Got Kids, Must Travel: Universal Orlando

(Long Island, N.Y.) During our family Disney vacation two months ago we decided to do something strikingly different…we barely did Disney at all. At ages 10 and 8, my kids set their sights on Universal Studios and we never looked back. If you’re heading to the Orlando area for any reason, it is really worth a visit. Universal is a blast. It’s clean, easy to navigate, lots to do and see and eat and experience…you’ll need at least two days to get in on all the action.

There’s Universal’s Islands of Adventure—packed with thrilling rides, shows and interactive attractions. It’s a thrill-seekers heaven: You (gulp) plunge down an 85-foot waterfall to escape the jaws of a hungry T-rex on the Jurassic Park River Adventure, you get to fight the forces of villains on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and hold on to your hats folks, because The Incredible Hulk Coaster takes you from zero to 40 mph in a flash. (Full disclosure: I did not go on the Hulk ride. I was too chicken.)

My fave was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™–even if you’re not a big-time Harry Potter fan, it’s still really cool. And while you’re in the Hogwarts hood, you might want to grab a frothy Butterbeer (great for kids!) and stock up on all your much needed wizardry supplies. The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride brings you face-to-face with magical creatures and is absolutely mystifying!

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are connected so once you’re done with one you can head over to another and park hop. (You’ll need to make sure you purchase tickets that give you access to both—it’s worth it!)

At Universal Studios, you jump into the action of movies—literally. There are way too many rides and attractions to mention. It’s so much fun. Oh and about me chickening out on the Hulk ride…I totally redeemed myself by facing the mummy’s wrath and plunging into the darkness on the Revenge of the Mummy ride. The ride catapults you at speeds up to 45 mph in virtual darkness. When the ride was over I could barely catch my breath. And once I did, I headed back to the line to do it again. Whoa—what a thrill! When we return to Orlando, this is the ride I will hit first. Or maybe second because we missed all the excitement of Universal’s latest , most anticipated attraction in years… TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D. It just opened last week and here is how it’s described:

“The new attraction is based on the popular TRANSFORMERS films and created along with the award-winning director of the film series, Michael Bay. It blends a powerful storyline, powerful technology, all-new hyper-real animation and massive sets into an action-adventure that grabs riders and does not let them go until the very last second. Riders are recruited for a high-tech, good versus evil battle in which they must save Planet Earth. They join iconic film characters Optimus Prime and the Autobots as they fight Megatron and the Decepticons to the end.”

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