Recently I was able to travel to Florida and go to the Universal Orlando resort. I went to both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Here’s the beginning of describing all I saw, and it’s going to be in three, yes three, parts! There’s a lot to see and do! So, let’s get started…
Universal Studios Florida is not like its original in Hollywood. For starters, it’s not a working studio. It’s purely a theme park. Second, it’s more spread out, making it bigger than its counterpart. This makes for much more attractions, and bigger ones.
As you enter, buildings that seem like they could be part of Hollywood’s Studios is on both sides. It’s a great corridor with information and a good sized studio store with much from throughout the park, including wands from Wizarding World of Harry Potter. More on that later.
Heading to the right is a classicly modern Hollywood with buildings like the Pantages and signs pointing to Bevery Hills and Wilshire Blvd. It was a great set making area. Around here are three attractions: Terminator 2: 3D, Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show, and Lucy – A Tribute. These attractions are fairly entertainment driven, not so much ride oriented.
The area had a great place-making feel to it. There isn’t a lot of places that can make you feel like you’re completely somewhere else, but this definitely felt like I was back in California….if you don’t count the humidity. I didn’t experience any of the attractions. I’ve seen the Terminator show in Hollywood and similar type shows to the Horror Make-Up Show. I ventured to other attractions being more of a ride person.
Woody Woodpacker’s Kidzone
This area of the park features the most kid friendly attractions around. There’s Animal Actor’s on Location, A Day in the Park with Barney, Curious George Goes to Town, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, Fievel’s Playland, and E.T. Adventure. Being the very kid friendly part of the park, there were a couple of attractions I didn’t fully experience. But, I did manage to go on a couple.
Curious George Goes to Town is a water playground. There are plenty of elements that can get you wet. Having a camera, I didn’t get too close. The decoration was a great sight of a storybook come to life. I liked the idea of bringing the classic book to life instead of the recent movies. It looked like a lot of fun for kids who love getting wet in the very hot Florida sun.
Fievel’s Playland had a few things roped off for one reason or another. The big thing here is a water slide for kids to go down. Yes, it had actual water. The rest of the playground has more of themed park elements, like slides made out of large everyday objects. It was a fun area, though many kids today probably have no idea who Fievel is.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster is a lower key roller coaster that is good for the whole family. Great sound effects and small decorative props make it a fun ride for anyone who likes the classic cartoon. It is a pretty enjoyable coaster, though I’m glad I didn’t wait in a long line for it.
E.T. Adventure was an attraction I was looking forward to out of all the rides available. This is an attraction I grew up with, and it’s been taken out of the Hollywood park. A fun feature is that E.T. says people’s names at the end of the ride! It’s not too magical as it’s easy to figure out how he knows, but still, a very neat feature. The attraction has guests helping take E.T. to his home planet so that he can save it with his healing touch. It’s split between two parts – riding through the forest avoiding cops, and E.T.’s planet. The latter is a colorful sight full of aliens, water, steam, and music.
The attractions I didn’t go to at all were Barney and Animal Actors. Again, not as much a show person as a ride person, and especially not a Barney person. These are fun for families to enjoy, of course.
This kid area felt more like a trip back to the 90’s than a real Kidzone. I loved it for that reason. It felt nostalgic and new at the same time. Though I couldn’t do everything, I still liked seeing the atmosphere.
As we continue on in the journey going counter-clockwise, we hit what’s known as World Expo. There’s not a cohesive theme, but rather superstar sections. The two big areas are Men In Black and Springfield. Here also were my favorite things to snap pictures of – the Delorean and ELB from the Back to the Future trilogy. Around here is Fear Factor Live, which I didn’t go see.
Men In Black Alien Attack is one of the most unique rides at the park. It combines some fun ride vehicles with a game. The idea is that we’re first in training to be agents, but an emergency takes place that has us go through city sets to combat illegal extra terrestrials. There’s a fun ending where you have to shoot a ride vehicle on the other track, and any time you’re vehicle is hit by person or alien it spins.
The building and line were taken from the first Men In Black film. The two World’s Fair ships are docked outside of it. At night there are lights that provide a sort of star scape across the front. Inside is a recreation of the Men In Black HQ with animatronics of aliens who help run the place. Going through the line was a delight. There’s a great gag at the exit after you get flashy thingeed.
Springfield is a land all its own. Here lies the Simpsons Ride, Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ’n’ Hurl, and a great assortment of themed shops and restaurants. The Simpsons Ride is something I’ve been on in Hollywood, and chose to go on other things that are more unique to Florida. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great ride! The outside looked like a large carnival park, and even more so than the Hollywood version. Kang and Kodos was a ride I wanted to experience, but didn’t have a chance at the expense of other attractions. It had great dialogue as the Simpsons characters are the ones twirling everyone. It’s a bit of a game too where you can get wet if you don’t follow hints on the ride.
As for the shops and restaurants, these are attractions of themselves. Great recreations were made of key Springfield sites. The Kwik-E-Mart is the shop, and features some unique souvenirs. My favorite is the Bort license plate pin, which references an episode where Bart and Lisa go to Duff Beer Gardens. Speaking of Duff Beer Gardens, this version is an outside bar with some fun photo spots. Beside it is a Large Lad donut walk up, complete with Large Lad himself to take pictures with. A food court looks like several shops from the outside, but is all one general area. The places are Krusty Burger, Frying Dutchman, Luigi’s Pizza, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror, and Moe’s Tavern. I ate from Cletus’ Chicken Shack which had chicken and waffles. I grabbed a Flaming Moe drink, which bubbled more than most carbonated drinks. I sat and enjoyed it all in Moe’s Tavern, which had its own bar, and a Barney statue…Barney from the Simpsons, not the purple dinosaur. In all of Fast Food Boulevard, as it’s called, televisions with Simpsons clips played on a loop. This was one of my favorite areas to walk through.
Next will cover more including Rip Ride Rockit, and we’ll eventually land in Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But, stay tuned for that one!