If you don’t want to become an adult, just don’t grow up. Peter Pan succeeded in Neverland surrounded by his lost boys and the fairy Tinkerbell 🙂 . Let’s face it, it is tempting to rediscover a carefree childhood… even for a single day ? So, direction Orlando, a giant playground where the theme parks are concentrated… The Universal Studios Park in Orlando – Florida (a State of Southern USA), opened in 1990, is more than 20 years old, but up-to-date and opening new attractions every three years … At the entrance of the park stands the symbolic Universal globe !
Let’s start our visit to the park, or rather, one of two parks (Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida). Let’s take a first step in this imaginary world by entering the doors of Island’s of Adventure, which bear the words “The adventure begins”! Inaugurated in 1999 by Steven Spielberg, the park initially had six islands, but since 2016 consists of 8 theme islands organized around an artificial lake. As soon as you get in, you feel immediately propelled in the atmosphere of an oriental souk, welcomed by “colorful stilts” straight out of “A Thousand and One Nights”. It is hilarious the spectacular leaps you can make with these urban stilts with springs ! We start on the first island, Marvel’s super Hero Island based on the superheroes of Marvel comics… We see the silhouette of The Incredible Hulk Coaster, a high-speed roller coaster with a top speed of 65 miles per hour. Its seven loopings (grazing the waters of the lake) and two underground tunnels give you a greenish look in just 2 minutes and 15 seconds. At your exit from this attraction, legs wavering legs and green (but not with rage like Hulk), you will most likely be sick ! If you are still willing, you can test the limits of your stomach on the Storm Force Accelatron, a ride themed after X-Men. The futuristic modules swinging on a series of hubs help Tornado in the battle against Magneto… Or you can try to respond to the echo of your cry on The Incredible Hulk Coaster when you go through a 60-meter free fall on Doctor Doom’s Fearfall…
The key attraction in this area is undoubtedly The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. The 3D stimulator ride succeeds in bringing the visitor into the character of spider-man… We go into the building on board a “Daily Bugle” vehicle belonging to the editor-in-chief Jonah J. Jameson and we move behind the scenes into Peter Parker’s office, the development lab, and the newsroom… The spectator, with 3D glasses on the top of his nose, is then invited to take a seat in a vehicle that moves slowly along the deserted streets of New York City. Suddenly, the guest sees the shadow of Spider-Man on a wall about to project his web. Then Spider-man jumps and lands in front of you, shaking your vehicle as he lands. The effect is amazing ! There follows a series of confrontations with super villains including Doctor Octopus, Electro, Hydro-man, Hobogoblin etc., all led by Doctor Octopus… Doctor Octopus lifts Scoop 400 feet up into the air using an anti-gravity cannon and then sends him into a free fall from one of the highest skyscrapers only to be rescued by Spider-Man’s webbing just a few feet above the ground… When you get out of the vehicle you are gob smacked. Wow, it was so awesome that my heart is beating just to think about the experience ! This unique technology uses 3D projections of embedded synthetic images and special effects immersing the guest inside the streets and scenes in which the action takes place. Each scene is coordinated so that it coincides with the movements of the vehicles equipped with motion simulation movements… The technique has been patented under the name “Squinching”. This technique makes it possible to move a particular viewing angle and the perspectives of the scene according to the movements of the vehicles in front of the projection screen. From the point of view of the viewer, the illusion is just perfect! But enough emotions for now… we leave Iceman and Marvel’s universe to go to the second island named Toon Lagoon, which is based on the colorful world of comic strips: Mafalda, Beetle Baily, Blondie, Betty Boop, Krazy Kat, Hägar Dünorm, and a sailor with big muscles from eating spinach who is madly in love with Olive Oyl…
Strolling along the Comic Strip Lane in the middle of comic strip bubbles hanging on buildings, it almost feels like being at the center of a comic page. If you hear Sammy Lerner’s “I’m Popeye the sailor man ! » – Tôôt tôôt“, you will immediately associate it with the Sailor with a hoarse voice and rough manners… the cartoon character Popeye the Sailor was created by Elzie Crisler Segar. It first appeared in the King Features comic Thimble Theatre in 1929, before becoming famous in cartoons in the 30s. In 1933, Fleischer Studios adapted the Thimble Theatre’s character into a Popeye the Sailor series for Paramount Pictures and produced 108 Popeye cartoons, 105 in black and white, from 1933 to 1943. These cartoons created the myth of spinach, which gives Popeye super-strength ! The name Popeye character comes from his “pop eye” because he is one-eyed. When you say Popeye, you say freshwater cowboy. But it is clear, white-water raft ride, spinach or not, will not leave you a square inch of dry clothes ! We take our place on Poyepe and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges with Popeye and his enemy Brutus. This turbulent raft ride fulfills its promise. Do not count on luck to come out dry… everyone gets soaked to the bone. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, another Toon Lagoon aquatic ride inspired by the Dudley Do-Right character, a cheerful Canadian Mountie, who attempts to catch his enemy Snidely Whiplash. This comic first appeared in 1961. On this log ride, we fear the drop, plunging 75 feet into a dynamite shack… and schplaf a wave passes over us and… Once again we get soaked from head to toe. On the third island there is total change of scenery… the soft music of the film welcomes you to the world of Jurassic Park and instantly puts you in the mood. The atmosphere is tense. With every step in the luxuriant vegetation, we expect a dinosaur to surprise us. We embark on a water ride in the world of “Dinos”: “Welcome to Jurassic Park”… there a Brachiosaurus, Triceratops, a Stegosaurus… and then the alarm is heard, the carnivores’ enclosure has been forced and the Velociraptors have escaped… Tension rises… Smoke obscures the way, a row of teeth, a cry recognizable among all… Tyrannosaurus is after us and the raft drops down a waterfall to escape! Phew, even if it is only a bunch of tricks, we are still relieved to not have been a snack for this fearful predator…
With a simple magic wand (and a few steps,) we pass from a prehistoric world to the universe of magicians… This part of the park is devoted to Harry Potter, and was inaugurated in 2010 to the joy of all fans of wizarding. Everything is as we imagined: the Hogwarts Express, the village of Hogsmeade on one side and on the other the sumptuous Hogwarts castle that seems huge, even if only because of the effect of perspective. It is impossible not be in love with this place, even without being a fan. Everything is fairytale, starting with true-to-life snow, which doesn’t melt even under the blazing sun of Florida. In the wizarding village of Hogsmeade you can find all the famous shops: Honeydukes, famous for its sweets including Nougats chunks, Coconut ice cubes, Golden caramels, large crates filled with Bertie Bott and beans of every flavor beans; Zonko’s Joke Shop where you can shop and fill up your bag with Dungbombs, Hiccough sweets, Frog spawn soap, Sugar quills, and Nose-Bitting teacups, Deviche & Bangs, and The Three broomsticks where you can taste the Butterbeer, a kind of soda with vanilla cream. Need a magic wand? The renowned wandmaker Mr Ollivanders welcomes you to his shop. What a big mistake, Potter fans are shouting to me… Ok, I agree this wand shop does not really fit in here… but before the expansion of Diagon Alley in 2014, it was necessary to have a wandermaker’s shop here, right ? Even if we can spend hours watching the movie’s replicas shops, it is time to head to Hogwarts Castle to experience The Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter. As soon as you go through the gate, you are completely immersed in Harry Potter’s world, walking through replicas of the rooms of Hogwarts Castle including greenhouses, the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, and the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom. On our way we recognize items from the series such as the mirror of Erised, the Sorting hat, the Pensin. The mirror of Erised shows the most desperate desire of a person’s heart. Erised means “desire” as reflected in a mirror. The gold frame is engraved, “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi“, which means “I show not your face but your heart’s desire” backward. Then we get onboard an enchanted bench inside the Room of Requirement. I think to a line of Peter Pan’s film, “I want to learn how to fly, I’ll teach you. – You just think lovely wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air“. My thought does not even have time to take shape before I am lifted off the ground on a broomstick, helped by a spell from Hermione. We find ourselves transported into a Quidditch game, where we try to escape the blowers in order to catch the golden Snitch… then into the frightful chamber of secrets, fighting the gigantic animated Whomping willow, then into the forbidden forest where we encounter Aragog and all his family… there is a lot of turbulence during the four-minute flight and you need a strong stomach !
The last island we visit, Seuss landing, allows us to be come down to Earth… into the totally wacky and colorful imaginary world of Dr. Seuss. Of course, as adults and Europeans, we are not exactly the target of this area. Have you ever heard of Dr. Seuss? No? He is a renowned author, creator of some of the most popular and widely read children’s books in the world. And even if you have never read any of his stories, you may already know some of them? Since his early childhood, Dr. Seuss whom real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, was passionate about writing. He is a point-of-reference in Anglo-Saxon countries. Most children know his heroes (the Cat in the hat, the Grinch, The Lorax, Horton, Thing one & Thing two) and his stories which, apart from being syncopated, are written almost entirely in anapestic tetrameter consisting of four rhythmic units called anapests. The other peculiarity is that to make every book fun and pleasant, tales never contain more than 250 words. Even if these books are not known in our libraries, some cinematographic adaptations give us good insight into the world of Dr. Seuss. These include Le Grinch (2000) starring Jim Carrey, The Cat in the Hat (2003), Horton (2008), and The Lorax (2012). It sounds crazy at first, but the world according to Dr. Seuss is also colorful, cheerful and gives beautiful life lessons with funny and engaging characters. Personally, I have a small weakness for The Lorax, an orange character and grumpy guardian of nature and the last tree seed in a world where nature is completely artificial…
-“Which way does a tree fall ?
– Uh… down ?
– A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean”.
For my part, I hope to keep my penchant for immersion in the present moment, curiosity and wonder at the beauties of this world… And you, among the characters of Dr. Seuss, which is your favorite ?
It sounds like you had a blast! I love Universal Hollywood so I’d love to experience Universal Orlando as well 🙂
I really felt like a child for one day ! I had so much fun 🙂
You´re right, I´ve never heard of Dr. Seuss! But I loved the quote about the tree, I´ll remember it 😉
I never heard of Dr. Seuss before visiting the Seuss landing at the Universal Studios Park ! I really loved this colourful and cheerful Dr. Seuss world !
Florida’s theme parks are high on our list. Waiting for the kids to grow a bit more so that they are allowed on most of the rides, but I think we’re almost there, so maybe next year… It looks like guys you had a great time there!
We had a great time ! Orlando has no shortage of amusement parks. Whether you’re seeking thrills or a family-friendly day out, do not hesitate to plan a visit for one (or more) of these amusement parks 😉
Lovely photos! Looks like a load of fun. I’m still kicking myself for never having visited Universal or Disney. Someday, I’ll go. 😉
Thank you 🙂 Indeed, we had a lot of fun ! Universal Studios’ hillside theme park offers some worthwhile thrills fueled by silver-screen memories and an illusion of Hollywood glamor 🙂
Ahh, Universal Studios! My partner and I recently visited Japan’s Universal park, and it was the first time we were experiencing Harry Potter World! Such an amazing place. I’m a super huge fan of Harry Potter, so it was definitely a dream come true! It looks like you had an awesome time 😀
At Universal Studios, the magic of movie making comes to life at this theme park that literally sprang up around the working studios !! The absolute highlight is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter 🙂 Butterbeer – available either warm, cold or frozen and not to be missed ! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in Hogwarts is definitely a ride not to be missed. This multi sensory action ride takes you on a journey soaring around the skies with Harry Potter, evading dragons and other magical creatures 🙂
Ohh you went to Hogwarts!! I love the idea of being a kid for the day, my partner and I went to Tokyo Disneyland once and had the best day! Next week we’re off to Scotland and I’m hoping the Hogwarts Express will make an appearance on the train tracks 🙂
We really had great fun ! We plan to go to London in order to visit The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour, probably in the fall… another day to feel like a child 🙂
I have not been to Universal Studios yet but it does look like a lot of fun! The Dr. Suess stuff is adorable, I am a big fan!
I did not know Dr. Seuss before visiting Seuss Landing but I really enjoyed the imaginary world of Dr. Seuss. It sounds crazy at first, but the world according to Dr. Seuss is so coluorful, cheerful and gives beautiful life lessons with funny and engaging characters ! I became a fan this day !
It is fun to feel like a kid again. I’ve been dying to see the Harry Potter stuff! You described it all so vividly!
It was so fun ! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is really amazing 🙂
Definitely great to visit and feel like a kid again. There’s so much more there now. I went when I was 9 on a family holiday and it felt like the best place in the world. Maybe when I have kids eh!
Let’s face it, it is tempting to rediscover a carefree childhood… even for a single day at Universal Studios 🙂
I want to visit Harry Potter’s castle! I’m usually not a big fan of theme parks but I love how this one would take me to another universe. That would definitely bring me back to the age when I first read the books!!
Everything is as we imagined: the Hogwarts Express, the village of Hogsmeade on one side and on the other the sumptuous Hogwarts castle ! It is impossible not be in love with this place, even without being a fan 🙂
Seriously, I LOVE Universal Studios! I actually prefer it over Disney! Every time I go back to Universal, I have so much fun that I don’t realize that the whole entire day just goes by in a blink of an eye!
Time is flying when we get so much of fun 🙂
Oh, I LOVED Orlando when I visited! It’s been quite a few years now, but I plan on going back again to experience Harry Potter World!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is really amazing 🙂 Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in Hogwarts is definitely a ride not to be missed. This multi sensory action ride takes you on a journey soaring around the skies with Harry Potter, evading dragons and other magical creatures…
Ahhh I would love to go to Harry Potters World!! That’s like my bucket list of Orlando! Also the t-rex ride seems like my kind of ride 🙂 looks so much fun!
Oh, we loved Orland & Universal Studios when we visited especially the Harry Potter World ! Everything was as we imagined 🙂
Loved reading your post, it really makes me want to visit!! Never been to Universal Studios but have been to Harry Potter world in London and its definitely being like a kid again. Defo have to visit here and loveeee Dr Seuss, he’s proper childhood days – I didn’t know they have a section for his books!
Thank you 🙂 Universal’s theme parks are a must-see on your trip to Orlando, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. I’m a huge fan too and I definitively need to plan my visit to the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour in London this year.