Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Universal Studios, Orlando

Our decision to do Universal was a bit of a dim moment on my part, as I somehow had it in my head that it would have more proper film stuff in it - I was of course thinking of Universal Studios Hollywood, not Orlando!  But still, we are happy that we did it.

There are two parts to the park here, and you can buy a ticket to cover either one or both. We opted to do both in one day. We started with the Islands of Adventure part, because they advised that the queues here were bigger later, and did the Universal Studios bit afterwards.

Now you may recall from a previous posting in Germany that I like roller coasters and other rides that generally throw you every which way all at the same time, but Nic doesn't. So here we were at a park that has a lot of rides. Nic had been building himself up to this and was steeling himself to go on at least some of them. We decided best to do those before we ate, just in case.
So we rolled up at the first rollercoaster, which was the Hulk. They don't allow bags on the rides, but they have a good system of free lockers available. They are self service lockers that are accessed via your fingerprint, and you get an allotted period of time that is enough to queue for and go on the ride, based on their current queue times. We found it worked very well.
Being off season and a weekday, the queues weren't bad, so we were soon at the roller coaster. Nic looked a bit anxious, but he got on and we were off. For ride fans, this wasn't the best one around, but it was OK.
Nic was quite happy with it not throwing you in too many different ways. He said afterwards that he found this easier than the waltzers, because the the cars on those spin as well as the ride going up and down and around. It appears he can cope with the speed of the ride as long as it is mostly going in just one direction at once.
Our next ride was a bit less hairy as it was a simulator 3D Spiderman ride. In this you only feel like you are being thrown everywhere. It was quite effective, especially the part where you are plummeting to the ground.

We passed through Toon Lagoon into Jurassic Park, where Nic was happy to have his photo taken with a model dinosaur and we had a slightly disappointing look at some dinosaur information and fossils.

Then we were into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Have to say that this section looks fabulous, with it's recreation of Hogmeade (with I think a smattering of Diagon Alley) and Hogwarts.But even on a slow day like today, you couldn't move if you went into the wand shop, and the queue for the Harry Potter ride was ninety minutes - yes, that's right, an hour and a half! Sod that!
We did queue forty minutes for another roller coaster in this section, which was a very fast one.

This whole queuing thing is a bit mad really. I can't envisage standing there for that long to go on a three minute ride. I think if you are bothered about going on all the rides, and especially if you are there in the peak times, you would have to get the fast track pass that speeds you through the queues. But even then, that only sometimes gets you right to the front of the queue; other times you just bypass a large section of it and then still have to queue for a while.

We didn't find anything of interest in the Lost Continent or Seuss Landing areas, so headed out to City Walk, the between the parks area, for something to eat.

Of course that meant that when we went into the Universal Studios park, we had to skip the Rockit roller coaster, as we weren't sure Nic's stomach would cope with that immediately after a big meal.

We did the Shrek 4D 'ride', which was cinema style seating and just not nearly as effective as the Spiderman one earlier.  But it was OK.

We were a little disappointed with 'Twister' the tornado experience.  We had initially expected that it was going to include a ride but realised it didn't when we didn't have to drop off bags.  Then we thought that it would have a simulator. But in fact you just stood at a barrier and watched the scene unfurl in front of you with a bit of wind and rain effects thrown in.  It was OK, and we did rather like the flying cow, but they could do so much more with this one I think.

It was quite nice wandering though the USA street 'set' and listening to a bit of the live music, but it felt like there wasn't quite enough going on.  I wondered whether perhaps they don't have some entertainment or activities that might have been happening in peak season.  Or it could just be that the streets were empty without the summer hordes and that it what felt strange.
We passed the Back to the Future DeLorean and made our way to the thirty minute queue for the Men in Black ride.  The fast trackers on this did get pretty much straight on, so it was a bit frustrating watching them walk in and get on while we waited - another reason to get the pass in peak times. But we got on eventually and the ride wasn't bad.

This wasn't a roller coaster.  It was styled as MiB training and was a 'shoot at the aliens' ride.  It was OK once you realised how the scoring worked.  My score wasn't bad compared to some, though the guy next to us was way ahead.  Nic, it appears, never really worked out what he was supposed to be doing and had a pitifully low score a the end.
We did plan to go back to the Rockit roller coaster at this stage, but it started to rain heavily so we gave it a miss.  I think Nic was secretly quite pleased actually.
So we enjoyed our day at Universal, though personally we don't quite get what all the hype is about, and just don't have the patience to queue for as long as you would have to to go on everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We like to hear from you too, so please leave us a message here. We are also happy to answer any questions if we can help. Comments are moderated so will not appear straight away and there could be some delay in replying if we are travelling.