One of the highlights of our trip to Orlando last month was the day we spent at Universal Studios. I had been dreaming of returning ever since our pit stop back in 2011. We had arrived late in the afternoon so we only had time for a quick run through but it was a lot of fun anyway.
This time around, we arrived just when the park opened and stayed for almost the entire day. You can totally do both parks in one day if you are willing to skip some things, but I recommend going for at least two days (one park per day) if not more. We didn’t see everything but we did make sure to do the main things on our list. You have an option to add the express feature to your tickets that act like a “Fast Pass” that will undoubtedly save precious time.
As we entered the park we could not miss Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Inside Gru’s house was an awesome virtual reality ride that featured all of our favorite Despicable Me characters. It was a lot of fun for our entire family. After the ride you enter the gift shop and we could not resist buying tees and toys for the kids. They even had the cookies for sale!
Across the way was Shrek, and after the show we visited the gift shop again to buy some more goodies. Shrek goods are hard to come by so we knew we’d be picking up some things for Ryan who absolutely LOVES Shrek. We bought Shrek and Donkey plushes and some bobbleheads that the kids can play with. They love their figurines!
From there we headed over to the kid zone and Emma and I went on Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse coaster and then the Simpsons area where we took advantage of some fun photo opps and went on rides, the highlight of which was The Simpsons Ride, another virtual reality experience. Emma went first with Kevin, and then me.
I was trying to save lunch for the other park, but the kids were hungry so we went over to the food court where I got a Krusty Burger. It was delicious!
Universal Islands of Adventure
We were eager to get over to this park to visit Dr. Seuss Landing and of course The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Ryan loved the Caro-Seuss-el ride so much that he wouldn’t get off, and since he wasn’t permitted to ride the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley, I went with Emma while he rode a few more times. We shopped for Seuss gear before heading over to Hogsmeade.
On the way, we saw Poseidon’s Fury and it said it was only 10 minute wait so Emma and I decided to go for it. This was the only disappontment during our day. We waited for at least 20 minutes for the show to start and then when it did Emma was too small to see what was going and we ended up going for the exit once we entered the second room.
After that we entered Hogsmeade, visited Honeydukes and ordered Frozen Butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks. It was very crowded and we concluded that we should have visited this park first. It was impossible to enter Ollivanders because of the line, but Emma and I took a few turns on The Flight of the Hippogriff ride which was tons of fun and the crew claps for you after the ride- super cute!
We were about to leave the area when someone convinced us to ride Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey. I’m so glad we did! This is one of the rides you can’t use your Express perk on, but the line walking through the castle is part of the fun anyway! I wasn’t sure how Emma would do on this ride but she loved it! On this ride there is a wall separating yourself from the person next to you, and you fly and go practically upside down at times. I decided to hold Emma’s leg to reassure her but I knew she was fine when she picked up my hand and removed it from her leg! She still talks about it and says it was her very favorite part of our entire trip. What a little daredevil.
It was getting late and we had dinner reservations, so all we had time to do after that was to pick up or purchases from guest services and then get to a taxi. We can’t wait to return to Universal Orlando! Hopefully next time we’ll get to spend more time there and see the things we missed.
Disclosure: My family received complimentary 1-day park passes. All opinions stated are my own.