Universal Studios

After our down day on Saturday, we were ready to hit both Universal Parks next! We were all looking forward to the parks, especially the Harry Potter sections.

We were a little concerned about crowd levels at Universal Studios on Sunday because it overlapped with the 10K and half marathon that Universal was hosting. Fortunately, I don’t think it actually impacted crowd levels much.

As is typical, we were there bright and early. We were in the first row of cars in the parking garage, since they parked the race participants in a different level, and we were some of the first people at the gate. Universal is less consistent about how early they open the gates, so we weren’t quite sure what time to be there for rope drop.

Once the gates opened, we quickly walked back to Diagon Alley — the Harry Potter section of the park. Of course it was at the very back, so it took a bit of walking to get there. We were rewarded for our early arrival though — the Alley was essentially deserted and we were able to poke around without a ton of people nearby.

We stashed our things in the lockers and rode Escape from Gringotts. We really liked how they integrated the screens with physical models and effects and thought it was quite well done. We opted to ride it a second time immediately afterward since our stuff was already stashed and the line would only get longer throughout the day.

After the ride, we explored the shops in Diagon Alley a bit. We watched the short wand selection ceremony too. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes was a particularly fun store — a mix of candy and practical jokes.

Throughout Diagon Alley there are interactive exhibits that you can trigger if you’ve bought (or brought) an interactive wand with you. Keller managed to buy one online before our trip, so both kids got to “cast spells” to trigger the animations. Some definitely worked better than others, but it was a neat idea. Overall the theming was very consistent and quite immersive. I thought it was well done! Plus the dragon periodically breathes fire, so that’s fun!

We next worked our way around the central lagoon, riding Men in Black and the Simpons on the way to the animal actors live show. Kamy was chosen as a volunteer for the dog segment and got plenty of puppy-kisses for her participation. 😉

We left the park to grab lunch at Cowfish — a burger restaurant just outside the main gates of the park. The food was tasty and a much better deal than eating inside the actual park, but it really did “eat” up a lot of our time, despite having a reservation. We were all glad to give our feet a rest though.

Back in the park, rode the little Woody Woodpecker coaster, E.T., the Fast and the Furious, the Horror Make Up show, and Shrek 4D theater. Min then took a break while we rode the Rip Ride Rockit Roller Coaster and the Mummy. Caden liked Rip Ride Rockit so much he wanted to do it a second time, so we split up and Caden rode Rip Ride Rockit again while Keller and Kamy went to power through a couple of rides, including riding the Mummy again.

We missed the mardi gras parade during this time, but Min was able to see it and catch some beads. We were pushing toward the end of the day, so we finished up with repeats — Kamy and Daddy at The Mummy and Caden (and me) at Rockit. Caden later decided that this is his favorite roller coaster at the moment!

Once again, we left the park after closing time — grabbing a few t-shirts from the gift shop on the way out for good measure. One park left!