We’re back with another Thursday Three today. This one is from Charlotte, and I’m talking all about the three best themed areas in Universal Studios Orlando – according to me!
I’ve always loved the Universal parks and remember my first visit to Islands of Adventure vividly. I’d never seen so many colours, so much theming in one place. Sure, the Disney parks were beautiful (here are the areas we love in WDW if you fancy a read), but there was something about how obvious each land was at Islands that I just fell in love with.
I was worried, visiting eight years later, that Universal wouldn’t hold as much charm for me. But I didn’t need to be, I loved it just as much. In fact, with the addition of the Harry Potter areas, I loved it even more. So today I’m putting my adoration for these parks out there by sharing my three best themed areas in Universal Studios Orlando.
1. Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley – Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure
I decided to group these two together because, well, they are both exceptional and I didn’t want to just talk about Harry Potter for the entire blog post. They kind of come as one as well, with the Hogwarts Express connecting the two together. The moment I first caught sight of Hogwarts was a tear jerker for me – it’s just so beautiful.
As a massive Harry Potter fan, the details in both of these areas take my breath away. The shops are names I recognise, the products are things Harry and his friends actually buy – even the food and drink is taken right from the pages of the books. I know the word is overused but if there is ever a theme park area that should be labelled immersive, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is it.
During our stay at Universal Orlando Resort, we spent the most time here because there is so much to explore. I used my interactive wand to cast spells, ventured in almost every gift shop and rode Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts more times than I’d like to admit. Both are not to be missed, which is why they’re my best themed areas in Universal Studios.
2. Springfield – Universal Studios
I’ll come right out and say that I’m not really a Simpsons fan. I never watched it as a kid and only know a lot about it because Carl and I went through an intense period of playing The Simpsons Tapped Out a few years ago. That being said, I can’t help but admire this area.
The whole place is just so well themed. From the massive Lard Lads Donut sign to the opportunity to grab a beer in Moe’s, it reminds me of a smaller Wizarding World, a place where you’re truly transported into the scenes from a movie. And for me, that is what theme parks all about, escaping to a place that feels familiar, without any of the bullshit we have to deal with at home.
When it comes to food, Springfield has one of the best options in Universal too. The fact that you can grab a Krusty Burger is a gimmick that never gets old and I also loved the chicken and waffles I had from Cletus’ Chicken Shack.
The ride isn’t really for me but Carl loves it, it’s even one of his most underrated rides in Orlando for some strange reason. We also picked up some cool comics as souvenirs for our nephew in the Kwik-E-Mart, so the merch is great too – it basically has all the components of the best themed areas in Universal Studios.
3. Jurassic Park – Islands of Adventure
I really struggled to choose this one, because there are so many gorgeous areas in Universal Studios Orlando, but I plumped for Jurassic Park. Seuss Landing is a close second, thanks to its ice cream colours and nostalgia value, but the feeling you get walking through the Jurassic Park gates with the music playing out – yeah, that is what I go to theme parks for.
Although the area is looking a *bit* run down at the moment, I still think it’s fantastic. What gets me about this area is the foliage, it’s just so lush and green and exactly how you imagine Jurassic Park to be. It’s something so small, but it makes a huge difference to your experience. Because nothing is out in the open, you’re left wondering what ‘s around the corner which makes the abandoned jeeps and massive dinosaur statues even more impactful.
Unfortunately, during our last trip, the Discovery Centre was closed when we visited but next time, I want to spend some time looking around that because I think it’ll make me love Jurassic Park even more.
All that is left to talk about is the ride. It’s fun, thrilling and downright terrifying at times – I can see why it’s one of Carl’s favourite theme park boat rides.
So there you have it, the three best themed areas in Universal Studios Orlando.
Which areas are your favourite? Let us know in the comments!