Best Theme Parks: With its Springfield USA addition luring Simpson fans worldwide and the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride still high on visitors' lists, Universal Studios Florida will soon be nipping at its sister park's heels as Diagon Alley – the newest phase of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – is set to open later in 2014. Additionally, coaster aficionados will rejoice in both the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Orlando's tallest, and the indoor marvel of Revenge of the Mummy, which plunges riders into darkness as they race through dazzling, special effects-driven perils from the film that inspired it: scurrying carnivorous scarabs, an army of warrior mummies and an almost too real fireball.
Best Attractions & Activities: With the summer 2014 opening of Diagon Alley, the second Wizarding World installment within the Universal Orlando Resort complex, everyone is just wild about Harry – and Universal Studios Florida! This new section of the park contains a brand-new thrill ride in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and loads of other features. Elsewhere in the park, of course, fun and entertainment flow like Class 4 rapids. From Despicable Me Minion Mayhem to Revenge of the Mummy to Transformers and much more, the rides are thrilling, the entertainment tie-ins first-rate. Pop into Springfield and spend time with the Simpsons, hit up Spiderman in his 3-D immersion digs and be sure to hit all the loops on the park's world-class coasters while you're here. Fans of the macabre take note: this park is home to Halloween Horror Nights, six-time winner of Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for "Best Halloween Event." If your visit falls during the season, come find out why.
Best Things to Do: This park has recreated a variety of movie sets and rides from comedy to horror, all of which have been tailored to give the guest the feeling of being in specific events from movies. "Twister," "Jaws," "Back to the Future" and "Terminator 2" are a few of the ultra-fun exhibits worth trying. There is something for everyone here.
Local Expert A.D. Thompson Says:
Best Theme Parks: "Though the World of Avatar won't make its debut until 2017, guests will get a hint of what's to come with a new nighttime show this spring."
Best Attractions & Activities: "With the Hogwarts Express on hand to take visitors from one Wizarding World to the other, park-to-park admission is definitely the way to go."
Recommended as Best Theme Parks Because: Blazing hot with everything from Transformers to Minions to the Simpsons' Springfield, Universal Studios is a Hollywood-style heavy hitter.
Recommended as Best Attractions & Activities Because: The brand-new $400 million Diagon Alley addition has Universal Studios Florida on every Potter fan's radar.
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