Friday, January 23, 2015

Universal Studios Orlando~ Islands of Adventure

My husband recently had a work trip in Tampa, Florida so I flew out at the end of the week and we spent the weekend in Florida together. While we were there, we decided to go to Universal Studios in Orlando, which was about an hour and a half away.

Since we were only there for a short time, we opted to just go to one park for one day. If you have more than one day, I definitely recommend going for two days or more and going to both parks. My husband and I came here for our 10th anniversary four years ago and we went to both parks. This time, we decided to go to Islands of Adventure because we liked that park a little better. But they're both amazing.

The pass we bought was $96 and it was a one day pass and could only be used in one park. It's definitely not the best deal but we were short on time so that's what we chose. If we were to upgrade to a park to park pass, it would've been $136. For the same price of $136, you can get a two day pass that's one park per day. I think that's the best deal. However, if you want to ride the new Hogwart's Express which takes you from park to park, you'll need a park to park pass. So if that's a priority to you, then you'll need to get that pass.

It's a good idea to look at crowd calendars before your trip to decide which days are the best days to go to the park. These crowd calendars are based on years of statistics so they're actually pretty accurate. Here are some links to crowd calendars:
Orlando Informer
Undercover Tourist
Touring Plans

The park is divided into sections: The Lost Continent, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, Marvel Super Hero Island, and Suess Landing.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This was by far my favorite part of the park. Whether or not you're a Harry Potter fan, you'll love being here! It feels like you're right in the movie. The details were amazing! It's something that you have to experience, especially if you're a die hard Harry Potter fan.

They recently opened a new area called Diagon Alley, which is located in Universal Studios. Unfortunately, we didn't get to experience it because we only went to Islands of Adventure but if it's anything like this part of the park, I'm sure it's awesome!

There are 3 different rides in this section of the park. They are Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge, and Flight of the Hippogriff. They were all so much fun but my favorite was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The line goes through the caste and it looks just like it does in the movie. Even the pictures hanging on the wall move! The ride itself is so much fun because you're flying with Harry Potter and it feels so real. The effects are amazing!

You can also go to the gift shops and buy Harry Potter memorabilia such as wands, shirts, candy, etc. We tried Butterbeer for the first time. It was good but it was a little overpriced for what it was. But that is to be expected in a theme park, right?

Jurassic Park
We loved Jurassic Park! There are only two rides in this section of the park. They are Pteranadon Flyers, which is only for kids, and Jurassic Park River Adventure. They also have a section with interactive activities that remind me a lot of the movie. (We just happened to watch the movie a few weeks before we came here.)

Suess Landing
This is the only section of the park with kiddie rides. It was so cute! Just like you're walking through the pages of every Dr. Suess book. So much fun!

Marvel Super Hero Island
This was a really fun part of the park. My boys would love it! Everything is super heroes! There are four rides here. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, Doctor Doom's Fearfall, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Storm Force Accelatron. My favorite was the Spiderman ride. It's in 3D and it feels so real.

Toon Lagoon
This section of the park is comic book and cartoon characters. It's really cute! There are only two rides and they're both water rides. We decided to ride one of them even though it was a little chilly that day. I'm not sure if it was the best idea. It was so much fun but we got soaked! It took us forever to dry off. They had drying machines that you could use but they cost $5! Kind of a rip off, in my opinion. But the ride was really fun even if we were cold for the rest of the day.

Overall, I really loved this park. I am a huge Disney fan and this park is the closest theme park to the way a Disney park feels. It felt magical just like Disney. But I still prefer Disney to Universal Studios and this is why. Both parks cost a small fortune but at the Disney parks I always feel like I'm getting special treatment. Here I felt like they were just trying to get more money out of me. For example, at the Disney parks, fast passes are included with your park tickets. It's on a first come first serve basis, but everyone has access to them. At Universal, you can purchase an Express Pass that will allow you to wait in certain lines that will put you in front of everyone else. Prices for an Express Pass start at $34.99 and go up to $59.99 depending on the option you choose. We also sat through a magic show that felt more like a sales pitch. The tricks he showed us were really cool but I felt like they just wanted our money. When I spend this much money to go to a theme park, I don't like feeling like I have to spend more. But it is a really fun park and I would definitely go here again. 

If you have small children, I would probably recommend waiting until they're a little older to take them here. Almost all of the rides have height requirements so you would be spending the majority of your time in Suess Landing and you would have to get child swap passes. I'm sure my four year old would love Suess Landing but there's not much more she would be able to ride. If I'm going to spend that much money, I want to make sure my kids can enjoy everything.

This place is awesome and I can't wait until I can take my kids here. They will love it! Especially my son who is a huge Harry Potter fan.

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