Knowing that many of you are still caught up in festive activities between Christmas and New Year’s, I figured this might be a good time for a light post. I have to liken the chaos of the holiday season to the chaos of a theme park. Lots of people, lots of noise, too much sensory stimulation. Sometimes, you just need a calm, peaceful place to go to escape for a little while. . . .consider this post your peaceful escape. You’re welcome.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of Disney World, and with so much to do on that property, I really felt no need to venture to other theme parks when I went to Orlando. But when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, that changed everything. I just had to experience it. There is no doubt about it: That was my favorite thing about Universal.
What was my second favorite thing? You might guess Citywalk, and I’ll admit, that was a close third. Citywalk does rock at night, with its plethora of fun restaurants and nightspots, like Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, and Pat O’Briens dueling pianos. But no, it wasn’t that either.
My second favorite thing(s) about Universal Orlando were its beautiful walking paths around the property. You can stop by the concierge desk of any of the hotels for a map of the paths if you need one, but I found them fairly easy to navigate–and I get lost easily. They were such a peaceful respite from the crowds and noise and general insanity at the parks. I wish I’d had more time at Universal just so I could spend more time exploring those paths.
Can you blame me?
I’m a sucker for walking paths next to pretty, winding bodies of water. (Assuming they don’t have alligators in them!)
When I walked around the corner of this path and saw Portofino Bay Resort for the first time, I caught my breath. It almost felt like I was in Italy.
You can sometimes spot some wildlife, like I did in the photo below. I thought it was cute that the squirrel and the bird were hanging out so close to each other, and neither seemed in the least bit bothered by the other.
I’m not a morning person, but with views like this, it’s a lot easier to wake up at the crack of dawn:
If you like flowers, you can spot many varieties along the paths as well. I was there in November, and there were still plenty in bloom.
One thing that stuck me was that the walking paths were spotlessly clean. I don’t know if that’s because few people use them (there is a water taxi that many guests use to get to and from the resorts, the parks and Citywalk) or because grounds maintenance is right on top of any potential littering problems, but I was impressed.
Is it the same as going for a hike up a mountain or backpacking in the wild? Not hardly. But I think Universal has done a great job providing beautiful outdoor spaces that resort guests can enjoy for some exercise and a bit of peace and quiet. Best part? They’re absolutely free! They’ll be almost the only thing that is.