Sunday, September 28, 2014

TRAVEL: Top 10 Things to LOVE about Universal Orlando Florida #FamilyForward

The Family Forward Blogger Retreat at Universal Orlando provides bloggers and their families with hotel, food, park passes, and unique experiences at a significantly reduced price. All opinions are my own.

So much to do, so hard to pick just 10....
From Transformers to Minions, from Spiderman to Blue Man, Universal Orlando has a little something for everyone in the family...

During the long Labor Day holiday weekend, I and my son attended the Family Forward Blogger Retreat hosted by Universal Orlando. We had a wonderful time bonding over Harry Potter, roller coasters, great food, and tons of shared experiences that will make for lasting memories.

From Universal Studios, to Universal Islands of Adventure. to Universal CityWalk, we had so much fun that it is hard to remember everything that we did.  But when I thought back over our adventures, I came up with the following ten things that I loved most about Universal Orlando Florida ----

Me and my son hanging out with Bumble Bee from The Transformers
1. Transformers Ride at Universal Studios

Have you ever been to an amusement park and just fell in love with a ride to the extent that you rode it over and over again and never got bored?  Well that is what happened for me and my son when we rode the Transformers 3D Ride at Universal Studios.  This movie simulator coaster had us believing that we really were part of a Transformers movie.   We loved this ride so much that we road it at least ten times in two days.  I still get goosebumps just remembering how exciting this ride is.  This is a must ride for Transformers fans.

2. The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios

If Universal knows how to do anything well it has to be simulator rides that make you feel like you are part of the action with the characters.  And The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios is one of the best 3D simulator rides in the park.  I felt like we were really on a roller coaster with the entire Simpsons family.  And we loved it so much that we went on the ride again and again and again - almost as many times as we rode The Transformers Ride :)

3. Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios

The last time that I visited Universal Studios about seven years ago, the Minion Mayhem Ride was the Jimmy Neutron ride.  So I could not wait to find out how Universal had updated this 3D ride to pay homage to the Despicable Me Minions.   Well Universal did not disappoint because this ride is fun, exciting and packed with more lovable Minions than I have ever seen.  But then again, it is hard to go wrong when hundreds of cute minions are involved, don't you agree?

4. Escape from Gringotts at Universal Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter fans will not want to miss riding Escape from Gringotts at Universal Islands of Adventure.  Universal has faithfully recreated the Gringotts Bank and this 3D simulator ride makes you feel like you are eerily below ground twisting through the bank tunnels just like in the movies.  This was another ride that we made sure to ride more than once. For the die heart adventure lovers, we learned that if you want to feel the real impact of the ride, make sure to ride in the 4th car - so the first steep fall will make your stomach turn :) My son loved this ride so much that when we returned home, he wanted us to watch all the Harry Potter movies again to relive the adventure.

5. Hogwarts Express between Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios

When you purchase tickets to both Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure, you get to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two parks and feel like you are part of the Harry Potter stories. There are 8 riders to each train car and once the doors shut, the images that you see out of the windows are pretty awesome.

See my Instagram video for small taste of Hogwarts ride...

6. The Knight Bus at Universal Islands of Adventure

The Knight Bus is not technically a ride since there is no line and you cannot ride it.  But is a an experience that you don't want to miss.  If you remember the Knight Bus from the Harry Potter movies then you know that it is a triple-decker bus that assists stranded souls in the wizarding community through public transportation. At Universal, you get to talk with the conductor and the Jamaican talking shrunken head from right out of the movie.

Check out my amusing interaction in the 15 second Instagram video of the Knight Bus...

7. The Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure

True roller coaster fans will love The Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure.  No simulator here folks. This is a real roller coaster that surprised me by taking off when I least expected it to and then rolling and spinning upside down for a total wide ride that had me in line for another turn.

8. Spiderman Ride at Universal Studios

Ok, who does not love Spiderman?  And the Spiderman ride was yet another great 3D similar ride that Universal does so well.  Helping Spiderman fight crime while getting the feeling that you are going to fall 100 stories to the ground is every Spidy lover's dream :)

9. Jurassic Park at Universal Islands of Adventure 

During the Family Forward conference, we had a private dinner at the Jurassic Park exhibit so I had time to really check out the place in detail.  This exhibit has tons of hands on activities for the kids, lots of life size dinosaurs, and a cafeteria that ended up being my favorite place in the park to eat.

I love a good burger, but I don't always like all the extras that are put on them at amusement parks.  So it was a real joy to find out that the cafeteria at Jurassic Park sells burgers with just a bun and meat and then you get to add anything that you want on top from the extensive condiment selection area.  It was the best burger that I had on my trip to Universal.

10. Blue Man Group at Universal CityWalk

Blue Man Group is a high energy show that is part comedy, part music, and part outrageous. For nearly two hours, the show was a total assault on the senses with loud music, off the charts comedy and lots of flying paint that ended with an over the top finale with lots of toilet paper and 6 foot bouncing balls.  I could not believe how fast the time went by. And how people of all ages were loving The Blue Man Group.

So there are my top 10 things I loved about Universal Orlando Florida. Now it's your turn - What do you love about Universal Orlando?  What are your favorite memories? Leave your top picks in the comments below...


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