{USA} Part 7: Universal Studios Florida + Islands of Adventure

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The Chronicles of America: Our Itinerary | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 |

I was insanely excited for our day at Universal Studios, mainly because I’m a massive Potterhead (Harry Potter fan) and had been looking forward to visiting the Wizarding World for the past 7 years. :’)

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We woke up early to have a quick breakfast before catching our hotel’s complimentary 7.45am shuttle to the park. Meanwhile, I was getting weird stares from other parkgoers as I was wearing a Hogwarts school uniform that I had cobbled together from pieces in my wardrobe.

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After a short 5-minute ride, we were dropped off at the shuttle drop-off point and all visitors had to undergo a security check before being allowed to enter Universal CityWalk, the dining and entertainment area outside both parks.

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While walking to the will call booth at Universal Studios Florida’s entrance to collect our physical tickets (which we had purchased via bestoforlando.com), we admired CityWalk’s larger than life buildings, including the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (a fancy restaurant) and the Hard Rock Cafe.

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After collecting our 1 day park-hopper tickets, we started at Universal Studios Florida since the other park, Islands of Adventure, was mainly thrill rides (and I’m not a thrill ride person).

If you’re looking for my post on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can find it here (Part 8)!

The park was supposed to open at 9am, but they opened all the rides at around 8.30am, which was a pleasant surprise! We headed to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a 3D simulator ride where Gru turns you into a minion and…well, mayhem happens.

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The queue area was set in Gru’s mansion, with a lot of cute details, and the preshow was hilarious. My mum and I took the stationary seats since we can’t handle motion simulators; watching the show from the stationary seats still caused me some dizziness since we were seated smack in front of a huge wraparound screen…

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Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

We exited and saw this behemoth of a roller coaster, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. I spent a few minutes gaping at the ride and being amused by all the screams of regret & despair heard when the roller coaster reached its peak.

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Deciding that I couldn’t visit Universal Studios without sitting a single thrill ride, I decided to brave Revenge of the Mummy. After having been laughed at by my kid cousins countless times for never daring to sit on this ‘tame roller coaster’ (which Universal Studios Singapore also has), I had little choice but to try it just once. I love dark and spooky rides, but I was filled with instant regret when the lap bar came down and we were sent off into the abyss. I (thankfully) survived the ride, with an aching back – my lap bar wasn’t down all the way so I was thrown around my seat during the wild bit – and a mild headache as the only damage this old woman suffered.

Afterwards, we spent a few hours exploring Diagon Alley, before taking the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade in the Islands of Adventure. There were far too many photos taken in the Wizarding World for me to fit them in this post, so they’re all in Part 8 (which I’ve linked above)!

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Upon exiting Hogsmeade, we entered The Lost Continent and grabbed a lunch of kebab from a food kiosk before watching the 12pm showing of The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, a stunt show. The props looked pretty outdated and tacky, but the stunts and random puffs of smoke were impressive.

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The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad
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the grand entrance to Poseidon’s Fury, a special effects show

Next up was Seuss Landing, a whimsically-themed land teeming with Dr Seuss’ creations. Everything rhymed, from the store signs to the ride names.

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We sat on The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!, a slow open-air train that took us around Seuss Landing, as well as affording us a great view of the other massive attractions in Islands of Adventure.

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my dad pointing to The Incredible Hulk Coaster

There was a carousel (Caro-Seuss-el), a Dumbo-esque ride (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish), and a dark ride (The Cat in the Hat). The rides here were child-friendly and generally very cutely designed. There was no wait time on any of the rides (literally no queues), but I wasn’t particularly keen on riding them.

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We shopped at the gift shops near the entrance for a while before walking to the Marvel Super Hero Island, where most of the extreme thrill rides were located. This Marvel-themed land was created long before Marvel was acquired by Disney, and all the store exteriors either referenced or were decorated with comic book characters. A lot of Marvel merchandise was available in the shops, but they were quite expensive so I didn’t buy anything. 😦

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Doctor Doom’s Fearfall

Next up was Toon Lagoon, a messy amalgamation of cartoon character-themed gift shops and two water rides – a flume (Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls) and a river rapids ride (Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges). The people I saw exiting the rides were mostly soaked from head to toe, so I would advise bringing a change of clothes and a towel if you don’t want to pay an exorbitant price for one of their gift shop towels. We skipped the rides entirely since we weren’t prepared to get soaked.

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Skull Island: Reign of Kong was next on our list. It was our longest queue for the whole day, at a measly 15 minutes. The queue area was rather atmospheric (and extremely dark), with scare actors occasionally popping out from dark corners to terrify little children and adults alike. The ride vehicle was a tram and there were no seatbelts, so it was a rather tame ride, with us wearing 3D glasses as scenes of King Kong fighting played out on huge screens on either side of the tram. The tram would shake and tilt with the action on screen, but it was very mild overall.

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After stopping for a turkey leg and some snacks, we rode the Hogwarts Express back to the other park and headed to the parts that we had yet to explore.

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Hollywood was where most of the character meet & greets were happening, and we saw the likes of Beetlejuice, Betty Boop and the Simpsons posing for photos with guests.

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Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up Show was in the vicinity, so we went to catch the show. It paid homage to horror classics and we got a behind the scenes look of how such special effects are created. It was in equal parts humorous and informative, so I’d highly recommend watching this show (especially when the midday sun gets too overwhelming)!

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I love the aesthetic of this restaurant

Over at Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, we sat on E.T Adventure, a flying dark ride where you follow E.T on his journey home while riding a bicycle (the lap restraints were bicycle handlebars!). Everything about that ride looked like something out of the 90’s, so it was a quaint retro ride.

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SPONGEBOB SQUARE..no I mean STOREPANTS!

The other attractions in this area include: a huge playground with a ballpit and water play area (Curious George Goes To Town), a kid coaster (Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster), and another playground with climbing elements (Fievel’s Playland). Animal Actors on Location! is an animal show targeted at children, so we didn’t watch it due to lack of time, since the park was due to close at 7pm.

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Springfield: Home of the Simpsons was fairly crowded, with many paid carnival games and the notorious motion simulator The Simpsons Ride, which has made scores of parkgoers puke. Needless to say, none of us rode it since we wanted to keep our lunch intact.

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One of the kiosks (Lard Lad Donuts) was selling a massive donut around 4 times the size of a normal donut…I saw a lot of people eating it but I gave it a pass since I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth.

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Afterwards, we walked back to Diagon Alley where my dad and I rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. We decided to call it a day and headed out to CityWalk to grab a takeout dinner before catching the shuttle back to our hotel.

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Thankfully, we were able to sit on all the rides that we wanted to go on in a day, with little or no queues at all. Universal Orlando was far quieter than Disney World; our previous Monday had been spent in a relatively more crowded Magic Kingdom, but our Monday in Universal Studios was a lot more chill.

The next post is all about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so be sure to follow my Insta or Facebook page to get notified when I post new stuff.

The Chronicles of America: Our Itinerary | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 |

xoxo,
Faith

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