Keeping Up With the Dressmans(seriously, we all have long legs and move fast!)
Sara Dressman ’15
Over spring break, my family went on a vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. My family is unusual in our amusement park tourism adventures. We don’t leisurely meander through the park for a nice relaxing vacation. In fact, we have formulated the tactile assault plan to achieve the maximum amount of fun into one day.
Our wake-up call begins at 5:45 AM(Approximately 28 minutes before my normal school alarm) and we leave the hotel by 6:30 AM. We arrive to Universal Studios by 7 AM, however, the park doesn’t open until 8 AM. We enter a world of recorded safety messages, life sized cartoons, and selfie sticks. When the park opens, my family takes off running to the first ride on our itinerary. The first 2 minutes in the park are the most crucial and can determine the fate for the rest of the day-we learned this the hard way on the first day. With these extra few minutes of lead on the rest of the park, we get on the main attractions of the park first 15 minutes that the park is open, then virtually walk onto every ride within 5 minutes within walking through the entrance. One of the coolest things about the park is the lockers. Unlike Kings Island with the manual keys for the lockers, the lockers at Universal Studios are completely digital and are locked and unlocked with fingerprints and the items kept inside are stored for free for 25 minutes while the guests enjoy the roller coasters without worrying about their phones and wallet falling out of their pockets.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a recent addition to the Island of Adventure in Universal Studios, which opened in 2014. It includes the incredible Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is a simulator inside a recreation of the Hogwarts castle. Other rides include the Hogwarts Express, Dragon Challenge, and Flight of the Hippogriff. We walked through Hogsmeade and drank Butterbeer in the Hogs Head Pub. Interestingly Butterbeer was actually really good! It tasted like a slushie version of Root beer and Butter scotch.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a simulator on a robotic arm, but it feels like a real ride with a combination of animatronics and projections on a screen. This ride literally puts rider into the Harry Potter movie with scenes like a Quidditch match, an attack from the Whomping Willow, flying around the Hogwarts grounds, and a chase from the dementors into action. The average wait time for this ride is 75 minutes, however, my family took the Single Rider route and got through the line in 10 minutes! Dragon Challenge, an inverted roller coaster, formerly the Dueling Dragons ride, was also an amazing experience. The last time I went to Universal Studios when I was 9 years old, my parents had to stuff maps in my shoes so that I could pass the height requirement on Dueling Dragons.
My family can accomplish in 3 hours what a normal family accomplishes in a whole day at an amusement park. Normally, we left Universal Studios around 2 o’clock because we had already finished our itinerary. Our vacation was definitely fast-paced, but certainly packed with energy and fun!