Experiencing Universal Orlando for the First Time

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By: Sari Palmeri
January 23, 2018

Most people I know would consider me a “connoisseur of all things Disney”. I’ve been going to Disney World my entire life and started bringing my kids there at a young age. We have gone to Disney every year as a family, and I know all the parks like the back of my hand. After reading all of the Harry Potter books and seeing the commercials on TV, my older son asked the question I had been anticipating “Can we go to Universal?”

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Leading up to this point I had thought that my kids were too young to truly enjoy all that Universal Orlando had to offer. Now that they were a little older, taller, and familiar with the Harry Potter series, we felt it was time. Now to plan for the surprise!

In summer 2016 we did a Florida trip that included a little bit of everything. We stopped in Clearwater, FL, did a few days in the Disney parks, and were ending with Universal Orlando. We didn’t tell the kids we would be going to Universal Orlando, but after my older son began begging to go, we finally told him we would swing by for a few hours on the way to the airport. He was so excited to just be stopping by, and that is when the surprise began!

We checked into Hard Rock Hotel and said we wouldn’t be going to the parks. The disappointment was unreal! Then we told them it was because we were staying for 3 nights and going to the parks for 2 full days instead of just a few hours before a flight! Now the frown was turned upside down!

sp_hpThe next morning we woke up bright and early and headed to the parks! Islands of Adventure was opening an hour early so we got there and went straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. We went on the rides and of course went to Ollivander’s for wands. We went on so many rides and truly had an amazing time! Besides the amazing rides we got to meet Transformers and agents from Men in Black. This was a huge accomplishment because my son had been avoiding characters the past few trips, thinking he was too old to take pictures with them. The characters at Universal serve a more mature audience, and were great for my “pre-tween” kid!
Our primary reason for going was to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but there are so many other attractions, you do not have to only love Harry Potter to make this a wonderful vacation destination. Even people who are not familiar with Harry Potter can appreciate the attention to detail and theming that went into making that park. There are also Despicable Me Minions running around, a Woody Woodpecker Kidzone, Marvel superheroes, Jurassic Park attractions, Seuss Landing, and many other NON Harry Potter attractions to keep the whole family entertained!

Is Universal Orlando a park for kids who are older? In my opinion, sort of! There is a lot for younger kids too, but on this trip my younger son didn’t meet many of the height requirements for the “bigger rides”. He loves roller coasters and will go on anything and everything he can, so telling him he wasn’t tall enough for a good amount of rides made for a few meltdowns. Even with those few minor mishaps, we all had a great time and loved what Universal Orlando had to offer. Both my boys keep asking when we can go back so it was definitely a success!

I would love the opportunity to discuss Universal Orlando with you and help you to decide if it is the right trip for your family. Contact me at sari@wishesfamilytravel.com and please like my Facebook page so we can talk about your Universal Orlando vacation!

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