Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue – ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Last of my Universal blogs on this and I think I’m going to surprise myself at what there is to do here without queuing.

I love IOA and I’m so looking forward to going this trip as my last one we didn’t get a chance to do it all properly.  I didn’t even get on Dudley Do Rights!!

The themeing in all the lands here is incredible and you can spend ages just looking at stuff – and taking photos, there are so many great photo opportunities if you’re an Instagram user.

Seuss Landing is fab and it really is like walking into a Seuss book. The Cat in the Hat ride is so much fun and I’ve rarely seen a queue for it – although I would imagine during the summer there would be some. There’s a great interactive playground for little ones here based on ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ and there are splash bits so expect to get a little wet. And keep an eye out for character meets throughout the day as well.

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There are 2 great shows here as that are often overlooked as is the area that they’re in.

The Lost Continent does seem to get a bit ‘lost’ with all the more well known ‘lands’ in IOA. But here you will find the awesome stunts and special effects show ‘Eighth Voyage of Sinbad’ as well as the walk through action show ‘Poseidons Fury’. There’s some really interesting stalls in this area as well so it’s a unique place to do a bit of shopping. You can find the Mystic Fountain here too, don’t tell the kids but he does talk to you so tell them it’s a wishing fountain and watch them jump when it starts to strike up a conversation with them. There are so many little things in this almost hidden area you can do, you can pick a pearl and have your fortune read – these are an extra charge.

IOA is of course where the first part of Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened and it’s here you will find Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.  Of course the rides always have a queue but just like Diagon Alley there is plenty to do.

You have more interactive windows for your wands and another Ollivanders not to mention the interesting but odd ‘Frog Choir’ and the TriWizard Spirit Rally.

Ladies make sure you have a wee here in Hogsmeade, you might just find yourself joined by Moaning Myrtle!! This is one of my favourite things here.

Jurassic Park has plenty to do as well as the River Adventure. There’s a great kids play area ‘Camp Jurassic’ with an active volcano for little ones to explore and it’s just as much fun for big ones. Discovery Centre is a real fun and interactive game area where you can learn all about dinosaurs and mixing your DNA with one. You also get to see and handle dino eggs and if you’re lucky you might see one hatch and be able to name it.

You can also have your photo taken with a T-Rex

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There’s various side show games for an extra charge and a climbing wall.

Toon Lagoon is one of my favourite themed lands here the shops are fab especially Betty Boops which smells amazing.

There’s lots of water fun here and splash zones are not just found in the kids area they are all over so be warned!!

The jokers among you should head down the small trail to the right of kids playland ‘Me Ship The Olive’ it’s packed with gags such as a miniature ‘school’ of Fish. A must for Dads I think! The ship itself is a three storey watery play area which is perfect for squirting people on the Popeye ride below it.

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You can meet vintage cartoon characters here which is always good fun.

Marvel Super Hero Island is a must for boys of all ages and has some awesome features that not a lot of people are aware of. Keep an eye out for anything that looks like a giant speaker they are communication ports that have special messages from the heroes and villains in the area.

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The heroes meet periodically throughout the day and appear on their bikes which is a fun thing to watch.  Here you will also find a huge games arcade – all at an extra cost.

So you see so much to do here to keep you amused without queuing not to mention all the incredible shopping – of which there is a lot at Universal. Make sure you look in the shop just to the right as you exit IOA that is usually selling off season stock and you may find some stuff at lower prices.

Massive thanks to Jolie for some of these little things I didn’t know about. If you have any others yourself then please let me know.

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Step by Step Disney Dining Booking

I’m now at my 180 day mark (well, 179) and am able to book dining up until 3 days before the end of my trip. So it looks like when you hit your 180 mark (on resort anyway, I can’t comment if you’re off site) you can book dining for the next 10 days.

There is lots of blogs on booking dining etc but I thought it might be useful for you all to see exactly how it’s all done.

You will need to connect a credit or debit card to your account to secure the reservations, they don’t take any money from you unless you don’t turn up to the reservation. The only exception to this was when I went to book ‘Cinderellas Royal Table’ if you have the dining plan then it gives you the option to secure the booking using that if you don’t it’ll ask to charge it to your credit card. It was not cheap. $205 for 3 of us.

I was lucky with my reservations and managed to get all the places we wanted. So far we have bookings for Tusker House (breakfast with safari Donald and friends), Cinderellas Royal Table (Princess dining INSIDE the castle), Be Our Guest (where the Beast makes an appearance during dinner only and is not the same as character dining, he isn’t inside the restaurant while you eat but a separate room after), and this booking I’m going to use to show you how it works at Ohana (best friends breakfast with Lilo and Stitch)

So the first thing you do is choose your restaurant from the list and then choose your date, party size and either a specific time or you can choose a time of day.

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With this one I chose Breakfast but I wanted earlier than the available times listed so I actually chose a time instead and it came up with availability for 7:30 which was a better time for us. So it’s worth doing it both ways if the times that come up aren’t suitable for you.

Click on the time you wish to dine and then you’re taken to the next page where you chose who you’re booking for.

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You have a drop down menu for each of the other people you’re booking for, all you need to do is select their names in the list and then click on ‘next’ at the bottom.

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This shows you the date, time and location of your booking so check that you have the correct ones before you continue – I had to change a few reservations cos they booked for the wrong month – it will then give you the option of using your stored card or another one to secure the booking.

The next page will ask for a reservation contact, you need to put your mobile in using +44 at the start and dropping the first 0 of your phone number.

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Under the phone number you are able to make any special requests diet wise – it gives a list of common allergens and you can select whatever you need to. It does say to notify your server as well on arrival.

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All the terms and conditions of booking are on this page and it will tell you how many dining credits it uses as well.

You need to click to agree to these before clicking next.

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The last page is your confirmation and will have the number on it, a copy of all this is also sent to the email address you set up your MDE with.

Once all this has done it will show in ‘Your Reservations’

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And there you go!! You’re all booked and all the dates/times/confirmation numbers will show in your MDE account so you can have everything there in the palm of your hand when you’re in the parks. You can see as well you’re able to cancel or change your reservations from here as well if need be.