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The Universal Resort is split into two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Both are home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade respectively). Universal Studios has rides and areas based on The Simpsons, Men in Black, Shrek and ET. Whereas Islands of Adventure has Marvel, Jurassic Park, Dr Seuss and Popeye. Both of these parks are essential to any visit to the Orlando area but I slightly prefer Islands of Adventure as I love Marvel and Jurassic Park.

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The fire-breathing dragon perched on top of Gringotts.
Outside Diagon Alley is a facade that combines lot's of London landmarks, such as the Wyndham Theatre and King's Cross.
Outside Diagon Alley is a facade that combines lots of London landmarks, such as the Wyndham Theatre and King’s Cross.

I spent a lot of my time in the newest area Diagon Alley exploring and as it was very soon after opening I queued for an insane amount of time to try out the newest ride: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. The posted queues were hitting 4 hours consistently and I felt “lucky” I managed to only wait for 2 hours for my only ride. It’s got some tame roller coaster elements, as well as live sets and screens that makes it comparable to it’s sister ride in Universal Studios. Definitely one of the best rides I’ve been on in the world. Diagon Alley also does not disappoint, it’s theming is just as immersive and entertaining as Hogsmeade. Plus they both have Butterbeer (it really is delicious).

Outside of Harry Potter there’s a lot to do at this park, the Men in Black shooting dark ride is a personal favourite as is the Rip Ride and Rockit coaster where you choose your own soundtrack to listen to while riding. The Simpsons replaced Back to the Future: The Ride but they still have a Delorean and the train from Back to the Future 3 as a photo op. Japan is the only Universal theme park to still have the original ride instead of The Simpsons overlay. I wouldn’t recommend getting a beer from Moe’s Tavern as Duff beer is true to what you would imagine from The Simpsons, very crappy.

Islands of Adventure has a much better set of rides including the iconic The Incredible Hulk roller coaster, the still mind-bogglingly awesome Spiderman ride and Jurassic Park River Adventure. There are other great rides here but those three are my personal favourites. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey truly stands out as possibly the best dark ride in the world and walking through Hogwarts castle is magical. Also in the Harry Potter area is Dragon Challenge, two roller coasters that used to duel but unfortunately no longer do. You can see the Tri-Wizard Cup in the insanely long (but always empty so you walk forever) queue line.

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Hogwarts Castle also through the Holga lens.
The Incredible Hulk through my Holga lens.
The Incredible Hulk through my Holga lens.

I stayed on property for 1 night at the brand-spanking new Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It was a very nicely themed hotel and looked amazing. I would recommend staying there as the price is very good for an on-property resort, however I did think the walls were a little thin. The people next door to me weren’t being particularly loud but I could still hear their voices way too clearly. The hotel really does look amazing though and the service was fantastic.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort with the retro Holga lens.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort with the retro Holga lens.
One of the buildings of Cabana Bay Resort at Universal Resort Orlando.
Starlight building at Cabana Bay Resort at Universal Resort Orlando.
The Lobby at Cabana Bay Beach Resort
The Lobby at Cabana Bay Beach Resort
The rooms at Cabana Bay Beach Resort
The rooms at Cabana Bay Beach Resort
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