Visiting Universal Orlando for the First Time

First Time for Everything

Universal Orlando Recently, as part of Jaylin’s high school band trip, I visited Universal Orlando for the first time. Yes, that’s right, for all of the times I have been to Florida, I have never been to either of the Universal parks. But now I can’t say that anymore.

I am sure you are curious to know what I thought about it, right? A few people have already asked me that, knowing my past history with that other place. So here you go.

First off, I really enjoyed it. I had lots of fun, rode some really cool rides, walked a whole lot of steps, and enjoyed almost all of it. Of course, I enjoyed some of the rides more than other of the rides, but that is to be expected. Also, we did not go on quite all of the rides, but from what I have heard and seen from some of those other rides, I got to experience almost all of the best ones.

Even though I had not been there before, I have kept up with things over the years. So I largely knew what to expect before I ever went in. All those expectations were met, and a few of them were even exceeded. I am not saying that I did not set my expectations high, because I did, but not unreachably high. That is always good to remember before you go someplace new.

The Big Question

I know what some of you are wondering. “How did it compare to Disney?” Universal Orlando isn’t Walt Disney World. But then in many ways, it does not try to be. Yes, it tries to be a place with highly themed parks, but Disney and Universal really are different in many ways.

The biggest difference seems to be the intended audience. For the most part, Disney goes for the general family audience, and most of their attractions are suitable for everyone. Universal seems to be going after the more mature audience overall. They do have some offerings for younger children. But a large majority of their attractions are high speed, intense motion kinds of attractions. Or at least simulations of high speeds and high intensity. Just about everything we rode had a motion sickness warning. I wondered aloud if it would be easier just to tell you if something did not possibly cause motion sickness. None in our group had any motion sickness problems, by the way, but they do have to put that out there for those that do.

Fortunately, I like those kinds of attractions, so I was pleased. They had some cool technology stuff, such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, or Skull Island: Reign of Kong. They had some thrills with Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Revenge of the Mummy. And the had a couple of really cool roller coasters, The Incredible Hulk and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Universal Orlando 3D is Big

I was a little surprised at how many of the attractions required 3D glasses. I knew there were several that involved projection screens of some sort, but I did not realize just how many. Quite a few of the Universal rides involve blending live sets and moving vehicles with 3D projections. Most all of them are done well, and some of them will have you wondering where the sets end and the projections begin. And some of them do not use traditional flat screens. There are curved screens in several rides and whole rooms that are screens in other rides.

While I think I would prefer real environments overall to 3D screens, these were all well done. There were some more “traditional” 3D presentations, such as Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, but even these involved some motion in your seat in different ways. It almost would have been easier for them to just give you a pair of 3D glasses to use all day since so many of the rides used them.

The Wrap-Up

So yes, I enjoyed my first visit to Universal Orlando. It was fun, just as I thought it would be. Would I go back? Maybe. One of these days. We don’t have any plans to go there anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not glad that I went. Most everything is worth seeing at least once, after all.

If you like movies, and if you like fast-paced thrill rides, Universal Orlando just might be the place for you.

See more from this trip at the 2018 Band Trip to Universal Orlando archive, and watch for more photos and stories from that trip in the future!

Bible Verse

Sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord, all the earth. - Psalm 96:1

About the photo

Both of the photos in this post were just quick shots as we were making our way into the Universal Studios park for the first time. I did wait around for the revolving “Universal” word to be facing me for the globe photo. But I just kept walking as I was shooting for the gate photo. More, and better, photos from the parks to come later on. These were just quick ones to get us started.

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips. Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Lens: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens Date: April 6, 2018 Location: Universal Orlando, Orlando, Florida

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.