was outside the terminal for waiting for us.
There was a lot of excited chatter as we drove back. We were all starving by now so stopped at Outback for some food (4 orders of the Outback special - please!). Here we shared more news of what we had been up to and from home.
Once Barry had explored the villa for a bit we decided to tweak our plans for the next couple of days and then all retired for the night. Karen was so pleased to have the boys here she never mentioned the lack of Starbucks more than once.