Universal Studios, Orlando

Florida Guide > Universal Parks

Let's face it - the Mouse is attracting you to Florida, but he doesn't have to monopolise you for your entire visit. 

When you need a change, go to Universal Studios, up near International Drive.  It's fantastic, you'll love it and there's something for everyone.

As you arrive in your car, you'll need to decide where to park.  If you are really early then take the ordinary parking, if later then go for Priority Parking, but if you really don't fancy a long walk at the end of the day then choose to have the Valet do everything for you.  It only cost US$14 and you park up right near the entrance and he or she whisks your car away for you and you stroll into the park!  Couldn't be simpler and at the end of the day while everyone else is trudging back to their cars you just wait a few
minutes and yours is delivered right to you.  Believe me that is heaven when your feet ache!!  (Don't forget to give the valet a small tip.)

So, you've parked your car and are now in the park.  Where to go?  Universal is basically an oval shape with all of the main attractions around the edge of the oval with a few minor ones and eateries in the middle.  We've devised a strategy that gets us to half of the park in one day, with the rest on another day.  You can do it all in one day if you have the stamina of a marathon runner and the patience of a saint!!!

As you enter, take a right towards Terminator 3D.  Check to see if this is showing continuously or only at certain times of the day.  If the former, then go straight passed, if the latter then put your ticket into the Fast Pass machine so that you have a confirmed viewing time.  Walk on round until you get to Back to the Future.  This is a fantastic (so I am reliably informed - not having done it myself) simulator ride.  Go on this ride first.  If there is a queue and you don't mind splitting up, then go on as
singles, as the chances are you will get to ride with at least one member of your party.  You've met the Doc and Marty and had your first Universal Movie Adventure!!

Now straight on to Men in Black.  It's time to meet and greet the Aliens!! On this ride you get your own laser and get to shoot as many aliens as you can.  It is great fun, but does whip you around a bit.  Once the ride is over, resist all temptation to get straight back on it again, but get yourself round the corner to Jaws instead, where you can see where Chief Brody lived and died.  Take a water boat tour round Amity.  It's great, but you may get a little wet!!! 

If you Fast Passed for Terminator 3D it's probably time now to head back down there and view this fantastic show.  If you didn't Fast Pass then carry on round from Jaws, get yourself a Fast Pass for the 12.15pm Betelgeuse Rocky Horror Show and go straight on to Earthquake.  What can I say - it's just like being there!!  The special effects are terrific.  Now go back to
Betelgeuse and watch the show.  You'll love it - listen carefully for the songs before the show starts as they are sung by the "Crypt Keeper" and can be very funny.

By now you are probably wondering whether you are on vacation or a carefully planned Army exercise!!  Take a bit of R and R and get yourselves something to eat.  The only down side from my point of view in this whole park is the food - none of it is wonderful, however the clam chowder and chicken strips at the seafood cafe near Jaws aren't bad at all.  Take heart from the fact that you have accomplished a great deal in a short time (only a morning so far!!).  If you bought one of the 4 or 5 park flex tickets, then why not leave the park altogether and go back to the villa for a lovely swim, or go
on to Wet'n'Wild or Sea World.  Your car park ticket is good for either of
these other parks, on the same day.

You've still got Kong, Twister, ET, Terminator 3D (if you didn't Fast Pass), Nickelodeon, Flintstones, the Wild West Show, the Animal Show, Gory & Gruesome Make-up Show and Barnie's area to do.  If you have small children you could easily spend most of the afternoon with Barnie, as once you take them in there, you won't get them out again without a struggle (make sure
that you take their swimming costumes - they'll need them).  Don't even mention Barnie in the morning!!!  Leave him as a lovely surprise!!!  If you decide to stay for the afternoon, then try and catch the shows, as they last for at least 20 minutes to half an hour and will get you out of the sun.  If you are tired, be wary of the Gory & Gruesome Makeup Show, 'cos it is mainly in the dark and people have been known to push up a few zzz's and miss the show completely.

On your second day, again arrive early if you can and go straight to Twister.  Experience flying cows whilst suffering from chronic wind!!  Next stop is ET where you ride a bike and take ET back home to his own planet.  This is a lovely ride and you even get a "Thank you" for helping ET at the end.

Now go and experience Terminator 3D.  It's awesome and the special effects are fantastic.  A wonderful mix of real people, machines and 3D film.  Next go back towards the Animal Show and you can see how well they train some of the animals that are used in the movies.

Try and catch the first showing of the Wild West Stunt Show.  It's great fun, cleverly done, and if you are lucky the Marx brothers may well be in the audience!!  Fit the other attractions in as and when you can.  If you pass a ride and there is little or no queue, then get yourself on it - you won't be sorry.  Any ride offering a singles option is a must for a re-do. You will save ages by being a "single" and this works particularly well on Men in Black.

As you can probably tell, this is my favourite place.  For me, it is not a Florida holiday unless I get to spend at least one day riding the Movies!!!

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