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Matt N’s Frolic in Florida 10th-24th June 2023 (21st June 2023: Islands of Adventure/Universal Studios Florida)


Matt N

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21st June 2023 (Islands of Adventure/Universal Studios Florida)

After an empty day yesterday, we headed back to Universal Orlando today! I was excited to head back to the park and hopefully try to get back on some favourite attractions I’d ridden earlier in the trip, and it was also my nan’s first time at Universal Studios Florida of the trip!

 

We left a little later today due to heavy rain, with us leaving at just gone 8:30am, so we did not arrive at Universal until after 10am:

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Upon arrival, we split up. My sister, mum and nan started in Universal Studios, while me and my dad started in Islands of Adventure:

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When we entered the park, we noticed that a certain headline ride was on an advertised queue time that wasn’t too bad (relatively speaking)…

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Hagrid’s was on only a 70 minute advertised queue time, so we decided to give it a go. This queue was hugely overstated, as we were on the ride within around 30 minutes despite a queue that looked slightly longer than it did the other day; it’s always great when that happens! One interesting difference with today’s ride is that we saw the pre-show. This was a fun little touch, with Hagrid and Arthur Weasley giving us a little background along with the added bonus of a few blasts of air and water squirters! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in the back row sidecar, and it was just as phenomenal and fun as it was the other day, with fun launches, fun low-to-the-ground turns and so much going on! However, I concede that I did prefer my initial back row bike seat ride last week, and my dad, who’d ridden up front last time, said that he preferred the front. Nonetheless, it was absolutely phenomenal, and definitely a firm favourite for both of us:

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After Hagrid’s, we headed over to another big headliner of the other day…

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

VelociCoaster was on an advertised 45 minute queue time, so we decided to take a ride on it. The queue appeared slightly shorter than it was the other day, so without the technical stoppage that we also had the other day, the queue initially only took 25-30 minutes or so. However, my dad and I decided to wait for the front, as the queue didn’t look that long, so we ultimately took about 35 minutes. Even with the extra wait for the front, however, our wait was still 10 minutes less than advertised, so you can’t complain! But how was the ride? Well… wow! That front row ride on VelociCoaster definitely seemed better than the row 9 ride I had last week; the front row ride was truly mind-blowing, with even the first half feeling more thrilling than it did last week and providing bits of airtime I definitely didn’t remember last time! The second launch was absolutely obscene on the front row; I’ve never done anything quite like that! The top hat was perhaps slightly weaker on the front row than the back, but you still got a sensational bit of ejector airtime there! The second half delivered just as much as it did last week if not more so, and the ride overall just seemed to resonate with me more than it did last week, for whatever reason. Overall, then, VelociCoaster was absolutely sublime, and has definitely gone up somewhat in my estimations compared to last week, even though it was already a phenomenal ride I absolutely loved to begin with:

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After VelociCoaster, the rest of our group informed us that they were taking the Hogwarts Express over from Universal Studios to meet us, so we walked over to Skull Island: Reign of Kong to meet them there. My mum, nan and sister had ridden Jimmy Fallon and the Mummy, with my nan thoroughly enjoying both. After sitting down for a bit around there, we decided to hop back over to the other park with them via a certain magical route…

Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express over to Universal Studios was on only a 10 minute advertised queue, so we decided to take a ride. The advertised queue time was very accurate, with us getting on within about 10-15 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, as with the other day, it was a fun way to park hop, with some simple, but effective immersive mechanisms creating an excellent experience:

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After getting off the Hogwarts Express, we took a brief stroll around Diagon Alley, taking in some of the sights for a bit:

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After that, everyone apart from my dad decided to head onto the area’s headline attraction…

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Gringotts was on an advertised 35 minute queue time, so we decided to give it a go. This queue appeared to be somewhat understated, as the outdoor extension queue around the back was open, and we did ultimately end up queueing 45-50 minutes for the ride. That is still a far cry from when we rode Gringotts in August of its opening year, however; seeing those back extensions again today brought back memories of waiting for over 3 hours through every single one of them! So, how was the ride? Well, I have to say that as with our ride on Saturday, it was excellent, with stunning sets, brilliant 3D and a better coaster element than I’d previously remembered! My nan also thoroughly enjoyed it, having not ridden the ride since the aforementioned time we waited over 3 hours for it in its opening year:

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After Gringotts, we headed out of Diagon Alley to meet my dad again and have a brief sit down before I headed to ride a favourite of mine within Universal Studios…

Revenge of the Mummy

Revenge of the Mummy was on an advertised 35 minute queue time, so I decided to give it a ride using the Single Rider Queue, as I did the other day. The queue was not deserted like it was the other day, but I still got on in only 10 minutes; the Single Rider Queue moved quickly! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 2, and it was just as great as it had been previously, with some excellent bits of airtime, some fun turns, and an overall fun experience provided:

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After I got off Revenge of the Mummy and met back up with the rest of my family, it was getting towards 3pm and my family were keen to wind down, so we looked through a shop or two before leaving the park:

 

Our exit was actually very opportune, because a dark cloud was looming ominously on the horizon, and as soon as we made it back to CityWalk and the covered walkways, the heavens opened to unleash the mother of all thunderstorms, with lightning, wind fast enough to blow things over and all!

 

So, that covers our day at Universal Orlando Resort! I had an amazing day; I was so glad to get back on Hagrid’s and VelociCoaster for rerides, and VelociCoaster in particular has definitely gone up in my estimations since my first ride! I also really enjoyed going on the two rides at Universal Studios Florida, and overall, I just really enjoyed going back to two of my favourite ever parks and hopping between them!

 

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this report! Tomorrow’s report is one that I sense is hotly anticipated for a number of readers, as I’m headed to Busch Gardens Tampa to ride Iron Gwazi and other brilliant attractions!

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