Trip Report | Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure & Raglan Road Review

Diagon Alley

Today was out first day at Universal Studios so we left the resort bright and early to drive over there before the parks opened. We arrived with about 20 minutes to spare and headed over to Diagon Alley but we were held behind a rope in the San Francisco area until the park actually opened while hotel guests were allowed in early, it was our first literal rope drop! While Diagon Alley itself was still really quiet the line for Escape from Gringotts was already growing thanks to the guests with early entry so definitely not a walk on. It didn't matter too much to us as it was our first time seeing the building and the audio-animatronic goblins working in the bank so there were plenty of things for us to take in and look at. I was a little worried about the ride as there a lot of safety warning before hand but it really is a mild rollercoaster, with some screen simulation effects much like Revenge of the Mummy.  

We also spent a little bit of time exploring the area checking out the shops and the surly Knockturn Alley before catching the Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross Station, which by the way is stocked with British snacks like Golden Wonder crisps and Aero chocolate! We were put in a compartment on the train with a few other people and set off to Hogsmeade watching the scenes on the windows.

Islands of Adventure

Once we arrived we immediately got in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (after putting all of our stuff into our second locker of the day so far) and while there was little wait it still took a long time to walk around the castle and through the various corridors. I love the Hogwarts Castle, I just wish it was a little more immersive, I'd love to see more of it than just the glimpses you get in the queue, but it's still nice to see Dumblesdore's office and features like the talking portraits of the Hogwarts founders and the sorting hat.

With Dragon Challenge (and the Hulk) currently closed we decided to ride a rollercoaster that we wouldn't normally go on, the Flight of the Hippogriff. It's the first time we've walked by Hagrid's Hut and seen the Buckbeak animatronic so it was worth it for the theming, but the coaster is very cramped, bumpy and short so not one I'd recommend unless you have kids with you! Afterward we grabbed a Butterbeer from the nearby court, which was tasty but not quite as strong as ones I've had in the past,  and from there we headed through Jurassic Park to the new Reign of Kong ride.

There was a bit of a wait, but again as a ride we've never done before it gave us a chance to see elements of the queue like the animatronic Shaman. The theming of Kong is very well done, especially the outside temple structure as you enter through the giant gates, but constantly look from side to side at the screens let it down for me. We were skipping the water rides on this visit so next up for us was Spiderman and the Hulk which had now reopened. Another ride another locker, which was starting to get tedious! The Hulk has recently been re-themed so there's no longer any Bruce Banner cartoons in the queue and it instead focuses on you being exposed to gamma radiation experiment to gain hulk-like characteristics and it also plays music through headrest speakers which I think was a good addition to an already awesome rollercoaster. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman is still my favourite ride of the screen-based simulator genre, nothing beats it in my opinion!

Universal Studios

After a quick bite to eat at Burger Digs (we both had the grilled chicken burger with toppings from the bar but it's nothing to write home about - $22.56) we were able to ride Dragon Challenge which had also finally re-opened. Another ride with no wait but a ridiculously long walk around the queue and the faff of trying to get a locker in a sa of people! I really like this rollercoaster, but it's not as good as the Hulk and it throws you around a lot more. We then got the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley (I preferred the journey back than the journey there) where we explored some of the, very busy, shops and went into Ollivander's to witness the wand choosing a wizard. I was little bit gutted not to be picked but it was still magical to see the boy wave the wand and see the effects happen in the store, it's just a shame that our group was quite big for what generally is a more intimate experience.

Having got our fill of Harry Potter we knocked on the door at Grimmauld Place and waved to Kreacher and then made our way over the Men in Black: Alien Attack, one of the most fun rides at Universal Studios. We skipped the Simpsons ride as the wait was way too long for us and instead bought 'The Big Pink' donut from Lard Lad which sadly I found a bit too dry to eat much of. We then got stuck watching the parade (which featured quite a few Dreamworks films and characters that I haven't seen!) on our way to Revenge of the Mummy. I'd forgotten how good that rollercoaster is, just the right mix of thrills and theming to make it really fun and immersive. Another more lockers down for those two rides and we were just about done for the day as we weren't fussed about Shrek 4D this time and Despicable Me had a ridiculously long queue as usual.

Raglan Road

On the way back to Disney we took a detour down the US 192 to Publix before having a bit of chill time back at the resort. We had a late ADR booked at Raglan Road at over at Disney Springs so we spent a bit of time watching the street performaner playing the saxophone. When we arrived the restaurant was heaving with people but we were fortunate that after a little bit of a wait we were shown to a table close to the pub stage so we could continue watching the entertainment. We saw a mix of Irish dancers, singers and a folk band so while it was too loud to talk in there we didn't mind because we were well entertained for the night. The food was also great, much better than I was expecting! We were given soda bread with oil and vinegar and I ordered the 'Lambo' while Harry had the 'King Cod'. Both were dishes we wouldn't normally order at Disney and we really enjoyed them. For dessert I had an od favourite, apple crumble, which was served in a jar and Harry had a raspberry pavlova which was really just a huge meringue! ($105.56 +tax and tip). We loved our night here and I'd definitely go back.

Steps: 21,495
DDP Credits Used - 2 TS (18 Remaining)
Total Cost (if not on DDP) - $128.12 + tax

Read about the day after: Day 7 - Magic Kingdom & Yachtman Steakhouse Review 



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