If you have not yet read the intro to the Universal Studios post click here
This was an expensive day. If we could do this over again we would have changed hotels and moved ourselves over to the Hard Rock Hotel on property. When you stay at the Hard Rock they will gift you with Express Passes. Express Passes are not only essential to getting both Universal parks done in one day, but they are expensive AF!! Now, you might ask, do you need to do both parks in one day? Well, it’s totally possible, so why not, and if you want to take the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley to Hogwarts (Wizarding World of Harry Potter) then you are going to need a park hopper pass regardless, so you may as well just get both parks done in a day. With an Express Pass this is totally possible. Without it, well, good luck.
But I digress, all in all, going to Universal for one day for two people cost us $1000 Canadian. Crazy, right?! Fucking nuts when I think about it. This included travel to the grounds, park entry, express passes and food. If we had stayed on property we could have eliminated the cost of travel and express passes. So stupid of us! Oh well. Was it worth it? Absolutely. One of the most fun days of my life. I was amazed at every turn.
When it comes to food there is no shortage of options at Universal. Right outside the park is Universal City Walk, which is lined with bars and restaurants. Inside the parks gates there are character dining options, a Simpsons themed food court in Springfield USA, and plenty of full service and quick service restaurants to choose from. We ate at Mythos, which was one of the top rated restaurants in the park. Was it worth the price? Nope. Frankly a Hot Dog from the Universal City Walk would have sufficed, but we had reservations so we just went with it. Alcohol seems to have a bigger presence at Universal Studios than it does at Magic Kingdom, giving some insight into the difference in demographics. Duff beer is for sale at Moe’s Tavern in Springfield USA. Its very VERY light beer. Nothing special. Full service restaurants serve wine and beer, which is another reason why we ate at Mythos.
Now, in terms of the different “worlds” or areas of the park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is insane! Diagon Alley is straight out of the movie. Hogwarts is massive and marvellous. Springfield USA is very cool, and a great place to buy some funky souvenirs. . Kong Skull Island is super cool. Kong looks so real, it’s freaky! Maybe a bit scary for the young’ins.
When it comes to the rides, the roller coasters at Universal are 1000 times better than any ride you will go on at Disney World. I don’t care how nostalgic MK is, the rides simply suck when compared to the thrill rides at Universal Studios. We went on the Hulk TWICE and it is still the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on (note: I have not yet been on Youkon Striker at Canada’s Wonderland, but I’m working on it). But here’s why I say both parks can be done in one day. A good portion of the rides are these indoor VR experience type rides, where you sit in a moving vehicle and the events on screen make you feel like you are falling, flipping etc. The first 3 or so of these were fun, but after a while they gave me motion sickness and we started to skip them and just stick to the coasters. And all the sections have at least one ride like this. Simpsons, Spiderman, Hogwarts. Eventually they all become kind of the same and kind of annoying.
We didn’t stay for the fireworks, although I hear its a decent show set to a Universal Movie soundtrack, so it would have been cool to see, but we decided to go to Downtown Disney for dinner instead (Read about that experience on my Magic Kingdom post here).
So, with Universal being as expensive as it was, would I do it again? Hell yes. Would I bring a child? Only if they were old enough to really appreciate the rides, otherwise your money is better spent at one the Disney World theme parks. I would say the perfect age for Universal Studios is around 8. Anything younger, and your child won’t get to experience the best rides in the park.
Thanks for getting this far into my Orlando experience. To read my final post on this trip, “packing for the parks”, click here.