A Universal Evening (or Checking Out The Castle)

One of the fun bonuses for having an annual pass for Universal Studios is that they do some preview events for passholders from time to time. And pretty soon after renewing my pass, I got my first preview event invite. This time, it was for the upcoming light show that they are going to be doing on the castle in the Harry Potter section of the park.

When they originally announced the new light show, my friend Michelle and I realized that it was going to be starting after our passes were blacked out for the summer. So when we got the preview invites, we jumped at the chance to go and signed up! We had a viewing time of 9:20pm for the show, but we figured we’d just go to the park after we were both done with work and have some fun before the light show.

We got to the park around 5pm and found a pretty amazing parking space (which doesn’t always happen at Universal since they aren’t as great with their parking lot as Disneyland is). And since we were both getting a bit hungry for dinner, we decided to make a stop in CityWalk before going into the park since the food is a bit better there.

We went to DongPo Kitchen where we had gone once before. They have amazing green beans that we were both kind of craving. We decided to get those again along with some chicken and pork belly and had a pretty awesome meal!

We then headed toward the front gate of the park where we had to check in for the preview event and get our wristbands. We also got coupons for 20% off a purchase in the park. I didn’t think I would be purchasing anything there (I’m really trying to not shop as much), but it was nice that they gave us those as a perk.

Michelle and I weren’t sure what we were going to do at the park. We only had about an hour before the park closed (the preview event only had the Harry Potter section open) and we were debating on what we wanted to ride. And as we passed the Special Effects Stage, we realized the show was going to start within a few minutes. I hadn’t seen the show in about a decade, so we decided to go in and check it out.

We were sitting on the side in the front, so it was a bit tough to see everything. But we could still see a lot and I noticed how much they’ve changed the show. It’s pretty awesome what they do now and they have real stunt people in the show doing stage fighting and lighting themselves on fire. It’s a big improvement over the old version and I have a feeling I’ll be checking it out again.

When the show was done, we only had about 5 minutes until the park closed so we had to pick one ride to do. And we figured since The Simpsons ride was right there that we would do that. The line wasn’t too bad and we got to cut ahead a bit because they were looking for a group of 2 to fill up one of the ride vehicles. And after waiting only maybe 10 minutes, we were inside the building waiting to go on the ride. I love the little digs at Disneyland attractions that they have inside there!

When we were done with that ride, the park was officially closed so we walked over to the Harry Potter section. There were 3 showtimes for the new light show (8:40, 9:00, and 9:20) and we figured we’d try to watch it at least twice. But first, we wanted to ride the Harry Potter ride which is one of my favorites.

As soon as we got off the ride, we headed outside and the light show was starting! We couldn’t really be in the viewing area since we had a different showtime, but we had a pretty great view from farther back!

And as soon as that show was done, we made our way to the front of the reserved viewing area to see the show from up close. The show is only about 5 minutes so I’m glad we didn’t really have to wait in a big crowd to watch it. It’s pretty awesome and the projections are incredible up close, but I was a bit disappointed how short the show was.

We let the crowd clear a bit before we headed out. I’m glad that we were able to go to Universal and considering that we were only in the park for about 2 hours I think we got quite a bit done. I won’t have a chance to go back for a while unless they do bonus days for passholders (which they do from time to time). But if this is my last visit for a while, I would have to say it was a pretty great visit and I feel like I got everything done that I wanted to do.

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