Sadly we only allocated one day for both parks away from WDW, but the weather cooperated, as the very next day was dreadfully rainy and miserable and it was far better to be on-property at WDW and able to go back to the hotel, didn't miss out on the Universal goodness on our only day there, and we got a lot done. General observations and talking points to start!
- Islands is an amazing park overall and beautiful detail and scope and ambiance. It's better than EPCOT at current. (sorry!).
- Wizarding World delivered the charm and more small detail and book-centric surprises tucked into corners that I wasn't expecting, and quite thoroughly pleased with it. Both the butterbeer and pumpkin juice quite tasty - they can't start selling butterbeer in California fast enough for me! I am pleased in retrospect Disney didn't convince J.K. Rowling to part with the Potter rights, as Universal's realization is a lot more quirky and charming and with decidedly British/book elements that Disney I am sure would not ever include due to being more 'adult' in sophistication and wit/weirdness.
- One negative: for how impressive the exterior building and the scale is, the crowd level pushed through and crowd control for Fury of Poseiden was poorly handled, as the tail end of the group ends up basically being able to see nothing in a few of the scenes and no other place to go since space jammed full of people.
- Pleased indeed with the Simpsons sub-area and the food court even was a lot of fun, the simulator ride brimming with great gags and visual detail overload, all the better when parodying Disney or other theme parks in general.
- Very helpful and pleasant Cast Members all around, right up on the same level as Disney, if not better in some cases.
- At the Studios park, I love love love E.T. and still miss it being gone from Hollywood. The queue is the best themed queue for my money (relaxing, cool, misty redwood forest with just the right tone of eerieness and mystery) and the ride itself kind of accidentally becomes near-genius level of bizarre thanks to the combining of the very organic, earth-bound nature of the film-plot elements and how much the first part feels like the classic movie, and then you've got the super strange bouncing alien musical jamboree tacked on. It's ridiculous and fun in the best of ways and defies explanation of logical design though apart from 'make the end fun for the kids! Wacky!' - but it works for me, likely because of how strange it all is.
- Transformers as a ride was a let-down, and this was strange because myself and other members of party very favorably impressed with Spider-Man at IoA and how fun it was. On Transformers, far too rough of movement and the 3D combined with the screen and imagery type (giant metal robots smashing each other) meant everything was far too frantic and 'same looking' to really register or impress. It was just loud and abrupt instead of fun, nothing stuck out to me, and not much personality to various robots, the screen action got repetitive, etc. Not a fan.
- Was disappointed that the Monsters Cafe was closed (mainly to see displays and memorabilia inside) but the waiting area for the Make-Up/horror show was a gold mine, and the show itself pretty amusing and lots of eye candy on the stage.
And now for some photos -
Twirl 'n Hurl!
'Mother, oh god, mother! Blood, blood!'
Ben Gardener's head from Jaws.
Meg Mucklebones, the Jenny Greenteeth-inspired swamp beastie from 80's fantasy classic Legend.
Very tasty food at the Three Broomsticks. Perfectly roasted potatoes, which not many places manage to do just right without some being inconsistently cooked.
I'd give a slight edge to regular butterbeer over frozen variety, but both vry nice.
Chicken and waffle sandwich with maple syrup mayo sauce from the Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel chicken outlet in the new Springfield expansion in the Studios - quite delicious overall.