Orlando – Theme parks

A brief visit to Orlando, theme park central.

Song Recommendation – Hedwig’s Theme – Harry Potter

If you grew up with Harry Potter, and you are a true fan, you would understand my need to visit Orlando.
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Orlando is the location of the Universal Orlando Resort, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

You might be confused, as there is also a Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood (California). The main difference is that Orlando has both a Hogsmede, and also a Diagon Alley, whereas California has only a Hogsmede. Hogsmede at both the parks is relatively the same.
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The Universal Orlando Resort is two parks, with Hogsmede in one, and Diagon Alley in the other. You can go between the parks in a working Hogwarts Express (only in Orlando), as long as you have a park-to-park ticket.

I ended up buying a one day park-to-park ticket, and spent a full day visiting the Universal parks (it was plenty of time to see both parks).

The next two days I spent at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World consists of four parks.

I decided on Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the first day, given they had the relatively new area of Pandora (based on James Cameron’s Avatar). Animal Kingdom is a mix between a theme park and a zoo, and is definitely worth the visit. They even have a “Safari”, where you head off in a jeep to see animals in a semi-caged environment.
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Pandora was a bit overrated, with long wait times for its rides, and a slightly disappointing smaller-than-expected size.
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20180515_205133The following day I went to a park called Epcot, the “adult” park (just less rides and more shops), which has the World Showcase area, and Future World. Basically the park is split into different sections which are supposed to reflect different parts of the world, with sections from Canada, France, China, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the U.S.A, the UK, Morocco, and Norway.

Epcot and Animal Kingdom feel a lot different to Disneyland and California Adventure (the California parks). I suspect Magic Kingdom (another of the four Orlando parks) is more akin to Disneyland, which is exactly why I missed it in Orlando, although I think everyone should visit Disneyland or Magic Kingdom at least once for the classic “Disney” experience.
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Of all the theme parks I visited on my trip, number one would have to go to the Universal Resort in Orlando. Universal is top-notch, with better rides, better shops, less foot traffic and much shorter wait times than the Disney parks.
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Don’t worry, I’m almost done. Next I headed to Gulf Shores for the Hangout 2018 Music Festival.
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