Photo Credit: @kristynemarie
It’s 1990. I’m standing with my family (and my glorious mullet) in the middle of Universal Studios Florida. For a kid growing up on a steady diet of movies and TV, there was no place else in the world I’d rather be.
The backlot sets. Nickelodeon Studios. All of it.
If I could go back in time and tell little Robbie Bloom one thing, it’d be, “lose the mullet.” Oh, I’d also tell him, “One day, you’re going to be working here.”
Working here has been a dream come true. Not only do I get to film in the theme parks but I get to play there too. As a fan. Just like I’ve been since 1990. OK, enough with the sappy stuff, let’s do this.
[clears throat, taps on mic]
He-lloooooo there! I’m Rob and I’ll be your o-fficial Universal Studios Florida tour guide for the next, say, three to five minutes. Now, [chuckles], I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to this theme park so, today, I’m going to be taking you on a little tour, dropping some knowledge and even a few pro tips. So please, place your personal belongings in one of our lockers, take small children by the hand, and let’s explore Universal Studios Florida!
I like to get in early and stay late. So when those gates open, friends, I’m walking with a purpose.
PRO TIP: When you stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel, you have Early Park Admission. For free. Enjoy the parks up to a full hour before regular day guests with this incredible perk.
All right, so the first place I head is Revenge of the Mummy — hands down my favorite ride in the park. I’m taking my time going through the queue because:
a) The queue is awesome.
b) See a.
To me, Revenge of the Mummy is as close to a classic theme park attraction as you can get. The ride combines great storytelling, animatronics, pyro, and a pretty great indoor coaster — all while immersing you in the film.
With that attraction under my belt, it’s time for a breakfast stop. It’s a quick walk over to the TODAY Cafe where I grab a breakfast sandwich and cup of coffee. I spend a few minutes at a table outside, enjoying the food and the view of Hollywood Blvd.
After breakfast it’s time to join Gru and the gang on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. This ride is a blast for all family members and a must-do for anybody who loves a little mischief.
OK, let’s keep moving. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, here we come!
The entrance to Diagon Alley is truly magical. As many times as I’ve stood here, the experience of walking in and seeing that view still gives me goosebumps. With the Leaky Cauldron on the left, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes on the right, and a fire-breathing dragon perched on top of Gringotts just ahead — there is so much to explore in Diagon Alley.
We’ll explore plenty in a few moments though. First, and I’m going to say this as dramatically as possible, first, we ride.
Time for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, also known as one of the best queues of any attraction anywhere. You’re literally walking through Gringotts, past goblin bank tellers, and right through the inner workings of the bank itself before you go underground to begin the adventure.
From a ride perspective, this one’s pretty spectacular. Lots of action, speed, and I don’t want to throw in any spoilers here but let’s just say that you might encounter a certain someone who must not be named along the journey.
OK, all this escaping has made me thirsty. Butterbeer time! Today, I’m having cold Butterbeer but you can also try hot and frozen. Not to mention Butterbeer ice cream, fudge, and potted cream. If the opportunity to try each of these isn’t a great enough reason to spend more than one day at Universal Studios Florida, I don’t know what is.
PRO TIP: Enjoy your Butterbeer on the move and do some exploring. Be sure to go to Ollivanders and watch the wand choose the wizard, check out a performance from Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, and explore the dark corners of Knockturn Alley.
Right outside of Diagon Alley is an unsung culinary hero at Universal Studios Florida: the London Taxi Cart. This is a perfect spot to fuel up before you hit more attractions; I recommend the Shepherd’s Pie Jacket Potato and grabbing a nice spot to eat right there along the waterway.
Next up is MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, a must-do for any day spent in Universal Studios Florida. I won’t post my score from the ride because, honestly, I don’t want to be trolled in the comments below. Look, I know I’m bad at this, OK? Let’s drop it. Anyway, this is another classic attraction with animatronics, intricate sets, and a surprising storyline.
PRO TIP: Be sure to ask a Team Member to tour the space. It’s insightful, free, and you’ll experience this attraction in a whole new way. *This experience is not always available. Saving the galaxy can be quite time-consuming.*
After defending the galaxy, I love making my way over to Springfield, U.S.A. With all of the unique details, it really feels like the home of The Simpsons!
While there, I check out The Simpsons Ride, joining Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie on a fun-filled adventure.
My day continues as I make my way to the Duff Brewery Beer Garden where I like to stop in for an ice-cold Duff Beer.
I always make it a point to stop by the Animal Actors on Location! show. In a world of high-tech “how’d they do that?” attractions, I love the charm of this classic show. Hey, it’s cute animals doing cool tricks. Win, win.
And while you’re in this area, check out DreamWorks Destination. This all-new interactive experience features the chance to interact with multiple characters from DreamWorks Animation’s hit film franchises Trolls, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and more. If you’ve got kids (or not), this is a great stop.
Now, of course, no visit to Universal Studios Florida is complete without a trip to the Green Planet. You can read my detailed thoughts on this classic attraction here so I’ll keep things moving. Basically, E.T. Adventure is a classic dark ride, it’s the only opening day attraction still operating, and it’s every bit as delightful now as it was when it opened in 1990.
After experiencing the oldest Universal Studios attraction, head on over to one of its newest: The Bourne Stuntacular!This live-action stunt show thrills guests on a daily basis and, for my money, it’s the best stunt show in Florida.
And now for one of the biggest thrills in the park: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit or, as I affectionately refer to it, “I can do this…I can do this.”
I love the experience of being on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. And by “on” I mean “being at a 90 degree angle while rocking out to disco.” This ride is awesome and a must-see for any coaster fans.
PRO TIP: There’s actually a hidden menu of songs you can unlock. When you board the vehicle, check out the touch screen in front of you. Press and hold the attraction logo for ten seconds, let go, and, well, you can take it from there…
And now we’re off to Transformers: The Ride-3D! You’ve been recruited to save Earth from Megatron and those Decepticons. C’mon, where else can you do this but at Universal?
I like to save Transformers: The Ride 3-D as one of my last rides for the day because, after riding, I can quickly make my way over to the waterfront for Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration.
The sights and sounds of your favorite movies — against the backdrop of the theme park — is the perfect way to end the day. Standing here, watching this show, in the theme park I’ve loved for more than three decades, I feel the same awe I felt when I visited in 1990. And it’s even better now without the mullet.
[taps mic again]
OK, folks. Please stay seated while this blog comes to a complete stop. Once again, my name’s Rob and I hope you’ll come back again soon. After all, we didn’t even ride the Hogwarts Express over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.
But hey, that’s what tomorrow’s for.
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.
[…] Ladies and gentlemen, a wild cart ride awaits you. With the thrill of a coaster and the exceptionalism of a state-of-the-art dark ride experience, prepare for a wild wizarding adventure as you seek to open an account and tour the vaults on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. This adventure takes place in Gringotts Wizarding Bank located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. […]
are there rides for little ones under the age of 5? they get scared easily. where can we go for a one day pass?
Hi Arlene! We have a variety of different attractions, shows, character meet & greets, and play areas that are suitable for our younger Guests! 1-Day Tickets can be purchased on our website here: https://bit.ly/3wRc7Fa!
[…] During the holidays, the theme parks are wrapped in a delightful display of joyful entertainment, themed beverages (Earl’s Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Acorn Bomb is a must-try), and Christmas carols that will leave you wondering if your journey to Universal Orlando was somehow a secret gateway to the splendor of the holidays in New York. I am always amazed at the adeptness that goes into designing the streets and scenic environments throughout the resort. And while the entire destination is filled with joy, one location in particular always makes me feel like I have a piece of “New York during Christmas” with me and that’s the New York area at Universal Studios Florida. […]