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No visit to Orlando is complete without at least a day at Universal Orlando.
We kept saying we had to find away to get over there before we flew back to California, and then the stars aligned and we found a way to do it the day before we left. We drove from the Keys back up to Orlando through a pretty crazy storm (again). I was so thankful that we had the Toyota Highlander because it was so easy to drive and kept us safe from the weather and crazy roads to get us back in time for a day of fun at Universal!
We woke up to clear skies and we were at the entrance right as the park opened. The parking garages open into Universal Orlando CityWalk which you don’t even need a ticket to go to. There are shops and restaurants and tons of other things to do there.
Soon we were at Universal’s Island Of Adventure, and I was ready to get my plan in action to see both parks in just one day.
I did have two small advantages that helped. We had been here before, so I knew the general layout of the park, and we had Unlimited Express Passes. Those really helped us to plan the best way to do this.
Another thing to remember is that there are more rides than you can possibly go on in one day. Even with the Express Passes, there are some rides that they won’t work on, and with two parks, there is just too much to see and do. That’s why you need to prioritize. Take a look at the rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida and write down the most important rides you want to go on in each park.
Since there are two parks, most people start their first day at the original park, Universal Studios Florida. We decided to start the opposite way at Islands Of Adventure. Harry Potter rides and areas are still the most popular and crowded, and that is why we started where we did… to beat the crowds.
We went through the entrance and walked straight through Seuss Landing and the other areas until we made it to The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade.
Since the Harry Potter attractions are some of the most popular in the park, and most you can’t use the Express Pass on, we wanted to do those asap. It worked out perfectly as there were very short waits.
If you haven’t been, this area really is like walking into the books and movies. It is one of the most “immersed” fantasy experiences ever.
There are four rides in the park and Emmy, Pete and the girls went on all of them. The favorite for the big girls is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Emmy’s favorite is Flight of the Hippogriff!
After the rides, it was straight to BUTTER BEER!!!
In addition to the rides there are also shops to buy themed treats, food, and of course a magic wand. Just remember that each wand picks it’s owner, so the line to get into the shop can get a bit lengthily… but it is a really fun experience.
We stayed in the Harry Potter state of mind and quickly boarded the Hogwarts Express Hogsmeade Station to Diagon Alley which is inside the other park. You will need a ticket to both parks to use this form of transportation.
After you go through the train station, you are shown to your quarters for your train ride to the other side. Here we are in our private train room. You must do this on your visit. It is really cool! We had a zero wait with our plan! The other thing is that the experience is different depending on the direction you are going, so try to go both ways. Be sure to go from one park to the other and then back again to see both.
This is what awaits you at Diagon Alley inside Universal Studios Florida!
There are shops, food, and if you are patient, the dragon will breath out fire! He starts to mumble a bit and then it builds up to fire!
Plan to spend some time exploring like we did, and then you will come out in England. There is more Harry Potter to see out there too, like the Night Bus!
After that, we went over the bridge and there are more rides to go on. We went on The Simpsons Ride first and had our picture taken with this fun family!
Also in this area is Fear Factor Live, Men in Black Alien Attack, and Kang & Kudos’ Twirl “n” Hurl!
Be sure to stop for a Lard Lad Donut too!
Keep walking through the park towards New York, and you will see the Hello Kitty store. I spent every penny I saved as a child on everything Hello Kitty, and we loved this store!
In New York, there is the Revenge of the Mummy, The Blues Brother Show, Sing It!, and Straight Outta Food Truck.
Revenge of the Mummy is one of our favorites!
There is food everywhere and some really fun options.
But we didn’t stop, because we had another ride on our mind….Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which is located in Production Central and just passed New York.
And then we did a little more shopping at the store across the way. They have everything Minion you can imagine!
Other rides in the things to do in the area are Shrek 4-D, Transformers, The Ride 3D and Street Breakz.
Now we were really hungry!
We stopped into the Monsters Cafe for some food. We all loved the creepy and scary setting!
There are character everywhere, so we stopped for a photo opp with this guy! Do you remember him?
Onto another ride back in New York! Revenge of the Mummy!
Then we back tracked to New York. While Maddie and Ashley rode Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Roller Coaster, Emmy enjoyed some street performers.
This brought us back towards the entrance of Universal Orlando. We left the park and went back to Universal’s Islands Of Adventure to see everything that we passed by quickly earlier that morning.
We picked a couple attractions in each area with the plan to end our day back in Hogsmeade.
Our favorite things to do in each part are:
Marvel Super Hero Island- The Incredible Hulk Coaster (closed until later this summer for upgrades)
Toon Lagoon- Dudley’s Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
Jurassic Park- Jurassic Park River Adventure
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade (everything… and what was mentioned above).
The Lost Continent- Poseidon’s Fury
Seuss Landing- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
We had plans to experience all of them… and then the Florida sky opened up and dropped buckets of water on us. We had packed rain ponchos, which are a must for all parks in Orlando, but even they couldn’t keep up with this amount of water coming down so quickly. We regrouped and decided to call it a day.
This leads us to the best tip we can possibly give you about visiting Universal Orlando… visit for more than one day! I know that is not always possible, but if you can stretch your visit to two days that will help you see so much more!