If it’s been a while since you were last in Universal Studios Orlando or Islands of Adventure, you might think you know what it has to offer. Sure, the classics are still there, but between Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Raptor Encounter in Jurassic Park, and Mardi Gras happening nightly, Universal Orlando has so many new ways to “Let Yourself Whoa”!
We had so much fun on our visit this past week! As a huge fan of Harry Potter, I had to spend a large part of my day exploring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, drinking Butterbeer and
casting spells browsing sweets in Honeydukes. Depending on which park you visit (I highly recommend visiting both!), you will either be in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, or Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, and each side will make you feel like you just rode your Nimbus 2000 right into the movies! It is truly awe inspiring. Should you happen to have a park-to-park ticket, you can also ride Hogwarts Express to take you from one park to the other, which is a perfect way to stay immersed in the magic.
In Hogsmeade, you can also catch an outdoor show, the Triwizard Spirit Rally, where you can watch students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons perform for us muggles.
Of course there is so much more to explore, and some of our favorite moments of our day were interacting with characters throughout both parks. I really want to highlight how amazing the character interactions are in Universal Orlando. Every single interaction felt unique and never rushed. The characters were eager to interact – or even talk! – with you, and what really stood out to me, was that you were able to meet whole groups of characters at one time! That’s right, super sleuths, you can meet the entire Mystery Incorporated gang at once!
While not needed for character interactions, my number one tip for you guys is to get Universal Express. It is worth Every. Penny. Seriously, Universal Express pass gives you access to the express entrance to select (but truly, almost all) rides and attractions, and you cannot fathom how much time it will save you from waiting in lines. Even on the slowest days, the most popular attractions will have lines, and we were able to skip almost all of them. Especially if you only have one day in the park(s), you don’t want to waste a second. This was the first time we had Universal Express, and I will never visit without it again. It’s that good.
I am not a thrill ride kinda gal, and I admittedly had, perhaps, the impression that Universal wouldn’t have a lot to offer someone with a weaker stomach. I was wrong. There is something for everyone. While you won’t catch me riding the Incredible Hulk Coaster anytime soon, I did get the high score in my vehicle on Men in Black: Alien Attack, and frankly, I think that’s equally impressive.
Now, being the foodie that you all know I am, we tried a lot of food, but the standout foodie event – and event, in general – is Mardi Gras, which happens nightly in Universal Studios until April 2, 2020! You guys, this event is crazy fun. The parade is so authentic, you will feel like you’re in the center of New Orleans French Quarter. Gorgeous giant floats and performers line the streets, and if you don’t walk away with a neck full of beads, well, you must have been in the bathroom during the entire parade.
One of the most unique experiences offered, is that you can actually sign up to ride on a float and toss beads to the crowds! While I was busy photographing and filming the parade, I wasn’t trying to catch beads, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. I think someone actually tossed some at me, lasso style, and they landed right around my neck!
It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without a ton of food though, and you know I ate my way through the food booths that line the streets.
From Beignets and King Cake, to Po’Boys and Twisted Tators, the best way to try it all is to purchase a Tasting Lanyard, where you pay a set price for either 5 or 10 items from the food booths, and it is a great way to save while sampling multiple dishes. You can purchase the lanyard directly in the park.
With our day winding down, there were a few options for nighttime entertainment: You can view the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle in Islands of Adventure, or you can catch Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration in Universal Studios. You can’t go wrong with either.
We had a fantastic time during our visit, and already have a list of things (and foods!) we want to try on our next trip! You will definitely catch us there for Universal’s Horror Nights in the fall! A big thanks to Universal Orlando for hosting us this week! Be sure to start planning your next trip, and to catch Mardi Gras before it ends!