A few months ago, the kids started asking about going to Universal to see the Harry Potter areas. Annabel was reading book 4 (she now seems to be stuck midway through 5 . . .) and Josh and I decided we might as well make a stop in Orlando on the way to Amelia Island – after all, it is on the way!
We went to Disney in February of this year and found it frustratingly crowded; we also did not like their revamped FastPass system. AND I came home with norovirus, which is probably why I never blogged abut the trip at all! It was not our favorite trip, honestly.
So we were a little nervous about Universal. But I have to say . . . we greatly preferred it! It was less crowded and there were more amenities. You didn’t have to know 15 insider ‘tricks’ in order to eat in the park without waiting in a 2 hour line. There were a ton of rides at every level — enough so that even though we didn’t venture onto anything G was too short for, there was plenty to fill a day and then some.
Stayed at: Loews Royal Pacific – one of the hotels that came with Express passes, which we definitely appreciate having. We were able to fit in a regular room with a rollaway, so the cost wasn’t exorbitant — FAR more reasonable than the Disney equivalent. It was easy to get to the parks and had some great easy eating options (including room service, which we took advantage of – my fave decadent vacation experience). We would definitely stay there again!
Rides/Experiences: G is 42″ tall, which means there were a lot of attractions she wasn’t eligible to ride. We could have split up, but honestly no one in the family is big on thrill rides (maybe A, but she didn’t seem to care much). Universal has some VERY serious roller coasters that we did not ride on (and I never want to, ha!), and a large number of ‘virtual/4D’ experiences that we really liked.
We went on:
Islands of Adventure – Flight of the Hippogriff (“junior” roller coaster and about what I can handle, lol); Jurassic Park River Adventure (this one had a big drop with a dinosaur that scared G a bit, but she recovered); Amazing Adventures of Spiderman; Pteranodon Flyers; Dr Seuss Carosel; Hogsmeade (including a stop at a Olivander’s). Then we had lunch at Mythos (FANTASTIC – highly recommend) and took the Hogwarts Express to Universal Orlando.
Universal Studios Orlando – We started in Diagon Alley. Then: TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D; E.T. Adventure Ride; Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
At that point it was about to storm and we were done (9 hours in the park is about our limit!) and we took the ferry back to the hotel right before it got shut down for lightning. Whew!
We really had a great time and would definitely go again when all 3 are tall enough for more rides, particularly the virtual Harry Potter themed ones that we skipped.
More tomorrow. Definitely living the vacation lifestyle . . .