Our 2nd day in Orlando started early too, cause we were going to Universal Studios this time around! What made it different from Singapore’s version was that there was a particular section of the studio made for Harry Porter. After breakfast, we made the transport arrangements over the same counter and we soon we were at a bus stop a few steps from Universal. Rushed through the shopping area and had to line up in a queue that was already there before Universal was opened for business. Once opened, we quickly made a beeline to the Harry Porter section. Of course there were express passes, but these had to be bought and could be used only once per participating attraction., but necessary definitely.
So we made our way to the Forbidden journey where we snaked along corridors of Hogwarts that were decorated very nicely and fits the magical experience straight from the movie set. Before we made it to the long queue, there was a place to dump all our loose belongings, including cameras into lockers that were really small. I had to urgently squeeze the bags into one locker in the dark chaos of the little room where everyone else was doing the same. It didn’t help that the lockers were centralised controlled by a computer, even though these were free for a certain time limit.
I was thoroughly impressed with the ride as it gave a immersive experience which I did not understand how that was done. It was a simulator with a huge screen that gave you the feeling that you were part of the action coupled with props when you swing from one area to another. My wife didn’t feel well after the ride, due to motion sickness but I thought it was pretty well done and worth the queuing. After this, we recovered our items and while my wife rested, I went ahead with a roller coaster ride, the Dragon challenge. The roller coaster was pretty good with the twist and twirls while we hang with our legs dangling. This one gave me motion sickness instead and I had to steady myself while making my way back to my wife (must be the age).
We took our time to walk the beautiful streets nicely decorated and also got ourselves a Butterbeer, which tasted like vanilla coke with froth. Entered the owl store to get a Harry Porter wand too.
We left Harry Porter to explore the other sections. There was a Lost Continent section that looked fun but was closed for maintenance. We walked also walked through a very bright and colourful section known as Dr Suess. Mainly catered for young children and thus it was more viewing for us.
So we ended up walking to street where Marvel characters dominate the theme of the section. We queued for the Incredible Hulk roller coaster and it was fun! The sudden surge while the roller coaster climbed the incline was a nice surprise. The queue for this ride was pretty long even with the express pass. There was also lockers available which we had to deposit before boarding the ride. We spent quite a bit of time at the Marvel streets, as I was sort of a Marvel fan myself. Going into stores which sold movie merchandise to comics but didn’t really get anything.
There were photo opportunities with the Marvel characters and I had to take some with them! There was the Wolverine that had a queue going on, particularly popular with the kiddos!
There was a simulator ride with Spiderman as the character within a tall building. The simulator actually moved, though not as fast as a roller coaster, and we had to wear 3-D glasses for that in-your-face experience. It was quite enjoyable.
As we continued on, we saw other comics characters other than the Marvel ones, such as like Betty Boop and Popeye. There was a water based ride for Popeye but we didnt’ take it, knowing that we could end up wet, and it was cold to get wet! There was a huge human air dryer which we saw people got in to dry themselves.
There was a Jurassic Park theme section in the studios. Wandered into the main center where there were displays of dinos that made you think you were in a museum. There was an area where dinosaurs were being breed and there was an incubator where dino eggs were hatching. Part of a “live” show actually showed a “scientist” introducing the dino details as the baby dino broke the shell and he recovered it and showed them to the amazed kids.
Soon it was lunchtime and we went back to Harry Porter section. The restaurant was packed with people and there was a queue to to ordering point. The place was decorated resembling having lunch in the old tavern which was kind of nice. The food sold was ok and there was also butterbeer so I bought one that comes with a memorabilia mug that I could bring home after I finish the drink (at a price). There were people who would try to locate empty tables for the customers but we didn’t know that and went around to chope seats before I went to get the food. The queue went as far as outside the restaurant and we were fortunate to have eaten earlier.
After lunch we dropped in to catch a show of Sinbad and his adventure to save a princess from a evil wizard. On top of the stunts and the flying around, there were mini explosions and fire to add to the realism. Typical kind of show you would expect from a movie making studio but it was entertaining. The theatre with the fire show allowed for a temporary escape from outside cold too.
We caught another show at Dr Seuss that was pretty well recommended online which I wasn’t really interested but had the time to do so. This was sort of a little musical about the Grinch who stole Xmas and we had to queue early in order to get the seats closer to the stage. The show attracted quite a crowd eventually, popular amongst family with children. After sitting through the show that had bright colours and catchy tunes coupled with the elements fitting of a musical, I thought I liked it!
By then, we had explored the Island of Adventures. We weren’t really into the thrill rides especially those that had to do with heights but there were a few of them there. We exit the theme park and do a little shopping along City Walk, a street with a few merchandise stores that included a NBA official store and a Hard Rock Cafe. I bought a Bubba Gum tee from the Bubba Gum company – familiar company from the famous Forest Gump, played by Tom Hanks. Then we took a cab to get back to our hotel.
When we arrived back at the hotel, it was already dark. We made our way across the main road from the hotel where there were some restaurants along the main road. One caught our attention and we went in only to find that it was selling Chinese economical rice, but named as Panda Express. The food was expensive too! We had takeaways back to the hotel.
It was actually still early after dinner and so we decided to go visit a Premium outlet mall to satisfy our shopping desire. There was one pretty close by and easily accessible by taking a bus that was at the main road. There were a few bus stops and we had to check which one the bus actually stopped to board. Bought some cold were stuff from Northface which was put immediately to good use. Couldn’t buy too much since we were only at the beginning of our 2 weeks tour. Went back in a cab after the shop closed and packed the new stuff into our luggage for a flight out the next day.