written by Donny Yankellow
My family has been traveling to Disney World every few years for a summer vacation. This year we decided to visit Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. My wife and I had gone over ten years ago and my son was at an age that we felt he would appreciate Universal. Well, this is being written on our last day here and while we had fun, we all agreed that we won’t be returning anytime soon.
Many of the attractions in the parks at Universal were still there over ten years ago. Yes, Disney has rides that are even older, but the rides and characters are timeless. Even the older characters are characters kids still grow up with and recognize. Plus, Disney keeps these characters relevant through rereleases of the movies, tv series and remakes. On the other hand, Wwe could not believe that the E.T. ride was still in the park at Universal.
Yes, there are the new Harry Potter attractions, but as non-Potter fans it didn’t do much for us. It was cool, but nothing special to us. We saw plenty of fans loving the attractions, but that does not make an entire park. There is an entire Simpsons world, but most kids don’t even know who the Simpsons are and don’t care.
Another issue I had is that most of the attractions were some type of movie you have to watch. Many are 3D, but not all. However, the tradition al get in a car and ride attraction were few and far between. I know this is done for easier maintenance and easier updating but something can be said for a traditional style ride. Yes, even Disney is starting this in attractions, but they also have many traditional rides too.
The Universal app is available to help with wait times and planning your day. This is great. However, we found many of the times were way off. One morning the Minions ride said a five minute wait time in the app. The true wait time was fifty minutes, which was posted at the ride. Another ride said ten minutes, but on arrival we found it was closed. What is the point of an app like this if it doesn’t work?
If you are a family that tries to save money with kids meals don’t count on it at Universal. We found none, zero, in the eateries we were in. Our hotel had them, but not the parks. I have never seen a lack of kids meals at theme parks.
One true bright spot was Volcano Bay, the Universal take on a waterpark. We had a ball here and loved it. If you like water slides there are a ton. If you prefer pools there are several including a wave pool. A lazy river is there too. Our favorite part was a cross between a wave pool and a lazy river. You wear a life jacket instead of a tube and float done a rougher river. At times a larger wave came through. This was amazing!
Without the ability to upgrade our ticket to include the waterpark we would have run out of stuff to do with two days left in out trip. I highly recommend including Volcano Bay in your ticket if you are staying for more than two full days.
So am I saying avoid Universal Studios? No. Just don’t have high expectations, especially if you are a Disney Parks regular. A lot of the enjoyment will depend on your age and familiarity with the attractions. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you will probably love it more than if you are not.
Many people say Disney has a lot to fear with Harry Potter at Universal. Even without the new Star Wars section coming, Disney still has my money in the foreseeable future.
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