Have you ever dreamed of having an empty theme park all to yourself? Yeah, me too. Universal Studios, along with my friends over at Instagramers Orlando, made it happen for a few lucky Instagrammers; and all in time for Instagram's 13th Worldwide Instameet. How did I get the invite you ask? Well, if they know me like I think they know me, then they know I know my way around Orlando theme parks.
It started off as a beautiful sunny afternoon as we all checked in, greeted one another, and shared Instagram handles. There were quite a few familiar faces which made me feel at ease. Meeting new people doesn't always come easy for me. All of us were given an exclusive t-shirt and wristband to wear for the meet, to distinguish us from the guests they were clearing out of the parks. Universal staff passed out ponchos knowing that rain was in the forecast, and I was periodically checking my weather app to keep myself updated; the storms were definitely on the way. It was just a matter of how severe these storms would be. And it didn't look good.
After a few light sprinkles, I quickly fumbled to put on my poncho; mainly to guard my camera equipment. After doing this dance several times hoping the rain had passed each time, it was now time to set off into the park and capture the shots of my dreams. After being split up into two groups, we set out our opposite ways into uncertainty as thunder rumbled close by. The sprinkles quickly graduated to a downpour in a matter of minutes, and to my surprise our trusty guide pushed on. As we made our way through Jurassic Park, the last remaining guests were now screaming and sprinting their way to the park exit. It was almost as if a dinosaur had escaped its paddock and was roaming the park looking for its next meal. This is no exaggeration. It was literally like a scene plucked from the movie. Our guide continued to press on.
After making a beeline towards a small hut to take a break from the downpour, I think the guide saw it in my eyes that I was not going any further. And I was hoping everyone else in the group had the same desperate look on their face as I did. We were all so soaked. To my surprise, he let us catch our breath and of course a few of us took the time to Snapchat.
The rain finally let up enough to continue our trek to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and to the many other worlds of Universal Orlando. With the absence of guests, it was easy to immerse yourself in the different storylines. And there were many times I was left behind by the group, determined to get my shot. There wasn't any time to admire the views. And with twilight fast approaching, it became even more challenging to get my shots. Good thing I brought my tripod!
All in all it was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have to say Harry Potter World was by far my favorite to get lost in. By the end of the night, we were all so beat. Even the final group shot was a challenge to organize because of how exhausted we were. But it was all so worth it. I made some awesome connections with people who are just as passionate about this little hobby as I am, and just as passionate about this area and everything Orlando offers. Universal Orlando absolutely blew me away and will probably be investing in annual passes very soon due to this experience. Looking forward to enjoying the rides on my next visit!
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