We’re All Over the Place at Universal!

Can you believe we’re already to Day 8 of our trip?!? We were heading back to Universal Studios to get in some new rides and revisit some high points and would be splitting up and coming back together throughout the day to do it!

We were up and around sometime after 7am and had our breakfast and coffee and such. It was so nice having a full kitchen and full-sized coffee pot/fridge etc. After the rocky start we had with the resort we had really fallen into a groove and were enjoying the place.

At 8:35am our Lyft ride showed up and had us at the drop-off on top of the parking garage before 9am. We were dressed pretty casual today – no real theming other than Roxy sporting her second Beetlejuice outfit with hopes of an interaction with him.

We were heading to Islands to start our day and were making good time, making it in sight of the tower by 9:15am

A quick jaunt thru the turnstiles and we were on to an obligatory stop for Kyra at a couple of the colorful transportation options at Port of Entry.

The vehicles hadn’t changed at all from way back in 2008 when we were last there as a family, but the kiddos sure have! All grown up!

After that it was time to put our heads down and make a push for our start of day destination – Hogsmeade Village

…and specifically the queue for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Wow, that title is a mouthful! We made good time making it under the arches and up to the Hogwarts Express just before 10am.

We actually had to hustle to get those pics as the line was moving that fast. As the queue curved in towards the archway for the ride we caught a couple of shots of the village.

Then we were heading up the pathway for the ride itself. The last time we had tread this path it was still Dragon Challenge, so we were very curious as to what was left over from that ride queue along with the remnants of Dueling Dragons before it.

Soon enough a set of bikes were roaring past!

We made it to the break in the trees and were happy to see you still got that unique view of Hogwarts from there.

Next up was Hagrid’s Hut, we were really happy to see it was still there.

I believe these gourds were set up as birds nests?

Kyra and Jinx really liked the pumpkin garden

Oddly enough none of us took a picture of the Weasley’s car this time around. Was it there, I don’t remember. We moved on to the entrance to the inside queue.

Certainly some of the scariest mermaids I’ve every seen!


Sadly the preshow was still down to keep people from bunching up due to COVID, but at least the dog trotted thru here and there.

On into the hallway that I believe once held the candles. Now it was full of artifacts including dragon eggs.

From the looks of things they had taken out the last of the pieces tied to the old Dueling Dragons and same for the Dragon Challenge. I wonder where all of those props ended up?

Instead we had some of Hagrid’s informational pictures of different magical species.

And then what seemed to be his research hub.

Soon enough we were on to the loading area and quickly boarded our bikes. The ride was pretty awesome with good speed, twists and turns, unexpected pathways, and of course magical creatures!

Jinxy decided to wear his hat on the ride – brave choice!

We had to get a snap of the unicorns. We were moving too fast for all the other creatures.

The only thing that I still don’t get is their choice to do that weird creature at the hub that you drive around. With so many iconic creatures to choose from, why did they choose that shapeless, undefinable thing? I was very happy that the rest of the family was totally surprised by the drop 😀

It was 10:40am and we heard that Hagrid’s broke down soon after we rode it and was down for a good chunk of the day. Lucky break for us! We headed out and collected our belongings from the lockers and headed out into the village.

We didn’t do much in the way of shopping, instead choosing to head up to Hogwarts and the Forbidden Journey ride. Hard to do selfies with the sun coming from behind us, but we did our best!

After the standard locker shuffle we headed into the main queue. Hello there hunched figure!

Mirror mirror on the floor, who is best buds with Dumbledore?

On into the greenhouse and those screaming little buggers

Then we were into the castle proper! Very stately figures.

And of course the House Cup contenders

Everyone wishes they could take this to get to Dumbledore’s office!

On down the hallway where unicorns are kept and a painting chatters.

It was a heck of a struggle to get this picture light enough to see details on without blowing the whole thing out!

Then on to the hall of portraits – so much going on in there!

Then on into Dumbledore’s office

Care to partake of the pensieve?

The Man himself!

On into the lecture hall.

It is strange to see these three so young given that we’ve seen two out of three of them in adult roles. Still captures a piece of that old magic though.

I’ve always liked this little stained glass piece just before the Gryffindor common room.

What’s the password?

Nice little holiday touch for the billboard

We shuffled too quick thru the common room to get any good pics there, but at least one of us caught a decent shot of the Sorting Hat right before we turned into the boarding queue.

The ride was of course very cool – always a must do when we come here. Still has enough thrills and flying fun to keep us coming back.

We gathered our stuff from the lockers and did a little shopping and then headed out to the exit of Hogsmeade towards the Jurassic area. On our first day Jinx had really wanted to do the Raptor encounter, but the timing just wasn’t right. This time he was making sure he would have that experience!

So him and Roxy headed to the queue, which unfortunately wasn’t due to come up for another 20 minutes or so. Kyra and I decided that instead of the encounter, we would hit King Kong again. But for the time being let’s stick with Jinx and Roxy. We have our first official family split of the day!

First we’ll back up to the entrance to the land. Welcome to Jurassic Park!

The adventure continues!

As promised, 20 minutes later they were approaching the encounter area!

And here comes Blue – great video taken by Roxy to show both of their interactions!

Gotta get that selfie!

Universal had this set up as a photo spot so we get to experience Jinx on his phone with a cool frame! The great thing is that Blue seems to be interested in what Jinx is doing 😀

They had a great time and as you can see Roxy got a bonus little jump from Blue. Meanwhile Kyra and I had our own adventure on Skull Island.

Oh no, its going to get me!

He looks upset.

Never argue with a woman defiantly standing in the mouth of a giant skull.

I still can’t help but think I’m looking at a human-shaped Slim Jim when I see these guys.

Kyra and I actually boarded our truck at the same time that Roxy and Jinx were starting their interaction with Blue. Cool ride for a screen-based attraction. We both got to see the other side of the show from the side we watched the last time.

We all met up near the exit of Kong and realized we were all a bit hungry. Our adventures had taken us to noon so it was lunch time for sure. We decided to partake of some of the local cuisine.

It was good stuff overall and filled our bellies well. We were all done with the Jurassic World, not wanting to get wet on the water ride. So we trekked on thru Toon Lagoon. Only stopped a couple of times there.

No water rides for us at all today, but we were given a happy surprise as we left the lagoon – Betty Boop was out!

And then back to Marvel Superhero Island and more characters!

That’s right – Wolverine and Rogue were showing off their moves. We had to get in on the act.

We then strolled into the area, which wasn’t that crowded so we were able to get some shots of the heroes all around us.

We all explored a bit and spent some time in their memorabilia store. LOTS of great stuff if your wallet can handle the hit!

Quite the place for sure. We actually have some local digs called Iguana Comics that has a lot of similar stuff – always spectacular, but not quite cool enough to drop several bills on.

We headed out of the islands and back to the mainland with a quick stop for Kyra to say hello to a tiger.

And then we were out the turnstiles and ready to meet our next adventure! But first, a quick farewell.

We meandered around the lagoon, taking shots of a couple of the iconic locales

Kyra and Jinx were getting thirsty and decided to make a pit stop at the Fat Tuesday stand. Ironically we were there on a Tuesday!

They picked up some very colorful beverages and we sat for a moment just taking in the chill feeling of the day.

They even had a little visitor.

After that little refuel we headed thru the gates at Universal Studios. There was a photographer right inside the turnstiles so Roxy and I got a couple of pics together.

We were doing pretty good on time and got in line for Despicable Me right at 1pm. Halt, who goes there?

This place was da bomb!

TMI guys, TMI.

Kyra was really on board for their recruitment drive!

But she also recognized the dangers of their working environment!

The line was moving slower than I would have thought it would, given the truncated pre-show but we eventually made it inside.

Ahhh, family.

And of course the minion family!

Wouldn’t mind having one of these.

And of course the newest additions to the family.

As I said, no pre-show here, just lines shuffling forward.

We still had a small spiel in the transformation room and then were on to our seats.

It is a fun romp of a ride, always sure to put a smile on our faces. But it did take an hour to get thru so we only had 4 hours of park time left!

We decided to give Shrek a miss this trip and continued straight down the street. Kyra and Jinx wanted to ride Rip Ride RockIt and Roxy and I weren’t feeling it. So they split off and we ran into these two.

They were a lot of fun and were pointing the way to something I had wanted to do anyways, Universal’s Holiday Experience with the Macy’s Parade Balloons. It was a chance to get up close with them, which under normal circumstances would never happen.

So join us as we head indoors to experience some holiday fun!

balloons and displays in frame with them being so close to you. The pictures don’t do justice to how cool it all looked being right in front of you.

Was this the Pineapple Express?

Kyra was a wee bit jealous when she heard that Gru was in there 😉

And yes, I had issue with that mask creeping up all day and nearly blinding me. Too much beard I guess.

They had some cute smaller displays too.

He was quite a sight hanging over us, I don’t think he had to worry about anyone trying to take his gum drop buttons now!

They had a cute little Christmas Market inside with merch and goodies.

What was with the pineapples?

Donkey looks a wee bit menacing there, don’t you think? And yes, you are seeing right – they had a live action Puss in Boots!

They even had a wax press in there.

After the Marketplace was a visit with Santa, I skipped getting in line as I already has my present – being with my family here! But he did give me a wave and we complimented each other on our beards 😀

BIG reindeer!

From there we meandered into a Dr. Seuss area and Roxy got a shot with the Grinch pilfering presents!

After that was Earl the Squirrel’s Tree Farm

Turns out old Earl pulled a bait and switch and turned his tree farm into another merch area. What a sly squirrel!

We couldn’t complain too much as it meant more goodies!

We said our farewells with a couple of yummy treats in hand.

We found a nearby bench outside and partook of our purchases including one of the Hot Chocolate Bombz.

Pretty yummy stuff!

In the meantime Jinx and Kyra had made it thru the queue and got their coaster ride!

Roxy and I were deciding our next move when Marilyn came rolling by!

Since it was right across from us and there was literally no line, we decided to give Fallon’s Race Through New York a shot.

We fought our way thru the crowds to say hello to this dapper gent.

They had some cool display cases reflecting on the history of the Tonight Show.

He gave us one of those markers to help track how many guests were coming thru. The peacock was a nice touch.

Back to the displays.

Johnny was the host I grew up with. Literally from my birth, kid and teen years, grad, my entire military tour and on to the beginning of my college experience.

It was a cute ride, very fitting for Fallon – a lark without much substance. Another one to say we’ve rode and can easily skip in future trips. It did make me miss Twister for sure.

While we were “spinning our wheels” with Fallon the kids had taken the smarter route and hit the Mummy again.

Looks like they rocked it!

Love the Karloff mummy!

More cool artifacts

The towering acolyte was doing a fine job outside!

Roxy and I wandered their way and one of us snapped a quick shot of the Macy’s storefront with its holiday cheer.

I should put in a caveat that I’m playing detective with timeframes and who was where exactly at this point in the day. We had 4 cameras worth of random pics and my only correlations were the notes I took of who went with who on individual rides.

That being said, I got a little taste of the Blues Brothers show. Glad I got to see it, but the Jake they had was a bit of a disappointment.

And Kyra got to see Marilyn!

Roxy and Jinx had split off to ride Transformers again and got the bonus of seeing Optimus Prime!

Kyra and I decided to ride Simpsons again so off to Springfield we went!

I was trying to compete with the stilt people, how did I do?

I think Kyra gives a good representation of our energy level at that point. Still more fun than sitting at home!

Way to set the standard Krusty!

Away we go …or as Krusty says, “Here it Comes!”

We came out and started heading to the Universal Horror Make-Up Show, our last official planned activity of the day. On the way we ran into Doc Brown again.

King Julian was doing his thing again with his crew

Now as I stated, Roxy had been jonzing to see Beetlejuice, so when we came into the auditorium for the Make-Up show she was extremely excited to see this guy doing the pre-show!

And yes indeed, he even called out to her 😀

He obviously gets bored easily – lol

Obligatory selfie!

More antics

And finally – Beetlejuice delivering the safety briefing. In what world does this make sense?

The show itself hadn’t changed any, but was still entertaining.

Jinx and Kyra had decided to give the show a miss and instead had said had wandered the boulevard. Mel’s was looking pretty quiet.

But they did get to see the Simpsons …or at least Homer!

The day was winding down for us. Roxy and I had another destination in mind this evening so had to leave the park a bit early. We had talked about splitting up and them taking their own Lyft back to the resort.

We headed back up the street and said farewell to these two.

We talked some more and Jinx and Kyra decided to just come back to the resort with us. We were all a bit tired and Jinx was dealing with a headache. Thankfully Mr. Fluffy makes a good pillow.

We headed out of the gates just before 5pm with Kyra finding some random merch that caught her eye.

It has been a busy and fun three days there with lots of new memories made. Lots of fun and smiles and good times. We all said farewell to Universal Orlando as the sun began to set.

We were heading back to the resort, but Roxy and I would be heading back out to make a personal dream of mine come true!