My husband and I both love theme parks so how could we go to Florida and not visit one. I had never been to the Orlando Universal parks so I pushed to visit there this trip.
My family actually had a history of Universal Hollywood. In the 1930′s, my grandfather was a camel saddle maker for Universal. Now that is a nitch skill. My mother use to tell me about going out and watching movies being made on the back lot. I guess it was a form of cheap entertainment for my mother and father.
Fast forward to the mid 1960′s and you now have me arriving at the gates of Universal for a tour along with throngs of other tourists. The tour was very different in those days. The tour was an actual peak into the lot and sets instead of the staged tours of this century. There were no rides and if my memory is correct (you know, that really was a long time ago), there was only one place to get a snack. The tour was walking through dressing rooms and sets while they pointed out famous people’s parking spaces and offices. Of course, over the years I have seen Universal Hollywood transform itself into an amusement park.
We finally arrive at Universal Orlando. I am umping both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure together even though they are separate parks.
We stayed offsite and used the provided shuttle. If I do it again, I am staying on the property. No question in my mind since it wasn’t that much more. One very wise thing we did was to purchase the express pass. This pass allowed us to do a park fully in one day and even get more than one ride in on the ones we really liked.
This was the park that was closest to Universal Hollywood. There was something about the feel of the park that I did prefer over Universal Hollywood. I can’t put my finger on exactly why though. We rode rides, watched shows, listened to street music and of course, ate.
Overall, I was impressed with the food at the parks and thought I got better value than I do at Disney World. We chose to eat at Lombard’s partly because of the menu and partly as a nostalgia thing since I use to live in San Francisco on Lambard street near Fisherman’s Wharf.
One lesson learned was you can’t order an alcoholic drink before noon on Sunday. To bad we arrived at 11:30. This meal was a little uneven. The bread was not worth the calories and the lobster bisque was more similar to wallpaper paste than soup. Taste? There really wasn’t nor was there a lobster within 50 feet of it.
Our main courses more than made up for the lousy soup. I had a steak salad while my husband had the fish special.
By the afternoon our feet were getting tired so we headed over to the American Express Lounge. It was a little hard to find because of some construction. The AE lounge is open to any AE member and was blissfully quiet along with providing needed cold water and some snacks.
Day 2 found us at the Islands of Adventures. Okay, I am a complete nerd and was really excited to visit the Harry Potter area. We got there when the gates opened and sprinted over to Hogsmeade. It was great. The area was not crowded at all and allowed us to see the amount of detail they put into this area.
Since we couldn’t use our Express Passes on the Harry Potter ride, that was our first stop. It turned out to be our favorite ride of both parks. It is important to plan on this ride either early or late. Otherwise you will be in line for hours.
After we finished the ride, it was time to wet our whistle. I opted for the traditional Butterbeer. I think you have to be under 14 to really enjoy this extremely sweet treat.
We got caught in a normal Florida rainstorm but were lucky enough to be caught in front of the Kebab stand. Since we had time to kill waiting for the rain to let up, it became snack time. We both loved the flavors of the Kebab.
We went with Salads since we had the snack of Kebabs not that long before lunch. My husband really enjoyed the ahi salad while I enjoyed my oriental chicken salad. We also had the parmesan cheese fries but they were only okay. Not something I would order again.
With a full stomach what else is there to do but to head for the roller coasters.
We had a great time a packed everything we could into two days. We were ready to rest after that.