Universal Studios, Orlando Florida
**Not Including The Wizarding World of HArry POtter, I'll hit that later**
Universal Studios and Disney are in the same town (Orlando) and sometimes my friends and I will do a girls' road trip down. We tend to stay more at Universal as times go by because Disney raises it's prices constantly and sometimes the stress of going to Disney with people who don't go regularly can be a drag. Which isn't nice of me to say of course but if you've spent a ton of money on a flight, hotel, tickets and are on a schedule (with or without crying, tired children) it can be really stressful. And those people probably don't want to deal with my friends and I as well leisurely stroll through the park. They've also automated a lot of it and there's all these sign-ups, you can't take a spontaneous picture with Gaston or Chip/Dale, you have to be on a list. This probably seems super weird but people are assholes and mob the characters. So, that's good...but it's put a huge crimp in my ability to game the system and ride Splash Mountain multiple times.
Universal is the home of Harry Potter's Wizarding World of the Impoverished Tourist...or something like that. For real, Universal is a lot of fun. Sure, there are super stressed people there too but they have misters (which is something Disney needs to add), they have rides and they have Dippin' Dots. The park is divided up by 'genre' as well, there's the Dr. Seuss Park, Superhero Park, Harry Potter land, comic's, etc. There's a boardwalk (adjacent) with movies, restaurants, bars and concerts. There's a parade, I tend to skip all the Park Parades, but they're great for kids.
And misters. Florida is hot, y'all.
There's about five sections to Universal, depending on the season (and if there's a deal) I'll stay in one of the resorts because I hate driving in Orlando. I haaaaaaaaaattttttteeeeee it. I also hate driving in Miami. And Raleigh. Anyways, Cabana Bay is my jam. It's all connected and once you're in the system you can travel around. So it's more like Universal Studios-Islands of Adventure-Resorts-City Walk. The last time I was there they had opened the Legends of Kong ride...and the line was insane. I didn't even try to wait it out.
I'm always impressed with the work that goes into maintenance as well as decoration. Even the food concessions, restrooms and foliage match the theme. The Lost Continent Park has a slightly odd Arabian Nights theme. I feel like I'm missing the connection...but I'm also not a movie buff. One side leads to Harry Potter land whilst the other leads to the (Dr.) Seuss Landing Park.
When I went, we had picked a 'deal' that included a room at the Cabana Bay and early access to Universal and Harry Potter world. Like 7 AM early. When we left Harry Potter's World of Sudden Poverty it was because the park had opened to the masses and that park was getting packed. So my friends and I wandered around the rest of the park, and sometimes certain parks would be empty or not yet open (I think we went through Seuss' before it opened and after).
When I went with my friend from Asia, she had never heard of Dr. Seuss books (English is her third language, so perhaps Dr. Seuss books might not be the best) and experiencing 'Seuss Landing' from a new, adult, eye was shockingly hilarious. How does one explain the importance of green eggs and ham? No, seriously...how? Another question I was unprepared to answer, 'What is a sneetch?' Beats me!
Another amazing Dr. Seuss connection is that my (American) friend and I threw a Christmas party and put 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' (the OG) on the television in the background in Scotland. We bought it and streamed it and thought nothing of it. It was a hit. Our non-American friends that showed up said they only ever saw clips of it in other movies so they were tickled to watch the whole thing. Who knew?
The next park we saw was the superhero one, 'Marvel Superhero Island.; It has some fun rides and lots of larger than life superhero characters coming from the buildings. I'm superheroed out to be honest. We kinda just did the rides and hopped to the other parks. The parade was happening while we were in this park, so most of the little kids were at the parade (because the characters are in the parade).
Toon Lagoon!!! This is honestly a super fun part of the park...more than you'd think. We got to this section from Harry Potter and the Butterbeer Gas (we left via Jurassic Park) and it was deserted! So my friends and I have hundreds of pictures of us playing in this park. They have comic bubbles you can stand under and comic 'panels' you can insert yourself for pictures. Way too much fun. I'm not uploading any here because this is a me-less post and my friends don't want to be featured. Well, I haven't asked them but you know.
There's also the ride below...you will get wet. It's the best to do after a long day in the park. Universal has dryers you can place yourself in (like, you just stand in a box and they shoot air all over you for five minutes). So go on this ride, hit up the dryer and then go back to the hotel to shower, nap and then come back and hit up CityWalk.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong had just revamped and opened and the line was at the Toon Park. No lie. So we didn't wait--although the roller coaster had a splash mountain vibe--and continued through. We came back later in the day to do the water ride (is it the Bilge Ship Barge?) and the line was still long.
So here's a picture of a duck that lives in Universal and a view from across the water.
The last park that is not Harry Potter and the Accidental Wand Stabbing is Jurassic Park. It's a smaller park, with a child's coaster in which I was not allowed to steal a child so I could ride. There's a shady area there to sit and have a snack or drink. I only mention it because a certain mousey park does not believe in shade (I got a mild heatstroke at disney once, I'm a bit snarky. I mean, to be fair, a Disney employee figured out what was happening before I did. I thought I was having a stupid migraine...so they got me to medical and water before I passed out. One does not pass out IN Disney. Nope. So after a night in the ER...I now know about heatstroke!).
We spent most of the day at Universal and specifically Harry Potter's Wonderful World of Gaining Weight on Chocolate Frogs. We had a late lunch and drink at Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet's place!) before shower and naps at the hotel. We hit up Citywalk that night for a concert. None of my concert pictures really look great because we were in the corner but there were so many fun people where we were. I think we all just decided to have fun because we could only see 1/3 of the stage. So, obvious tip--get there early for a place in the crowd.
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