Photo credit: Michael P Coleman / Coleman Communications

Universal Studios Florida Offers Immersive Jurassic Park, Harry Potter Attractions

…but that butterbeer, though!!

By Michael P Coleman

Even for a lifetime roller coaster fanatic like me, Universal Studio Florida’s Velocicoaster is a lot.


It’s been named one of the top steel coasters in the world by serious coaster enthusiasts. Unlike the death machines of my youth, this one offers no tall hill to creep up, via a rickety chain, giving you time to contemplate your imminent demise. That puppy blasts outta there like a bat outta Isla Nublar.

Photo credit: Michael P Coleman / Coleman Communications

The theming of Velocicoaster, which you experience well before you even sit down in a car, is impressive, but not as stunning — as literally breathtaking — as that cobra roll over the lagoon or that plummet where…

I can’t revisit it. I can’t even think about it for too long. Velocicoaster is the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on. My favorite ride used to be Walt Disney World’s Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror, closely followed by Cedar Point’s Raptor.

[That’s ironic. A band of Universal raptors have displaced the Raptor on my list.]

I spent the second half of the ride screaming “I don’t wanna go!,” much to the amusement of the young boy with his mom in the car directly in front of me.

“I don’t wanna go!” Photo courtesy of Michael P Coleman / Coleman Communications

While you’re at Universal Studios Florida, you’ll also want to check out Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure. It’s a trip, too, with a feature that I’ve NEVER experienced on a roller coaster before, and one that almost made my husband hurl on his way to the restroom. He shoved small children out of the way, cupping his mouth, as he dashed through Diagon Alley. I don’t want to spoil the ride for you, but I will say that some illusions aren’t really illusions, so hold on very tight! If you think the car actually leaves the track, you might be right!

And yeah, I said it: Diagon Alley. Harry’s hangout. I kid you not: Universal Studios Florida has done what I’d thought was impossible and every Harry Potter fan has dreamed of: they’ve brought Harry’s world to life, with attractions that are so immersive, you won’t want to leave.

I really wanted to go!!!

I didn’t. I had to grab a wand. A robe. Some butterbeer (it tastes INCREDIBLE!).

An authentic British breakfast…at least for a tourist like me who’s never been to England. And you actually board the train via Platform 9 3/4 and ride it Hogwarts! The train is an attraction in itself, with breathtaking effects to accompany the storyline.

If you need to know more, consider this: Gringott’s Bank has a dragon atop it that breathes fire on irregular intervals. Literal fire! Upon arriving at Diagon Alley, I couldn’t figure out why everyone had their phones pointed at the building that houses one of best “dark” rides I’ve experienced. On the thrill-seeker scale, it’s a little more sedate that the aforementioned coasters.

Photo credit: Michael P Coleman / Coleman Communications

In case you’re wondering, only Hogwarts (with another attending “dark” ride, albeit one that made me more than a little dizzy) exists at the west coast version of the park, Universal Studios Hollywood. I wasn’t a huge fan of supporting Florida these days — if their governor had his way, he’d probably ban the J.K. Rowling’s superb books — but the lure of Harry Potter was too much for me. I’d spent many a Spring Break in Orlando while my girls were growing up, but they always wanted to do Disney, so I’d never made it to Universal Studios Florida. I’m very glad I took the plunge — or rather, all of the plunges!

The entire trip was a part of my Year Of New that I launched at the beginning of last year. I decided to use my limited time and financial resources in 2023 trying new things instead of going to the same old haunts. I’m glad I did, and have decided to continue the Year Of New into 2024.

Get to Universal Studios Florida, especially if you’re a fan of Jurassic Park / World or Harry Potter. It’s a vacation you’ll never forget nor regret…even when the credit card bill shows up.

Don’t wait.



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