My friend Ryan hadn’t visited Universal Orlando in like 20 years and his wife Heather hadn’t been to their Studios park and they love characters, so we set out to see how many characters we could meet along with a few shows and rides. How does 53 in one day sound?
We began the day with a ride on Despicable Me. If you read anyone’s Universal touring plan and it doesn’t tell you to go here immediately at rope drop, just throw it away because you could wait up to 30 minutes with Express pass and 90 or more without it. Ryan felt queezy, so I could tell he wasn’t going to be game for most of the rides because they spin, have 3D or are roller coasters. Good thing they mostly wanted to meet characters!
We began by meeting Bumblebee. He’s fun because he plays all sorts of music clips between poses. Yes, he is enormous. None of the transformers sign or stamp. Photo only.
We then walked around the corner and Heather wanted to visit with Bart Simpson, who was up to his normal antics at the mobile home in Hollywood. You might find Marge, Homer, Bart and/or Lisa here. Signs autographs.
We spotted Scooby Doo, but didn’t see Shaggy around. Universal character attendant told us that Shaggy would return at 10:20 with Velma and Daphne. Awesome! I had never met Velma. I saw Daphne and Fred on my last visit. Signs
We were told that Hello Kitty would arrive around 10am. A Universal photographer was in the area waiting in front of the new store, but she was a little late. Still cool to see her as she is new to the park. Stamp only.
We wanted to make it to Shrek right before he began his set and catch Fiona with him and Donkey. Donkey appeared for 1 or 2 guests, then left. I’m thinking he forgot to turn off the toaster on the waffles. Hey, dude, you cost them character number 54! Fiona signs, but isn’t always at the meet. Shrek has a stamp.
Sometimes when you ride Despicable Me really early in the day, the Minions won’t be in the dance party or you’d like to meet different Minions, just cut through the Super Silly Stuff Store and enter the short queue. I’ve met like 6 or 7 Minions, Gru and Vector here at different times.
So, at this point we spent a good bit of time in the “Character Zone” in Hollywood in front of Mel’s Diner. Different character groups come out, do a little performance and pose for photos for a few minutes. If you miss some characters, just come back for another set and meet them. Set times for this are usually on the park map, but most characters don’t post their meet and greet times.
We wasted a few minutes looking around the shops and rested a little in Circus McGurkus before the Seuss characters popped out next door. You can find their times on the park map. Each sign autographs. Characters were infatuated with Ryan’s Duck Dynasty beard.
Green Goblin popped out and we set out to follow him to where he would meet guests only to realize that he spends 5 or 10 minutes running around pranking guests before doing any meet and greets. We settled for Dr. Doom the first time around.
A kind team member called over her radio and found out that Olive Oyl would be out in “3 minutes,” so we headed over to the next land which is toon lagoon. We didn’t know exactly where to find her, but Ryan used his excellent Character Location skills to find her at the gas station. Seems like Popeye has been kind of rare lately. I’d do the job, but I can’t promote eating yucky green things in a can.
I told them that Captain America is always the most popular character in IOA and we lined up for him first. He spent about 10 minutes with an adorable Make-a-Wish child who had his wheelchair decked out like Captain America.
Some may have been annoyed by the longer wait, but I thanked Cap. One of my dear friends had a nephew who took part in Make-a-Wish and he only lived a couple years longer. I’m okay with 10 minutes that can make a child’s life better.
We had enough time left to squeeze in a meet with Wolverine before this set ended.
Rogue and Storm. If we had met them all in a single set (hard to do later in the day), we could have returned to USF in time to meet more Simpsons characters and maybe Barney, but Heather really wanted these guys and we weren’t interested in turning our fun day into a track meet.
We walked the rest of IOA and I showed them the ridiculous line to meet the Raptor before taking the Harry Potter train back over to USF. It was a 25 minute wait, but it was shaded with fans too and it keeps moving well.
King Kong is looking really awesome.
Ryan wanted a photo with Bruce the Shark. Here’s one of her bro :)
We took in the always hilarious Horror Makeup Show and rode Et before deciding to hit the road with an hour left. We had a great time, met a ton of characters and never even walked fast.