Things to do in theme parks without queuing – UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

With it being the home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal is now a lot busier than it has been in previous years and is giving Disney a run for its money as a resort in itself.

Although Universal does have a large amount of very popular rides and is popular with the thrill seekers – although it does actually only have 3 rollercoasters – there is almost another whole parks worth of non-ride stuff to do there.

Turning right as you go into the park and into Hollywood you’re sure to bump into Characters as you work your way down the street you’ll find all sorts from Scooby and Shaggy to The Flintstones.  There’s live music here as well from the studio Brass Band and I’m sure I remember them playing the Simpsons theme.

Here you also find Terminator 3-D it’s part 3-D film and part live action and is based on the Cyberdyne company from the films – mostly from Terminator 2. It’s really action packed and runs periodically throughout the day and being as it’s in a pretty large theatre I’ve never seen a queue for it.

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Also in this area is the Horror Make-Up Show which shows clips of horror movies to show us how they have scared us through the years and then show how the make up is done. It’s fun and interactive but not recommended for under 12s. Again there’s rarely a queue and an entertaining way to spend 20 minutes.

There are plenty of play areas for the young ones to keep them amused in KidZone and a whole area dedicated to a huge adventure playground based on Curious George.  There’s an indoor play area aimed at the really young called ‘Barney’s Backyard’ and also a Barney live show.  Not to mention Fievels Playland with it’s little water slide that Amelia loved and we couldn’t get her off!!

Also here you have Animal Actors on location a live show with real performing animals in which some of the children in the audience are invited up to help with. I’ve rarely seen queues for this and had no idea this even existed until my last trip – we didn’t get a chance to do it them but this time it’s high on our list!

Springfield has loads just to look at while you’re walking around – that’s the great thing about Universal everything is so immersive in a totally different way to Disney. There are so many photo ops in Springfield and a lot of side show carnival games (for an extra charge) but plenty to do if you don’t want to queue for the ride there. Even wandering into Moes for a Duff Beer or a Flamin Moe.

Men in Black is right at the back of the park and since Diagon Alley opened and the Simpsons next to it I’ve rarely seen a queue.

There are lots and lots of photo ops around Universal Studios, so do look out for them. Namely the huge shark from Jaws and the Knight Bus from Harry Potter.

Diagon Alley is always going to be relatively busy but again like Springfield there’s loads to do if you don’t want to queue for the ride. The shops are an experience in themselves and it’s just like being on a film set with loads of places to investigate. Purchase one of the interactive wands and follow the map through casting spells a big hit with kids and adults. There’s entertainment here as well with a re-telling of Beedle the Bard with puppets and songstress Celestina Warbeck.  Don’t forget to change your dollars for wizarding notes at the Money Exchange there’s even a goblin host there.

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Heading back towards the entrance to the park takes you through New York where you will find the infamous Blues Brothers show which is definitely not to be missed.  There’s also a climbing wall (for an extra charge) and if you look you *may* find the entrance to ‘The Blind Pig’ from Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.

You can easily spend a day just walking round Universal Studios, remember the idea behind it is to ‘ride the movies’ so it is set up to look like a movie set so there’s loads to investigate.

What are your favourite non ride things to do? Have I missed anything important?

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The Disneylife Challenge..

Those of us in the UK have the pleasure of being able to have pretty much ALL the Disney movies and classic TV shows at our fingertips with the brilliant Disneylife. For a small  monthly fee you have access to watch online nearly everything. I love it there’s things on there I never knew existed so I have set myself a challenge to watch ALL the movies on there that I hadn’t already seen. Obviously I’ve watched all the classics over and over but I never knew there were so many sequels made to those and then you have all the old movies and the DCOMs as well.

As I clearly have nothing better to do with my time I thought I’d keep you updated as to how I get on. I have no idea how long this is going to take me and I’m sure there will be some on there that are a bit rubbish but at least I can be happy knowing I’ve seen all the Disney movies – although Song of the South isn’t on there seeing as it is banned so if anyone has a copy they can lend me it’d be much appreciated…

I fly to Disney in 37 days so I’m hoping to watch as many as I can between now and then…

Todays not seen before movie was THE THREE CABALLEROS seeing as I love Donald Duck and the ride in Epcot based on it I surprised myself that I’d not seen this before. It’s a really odd one and gets slated a lot but I really liked it. It doesn’t have a particularly great storyline and has some questionable bits in it with Donald perving on some live action ladies but it’s Donald doing what we expect and it is pretty funny. Plus it has that great ‘Three Caballeros’ song you come out of the ride singing.

Released in 1944 this was Disneys seventh animated feature and wasn’t that well received with reviews accusing it of having a pretty thin story line and being a little shocked by Donalds reaction to the women. (basically exactly what I thought of it!!)

Watching the older Disney movies has made me realise that they shaped popular culture in more ways than I thought they had. The Three Caballeros features a story all about a little boy who has a flying singing Donkey, now where else have I seen that in the last 20 years….

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Second one today was FUN AND FANCY FREE which is another Disney movie with movies within it, telling a few short stories rather than one main one.  I much preferred this one to the Caballeros, this one is hosted by Jiminy Cricket and he tells a little love story about 2 bears – with one of the best songs I’ve heard in a Disney film all about how bears say they love you with a slap, genius! It’s honestly worth watching for that alone.

Second story in this features Mickey, Donald and Goofy in a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. This section is narrated by famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummies Charlie and Mortimer – again one of whom reminds me of something/someone can’t think who…

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Fun and Fancy free was released in 1947 and was their 9th animated feature and got much better reviews that the Three Caballeros!!

The idea for a Jack and the Beanstalk story with Mickey and friends was actually pitched to Walt during the making of Fantasia but was never included in that film and instead kept for this.

Which one of these do you prefer?  Anyone else doing this challenge and watching all the films?

Things to do in Theme Parks without being in a queue – HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

The last in my little series of non queuing things in the Disney parks takes us to Hollywood Studios – the home of Star Wars!

This is currently one of the smaller parks – although not for long and to be honest there isn’t as much to do as there is around the rest of Walt Disney World.

Much like Magic Kingdom the main strip of Hollywood Boulevard as you walk in has it’s own citizens who show up to do shoots and castings and are absolutely hilarious!! I’ve seen so many videos on YouTube of this lady Dorma and she is absolutely brilliant! So make sure you hang about to see them you won’t be disappointed 🙂

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There are loads of cool things happening here as you just walk around particularly for the Star Wars fan, the march of the First Order is an incredible thing to see with all the Storm Troopers marching through the crowd.

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More Star Wars stuff is the Jedi Training which is fun to watch and you also have the Launch Bay now with props and stories from the making of the Star Wars movies. I love learning all about that sort of thing and seeing movie props so this is on my list to do this trip. There’s a 10 minute show all about it as well.

Although the queue for Indiana Jones can look big the theatre seats 2000 people so as long as you’re there about 5 minutes before it starts you’re likely to get in without having to queue for it – although obviously at peak times the theatre may be full. I’ve never had a problem getting in when I’ve been and turned up late.

Muppet Vision rarely has a queue and is a good fun attraction, it has a really awesome pre show so you don’t even realise if you are waiting a little while for the main attraction. With all the work going on at Hollywood Studios and with The Great Movie ride closing I would imagine that some of the ‘less popular’ rides will be getting a little busier as there are less things to do whilst all the building is going on.

There are a few shows at Hollywood Studios that run throughout the day, Beauty and The Beast is brilliant and there is a new ‘Music of Pixar’ show with characters in it as well. Some of these people will queue for but again the theatres are pretty big so they do let a fair few in.

Hollywood Studios is a fun park to just wander about it and is great for shopping some of the best shopping in the whole of the resort is in this park!! I love movie memorabilia and there is a great shop for that here!

 

Things to do in Theme Parks without being in a queue – EPCOT

Epcot is probably my favourite park and it has more to do between fast passes than any of the other parks in my opinion.

All the pavilions in Future world have loads of things going on all the time that don’t require you to queue, there’s plenty of interactive exhibits and playgrounds for little ones that can keep you occupied for hours – there’s so much at Epcot that I doubt I’ll ever have seen all of it.

Journey Into Your Imagination with Figment is a cool little fun ride with Eric Idle and Figment the dragon, it rarely draws a crowd as it’s on the tame end of the ride scale but it’s fun and passes the time.  You’ll also find Imageworks here an interactive play area where you use movement and image to create cool things like music.

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In the Land pavilion you will find a little movie theatre with ‘The Circle of Life’ show featuring everyone’s favourite duo from the Lion King – Timon and Pumbaa. It teaches kids in a fun way all about the issues we’re currently facing with our eco system and how it can affect us all and what we can do to help. It’s only a 15 minute show but it’s a good way to wait out your Soarin’ or Living with the Land fastpass.

The Seas pavilion is where you find the Finding Nemo ride but it does also house a huge aquarium that you can easily spend an hour or so investigating, there’s Manatees, jellyfish and all manner of marine life with interactive learning throughout. You can see Stingrays in Mr Rays Lagoon and there’s a shark themed playhouse as well.

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There’s a lot of work going on in the Innoventions pavilion which I always remember as being like a hands on science type exhibit, currently it houses Colortopia which explains all about how colour affects our lives and how different colours can even affect our moods. There’s loads of interactive colouring things in here and there’s even an app exclusively for it.

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The Disney and Pixar short film festival is a great (and air conditioned) 18 minute 3D showcase of some of Pixars best short films.

Then of course you have the World Showcase where you can walk around 11 different countries with no queues (except for Frozen Ever After in Norway). You can take a leisurely stroll around the countries taking in the atmosphere and looking at the replicas of the iconic buildings like Eiffel Tower, Tower of Pisa and St Marks Square.  Each one of these countries has loads to explore, it’s own native entertainment and food stalls as well as large shopping areas that are so much fun to walk around. There’s characters dotted around too and although you may queue a little while for them they’re not always too long.

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Make the most of your Memory Maker if you have it – currently free on all 7, 14 and 21 day tickets purchased in the UK. There will be photographers in each of the countries so you can feel like you’ve been on a cruise around the world and visited everywhere. It’s a great place for photos, we loved the waterfall in Norway..

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Don’t forget to sign up for Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure and interactive game that takes you on missions in the pavilions to follow clues to defeat evil Dr Doofenschmirtz and free Perry the Platypus. It works a little like a scavenger hunt and is a fun way to see the showcase.

Don’t forget to stop by Club Cool as well where you can try all different flavours of Coca Cola from around the world, including the Beverly which is definitely an acquired taste.

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Epcot is a great place to just pass the time having a drink and enjoying the entertainment, although there are some great rides here Epcot is a park you can enjoy without going on any of them.

Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue! ANIMAL KINGDOM

You should already have read my tips on Magic Kingdom and what to do while you’re waiting for ride times or if you just don’t want to queue for rides so here is part 2 ANIMAL KINGDOM and this park has LOADS to do without queuing for ages.

Of course a big part of Animal Kingdom is the animals and looking at those as you walk around is a great way to pass some time. There’s different trails in each of the ‘lands’ where you can find animals from each of those countries.

There’s also Rafikis planet watch which I’ve never seen busy but I love as there’s a petting zoo with goats 🙂 Anything that includes touching and petting animals is a win with me. The Train to get there and back is pretty fun as well. Plus there’s characters there, we met Chip and Dale and Rafiki when we went and it’s super quiet.

The Tree of Life is an incredible thing to look about and spotting all the different carvings as you get close to it is fun. It looks different from every angle as well so you never get bored of looking at it 🙂 It also lights up at night which is an amazing thing to see.

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All throughout the park you have the Wilderness Explorers which is based on the movie ‘UP’ and a trail through the park learning about all the difference species as you go, you’re given a guide book to fill up and get a sticker at each stop and a little prize at the end if you’ve completed it all 🙂

There is entertainment literally on every corner in AK, different music from each corner of the world it represents and there’s drums and other instruments that look like part of the scenery that you can play yourself.  From what I’ve seen of Pandora there is a lot of that in there.

Queues for some of the shows here can be long although the theatres do seat 1000 per show so you may be lucky enough to get in without a fastpass or spending an hour queuing when the park is quieter.

Flights of Wonder is a great way to pass some time, it’s a live animal show with some of the parks native birds including macaws and hawks. In true Disney style it has music in it and is loads of fun for those of you who aren’t afraid of birds!!

DinoLand USA has loads to do for the little ones with a big dino themed adventure playground in ‘The Boneyard’ and of course the strangeness that is Chester and Hesters Dino-Rama! with a few rides and some side show games you would find at a fairground – these are an additional cost though.

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As with all the parks there’s characters all over as well and ad-hoc entertainment throughout the day.

Let me know if there’s anything you like doing in Animal Kingdom while you’re waiting for rides 🙂

Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue! MAGIC KINGDOM

Can this be true, there are things you can do in the theme-parks without being stuck in a queue for hours? Things you can do without having to plan your fast-passes a month in advance?

It is true!

Disney isn’t all about the big rides there’s so much fun to be had and so many classic attractions that you can experience without spending 4 hours in a queue.

Most first timers will go to the most popular things which is a shame as there is so much more Disney has to offer and you can spend your day doing so many of these if you know what they are!

There’s loads of things at Disney that I have yet to do and this trip I’m planning on doing them all.

So what can you do in the parks with little or no queue at all?

Lets start, as always, with MAGIC KINGDOM..

Starting at the entrance on Main Street and going clockwise around the park..

Sorcerers of The Magic Kingdom (which you can find more about in this blog Free things to do at Disney – Surely that can’t be true? ) this is something you can do all over the parks with portals in most lands so a good way to pass some time and something fun for the gamers (and non gamers) in the family, plus you get FREE game cards each day and there isn’t much that’s free in Disney!!

Main Street houses different shows throughout the day with the Citizens of Main Street and the much loved Dapper Dans as well as the Move it Shake it dance party and the many different shows on the castle stage.

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There’s even a Barbers in Main Street where little ones can have their first hair cut (so can the big ones) and with a sprinkle of Fairy Dust…

Adventureland has the classic Enchanted Tiki Room (which I’ve not done yet! :0) an indoor animatronic musical revue, you also have Swiss Family Treehouse a walk-through actual tree house based on the Swiss Family Robinson movies. There’s a variation on Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom here too, the pirate themed A Pirates Adventure helping Jack Sparrow fight off his foes and find treasure around the land with a magic talisman and a pirate map. There’s more Pirate themed fun with Jacks Tutorial teaching kids (and adults) how to swash-buckle.

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Moving into Frontierland you’ve got the magical Country Bear Jamboree another musical animatronic revue and one of my favourites.

Tom Sawyer island is rarely busy, you take  a raft over to an island playground with caves and mazes. A great place to people watch and have a picnic 🙂

Liberty Square has it’s riverboat (another attraction I’ve yet to try) which takes you over Americas rivers in a nice calm boat ride on an authentic paddle steamer. Here is also the home of the Hall of Presidents one of the most famous yet quietest rides at Disney. With a 2 part show all about the American Constitution featuring audio-animatronic’s of all of the US presidents, it might be a little boring for kids but it is really educational and I think a must-do.

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There’s a new show in Liberty Square too, Moments in History with the Muppets featuring Kermit and co telling stories of great American events in a way that only the Muppets can!

Fantasyland has loads to look at I could spend ages just walking around and taking it all in. Mickey’s Philharmagic is a fab show that I’ve never seen a big queue for. It’s a 3D journey through the music of Disney movies with Donald as your hapless guide. It’s one of my must do things in MK I love it 🙂

Storybook Circus has a fun splash station for little ones themed like the Casey Jnr from Dumbo and entertainment throughout the day from The Royal Majesty Makers who do regal routines and watch out for ad hoc musical performances as well.

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Tomorrowland has quite a lot to do Carousel of Progress is one of the original rides in MK and has been open since 1975! It’s been updated a few times but it still has that nostalgic charm taking you on a journey of technology, you also have Stitch’s Great Escape which rarely has queues and of course the best thing in Tomorrowland the People Mover or Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Monsters Inc laugh floor is a great show really interactive and funny and with hardly any queues. Don’t miss the Incredibles Super Dance Party either.

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As well as all this you have shopping, dining and characters all over the parks to keep you entertained.

So you see you can quite easily fill a day with things you don’t have to stand in line for for hours and hours 🙂

If you have any other ideas of things to do then let me know 🙂

Cheap, Reliable transport from I-Drive to Disney and Universal

One of the main things I get asked about is how to get to the parks when you’re not driving and although you do have the I-Ride, Taxis and Uber yesterday I discovered another way which is not only cost effective but from a very reliable and well known supplier in Orlando. Plus it’s easy!

Some hotels in Orlando do offer free shuttle buses to the parks and some offer these at an additional cost but most of these only run a few times a day and will collect from several different locations so you could be going all around the houses before you get to the theme parks.

Yesterday I found out that Florida Dolphin Tours do something called the ‘THEME PARK EXPRESS’.

It leaves from Pointe Orlando which is incredibly central and a really popular location for those staying on I-Drive.

The Theme Park Express services Disney and Universal and runs every hour to Disney and every 30 minutes to Universal.

The Disney bus is direct and takes you straight to Epcot transportation center. It runs from 8am-11am and return times start from 6pm until 1 hour after the latest park closing.

Universal has a few stops at I-Drive 360, Pirates Town and then takes you to the Universal Resort Bus Loop. This service starts at 7:45- 11am and then return times from 6pm until 30 minutes after latest park closing.

You can purchase a combo ticket giving you access to both the buses for 3,5,7 or 14 days.

Prices for these are really reasonable 3 Days for $25, 5 days is $35, 7 is $49 and 14 days $90.

Not only that they are using Citysightseeing open top buses to do it so it’s also a really great way to see some of what Orlando has to offer whilst on your way to the parks!!

You can book it here Theme Park Express