Universal Orlando Resort: Not Your Father’s Universal Studios.

Enter to Win - Thursday, August 1st - 5am to 6pm

OMG, they got rid of the “Jaws” ride.

At first I felt sad. Then old. Then I forgot all about it - because who cares about a mechanical shark when you have HARRY POTTER?

Universal Orlando Resort is bigger and better than ever. In fact, the resort is really two theme parks: “Universal’s Island of Adventure”, which is home to the incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter and all things book-and-comic-book related, and Universal Studios Florida, which is dedicated to movies and television shows.

FYI: the iconic “Jaws” ride was forced into retirement last year to make room for more Harry Potter magic. Good thing, too, because Diagon Alley is a busy place. But it’s worth waiting in line for Butterbeer, a sweet, butterscotch concoction straight from the pages of the Harry Potter series (sorry, no alcohol) and the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride”, a thrilling adventure inside Hogwarts that takes you on a heart-pumping escape with Harry. Don’t close your eyes or you’ll miss an incredible experience (and a little magic.)

And if you want your own piece of sorcery, you can buy a wand at Olllivanders.

Of course, I was nervous about the Forbidden Journey, because, as we established earlier, I’m not really into that free-fall feeling. But I wanted to be brave, because Jamie the Producer was slowly losing respect for me. So I also went on the “family friendly” ROLLERCOASTER, “Flight of the Hippogriff.” 

This is what happened:

Obviously, I’m not quite ready for the “Hulk” coaster, which goes from 0 to 40 in two seconds or the “Jurassic Park River Adventure” (an 85-foot drop? NO THANK YOU). My speed is more like “Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat” adventure or over at Universal Studios, where the “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “The Simpson’s Ride” offer virtual thrills instead of dare-devil loops.

 

My favorite part of Universal wasn’t a ride, however. It was walking down “Hollywood Boulevard,” an homage to classic films and Hollywood history. You can order up something at the counter at Schwab’s Pharmacy and hope to be “discovered “just like Lana Turner. Or get a burger at Mel’s Drive-In, just like those sock-hoppers in “American Graffiti” (the inspiration for “Happy Days”.) Plus, they play classic themes from classic movies as you make your way past palm trees and paparazzi (well, more like families taking lots of photos of their kids).

I finished up the day eating at Emeril’s, but not before buying the Universal exclusive, Duff Beer, in Springfield, the park’s new Simpson’s extravaganza. You can also get a Flaming Mo, which is a mock-tail that looks like it’s on fire.

 

And speaking of fire, get ready for blast off tomorrow, where I tell you all about my adventures at the Kennedy Space Center. (Hint: you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand space. Though it helps.)

-Visit Orlando's Deal Season