Thursday 12 October 2023

USA Day 10-11: Hard Rock Cafe & More Rides at Universal Orlando

Day 10: 

I woke up at 3.30am and could not get back to sleep (still dealing with jetlag?)! After tossing in bed for an hour, I finally gave up and made myself cup noodles using a pot I brought (that's how we've been cooking our meals btw)! 😄

After a fun afternoon at the Universal Orlando theme parks the day before, the plan was to explore more today and tomorrow! As mentioned, we bought the 2-Day Park-2-Park tickets for US$373 per person (note: Park-2-Park was required to ride Hogwarts Express). We could go to both parks for 5 consecutive days due to Universal's 'Buy 2 Days, Get 3 Days Free' promotion! 

Since we both woke up early, we headed to the parks at 7.30am to take advantage of our early park entry as Universal hotel guests. The privilege was only applicable for Universal Islands of Adventure, hence there was a large crowd of mostly hotel guests that were already queuing. 

When the gates were opened, the staff allowed everyone with tickets through the main entrance. However, to enter Seuss Landing and the Wizarding World, you'd need to produce your hotel key card.

We headed straight for the Wizarding World but the wait time for Hagrid's ride was already 40 minutes! We decided to skip it (for now) and take pictures with a deserted Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle instead! 🤩

We wanted to queue for the Forbidden Journey ride but the staff informed us that it would only open in 15 minutes. They advised us to ride Flight of the Hippogriff and so we did since there was no queue. We actually waited in the hot sun for 40 minutes the day before, and instantly regretted it on hindsight! 😅

After the ride, we joined the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I've rode it twice in Universal Studios Japan (USJ) and both times I've had to queue for about an hour! This time, I didn't have to queue as we were one of the firsts in line! 🥳

In USJ, the portraits on the wall were speaking Japanese so I could hardly understand what they said. I love that I could finally understand the conversation among the portraits! It contributed significantly to the ride experience!

I also didn't understand the conversation among Harry, Ron and Hermione until I watched it more than once (we rode this 4 times over 2 days due to the short wait times! 😂).

I began to piece different parts of what I saw together and finally understood the story! It made the ride that much more meaningful!

There was a warning from the sorting hat before you board your ride vehicle! We enjoyed the ride so much that we rode it again! 😄

As guests started to flood the Wizarding World, we headed to the very colourful Seuss Landing. My younger kids, especially my risk-adversed Boy, would have loved all the kiddy rides! 

Being the forever young-at-heart that I am, we rode The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. The train travelled above the imaginative buildings so you could almost see the whole park!

The ride was better than expected! Even though the ride was meant for little kids, we both loved it! 😄

We caught sight of Cinnabon and decided to get some snacks because I was hungry. I can see why people love it; it's really yummy!

We walked to the 'superhero land', which consisted of mostly big roller coasters with large drops (not our cup of tea 😅)!

The only suitable ride was The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man, a 4D simulator ride.

It was exactly the same as the one I rode in USJ! Still feel that the technology was dated and not as good as Transformers.

We explored 'comic strip lane', which was very colourful and had lots of restaurants.

Many of the rides we wanted had long wait times so we returned to Hogsmeade to board the Hogwarts Express to Universal Studios Florida (USF).

We walked to Diagon Alley and realised that the wait time for the Gringotts ride was 70 minutes! We felt that it was too long and decided instead to ride the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade since the wait time was only 10 minutes. In case you didn't know, the ride experience for both ways are not the same! Make sure you ride both ways to get the full experience!

By now, we were ready for lunch and exited the park. We were strongly considering The Chocolate Emporium, which was the most eye-catching restaurant in the area!

We eventually chose Hard Rock Cafe, because of my love for the Hard Rock brand. I became a fan after staying in Hard Rock Hotel Singapore for the first time in 2012! Since Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando exceeded our budget, our next best thing was to have lunch at the biggest Hard Rock Cafe in the world!

The food was so good! Totally did not disappoint! 😋

After lunch, we visited the Rock Shop and as always, I bought a t-shirt and pin to add to my growing collection! 😃

We returned to USF and rode Despicable Me Minion Mayhem as the wait time was finally 30 minutes (it had been more than 50 minutes so far).

It was another simulator ride but as there were many similar rides at Universal, we felt some of the others were better. Fans of Minions would still like it as the theming was very on point!

The skies looked threateningly dark at 4pm and many areas of the park was closed in preparation for Halloween Horror Nights. We rode our last ride, Men in Black Alien Attack, before USF closed at 5pm.

MIB was such an old movie that I could hardly remember all the details. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a shooting ride but with a twist! The ride vehicle was trackless and actually spins as you shoot at alien animatronics! It turned out to be more fun that expected! 😄

Although USF was closing early due to Halloween, Islands of Adventure would close as usual at 7pm. We contemplated continuing there but decided to return to our hotel instead (need to conserve energy for the next day).

It was the right decision because it started to rain very heavily! We made pasta for dinner with the ingredients we bought from Target and my little pot.

The combination of a full stomach and the sound of rain and HGTV caused me to be so sleepy that I took a very long nap after dinner!

I awoke only to bathe and conduct my nighttime routine so that I can return to my slumber! 🤭

Day 11:

I woke up at 5.30am this morning and didn't even try going back to sleep. I started my morning routine in preparation for the parks. I made my usual cup noodles for breakfast and a cup of tea before setting off.

When we arrived at 7am, the sun was just coming up! We had reached Islands of Adventure even earlier than the day before! 😅

Since we were so early, we were near the front of the queuing area. By the time the gates opened, we were the first batch of people at Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure!

Note that unlike other rides like the Forbidden Journey, which allows small sling bags onboard, all bags must be stowed in the red lockers for this ride! You can only bring along whatever can fit in your pockets! It's anyway good practice to be wearing clothes with deep pockets when visiting theme parks as many rides do not allow bags!

We were only supposed to wait for 10 minutes since we were so ahead in the queue but ended up waiting for 30 minutes as there was a delay in the ride's opening.

It was finally our turn and despite watching all the videos to prepare me for it, the actual experience was still more thrilling than I had anticipated! The launches were really fast and there were a lot of drops and twists! Having said that, I'd ride it again! It's Hagrid after all! 🩷

As we were walking to Skull Island: Reign of King Kong, it started to drizzle (photo below was taken the day before).

It was yet another simulation ride, but with much better effects than Spiderman. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would as I wasn't a fan of King Kong!

We skipped all the rides at Jurassic World because it was either too thrilling (VelociCoaster), might get you very wet (Jurassic Park River Adventure) or for kids only (Pteranodon Flyers)!

We returned to Hogsmeade and shopped at Honeydukes. I found chocolate wands that I got as souvenirs for fellow Potterheads: my brother and his wife!

Our stomachs started rumbling so we had breakfast at Three Broomsticks. I have always wanted to dine here! Super excited! 🤩

After a hearty breakfast 🥞, we rode the Hogwarts Express for the 4th time (had to get our money's worth! 😂) to Diagon Alley (more pictures in my previous post).

You can exchange actual money for Wizarding World money to spend in Diagon Alley (1 to 1 exchange rate) if you wanted the experience!

Since it was our last day at the parks, we agreed that we had to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts again despite the 60-minute wait time! We get to enjoy a great ride and escape the rain at the same time!

After the ride, we shopped in Diagon Alley before having lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. There was a queue and we waited for about 30 minutes for a table.

I love the theming of the restaurant! We ordered Toad in the Hole, Cottage Pie and another Butterbeer! Food tasted really good! 

We were so happy we made the right decision to dine at both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley! It's a must-do for all Potter fans!

We left Diagon Alley (for the last time *sobs*) and headed to Fast and Furious: Supercharged. We were not big fans of the franchise and decided to ride as Single Riders to skip the queue. It was the right decision as we ended up sitting together anyway and the ride was so-so.

We also joined the Single Rider line for Transformers: The Ride-3D as we've both ridden it many times before (it was my 10th time?! *laughs*). I still love it, though I'd have to admit the ride is due for an upgrade!

I joined the queue to take photos with Patrick and Squidward, my Boy's favourite (he has the whole gang of soft toys on his bed)! 🤩

We exited USF (for the last time 😭) and took photos with the Universal globe (it's kind of a tradition)!

We walked across to Island's of Adventure and rode The Cat in the Hat (no queue at all). If you're a parent, you likely would have read this book to your kids at least once!

We both loved this ride! It was interesting and surprisingly unexpected! My kids would have loved it!

We walked back to Hogwarts for the last time to ride the Forbidden Journey again, twice! It was fitting that we started and ended our Universal days with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We rode all the rides in the Wizarding World more than once (except for Hagrid's Motorbike)!

It was with much sadness that we are bidding Universal goodbye! 😢 We walked to the Top of the Walk Food Court at Universal Citywalk to take away our dinner.

I bought my favourite Mushroom Swiss Double burger from Burger King. It was so yummy! 😄

I can't believe we went to theme parks for 5 consecutive days! Time flies when you are having fun!

It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget!


P.S: Here's the full list of my experience at Hard Rock and Universal Studios around the world:

Hard Rock

Universal Studios

Continue to >> USA Day 12-14: Orlando Vineyard Premium Outlets & Return to Singapore
<< Back to USA Day 9: Aventura Hotel & Universal Orlando Resort


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