Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mardi Gras (Universal Studios Orlando)


Mardi Gras at Universal this year looks a little different than it has in the past

The decorations are still there

They even have roaming bands too

They even have characters out - though they are "safely" distanced from park guests

They even have a Mardi Gras Tribute Store

The first room is music themed

The next room is crypt themed

The final rooms are all themed to pirates

There is even a real pirate ship in this store

The biggest change is the lack of a parade

The floats, instead, are staged around the park

During the day, there are performers at each float handing out beads

I really miss the parade, that to me IS Mardi Gras at Universal

Hopefully we can get back to "normal" with park events and entertainment soon

Universal Studios Orlando


Day 2 of our Presidents Day Weekend Vacation took us to Universal Studios Florida

The park is currently celebrating Mardi Gras.  Please see our special report for more

Shrek 4D has been a mainstay at the park for a long time.  We wonder how much longer it will be around before the park changes it to a Dreamworks Theatre like at the Hollywood park

Our family loves Minion Mayhem.  Here's a hidden secret, you can experience the ride without the motion based seats AND there's almost never a wait.  The entrance is near the Super Silly Store

Rip Ride Rock-it! is a fun coaster as long as you sit in rows 2 or 5.  The wheel seats have become pretty rough.  Also, we're ready for them to add additional songs to the hidden list.

We really like this attraction too, but wonder if it might be time to update the video or maybe add a randomization to it like Star Tours to make it more re-rideable.

Revenge of the Mummy was utilizing virtual queue the entire weekend.  We were able to get three rides over the course of the weekend though.  Line was very manageable once you were allowed to enter with virtual queue. 

Transformers could have really used a virtual queue as well.  Lines were around 90 minutes or longer all weekend.

We didn't ride it, but we were definitely shocked to see it at 100 minute or more waits

One of our favorite attractions at the parks

Men In Black is such a "people-eater" that the wait was never very long.  We ended up with two back-to-back rides with minimal wait

This ride is hilarious.

Duff Beer is always a good choice

These donuts are ginormous 

Have you ever taken the time to listen to the commentary coming from this ride?  It's hilarious

E.T. Adventure is a must ride for me.  Nostalgia at its best

We wondered what will become of Woody Woodpecker's coaster when Nintendo comes to this area

There were characters out for photos, but they were all like this

Universal is our happy place and we had a great time on our vacation

We can hardly wait to return later this year

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Hogwarts Express (Universal Orlando)


The best way to get between parks is the Hogswarts Express.  In Universal Studios you must enter King's Cross station to board

As you wait your turn to board you get to go past several props seen in the Harry Potter movies

Hedwig is also waiting for the Express

At King's Cross, you actually board on Platform 9 3/4

There are signs all over to let you know what platform you are on

The train has arrived it is time to board

The train actually backs into the station

Currently they are only loading one party per compartment, which makes it a lot nicer than in the past

In Islands of Adventure, you load/disembark at Hogsmeade Station.  It has a completely different feel compared to King's Cross

Hogsmeade - Islands of Adventure


Welcome to Hogsmeade

This is one of the few remaining completely wizarding communities in England

Shall we take a look around?

It is serviced with non-stop train transportation to London

Some of the many stores in Hogsmeade include Zonko's on the left and Honeydukes on the right

Butterbeer is a must when visiting

Three Broomsticks is the main restaurant in town

Additional stores are down that way, including Ollivander's Wands and a School Uniform shop

Here is Hagrid's hut on the edge of Dark Forrest

It is not too far from Hogwarts which you can see in the distance

We are meeting Hagrid in these ruins for today's Magical Creatures Lesson

The fountain features a mermaid

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motor Bile Adventure is probably one of the best story-telling coasters out there.

The ride balances thrills and immersion like no other ride out there

Time to head to Hogwarts Castle

The castle looms over the area

It is really high up on that hill

Heading inside for the Forbidden Journey ride

The Architect

House Points

Slytherin statue and the entrance to the Headmaster's Chambers

Ravenclaw Portrait

Slytherin Portrait

Hufflepuff Portrait

Gryffindor Portrait

Dumbledore in the Headmaster's Chambers

Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom

The Sorting Hat

The Flying Hippogriff

City Limits near Hogwarts Castle

Hogwarts Castle at night

Downtown Hogsmeade

Hogwarts Express

Good night from Hogsmeade