You all know that I love hosting giveaways on Family Focus Blog. You may not know that I love entering them just as much as hosting them and I love winning giveaways even more! Well, I won free air tickets to Orlando from CheapOAir. Pretty sweet, right? We planned a little fall Orlando family vacation and my #1 spot to hit during our brief stay was Universal Studios Orlando.
My Orlando Family Vacation
Why Orlando? Well, besides the fact that it is two amazing adventure parks with one ticket, two words- Harry Potter. My daughter LOVES Harry Potter. She is eight and she has read all of the books twice. She had seen a commercial for Orlando once and spotted the Hogwarts Castle and she was so excited. I knew that a trip to Universal Studios Orlando would blow her mind. I didn’t know it would blow my mind too!
Universal Orlando Resort
So here is the skinny- Universal Orlando® Resort is more than a theme park. It’s an entire world of adventure featuring tons of restaurants, unique shops, on-site hotels, and TWO spectacular theme parks.
We only had two days in Orlando so we planned our Universal Studios visit into one day but we could easily have enjoyed it for two or three days if we had plenty of time. We barely packed in all of our must see and do items and we got to the park at 8AM and left at 8PM! Plus, being able to do so many things in one day was only made possible by our Universal Express Passes which are amazing and let you bypass the regular lines. First, we hit the Universal Studios Florida Theme Park.
Universal Studios Florida Theme Park
We had a lot to squeeze in here and we started with Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. This fun ride simulates you going on an adventure with the Despicable Me cast to become a minion. You really do feel like a part of the movie and to me that is what the whole Universal Studios Florida Theme Park was about- sucking you right into the movie and letting you feel like a part of the action. Next,we did Shreck 4D and the kids loved it.
My 6 year old son was in heaven getting to see real life transformers and then do the Transformers 3D ride which was pretty wild. My son wanted to go again but it was too much action for my stomach. In fact, I sat and relaxed in the Florida sun while my husband took the kids on the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster! They loved the coaster and I loved the sun and the Mummy gift shop.
Next we did the Disaster experience which was really fun and they cast several of the audience members into the “actual film” they were making and played it back for us all to see. Very funny and fun! We had to skip a few things that some of would have loved to stop at (like Men in Black, Animal Actors, Terminator 2, and the Curious George Playground) because we were trying to fit in all the major attractions on our list. My kids and I also had tons of fun on the Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster and they loved Fievel’s Playland and its awesome waterslide that they rode down in a little two person raft so as to not get too soaked. We all loved the E.T. Adventure and I got a silly thrill out of Steven Speilberg talking to us. After that, we headed into the second theme park Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
This theme park is very aptly named because Universal’s Islands of Adventure really is just that. This is my absolute favorite theme park I have ever been to anywhere. It is like one island after another of total adventure and you feel like you are walking into the movie set because everything in theme. I really loved it (and tell you the truth theme parks are usually something I do more for my kids and my husband). I would go back again anytime! We started out in Suess Landing, which I would call Dr. Suess Land because it was like being in his books. Not just the rides but the shop buildings were all in Suess style too. We got to do the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride (great views of the park) and the Caro-Seuss-el with awesome Dr. Suess characters. This part of the park was excellent for small children but I loved it too because it was so much fun to be in the setting of the books.
Next we went to The Lost Continent and saw The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show (which was like a play with a lot of great fighting and appearing and disappearing tricks). Everyone enjoyed it and I think my daughter was impressed by the princess and her stunts- I know my son loved all of the stunts! We also saw Poseidon’s Fury which led to my daughter asking lots of questions about how they did this and that- pretty magical stuff for kids to witness.
Then we did The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was awesome! We grabbed some delicious grub at the Three Broomsticks and the kids got to have “butterbeer”. I just loved entering the wizarding world. It was kind of like I imagine Diagon Alley to be- full of wizarding shops with people bustling about examining wands, robes, and (stuffed animal) owls to buy. With all the snow on the roofs, I almost felt chilly even on a sunny day!
We got to tour Hogwarts Castle, a top priority for my little girl, on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey tour and ride. Even while you are waiting in line they have nice touches to make you feel part of the book, like exotic plants in the greenhouse area- including mandrakes! We all loved the Flight of The Hippogriff roller coaster! My six year old was just tall enough to ride and he loved it. The kids weren’t tall enough for the Dragon Challenge but we all loved our Wizarding World adventure and I had to restrain myself from buying all the cool Harry Potter merchandise I saw.
Next up was Jurassic Park and we all loved that adventure too. We rode the Jurassic Park River Adventure twice! It was a river raft safari ride with dinosaurs everywhere and a big drop near the end. My kids loved Camp Jurasic and they got to explore amber mines, cross rope bridges, climb in the treetops, and spray water guns at each other. We wanted to ride the Pteranodon Flyers which looked like so much fun but they didn’t accept the express pass and they had a long line so we kept moving.
Toon Lagoon was full of fun wet rides. We all had a ton of fun in this part of Universal’s Islands of Adventures too! My kid loved playing on Popeye’s Ship, The Olive and squirting water guns at the people on the water rides that passed by. Then we got on Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges white water rapids ride- twice and got totally soaked. I mean wet all over. (Bring a change of clothes!) We also loved the Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls log ride with a huge plunging drop at the end. By the time we were done with all of that, we were pretty tuckered out and the it was almost closing time.
We had so much fun at Universal Orlando Resort Theme Parks! Have you been? I’d love it if you share your favorite parts in the comments below. Thanks!