Five Reasons to Visit Universal Studios
So I just got back from a trip from Universal Studios. Universal is a big park with a lot of rides that are unfriendly to the motion sick–they tend to use a lot of virtual motion stuff. On the other hand, there are some exceptionally cool elements that I think are well worth a trip.
I don’t understand how both Disney and Universal own Marvel properties now but whatever. I got to see a bunch of XMen including the tiny-butted Wolverine and Cyclops and of course the awesome ladies:
I also rode the Incredible Hulk roller coaster which is awesome and I laughed hysterically the entire time.
2. Jurassic Park
Dinosaurs gonna eat your face. Big fun drop at the end through the legs of a T Rex. Do you even need more convincing?
The rest of the reasons are going to be Harry Potter related. You’ve been warned.
3. Hogwarts and Hogsmeade
So, Hogwarts the ride made me incredibly sick BUT it is so freaking cool. Dementors, dragons, the actual actors in the ride videos, and best of all you get to walk through the castle as part of the line queue. There are classrooms and Dumbledore’s offices and a portrait gallery (complete with talking house founders). If you’re worried the ride will be nauseating, then you can take a separate queue and just tour the Hogwarts grounds without riding.
Hogsmeade is a tiny part of Universal but they cram in some really great gift shops, a “Triwizard Tournament” dragon coaster, and of course Zonkos, Honeydukes and the Three Broomsticks. I had a butterbeer and bought some Fizzing Whizzbees that are pretty tasty pop-rock laden chocolates.
4. London and Diagon Alley
There’s a small part of Universal that’s just a slice of London from the Potter universe. There’s King’s Cross station (yes, Platform 9 3/4 exists and you can ride the Hogwarts Express), a few storefronts, the Knight Bus and even 12 Grimmauld Place with an angry looking Kreacher staring out an upstairs window.
Diagon Alley is my favorite thing at Universal. You step through an innocuous-looking gap in the wall in London and BAM, the whole place is brought to life. There is Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, the Leaky Cauldron and Gringots down at the end. You can take a detour through Knockturn Alley if you’re feeling shady. Every bit of Diagon Alley feels right, it’s one of the more immersive experiences I’ve ever had. I kept thinking how odd JK Rowling must have felt, seeing a thing she imagined come to life like that.
I went to the “wand experience,” wherein a Wand Keeper chooses an audience member (in this case an adorable young person) to find the wand that chooses them. It’s a cute little five minute show, and the kid in question got to keep their wand afterwards! I bought my own wand (yes I did–I am an adult) and I love that Ollivanders looks exactly how you’d imagine it–just boxes and boxes of wands on every shelf.
Once you buy your wand, you can take it around the park and do magic all kinds of places.
I may have also brought home a Ravenclaw hoodie. I may have a problem with hoodies. Whatever.
5. Escape from Gringots
A much less nauseating but equally cool ride that takes you through Gringotts, hosted by Bill Weasely with guest appearances by Bellatrix and Voldemort, Harry, Ron and Hermione and others. Even the queue is awesome, featuring the Gringott’s lobby, complete with deeply creepy Goblins.
Really any time I get to see Helena Bonham Carter doing her thing, I’m happy.
Even with my eternal motion sickness issue, I found the whole experience absolutely delightful. I highly recommend a trip, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. Universal Studios doesn’t disappoint.