A Day of Hogwarts and Dinosaurs

Have you ever been to Universal Studios Island of Adventure in Orlando, Florida? Well, thanks to my parents (THANK YOU MOM & DAD), my kids got to spend the day there as part of their Christmas vacation. The main attraction for my little geeklets was, of course, Hogwarts/Hogsmeade section of the park. We’re all big Harry Potter fans in this house.

We had neither the time nor the ready funds to do more than one day at Universal, so we only went to the one park, but it took us a full day and then some to see all the attractions there. The experience at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade was wonderful, and iced butterbeer was consumed with gusto.

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My daughters delighted in the Jurassic World section even though they had never seen the movies. What kid doesn’t dig dinos? My mom and two of my daughters wet themselves because of an animatronic raptor, but my middle child and my father (Gryffindors both) were stalwart:

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My kids also relished the ride called The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man; the 3-D effects on that thing were boss.  Moreover, they met several comic book heroes that gave them a big ol’ happy.

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Note the expression of Buttercup as she sees Spiderman:

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The only negatives were that it was hot, which the park couldn’t do diddly about, and there was a certain amount of what I considered skanky sneak-charges that vexed me. I can handle the overpriced food and merchandise, because running a theme park is not cheap and I do not begrudge them a profit, but having a “fee” to park your car at the expensive on-site hotel we stayed in was just money-grubbing in excess in my opinion. Furthermore, a lot of the side attractions were pay-to-play carnival games which charged more than I considered reasonable, even with the acceptance that the park was expensive. Considering the amount of moolah it cost to have the family there for a single day, extra attempts by Universal to get its hand into our pockets was irksome and made me feel like prey rather than a “guest”. Also, the “refill” souvenir cups we got at the park did NOT work to refill at the on-site hotel with our dinner. If I pay $11 bucks for a “refill” souvenir cup then it by-gum better actually refill that day.

In sum, it was a fun park, but lacks the smooth let-us-pamper-you vibe of Disney World. I mean, I am sure Disney is milking us too … but they are way less obvious about it.

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