There is one thing that springs to mind when you think of Orlando - theme parks! And this is the exact reason we included Orlando on our itinerary - to participate in a power day of rides at Universal Studios.
We sped our way to Orlando via St Augustine to visit a little cafe called Mr Hyppo which served great coffee, sandwiches and salads and even better popsicles (The Elvis which contained banana, peanut butter and honey was amazing!). Why were we so keen to get to Orlando? Because we were meeting the lovely Benita, Doug and Harrison who had flown all the way from London-town to spend 10 days of fun with us in Florida and the Caribbean.
Tom and I had a game plan for Universal to make sure we got the best bang for our buck. At $140 a ticket, we wanted to get max riding opportunity.
Our strategy was to get there early and fit in as much as we could prior to lunch. We were in the car before 8am and did a quick stop off to Whole Foods to buy a packed lunch - a strategic move so we could eat on the go and make the most of shorter queues when other visitors lunched. We meant serious business.
Our first destination was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the Islands of Adventure where we rode both rollercoasters (both average) within being at the park for 20 minutes. We then rode Jurassic Park: The Ride which was a water based log ride taking you through a scene from the movie and climaxing by shooting us down a drop and getting us a little damp. Despite being a bit lame, we actually quite enjoyed it as it took us back to our childhood. Next was the 4D Amazing Spiderman ride, which was fantastic but left me feeling a little sick, and the Hulk rollercoaster, a high speed loopy ride which lasted about 30 seconds.
We then went back to Harry Potter to ride the Forbidden Journey ride which was a highlight of the day. We fought dementers, played quiddich and flew around the corridors of Hogwarts. We caught up with Doug, Benita and Harrison and we all jumped on the Hogwarts Express (A genuine steam train but when you looked out the window, it was like a scene from the movie. Very clever) over the the Universal Studio side.
We again revisited our past by riding the MIB ride where we shot down aliens (Tom and I were neck and neck on the scores and poor Doug claimed his gun was faulty. Tom and I are still waiting for our winners ice-creams) followed by the Simpsons ride where we helped stop Sideshow Bob from inflicting his revenge against the Simpson family. The disappointment of the day was the E.T. ride where the introduction video was outdated and did not accurately reflect the ride, and the ride was genuinely boring!
We attempted Transformers (60 min line wait - no thanks) and went for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit instead which was a high speed roller coaster where you could select what song you listened to whilst riding (I opted for MC Hammer's Can't Touch This which Tom went for a heavy Cypress Hill song). I felt ill afterwards while Tom liked it so much he went on it again straight away...and then felt ill. We relaxed by watching the Shrek 3D movie before heading back over for the Islands of Adventure for our final 2 hours of riding.
We managed to jam in another ride on Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Spiderman and the Hulk. Dudly Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls left everyone completely soaked except for myself as I inherited a poncho from a lovely lady who had already been on the ride (and who obviously knew how wet we would get). We finished up on Doctor Doom's Fearfall during which Doug screamed like a little girl despite it being somewhat lame on reflection.
As we headed to the exit, we realised we were not quite satisfied and ran back to the Hulk for a final ride. Universal Studios conquered.