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.
If you have a family that spends a lot of time at the beach or pool, or you have a trip to a waterpark planned this summer, do yourself a favor and buy a waterproof camera.
They range in quality and price, but my favorite is the Nikon Coolpix W100. If takes fantastic photos and does video as well. If you are looking at a camera without video features I suggest moving on. The W100 even has a flash. It is a weak flash, but better than nothing. Not only does this take fantastic pictures underwater, but it takes great dry land pics too and does a great job at capturing action. I have taken this camera on numerous trips and have never been disappointed. Even if you don't want underwater pictures, a waterproof camera gives you piece of min. You can take it in the pool or the ocean without the fear of ruining it and get closer shots than out of the water.
There are other waterproof cameras out there, but this price is right and is great quality, many of the sub $100 dollar cameras will not cut it. The W100 is about $150 at the time of this writing. Sure, many phones are waterproof these days but do you really want to take you phone into the ocean and have it washed away in a rough wave? Plus, you will drain your battery faster.
Whether you get the Nikon or another camera, you won’t regret buying a waterproof digital camera. It will give you shots you’ve never been able to get before and it will make your vacation more fun and You Can Never Have 2 Much Fun.
Miniature golf is fun for all ages and there are numerous miniature golf locations in the Baltimore/DC area. Some have batting cages, arcades, unique holes and more. Check out the list below because YOU CAN NEVER HAVE 2 MUCH FUN.
Mitchell's Golf Complex: 3 golf courses, driving range, full golf courses (the mini golf courses could use come updating, but still a lot of fun)
Hereford Golf Center: 1 golf course with unique water features (when running), driving range (mini golf is a lot of fun, but can use some love)
Columbia Sports Park: 1 golf course, batting cages, arcade (golf course is long without to many obstacles, but fun)
Rocky Gorge Golf: 1 golf course with many obstacles and 1 huge hill at the end, batting cages, driving range, arcade (again the golf course is a lot of fun but can use some love)
The above courses are all outdoors, There are numerous indoor golf locations in the area including Monster Mini Golf, Player's Fun Zone, Glo Golf and more. There are too numerous to list. Do an internet search to find one in your area. They are all over the place.
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