If you’re in the search for some Universal Orlando family fun, let me start by sharing our family’s adventures with you!
Until recently, I hadn’t visited the Universal Orlando resort since I was in college, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect.
What I did know was that my now seven and nine-year-old children had been begging me to go on the new Despicable Me ride since it opened, so that meant a trip to Universal Orlando Resort.
What I did not expect was a veritable city when we arrived. After we parked, we merged into Universal City Walk, which boasts its own wide array of shops, restaurants, and even a movie theater. From all I could tell, Universal City walk was a destination in and of itself (and you can park for free after 6 PM instead of paying the standard $16 rate, if you just wanted to visit for dinner one night).
After walking through Universal City Walk, one must make the choice of whether to go right towards Universal Studios or left towards Universal Islands of Adventure.
Since those little yellow minions were calling our name, we went right, Literally, to Universal Studios, of course stopping first at the iconic spinning Globe for a family picture.
And if you watched my video above, you know we were excited to be at Universal Studios during the same time as Rock the Universe, Florida’s biggest Christian Music Festival, featuring fellow Nashville friends Tenth Avenue North and For King and Country.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem did not disappoint. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the day was seeing all my favorite items from the movie replicated in real life while in the waiting area before getting on the ride!
Despicable Me wasn’t the only movie we love that we got to experience in real life that day. We truly got to ride the movies, including Shrek 4-D, Spiderman, Transformers the Ride-3D and even Men in Black: Alien Attack! In fact, after each and every ride, my 7 year old would exclaim, “No, THAT one was my favorite!” 😉
And yes, even though I normally despise when theme parks dump you into gift shops at the end of each ride, I have to admit I had just as much fun exploring theses with my kids as I did experiencing the rides with them.
Another surprise was a beverage we’ve never heard of from a TV show my kids have never seen. That’s right: we ended up right in the middle of Springfield U.S.A. with the Simpsons!
Our new friend Meredith who hosted as at Universal Studios that day insisted we try a “Flaming Moe”. I still can’t tell you exactly what a Flaming Moe is, but suffice it to say it was a fizzy orange beverage made right in front of our eyes and smoked!
(Don’t worry – it may be served at Moe’s Tavern, but it’s non-alcoholic).
Even weeks after returning from Orlando, it’s the one thing my kids still keep asking for!
After wetting our whistle, we decided it was time to get something to eat, so we made the walk over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
We’d heard so many great things about the “Butterbeer”, that we headed straight over to the “Three Broomsticks” to have an authentic British Pub lunch. Not only did we indulge in a frozen Butterbeer (again, non-alcoholic…think creamy root beer…), but I also managed to find some fish and chips.
None of us have ever seen any of the Harry Potter movies, but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was an incredible sight to behold.
We were truly transported into a land of snow-capped roofs and ancient castles. Unfortunately, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” was one of the only rides that didn’t accept the Express Passes we had, and we had to wait almost an hour for this attraction.
The Universal Express Pass lets you jump to (practically) the front of almost every line and although you do have to pay extra to add them on to your ticket, I can’t imagine having to wait in the regular lines anymore!
We were truly transported into a land of snow-capped roofs and ancient castles. Unfortunately, the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride was one of the only rides that didn’t accept the Express Passes we had, and we had to wait almost an hour for this attraction.
The aforementioned Express Passes let you jump to (practically) the front of almost every line and although you do have to pay extra to add them on to your ticket (around $15-20), I couldn’t imagine having to wait in the regular lines anymore!
In fact, if you haven’t already visited this attraction, you’ll want to make plans to visit Universal Orlando Resort in 2014 when Diagon Alley opens! Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within the Universal Studios Florida theme park, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, where guests now experience Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The new area within Universal Studios will be just as expansive, immersive and authentic as the existing themed environment.
The only regret I have is that we didn’t follow the advice that was printed directly on the Universal Orlando theme park map!
In a nutshell, it warned us that due to the tropical Florida weather that frequently brings afternoon storms, they recommend that we ride the roller-coasters in the morning. Of course, we didn’t heed that warning. We were too giddy to ride whatever was in front of us that we failed to plan our day better.
We were wet and tired by 6pm, so I can see why you’d want to take advantage of a 2 day pass. Even though our ticket allowed us to go freely between the two parks on the same day, there were certainly more than enough attractions to keep us entertained for two days (or more!).
Plus, when you buy your tickets online, not only do you receive a best-price guarantee, you can also take advantage of the following benefits:
*Save $20 off the gate price on all multi-day tickets
*Receive a coupon book with up to $150 in savings with any Multi-day Park-to-Park ticket purchase
*Save time by printing your tickets at home and go straight to the front gate of the park
In addition to all the Multi-Park/Multi-Day Ticket savings and the Florida Resident discounts, you can find ALL the Universal Orlando Hot Deals with just a click, including a free 2 day/2 park Dining Package when you book a 4 night vacation package before 10/14/13!
I’d love to hear from those of you who have also had some Universal Orlando family fun of your own: what are your best Universal Orlando tips?
Disclosure: We were provided four, 1 day/2 park tickets, including Universal Express Pass, to experience the Universal Orlando Resort as a family. In exchange, I offered to provide this blog post featuring my honest (and sometimes witty) review. I know, I have a tough job 😉