Nov 4 2010: Still T-1 Day (and counting)

We rousted ourselves out of bed dark and early to the sound of heavy rain. We were all checking various sources with our phones to see if there was any updated information - NASA flight managers had a meeting that started at 5:30 am to determine if Space Shuttle Discovery would launch today. Mr. Pollak was pulling up satellite pictures and telling us there were heavy thunderstorms right over the launch pad which would prevent fueling. We didn't think it would fly, but we downed some coffee to prepare for the 2.5-hour drive and hit the road at 5:45. About 20 minutes down the road, we received a call from our Ames contact saying the launch was scrubbed. We made a U-turn and headed home for a little more sleep. Unfortunately, one of our teacher-team members has to catch a flight back today.

We hit the road again around 9:00 am to take Ms. Delfino to the airport. Then we headed off on our Adventure of the Day!

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Universal Studios in Orlando is a set of "islands" with different themes: superheros, comics, Dr. Seuss, Jurassic Park and more. We made straight for ... The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Just after the entry arch is the train platform where Harry and the Weasleys catch the magical train to Hogwarts.
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The little village of Hogsmeade is the main street of this area. You can eat Shepherd's Pie and drink butter beer and (of course!) shop. Everything looks exactly as you imagined except for all the muggles hanging around and mingling with the witches and warlocks. If you're in the right place at the right time, you can hear a concert performed by witches, warlocks, and frogs.
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One of the tavern signs. L to R: Mr. Ponder, Ms. Villeneuve, and Mr. Pollak stand in a queue to enter Olivander's. This was the only line we stood in all day thanks to the cold, wet weather. ("Cold" means lower 70s in Florida.)
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Olivander's shop was exactly like the movies. They have a ceremony in which Olivander selects a member of the audience and then finds the perfect wand for that person. Magical things happen. After determining which wand, you exit into a shop which sells wands and other things. You can buy a wand to match any of the characters in the books or you can buy one that matches your personality.
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The road out of Hogsmeade leads to Hogwarts. It is a very impressive sight. The main ride of this area is housed inside Hogwarts but takes you on a virtual trip outside as you follow Harry on his broom to the Quidditch pitch and are attacked by dragons, spiders, etc. The ride was GREAT!
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On the way through Hogwarts to the ride, you see all of the well-known areas. The whole area was a lot of fun.
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