Universal Studios Orlando - Stepping Into a Theme Park Again!

Here is the post I should have written months ago. Just a reminder - your mental health is important and taking time to yourself is essential. Now lets get ourselves back to the Universal Studios Orlando Resort and the ”reel” Movie Magic that is Universal!

After the “fun” of getting to the resort, we settled into the spacious room - this is a Deluxe Hotel you know! We then met up with a friend for drinks poolside before planning the next days adventure: Start in Universal Studios for the early morning access and my favorite roller coaster - Escape from Gringotts! Little did I know how much I would LOVE riding a different roller caster later! Anyways I walk out to the water taxi service near the pool and escort my friend back to their car at CityWalk and of course get one of the best treats there for the morning: Voodoo Doughnuts.

Stocked up for the morning I toured CityWalk for a bit but wanted to head to bed to get ready for the excitement I knew awaited us when we woke up. Alright I can’t go into every amazing moment - there seriously were that many - I want to highlight my favorite points! My top adventure will be talked about last.

So Day One in a Park again! Let’s start off at Universal Studios and Diagon Alley with my soon to be second favorite roller coaster at Universal Studios Orlando: Escape from Gringotts.

After getting off we took the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmead. The train ride to the castle is possibly my favorite transition to Islands of Adventure (however make sure you ride both ways for the full experience!). Once we arrived we saw the massive line for Hagrids Motorcycle Adventure. I am a big guy and while I had lost weight specifically for this trip - the seats at Universal are not wide hips and bigger bellied persons a.k.a. Me. Luckily they do have seat testers outside of the attractions for you to test.

I forgot to mention earlier that I am someone who dresses up at Theme Parks - Disneybounding but Universal Style! Today I was dressed as Hagrid in a full costume in 80 degree heat in October with all the humidity. Yeah, I’m committed to my craft. I even had a friend make me a custom beard mask which later I joked that it was missing a nose yet people actually believed it was real and complained to the employees working! So with that now we get back to testing the seat. Obviously with the costume, the seats were a bit harder to get in. This was a tighter squeeze but I fit! I was going as Hagrid on Hagrids. My goal was complete for the day as I was then surprised to be escorted through the exit to the front row! Single rider express pass had nothing on this VIP treatment! Sadly I had to remove the long coat for the ride but I got the picture to prove my attempt! Beard mask and all!

Now that we were in Islands of Adventure, we would complete this park and do Universal - and the Halloween Mazes - tomorrow with anything else we wanted to do on the last day there. Islands of Adventure - IOA as we in ”the know” call it - has some of the best attractions in my opinion due to not being available in Hollywood. This include the Original Jurassic Park (possibly soon to be changed into the Hollywood version?), all of Seuss Landing, Kong: Skull Island and Spider-Man! I could ride these and all the other attractions over and over again!

Day two is filled with just as much fun and then some more! My birthday month also has one of my favorite holidays - Halloween! While I knew this year would be different, I was not expecting the amazing experience of being back in an ACTUAL HALLOWEEN MAZE so when Universal Studios confirmed 2 mazes - I had to get myself out to Orlando. Plus I am starting this Blog and Website so WHY NOT GO NOW!

I had so much fun going through all the Shopping Experiences as well as the two announced mazes: The Bride of Frankenstein and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy. My previous maze experience has been another Original Southern California Theme Park as well as Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. I was blown away again by the details Universal Studios is able to achieve in these twisted corridors of nightmares.

The Tooth Fairy was a literal nightmare. A reimagining of the classic children’s idea of a Fairy Tale - this was nothing but! While I would say this original story was quite “cartoon“ in nature the grotesque monsters make up for the “gore factor“ I am used to seeing with Universal. Lastly the maze while very well thought out and to a degree of whimsy yet horrific details it will remain very childish in its actual scare level. Most were a jump scare with the plexiglass assisting with the COVID19 precautions - in a white room does not help either - so you are not as surprised when they appear. This was not the case for The Bride of Frankenstein.

I am not sure if it the power of the Intellectual Property (IP as they say) or just he thorough cohesion of the love story added to a horror characters - I love this Maze! The Bride comes out early in a massive showroom in one of the sound stages used for housing the massive mazes which also allowed for these mazes to be open during the day to park guests! Back to the maze - now I wouldn’t normally spoil it so I won’t this time either! Ha! If you want to see it... well okay here it is from Universal Studios Orlando Directly - HERE

Our Day 2 Return to the Zoo was a very busy day at Universal Studios Park proper. This is a great park for many reasons. For me it was the thrill of being back at a Theme Park as well as the nostalgia of many of the similarities to the Hollywood location I am all too familiar with. Seeing things like Transformers and Shrek 4D as you walk in are comforting reminders of home. Also seeing Rip Ride Rocket again since 2016 and being able to fit was a huge accomplishment. Up next was a classic in the Hollywood side too - The Mummy! This is my favorite version of this coaster (Sorry Hollywood). We also wrapped around and did Gringotts Again as Express Pass is a time saver!

To save time as this is getting long already - I will highlight my favorite moments. Men In Black is one of my favorite dark rides and I will try to go a million times. Also those costumes are the best in the parks because everyone looks the same. Another classic to mention is my favorite Classic Ride: E.T.! This is another I could ride a million times type ride. The queue alone is worth the attraction- and then I get to go flying around! Sign me up! Anyway let’s just say after a few more rounds of rides and attempting to see shows we called it a day.

Our third day was filled with the same as the second. Hitting all the attractions we could as repeats before we had to leave at 4:00 To head back and pick up our luggage (See the blog from two weeks ago about that trip). I have to say the secret songs on Rip Ride Rocket is a fun feature I tried out this trip. I didn’t experience it the last time so this was so much fun I went 4 times in a row. I honestly prefer it over The Hulk in terms of smoothness but nothing compares to Hagrids and I’m sure Velocicoaster is going to take our breath away.

That should wrap up this blog. Check back soon for another one!

Until we can be back in the parks,

Patrick O’Connor

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