Universal Islands of Adventure. We lucked out choosing to go to Orlando at this time of year. Small crowds, short waits, comfortable temperatures (low 70s). I can’t imagine how miserable it would be at the height of summer crowds and summer heat. Oy.
Ride of the Day: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I am a Harry Potter fan, so naturally this would be a favorite, but I was surprised how good it was. The designers went to a lot of effort to amuse those in line as they snake through Hogwarts. We actually went so fast that we were wishing for some lines so that we could look at the displays and listen to the talking paintings and other things along the route. The ride itself was excellent. These simulations really make you feel like you are flying. I’d love to see the inner workings and figure out how they do it. How much does the seat actually move? We had to do this ride twice!
Runner up: The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man – Another 3D ride. You feel like you really are falling from the top of the skyscrapers down to street level. We did this one twice too!
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster – This was a really twisty turny roller coaster. My husband wouldn’t try it—and I have to admit, it took my stomach a while to recover.
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – This has to be one of the original rides at Universal. Do they even show Dudley Do-Right on TV anymore? The cheese factor is high, but if you like to get wet, this is a fun one. Or you can stand on the bridge and watch everyone else get wet…
- Jurassic Park River Adventure – The cheese factor is high on this ride too. So-so animatronics, but a nice splash. Took a couple hours to dry off in the mild weather—would be great in the hot summer.
- Flight of the Hippogriff – A family friendly rollercoaster in Harry Potter land, this was actually pretty good, but the 45-second ride did not merit the 45-minute wait.
I was disappointed the Dragon Challenge was closed for maintenance. Two rollercoasters flying past each other at high speeds. Looked fun–and scary!
All in all, it was worth a day at each Universal park in the off season, but I’m not sure I would ever visit during busy season.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot–when you visit Hogsmeade, be sure to try the Butterbeer!