Day 6: Jump Scares & Sore Feet (Islands of Adventure) 

The truth is in the name, Islands of Adventure always proves to be some kind of adventure or another. We went in with the energy of someone who knows they’re in the last leg of a race. That is, with great enthusiasm only barely covering the masked pain. 

I checked our Health vitals on my phone, and we’d been basically covering 8.5 miles a day. And that’s considering my phone was in a locker for a good portion of time. 

Once we entered (on time, I might add), we headed straight to the new attraction in town. 

Skull Island


As of now, Skull Island only has one attraction: The Reign of Kong. Its a pretty great ride! There’s 3D goggles involved, and you get to ride an “expedition vehicle” (which basically looks like a huge jeep). 

The 3D effects are quite impressive and there’s also some really cool animatronics involved near the end. 

My only complaints about it were: 1. I hate giant worms, 2. The Skull Island natives scared the shit out of me, and 3. Did I mention I hate giant worms? 


If you hate giant worms like I do, I’d recommend sitting on the far left side of the tram, where I thankfully happened to sit. As for the natives, the people at Universal decided it would be a good idea to hide scare actors in the queue. As you’re walking through the darkness, at any moment a “Skull Island Native” could jump out and scare you. 

I may or may not have let out a blood-curdling scream. I got really scared ok! 

Jurassic Park

I love this area, its such a classic. The Jurassic Park River Adventure is always one of my favorites, although this time around we kept getting told off for taking pictures while the ride was in motion? 

 

 I really wouldn’t have a problem with this, but their only rule had been no flash photography, beforehand. Our phones were in a plastic protector! Nothing would’ve happened. It kind of harshed my mood while on the ride, but it was still lots of fun like always. 


My favorite newish attraction in this area is the Raptor Encounter, where you can meet with a raptor trainer who lets you pose for photos with an animatronic velociraptor. 

I knew that it was an animatronic but somehow it was still scary? The raptor reacts in real time to anything you do and the noises are so lifelike! For a moment I was genuinely terrified. 

Seuss Landing


This area is great for kids! As a teacher I kind of went wild buying things in this area, because, well, finding good Dr. Seuss merch is nearly impossible. 

All the rides are geared towards children in this area, so it would be a great destination for little ones. 

The Lost Continent

 This area used to be a lot bigger before the integration of the Harry Potter area, so The Lost Continent now boasts a total of two attractions: The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad (a live stunt show) and Poseidon’s Fury (a walk-through show). 

Both of these are great but haven’t been updated in a very long time. I’d say Poseidon’s Fury is my favorite of these two, just because the effects are super cool. 

Marvel Superhero Island

 

A part of me loves seeing the old comic book heroes come to life in this area of the park. There’s something very nostalgic about the cheesy, old-fashioned, original superhero costumes that makes me happy. 

The Hulk is the must-ride roller coaster in the park, its so good! Fast and thrilling, the coaster never stops being a favorite. 

We also happened to eat in this area, we did lunch at Captain America’s Diner, where sure enough, Captain America was hanging out for photo ops. 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hosmeade

The crowning glory! Who doesn’t love seeing the Hogwarts castle in the distance? It made me all kinds of emotional. 


The Forbidden Journey is the ride inside of the castle. We did the whole queue despite single rider being available because, well we wanted to walk through the whole castle! 

I think its possible to do the walk through without having to do the ride, but I love the ride so I didn’t actually bother asking. 


After a quick ride in the Twiwizard Tournament Dueling Dragons, we sat for a quick frozen butterbeer. It did wonders to combat the Florida humidity. 


We did a bit of shopping and saw the Twiwizard Tournament Pep Rally, where you get to see Drunstrang and Beauxbaton students perform on stage, much like their intro in Goblet of Fire. 


Like I said before, I really do love the performances over in Diagon Alley much more, but both of the ones in Hogsmeade are still worth a look. The second performance is the Hogwarts School Choir performing various acapella songs, complete with frogs! 


It just so happened to be International Ice Cream Day on the day we were in Hogsmeade, so I nipped in to The Three Broomsticks to get a bit of ice cream to celebrate. I got Strawberries and Peanut Butter while my little sister opted for a Butterbeer Ice Cream. I liked mine but I really wish I had gotten the Butterbeer flavored one, it was delicious. 

The biggest issue with Hogsmeade is space. While it is technically rather big, it always feels so cramped with space! There’s never anywhere to sit. Thankfully, this year I discovered a bit of a hidden nook! 


Next to the Girl’s Restroom, where Moaning Mrytle lives, there’s a small passageway that leads to the back of the Hog’s Head. 


Tables galore! And with wonderful shade no less. We spent a good half hour here. This seating area has wonderful views of the lake and of Hogwarts! It seems like most people don’t know about it because it was practically empty. 

I love that I can still find secrets at Hogwarts, no matter how many times I’ve visited. 

We called it quits rather early. Not only we’re our feet insanely sore and bruised up from so much walking, but my inner thighs had a rash from so much rubbing together. Thick thigh girl problems, eh?

Either way we were able to finish this park surprisingly early, considering how long it took us to finish Universal the day before. Not that I’m complaining, I needed a rest. 

xx

Day 5: Mostly Potter (Universal Studios) 

Since the last time I’ve been to Universal, there hasn’t been a great many positive changes other than one: the new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction.


However, the Twister and Beetlejuice Concert were given up as a result to this. I can say that the ride was fun and the queue inside of “Fallon’s Studio” was a blast. They had live performances from the Ragtime Gals! 


Hashtag Panda also made an appearance but by the time he stepped out on to the stage to dance, our ticket color had been called for “recording”. 


Maybe it was because the day before had granted me the best motion stimulator ride I’d ever been on, but Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was just … alright. It’s worth getting on, especially since the queue is basically watching a performance, but it was just alright. 

More to the point, it seems like this year Universal had more removals than additions to their park. Previously mentioned Twister and Beetlejuice Concert were retired, as well as the Disaster Studios ride, which is one of my classic favorites. 

I couldnt really stay angry though, considering that the Harry Potter Diagon Alley section is still something that exists. 

  

Its every Harry Potter fan’s dream. Everything from interactive “magic” points that you can do with the wands at Ollivanders, to the shops and food sold on location. 


Diagon Alley is actually my favorite place to chill out in-park. It feels like it has much more space than Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, and the performances are so much better! 


The Tales of Beetle and the Bard are told using elaborate puppetry by very talented puppeteers. Its absolutely beautiful and you cannot miss it! 


In the same area, every hour on the hour, magical songstress extraordinaire Celestina Warbeck performs the top hits, including Molly Weasley’s favorite “A Cauldron Full Of Hot Strong Love”. 

 

The featured ride in this area is the Escape from Gringotts Bank, where you get to escape the safest bank in the world via dragon riding. 

Universal kind of surprised us a bit by cutting Single Rider queues for a few of the rides. We usually depend on those to cut our waiting time, so we had to wait the full 30 minutes to get on the bank cart. 


I wasn’t too upset about this because 1. the queue is in air conditioning, and 2. it’s just really fucking cool. 

For lunch time, we boarded the Hogwarts Express to cross over to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. We went to our usual, and absolutely best place to eat: The Three Broomsticks. 


We had to pay for park-to-park tickets beforehand to board the train but I think it’s well worth it. The next day’s schedule would be too hectic to allow lunch at Hogsmeade. Our usual order is The Great Feast. Its a platter for four people and a cool chef in a funky hat brings it to your table. 


How good does that look? Its insanely delicious, I’ll tell you that. With our bellies full and appetite sated, we boarded the train again to go back to Universal and hang out in Diagon Alley. 


My little sister bought an interactive wand and had lots of fun figuring out all the spells throughout the area. I’m an idiot and left my interactive wand at home, so I spent my money on something I’d been wanting for a long time. 

A robe! 

Slytherin Pride!


Univeral Studios is honestly more shows than thrill rides, so we got a slight rest on our feet after hour days of walking parks from morning till night. We did leave a bit early to rest up for our final day, but not before taking the required photo at the phone booth in London 


If you happen to visit this phone booth, be sure to call the number on the phone for the Ministry of Magic! There’s a cute little message that plays. 


By 8 o’clock, we were heading back to our hotel. One more day and my feet will get a breather! 

xx