Florida and Universal Studios Fam Trip

Florida and Universal Studios Fam Trip

In June 2017, I had the pleasure of travelling to Orlando in Florida on an “educational” trip that I had won through a competition with fellow colleagues.

We flew out of Gatwick with Virgin Atlantic direct to Orlando and had the pleasure of being upgraded outbound to travel in premium economy class which I must say was excellent.

On arrival in Orlando the trip was hosted by Universal and hence we stayed at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. This hotel is around a 15-minute walk from Universal Orlando Resort, however the best thing here was the fact that, as this hotel and many other Universal ones are on the waterfront, there are fabulous water taxis that take you from the hotel to the theme park.

It has been 25 years since I went to Universal in Orlando having previously only visited the Disney parks and SeaWorld on my last two trips with my family.

The parks have changed and evolved in that time with new parks and infamous old attractions such as the “Blues Brothers” set and “E.T.” ride still featuring as favourite rides and attractions.

The hospitality of Universal was amazing. We had early pass access at 8am to the Wizarding Word of Harry Potter which consists of a bunch of attractions and shops all in a Harry Potter film set format with a fabulous Hogwarts Express connecting Universal Studios to Universal Islands of Adventure.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a “must” for all Harry Potter fans and even those that aren’t. Using our Express passes from Universal we spent several days taking advantage of the rides and attraction on both parks where I re-discovered my love or roller coasters and fast rides but NOT simulators! Some of my favourites were the Hollywood Ride Rip Rockit with a vertical access and drop, the Hulk, the Mummy and the fabulous ET ride, to name but a few.

We were also able to site visits to all the other Universal hotels such as Loews Portofino Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort, both of which include fast passes in some of their room rates, plus The Hard Rock hotel and the more budget led Cabana Bay Resort.

The Universal Express passes were fabulous and helped us skip many queues, so well worth booking in a hotel that includes these in the rates or paying extra to have the Express pass for a few days.

During our 6 days, we were the first educational trip to visit Universal’s newest water theme park – Volcano Bay, where we spent half a day sampling the rides and various lazy rivers too.

In the evening’s we enjoyed some fabulous meals at themed restaurants such as Toothsome Chocolate Factory, Cowfish, Antojitos Mexican restaurant, NBC Sports Bar and Grill, plus a great evening was had at Pat O’Brien’s Bar with resident Pianists and performers.

We even managed to fit in some gift shopping at the various parks and at the premium outlets in Orlando too, which was nice.

Having been to Orlando the year before with my family, we hadn’t visited Universal Studios as I thought it was all fast rides but I would definitely return here with my girls who I know would love the many rides and attractions now that they are getting a little bit older.  

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Emma Parry-Thorpe

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