This year we visited Universal Studios Islands of adventure and City Walk for our daughters dance Expo. Orlando Attractions everyone must do. February in Florida means clear skies and 70° beautiful weather so we bought a two day two park pass to enjoy all these parks have to offer.
We booked a stay at the Hard Rock Hotel on the theme park property which is a bit more expensive than hotels off the property, but includes express passes for all the rides in the parks. Express pass cuts your wait time in half for all the rides which is clutch. This is an OllieM hack that is not promoted anywhere, but we think our audience should know by staying on the property you get a much nicer hotel you’re able to spend more time at the parks, go on more rides with the express pass, and save on many things like parking and dining. You can head to the park by foot or on a a boat ride which we really enjoyed. Arriving at City Walk by boat was an experience of its own .
After her performance on the main stage at City Walk, we went right to the parks, starting with Universal Studios Minion Mayhem ride. So many things to do in Universal Studios but we went in order as to not miss anything. This 5D ride is fun for all ages. Since our two kids are 11 and six years old, the younger one cannot go on all the rides like roller coasters so we first went on all the 3D plus motion rides which we all enjoyed. Take a ride with the Minions feels like your on a roller coaster and has great animation. See our video for inside peak. Next up was the Jimmy Fallon Flight Over New York experience. We got to see what it’s like to be in the NBC Studios and took a journey through all the late night show host sets. This is a new attraction and the ride is incredible.
We provided a sneak preview into all the rides, which you will not find anywhere else except OllieM. We continue through the park, enjoying live shows like the construction workers making music with buckets and tools from the work site. My son particularly loved this because he’s into making music like me. Next we went on the fast and furious ride. This was our first time on this ride and we were really impressed. You get to see the real cars and garage set up used in the movie while in line. In our YouTube video we also have a sneak peek into this ride. We love Universal Studios, and all the different worlds, but the Harry Potter world was by far our favorite. You have to go through a secret Corridor into the Harry Potter village at first is hard to find as there are no big signs. Upon entering the village you see a huge dragon on top of a building that breathes fire every 10 minutes. You can enjoy dragon scale red beer and ice cream favorites for the kids. A magical wand shop for those who are true fans.
What’s great about the Two Park Two Day Pass is that you can take the Harry Potter train from Universal Studios to Islands of adventure. This speeds up your transition between parks and saves you time. There are Harry Potter worlds in both parks so the train takes you from one Harry Potter section to the other. Each world offering different rides and shops. Before we took the train to Islands of Adventure we wanted to see the rest of what Universal Studios has to offer in all the different character worlds. We really loved the Dr. Seuss world where we got to meet none other than the Grinch. He was a silly Grinch. I think we saw the movie like 100 times lol. We also got to meet Thing One and Thing Two and enjoy a Grinch candy apple from the sweets shop. Everything in these shops is customized and one of a kind for the world you are in. Nobody does it better than Universal Studios, Orlando.
Next ride was the tram in the Dr. Seuss world. We were able to film the adventure for you and get a view of both parks from the top. This ride is not scary at all and fun for the whole family. Now we were headed to Simpson’s world which I really loved growing up watching the show. My six year old son got to go on the Alien Ride and control the up-and-down functions. Short preview of the ride also in our video. There’s also a cool 3-D ride, which is similar to the Minions. You can head Moe’s pub for a refreshing beer. By now we’re almost at the end of the park with the last ride which was ET the original extraterrestrial. Both of my kids have never watched a movie or heard of ET so it was nice to share a childhood classic and explain to them all about it. We took the ride on the bike through a magical forest where we helped ET get home.
After this ride, we hit one of the Universal stores on the way out and headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner at the Hard Rock Café. Being at the hotel on the property makes it so fast and easy to go back-and-forth between City Walk, the parks and your room giving you much more bang for your buck. We quickly got ready and headed to dinner. While waiting for our food we got to enjoy all the memorabilia of rock stars and musicians of old and new. The Elvis Presley room was especially unique as it had hand written songs by him and old pictures from his childhood. The dishes they offer were pretty good. Burgers and salmon was a good catch with around a $100 bill for four people. They had an awesome pink Cadillac car hovering over the bar, guitars and outfits from stars and props from their shows. A room of all the Woodstock festival memorabilia and live music which really set the vibe. We decided to get dessert elsewhere.
A short walk to the other side of City Walk for Voodoo Doughnuts. This one of a kind donut shop had so many different varieties to choose from Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Oreo Dirt were my two favorites. The kids were in heaven you can see pictures of the donuts and videos in the gallery. By this time we were on our feet all day and really tired, so we hit the room and watched a movie in bed.
We woke up early so we could hit Islands of Adventure and see all it had to offer. When you enter the park, you are immediately intimidated by all of the giant roller coasters you see. The Hulk and the Velocicoaster were on my list. This park also has lots of water rides at the end so be sure to bring a bathing suit. We started off in the comic world with Spider-Man ride, check out our exclusive sneak peek of the 3-D adventure. We got lucky and got to meet Spider-Man for a one on one meeting greet. Just before a parade past by we bumped into wolverine. He really like my Avengers shirt that he slashed. After Spider-Man ride we wanted to hit some roller coasters that my son could not go on because he was not tall enough. Beware that most of the rides in islands of adventure are 48 inches or taller for the roller coasters and some of the 3-D rides in Harry Potter world as well. Islands of adventure has something for everyone, but gears more towards teens and adults.
We went on the Hulk roller coaster, which is unlike any other coaster because it shoots you out instead of a slow climb and drop like traditional coasters. This is in exhilarating ride, not for the faint of heart. After the Hulk we had lunch. Gyros with falafel was a perfect meal that fills you up for the day. It’s good to also bring sandwiches and waters into this park because food is very expensive. A free water hack we discovered to save five dollars on a bottle was going into Starbucks and asking for a cup of water with ice, they give it to you for free, so nice of them. This is an OllieM travel hack Exclusive. After lunch we headed into Jurassic Park for a meet and greet with blue the raptor dinosaur. One of a kind amazing animatronic larger than life dinosaur that moves and makes noises. Beware the younger kids can get really scared as he looks as real as it gets. We got to take pictures with him and we’re almost eaten. Jurassic Park has really great small roller coasters for the kids and flying adventures but the Velocicoaster is what we were after there is no express line for this ride as it is a new ride but the 70 minute way it was worth the ride. It is very different from the Hulk coaster. This roller coaster was longer and has much more twists and turns and left you upside down for a good amount of the ride so you may not want to eat lunch prior 😆.
After Jurassic World we headed to Adventures of King Kong. This ride was a 7D Experience with 3-D glasses. Starts with outdoor ride into the gates of the fort and takes you on a ride where king Kong protects the humans from dinosaurs. You get to see his might when he rips the dinosaur jars in half to protect the riders. At the end of the ride, you see a huge giant animatronics of king Kong, larger than life is so impressive unlike anything on any of the other rides in the park. After king Kong, we headed into the 2nd Harry Potter world in the Islands of adventure. This one has carts serving butter beer and more cool rides. The Fam split up to take my youngest son on the Griffin roller coaster for kids and my wife took our oldest daughter into the castle for a Harry Potter flying on broom adventure. A mix of 3-D x moving ride and spooky spiders. This ride is the latest in the theme park and offers the most complex interactive an experience.
After the Harry Potter world, you enter the old comics zone. This section has mostly water experiences. Hope you brought your bathing suit. This world of old comics, Popeye and olive is really cool. You have a dropping freefall, water ride, as well as spinning rafts through the rapids. Splash pads and surprise water bombs throughout this area. After comic world you exit the park through the gift shops and be sure to grab yourself a memorable item.
We then headed back to the hotel and got ready for our second dinner night at the Tooth Some Chocolate Emporium. This was a chocolate factory like I’ve never seen before. Filled with contour chocolate delights, macarons, stacked milkshakes, and wondrous art. We dined at the second floor with a view of City Walk and really enjoyed our dinner at around the same price as the Hard Rock Café. I feel the food is higher quality and better taste. The salmon dishes and burgers were better at this restaurant, but it is harder to get a reservation, so be sure to book ahead. My favorite milkshake what is the mint chocolate chip and my son loved to sprinkle cake.
By this time we were wiped out from two days of being on our feet and headed back to the hotel. We woke up early to hit the pool as the Hard Rock Hotel has a heated pool which we really enjoyed. on our way home we stopped at the premium outlet shops to find the best brands at outlet prices. My daughter couldn’t wait to shop at Lululemon and we found great items for the right prices. They also have a great kiosk with Acai bowls that we all enjoyed as we headed home for 3 Hour drive. back to South Florida. Thank you for going on this adventure with us. See our photo gallery below, watch the video and be sure to check out all our other adventures here.