I’ll admit it — I was raised in a Disney family. But it was time to see what else the world had to offer, so I branched out, took a deep breath, and did it.
I went to Universal Studios.
And it was incredible. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the rides were thrilling, the theming was on point, and navigating the park was a breeze.
Here were just some of my highlights:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter World
For the theming alone, I’d put this in my top 3 favorite attractions in ANY amusement park. Everything from the rooftops to the trash cans is themed immaculately — it’s almost scary how much it feels like you’re in the movie. I wouldn’t call myself more of a Harry Potter fan than the average person, and you definitely don’t have to be for this place to completely blow you away. Plus, Butterbeer. Just do it, don’t ask questions. It’s worth the $7. Thank me later.
The New “Kung-Fu Panda: The Emporer’s Quest” Attraction Ride
This is a must-do for me because the 360 projection is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The picture is so clear and crisp, I swear I almost teared up. It’s just so beautiful to look at, and Universal is definitely ahead of the game in that aspect.
The Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Tour
Universal’s famous backlot tour sure lived up to the hype. It’s the real deal — they take you through the *actual* NBC Universal Studios, where current TV shows like “The Voice” and “I Feel Bad” are being filmed (side note: my sister saw Mindy Kaling from The Office on the backlot tour last year). The best parts for me were visiting some of the most iconic sets in history (Like Jaws and The Grinch) and getting a behind-the-scenes look at they create rain, flash floods, and catastrophic earthquakes in Hollywood.
Okay, Universal Studios. You crushed it with this. So. Worth. It. The Express Pass is kind of like Disney’s Fastpass, but the thing that’s awesome about it is that you don’t have to schedule times to use it. You can walk up to any attraction at any time of the day and skip the lines. I’m not kidding, I probably waited in line for a total of 15 minutes that day. We were able to walk straight on to almost every ride, and it made the whole theme park experience so much less anxiety-inducing.
Universal City Walk
Outside of the park itself is CityWalk, a Times Square-ish food and shopping center. It was the perfect conclusion to the day, listening to acoustic street performers underneath the lights, watching kids play in the fountains, and browsing through the shops. There’s also a ton of iconic restaurants to choose from, like The Hard Rock and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Overall, Universal Studios, you made a fan out of me. It’s now on my California vacay “must-do” list.. and it should be on yours, too.