Spring Break Idea: Universal Orlando

Rachel Holmgren, Reporter

Are you looking for a spring break idea? Do you want to go somewhere warm but not lay around on a beach all day? A good idea is going to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Universal has three parks – two theme parks and one waterpark. While it can be expensive for some to go here, you can use your time and money wisely to get a fun experience for your money.

The first of the two theme parks is Universal Studios Florida. This park has six themed areas surrounding a large lagoon. These themes are Production Central, New York, London, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, and Hollywood. Hidden behind a brick wall in London is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Once you step behind the “moving” brick wall, you are transported to another world. The rest of the parks are not visible from this area which adds to the magic. One attraction is located here – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. The Production Central area has four attractions: 3D experiences Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Shrek 4-D, coaster Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, and 3D simulator dark ride Transformers: The Ride. The New York area has one dark coaster, Revenge of the Mummy, one music show, The Blues Brothers and one 3D simulator ride Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone features a land with rides just for kids and the classic dark ride E.T. Adventure. The World Expo area has Men in Black: Alien Attack, The Simpson’s Ride, and Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl. Hollywood did have a horror movie makeup show, but that has closed to make way for new attractions, and now has shops to buy merchandise. The Hogwarts Express in London can now take you to the next park.

Islands of Adventure is the second theme park. You begin your adventure by going through the Port of Entry and the working lighthouse. Eight unique islands surround a lake and this is where you choose to begin your adventure – go to Marvel Superhero Island or Seuss Landing. Marvel Superhero Island has the eye-catching coaster of the park – The Incredible Hulk Coaster, along with the dark ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, space shot ride Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, and teacup-like ride Storm Force Acceleration. Toon Lagoon, the next island, features Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. Next is Skull Island. It is a small themed area squished into the islands it was built in and features one 3D dark ride: Skull Island: Reign of Kong. The Jurassic Park section of the park is next. This island features the 85-foot drop water ride Jurassic Park River Adventure, Pteranodon Flyers’, and the discovery trail with animatronic dinosaurs Triceratops Discovery Trail. Possibly the most popular island in the park is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. This island features Hogwarts Castle which hides the ride building for motion dark ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It also includes the family coaster Flight of the Hippogriff. Previously a dual-launch inverted coaster Dragon Challenge was the third attraction but it was torn down in September 2015 to make way for a new Harry Potter ride in 2019. If you are lucky you can catch one of the two shows: Frog Choir and Triwizard Spirit Rally. The Lost Continent features the restaurant Mythos in the “ruins” of a continent and an indoor special effects show Poseidon’s Fury. Last on the adventure is Seuss Landing. This land is very brightly colored and silly, featuring four rides: The Cat in the Hat, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Caro-Seuss-el; Show: Oh, The Stories You’ll Hear; and play area for kids: If I Ran the Zoo.

The newest park of the three, Volcano Bay, is a water park that features a massive volcano as the center of the park. The main attraction Krakatau, a water coaster, is situated inside the volcano. There are many water rides to cool you off in the hot Florida sun, like lazy rivers, water rapids, and water slides.

There are many food options in all of the parks that range from a sit-down meal to a grab and go snack. What you choose to do for food depends on what your goal is for the day. A good way to avoid the long lines at the parks is to stay and eat around the main lunchtimes and hopping in line while others are grabbing something to eat. Another way to avoid lines is to do the parks reverse of what most of the crowd will do.

The best way to avoid lines is to purchase an express pass. This allows you to go into a special line that has a shorter wait time. There are two versions: one-use-per ride and unlimited. If you stay at a Premier or Preferred Universal Resort you get an unlimited express pass included in your stay. Both of the very popular Harry Potter rides now have an express pass line when they didn’t before.

Universal Orlando is currently undergoing lots of changes, both confirmed and speculated. Many people think that the Woody Woodpecker area will be torn down in the near future to build Nintendo World. The new Harry Potter ride also has lots of ideas for what it will be: a dark ride? A roller coaster? 3D screens? Everyone will have to wait to find out what the future will bring for these parks.