Theme parks with locations in Orlando- Florida , LA – California, Sentosa – Singapore and Osaka – Japan
Universal Parks & Resorts is best known for attractions and lands based on famous pop culture properties (movies, television, literature, cartoons, comics, video games, music, etc.) from not only NBCUniversal but also other companies. – Wiki
I had the opportunity last year (2015) to go to all of the Universal Studios (apart from Japan) but I only ended up going to the one in Orlando, Florida.
When I was in LA I pretty much just ran out of time, and in Singapore it was far too humid to be standing in line all day for rides so I didn’t go. I also hadn’t made any friends in Singapore to go with. Sad I know 😦
When I was on my Contiki Tour, going to Universal was one of the options when we were in Orlando. If you’re ever there, defiantly go!! I had soo much fun. Especially as I was with a group of people, there was always someone keen to go on a ride with me.
It’s funny because when I went to the Theme Parks in Australia with my boyfriend last year, I was pretty nervous to go on half of the rides and didn’t even do some of them!
However when it came to going on the rides with my new-found friends from my tour, I was all for it!!
I think it’s because we didn’t even have time to contemplate how scary a ride would be. The lines were short that day so we’d just immediately line up and go for it without waiting and thinking how scary it was. The less you think about it, the better it is! Plus I didn’t want to seem like a wuss and chicken out at the last minute in front of everyone haha.
When the bus dropped us off at Universal, we all fast-walked to the ticket booth (And believe me, it’s a bit of a walk!)
You walk up all these ramps and go on these moving escalators to get to the park. I’m assuming they must get super super busy over the Holiday periods but luckily for us we went first thing in the morning and there wasn’t too much of a line.
When you get let through to the park, you go through a short process where one of the park employees uses a scanner on your finger tip and the software scans the swirls and arcs of your finger to create a grid of intersecting points. These points are then stored as a series of coordinating numbers so when the finger is scanned again, the number series will repeat and match itself to the stored original. I think they do this so they know the same person is using the same pass if it’s allocated to them for a ‘season pass’ or something.
Once we were given our tickets from our Tour Manager, we quickly got into groups and headed off to the rides.
My group decided we’d head to the Hogwarts Express first and take the train to Hogsmeade where we knew there were some Harry Potter themed rides.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a Harry Potter fan at all. I know the basic characters and everything but have never seen a full movie.
Anyways, we met a Hogwarts Prefect at the ‘London Station’ who lead us to our passenger compartment on the train and I have to say, it was pretty cool!
We were seated on the train just like I assume Harry Potter was in the compartments, and there was a screen on our window showing the beautiful country side as we chugged along.
When we arrived at Hogsmeade we went on the Dragon Challenge Ride first. It’s an intertwining roller coaster and has two corkscrews, and two vertical loops. Not everyone in our group was keen on this so myself and 3 others ran to line up. I’m glad I got a roller-coaster out of the way because it got all my adrenaline running at the beginning of the day.
It’s one of those roller-coasters where your feet hang down and you’re terrified you’re going to kick something or someone haha.
(The above video isn’t mine, I just found it off Youtube)
When we got off the ride, we met the rest of the crew who had been waiting for us and tried one of their Butter Beers they bought from the Wooden Barrel. I was a bit hesitant to try one because (1. I hate beer, and 2. because as it was a dark color I assumed it’d taste like coke which I also hate)
However I was very wrong about this one. Looking back, I really should have gotten one because I always seem to crave it when I think of it.
Apparently Universal won’t release its butter-beer recipe, but people describe the drink as a”reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.”
The drink is drawn from a tap, like a beer, and the dense, whipped topping is added from a separate tap. It’s served in cups, about $3 ($4 for frozen) for a disposable cup and about $10 ($11 for frozen) for a hard plastic souvenir stein so not expensive at all!
The next ride was Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™
We walked through Gringotts Bank which was a large marble lobby and saw all these ‘Goblins’ hard at work.
When we arrived at the Underground ride, we hopped on to these flying benches and got strapped in. The ride is all in 3D and it honestly felt so real! We were flying on broomsticks with Harry & Ron, we were navigating the underground vaults and trying to get away from Villians. It’s a family ride, but I was still screaming with laughter.
I was expecting more rides at Hogsmeade but that was pretty much it. They also had a Gift Shop to buy all the Harry Potter Merchandise you could ever think of which is cool if you’re into that.
The Harry Potter adventure didn’t stop there however. We took the Hogwarts Express back to ‘London’ and went to Diagon Alley which is set up like the streets of London with a fire breathing Dragon at the top of one of the buildings.
There were so many shops!
You could buy your own Ollivanders wand and also these Interactive Wands so you could cast spells throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. You just waved your wand in certain areas, recited a spell, and then magic stuff would happen haha.
You could also buy assorted Wizardwear from Madam Malkin’s Robes and purchase wizarding wares and supplies like crystal balls, telescopes, binoculars, and hourglasses from Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment.
It was like a Harry Potter geeks dream.
The only thing I bought was an ice-cream from Fortescue’s Ice-cream haha. It was pretty good though!
They have three water rides at Universal Studios Orlando, we went on the Jurassic Park River Adventure Ride first which I kind of regret because I got soaked and ruined my hair for the rest of the day! Such a princess I know haha. You’re basically in a boat with 3 rows of other people and you go around a calm river with dinosaurs until something ‘goes wrong’ and then you’re put in front of the terrifying jaws of a towering T-rex and suddenly plunged 85-feet into total darkness.
I didn’t take any picture on this ride as I didn’t want my phone to get wet so I’ve found some pictures off Google too. 🙂
The second ride we went to was called Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. I had only just dried off so I skipped this ride and was the photo taker for everyone else. As you can see, this one is a log ride and is set in the Canadian North Woods. It has a 75-foot drop (22 meters) underneath an “exploding” dynamite shack.
We were all pretty hungry by this stage so went to one of the many food places the park has. I can’t quite remember what I got but I think it was a combination of fries and a drink of some sort. Knowing me, I didn’t want to eat too much in case it made me sick later on!
If you explored the whole theme park, you’d find so many places to eat!!
They have everything from New York Dining which has Italian food, and an Irish-American pub and restaurant which serves Fish ‘n Chips, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Guinness Beef Stew, Sandwiches, Salads, and a Full Bar.
They also had restaurants which have ‘Character Breakfasts’ (Great if you have kids with you) which you pay like $26 USD for and you get eggs, bacon, pancakes, yogurt, muffins & croissants in a buffet. You get to have your photo taken with characters from Hop & Despicable Me and then on the day of the breakfast you have access to an exclusive viewing area where you can see the Universal Superstar Parade which has floats & music etc.
Note: This is only available on Thursdays – Saturdays from 9am to 10am
Universal also has Mel’s Drive- In Diner which is all 50s themed and plays golden oldies on the jukebox and serves Burgers and Fries, Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Fingers, Onion Rings, Root Beer Floats and Frosty Milk Shakes. I didn’t go to this diner, but I went to the one in Hollywood when I was there and the shakes were so good!
I could really go on and on about all the places you can eat but I’d be writing for ages! They have your Burger King in the food court. They have Starbucks, Moes (Mexican food), A Sushi bar, Cinnabon, Cold Stone Creamery and a place called Lone Palm Aiport which is an outdoor tiki bar with hot dogs, shrimp and beer. Writing all this has just made me hungry haha.
I didn’t actually know this until I started researching more about Universal, but they have nightlife there! At Universal CityWalk they have bars like The Red Coconut Club and a movie theater which has a concession stand serving hot foods like pizza and fries, plus a full liquor bar featuring beer and wine. I wish I went to The Red Coconut Club now 😦 it has three different bars spread across the club’s two levels, signature martinis and specialty drinks, an extensive wine list and VIP table service!!
I guess this just means I have to go back 😉
Once we were all fed, we headed over to The Mummy Ride.
It was so much fun!! We made two of the people on our group go on this who barely went on many of the scary rides and they loved it, even if they were screaming their head off the whole time hahaha. We loved it so much we went on it like 4 times that afternoon.
You’re plunged into total darkness, there’s huge fireballs (Which are actually really hot) and swarms of scarab beetles and an army of warrior mummies coming at you.
If you love The Simpsons growing up, you’d love the whole Simpsons Theme they have going on. They have a Simpsons Ride which we lined up for. You go into these individual rooms with groups of about 4 people and you’re put into a cart-type thing. It’s a 3D high definition ride so you don’t really go anywhere but you feel like you are! You embark on a wild ride through Krustyland where you fly and float and crash through the attractions and stunt shows and your cart moves from side to side and up and down which is fun. It’s crazy what they can do with animation and stuff nowadays which makes you feel like you’re really about to fall down this cartoon roller-coaster haha.
‘Springfield’ was getting a bit dark and gloomy when we walked through the park thanks to a thunderstorm arriving so one of the guys in our group quickly bought one of those big pink donuts from Lard Lad Donuts and we took a couple of pictures before heading to Moe’s Tavern for a drink of Duff beer.
There were quite a few people inside lining up for a cold Duff beer so the boys spent awhile trying to get the bar tenders attention. As I don’t like beer, I didn’t try it but the boys said it tasted all good 🙂
I didn’t get to try a Krusty Burger as I wasn’t hungry, but they also have a restaurant there selling the famous Krusty Burgers, the Clogger Burger, The Ribwich, Sideshow Bob Foot Long, or a Heat Lamp Dog.
Before we finished our day at Universal, we went on the Mummy Ride one last time and when we exited, it absolutely poured down with rain!
We all huddled underneath some shelter near the lockers hoping that the rain would pass but it didn’t so I went inside and bought a poncho.
They look a bit lame and everyone laughed at me but eventually they all bought one too!
We wanted to go on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket which is a roller-coaster with this massive loop but it closed because of the thunder and lightning before we left.
I forgot to mention this, but at some stage during the day. We did go on The Incredible Hulk Coaster®
You go from zero to 40 mph (60km’s) in two seconds flat, and was defiantly one of the coolest roller coasters I’ve been on.
So that was my day at Universal!
Hopefully I’ve inspired you to go to one of them whenever you’re in Los Angeles, Orlando or even Singapore! Or maybe I’ve done some of the research for you.
Head to http://www.universalstudios.com for more info about all the rides and resorts you can stay at.
If you’ve been, let me know what your favorite ride was in the comments below!