What an exciting week it’s been! In my head, I’m still at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida in the audience at the live finale of Saturday Night Takeaway, laughing at Dec, Scarlett and Stephen’s rowing race at Volcano Bay, boogying to Craig David, learning dance moves with Jason Derulo and singing the Friends theme with The Rembrandts. If you don’t follow me on social media (and if not, why not?!) you might have missed the exciting news that last week I was lucky enough to fly out to Orlando for a behind the scenes sneaky peek at the Saturday Night Takeaway live finale. My Saturday Night Takeaway adventure began when I joined the lucky place on the plane ticket winners and boarded a specially chartered Virgin Atlantic flight to Orlando. As you can imagine, the atmosphere on board was pretty electric, Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt were milling around, chatting to the winners and the gorgeous, glam Virgin cabin crew were on hand to make sure we were all safe and looked after.
Like the place on the plane winners, we were lucky enough to have a few fabulous days free to explore before the big show. The first day, we hit Universal’s Islands of Adventure, heading straight to Hogsmeade Village for a wander, before joining the fabulous, interactive queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, inside Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as doing a bit of care of magical creatures training on Flight of the Hippogriff.
We came face to face with a ‘raptor, got drenched on the Jurassic Park River, scared ourselves silly on Skull Island: Reign of Kong and got drenched again on my favourite water ride, Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.
The next day, it was time for Universal Studios. Some of my favourite rides and attractions are in this park: Revenge of the Mummy, a terrifying indoor coaster; MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack, a brilliant shoot ’em up; and of course the brilliant new Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, with its clever new virtual line, meaning you can go and have fun in the park and keep your place in the queue. We also got a sneaky look inside the brand new Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction, which I’ll tell you more about as soon as I’m allowed! I adore the incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can wander the shops in Diagon Alley, buy a Hufflepuff hoodie and some chocolate frogs, and grab a frozen butterbeer. Another one of my faves is here: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, whooshing you around deep in the vaults underneath the wizarding world’s favourite bank escaping from Bellatrix and Voldemort. Oh, and of course you need to visit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station too.
Phew! The next day was full of fun at Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park, where we used the brilliant new TapuTapu system for everything from bagging our places in the water ride queues to opening our lockers. Forget your credit cards, all you need is the little band on your wrist! My fave ride here is the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, where you sit in a four person canoe and get whizzed around, through twists and turns inside the dark interior of the volcano and finally come rocketing out through a waterfall. Amazing fun!
The day of the show finally arrived and we were whisked away to get our wristbands before finally taking our places in the audience. We thought Dec was amazing: so confident and upbeat, and the whole show went off without a hitch – although it seemed to last about five minutes, not an hour and a half! At the end, Dec gave a lovely speech about it being a bittersweet time without Ant there, and everyone gave a massive round of applause. So moving.
The lucky winners stayed in the gorgeous Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (read my full review here), a bright, spacious tropical paradise, complete with swaying palms, and a sprawling resort-style pool complete with comfy loungers and bright umbrellas. The rooms are light and modern and even though there are more expensive Universal resort hotels, this one is our firm favourite. We’re huge fans of the colourful lobby area and love the Strong Water Tavern, where you can eat the most amazing tapas while sipping one of their fab rum-based concoctions.
Want to holiday like you got a place on the plane at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida? Grab your place on the plane!
You can explore Universal Orlando Resort from £1,055 per person! Book seven nights in Universal Orlando Resort with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando (just like the winners), and seven nights accommodation at Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Price is per person and based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard two bed queen room. Package includes an economy car with basic insurance for the duration of the stay, and access to all three of Universal Parks. Price is based on a departure of 8 September 2018, with all applicable taxes and fuel charges included but subject to change. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk, 0344 557 3859 or visit one of our stores located nationwide.
I’ve got loads of hints and tips coming up very soon, as well as news about the brand new Fast & Furious: Supercharged ride, fab new foodie treats, new places to stay and more!