After the magic of Disney, we didn’t think we could top it. But Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are two parks not to be missed if you’re travelling to Orlando. Connected by the Hogwarts Express, (and the Citywalk) these two huge parks are packed full of intense thrill rides and fun stuff to see.
Universal Studios is comprised of Production Central, Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Springfield: Home of The Simpsons and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Each one has characters, experiences and rides to make it memorable and we loved exploring each.
Production Central is home to the Rock and Roller Coaster where you get to choose what song you listen to on the way around. It’s fast with loads of loops and my head was banging about all over the place, but I’d definitely recommend!
We saw the Blues Bros perform on the streets of New York, followed Shaggy, Daphne and Velma along the sidewalk of Hollywood and Bumblebee from Transformers showed some moves near San Francisco. Other rides we went on were The Return of the Mummy which has so many visual effects and the Fast and Furious ride.
Springfield had loads of food options and the Simpsons ride was a brilliant VR experience.
But.. my favourite part (and the bit of the holiday I was most hyped for) was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Wow. You walk into the streets of London, see the entrance to King’s Cross station, the Knight Bus and Grimauld Place, but it’s only when you pass through a little bricked entranceway that you come out into Diagon Alley in all it’s glory.
For someone like Dan who hasn’t watched or read anything Harry Potter (sorry, what?) it wouldn’t have been exciting, but for me, complete Potter nerd, it was incredible. The detail here is on another scale. I’ve been to the LA park but this version was insane. The shops – all fully stocked – and performances from singers and magical wizards was enough to make me think I was on my way to Hogwarts. Definitely try the frozen butterbeer for a cold refreshing pitstop.
The Escape from Gringotts ride has some unexpected surprises and we were screaming and laughing the whole way round. We then climbed aboard the Hogwarts Express and went across to Hogsmeade Station situated in Universal Islands of Adventure and ended up walking up to Hogwarts itself and into the castle corridors. The ride in here has you feeling like you’re on a broom and the special effects and story telling were fantastic.
I could’ve spent all day here but was conscious of Dan losing his Potter patience so we moved on to more rides in Islands of Adventure – The Hulk coaster being one of them. I’d heard so many good things about this rollercoaster so thought I’d embrace the G-force. I nearly blacked out at one point from feeling faint so once was definitely enough for me! The Jurassic World ride was brilliant – little tip: don’t sit right at the front if you can help it… and the King Kong ride was similar to the Fast and Furious one in the main Studios park – VR and 4D effects throughout the bus ride.
Ride wait times weren’t that long here compared to Disney (I reckon more people flock to the Disney parks on average) so don’t bother investing in the queue jump pass for over $100! We got on a lot of the bigger rides in under 20 minutes throughout the day and queuing areas are shaded or indoors for the majority of the time. I wish we’d had longer to explore both parks a bit more, and if we hadn’t have had to catch our bus back to our hotel, would have loved to have shopped and eaten at the City Walk. The river it overlooks is lovely and the sun setting over the iconic turning globe is a great setting for some cocktails.
Don’t miss out on Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure… ESPECIALLY if you love all things Harry Potter. Why not go check out my YouTube video of our day HERE – I’d love it if you subscribed to my channel and hit that like button!
Lots of love and craving a butterbeer…