Friday, November 30, 2012

Universal Orlando...The Must Do's long overdue post related to my visit to Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.  I confess that it was my very first visit.  We have always found it hard to pull ourselves away from Walt Disney World anytime that we have previously visited the Orlando area.  But this visit was really a pre-cruise visit so we decided to spend the day at Universal Orlando and see what we might have been missing.

For those of you who are Disney's fans, you have to go into Universal Orlando with a different mindset.  It is not going to immerse you in an overall "magical theme."  The sounds and colors of Islands of Adventure are generally loud.  That is really the best way I can describe it.  When you enter the Marvel Comic area, you are greeted with oversized pictures of Wolverine and Spiderman etc and the music is more of an adrenaline-pumping theme which is probably geared towards getting you pumped to ride The Incredible Hulk roller coaster.  Which is the first one of my "must-do's."  The loops and twists combined with the awesome launch right out of the gate makes this a must-do for any coaster enthusiast.

Another must-do is the Dragon Challenge inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of Islands of Adventure.  Even if you are not a huge fan of Harry Potter, this coaster again is a must.  You are suspended below the track which adds to the thrills of the loops and corkscrews that you will encounter throughout the ride.

And speaking of Harry Potter, if you are a fan, you will almost tear up when you enter Hogsmeade. This is the one area of Islands of Adventure where you are truly immersed in a theme and you will truly feel that you have taken a magical journey into the world of Harry Potter.  Just walking around in Hogsmeade is one of my must-do's.  Go into the shops, enjoy a meal at The Three Broomsticks and grab you a Butterbeer.  If you do, I promise that you will have an enjoyable day, even if the lines getting into any of the attractions are horrendously long.

But my next must-do is probably numero-uno on my list of things to do.  If there is only one ride that you could ride in all of Islands of Adventure, I would choose to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  For those of you who have been to Epcot, but have yet to visit Universal Orlando, the best way I can describe this ride is by saying that it is Soarin on steroids.  You exercise all of your senses on this ride and it has actually become maybe my most favorite attraction, even more than some of my favorites at Walt Disney World.

My last two must-do's come from the other park that makes up Universal Orlando...Universal Studios.  The first one is the Revenge of the Mummy.  I like it because it is not just a roller coaster and it is not just a simulator.  It combines several different directions and speeds and offers some visual effects as well.  It was just fun.  And my last must-do is the new attraction Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.  It is a great attraction for the whole family.  I do wish that they had made more of the queue line indoors.  The line was fairly long and you spend a fair amount of time out in the heat even though it is covered, very similar to lines for Peter Pan's Flight and other attractions in Fantasyland inside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

I know I brushed over the last 2 must-do's and I know some of you are wondering why The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman did not make my list.  First...I brushed over the last 2 because all of Universal Studios is a "take it or leave it" for me.   The layout and ambience was not something that made me want to just hang around in the park for very long.  So if I had to choose what I would do if we went back, I would spend a day or two inside of Island's of Adventure and spend the majority of that time inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I know some of you diehard Universal fans will disagree with me, but Universal Orlando, to me, is just something to add on to your Walt Disney World trip, if you can afford the time and extra expense.

Second...I did not include The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman because it broke down while we were on it.  And I overheard others saying that it breaks down a lot.  The lines can get long and it would not be a ride I would want to spend 40+ minutes in line for and then have it break down.

So with all of that said...let me tell you that my opinions may change very soon.  I am actually scheduled to visit Universal Orlando again within 5 days of writing this article.  I have been invited to tour the 3 resorts on Universal property as well as get a special tour of the parks and restaurants.  Will the additional info and experiences change my current views?  Stay tuned and see...

Meanwhile...check out a short video I put together showing some of the sites and sounds of Universal Orlando. Also let me know what you opinion is.  What are your favorite Universal Orlando attractions or what are your must-do's?

Universal Orlando 2012 from Oeshpdog2 on Vimeo.