What would a roadtrip around America be without a little stop at Florida’s Disney World and Universal Studios?
We spent a week hopping from one park to the next and the experience is absolutely incredible, something I would recommend to anyone and everyone from any age demographic to invest some time and money in. However, due to the soaring prices of the parks water and food and the beaming Floridian heat, one spends most of their time sweating like a fat infant in a sweet shop and running on about as much sustenance as a mole-rat.
Disney World was beyond what I could imagine, more than one park and all tremendous in size. It certainly brings out the nostalgia and makes visitors of any age feel like a child again. The buildings were themed and coloured, like they had ,themselves, jumped right out of a story book. Wide streets led down to the famous castle which towered over the park, a size I could never have even began to imagine and not only that but it was accessible with multiple stories and rooms. A real Disney castle!
The parks were littered with breathtaking water features, topiaries and statues, each as extravagant as the last. Wide, lilac cobblestones paved the park and classic lampposts lined the streets, it was entirely surreal. Each park had it’s own theme and the design, buildings and staff followed that theme immaculately: For example, animal kingdom had an African section which held beautiful dances and musical ensembles throughout the day and the Asian section which had small parades of beautifully dressed people and melodic music. The most impressive section however, in my opinion, was the newly introduced ‘Pandora’, in reference to the Fantasy world created by the Avatar film series. As you emerge from the trees, it opens up into a beautifully decorated, wide expanse consisting of fantastical and fictional plants, animals and sounds. Hovering over which, is a huge floating ‘island’, meant to resemble those in the films. It is a literal FLOATING ROCK. It is of inconceivable size and beauty. Difficult to differentiate from the real, living nature surrounding it. Truly breathtaking. Almost as breathtaking, in fact, as the ride itself.
Many recent rides at Disney have taken on 4D as an influential factor, an initially fun experience, but one that grows weary with each repetition in a different disguise. The Flight Of Passage, however, differs to such an extent that it feels almost dreamlike. You ride an ‘Ikran’, the dragon-like creatures from the film and fly through the fictional world of Pandora. The 4D has the usual features like the wind, water, movement and smells but this goes above and beyond anything I had ever experienced before. The seat you ‘ride’ moves and breathes, the movement is smooth and thrilling, the water and smells are perfectly timed with that of the picture and the image is crisp, wide and absolutely beautiful. It’s an experience that simply must be felt and is beyond explanation that words can provide.
Universal was more of an adults Disney, less nostalgic but more rides to be genuinely enjoyed by those who seek a more thrilling adventure.
Arguable the most significant sector, that was done incredibly well, was the Harry Potter section. It was far more detailed, expansive and in depth than I could have imagined, with Diagon Alley, containing Gringott’s bank: Goblins, dungeons and multiple impressive crystal chandelier. Olivander’s wand shop; wands upon wands upon wands and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes joke shop; Nosebleed nougat, puking pastilles and fever fudge. With magic wands, butterbeer and fire breathing dragons, it certainly does the make believe world of magic proud.
As an englishman in America, one is very much aware of the skewed and stereotypical view America generally holds towards the make up of the country and the people. But the Harry Potter world absolutely smashed it, to point where it almost triggered some home-sickness. It was exactly the same from the streets to the building and the organisation of the street, truly feeling like one was walking the streets of London. Moreover, London Kings X station had similar walls, paths and steps and even included a station store selling Kettle Chips, Mars Bars and other English treats. A real Hogwarts Express Train was truly the icing on the cake, one could ride between the parks on the train with a very lifelike train experience excuse the Dementors, of course.
All in all a truly wonderful trip that I can say with certainty I look forward to experiencing again in the future.