Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Universal Orlando: Surviving Three Days in a Theme Park

Last week, my husband, myself, and two of our friends took a trip to Orlando and spent three days visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Yes, Derek and I have visited Islands of Adventure before, but we only spent about 6 hours there + it was raining, so I felt like we didn't really get to have the experience, you know? This time we bought tickets for both parks, because duh we (I) wanted to see the new(est) Harry Potter park: Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. I'm writing a full post on both parts of the Harry Potter experiences later, but this is essentially how we survived three full days in Universal Orlando: 




EAT:
For the most part, we ate breakfast and lunch at our hotel (except one day) so we didn't eat at too many restaurants, but here are the ones we tried:

○Cowfish (burger/sushi fusion restaurant) 3.5/5 Stars
The sushi was great, but if you're really hungry for a big 'ole burger, don't get the binto box because the burger is smaller than a Krystal burger. I got a whole roll to myself and split a roll with Derek and it was plenty, but he got the box and the burger was just too small to fill him up. 

○Vivo's Italian restaurant 3/5 stars
Also located in the CitiWalk, it had a good atmosphere but the food was just 'meh' in regards to good Italian food. 

○The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley 4/5 Stars
The food was good and it was essentially the same menu as The Three Broomsticks with traditional English dishes like bangers and mash, meat pies, and fish & chips. The only reason it didn't get a full 5 stars is because my drink (apple cider) was very watered down! 

SLEEP:
We stayed at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is actually owned by Universal. I truly believe that this is the sole reason we were able to have a fantastic trip because (1) we were able to utilize the walking path to/from the park and avoid the craziness that is on site parking; and (2) we got to go into Universal Studios (AKA Diagon Alley) a WHOLE HOUR EARLIER than all the muggles other people.



The hotel itself was really nice. We shared a room with our friends, complete with living area and kitchenette with a fridge and microwave. We ate two meals (usually breakfast and lunch) per day at the hotel so not only did it save us time, it saved us money. Oh, and the pool area was out of this world. Complete with zero entry pool, a lazy river, and a huge waterslide. I really couldn't asked for a better hotel. 

PARKS: 

Universal Studios 
Other than Diagon Alley, my personal favorite part of the park was Hollywood - where we ran into Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball. There was a Hollywood Horror Makeup Show which was mainly just a corny/funny skit, not much makeup. We rode essentially every ride in the park, but my favorites were: Revenge of The Mummy (an indoor rollercoaster), Dispicable Me Minion Mayhem, and Men in Black Alien Attack.



My least favorites were Shrek 4D, ET Adventure, and Terminator 2 3D, but they were all still enjoyable. We actually ended up riding The Mummy four times because the lines were always short for that one! 

Islands of Adventure
It was getting pretty hot while we were there during the day so on our second day, we rode two water rides: Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Jurassic Park River Adventure. I was really impressed with the Jurassic Park ride, even though we got totally soaked. Other fun rides were Dr. Doom's Fearfall and The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man. 

SURVIVAL:
○Bring your own water. There were four of us and we had two Camelbak's between us and they lasted us several hours before losing their chill. They were also convenient for carrying snacks and cell phones. 

○Wear comfortable shoes/clothes. This is pretty much a 'duh' point, but one evening I wore flip flops and literally thought my legs were going to fall off.



○Have a game plan. Know where you're going, and in what order (for the most part) so you don't find yourself wandering around. We used apps like Wait Times to help us decide if it was going to be worth it to wait in line or find a different ride/attraction to visit. 

○Take frequent breaks. This was where our hotel came in handy - we were able to walk back to the hotel (about a mile-long trail), eat lunch, and lounge by the pool for several hours before heading back to the parks. If you have the opportunity to do this, it is SO WORTH IT because you miss the peak times between 11 AM and 5 PM. On our first day, we were at the park from 6:30 PM to 10 PM and barely had any wait time for rides. We weren't so lucky on the second and third day, but the evenings were significantly less crowded. 

○If you don't mind your party getting split up a little, I suggest utilizing the "single rider" lines. When we rode Dr. Doom's Fearfall, three of us used the single rider line. We all ended up riding at the same time, in different seats, and it cut our wait time from 30+ minutes to less than five.

What is your favorite thing to do at theme parks? How do you survive multiple days without getting burned out?

15 comments:

Rachel said...

I've never been to Universal, but I've been to Disney World loads of times and I can tell you that all of these are great tips for there too!

Christine Everyday said...

These are great tips! We are probably hitting up Disney/Orlando next summer, so I'll definitely be pinning this for then.

Kelly Lorene said...

I've never been, but now I really want to go. It looks like you guys had so much fun!!

Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders said...

It sounds like y'all had such a blast during your trip to Universal Studios! I 100% agree with you about staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort! You seriously can't beat how close you are to the parks, plus the extra hour early park entry!

Kelly Payne said...

Sounds like you guys got to fit a lot in when you were there. That hotel sounds amazing...and you can't beat the extra hour! I can't wait to hear all about Diagon Ally!

Rachel Gault said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time! What a long few days at the parks! Cabana Bay is awesome too - I love the 50s theme!

http://smalltownsandcitylights.com

Joleen Pete said...

I am totally pinning this for our upcoming trip to Orlando! Thanks!!

Joleen
www.lovejoleen.com

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

KC and I absolutely loved Universal. He has begged/told me in no uncertain terms that we are not going back to Disney before kids, but he would go back to Universal in a heartbeat. We stayed at the Loews pacific something maybe? It was super expensive to us but definitely worth it because of the extra hour and it was so close. We almost ate at the cowfish place but the service was so bad we actually ended up walking out before they'd even taken our order.. and we are pretty easy to please. it was a bad night i guess. we LOVED the mummy ride, but hated men in black. we actually got stuck on men in black for like 40 mins so that might be why haha.

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