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.
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.
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?