It’s now been 6 months since our Disney trip, but I still want to finish the recaps from our trip. You can read the previous recaps:
Before our trip, we developed a tentative itinerary outlining which park we would go to each day. To come up with the itinerary, I looked at touringplans.com to see which parks were expected to have the least crowds each day. I also compared park hours for each day. We made dinner reservations based on our itinerary, so several of the days were more or less set in stone.
If only I had planned on going to Universal Studios one day earlier. Sadly, one of the rides from my childhood (1995), closed the day before we went. The Jaws ride closed on January 2, and we went to Universal on January 3. It was so disappointing! They had boarded up the ride quickly. When I was little, we had our picture taken under the giant shark outside the ride. I was looking forward to re-creating that picture (almost 17 years later), but this was the closest I got.
Yes, I’m pouting. The rest of our day was a lot of fun though. We started at the Island of Adventures, because the real reason for our break from Disney was to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
It was so cold the day we visited – it wasn’t even 40 degrees when we got there! So our very first stop at the park was a gift store where I could buy a hat. It was reversable… I could be Thing 1 or Thing 2! We stopped once more on our way to Hogwarts. The Spiderman ride only had a 5 minute wait, so we went for it. It was a really cool 3-D ride! Universal definitely wins for more realistic rides.
Finally, we arrived in Hogsmeade. I had been wanting to go ever since I heard the park was opening, and I was finally there! It was everything I imagined it would be and more 🙂
The line for the ride in the castle was advertised as being 2.5 hours. I was hesitant to get in line, but we decided this was the ride we came to the park for, so we went for it. It only ended up being about a two hour wait, but they did have a lot to look at once we got inside the castle.
Some of the effects were pretty cool. The talking paintings looked real, they had a room of “floating” candles, and even what appeared to be 3-D projections of Harry, Ron and Hermione who come out on a balcony to talk to you. I loved every minute of it!
The ride was just awesome. Definitely worth the two hour wait. We were in these cars and they alternate between showing you a video screen, where you feel like you’re flying on a broomstick and scenes where you feel like you’re actually in the movie. They had dementors that get super close to you. I loved it!
Next up was the Dragon Challenge roller coaster. It’s a coaster with two intertwined tracks that “race” each other. We almost missed out on this coaster because the weather was so cold. It was closed the first time we went by, and they told us that the temperature had to reach at least 40 degrees before they could start testing the track. Thankfully, it “warmed up” a little bit!
The coaster was awesome! After the rides, we went to eat at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. We had to wait in a very long (and cold) line just to get inside… where there was more line to wait in. But it was so worth it to experience the pub.
We ordered at the counter and then scouted out a table. They had traditional pub food, and a few favorites from the Harry Potter books. Of course, we had to order butterbeer! It was similar to cream soda.
As much as I hated to leave the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there was a lot more to see at Universal Studios. We wandered through Dr. Seuss land, but didn’t go on any rides.
We knew we definitely wanted to ride the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, so that was up next. It was one of my favorite rides of the trip. They shot us up quickly in the beginning, and straight into an inversion. It was a rush!
After taking on The Hulk, we headed over to Universal Studios Florida. It was getting late, but we wanted to hit a few of the classic rides. Along the way, we got a few pictures at the entrance.
The entryway to Universal was just like I remembered it.
We first rode Disaster, a ride that was similar to a ride from my childhood, Earthquake. After a show involving the audience, you board a subway and experience an earthquake, complete with fire and rushing water.
Next we went on the Simpsons ride. At that point, it was getting late and we were freezing cold. We had been all day. We got in line to ride Twister, but as we were going into the ride, we heard an announcement that we would get wet on this ride. That was all we needed to hear to book it out of there. Of course, once we were out of line and back at the entrance, a park attendant told us that they turn the water off on cold days. At that point, we were not going to wait on line again, though. We decided it was time to head back to our hotel.
We ate dinner at Benihana in our hotel. It was fun! They threw in a bit of Disney to their show.
It was a cold, but very fun day at Universal!