universal studios orlando

“Universal team members and friends raise wands in memory of team members Luis Vielma and Xavier Serrano, who were killed in the Orlando nightclub attacks. #orlandounited #oneorlando”

Wands up /*

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You’re a wizard, Sienna!

This week Sienna visited Universal Studios Orlando, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! She strolled Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, toured through Hogwarts Castle, visited the Night Bus and Number 12 Grimmauld Place, rode the Hogwarts Express (both ways!), ate at the Leaky Cauldron, took an elevator down to her Gringotts Vault, and more!

I was actually very impressed with the reception by the Universal Studios staff and the accommodations for guests with service animals. It was, hands down, the most welcoming place we have visited together. We went to Disney World a couple years back with Sienna and this actually blew it out of the water. Where Disney treated the SD kennels and bathrooms as sort of an annoyance or a fuss, Universal cast members were constantly asking us if we needed help finding the dog bathrooms, offering a kennel at rides, offering water, and more. They have a riders guide that describes each ride and whether it can accommodate a service animal or not. We found that it was a little too inclusive, since there were several rides I didn’t feel comfortable taking Si on that she was allowed on according to the guide! In those instances, we would talk with the ride attendant and they would be able to tell me exactly what the setup of the ride was like, including when and where loud noises, FX or explosions would be. There was not a single staff member who didn’t know about service animals or how to deal with them. There wasn’t even one who gave us any kind of cold shoulder! Some would even come to our aid if another guest at the park tried to pet or distract Sienna. When we wanted to ride a ride, my mom and I were escorted by cast members to secondary loading platforms where Sienna would be watched by an employee in a kennel. When the ride ended, she was always just a few feet away (as opposed to Disney, where the kennel was often placed before the ride que or far away from the loading area). We never waited in a line longer than 15 minutes for any ride, usually none at all if we asked for a kennel!

So all in all it was pretty awesome! We had a little trouble at Orlando Airport, first with TSA wanting to remove Sienna’s harness (I said no, give her a patdown) and then with a Jetblue gate agent not wanting to let us on the plane. Buuut they will learn! If Universal can do it, the rest of society shouldn’t be too far behind…

“Welcome Harry, to Diagon Alley”