“CONGRATULATIONS you have been upgraded.”- five words I’ve waited to hear all my life. As if jetting off to Orlando wasn’t magical enough, but now I had nine hours of drinking Champagne (in a real glass) to look forward too. The real reason they give you beds in Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class cabins is to allow you to sleep off your mid-flight food and alcohol coma.

As the wheels touched down in the Sunshine State my hangover began to appear; I didn't care though as the warm Florida weather gave me the greatest of welcomes.


I had seven days to make the most of Universal Orlando Resort- with three theme parks to explore- and I wasn't about to waste a single moment.

My base for the week was Universal’s Loews Portofino Bay Hotel which is a luxury retreat just a 5-minute water taxi away from the magic of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.


The hotel transports guests to the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy. It’s charming and romantic and the perfect haven away from the busy theme parks.

Guests staying at this on-site hotel enjoy exclusive benefits including free Universal Express Unlimited™ passes which allow you to skip the regular lines at the most popular rides and attractions-which is an invaluable treat during the busy times of the year.


However, if you really want the red carpet treatment then the only experience you will need during your stay is the VIP Tour. With a price tag of £2,200 for a group of five, you are given exclusive backstage access to the theme parks led by a Universal Orlando expert. Our adorable guide was called Renée and she was a fountain of knowledge of all things fun. We were treated like celebrities as we skipped lines, took in front row attractions and dined in the parks’ most exclusive restaurants. Renee answered every question we threw at her, gave us tips on how to get the best from the rides and even helped us with our selfies.


At Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure there are movie-themed rides for every age and member of your family with each one being a unique assault on your senses. It’s a chance to leave all your cares and worries at the door and enjoy being a big kid again.

I was mega excited as the brand new Fast and Furious ride had just roared into action after taking four years to create. The wait was well worth it as you are immersed in the high-octane, family-driven world of the film franchise.


However, what I was most looking forward to was spending time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even if you aren't a huge fan of the boy wizard you can't help but be spellbound by the rides and experience Universal brings to life. It’s the only place in the world where is it normal to see adults dressed up in school robes, flicking their magic wands while eating chocolate frogs.

If you are a fan of rollercoasters, then your mind will also be blown by two of the best Florida has to offer- The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. And if you have little ones then they will be captivated by the likes of Despicable Me and Shrek.


It must be said that having endless amounts of fun in the sun is hungry work and no nation does food- and portion sizes- quite like the Americans.

The famous Voodoo Doughnuts store just opened when I was there and the hour-long queue for their signature feasts was well worth it. I treated myself to a Memphis Mafia- a culinary treat named after Elvis’ bodyguards. It soothed my Scottish soul with its fried dough drizzled in chocolate and banana chunks, chocolate chips and peanut butter. And yes, it was as good as it sounds. Apparently, there are no calories on holiday.


After feeding on doughnut delights and padding about the theme park for eight hours the best way to rejuvenate was by heading to the Mandara Spa back at the hotel. There I nearly fell asleep on the table as I received a luxury massage that prepared me for some night time fun at Universal's CityWalk, which is a playground of restaurants, shops and bars.

One of the best places to eat there is Cowfish which is a “Sushi Burger Bar”. I had to order the famous “Burgushi” – a cutting-edge fusion of burger and sushi that offers the best of both worlds. However, there is something on the menu for everyone- I will probably be less adventurous the next time and just build a burger.


If you have still have some energy left at the end of dinner, and someone to look after the kids, then one of the most fun things to do is to try out CityWalk’s Rising Star bar where patrons belt out karaoke on stage with a live band in front of a real audience. However, despite a few cocktails I couldn’t quite muster up the courage to kill a Celine Dion song.

After three hardcore days of hitting the rides it was time to slow the pace down a bit at Universal's Volcano Bay. The newly opened waterpark is just breath-taking. I relaxed on the beach and listened to the waves and screams of the adventure junkies trying out the park's incredible slides. As I meandered the lazy river and soaked up the Florida sun I smiled to myself as I realised that Orlando is one if the best places to visit in the world- no matter what age you are.

It was simply a trip of a lifetime!

Explore Universal Orlando resort from £1,828 per person with Virgin Holidays staying at Universal’s Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Flights not included. For more information visit www.virginholidays.co.uk