Universal Studios Florida 2018

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December 21, 2018
Orlando FL

On Monday morning I woke up, showered, packed up, and headed north, back to the Universal  Orlando Resort. Today, though, I’d been spending a few hours at the Studios. Although I’ve been to both parks on a couple of other occasions, this trip was the first time I spent a day at each park, though to say I spent a ‘day’ there is stretching it quite a bit for both parks. I arrived around 11:15 am, parked, and walked over to the Studios. I could tell that the crowd wasn’t terrible, and at only the 60 degrees, I figured it wouldn’t be a very crowded day. As I walked in I headed past Minions, which I rode in Japan, and Shrek, which I don’t like 4D theaters, and headed to the right, looking for what was new. And new I saw, forgetting all about Transformers.

Transformers The Ride 3D-I knew this ride was there, but totally forgot about it, so it ended up being a nice surprise. Another nice surprise was the single rider line, a theme throughout the day I would later discover. I knew it was the same ride system as Spider-Man, and I think I’d read it was the same, or at least very similar, layout, and if there were any changes to the layout, I didn’t notice. It was just as well done as Spider-Man, though my right lens was a little wonky. The physical sets were cool, and overall it was a fun ride with cool effects, just like the Spider-men I’ve ridden, and DarKastle.

Thirty minutes in and I’d already gotten one of the new attractions out of the way. I hadn’t had breakfast so I decided to grab a bit to eat at Mel’s Drive-in. As I left the restaurant, there was a Dora the Explorer float coming around the bend for a kids dance party. I took a gander for a second then made my way around. My next destination was MIB, via Springfield.

Men in Black-This ride is still a lot of fun, and though slightly dated, I’m sure they’ll update it as soon as the reboot comes out, though they wouldn’t have to change much. I like shoot em up dark rides, and this, to me, is probably the best there is. I like that the cars spin so much and that you don’t have to aim directly at a bulls eye target. I was the lowest scoring person in my car, which was okay, because I like dark rides and spent a lot of time just looking around and not trying to shoot.

I was on and off the ride in no time, thanks again to the single rider line. I made my way around the lagoon and headed for the area that held and hid most of the park’s crowd. I knew that the only new credit I needed at the park had a 35 minute wait from the great app with wait times, but again I headed to the single rider line, which saved me a good 5 minutes. But the line was growing as I was getting on, so I’m not sure that that 35 minutes was accurate at that point anyway, and later the line grew to at lest 60 minutes.

Harry Potter and the Escape from GringottsThey did an amazing job on what parts of the queue I saw, but I was glad to be in the single rider hallway. It was much easier to lean up against the dark, cool walls, making the wait more comfortable. I liked the ride. The 3D parts were okay, but I liked the tilt/drop at the beginning, the tilting in the large screened room with That Guy Who’s Name they Don’t Speak or whatever (I’ve literally never seen a movie or read a book from the series, so that’s probably the only thing I really know outside of the very basic of basics). It was a neat attraction, and done very well, with lots of spinning, effects, and a launch (?). Quite fun, but I’m glad I didn’t have a very long wait.

Going back to entering Diagon Alley, Universal did an even better job with this than the 2 Wizarding Worlds I’ve been to. Again, other than the basics, I’m not familiar with the source material enough to know how accurate to the books and movies it is, but the immersion is absolutely second to none. This is on par with anything Disney did, with loads of people walking around casting their ‘spells’ with their wands, even in the dark alleyway I stumble into that just caters to the spell casting.

And even though it’s ‘crammed in’ and ‘cramped’, it adds to the atmosphere and makes the area seem very large. I saw twice some active entertainment in the area, both shows being different. After walking around a bit more I walked back out, though, to head to the next attraction, which was conveniently just down the street from London Crossing.

Fast & Furious Supercharged-This ride was…well…Not good. Okay, I get it, they basically just did a re-theme to the old Disaster! ride, and there’s only so much you can do. The ride, though, is just crap. Disclaimer: I watched and liked the first 5 or so Fast and Furious movies, but they started to lose me when they stopped just being fast cars and explosions and started trying to have a real story line. The first peppers ghost scene was just meh at the ‘club’, the acting was terrible, and though it was nearly the same (and just as effective) as the tunnel on Kong at IoA, it was just too corny. Very one and done, and I never have to ride it again.

Next up I headed over to one of my favorite rides in all of Orlando next. Revenge of the Mummy has a great coaster section, and the ride is just super fun. I wish it had the backwards section from Hollywood, though, because that would make it the perfect indoor coaster. I walked around the park some more after riding Mummy. Soon I ended up towards the front, which put me close to Rockit. The last time I was at the park I waited over 2 hours as the ride didn’t offer Express or Single rider lines. Today, with the single rider line, I was on in 15. Man, this ride has not aged well at all. It rattles, it’s uncomfortable, and it should just be renamed Blockbrake-The Ride. The only good thing was listening to Daft Punk while riding.

I walked around the front of the park and eventually headed to Springfield. I had no intentions of riding the Simpsons ride as I’ve done it before and have no need to do it again. But I did want a drink from Moe’s, so I got my Flaming Moe. In the show, IIRC, it was the alcohol in cough syrup that made it flame, so I expected it to have some taste that was based on cough syrup, but alas, it was just orange soda with dry ice. Not bad, but had I known, I wouldn’t have paid what I did for it. I walked through the Kwik-E-Mart before heading down to the seating by the lagoon for a break. The weather was beautiful and temperature perfect for shorts and a hoodie.

Making my way back to Diagon Alley, I really wanted butter beer. This was still the only packed section of the park, and with Gringott’s now over an hour wait, I’m glad I hit it up early. The first place I found butter beer had a really long wait, but when I walked around trying to find a restroom, I found a place near the back corner with a much smaller wait. As I walked around drinking my butter beer I felt it may be time for lunch, so I went to the Leaky Cauldron. They had butter beer and no wait, so oh well. The food was decent. I should have gotten a hot butter beer but I needed to leave soon to catch my flight and didn’t want to keep drinking expensive non alcoholic drinks that would make me need to run to the bathroom.

So I felt it would be prudent on my part to call it a day. There was nothing else I really wanted to ride, and I had a flight to catch and didn’t want to get stuck in too much rush hour, what with having to fill the rental up and drop it off too. Then of course, my flight got delayed quite a bit just as I arrived at the airport and grabbed dinner, but I was done with Universal. So I ended up spending some cash to go into The Club MCO. I may make that a habit the next time I head to Orlando, and just head to the airport super early, with complementary food and alcohol in a big comfy space.

As much as I like the parks at the Universal Orlando Resort, I don’t feel the need to get back any time soon, and as I think about it being almost a decade since my last visit, even with all of the new stuff, there just isn’t much to entice me to come back at this point. I know they’re investing a lot over the next few years so I’ll obviously be back once all of that pans out. But for now, while I’m glad I got to go on two very lightly attended days, I’m good on USO for a while.