Sunday, 16 October 2016

Universal Studios

As I mentioned in my A New Look & A Little Catch-Up blog post, I'm going to be sharing what I got up during my holiday to Orlando, Florida and I thought that I would start with one of my favourite theme parks; Universal Studios.

So let's take a trip to Universal Studios Orlando;

It had been quite a few years since I'd last visited Universal Studios and in that time quite a few changes had taken place, with one of the biggest changes being the introduction of Universal Express.

This is something I can't recommend highly enough. If you're familiar with Disney's Fast-Pass system, this is along the same lines but so much better! Unlike the Disney alternative, Universal's Express Pass can be used on essentially every ride or show at Universal, bar one or two and if you're staying on Universal property this will be included as part of your booking. This is honestly the best $.. that I've ever spent!

Instead of waiting 30-45+ minutes in each line, I went straight to the front and didn't wait more than 5 minutes for any of the rides or shows. If you really want to make the most of your time there and get as much done as you possibly can, something that can be quite the struggle at the theme parks, the Universal Express Pass is invaluable.

Universal Express Pass in hand I headed straight for Springfield USA, another big new addition since my last visit.

As someone who grew up watching The Simpsons, walking past some of the iconic landmarks such as Moe's, the Kwik-E-Mart and the statue of Jebediah Springfield (I've got photos of all these as well, if you'd like to see more) was so surreal. I even made a new friend too, as seen on my Insta.

I might have taken about a million photos in Springfield USA alone.

When I spotted Krustyland I instantly reverted back to the child who used to tape episodes of the show onto VHS tapes on a Sunday morning to watch over and over again or until I ran out of space on said VHS and had to tape over them with more episodes.

The Simpsons Ride itself was brilliant! I'm a big fan of rides such as this where your car doesn't actually move on a track but you still feel like you've ridden a rollercoaster or log flume or whatever it may be, without some of the scares involved in such rides.

If you're also a fan of rides like this, I have a feeling you'll have a great time at Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure, which I will go onto discuss in a later post. And I have to admit, my favourite 4D experience had to be the next ride

Transformers The Ride 4D was SO good! Unlike The Simpsons Ride, the car that you're in isn't in the one position. You actually feel like you're moving between different parts of the city, even though realistically your car isn't going too far but the swivel motion and the car leaving the station really added so much to this ride and cemented it as a new firm favourite for me.

You even had the opportunity to have your photo taken with Bumblebee! I managed to take a couple of clips of him dancing and communicating solely through classic tunes, like he does, which I will hopefully have up on my YouTube channel very soon.

You'll also find a number of character interactions in the form of Homer and Bart Simpson, Woody Woodpecker, Curious George and Scooby Doo, or at least that's who I said hello to on the Monday that I was there. The Hollywood area of Universal Studios just feels so special. It also houses one of my favourite shows; Terminator 2 3D.

Again, 3D glasses are donned and the show had had a complete makeover since my last visit, which I was really happy and excited to discover. This is also a great show to enjoy if you're looking for a little respite from the sun and heat outside.

Another massive addition; all things Harry Potter!

Don't hate me but the whole Harry Potter phenomena is one that totally escapes me. I read the first three books and saw the first two movies but after seeing Lord Of The Rings around the same time, it just couldn't compete in my eyes. As a result, I didn't spend too long wandering around but it was easily the busiest part of the park, so clearly I'm in the minority. I did take a couple of snaps (of which there are many more if you'd like to see them in a later post, just let me know below) and it was so strange seeing 'real' trees, such as the ones we have in the UK, in Universal Studios only a couple of minutes walk away from palm trees. That's what I took away from my visit into the world of Harry Potter anyway.

After feeling rather brave, having stepped onto several rides without knowing what they would be like, I did the same with Revenge Of The Mummy and I should have probably known from the word rollercoaster being used in the blurb on the way in, what I was letting myself in for but no, I wasn't prepared for what happened. A clear giveaway should have been the fact that you couldn't take bags onto the ride but I saw children in the queue around me and thought, surely it can't be a proper rollercoaster if we're indoors. Oh how I was wrong...

At one point the entire ceiling was ablaze and you can really feel the flaming hot heat. Anyone who's been on one of those rides at Universal where fire is involved, will know exactly what I'm talking about. Safe to say I came out a little shaken but I was ultimately glad that I'd jumped in foot first when it came to this trip. Having said that, I still wasn't quite crazy/brave enough to hop onto Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. That might have pushed me over the edge, I think.

The weather was pretty much perfect on the day that I visited. It wasn't unbelievably hot like it had been when I visited LEGOLAND Florida the week before (more on that at a later date), there was an actual slight breeze in the air and there were plenty of shaded spots throughout the park. There were also a whole host of options when it came to grabbing a bite to eat or stopping to refuel.

One of my favourites has to be Mel's Drive-In Diner which transforms into the Die-In Diner during Halloween Horror Nights. Let me know if you'd like me to dedicate another blog post to all things Halloween Horror Nights too at some stage.

After lunch I headed to two slightly tamer rides and absolute must-dos for anyone visiting the park, even if the second one does involve quite a bit of spinning; E.T. Adventure and Men In Black Alien Attack. Hearing E.T. personally say goodbye to you by name never gets old and our car even bet our competitor's in Alien Attack, which was a new sensation for me since our car has always comes in second, even after hitting the big red button.

I had an absolute blast at Universal Studios and despite visiting a couple of other theme parks and every single mall/shopping outlet in a fifty mile radius of Orlando (I'm not even joking here), it was hands-down the best day of my holiday by quite some margin!

Have you ever paid a visit to Universal Studios? If so, what was your favourite ride or show? Would you like to see more blog posts on specific parts of the park, such as The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter or Springfield USA or just more of my Universal photographs in general? Let me know. Also, which park would you like to see me write about next (Islands of Adventure, LEGOLAND, Busch Gardens or Disney Springs)?


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