Universal Studios

Today we visited Universal Studios! We found a good deal online where it would only cost a little over $200 for 3 days at Universal. Here is how the day went.

Our departure time was mean to be at 8:30am. This is a very early departure time because we wanted to beat the crowds. It is Easter Sunday and no top of that there are a lot of spring breakers, just like us.

But as trip goes, everything broke down from the start. Even before 8:30, the girls texted the group and said that they were gonna be 15 minutes late. I mean we did have a long day yesterday and 15 minutes wasn’t that bad. So I went down to the lobby at 8:45, but nobody was there. Finally they all showed up at 9am, 30 minutes later than expected. Two people in our group did not have their tickets printed. This meant that we had to use the computer downstairs to print them as the front desk wouldn’t do it for free, which is really not nice of them. But as one of my friends was going to pay for the printing, she realized that her credit card was missing. Rushing up stairs, she tried to find it everywhere but her efforts were unfruitful. She quickly cancelled the card and my other friend went and got the printing sorted. All of this drama took 30 minutes to get done. By the time the Uber car arrived, it was already 9:45. We were really behind schedule.

Universal was much larger and prettier than I had expected. But to be honest, I did not know what to expect at all. I was just very excited. Seeing the spinning universal globe made me really happy. It was all just a very nice moment. As we walked in, we did not know what to check out first.

The first attraction we encountered was the “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem”. However, the wait time for that was 85 minutes so we decided to skip it first. Right across the “Shrek 4-D” show only had a 10 minute wait time so we jumped in line.

“Shrek 4-D” was a 4D movie that told a story of how Donkey and Shrek saved Fiona. It actually incorporated a lot of different other characters such as Tinker Bell and even made a reference to Star Wars. Although it was not a very exciting ride, it was a good start to our Orlando adventures.

The next ride we hit was also the most intense ride of them all. It is called the “Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit”. This rollercoaster ride brings you up 50 meters and then accelerates downwards. Looking at it, it did not seem that tall at all, but I can tell you that it was a whole different story from up top. As this was the first ride of the day, we decided to stick together and not take the single riders line. Universal has three different style of lines. The first one is the regular entrance, next is the express pass entrance. This allows you to skip the main lines but will set you back $150. The last one is the single riders where the party would be split up to fill empty seats on the ride.

We waited about 50 minutes before it was our turn to ride. Strapping in, we headed towards the climb and it was not until we hit the climb did I actually realize how steep it is. It was actually a 90 degree angle and we were going up, straight up vertically. At the top, I could see the whole of Orlando, but that was short lived because we went right back down. It was a feeling that was very hard to describe. It sort of feels like you have to go pee is the way I would describe it. It feels like you are flying out of the ride and just free falling to Earth. My fear only fear was actually falling off the ride because we have a feel of weightlessness when the car accelerates downwards. There were many trough and crests and the acceleration felt like it was going to take my face off. But it was a very fun ride, I loved it alot.

It was getting towards mid-day and we are starting to get hungry. There was not much to eat in the park except for fast food. As we were walking around in Simpson’s land, we decided to go to eat at Krusty Burgers. There was nothing special about the burgers except for the special sauce inside, but it still tasted like a regular cheese burger. However, eating at Krusty Burgers itself was a really nice touch.

Staying with the Simpsons theme, we headed towards the Simpsons ride. From the outside the ride looked very weird. It was just a giant box and we really did not know what to expect. The line was 40 minutes, which is relatively short. There were a lot of clips from the tv series playing in the wait line, but it was nowhere close to 40 minute segments. This meant that we watched the clips so many times that I basically remember what they were going to say next. The ride was designed in a very weird way. There were multiple different lines and entrances to the ride itself and made me very confused. Once inside, we were put into smaller rooms and there was a cart in the middle of the room, where we all got on. After a short safety briefing video from Bart Simpson, the lights in the room started again and the ride again. There was a door in front of the cart, so everyone expected the cart to move forward and go through that door. But we were so very wrong. The cart actually started to move upwards and the roof of the room that we were in opened up to reveal a really big space. We were greeted by a really large screen and the cart we were in started to move with the graphics on the screen. It felt like we were actually on the rollercoaster in the show. The animation and the movement of the cart worked in perfect unison to create a very fun ride.

The next ride that was in our path was the Men in Black ride. After storing our bags away, we decided to go on the single riders line as the wait was only 10 minutes for that. It took only 5 minutes before we were at the front of the line. Getting onto the vehicle we were each presented with one of those alien guns. We were then told that there has been an alien invasion and we have to use the guns to fire at the aliens. There was also a scoreboard in front of us to tell us what our kill count was. It was not a very fun ride because it was just a matter of aiming at the aliens. There was not a lot of surprises, it was generally more of a family ride. Thankfully we did not wait in line for an hour to get onto that ride.

Next up was what we were all the most excited for. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In this park was Diagon Alley and the Island of Adventure had Hogsmeade. On the outside, Diagon Alley looked exactly like a street block of London. The Knight Bus was parked outside and the conductor was there in his purple suit greeting people. Dre Head was also there and we were able to have a conversation with it. They all had a very nice British accent which I thought was a very nice touch to the whole experience. We moved walked through walls of the London street block and there we were, in Diagon Alley.

Wow. I was in shock and awe. This was actually my childhood dreams coming true. I can not believe that we were actually here, standing in Harry Potter world. All of the iconic shops from the books where there. We first went into Quality Quidditch Supplies. There were the Nimbus 2000 and the Firebolt. Also there was robes and scarves from each of the 4 houses. This shop was also connected to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes which had a variety of prankster things. There were chocolate frogs and trick wands. It was all very real.

Going back onto the streets of Diagon Alley, Gringotts bank was located right at the end of the walk way. On top of it, there was a dragon and every now and then it would breath a breath of fire. We carried on slowly making our way through every shop in Diagon Alley. Ollivander’s Wand Shop had a variety of wands. From Harry and Dumbledore’s to Voldemort’s. It was all there. They sold two different type of wands, one the collections edition and the other was the interactive edition. This one was designed so that people were able to interact with certain things in Diagon Alley, making them really feel like Witches and Wizards. Next we headed into Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. Inside we found the robes to Hogwarts. This made us very excited and all of us decided to try on the robes. Wearing it felt so cool and magical. We all took out our phones and quickly took pictures of one another. We were not Muggles anymore!

We headed towards Gringotts as there was a ride inside the bank called “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts”. The line was moderately long but it kept moving so we were at the front of the line in almost no time. This ride is pretty awesome. It is one of those 4D rides where you sit in a car and then the environment around you interacts with you according to the storyline. The storyline is of how we have entered Gringotts with Harry but then the Death Eaters came as well so we are trying to escape from deep under the bank. It was a very well made ride and the experience was very fun.

After the ride, we found a shop and sat down to have some Butterbeer. Wow. Butterbeer is good. It has this fizziness to it and there is a layer of Caramel cream on top that gives off a sweet and fizzy taste. I liked it a lot. There were still a few more sections of Diagon Alley that we did not explore. We visited the shop of magical animals called the “Magical Menagerie” and they had a snake on display that was able to move. They also had a cute stuff owl which the head of the animal was able to move around. It was really cute and the head moving made it look really real.

There was a dark alley way just at the end of Diagon Alley and turning into it, we found ourselves in Knockturn Alley. It was very dark and very cold, secluded from the outside world and if we did not turn into that alley, we would have missed it all together. Borgin and Burkes was the only store in the alley. The things they told were all either related to Death Eaters of the Holy Trinity. There were also tattoos of the Dark Mark which people are able to put on themselves. It had a very dark overall feeling towards the place. Just like how Knockturn Alley should feel.

We moved out of Harry Potter world and headed back to the other attractions. As we were walking down, there was a street performance about to happen so we decided to sit down and have a look. The people called themselves the “Beat Crew” and they were dressed as construction workers but were actually using the construction equipment to create beats. They had some sick beats and overall they did a very cool job.

At the end of that street show, it was about time for the parade to begin. We sat along side the parade route, waiting for the cars to come by. There weren’t a lot of cars, only about 5 and each had a different character on it. SpongeBob, Groot and his minions and Dora the Explore all had a car. Each would do a dance that was related to the theme of its show. Overall the parade was not that exciting, it was not that long and it was not grand and did not make me go wow. Hopefully Disney would do a much better job at this.

Where we sat down for the parade was very close to where the “Return of the Mummy” ride. Seeing that the wait time was 10 minutes, we rushed to put our bags into the lockers and hurried to get into line. We went onto the singles line and that made the wait even faster. In under 3 minutes we were on the ride. This is a record wait time for us! This Mummy ride is similar to the Harry Potter ride, except this time, the ride is much more intense. I say that because the ride is much faster and there are sections of the ride where I do hit some strong G force. That makes its very exciting for me and when ride finished, we all unanimously voted to go on the ride one more time. The wait time was still short and we all enjoyed this mummy experience very much.

The day was starting to get dark and we were all getting tired. There were still 2 more rides on our list that we have yet to experience, the Transformer and Minions ride. Both wait times were over 100 minutes so we decided to call it a day. After a quick visit to the gift shop, we headed to the Boardwalk to look for food. Everything seemed to be too expensive so we settled on having the food court type of place. There was Moes, Chinese food and Sushi to choose from. I got a beef rice bowl from Moes which came with free chips and salsa. It was a lot of food, but I finished it regardless because I was very hungry and it was a very long day for us.

After gaining some of our energy back, we got an Uber and headed back home to our hotel. Our first day in Orlando has come to a close and it had been so much fun. I can not wait to see what is installed for us in the next few days!


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