To Be Young Again…

If you have been following our travels, then you are aware of our trip to Orlando. In my last post, I briefly mentioned that, while visiting Universal Studios, we had learned quite a few things. If you are intersted in in our experience, see below. If you wanna skip the details, be my guest and scroll down…

  1. Long LineBuy your tickets before hand.

I’m not sure why, with all the planning I did, that I never thought to purchase my tickets online. It was pretty chaotic and we ended up waiting a good while before we stepped up to buy our tix. Even the line for the will call tickets was massive. So, next time I think we will stop at the park to buy the tickets the day before we plan on visiting.

  1. Save up $$ to purchase an Express ticketuniversalescapetickets

Universal has a couple options when it comes to express tickets. The first one is a simple Express Pass, which lets you bypass the regular line and get onto the ride quicker. However, this pass can only be used on a ride ONE TIME. So, for instance, you wanted to ride the Hulk. You’d use your Express Pass to ‘skip’ the line (instead of waiting a super long time, you wait 10 minutes) ride the ride, and then boom, that’s it. You are done using express for that ride…you’d either wait in the regular line or go to another ride. In my opinion, that’s just plain silly. Which brings me to my next point.

  1. runnerSave up even more $$$ to purchase an Express Unlimited ticket

An Express Unlimited is just that. Unlike the regular Express ticket, which only allows you one ‘fast pass’ to each ride, the Unlimited version allows you to ‘skip’ the line to rides as many times as you’d like. So, while the sign says the wait for such and such ride is 70 minutes, you can use your EU ticket to shoot to the front, wait 10 minutes, ride the ride, then run back to the beginning and do it all over again. Rather than spend 70 minutes in a line, you could be riding the same one multiple times or another ride of your choice.

  1. Know your parkuniversal-resort-map

Universal is actually two parks. Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We decided to get 2-day park hopper tickets, which would allow us to visit both parks all day long. We spent most of the 1st day in Islands of Adventure, then took a break to hang out with the dogs, and came back later to cruise Universal Studios. Islands of Adventure has more thrill rides, while Universal is more ‘theme’ oriented (think Small World type rides) Each park has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and I would suggest that anyone planning to visit do some research on what each one has to offer.

  1. Read the fine printfineprint

Luckily, we were prepped for the fine print before we bought our tickets. Basically, there are a couple of rides you can’t use the Express tix on. They are – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Rock-It, and P-Flyers. You will need to stand in the regular line with everyone else for those.

  1. Come to terms with the fact that you are getting older…oldwoman

Once we had our nifty tickets in hand, or rather around our necks safely secured by a lanyard, we headed over to the first roller coaster we saw. The Hulk. The wait time said 60 minutes, but with our awesome Express ticket, we bypassed the regular line and waited less than 15 minutes to board. As I strapped myself and the techs came by to double check everyone, I tried to remember the last time either of us were on a coaster. It had been a few years. No big, I had this…or so I thought. Before either of us knew it, we were hurtling towards the sky, then dropping straight down to the ground. Then spinning, and back up and down again. Fran screamed her head off the entire time, which is pretty normal, I remember her screaming the last time we rode something similar. What I don’t remember was the overwhelming dizziness and out of body feeling I had during and even once the ride was over. It was unreal. We both turned to each other and said “We are getting too old for this shi…” When I was younger I used to ride coasters and other thrill rides back to back, with no rests in between. Not anymore. So, we realized that we are older, and a bit more sensitive now, and decided to pace ourselves…

  

  The Hulk Coaster

Christmas DinnerWe took a break the next day, which was Christmas, to do some chores around the motorhome. By the late afternoon, we decided that we would head into Downtown Disney for a bite to eat. We hit the road around 5ish, and hit major traffic both on the highway and in the parking lot. The nice thing about Downtown Disney is it’s free to park. The bad thing about Downtown Disney is…it’s free to park. So basically everyone and their mother planned a trip there. It took us a good while to find a parking spot, and everywhere you looked was cram packed with people. I figured we would wait hours for dinner, butNachos! luckily I was wrong. I had read about a place called Splittsville – part bowling alley, part restaurant – and the reviews all raved about it, so we decided to check it out. It was Christmas, we were hungry, and we decided to splurge. On nachos and sushi. Great combo, I know. I have to say, it was honestly the best sushi I have had in a long long time. Who would have thought I’d be blown away by sushi at a hipster bowling spot in Downtown Disney?!

After we had our fill of deliciousness, we cruised the area. DD is a pretty cool spot. It’s filled with lots of restaurants, shops, bars, arcades, etc. We had visited it many years ago, but were in a bit of a rush at the time, so we didn’t get to see all it had to offer. If you are ever in Orlando, looking for something to do that doesn’t require an entrance fee, definitely check it out.

Downtown Disney  Mr Potato Head

Merry Go Round in DD  Balloon Ride in DD

The next day, we got up bright and early to hit Universal once again. We spent a good part of the morning at the Universal Studios portion of the park, checking out things we hadn’t gotten a chance to do the time before. A couple hours later, we grabbed some lunch, then headed bacl home to spend time with the dogs. Islands of Adventure was open late that night (11pm) so we figured we’d be back to ride the coasters as much as we could later that evening.

When we returned later, we came prepared. Fran took some dramamine, and I took a chill pill. We were ready to go…

Fran at Univeral

I have no idea how many times I rode each ride, but lets just say…it was a lot. We both felt a ton better than we had the first day we were there, and really got to enjoy things this time around. It. Was. Awesome. I felt like a 12 year old again, and kept getting back on everything over and over. We had an amazing time!

Walking through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter while drinking butterbeer* and staring up at the Hogwarts castle was pretty fantastic. You truly feel like you are in Hogsmeade. We even got our very own chocolate frog! Unfortunately we didn’t get to tour the castle, the wait was over 2 hours (holy hell!) and, if you were paying attention to the details above you’d know, the Express Pass didn’t work for it. No worries, we will eventually see the inside…

Hogwarts Castle

Hogmseade Entrance  

Honey Dukes Sweets  HoneyDukes

Sweet Tasty Butterbeer  Chocolate Frog

Butterbeer!

*For those non Harry Potter fans – Butterbeer is a very sweet, non-alcholic, bubbly drink, with a thick frosty froth on top. Think cream soda topped with butterscotch foam… delicious!

Each area had its own theme. From Harry Potter to Comic book heroes. There was plenty of shopping, eating, and riding to do…

Fear Fall  Jurassic Park

  

  

Ready to RollOur trip to Orlando was fantastic. We had great weather and got to fit in some really awesome adventures. Our time in Turkey Lake was up a couple days ago, so we headed to a pitstop outside of Kennedy Space Center. We spent a couple days there, just relaxing and prepping for our next leg of the trip. This morning we headed out and are currently en route to Fort Myers. Fran and I both have family there and are looking forward to catching up with them and soaking up some more warm sun!

To be continued…

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