The Ipes decided to go on our first family trip in about a year. We decided to take the whole family to Orlando to enjoy the good weather and hit up some theme parks. Our plan was to visit one of the Universal Studios theme parks, then 2-3 of the Disney parks. Day 1 was all about our early morning flight to Florida, then visiting Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.
Thursday would be longest day in a long time. We started packing our bags Tuesday, in order to avoid as much last minute packing before a trip that typically occurs around here. There would be no way we could stay up all night, then fly to Florida, then stay awake at a theme all day and night. No way, no how. We were mostly packed on Tuesday. After I got home a bit late from work on Wednesday night, we packed a few more things, then eventually got on the road to my sister’s house after 10 PM. We arrived, had a quick home-cooked dinner, then slept in their family room for 2+ hours.
We were up and out the door a little after 3 AM, and driving to the airport in Philadelphia. We parked at The Parking Spot, an off-airport parking facility, and made our flight. After some brief napping, we arrived in Orlando. We picked up our rental car, drove to the hotel, and took turns to change and otherwise freshen up in the hotel lobby restrooms. We then grabbed a quick breakfast at a nearby Wawa, then drove to Universal Studios.
This was our first time ever at a Universal Studios theme park. We had no expectation to try to hit it all. We prepped for all parks with a hit list of required attractions and events, and then try to hit as many of the “It would be nice to do” rides. Thursday was all about Universal’s Islands of Adventure. We hit up the Harry Potter area, Dr. Seuss, Marvel, and Jurassic Park. It was a full day. The key attractions that we wanted to hit, plus the ones we were also able to squeeze in were:
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — A very cool recreation of the shops of Hogsmeade. The kids bought some souvenirs.
- Dragon Challenge – Josh and I rode this high speed roller coaster themed around Harry Potter.
- Poseiden’s Fury — A light and sound show.
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish — One of those flying / rotating rides but you are guaranteed to get wet.
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride — A kidding ride in a train car going over the Dr. Seuss area.
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man — A neat 3D ride.
- Camp Jurassic — A fantastic play area for the kids to run around — rope ladders, slides, etc, etc. Not to be missed.
- Pteranodon Flyers — A hanging ride as you soar over tree tops.
- We also walked around to see the sights and stores, and got some pictures with costumed Marvel characters.