Sep 092010


By Carol Garcia

With the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios is banking on the fact that there are many like me who will come to their parks and hotels just for that reason.

Just to avoid confusion, let me start of by saying that, yes, I do know that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is not in a Disney theme park. But after countless trips to Walt Disney World in the last several years, I thought it might just be time to venture up I-4 to Universal and check it out. Since we don’t live in the Orlando area, my family and I chose to tag this Universal visit on the beginning of a Disney trip, rather than fly in for just the Wizarding World. I wondered whether our short weekend would be enough to take it all in. With all of the hype about how this is a park within a park, we were looking forward to spending some serious time with Harry.

When we checked in to our hotel (Lowe’s Royal Pacific at Universal Studios), we were informed that onsite guests could gain admission to the Wizarding World an hour early each morning. Since our day of arrival was not a park day, we were ready to get up early the next day and take advantage of that perk.

The following morning at 7:30 a.m., we arrived at Islands of Adventure, which is the park the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has made its home. We were prepared to stand outside the gates until we were allowed in at 8:00 a.m. To our surprise, we were allowed through the gates right away. The only portion of Islands of Adventure that was open this early was the Harry Potter section, located at the back of the park behind the Lost Continent area. Universal team members did a great job of herding us back to the proper location, and ensuring that those of us there were actually onsite guests.
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May 092005

By Ric Flack

Spending a day away from Walt Disney World can be exciting, especially if you plan on spending it at Universal Orlando. Universal Orlando is comprised of two Theme Parks, an Entertainment district and three On-site Hotels. The Theme Parks are Universal Studios (US) and Islands of Adventure (IOA). The hotels are: the Royal Pacific Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and the flagship hotel, the Portofino Bay Hotel. City Walk is the Entertainment District. The next few paragraphs will describe the parks and hotels and some information to help you make the most of your visit to Universal Orlando.

The Parks

Universal Studios: This park is designed to look like a working movie studio lot although, like its sister resort in California, it was built as a Theme Park. There are many rides and shows to see here with activities for all ages. Some of the more popular attractions are: The Mummy (a roller coaster), Men In Black (an interactive ride where you defend the galaxy from aliens) and Shrek 4D (a 3D movie with surprises). There are many other rides and shows to see here.

Islands of Adventure: This park is comprised of five themed “islands”: Seuss Landing, Lost Continent, Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon and Marvel Super Hero. All of the islands are built around a central Lake. This park has more thrill rides than you will find at Universal Studios. The Hulk Roller Coaster, Dueling Dragons Roller Coaster, and Dudley DoRight Ripsaw Falls are some of the more popular rides in this park. This park is very visually complete with each island having its own look and feel. It was designed by former Disney Imagineers and you can see that they brought the Disney design standards with them to this park.

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