Any guesses what this post is about? That’s right a fabulous time at Universal Orlando Theme Parks is waiting for you and your family and I honestly mean this. Get ready to ride, scream, eat, walk, and enjoy yourself while you are nestled at Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
What is the difference between the two parks you might ask? Plenty, but what is not different is the amount of fun, family time you can have. Our 10 and up crew had a ton of fun and even a bit of freedom as we went ride-to-ride and park-to-park. My family loved strolling ahead and being their own gatekeeper of their Express Passes without worry of losing their admittance to the park. Why is this such a big deal? In DISNEY if you want to ride with their version of an ‘express pass’ known as a “FP+” you have to use your ticket(if you don’t have an on-site wrist band) which has you constantly worrying about losing your ticket for admittance to the parks.
I am a crayon and map girl, a planner and I knew we had to get to certain destinations first. While this may not be your style, I will tell you this, the most frugal person gets the most out of their investment(ticket) when you plan ahead and know how many possible rides there are, what you might want to most ride and then decide if you had to miss a ride or 2 what would be ok to miss. The planning is a bit of thrifty frugality that will save you time and heartache when your kids don’t miss rides. No matter the age of the kid(adults included) not getting on a ride you wanted is not fun, and we all have experienced it, so a little pre-planning never hurt anyone. That being said, here is how I envisioned getting through the park and our plan worked. The hardest part of our day was getting through the admission gates in the morning, after that it was smooth sailing.
Destination ONE : The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
With the popularity of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter I would suggest one of two options: a) buy a 2 day park-to-park pass if you are staying more than one day, or b) stay on-site, Hard Rock Hotel or others, get up early, get the gates 15 minutes before they open and your early guest admission will help you out. Wait in line and walk straight back(and you will walk a good distance) to get to the ride. After you get to this ride, you can work out all the other details of the parks but you don’t want to miss Harry Potter. DO you have to be a fan of Harry Potter to love the ride? Absolutely not, but it will help you know the story being told just a bit. The castle is amazing with detailed architecture that you see and read about.
Harry Potter Tip
*you will not be able to ride with any bags on this ride, but, there are FREE, yes FREE lockers for you to place your bags in as you enter the castle, so visit the locker, scan your finger and get to the locker. The lockers have a one hour time on them that allows you to have them for free, or after that you pay I believe it was $3.00. My suggestion would be to Express this ride if it is anything beyond 1/2 hour wait. You can take you phone with you, but you won’t be taking photos on the ride(at least I could not).
Ride #2 – Just step right outside the Harry Potter and get onto the Dragon’s Challenge. This is a heck of a coaster and it will twist and loop you and toss your breakfast if you are not prepared! DO you dare? Our crew did and we had to shake it off, just a bit, and well I did not, I just could not!
Ride #3 The Incredible Hulk Coaster will have you feeling the Hulk’s Rage, when he morphs, this is a speed-seekers must!
Ride #4 – Doctor Doom’s FearFall – Fall quickly after you rocket into the air over 150 – bawwwwwwhhh
Ride #5 – The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Amazing, and fun, get tossed around, heated up and even sprinkled with water as you follow Spider-Man on a journey
After these, we headed over to Universal Studios Florida, where you get to be the star and jump right into the action or go behind the scenes, depending what attraction you pick. This is the a TV and Movie based theme park.
Destination #1: Naturally this was Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and you will get jolted around. The ride is a lot of fun and we absolutely used our Express Pass to get in as this attraction is popular.
#2 was the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, you honestly have to like roller coasters, speed, and music to survive, my youngest could not get enough of this one.
#3 was Transformers: The Ride 3D and we did help Optimus Prime and the Autobots. There again was a wait here, but we passed it up with our Express Passes and this worked well in substantially decreasing our wait time . You can go to the character meet and greet and take photos, this was really a great stop for my kids and us.
We loved #4 Twister – we saved that for my daughter because she was always fearful of tornadoes, and now she was just a tad freaked out(lol).
#5 The Revenge of the Mummy. This wait was by far the longest wait of the day, even using the Express Pass. We got in and the line just took forever. This is an indoor roller coaster, it went forward, backwards, and we got to see Brandon Fraser at the end. The ride is well worth the wait.
#6 Men In Black – Do I even need to say more. Grab your alien-zapping skills and ride and train. We had so much fun on this- true family time and there are FREE Lockers to stow your bags in, so be sure to use them.
#7 E.T. Adventure – This is fun to hop aboard a bike and help E.T. I had missed out on this ride each time before, but I made sure to enjoy this ride.
#8 Curious George Goes To Town. We spent 2 hours here just cracking up, having fun and not riding anything. We love this play area, and I think we are worse than the kids. You have to head on over to the Man In The Big Yellow Hat’s Ball Factory. Take friends with you, or go alone, just don’t go on a full bladder because you will laugh so hard, you may pee your pants. You throw foam balls, blast foam balls, and launch them at any and everything within reach. It is so addicting. You can vacuum them up into a bag, or suck them up through a hose that fires out of a launcher. We were loading the foam balls 2 at a time, firing at each other and everyone else in there, but when you shoot, aim and successfully nail someone, don’t look at them, look away and laugh your butt off. It is so much fun. We were hit, and we were hitting. It is so much fun, you won’t believe how time flies when you are in here.
After this escapade, we needed food, lots of food, so we headed back to Fast Food Row and grabbed a donut, but not just any old donut, more the size of my head from Lard Lad’s Donut in Springfield. Sorry I ate it and forgot to photo as I was a bit icing laden. It was about $5 and it was worth every penny! Big, pink and truly a feat to eat. Save your junk food budget and appetite for one of these because it is so worth blowing your diet on. YUM, and there is quite a line at this counter because they have ice cream as well.
So, would I tell you to grab your kids and go to Universal? Oh yes. Can younger kids enjoy it as well? There are sections carved out just for them: Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon are all perfectly kid friendly. As far as the 42″ and up crowd, get ready to ride, and ride some more because our son had a blast riding and he went all day long. There are rides and shows for everyone in your group and what you don’t ride on, make up for with some eating, I had some great coffee and pastries while strolling along! Fries are fabulous and there is also fresh fruit and ice cream. Don’t forget all the great restaurants and music. Your days will be endless, your need to ride will be squashed and your family will have fun when you visit Universal Orlando!