Universal Studios + Dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
August 24th, 2013
We were up bright and early today to go on our first visit to Universal/Islands of Adventure. In my diary (which is very sparse this year!) I’ve written ‘STUPID SAT NAV’, so I can only guess that it took us the wrong way (again). Grrr!
We parked, took a photo of the parking area so we wouldn’t forget, and then got onto the moving walkways to the security check and City Walk entrance. We saw a new mini golf course on our travellator travels, and Liam asked if we could have a go. I said we’d come back and do this. (You’ll be glad to hear that we actually did go back!)
Once at the entrance, we took a photo (of course!) and then started to walk through City Walk deciding which of the two parks we would visit. A toss of a coin said it was to be Universal Studios, and so we took a right to go towards the giant globe and the entrance to the theme park.
It was quite busy near the globe to take a photograph of us in front of it, but I did take a quick photo on my phone which I have since shared on Instagram and Twitter. I was most chuffed when Universal Orlando tweeted me back saying “Awesome photo. Thanks for sharing!”
Took a pic of my boys in front of the Universal Studios arch though ^_^
Knowing that the new ride, Minion Mayhem would draw long lines, we made a beeline for that first. The waiting time shown was 20 minutes, so we joined the queue.
There are screens in the line area show a recruiting video to become a Minion which I thought was pretty funny, but of course, it does get monotonous over and over and over again! Different recruiting posters were dotted about which gave you something to look at :P
After what seemed like forever – we lined up for over an hour – we were finally through to a holding area, with more decorations to look at, and then a big screen with a video from Gru. It was explained that there was a stationery seating area and I did debate about going to sit there – I wish I had now…
…I remember reading that the old Jimmy Neutron ride that was here before had tight seats, but thought that it wouldn’t be the same for this new ride. Oh, how wrong I was… I knew I was bigger on this trip than on our last, but truly thought I’d be okay. We sat down and the bar automatically comes down, it was a bit snug, and I thought, this is okay, but then, just before the ride started, it went down again, practically winding me. I wasn’t expecting it, and I couldn’t grab a staff member’s attention, so I sadly spent all of this ride in agony as the bar pressed against me, as well as with my eyes pretty much shut the whole way through, trying to wish the pain away. The ride does jig about a fair bit, so it was super uncomfortable and I was half expecting to see bruises everywhere (luckily, none showed up). Because hubs knew I was in agony he didn’t enjoy the ride either, and as a Minion fan, I’m so gutted that I missed the ride too.
We exited and I was in tears from the pain, and sat down outside the gift shop for about 10 minutes to try and get composure to myself. From that point on, I think I gave the holiday a whole downer, as I knew I’d let myself down by not losing weight, and by actually going back bigger than I was on that first trip (a size 24 vs a size 28/30 on this one)
So as not to put too much of a misery on this trip report, have some more photos ^_^
We then decided to do the next new ride – Transformers – and headed in the general direction. We had a 20 minute wait, and all I can say is that it is AMAZEBALLS! The ride is set up the same way as Spiderman- very similar vehicles (I had no problem fitting in this, for those that are wondering) and you travel around with the huge screens surrounding you and things leaping out in 3D. I actually preferred this over Spiderman, but my boys prefer Spiderman. To be fair, they’re both fab rides!
When we exited the ride we saw Bumblebee doing a meet-and-greet. It was in a roped off area, but we didn’t bother to line up for this. We were able to see him just fine!
When he left, we didn’t have to wait too long to see the next Transformer…loud sirens indicated one would be coming out from behind the steel shutter, and it was quite terrifying when Megatron made an appearance!
He was seriously huge and seriously scary looking! I felt really sorry the child of the bloke who pushed her forward to meet this Decepticon! The little girl must have only been 4 or 5 years old and she really didn’t want to approach Megatron. I don’t blame her – just looking at the photos again reminds me how scary he was!
Up next was the Terminator 2 ride. We passed the classic cars on the way round, and the ride was a complete walk on. A show was already going on, but nearly finished, so before we knew it, we were inside and watching the pre-show which goes on way too long, in my opinion, but thankfully, the lady presenting it wasn’t as annoying as the first time we went on this in 2011.
A great ride, well, I think a great ride/show since T2 is one of my favourite films. I do love the combination of live action with the on screen action, a must for any fans of the film. I did hear somewhere that they were getting rid of this ride, not sure how true that is though…
We exited into the gift shop and had a look around and then headed back out into the sunshine to decided what to do next.
We could hear music in the distance and discovered that there was a Despicable Me parade/show going on, so we hung out and watched that. A shame that they didn’t have Minions there, just people dressed up in yellow shirts and dungarees!
We then turned around and headed to the theatre for the Horror Make Up Show, which we enjoyed the first time we saw it. When different presenters came out, I was half expecting a different demonstration than last time, but it was exactly the same. Although the two guys together were hilarious (even if it wasn’t intentional!)
The audience member that they picked to be in the show couldn’t speak much English, but she was a good sport! We aren’t doing Universal on our next visit to Orlando, so maybe they’ll change things up a bit in a few years time when we do go back!
We then saw Marge & Homer Simpson doing a meet and greet, so took a quick photo before heading towards the back of the park and the new Simpsons area.
On our way into Springfield, we spied the Delorean and steam train from Back to the Future. This was on our Orlando Bucket List, so that got crossed off!
All this section of the park was brand new, and I hadn’t even realised it was all here until a few weeks before we went on holiday! We love The Simpsons, so it was pretty cool to see all the themeing in the area.
By now we were all hungry, and decided to try out the new food court – called Fast Food Boulevard – in Springfield. It’s pretty cool to be able to walk through the door at Moes Tavern!
The way it works in here is this: You have to join one line for all of the different eating outlets – Krusty Burger, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Flaming Moes, Luigi’s Pizza, The Frying Dutchman and Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror. The amount of people being let through was quite controlled, but to be fair, the service at each food outlet seemed to be quite slow, so things just backed up anyway!
I remember thinking that there didn’t seem like much seating inside, and whilst lining up for our grub, was scanning the place to see where we could sit – didn’t fancy sitting out in the Florida heat (there is more seating outside)
Just as we got to the front of the line, we were given some menus, but we’d already scanned the available food and had decided what to have already.
I decided to have a Caesar salad ($6.79) which I picked up from the cooler at Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror, and I also picked up a bag of crisps for later in the day ($2.79). It was also here that I grabbed the one thing I insisted we buy – a giant doughnut! ($4.99) Steve wanted chicken and waffles ($10.99), so got in the queue at Cletus’ Chicken Shack, and Liam wanted cheese pizza ($6.99), so lined up at Luigi’s. You pay for everything at the end, so whilst they were doing that, I went and got some drinks at Flaming Moes.
Liam soon joined me with his pizza and after ordering a Flaming Moes, a Duff Beer ($7.25) for Steve and a Buzz Cola ($2.99), we both hung around waiting for Steve. The counter he was at had run out of chicken, so he had to wait for a new batch to be cooked. By the time he joined us at the tills, the flaming part of the Flaming Moe had all but disappeared – so a good thing I too a photo to show him…
…he wasn’t too impressed with how long he had to wait, and considering it was lunch time you’d think that they eatery would be prepared for the food rush.
If you’re wondering what a Flaming Moe is, it’s a [rather small] glass of fizzy orange, which has extra bubbles added in and some dry ice to make the flaming part. It’s non-alcoholic and you get to keep the plastic glass that it comes in. It was $7.99 – overpriced fizzy orange!
Finally, Steve joined us and we were able to pay for our food which came to a grand total of $55.73. At the tills they had some cupcakes, and I picked an Oreo one up ($1.99). We found somewhere to sit and eat our food – we had to clear the table ourselves as it still had trays and other junk from the previous people.
Despite the wait, Steve enjoyed his chicken and waffles which came with tater tots. Liam’s pizza was nothing special and I can’t even remember my salad now!
We then dove into the doughtnut, cutting it into three to share between us. It was a gooood doughnut! I wish I could have brought a couple home as gifts :P
The line for The Simpsons Ride was very short compared with our first visit. We only waited about 10 minutes before we were waiting to board our vehicle. This ride is another awesome one – it’s not one for those who get motion sickness though, and whilst I felt grungy the first time I rode it, I didn’t feel that way on this go around.
Another thing on my Orlando Bucket List was to have a picture taken with Jaws. The ride may no longer be there, but the giant shark is, and we didn’t take a photo of us with it on our first trip. We headed in that general direction where they are building the new Harry Potter stuff.
On the hoardings around the building work there are several movie posters. They’re interactive and you need an internet connection – you can just about get a WIFI in that area of the park (the rest of the park, there is zip! Gotta love Disney for their free WIFI!) You download an app called Universal Screenplay and the posters then come to life on the screen – augmented reality or something or other!
I took some snaps of Springfield from across the water and then we stopped for a drink and sat outside the San Francisco Pastry Company.
It was whilst sitting here that it started to rain. Since we weren’t in too much of a rush, we just stayed put, and a good thing too – the heavens opened and it absolutely POURED down! So much so that it was started to flood!
Was feeling quite smug at having a place to stay dry whilst the deluge came down – especially as people were crowding around in the entrance/exits in the shops opposite us. With the rain showing no signs of stopping, we continued to wait it out, but after maybe half an hour, if not more, we got bored with waiting! The rain was slowing down a little, and we took the decision to carry on around the park.
We dug the ponchos out of the backpack and put them on – because we had planned to eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. for dinner, we didn’t want to get soaking wet. A good decision as the rain showed no signs of stopping completely just yet.
I took my shoes off because I couldn’t walk properly in them (Crocs are no good in wet weather!) and slowly we sloshed along to the exit of the park. Passing Shrek 4D we decided to line up and watch it – the queue was non existent as the show was just about to start, so we ended up missing most of the pre-show which was handy because I think it waffles on a bit too much :P
Exiting the ride, we found it was still raining and decided to just call it a day at the park and go and see if we could get a table at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. We didn’t get a chance to eat here on our first trip so it was a must visit for us.
We didn’t have to wait too long for a table, and whilst the air-con was on, and yes, it’s hot outside despite the rain, we were freezing in there! The music is also pretty loud, and normally I wouldn’t gripe about something like that, but could barely hear myself think!
We were given menus to look at and then our waiter came and introduced himself. He explained that there was a sign on the table with Run Forrest Run and Stop Forrest Stop on it. If you want assistance, make sure that you have it on stop so that a server will see to your needs.
I eyed up the redneck glasses which have cocktails in them. Since I was driving I couldn’t drink, so I cheekily asked if we could have non-alcoholic cocktails in them instead, and he said that was fine. You get to keep the glass which is cool – and the reason I asked! Liam’s drink had a light in the base, and he was able to keep the glass too – we do love souvenir glass in this house!
We ordered a sharing platter to start with, called Run Across America Sampler. It had a spinach and artichoke dip with chips, chilly shrimp, spicy chicken strips, hush pups and fried shrimp.
Liam had fish ‘n’ chips, not sure what fish it was, but it was a pretty strong flavour and Liam ended up leaving a lot of the fish. Steve had shrimp pasta and I had Shrimper’s Heaven which was four different types of shrimp – hand breaded coconut, chilly, fried and tempura. It came served with fries and three dipping suaces – tangy Asian, Cajun marmalade and zesty cocktail.
Our honest opinion is that we weren’t blown away with the food at Bubba Gumps, but glad we tried it out. Maybe we all made the wrong choices on our dishes – way too much fried stuff which didn’t help. We didn’t bother with dessert. We paid $100.68 for our meal.
To receive our souvenir glasses, we went into the restaurant gift shop with our receipt so that we could pick up clean, boxed ones.
By now Steve had a headache, so did I, and we just wanted to chill for the rest of the night! Tomorrow we were heading back to City Walk to go to Islands of Adventure!
Read about the previous day: Day 10 – Confessions of a Shopaholic: Houlihans + Shopping
Read ALL the days! Back to the Magic Trip Report Index 2013