Orlando Florida was beautiful and the sights were amazing, however I was most looking forward to getting to Universal Studios theme park.
As we drove, we started seeing signs for the theme park, billboards on both sides of the road, advertising attractions at Universal Studios such as Shrek ride and the Spiderman and other marvel superheroes rides.
Then just before the main park entrance we saw two large billboards advertising the two-brand new Harry Potter theme parks in Universal Studios and Island of Adventures. I literally couldn’t sit still, I was bouncing with excitement.
Joining the very long queue of traffic, we slowly moved, car by car into the car park and found a space. The car park was absolutely packed full of locals and tourists, weaving in out of other cars to try and get a good enough space. Parking on a level called ‘Jurassic World’ we filed out of the car park into the warm fresh air.
Crowds pushed to get past, we took a deep breath and focused on the ticket desk as our next destination. Receiving our tickets and maps, we threw ourselves into the chaos.
On our way to our first attraction and ride of the day, we got side tracked at the stage of ‘Blues Brothers’. Checking the time, we saw that their next show was within minutes, mom’s face lit up like a little child’s when given a favourite toy.
I admitted to myself that I would probably drag my mom and dad to lots of places that they would prefer not to go too, I agreed to watch a Blues Brothers’ show. They weren’t too bad, I recognised a few of the songs from the thousands of times mom and dad played their music.
Mom soon got bored of just standing and watching, she suddenly started dancing and singing along. Very off tune I may add… mom hummed and sang along, she barely knew the words, hilarious. Watching the rest of their show, I enjoyed watching my mom and dad singing and dancing and the music in the very hot weather.
The first ride we decided to go on was the new Simpsons ride. It was a simulator, not our ideal ride but we wanted to give it a try. Queueing up, we managed to skip a lot of the queue thanks to me and my wheelchair.
Being disabled does have its advantages!
We went into a room which set the scene for the ride. Sideshow bob, enemy of the Simpsons, had kidnapped Maggie, the baby of the family and used radio activity on her and the Simpsons had to try and rescue her.
Sitting in those simulator, the big screen came on and we were with the Simpsons’ car with them as they travelled through time and space to rescue their baby. Moving from side to side we swayed and tilted in time with the Simpsons’ car, which moved in response to what was on the screen.
Beside me I could hear mom groaning, she really hated simulators, to be honest I was feeling quite sick myself. Getting off the ride, my dad seemed relatively steady, but mom and I felt very sick as we stumbled outside. Feeling fresh air on our faces, we felt slightly better and walked around. Behind the ride, we saw the game ‘WAC – A – SCRATCHY’. Based on a character from the Simpsons TV series, it was a similar game to ‘WAC – A – MOLE’ but instead of a mole, it was ‘WAC – A SCRATCHY’
After several attempts between us we managed to win a toy of the rat scratchy based from the film. “Woo Hoo! ” Wondering around, we saw a number of sets from the TV show were set up. There were sets like Moe’s tavern, where you could sit and have a drink and Krusty burger where you can sit and have a meal.
Next, we headed to the Men in Black ride. All three of us squashed into a car, which moved around a track. Our job was to act as the characters from the film and use the guns in our car to aim for the targets on each of the bad guys or aliens which suddenly appeared from both sides.
The carriage moved in different directions, allowing us to shoot at as many creatures as we could. The carriage span in full circles, making me very dizzy. I tried to shoot as many creatures as possible but I just kept missing them. I couldn’t aim properly. I lost points and my dad won, every time. Not fair!
The mummy ride was an epic ride. It was a giant rollercoaster, it went to great heights and in every direction without warning. We plunged in and out of dark spaces. WOAH! We zoomed up ramps at high speed and then down again in a lot of water. We got very wet! The mummy appeared out of nowhere with an amplified voice.
I was expecting it, but it still shocked and made me jump. The best/worst of all we climbed up a very high track, where fire shot out, then the carriage tilted backwards and flew back down the track at high speed into total darkness. It was a total thrill. When we finally came to a stop, my stomach was in knots! I actually thought I was going to throw up over the side of the carriage. Yuck!
The Shrek ride was another great ride. Walking in, a hologram of Lord Farquaad, the evil king had kidnapped Pinocchio and the three little pigs, he had them locked up and questioned them about the where about of Shrek and Princess Fiona. The ride then moved to a large 3D cinema room. I was lifted out my chair and sat in one of the seats.
The 3D cinema room then turned into a simulator which a mini Shrek was put on the big screen and the seats moved accordingly. Being 3D, it was all interactive. There were parts where the seats shook or bounced about, water shot at us and we got sprayed. Gross!
Taking a short break from the rides, we wondered around the theme park. Unlike Walt Disney Word, there were not many people dressed in costumes, but one we did find was Scobby Doo. Being such a big fan of Scobby Doo fan when I was younger I loved them and joined the queue.
Usually I am not a big fan of those who dress up in any sort of costumes related to films and TV shows as they freak me out, but these were great. There was one dressed as Shaggy and one as Scooby Doo. They even had a Mystery Inc.
van! Adults and children were both in the queue, both as excited as each other. Mom was like a big kid, trying to get to the front of the queue. When it was my turn in stood in between Scooby and shaggy I posed and smiled for the camera. Stepping back, my mom took her turn and she wouldn’t stop posing for dad’s camera. It was embarrassing and hilarious at same time!
Next, we stepped into Diagon Ally, the new Harry Potter theme park. This was the part I was looking forward to the most. I had heard such good things about it from friends and family, I had to go!
Just before the entrance to Diagon Alley, there was a model of The Leaky Cauldron and Grimauld Place, with Kreacher, the house elf hiding behind the curtains, occasionally peering out at anyone who passed.
There was also a model of Knight Bus, featured in Prisoner of Azkaban with a man dressed as the conductor on the front steps, which we could go and take photographs with. He would even quiz you on Harry Potter trivia which I was very good at.
Walking through the entrance onto the cobbled street of Diagon Ally, we just stood and soaked up the atmosphere.
Positioned around the mini theme park, we could see animatronic characters which reacted to people as they walked around and spoke to them, it was so funny when and how they reacted.
There were chances to participate in the scene from Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone where Harry visits Olivanda’s wand shop and choosing his wand before he starts Hogwarts. We could try different wands, to see which one chose us. Then we could purchase the wand and use it around the Diagon Ally theme park, casting spells.
A number of the shops around Diagon Ally, reacted to the wand actions and movements and spells that are cast.
There’s the chance to go to The Leaky Cauldron where we try food and drinks featured in the Harry Potter films such as Butter Beer; frozen and normal. Surprisingly I enjoyed it, especially the frozen one.
In the distance, I could see the exterior of Knockturn Ally, the evil wizarding street next to Diagon Ally. Getting a closer look, we see the interior and exterior of Borgin & Burkes, the shop featured in the Harry Potter series.
Universal Studios had created the shop, so visitors could enter the shop and look around, every bit of the interior mirrored the set in the film to the very last detail. It was creepy but brilliant.
Venturing back to Diagon Ally, we saw and visited all the themed shops featured in the film series. There was Quality Quidditch Supplies, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Eyelops Owl Emporium, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, Flourish & Blotts and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The shop interior and exterior, with such accuracy, I felt I was actually there on set.
Then there was the Gringotts Bank set which we could visit. The magnitude of it was incredible and then perched on top, there was spectacular model of a fire breathing dragon, an exact replacer of the one in the film, which is on top of Gringotts Bank in the films.
When I saw this, I admired the time and effort that went into each and every part of the theme park and the quality of it all.
Walking into Gringotts Bank, I admired the magnitude and detail inside too. Glancing around we saw animatronic goblins, positioned behind the desks in the bank.
Then at the front of the bank was a bigger goblin, which moved its head and spoke in response to your voice and actions. Following the passage round and going lower in the bank, into the volt where Harry, Ron and Hermione ventured and got into Bellatrix Lestrange’s volt to retrieve the horcrux.
To complete the Diagon Ally experience, there was the themed ride, ‘Escape From Gringotts’. Based on the sequence of scenes featured in Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2, it takes us down into the volts and accompany Harry, Ron and Hermione as they try and retrieve the horcrux hidden in Bellatrix Lestrange’s volt and escape without detection.
Leaving Diagon Ally and heading towards the Universal Studios exit when a voice announced over a tannoy that a parade and a light and sound show was happening in a matter of minutes.
Watching the parade, it consisted of different cartoon characters who all had their own themed floats and who waved at us as they passed. There were also different types of music and dancing throughout the parade.
Then there was the light/sound show, with fireworks of different colours, sizes and patterns going off everywhere. Fantastic.