ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE, UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, ORLANDO, FL- Warning to all my readers: this post is going to be long due to all the excitement that occurred in one day. Bear with me as my inner nerd expresses herself. At 8 a.m. we had arrived at the parking lot to Universal Studios Orlando. The City Walk to Islands of Adventure increased my excitement about what the day would bring. This was the first time Gil, Alondra, and I had ever been to Universal Studios (Helen and Ivonne had gone before). Once we got to the entrance of the park, we got our tickets, grabbed a map, and made our way towards Hogsmead. In order to get there, we had to pass the world of Dr. Seuss first. Childhood memories flooded my mind as I saw every ride had a title based on the classic books such as The Cat in The Hat, The Lorax, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.
After Dr. Seuss Landing, we toured the city of Atlantis where faces had been carved in stones and a giant arm with a trident stuck out. From Atlantis I could see the tip of one of the tiers of Hogwarts castle. I ran towards it and the brown stones of Atlantis converted to grey bricks with snow. I could not believe I was finally in Hogsmead! Everything was just how I imagined it would be from the books: the castle, Ollivanders, butter beer, the Hogwarts Express, and the incredible rides. The magic of Harry Potter had begun.
The first roller coasters we tried were the Dragon Coasters. Both the Hungarian Horn Tail and the Chinese Fireball were ridden. It was worth getting dizzy on the Hungarian Horn Tail. We admired the Triwizard tournament trophy while waiting in line. At Ollivander’s, a lucky little girl was chosen to test out a wand. Alondra and I bought our wands (Dumbledore and Hermione) and our next adventure became “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” inside Hogwarts Castle. On the line, many sets from the films are replicated including the Mandrakes, Dumbledore’s office, the enchanted paintings, the moving newspapers, sorting hat, and the defense against the dark arts classroom. I felt like a Hogwarts student ready to take on classes. We tried guessing the password with the portrait of the Fat Lady to have access into the Gryffindor common room, but no luck.
The ride itself was my favorite. Harry, Hermione, and Ron lead the way through the forbidden forest as a Quidditch game commenced. We flew through dementors, dragons, and giant spiders. The simulator made me feel like I was really flying on a broomstick. How I wish I had been able to perform a Patronus spell towards the dementors. Once the ride was over, we were led to Mr. Flitch’s Emporium where Harry Potter merchandise is sold. Hagrid’s Hut was next and Buckbeak rested not too far away. “Flight of the Hippogriff” was a great ride. The last stop was Honey Dukes where I purchased a box of Berti Botts Every Flavor Beans and chocolate frogs.
By magic we were transported to the past and ended up in Jurassic Park. We rode through raptors and a huge T-Rex in a water safari. The bridge was a good place to refresh yourself from the Florida heat. It lies adjacent to the ride and a tsunami of cold water covers you from head to toe. Alondra and Gil became paleontologists to study dinosaur eggs and fossils in an exhibit. They both also won their own dinosaurs in a basketball shots game (Gil named his Steve). We took a break to eat lunch and recharge before arriving at Comic Strip Land.
If you miss Heath Cliff, Hagar the Horrible, Popeye, Mutts, Garfield, and Betty Boop, then this is the place to relive all that. Comic characters everywhere! Popeye and Bruno have their own water rides. Alondra and I decided to move on ahead to Marvel World where we survived Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall. The Incredible Hulk was sadly closed. The Hulk looked like the perfect roller coaster for an adrenaline junkie like me and it was out of order.
My first day in Universal was incredible and I cannot wait for day two. The rides, attractions, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is something I will never forget. The best part is that I got to experience it with my family. Mischief Managed!
Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos
Last Updated: December 28, 2021