After many years of taking my kids to Orlando I finally decided to try a solo trip. Would the Orlando parks be as fun if I was by myself?
I decided to take advantage of Universal’s buy 2 days get 2 days free ticket on Undercover Tourist. I also had one day left on a no-expiration 10-day Disney World ticket, so I decided to use it for Animal Kingdom. I also bought a one day SeaWorld ticket for $39.99 (a weekday visit special).
It was weird flying out there by myself. I got to my one-bedroom at Sheraton Vistana Resort at about 1 am Sunday morning, so I cancelled my fast passes for Animal Kingdom and spent Sunday at my favorite park, Islands of Adventure. I love meeting the super heroes. I think Spider-Man ride is one of the best rides ever made. I love Hogsmeade and the Forbidden Journey. There is something about walking around the park with a beer that makes me really happy.
Sunday, Islands Of Adventure
First thing I did was ride the Incredible Hulk coaster in the single rider line. That’s a fun coaster but it jerks your head around a lot. One time I rode it and my earring stabbed me in the neck. Anyway, I only rode it once and then moved on to Marvel Super Hero Island. Spider-Man didn’t have the single rider lane open so I watched the superheroes ride out on their ATVs, then I walked up to Hogsmeade.
The Holiday decorations were really pretty. I think this was the first time I have been at Universal near Christmas. I went on Forbidden Journey several times both in and out of the single rider line. That’s such a fun ride. I can never figure out how they made it. Especially the Quidditch scene, it’s just so incredible. The locker area for the ride is a mess though. They made the room too small and cramped and there are always people getting upset and shoving past each other.
I ate lunch at Three Broomsticks and shamelessly ordered a kids meal with macaroni and cheese and wedge fries. I topped it off with a Dragon Scale Ale which is my favorite beer in the Wizarding World. I sat in the outside dining area and watched people ride the Incredible Hulk across the water. I liked hearing the screams of excitement from far away.
When my daughter was small enough I would ride the Pteranodan Flyers ride with her. That’s such a fun ride, but they won’t let you ride it without a child in tow. So I watched other people on it with some envy. They should make an adult version of that ride!
I went on Spider-Man several times and then Forbidden Journey several more times. I met Cyclops and got my picture taken with him.
After I left Universal I went straight to Disney Springs. I walked around, ate a grilled cheese at Earl of Sandwich, contemplated having Ghirardelli ice cream and decided not to.
Monday, Universal Studios Florida
As far as single rider lines go, this is the best park in the Orlando area. There are single rider lines on Rip Ride Rockit, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringott’s, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, and Transformers.
The first thing I did was walk to Rip Ride Rockit. I love this coaster and I always go as many times as I can, which usually ends when I get stuck in the back row. That kills my neck so then I walk over to Revenge of the Mummy. This time I made it four times before getting a back row. I could have given that seat to the next person in line but I wanted to see if it was as bad as I remembered, which it was! Anyway the Mummy is much smoother and it’s sooooo fun. I think it’s probably the most underrated ride in Orlando. But that works out well for me because there is hardly ever a line for it. Usually the single rider line is walk-on which is great. I went on this repeatedly for a long time. I guess I didn’t mention yet that I always take a Bonine (meclizine HCl) before I hit the parks so that I don’t get motion sickness. I get the generic ones on Amazon and its like $6 for 100 pills. Anyway that’s my secret to roller coasting all day.
They redid the locker area for Revenge of the Mummy. It was outside before but now it’s this giant open room with walls lined with lockers. I guess they learned their lesson from the two Harry Potter ride locker room disasters. Speaking of which, I headed over to Diagon Alley after that.
I love Diagon Alley. I love the big dragon on top of Gringott’s and I love the little hidden alleys. This was the first place I ever had Butterbeer ice cream and let me tell you, it’s incredible. I rode Escape From Gringott’s several times in the single rider line. I like the ride but, for me, it’s not as great as Forbidden Journey. It also seems to break down more.
After that I walked over to Springfield and and went into Moe’s. Moe’s is awesome. I went to Krusty Burger and got some curly fries and a Duff beer. I got the refillable mug, thinking it would be a cool souvenir. Then I sat outside and watched the ducks play in the water by the big Lard Lad Donut boy. I didn’t feed the ducks because I don’t think french fries are good for them but I have a feeling they eat a lot of junk food.
It was such a warm and sunny day, about 75 degrees F and it sure felt good compared to Colorado in December. I took my time and sat there and sent pictures to people. Overall, going solo, that’s what was the biggest difference for me. I could just sit and do what I wanted, when I wanted. Sitting in the sun in Florida feels really good.
I went back to the Mummy and Rip Ride Rockit and then back to Diagon Alley and Escape From Gringott’s. I stopped counting how many times I rode things. I also went on Transformers once. By the time I left the park I was pretty beat and my feet were sore.
Tuesday, Animal Kingdom
I read several places online that trying to run for Flight of Passage at rope drop was a waste of time because there would still be over an hour wait. But I had Fast passes for Na’vi River Journey, Kilimanjaro Safari, and Expedition Everest so I decided to try it anyway. I got to the park at about 8:15 for a 9 am opening. They were letting people in and I figured we would get stopped at the Tree of Life but they didn’t stop us. I got in the looooong line for Flight of Passage at 8:36. The line moved really quickly and I was starting my ride experience right at 9 am. So anyway, if you think it’ s not worth a shot it just might be.
The ride itself was so good. I love virtual reality rides and this is one of the best. It reminded me quite a bit of Soarin’ but of course the entire thing is VR and it’s more intense than Soarin’. I wished I could do it over and over and over but by the time I got out the line was already 90 minutes long! So I walked over to Expedition Everest because it has a single rider line and I love to ride it as many times as possibler. It was not running because of technical problems so I went on Dinosaur and then walked back to EE. Still down, so I wandered around waiting for my Fast Passes to start. I got some spicy fries at Mr Kamal’s and they were so good! I guess I should point out that I was not eating very healthy on this trip but there isn’t much choice in the parks. I always make up for it when I get home 🙂 Plus I’m walking between 8 and 12 miles a day so at least I’m burning all that junk off.
Normally I would have ridden Kali River Rapids but it wasn’t warm enough for me to want to get wet. It was maybe 74 degrees but I like it to be over 80 for water rides. I went on Kilimanjaro Safari, then Na’vi River Journey, which was ok but not nearly as great as Flight of Passage. Then I went to Expedition Everest again and thankfully they finally got it running. I went on it six or seven times.
I walked back through Pandora just to look at all the theming. It was so crowded compared to the rest of the park. One thing I noticed was that people seem to yell at their kids a lot more at Disney than they do at the other parks. Usually it’s the worst at Magic Kingdom but Animal Kingdom isn’t much better. I am sure this is because the parks are so crowded and people try to do them with small children, whereas the Universal parks are more for adults. At least that’s my opinion and observation.
Anyway it was a good day. I was sad to use up the very last day of a 10-day no-expiration ticket. They don’t even sell them any more and it was a really good deal for those of us who like to visit more than just Disney parks on a trip.
It was $5 Tuesday at the Disney Springs AMC theater so I went to see a movie. I had another grilled cheese at Earl of Sandwich beforehand. Got back to SVR at about 10:30 and went to bed.
I got to SeaWorld at about 9:25 which is way too early when they open at 10:00. This was the coldest day of my trip with a high temperature of about 62 degrees and kind of windy. If that was in Colorado it would be shorts and flip flops weather because the air is so dry there, but in Orlando it feels cold to me. I went on Manta first and nearly froze, then I went on Kraken. I am really glad they got rid of those virtual reality headsets because they ruined the ride and made loading time so slow! Anyway, I love Kraken. It’s the first coaster I ever took my son on when he was nine or ten so it has a special place in my heart and I’m really glad they put it back to the way it should be. After Kraken I went on Mako several times. Of all the coasters I have been on that is in my top three (the other two being ShieKra and Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa). After Mako I went on the Antarctica ride and then I watched the Pets Ahoy show, which has an all-star cast of rescued ducks, dogs, cats, a pig, and even a rat. I think it’s such a cute show. I had my lunch at Voyager’s Smokehouse and got another kid’s meal with a beer, ha ha. It’s not my fault all the adult meals have meat in them.
It did warm up eventually but it never got near warm enough to ride Infinity Falls, which is the new white water raft ride. I walked by it and took pictures. Oh yeah, and Shamu’s Happy Harbour is gone! That totally bummed me out. My kids used to love climbing in those giant nets and riding Shamu Express. I don’t know what they are replacing it with. Crowds stayed low all day.
Wednesday night I met with friends who live in Kissimmee, so that was nice to catch up and have somebody to hang out with for a while.
Thursday, Islands of Adventure
Thursday was pretty much a repeat of Sunday. I did almost everything the same except I met Spider-Man and Captain America.
Friday, Universal Studios Florida
Pretty much what I did on Monday except I ate at the Leaky Cauldron instead of Krusty Burger. The food was similar to Three Broomsticks. I got there right as breakfast was ending but they let me get pancakes with a croissant and potatoes (American breakfast with potatoes instead of the meat). I love the breakfasts at both restaurants.
To sum up….
Overall it was a fun trip but I definitely enjoy the theme parks more with friends and family. It just started to feel weird walking around by myself and not even having anyone to talk to. I liked being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, but I don’t think I would do Orlando solo again. If I hadn’t spent so many years going with my kids it might have been different, because for me everything I did reminded me of when I had done the same thing with my son or daughter. I missed them, and I have had so much fun with them over the years that I want to remember Orlando that way.