Universal Studios

Glen’s gastro kept us up through most of the night. After dinner the night before, I’d gone to the cheerleading pool party with Tanya and Julian but didn’t stay long as wanted to be well rested for Universal Studios the next day. I should have stayed out as the net benefit would have probably been the same.


I gave Glen sympathy and assistance through the night when he wanted it. This was in marked contrast to the barely raised head I got. Not that I really minded as I’d rather not be touched when I’m feeling unwell, though when I had called out for water, I was met with a lot of grunts and questions. Glen felt really bad about that later.

Even though he wasn’t feeling completely well again, we’d already bought out two-park passes for Universal Studios, and Glen had been looking forward to going on the Harry Potter rides ever since we started planning the Orlando trip. There was no way he wouldn’t go.

We picked Julian up from his hotel sometime around 9 or so. He hadn’t had much sleep either so we were all a little worse for wear when we arrived. Plus it was raining cats and dogs so the thrill of seeing Universal was…dampened. We parked, put on our ponchos, collected our tickets and went to find fun.

We’d purchased Express Passes which helped us jump to the start of a few lines (though with the rain it wasn’t that busy in the morning). Our first ride was Despicable Me, where we get into a vehicle, put on 3D goggles, watch a scenario and the vehicle moves with what’s happening on the screen so you lurch left and right, up and down and stop suddenly. I didn’t hold out much hope for Glen surviving this ride, though thankfully he did. He had to ration himself after that, however.

Julian and I then went on a similar Transformers ride, which was much more violent and scary (Metatron comes for you!). Glen would not have been good on this one. After that we visited Diagon Alley. Glen’s eyes lit up. This was exceptionally well done. It was like being in the movie.

We went into Gringotts first and jumped on their 4D ride, which was excellent as well. This time you go through the underground caverns beneath the bank, escape from Voldemort and the dragon and then arrive safely back at the beginning. We then looked in the shops, which are all themed and sell Harry Potter merchandise. They even have an Olivander’s where you can buy a wand that activates various interactives around the park. This shop was packed! What a gold mine! There were lots of visitors wearing robes as well.

After exploring a bit more of Diagon Alley, Julian was keen to do a rollercoaster. Glen was a definite no so I said I’d sacrifice myself. Unfortunately, after joining the queue, the ride stalled. We waited but it didn’t start up again so we left and I promised I’d go on The Hulk with him.

We stopped in at the Beetlejuice Revue…which was…I don’t know. I didn’t know what to expect and I came away wondering what I’d seen. Basically Beetlejuice introduces a bunch of monsters (Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein etc) who then dance with girl monsters and sing to mashups of songs that don’t really have anything to do with anything. There were some very good singers in there though.

We caught the Hogwarts’ Express to the other park. You get in the train, take a seat in a carriage and watch the scenery change outside the window and people, like Harry and Ron, walk past your door. It was an excellent experience. We arrived in Hogsmeade, and stopped for lunch. Glen couldn’t stomach much.

Julian and I went into “Hogwarts” and did the 4D ride, which turns you all the way around, dangles you over a nothing, has “actual” dementors who loom out at you, and SPIDERS. I squealed quite a few times. One of the other great things about this ride is that it leads you through various rooms inside Hogwarts like a classroom or Dumbledore’s office. Was all really well done.

By the time we got outside, the weather had cleared up significantly (the rain had actually stopped a while ago, which was great) and now it was starting to get hot. I didn’t have my hat or my sunglasses. I was getting anxious. Glen wasn’t feeling well. Julian was tired.

From that point, I think we knew the day was done. We wandered through Jurassic Park to Marvel Super Heroes and Julian and I went on the Hulk. This was actually a pretty easy ride for me, though was still a lot of fun. Usually I keep my eyes shut but they were open throughout and I had a blast. MUCH easier than Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland.

We wandered around the rest of the park, didn’t go on anything until we got back to the Hogwarts’ Express and caught it back to the other park, seeing a different story outside our window. Once back in the station, we left the park and I drove us back to our hotel.

My passport had arrived (along with everything else). We killed some time in the lobby, then collected Tanya from Epcot and headed to the airport. Got through security, ate some dinner, boarded the plane early. The flight left at about 9:15pm and I think I had snatches of sleep though the seats were so uncomfortable they didn’t last long. Thank god the flight was only a few hours.

We landed before midnight (I think). Got through Canada Customs SO fast! There was no queue. We were asked one question. That was it. Julian and Tanya took much longer. Julian’s brother picked us up, we dropped him home, then got back to our condo at about 1:30. I showered and crawled into bed. Being home never felt so good.

While there were some annoyances on this trip, there was still a lot of fun. I wish I’d seen the World Cheerleading Championships live and perhaps that’s a reason to return to Orlando, but other than that, I have no burning desire to return in a hurry. I think Glen wants to go back to Universal and do the rides. Perhaps one day. Maybe when we have kids.

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