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Merrell’s Vacation – Universal Resort, Day One

Universal opening
danny merrell

This is part of the series of my day by day update of our family vacation to Orlando.

We will visit Disney World later in the week, but this marks our first travel to Universal Resort. 

One thing that we have learned with Disney World, when you stay on their property (hotels), the perks are very valuable.  Apparently, it works the same with Universal Resort.

Since we stayed at the Royal Pacific Hotel, we go early entry into their main park plus received Express passes for all five of our family members.  This allowed us to ride some of the most popular rides before the big crowds arrived, and the Express passes allow us to either step right onto rides or have very little wait.

We did the Universal Resort Park in the morning, then did the Universal Islands of Adventure in the afternoon.  We took about a 3 hour break at the hotel between the two.  We’ve learned through experience that this break is very important for the stamina and mood of our kids.

Although Universal has a few roller coaster rides, a great number of their attractions use 3D and 4D technology, as well as simulation technology.  Here are my highlights on their rides thus far.

Despicable Me – It was the first ride we rode and still remains our favorite.  The combination of simulation and 4-D was top notch and the set up video was LOL funny.  I completely understand why the wait had grown to more than an hour later in the day

Shrek 4-D – This was another of my favorites.  This was shown in a large theater and the premise was for us to help Shrek and Donkey rescue Princess Fiona who had been kidnapped by the ghost of the late Lord Farquad.  This was fun, but it was also the ride that we did after Despicable Me…it’s just hard to top that one.

Simpsons – This was another combo 3-D, flight simulator attraction.  The humor was a little ‘blue’ at times, but this was another of our favorites.  No theater for this one, just a pod that seated less than 10 people.

Twister -  This was probably our least favorite of attractions, thus far.  We were led into a dark recreation of the town from the movie starring Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, and even though it was pretty cool to see a column of smoke being passed off as a tornado, the special effects just didn’t stack up to some of the more modern rides.  The build up of doom and gloom on the videos before the actual attraction was also too intense for our youngest.

rip ride rockit
danny merrell

Rip Ride Rockit – This intense roller coaster features a straight 90-degree climb (not pictured) to start the ride.  The twists and turns following the climb make this one of the best roller coasters I’ve ridden.  However, the straight up climb did things to my tummy and head that never happened when I was 20 years younger.

Universal, so far, is getting nothing but high marks from me.  I’ll rates some of the rides from the Islands of Adventure, including the new Harry Potter rides, in tomorrow’s posts.

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