Universal StudiosToday was chilly and very windy so it was on with the jumpers as we made our way to Universal for the very first time. Even though this is our fifth time to Orlando we have never been to Universal before – partly because of the additional cost but also because there has just been so much to do at Disney.

First impressions of Universal were not great as you are directed into a dark multi-story car park. Even though it is only a short walk from the car park to the park there are both moving walkways and escalators to ensure that you arrive at the park gates without having broken a sweat.

Universal is actually two separate parks with a shopping area separating the two. We elected to go into Universal Studios today, saving Islands of Adventure for another day.

When we went through the gates at just after nine we wondered if we were in the right place as it was empty. Whereas Disney is heaving and you are constantly elbowing people for space here you could look down a street and so no-one else. To have the place to ourselves suited us just fine!

First stop was Shrek 4D which is film shown in 3D (the 4th dimension to this, I’m guessing, is the moving seats rather than passing of time). It was slickly done but I also get a cross eyed sensation when watching things with 3D glasses. When then went to the Men in Black ride which was very similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride in Magic Kingdom. You sit is small cars and have laser guns to shoot aliens trying to get the highest score possible.

The boys haven’t ever seen the Blues Brothers film but Helen and I had and so wanted to see the musical tribute on one of the street corners. “Jake and Elwood” sang a few songs accompanied by a saxophonist before driving away in a copy of the car seen in the film. Must remember to get a copy of the film when we get back so the boys can see it.

The Simpsons ride is the newest attraction and this is where most people had made their way to and so there was a queue by the time we got there. However, the wait was well worth it. When the ride starts you are lifted into the air and the walls are lowered. Above and around you is a massive screen onto which is projected a Simpsons backdrop. At first this is a rickety roller coaster but later becomes Springfield. As the backdrop moves so does the car that you are in giving a very realistic sensation of moving. We all came off the ride having really enjoyed it and agreed that it was the best thing in Universal.

Finally, Jaws, based on the Spielburg film and with just as realistic shark!

All in all was had a great time at Universal and will be coming back in the next few days to redo the Simpsons ride at the very least. It was interesting to be able to compare Universal to Disney having now done them both and I think that while they are both great entertainment Disney is just that little bit slicker (and cleaner!)

image Click the image above for all pictures from Universal