A Week In Orlando – Travel Review

A Week In Orlando

By Roger Crow, March 2024

“Don’t hit the Earth!,” yells one of my fellow Rebel Alliance soldiers. I get the urge to yell back, “Have you even seen Star Wars?”, but I’m having far too much fun, firing turbo lasers at enemy ships while someone else gets to pilot the Millennium Falcon through light speed, and assorted planets.

I’ve waited what seems like a lifetime to do just this and to stand next to “the greatest hunk of junk in the galaxy”. When the opportunity finally arises, thanks to me visiting Florida for the week, it does not disappoint.

Geniuses in Orlando have created such an immersive experience with Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the fact it’s raining harder here than at home in Yorkshire matters little.

Wandering through what looks like a full-sized Imperial base has been a life-long dream, as has standing next to a full-sized Millennium Falcon. And that aforementioned laser-blasting experience instantly puts Disney at the top of the tree when it comes to must-see attractions in Florida.

I’m almost at the end of the experience, having flown in the previous Monday from Manchester.

A Week In Orlando


On day one in Orlando I have to do Universal Studios. One of the two major theme parks that act as a magnet for countless Brits every year. I’ve been one of them since 2002, though it’s been seven years since my last visit. The latest incarnation of Universal has seen what was an impressive Harry Potter region expand even further.

Inevitably there’s a tinge of sadness to see an animatronic Hagrid as I wait to board his motorcycle and sidecar ride. Robbie Coltrane’s familiar vocals are so synonymous with the amiable giant, he may well have been in the room.

Thankfully the ride is worth the half-hour wait, and even if you’re not a huge Potter fan, the immersion in that world is remarkable. It’s also worth taking the steam train from ‘King’s Cross’ (one of the greatest mock-ups you’ll ever see) to the neighbouring park. Just ensure you have your ticket for Islands of Adventure ready. And it’s worth doing the same trip in reverse for the different content.


“Having a great time”

It’s ‘Mardi Gras’ in Orlando when I attend, which means it’s a good excuse to take the weight off and enjoy food from around the world at one of the many food outlets. While devouring slices of a rather delicious German frankfurter in curry sauce, I wind up chatting to Brian, one of the company’s drivers. He’s an ex-military guy who started ferrying tourists to the park in the past year, but had never visited the park until relatively recently. It’s his day off and he’s having a great time pottering around like me.

The parks have naturally changed a lot since my last trip to Orlando circa 2017. The Jurassic Park river ride is still present as it seems to have been for decades, but now there’s a Jurassic World aerial ride, which can wait for another day.

Later in the week I enjoy a second day, experiencing the Fast and the Furious attraction, which involves Vin Diesel’s Dom Torretto and a few other familiar faces from the indestructible car-centric franchise, and a preamble (a very funny guy in a lab fielding questions and answers from stars of the movie via a video screen). Then we’re off on a series of converted buses, travelling through a Californian landscape of near-miss car crashes, enemy vehicles trying to stop us, and thrill-packed adventures. Worth the wait? Absolutely.


“Short, sweet burst of entertainment”

For me the best of the bunch at Universal Studios is The Bourne Stuntacular. A few years ago it was set up on the site of the old T2-3D attraction, and half an hour before the 3pm start time, I begin queuing. Julia Stiles’ character has miraculously returned from the dead to brief us on who Jason Bourne is (for those who missed the four Matt Damon-led blockbusters), and what we should do. By the time we file into the enormous theatre, and watch the mix of live action and stunning film unfold, we’re not sure who’s real and who isn’t. It’s one of those rare times when the show finishes and I could sit through it all again immediately.

By a stroke of fate, I just happen to be stood by The Blues Brothers section of Universal when their saxophonist shows up, belting out some tunes before the duo themselves arrive in the Bluesmobile. We’re treated to three or four old classics before they’re off again. It’s a short, sweet burst of entertainment that doesn’t get in the way of queuing for rides or dinner.

On the subject of the latter, one burger is usually enough to keep you going all day, though it is possible to buy turkey legs so big they look like they belong in the opening scene of a Flintstones cartoon.

A Week In Orlando

“A lot of fun”

I never need much of an excuse to visit the global restaurant chain that prides itself on having no end of official rock and roll memorabilia while spinning automobiles revolve over waiters and waitresses. They will attend to your every whim, and some are quite keen to take your plate away when you’re halfway through, so just keep one fork in your hand just in case.

Getting to and from the park is relatively easy if you’re not driving. Just get one of those online taxi apps, pop in your location and final destination, and you’re good to go. In terms of finances, it’s worth getting a pre-loaded credit card so you don’t pay charges while you’re in the States.

It’s obviously not a cheap time to go to Orlando, or the theme parks, but it’s still a lot of fun. Just go with a raincoat, some sandwiches to save a few dollars, and sun lotion for those moments when the sunshine state lives up to its name.


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