5238Tess and I are at Universal Studios in Orlando. It’s our second visit to a Universal theme park. The first time Tess was 4 and we were visiting friends in southern Califonia. She spent the entire day pretty much terrified. Even the Back to the Future ride left her shaking. It was, for the most part, a miserable day capped off by the Jaws ride, which left her scarred for life. She refused to take a bath for months. Even getting her into the shower took coaxing.

Not this time, though. She’s 13 now. She loves amusement parks, roller coasters and scary movies. All of which adds up to a great time at Universal Studios.

We’re here as guests of Universal and we’re staying at the Hard Rock Hotel onsite at the theme park. That means we get VIP treatment–not because we’re special, but because we’re a staying on property. Anybody who stays on property (or buys an Express Plus Pass gets access to the Universal Express Plus line at all of the rides. While the regular folks were waiting 60 minutes or more to get on a ride, Tess and I and the other Express Plus Pass holders never waited more than 15 minutes.

We even took the JAWS boat ride, although she didn’t go willingly. She survived it, but it did not wipe from her memory the terror she felt encountering that shark when she was 4. I remember another little girl on the ride back them bursting into tears. This time, though, there were several youngsters on the boat with us and none of them seemed to be at all fazed by it. I guess kids are more mature these days.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Islands of Adventure and a visit to see the “Blue Man Group” in the evening.