So, last week I packed up the family and we went to Orlando, Florida, where we did NOT go to Disney World (that was last month), but instead went to Universal Orlando Resort, which, truth be told, is not a place that I would have ever really thought of going, except for maybe to go to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, but even then not until my kids were a big bigger and no longer afraid of wizards and owls.
Well, let me you: had I not gone to Universal Orlando, I would have been missing out, HUGE. Universal Orlando Resort is awesome, like, for real.
Let me count the ways:
1) The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. IS AWESOME. Hogwarts is right there, you guys. And Hogsmeade! And Butterbeer (more on Butterbeer below)! And Chocolate Frogs! And Butterbeer! And the flagship ride – Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey – is hands-down the best ride that I’ve ever been on, ever. You zip through a Quidditch game. QUIDDITCH.
2) Butterbeer. IS AWESOME. Butterbeer is, like, what would happen if one angel carrying a frosty cream soda collided with another angel carrying a frosty root beer and their respective drinks mixed and filtered through the clouds of the heavens and rained into a goblet made of frozen caramel. I can still taste it.
3) Roller coasters that will make you believe that you’ve broken the laws of physics. The Hulk sends you hurtling through the sky so fast that you bust right through the space-time continuum. Okay, not quite. BUT ALMOST.
4) The Blue Man Group. Sure, you could go see them in Vegas, or even in Toronto, but could you do it while you still have the sweet, sweet taste of Butterbeer on your tongue? No, you cannot.
5) Amazing features and rides and spaces for small children. There’s Seuss Island, which my kids loved madly for its rides and for the presence of the Cat In The Hat and the Grinch, and which I loved for all the same reasons AND because you can buy t-shirts there that say Thing #1 and Thing #2.
And there’s a Curious George area with an unbelievable water park and a massive, two-story ball room like no ball room you’ve ever seen. My husband disappeared in there with the children and I think that he loved it more than they did.
And there’s Barney, which might sound like a feature of the sixth circle of hell, but not when you’re five, and IT’S BARNEY IT’S REALLY BARNEY.
And the real (convincingly real) baby Triceratops at Jurassic Park, and the Camp Jurassic tree-nets, and the Dudley Do-Right water ride… and I could really just go on forever.
6) Child-swap rooms. At all the ‘grown-up’ rides, there are child swap rooms, which means that you take your whole family up into the ride (in the case of the Harry Potter ride, for example, this means that your kids get to go up through Hogwarts and see all the story features of the ride) and then right at the ride entrance there’s a ride-themed, family-friendly room (change table) with entertainment (screen showing the movie associated with the ride, and in some cases, play tables and the like) where your fellow grown-up can wait while you ride, and then immediately after you get off, he or she can jump right on, and your small kids play happily and everyone wins. This made such a difference to our experience – we just would not have gone on a lot of rides if the kids had to just wait outside in the sun, wailing about being bored/hungry/hot/whatever. Child swap rooms: almost as good as Butterbeer.
7) The Loews Portofino hotel, and its awesometastic beach pool, into which Jasper did cannonballs. My kids could have stayed there for days. So could I.
Many, many thanks to Loews Hotels, for the cannonballs (and for THIS) and to Universal Orlando Resort, for bringing us to Orlando so that I could learn to hula and also drink Butterbeer and stuff. SO AWESOME.