I have to be honest: the last time I visited Universal Studios, Orlando I was bitterly disappointed. I had already been on Shrek 4D several times, I have always thought Twister… Ride it Out was as limp as a politician’s handshake, and the Despicable Me attraction was still under construction. So when I entered the park in April 2012 – the first day of my holiday – I wasn’t exactly apoplectic with excitement.
However much has changed in just two years; in fact, its still changing. Transformers: The Ride-3D is now open, and most people think it is far better than its name suggests, or indeed the second and third films in the series. The Despicable Me attraction has finally opened its doors, and The Simpsons‘ Springfield has given the park a much-needed boost. There is also now a daily parade (Disney style) and a nightly cinematic show complete with lights and fireworks. I will, once again, be visiting the park in 2014 – something I vowed not to do again. If you are planning a trip to Universal Studios, Orlando, a little planning could go a long way.
Head Straight for Transformers: The Ride
The temptation on entering the park will be to hit Shrek 4D and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem straight away. However, take my advice, resist the temptation and head straight to Transformers. The interest in this attraction is huge, and it is currently drawing the biggest crowds in the park – that is until Diagon Alley opens sometime in the Summer of 2014 (watch this space).
Get the Big Stuff Out of the Way First
When you arrive at theme parks in Florida, there is a bounce in your step and a song in your heart. However, as the day wears on, and as the incessant heat and queueing starts to destroy your soul, you will find that your energy levels may start to wane. You may put off standing in line for The Simpsons Ride until as late as possible, but that could leave you running out of time towards the end of the day – particularly in the off-season when the park hours are far shorter.
If you have any sort of plan, make sure it involves hitting the big guns as soon as possible.
- Diagon Alley
- Transformers: The Ride-3D
- Rip-Ride Rocket
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black
- The Simpsons Ride
Do them in that order, then relax and enjoy the rest of your day. Remember, however, that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter‘s Diagon Alley is slated for a June 2014 opening day. If you are travelling within 6 months of the opening day, be prepared for carnage. Waiting times for the original attraction in Universal Studios, Orlando were up to 4 hours, so expect more of the same.
Pencil in Your Favoured Show Times
There are several shows to enjoy at Universal Studios, Orlando, but many of them take place at specific times. As soon as you arrive at the gates, make sure you have a park guide and a list of show times. This information can change on a daily basis, so don’t rely on the show times you picked up a few days before.
- Look for the following shows, and build them into your day to avoid disappointment.
- Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show
- The Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue
- The Blues Brothers
- Fear Factor Live
- Lucy – A Tribute
- Terminator 2
- Animal Actors in Stage
- A Day in the Park with Barney
Make sure you don’t miss The Blues Brothers, Animal Actors and Terminator 2, as they are all fantastic!
Top Tips for Your Day at Universal Studios
I have been to Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando many times now, and I thought I would share some of the pearls of my wisdom.
- Buy a refillable souvenir cup upon entry – it’ll save you a fortune in the long run
- Pack light, as stringent bag checks are in operation at the park gates
- Buy the 2-park bonus ticket, which gives you unlimited access to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure for 2 weeks
- Find a great vantage point for the Cinematic Spectacular and the Superstar Parade at least 45 minutes before their advertised starting times – viewing can be tricky when the park is full
- Try to avoid too much walking between 11am and 3pm – the hottest time of day during the summer.
- Eat after you’ve been on The Simpsons Ride, as it is known for emptying stomachs!
- Avoid A Day in the Park with Barney like the plague unless you have a child under 6
- If you’re going to miss a show, make it the Horror Make-Up show – it’s very missable!
- Don’t laugh when the cow flies overhead on Twister… Ride it Out – this ride is nearly as old as the park
- Prepare for the wait of your life to get on the Escape from Gringott’s ride
- But most important of all when you visit Universal Studios, Orlando – leave reality at the gates, and have a fantastic time!