On the Monday we left on a hotel shuttle to the Universal theme parks. The hotel is nicely positioned, and we were there in 20 mins. There was a quick security checkpoint and a walk down to the “city walk” area. We bypassed everything here and went straight into the Studios section of the park, then a quick queue with our pre-purchased tickets, and into the park. Couple of maps picked up and we walked to the north east of the park.
There Dee got really excited about the Knight bus, which I vaguely recognised. There are some very authentic building facades and passageways. We had no idea where we were going so turned up a passageway, it opened onto a perfectly recreated Diagon Alley. I was awestruck by how good it looked. Dee was speechless. The way it’s done with that reveal is amazing.
We went on the Gringotts bank 4D ride there and really enjoyed it - Universal have some amazing 3/4D rides and the Harry Potter ones are done really well. Really immersive. We did the rides a couple of times. We almost missed the entrance to Knockturn Alley which would have been a shame because it’s amazing too.
Even the queues are done well in the Harry Potter section of the park - you get to walk through some excellently recreated parts of the Harry Potter universe. The restaurant in this part of the park is the recreated Leaky Cauldron and Dee loved the decor. The food was decent if quite expensive.
The link between the two parks from Universal Studios to Universal Island’s of Adventure has been transformed into a Harry Potter themed train, the Hogwart’s Express and it is well worth doing the trip in both directions - the design of the interior is perfect, and I really enjoyed the journey. The window is set up with a screen and it makes it look like you’re actually on the journey to Hogwarts. Even the internal windows have some nice little technology which makes it look like there are people in the corridor on the train - again its really well done.
Universal Island’s of Adventure has a recreated Hogwarts castle and Hogsmeade village. The attention to detail here is superb and you easily lose yourself in the wizrding universe. The restaurant here is in the recreated Three Broomsticks, slightly different food but still quite nice.
The actual Harry Potter rollercoaster, the Dragon coaster is well worth the trip too. On our second run we were stuck on the rollercoaster for quite a while after another rider’s prosthetic leg flew off and had to be retrieved before we were allowed to ride again. We actually joked earlier in the day about the warning signs on the various rides about having to secure prosthetic legs! It actually must happen a lot for that warning to be necessary.
Highlights of the rest of the park were a couple of water based rides - the Jurassic Park ride, which had no queue either of the two days we were there so we did it around 5 times. It was good fun. In fact the whole Jurassic Park section was quite good. The have a really nice recreation of the Jurassic Park gates, and the visitor centre from the movie. The other water ride in the cartoon section in the park was a log ride which was good fun. I had no idea what was going on in that ride, but the end result was a really fast and wet ride.
Overall, I really enjoyed Universal, though I can’t believe it’s split into two separate parks. We paid $224 each for a two park two day ticket. If you were a Harry Potter fan it would be impossible to just visit one of them. Even if you aren’t a big Harry Potter fan, there’s enough here to keep you entertained.