Universal Studios has two parks as previously mentioned and although Diagon Alley is spectacular in the Studios park, my favourite park to visit is Islands of Adventure. This is where the adrenaline filled rides are, it also has a Harry Potter themed area which connects via the Hogwarts Express. It’s hard to explain why this park is so much better, it just feels like it has a better vibe to it. There is a lot more going on and its the home of Hogwarts Castle which is pretty fabulous.
There are several themed areas in the park: Hogsmeade, Jurassic Park, Suess Landing, Marvel Super Hero Island and a few others but these are the ones I spend the majority of my time. This is the park where you’ll find one of the best Florida rollercoasters as well, The Incredible Hulk Coaster. This ride is insane, it launches you out of a tunnel straight into a loop and it is so much fun. This is where you also find Doctor Dooms Fearfall which is a drop tower and I always make sure to ride this at least once. I love a good drop tower ride. If adrenaline is your thing, this is the park to be at.
Since we last visited there is a new ride here in the park called Skull Island: Reign of Kong. This was just as disappointing as I had thought it would be. I have previously visited the Universal Studios in California and they have a tram tour there that takes you through a Kong themed area and the ride is basically just an extension of this. We waited nearly 40 minutes in a dark and hot queue for this and I was so disappointed. Of course, that’s just my opinion, some people came off the ride having really enjoyed it so give it a try. The wait times don’t often drop below 30-40 minutes though, or at least they didn’t when we were in the park.
One other new thing we discovered which I don’t actually think is new, we just likely haven’t seen it before is the talking fountain in The Lost Continent section of the park. We stood and watched the chaos from this on both days we visited the park. Whoever does the voice for this is hilarious. It is a stone statue with a face in it at the entrance to the Sinbad show but it has cameras pointing at it and talks to people nearby. It also enjoys spraying water at unsuspecting passerbys. The kids and adults seemed to really love it but be warned you will most likely end up drenched if stood near it for too long.
My favourite area in the park is of course Hogsmeade. This area is fantastic if not a bit bizarre with the snow-capped houses against the bright Florida sunshine. But this is where Hogwarts Castle is and home to The Three Broomsticks where we have eaten on all of our visits. The food here is actually pretty good and there are some seats out the back of the restaurant on the patio which is always quiet where we sit to enjoy our food. Sometimes we have just been in for a butterbeer as the queues in here are much smaller and quicker than the carts outside (top tip). There is even a ride inside of the castle called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which is a dark ride, you sit in what looks like a bench on top of a giant robot arm and it swings you around on a fun and exciting journey. Just be careful and watch out for the dementors! There is also a smaller roller coaster called Flight of the Hippogriff which is alright, don’t spend too long waiting on this though as there are much better coasters throughout the rest of the park.
On select nights throughout the week, they have a light show on Hogwarts Castle. This runs throughout the night and is quite well handled, they cram a lot of people into a very small space to watch this show. Just make sure that you enter from the Hogsmeade Train Station side as it becomes oneway and you exit out through the bridge into Jurassic World. Make sure to try and time your visit with a night that the show is on. It’s really beautiful and don’t forget to cheer for your house when it appears. Big up to all the Hufflepuffs.
Just talking about the parks gets me so excited, I really hope to visit again for another cold butterbeer.