At the beginning of the year, Jake and I decided to take a little New Year’s getaway to Universal Studios in Orlando. There were many obstacles we had to overcome, but I will share all of the good and the bad about our trip so that should you go in the future you don’t make our mistakes!
With Jake working 6 days a week at the time, we only had one day to soak up all that we could… Quite a challenge, but I feel like we accomplished most of what I had hoped for. I would probably recommend 2 or 3 days depending on how fast or slow your group is. And not only did we only have one day, but the weather was the coldest I had experienced in Florida, and rainy. I had packed and planned for hot weather, with light weight clothing. The first thing we had to do upon arrival was spend almost $100 on hoodies and plastic ponchos (not a great start). AND to add to the fun we were already experiencing at this point I found out that I now suffer from motion sickness. Apparently this is one of the joys of getting older, as I never had a problem with this before. After 2 roller coaster type attractions I was finished for the day, for fear of tossing my lunch. Had I known that this would be an issue, I would have taken motion sickness medication prior. Despite this challenges, we still had a great time and I would go back again!
So before I can really dive into all of the rides, attractions, and others you need to understand that the park is divided into 2 halves: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. My personal plan of attack was I researched the different rides, dining, and other must-see attractions from both sides and created a list. I listed by priority so that should we run low on time we could easily cut the non-essentials. Everyone’s list will vary, but I will say that the Harry Potter attractions should be at the top, this is really what makes this park amazing. Jake even went as far as to say “they should just make it Harry Potter world”, and I agree.
- Escape from Gringotts
- ET Adventures
- Simpson’s Ride in Krustyland
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
Shops (Basically all of Diagon Alley. There are others but these are the musts!)
- Ollivander’s Wands (if you have little ones, you can spend $50 on an interactive wand that if used at special places throughout the park they can “cast spells”. I would recommend it if you have the time). They also do a little show for children where one is child is selected and they are fitted with a wand.
- Borgin and Burkes. This is the dark novelty shop in a creepy dark alley, very neat!
- Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. This is a fun gag shop
- The Leaky Cauldron. Serving British food, we had the fish and chips.
- For those who enjoy sweets and have room for it, Florean Fortescue’s ice cream shop would be good.
- Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue
- Horrow Makeup Show
- Fear Factor Live
Island of Adventure Side:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Dragon Challenge
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- Incredible Hulk Coaster
- Jurassic Park River Adventure (this is a wet ride, and with it being so cold we automatically excluded all wet rides)
- Popeye and Bluto Bilge-Rat Barges(wet ride)
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (wet ride)
- Amazing Adventure’s of Spiderman
- Dervish and Banges. Various Harry Potter merchandise.
- Honey Dukes. Sweets.
- Check out the Lost Continent area. Jake was able to get a tarot card reading done here and there is a neat cave restaurant called Mythos which was also recommended.
- Three Broomsticks. Another Harry Potter themed restaurant serving British food. This would be another good choice, but we went with the Leaky Cauldron, just because it had a few more menu selections.
- Check the weather!! I cannot stress this enough. We could have much better prepared and spent that $100 on much more exciting things.
- We opted not to stay onsite but rather close by and took the hotel shuttle. This worked fine for us, but there are a few advantages worth mentioning to staying onsite: you can go to the park an hour early, when shopping you can have them send your purchases to the hotel instead of packing them around.
- We should have bought the skip the lines pass… Even on days when it’s not super busy, the lines get old fast. Just spend the money on this one!
- BUY the Butterbeer! I know what you’re thinking… $7 is a bit steep for a drink. But it is seriously good. I had 2 or 3 because they were that tasty! There were a few other drinks that were recommended: Fishy Green Ale (it was okay) and Tongue Tying Lemon Squash (didn’t try it).
- Bring motion sickness medication, just in case.
- Take more than one day. While we had a blast, it would’ve been more enjoyable if we took our.
- Ride the train both ways between Universal Studios and the Island of Adventure. It was great by itself!
Doing Universal Studios in a day can be done. We were able to see and do enough in our day at Universal Studios to have lasting memories! Most people wouldn’t recommend it, but then again those people probably would say our 3 week honeymoon in Ireland without a single reservation shouldn’t be done either. We’ve done both, and all turned out well. I say do what is right for you. If you have any questions or comments, as always feel free to share with me. And be sure to check out the photo gallery for all the photos from this trip! Until next time, sichere Reisen (safe travels)!