When I first wrote this review based on a past visit, this is what I had to say:
The first fun thing that we encountered at Universal Studios, Orlando was the people mover… For anyone that hasn’t seen it, from the side it may appear to be a very long area for an escalator but it is actually flat, like the people movers on the Jetson’s cartoon. Jordan decided to race me running on that moving twice as fast as I popped my scooter up to full speed, which was pretty darn fast! The race was close and I think that I won on the way in and he won later on on the way out.
The day was nice and warm and Universal was great! It was Monday, there was not many people there, no lines, and we went on everything we wanted including going on Men In Black 3 times (once and then later on twice in a row). Men In Black was a ride where you try and shoot aliens and you get points… Also the aliens and the people in the car beside you can shoot at you making the car spin around really fast like the old Tilt-a-Whirls… The Tilt-a-Whirls were always my favorite as a kid, and this ride was my favorite here…
We went on rides such as:
Jaws - This was kinda fun, a boat ride where we had to try to outrun and hide from Jaws, who we eventually fried with the high power line in the water…It was kinda corny lol!
Twister - this was a good one… more of a show than a ride, something that we all enjoyed… There was lots of rain and wind and a cow actually flew by!!!
Earthquake - this was a good one too… pretty realistic we thought. We were in a subway station during an earthquake and the place literally shook and fell apart! They did a good job on this one.
ET - an old one, but still an OK ride with a great view of the stars in the sky as we flew up in our bicycles with ET in the front basket.
The Terminator 3D show was excellent! I just love how they mix it up with real people and the show… There is a part where the people are on stage and they get into an elevator that brings them into the movie.. It is just so cool….
We had lunch at this little seafood place, Captain Quints, which is supposed to mimic a place on Martha’s Vineyard. Having grown up on the edge of the Cape and been to Martha’s Vineyard, I sincerely hope that people don’t think that the seafood tastes like that. I know it is park food, but I figured that being in an ocean state that the seafood would be of the fresh variety… Oh, well…
All in all the day was beautiful... and we will be going back!
We returned to Universal in December of 2007 and I am sorry to say that things were just not the same.
One of the biggest issues that I had was that they were less handicapped friendly than they had been in the past. In all instances of a ride or show that had a pre-show I was rushed out of the pre-show area before the pre-show had been completed. This made me feel like I was missing out of the entire experience… plus I had the added bonus of maneuvering by flashlight as the lights were often down or off. Even on the busiest of days, which this was not, it could not take much more than 2 or 3 minutes to allow everyone to watch the entire pre-show, for the lights to come up and for those who needed to be seated first to be accommodated before opening up the doors for everyone else. On the day that we were there, it was often just myself or myself and 2 or 3 others who needed to be seated and if it took a minute for us to get situated, it was a short one.
Another issue that we had is that in previous years myself and my party had always been escorted through the back way so that I could get up close to the ride to transfer. This always happened without us asking. On this visit there were instances where I was told that if I could not walk in line that I could not ride and it was only until after we explained how we had boarded in previous years that we were allowed access into the back entrance. I see no reason to make us beg for an accessible way to get access to a ride… It totally took away from the experience as several attractions required a song and dance before boarding. The worst was ET. The best was Jaws, where they offered to take me in the back way before I even got to the gate. In all instances I still waited my turn or longer than those who were in line previous to me, so I am not sure why the change.
The last issue that I am going to bring up is the issue of the sidewalks and parade areas in the Universal Studios side of the park. The sidewalks are quite slanted, sometimes so much so that it seems that a chair could tip. It is much easier to maneuver on the streets, which is OK most of the time, however the challenge comes when there is a shop that I wanted to enter as there are not a lot of breaks in the sidewalk to allow one to roll onto it. This just means that it takes longer and one has to double back to get onto the sidewalk and then drive back to the shop.
The other problem with the slant of the sidewalks is that the special areas that are marked off for those in chairs to be able to view the parades without obstructions are all on slanted ground. I am not sure how others are comfortable sitting on a downward slant in a chair and it may be that the nature of my disability makes this more uncomfortable for me, but I absolutely could not sit in one of those areas. It was so uncomfortable that I had to move. Thankfully the attendant in one of the areas pointed out a prime flat spot where she felt would be more suitable for me and she was right! Why they do not use this area as an handicapped area is beyond me. While it was more difficult to view the parade with people standing around me, I was able to see directly in front of me and, more importantly, I was comfortable.
I did later find out that there is a handicapped team at Universal who works on issues like the ones that I listed above and it is my hope that they seriously consider viewing the park in a chair for at least a day so that they can experience some of the situations that take away from a positive experience so that I can enjoy and love this park once again.
My recommendation is that if you visit this park in a chair or with someone who is, do ask for a back entrance if one is not offered to you, do look for a nice flat viewing area if you wish to stop for the parade and do use the sidewalks only when absolutely necessary to avoid any potential issues from the sloping.