Published October 2014
If you are a Harry Potter fan, then this is a park you must plan to visit. Earlier this year, Universal Orlando opened up a second park so that fans can now visit Diagon Alley. The main ride is a multi-dimensional 3D thrill ride inside Gringotts Bank that takes you deep into the bank’s vaults where you face many dangers, not the least of which are Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange, and the evil Voldemort. You can dine at The Leaky Cauldron, which serves traditional British fare. And don’t forget to shop at Ollivanders, where the wand chooses the wizard, or Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes if you prefer magical jokes, tricks, and toys. You can also visit Madam Malkin’s to purchase clothing and apparel from one of the four schoolhouses at Hogwarts. Once you are done exploring Diagon Alley (there are more attractions than the ones mentioned above), travel to King’s Cross Station and catch a ride on the Hogwarts Express to visit Hogsmeade.
Hogsmeade opened in 2010 and offers a series of thrilling rides taking you into the scenes of the books like Hogwarts and the Triwizard Cup. Be sure and stop at Dervish and Banges store for your magical items, like sneakoscopes. It also sells non-magical items such as journals. Have a hankering for some sweets? Then Honeydukes is the place for you. After all this excitement, a stop at Three Broomsticks is a must. This rustic tavern offers up Butterbeer or pumpkin juice as well as a hearty menu.
We all love the movies. Here is your chance to “go behind the scenes, beyond the scenes, and jump right into the action of your favorite movies at Universal Studios.” The newest ride is TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3-D. Also, ride the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem or The Simpons Ride. How about plunging into the darkness on Revenge of the Mummy or ride the Men in Black Alien Attack? You might even want to check out the “world’s most technologically-advanced roller coaster where you pick the music” in the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
This is the place to take your thrill-seeker. Offering “the world’s most cutting-edge rides, shows, and interactive attractions that bring your favorite stories, myths, cartoons, comic book heroes, and children’s tales to life,” Marvel Super Hero Island offers you the chance to battle good versus evil. Toon Lagoon allows you to see your favorite cartoon characters in this water ride area. Jurassic Park lets you see the dinosaurs, and the Lost Continent allows you to go through time in this epic adventure. Seuss Landing lets your favorite doctor come to life.
For more information about Universal Orlando, please visit www.universalorlando.com.
The newest exhibit, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, opened in May 2013. This motion-based, simulator ride will allow your family to explore both above and below the icy world of penguins. In addition, don’t miss a visit to Dolphin Cove. This is one of the largest, interactive dolphin pools in the world where a playful group of bottlenose dolphins make their home. Check out feeding times, as crowd participation is allowed. The Manta Aquarium allows you to see ten unique, naturalistic aquariums with more than 3,000 marine animals. Shark Encounter lets you see an up close look at these giant predators in one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels.
For more information, please visit www.seaworldparks.co.
The theme park that started them all at Walt Disney World has probably the most recognizable icon in it. The Cinderella Castle sits in the middle of the park making it a must see for little girls of all ages. Magic Kingdom has six lands: Main Street, U.S.A; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; New Fantasyland; and Tomorrowland. Some of the attractions here are Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan’s Flight.
Easily one of the most recognizable parks at Disney World, it sprawls more than 300 acres. The main entrance is the Spaceship Earth (while the name might not be familiar, you will certainly recognize this polyhedral). Here you can see the Imagination! Pavilion, The Land Pavilion, Mission: SPACE Pavilion, The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion, and Universe of Energy. Also, the World Showcase area is here “which invites you on a global adventure across a collection of international pavilions around the world.”
You can almost hear the iconic, first musical cry from The Lion King stepping into this theme park. This is the largest of the theme parks with more than 1,700 animals and 500 acres of lush landscape. Animal Kingdom is divided into seven areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch area, Asia, and Dinoland, USA area. Attractions include Kilimanjaro Safaris, The Tree of Life, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and Expedition Everest.
For more information about Walt Disney World, please visit www.disneyworld.disney.go.com.