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Archive for the ‘Universal Studios’ Category

abe[TRAVELED: November 1-November 8, 2014] Airlines & Chain food

Our Florida trip ended a week ago, so it seemed time to mention a few things  that were pretty great which were not related to theme parks at all.

The first was our flight from Lehigh Valley International Airport.

I used to love flying.  I remember flying on Eastern as a kid and getting free wing pins.  I even got invited to see the cockpit of the plane (but I thought I would have to fly up there without my parents so I turned them down–my parents were probably bummed that they didn’t get to check out the cockpit themselves).  I even have a few good memories of flying.  My best memory was flying on Dec 31, 1999 to Vancouver and, because it was the eve of Y2K, getting nearly an entire airplane to myself (chickens!) and being served champagne as a toast to the new year (in coach, mind you).

Since 9/11, flying has been an ordeal and I swore I’d never do it again.  We usually fly out of Newark, which I always assumed was a normal, busy airport, not the best but certainly not the worst.  But after flying out of ABE, I hope to never et foot in Newark again. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 7, 2014] Universal Studios Island of Adventure

ioaOur final day of vacation, and…nobody was sick at all!  Hooray!

It was another day at Universal.  I didn’t know if it could compare to the first day–how could it, really?  And while we didn’t do quite as many thrilling things, we fully explored the world of Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade and even left that island to explore others.  It was quite easy to forget was that there were so many other islands outside of the Harry Potter World.

We knew we wanted to ride the Harry Potter Express again–what’s the point of getting the MultiPark Pass if you don’t?  But we also knew that we wanted to start in Universal Studios Florida again because we wanted to go on the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (the one ride that had a perpetually long line–oftentimes up to an hour) before heading over to Hogsmeade.

Remember, the entrance is shaped kind of like a Y.  You come in via City Walk and then you go left for Universal’s Island of adventure or you go right for Universal Studios Florida (the older f the two parks).  Unlike Disney, both parks are right next to each other.  But like Disney, if you pick to go in one, you can’t go in the other.  Unless you buy the Two Park Pass.  Then you can leave one and enter the other through the front, or you can go via the Hogwarts Express.

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[ATTENDED: November 6, 2014] Universal Studios

usfS. and I had been to Universal Studios about a decade ago during a library conference.  It was super fun–we were there after the park closed and got to ride all kinds of things.  Despite that, we didn’t remember much about the park, and so much had been added since then, that we were very excited (for The Simpsons Ride and especially the whole Harry Potter experience).  As we approached S. said that it felt so much more commercial than Disney, and then we realized that Disney is the most commercial place in the world, so it wasn’t that exactly.  And then we decided that Universal is like Disney’s tacky cousin.

The set up of entering the park is quite unusual, especially compared to Disney.  You park in a parking garage (which is certainly more convenient than the Disney lots) and enter the CityWalk portion. This is an aggressively neoned area with every conceivable chain restaurant you have ever imagined–mostly larger ones (the kind that we assume people who don’t live near a city a very excited to eat at) which I won’t name, but they are usually associated with a TV show, movie or Hollywood in general.

Here’s what’s so unusual about Universal Studios.  The entrance is shaped kind of like a Y.  You come in via CityWalk and then you go left for Universal’s Island of Adventure or you go right for Universal Studios Florida (the older of the two parks).  Unlike Disney, both parks are right next to each other.  But like Disney, if you pick to go in one, you can’t go in the other.  Unless you buy the Multi Park Pass.  Then you can leave one and enter the other through the front, or you can go via the Hogwarts Express (recommended).

Universal also has a FastPass type deal, but unlike with Disney, you have to pay for the FastPass experience.  And the prices are something like $70-$90 per person on top of park admission.  So the heck with that.  The good news was that when we were there there were very few lines for anything, so it didn’t matter too much.

We entered the park and realized right away that the big attraction at Universal is Despicable Me’s minions–they are the Mickey Mouse of Universal.  But Universal is also super proud of The Simpsons, and as we entered the park, there were Homer and Lisa, and we jumped on line and got our pictures taken with them.  What a weird thing!

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[ATTENDED: November 5, 2014] Hollywood Studios

hollyFor our final day in Disney, we decided to do the most “teen friendly” place, as I like to think of it.  There’s some big time intense rides here–Tower of Terror and Rock and Roller Coaster.  We figured that after the big rides of the last few days, our kids might like to do one of these even bigger rides.  And then C. threw up during the night.

Yup, two stomach bugs marring our Disney trip.  C. was less intense than T.’s but he was still wiped out.  And it really put the kibosh on us doing anything crazy fun.  And yet, there’s no resting if you are sick.

So, we decided to do some of the more mellow events today.  We had some FastPasses, and they were in the middle of the day, so we had some time to explore. (more…)

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