My wife had been wanting to go to Universal for over a year. Being a Harry Potter fan, there is definitely a lot of attractions to draw her attention. Thankfully we received a phone call from Wyndham Hotels – we only had to attend a timeshare seminar and they would give us a day’s access to a theme park of our choice and discounted accommodation. Being strapped for cash, we were more than happy to trade half a day so we could go to Universal.
Universal has two theme parks, Universal and Islands of Adventure. We had heard the rides were better at Islands of adventure and wanted to see Hogsmead and Hogwarts. I was also keen to see Jurassic Park!
We drove and parked. From the parking lot you’ll go through security then cross the walk bridge to City Walk which has tons of restaurants. Universal is at one end of City Walk and Islands of Adventure is at the other.
We headed straight to the Hulk as we like rollercoasters. You have to check everything into a locker to catch this ride because you’ll lose it if it isn’t attached to you. I had a few people tell me that this was their favorite coaster of any theme park, so I had high hopes and it did not disappoint. It is extremely fast so don’t close your eyes, or you’ll miss a lot! There is a part where you go through mist which is a little scary, but definitely a fun ride. Getting there early allowed us to ride it twice pretty quickly.
Towers of Doom
We moved quickly onto Towers Of Doom to try and beat the crowds – it had zero wait time. This ride is like a reverser bungie jump – I definitely felt like I left my guts behind but it was a lot of fun! Again, not one for the lighthearted!
I’m not sure what to call this ride – it wasn’t a Rollercoaster but a mix of simulator and ride. We had a really low expectation going in but it was actually really fun! You follow spider man on his adventure to save the city – just be ready for the flames otherwise you might be a bit startled.
By the time we got to this ride the wait times ere getting pretty long. It is a very enticing, grand looking ride though, with flames burning alongside the giant gate. There are some interesting things to see as you wait in line. Beware once you get to the caverns, as there are some creatures in there that will startle you. I wouldn’t recommend this ride for kids under 12 as I think just waiting in line would be scary enough.
Similar to spider man the ride itself is a combination of 3D simulated reality, but you drive in on a real truck. I don’t think the ride matches up to how spectacular it appears from the outside, but still fun all the same. Both King Kong and Spirder Man are not intense rollercoasters, so I think they would be suitable for most people.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
We skipped over Jurassic Park and some do the water rides so we could get to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. As you step into this part of the park it really is like stepping into another world, with the castle like Hogwarts up high on the hill then the winding alley down through Hogsmeade. We got straight in line for the Harry Potter ride which is inside Hogwarts as the line was already over 2 hours. You do get to wind your way through the school though, and there are some cool things to see along the way.
The ride itself is another 3D simulates reality ride of flying through the air although my wife and I both thought that the experience of walking through Hogwarts was better than the ride itself.
Lunch in Hogsmeade
We made a point of eating Harry Potter style. There are two types of Butterbeer – warm and chilled and we tried them both. They were delicious – although the chilled version was very much like creamy soda!
We ate lunch at the old Tavern. I ordered pasties but I wouldn’t say they were overly amazing.
Harry Potter roller coaster
Later in the evening we ventured back to Hogsmeade to watch the Christmas light projection show on Hogwarts.
We then boarded the little rollercoaster – Flight of the
I am a Jurassic Park fan and was probably more excited about this section of the park than anything else! I was a little disappointed that the flying Jurassic park ride was only for kids, that said, this ride made up for it.
It’s a water ride a little like Disney’s Splash Mountain or Sea World’s Atlantis (but with Dinosaurs!!!). The cool thing is, if you are a single rider, you can be on this ride pretty fast. You start off boarding the boat and everything is going fine – until you realize the Raptors have escaped! As you go into the Jurassic facility, you’re tormented by raptors and eventually a T-Rex before dropping to your watery fate. Then you’ll likely to be begging to go again! I think I rode it 3 times! Be prepared to get wet! This one might be a little scary for the younger ones.
Another water ride is Popeye. In this ride you’ll sit in a donut shaped boat and ride the rapids – I would not recommend this ride if you want to stay dry but it is a lot of fun and typically has pretty low wait times.
We lined up for this one not really knowing what it was. The wait was long and we started to wonder if it would be worth it, but we were pleasantly surprised! This is a show that probably makes a bit more sense after you’ve seen Aquaman (although not related). You’ll go through different chambers on a quest to find Poseidon’s Trident.
The flame and water show is very cool, and I especially enjoyed the water vortex you walk through without getting wet! I’d definitely recommend this show but be mindful that you’ll be on your feet the whole time, so try to go when wait times are minimal.
Dr. Seuss’ Sky Train
The day was drawing to an end. We were getting pretty tired but we weren’t done quite yet! So we checked out the world of Dr Seuss. We rode the sky train which was kind of cool. I think if you have younger ones they would really enjoy this, but it also has some neat views of the park and is just a nice way to sit down and relax for a few minutes.
Cat in the Hat
The last ride for the day for us was Cat in the Hat. This ride takes you on a journey through different elements of the book. Another great ride to go on with the little ones – or if you are just at the very end of the day and need a moment off your feet.
In all, it was a pretty packed day. We didn’t ride one of the water rides, but managed to get pretty much everything else in!
Before heading home, we went out to Hard Rock Cafe on City Walk for a quick snack. Speaking of snacks, we noticed late in the day that Universal does have food plans, which looked to be
We’d really like to go back and get a two park pass so we can ride the Hogwarts Express train and see Diagon Alley. There is also a new ride coming to the Harry Potter section of Islands of Adventure this Summer called Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventures. Have you been to Universal? Let us know your experience below.