Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wizarding Week: Why You SHOULD Cheat on Disney (just for a day)!

I decided that the week before Halloween would be a great time to feature some pictures from Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  While this is a Disney Photoblog with so much going on in Orlando and with the number of trips I have taken there I wanted to share some of what I have explored outside Disney too.

I was blown away by Universal, not because I thought Disney paled in comparison at all, but because I could see this experience changing from what I had previously read and seen (and expected).  Disney has pushed the Universal theme parks to up their game.  Guess who benefits from that? Us! I have cheated on Disney and you should to, here’s why:
  • Now that Disney’s Hollywood Studios is MGM no more, some of the signature old Hollywood feel has been stripped from the park.  I desperately miss Stars & Motor Cars and can never understand why there is never a wait for the Great Movie Ride or Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.  There is something to be said for the walk through Lucy Museum and Walk of Fame at Universal that brought back the nostalgia of some of my old MGM favorites- you can even eat at a replica Mel’s Drive In for lunch!  The fact that the park is owned by Universal gives it a more diverse movie catalog then you would expect- everything from The Mummy, E.T., Back to the Future, The Simpsons, Jaws, and more are represented here.  And a lot of these classics in my mind have not been reinvented as Disney does so often.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is, in my opinion, the most amazing non-Disney theme park feat ever.  It gives Disney a real run for its money.  I am almost happy that Universal got the rights to this over Disney because it is so incredible! From a Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks, to a Chocolate Frog at Honeyduke’s, or buying a replica wand at Olivander’s there is no greater representation of the classic young adult novels of our generation.
  • It’s nice to see a non-princess castle every once in a while.  Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey is like Soarin’ on steroids and the cue walking through Hogwart’s is artful, thoughtful, and true to the world J.K. Rowling created.
  • The two park pass does not require a bus, boat, or monorail to park hop.  While you can really commit a full day to each park in Universal, if you opt for their version of a park hopper you can easily walk through the shopping area called CityWalk and make your way between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios theme parks.
While the Disney bubble is hard to push yourself out of, I am convinced that Universal is a great choice for some non-Disney time.  I rave to every Harry Potter fan I know that they must visit the Wizarding World.  With so many families come back to Disney year after year, its no wonder that places like Discovery Cove and Legoland have made their way to Orlando.

What do you think about Universal? Do you stay in the Disney bubble your entire trip or trek out to other Orlando attractions?  If so, what’s your family’s favorite non-Disney park?  Look for pictures from now through the 31st of my favorite parts of the Wizarding World and decide for yourself. 

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