Last week was the worst imaginable for the city of Orlando. So much tragedy, so much heart ache. But that town is such a well oiled machine of tourism, filled with professionals, that we probably saw less of what was going on right there in front of us than we would've if we'd been at home in Kansas watching the news. In person, we didn't see any signs of turmoil, or heightened security.
On our last night, the performance of La Nuba was dedicated to the victims of the shooting and that was moving, but the only reference we saw to any of the horribleness that had occurred during the week. I'm sure that the citizens of Orlando were hurt, frightened, angry, and saddened, and I have to admire their bravery in not being beaten down.
Visiting Florida and the attractions in Orlando has been one of my favorite things over the years, but now even more so, after seeing the toughness of that town and the way the people there were not going to let the terrorists win.The town has a special place in my heart.
You don't come to my blog for stories of terrorism and sadness, though. I debated even mentioning the trip at all. But my posts are also my diary, or journal, and while I feel a sort of survivor's guilt about being in a bubble of happiness while such ugliness was occurring, I still want to fill in the pages of my life with the stories of what I've done and where I've been.
So, onto happier talk?
And what could be happier than a frozen butter beer in Harry Potter Land on a hot day???
This was our first trip to Universal, we were there to visiting the wizarding world.
When I was a teenager, I went to Disneyworld the summer that it opened. After watching Walt talk about it for years on Sunday nights during the Wonderful World of Disney, and a lifetime of begging to be taken to the original park in CA, I was beyond thrilled to finally get a taste of that Wonderful World myself. And it didn't disappoint.
Maybe since I wasn't a child myself on the first trip there, I never outgrew it? Add in a few decades of not being able to afford to visit, and then experiencing it through Sugarwings' eyes, and I am as hooked now as I ever was.
But this trip, we only walked through Disney Springs to see the Cirque De Soleil with our circus performer grands. (and they LOVED the show, Kia's eyes were riveted to the stage and she applauded so hard for the aerialists that her hands must still be sore)
So, I had a "Minnie" Disney fix, not a full one. This trip was about wizards. Which were AMAZING! Everything about Universal was so well done, especially Potterland. The Hogwarts Express especially. And the dragon in Diagon Alley?? wow!
Yes, I loved it all.
And it was an ideal park for teens, the big girls appreciated the more thrilling rides.
The food was great, the park was well run and friendly.
The size is manageable for getting around, reminding me of how cozy Disneyland and California Adventure are, these two Universal parks are much like those, size wise.
The workers were so nice and friendly, going out of their way to give Sugarwings little tours of the rides if she was too leery of getting on one, since she goes more for the atmosphere than the rides.
I still missed Disney.
Dr. Suessland was magical and very well done.
Do you notice anything odd here? We played in this park about 30 minutes and only saw two other kids briefly.
Another plus for Universal, at least while we were there is that it wasn't as crowded as I've seen when visiting Mickey.
And there are some breath taking views.
Here is what I think I figured out..... Universal is fantastically done, and has rides much more interesting to older kids. Less crowded, less expensive, extremely detailed, it is beautiful.
But, while there is plenty of magic and fun, and excitement, where is the heart?
Oh there are fun characters from lovable movies, but I missed the pulling of my heartstrings that I get at Disney.
Seriously, there is not one single thing about Universal that I can't recommend. It was quite wonderful and I hope to go back again. Especially if I have older kids with me.
And it could be just my imagination, or plain old nostalgia that has me so hooked on Disney.
But I don't think so.
Universal is a fun day out at a fantastic amusement park. I really did love every second of it and was soooo impressed with the park.
But Disney is a fun day into my childhood dreams and into my heart.
The quality of the park is every bit as good as Disney, and the themes, are just perfect. Jurassic Park? Yay! That T Rex at the top of the waterslide was horrifically real. I still shiver thinking about him (Sugarwings didn't go near that ride)
It also had Impact Wrestling Live.
Yep, we went to check out the venue. My son Ryan is a big fan and I hoped he'd see us in the crowd while watching at home. We didn't stay long, although it was interesting to peek in on.
Sugarwings liked the park, even though she missed the princesses. She isn't a ride person, she goes for the atmosphere. She likes the shows, characters, performers, parades, and Universal does not measure up in that department.
When it was time for the parade, we scoured the sidewalks for a good spot to watch from. After my experience with the other parks, I knew that you had to get a seat early, before the viewing points were 15-20 people deep and you couldn't see anything.
It was surprising that there was only a scattered crowd for the parade, and we had multiple choices for watching it. Then I saw why, it was a handful of floats, and suddenly over. Not the extravaganza I was used to. But Sugarwings enjoyed it. Maybe sometimes, over the top isn't needed?
There is certainly something to be said for no crowds blocking your view, too.
Please note that none of this is a complaint about my trip, only a comparison between the two parks. Both are wonderful, I was just trying to put my finger on why I was feeling about them.