Universal Part 2
Here is the 2nd installment from my blog from my first trip to Universal back in February of 2016! Enjoy!
Diagon Alley was awesome! Small walkway (and the fact that nothing else was open) made the area feel very crowded and claustrophobic. Even the shops were wall to wall people. We quickly made our way to Gringott’s Escape to what was a fair wait-about 30 minutes, even though the posted wait time was 10 minutes.
Of course, first we put our bags into the free lockers, and then proceeded to inside Gringott’s. Since I left both my camera and phone I got zero pictures of the areas that we were allowed to. We actually went through this area pretty quickly. Even my husband was impressed and he has not seen a single Harry Potter movie…ever! I loved the way you were immersed into the story. Once you get past this part, the waiting was not so nice. Both in length and atmosphere!
Several things to talk about here (without giving away too much of the magic). Let’s start with the hokey elevator. I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I will warn you to hold on! And, let’s not forget the mandatory pictures! I never even saw what they looked like…bummer.
Stairs, stairs, and more stairs! ‘Seems’ like we went back up all those flights the elevator took us down! Finally we reach the point of loading into the ride. One note here, not for people with long legs! It holds you in place by getting you in the shins! The bar clamps down on your shins as much as your waist. My 6 foot husband had major problems with this part, and it hurt me at only 5 foot 10 inches…
But, (at least to me) it was worth it! The ride is not smooth. The jerky motion was something my husband was not fond of (and it may have been the bar cutting into his shins). But the motion did not bother me and my vertigo. Remember, my husband has never seen a Harry Potter movie so it was completely nonsense to him! Me and the kids LOVED it!
Once the ride was over, we retrieved our bags and wandered around Diagon Alley for a minute or two. Then we discovered the rest of the park was now open, so on to the rest of the park.
Yes, we know that we missed a lot of things in Diagon Alley, but since we knew that my daughter and I would be coming back this summer, and the boys had zero interest in the area, we decided to leave the rest of the exploration to another time.
First the boys rode/experienced Transformer. Considering my son loves Transformers I figured he would give a rave review…not so. He said it was ok. Not great not bad…just ok. Husband said something along the lines of…’if you’ve seen one 4D ride you’ve seen them all’.
Next up was the Rip Ride Rockit. Now, we did have the AAP but the posted wait time was only 20 minutes, so we chose not to use it. My daughter and I don’t do roller coasters (well, not me anyway) so we sat this one out. From the time the boys left until they came back was closer to 45 minutes! They both exclaimed it to be a fantastic ride!
Next, we rode Men In Black. Again, posted wait time was 10 minutes, but it was closer to 30. The boys loved it, and the teenaged girl said it was ok. But this mom said it was pretty lame! I spent the whole time trying to keep my vertigo under control (translation…keeping my eyes closed).
Suddenly we discovered it was lunch time! Being a big fan of American Graffiti, my husband wanted to eat at Mel’s Diner. The outside atmosphere was great. The cars were awesome! I wish I could say nice things about the inside or the food, but honestly, it was the worst meal we have ever eaten on vacation…and that is saying a lot!
From there we strolled back to Diagon Alley to take Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure. Again wait time was terrible. Standing for thirty minutes in a hot line was not fun. Next time we get the Express Pass! There are several twists and turns of the line that are very claustrophobic. At least, after we got farther into the line where we were back outside it was much better. Even though there was only a few minutes between trains it seemed like an eternity! Finally we boarded. The cabins hold up to 12 people. I think they were really stretching it with our group. My 14 year old was the smallest person in there and he is a large boy. My claustrophobia was really doing a number on me. But, once we got moving it was wonderful! I won’t spoil it other than tell you that you MUST ride it both ways!
Next up was Dragon Challenge. This had a 30 minute posted time and it was exactly 30 minutes. The boys gave it a thumbs up, and my son declared it the best ride …EVER! My husband said he could feel the blood leaving his legs and the effects of the g forces…(whatever that means) and declared it a great ride! My daughter and I just starred at each other in disbelief.
At this point, my son wanted to ride the Jurrasic Park River Adventure and went off to find it. They were gone all of two minutes when I realized that ride was closed, but they insisted they found it and were in line…so we waited a few minutes and decided we might better find out where they were. They had walked all the way over to Duddley do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls! The girls took a leisurely stroll over there and discovered ….this was NOT a ride I wanted my child on! Oh my…that drop was a lot more than I expected! They managed to survive the ride and only got very wet…not extremely wet! But both decided it was something they would love to ride over again….
By this time it is late and the boys are wet, and it is hot! OK, not late but after 3. We were all tired and felt we had a good idea of what Universal had to offer and decided to head to the gate. Of course, we had to stop at Spiderman. There was zero wait, and they boys went right in. Daughter and I sat and people watched. It seemed like only seconds and the boys were back. Mixed reviews.
Now it is time for a snack…can you say yummy CinnaBons? Oh my…. They were delish!
As we headed towards the entrance to the park, I glanced at the Doctor Seuss area. I can’t wait to take my granddaughter there! She was crazy over Dr Seuss and the Cat in the Hat when we went on the Carnival cruise a year ago. She would love this area.
Suddenly we are back in City Walk. Then going down the escalator to the waiting bus. At this time our plan was to go back to City Walk for dinner later in the day. Back in the room we took a short rest.
After a long and hot day in the parks, I was not overly ready to hop back on the bus and head to City Walk for dinner, so we decided to have dinner in the food court. We were pleasantly surprised by not only the amount of food but the selection and taste as well. I have never ordered salmon at a fast food place and been happy before. This was beyond my expectations! Perfect texture, moist, and tasty! Practically melted in my mouth.
After dinner, we did a tad bit more exploring around the hotel. To end off our night, we grabbed a Starbucks and headed to the room. Yes, we did feel like slackers, but husband and I are old! We need our rest to get ready to head back home in the morning!
Next morning we were sad to leave, but we all managed to have a great breakfast at the food court while watching more ‘Vintage’ commercials from the 50’s and 60’s.
Cabana Bay was really a nice place to stay. It exceeded my expectations. My only complaint is you don’t get the Express Pass with staying at this hotel. But overall it was a better value than staying at the lowest price resort in Disney.
While we didn’t see and do everything in the parks, we did see and do all that we had set out to see and do. I think a second day would have been more than enough to see and do everything, while at the same time I think 3 days would be overkill. A very strong Harry Potter fan would enjoy the third day to revisit their favorites, but I would rather spend the third day at the water park.
Now, Today's Update!
OK, That last paragraph makes me cringe! I've visited the parks so many more times since then and now see the error of my ways! Not only did I think I saw all I needed to see, but I thought only a second day would have given me more than enough time to enjoy those things I had missed! I didn't even realize all the parts of the park that I had not even seen yet!
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Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!