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Old 03-10-15, 03:37 PM   #26
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by tasha99 View Post
I was just going to suggest this! We are going in August and I just booked 2 rooms for 3 nights at Hard Rock Hotel. Never been to Universal, but am sooo looking forward to it.
I always stay at the Hard Rock - they are the closest to the parks. It takes me 7 minutes to walk from the elevator bank in the hotel to the front gate of Universal

The pool at the HR is great (movies at night, bands, DJ's, games in the day). Have a great time.
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Old 03-10-15, 04:03 PM   #27
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

The Hard Rock is indeed tops when it comes to theme park resorts. So close to UO. A bit of a hike to IOA, but better than the alternatives. Even the restaurants there are worth checking out. "The Kitchen" has an awesome breakfast buffet.
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Old 03-10-15, 04:13 PM   #28
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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The Hard Rock is indeed tops when it comes to theme park resorts... "The Kitchen" has an awesome breakfast buffet.
Yess!!!! We hit that up each trip and add the "Rockstar" package. Unlimited Bloody Mary's, Mimosas, and Champagne... get a nice buzz going and hit up the Mummy!!!
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Old 03-10-15, 04:51 PM   #29
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by CPA-ESQ. View Post
Yess!!!! We hit that up each trip and add the "Rockstar" package. Unlimited Bloody Mary's, Mimosas, and Champagne... get a nice buzz going and hit up the Mummy!!!
Nothing sounds more appealing than having several bloody mary's before going on roller coasters in 90 degree weather! I will try it!

We had Royal Pacific booked until yesterday. Cheaptickets had a very short sale for 25% off any hotel room, so we managed to move to HRH for less than what we had at Royal Pacific. I was pretty conscious of the distance --there's a thread at the Disboards where they measured the distance from the pool gate at each hotel to each theme park entrance in feet. I am no good in the heat and that little bit closer will seem like miles to me.
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Old 03-10-15, 05:45 PM   #30
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Nothing sounds more appealing than having several bloody mary's before going on roller coasters in 90 degree weather! I will try it!

We had Royal Pacific booked until yesterday. Cheaptickets had a very short sale for 25% off any hotel room, so we managed to move to HRH for less than what we had at Royal Pacific. I was pretty conscious of the distance --there's a thread at the Disboards where they measured the distance from the pool gate at each hotel to each theme park entrance in feet. I am no good in the heat and that little bit closer will seem like miles to me.
Be wary of anything coming from the disboards. Not the highest IQ when it comes the populace there, including those running the show.

Anyway, the HRH is very close to UO if you take the right route though the pool area. IOA is quite a hike though, so be sure you'll not be trying to go back and forth to IOA a lot if you choose HRH. Worst part is when City Walk gets crowded and you have to dodge the mobs in addition to the normal walking distance. With that big body of water in the middle there is really no good way to bypass the crowds either.

Last edited by hdnmickey; 03-10-15 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 03-10-15, 09:14 PM   #31
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

If you are short on time I would not go into Gringotts Bank.
It has some great 3D but as a ride it isn't much.
More like a "tour" that rides like a slow coaster except for the beginning.
It essentially just goes from scene to scene and the car stops as you watch a scene.

Not close to the fun that the other Harry POtter ride is.

Transformers is great.
Mummy is very good too but super short.
Hulk is fun but very jerky

Eat anywhere but in the park.
you will have better, more and less expensive food.

As someone mentioned the Dudley Do Right log flume is different.
It had been closed for a month, we havne't been in there since it opened so
not sure what exactly was done.

JP is fun, has a really good and surprising drop and you will get SOAKED.

Too bad you aren't here in June they are opeing a new King Kong ride late June.

Simpsons is Okay, it's just a rebranded BTTF and is really jerky.

MiB is weak, It's a shooting gallery for points ride but it's nearly impossible to figure out if you're really hitting anything.

Minions is similar to Simpsons but the wait is nearly always 90-120 minutes and not worth it.


Jaws is gone, that's where Gringotts is now but the hanging great white is still there right across from Gringotts.

T2 is fun but it takes too long to be moved into the main area for the live 3D show.
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Old 03-10-15, 09:21 PM   #32
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Too bad you aren't here in June they are opeing a new King Kong ride late June.
Based on the construction updates I have seen, June seems real aggressive. Looks to be more of a late (winter Break) 2015, or even Spring Break 2016 opening.
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Old 03-10-15, 09:22 PM   #33
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Probably right, they seem to estimate early for the new big rides.
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Old 03-11-15, 09:42 AM   #34
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Probably right, they seem to estimate early for the new big rides.
In following this it seems like they delayed the final go/no-go decision and now are behind in getting it open for this summer. They haven't even formally announced the project, which is odd given the status (everybody in the park can see it) and the obvious similarity to the UH version.
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Old 03-13-15, 12:07 AM   #35
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Was actually over there today for an interview at the movie theater.
I stink at interviews so I have no clue as to how well I came out of it.

Well I will tomorrow if they don't call me.
For what it's worth I felt like I did okay.
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Old 03-13-15, 11:24 AM   #36
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Was actually over there today for an interview at the movie theater.
I stink at interviews so I have no clue as to how well I came out of it.

Well I will tomorrow if they don't call me.
For what it's worth I felt like I did okay.

Good luck!
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Old 03-13-15, 01:52 PM   #37
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Its been a while since I have been to UO or IOA but I hear that Cabana Bay is really nice despite the fact is more a value resort. Its definitely one place I want to check out because I absolutely love the theming of it.
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Old 03-14-15, 07:12 AM   #38
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

So, if you book with one of the resorts that includes the Express pass, do you still have to purchase a ticket for admission to the parks or is that also included with your hotel visit? Looked at this briefly online, and got kind of confused with all the ticket packages.
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Old 03-14-15, 12:56 PM   #39
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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So, if you book with one of the resorts that includes the Express pass, do you still have to purchase a ticket for admission to the parks or is that also included with your hotel visit? Looked at this briefly online, and got kind of confused with all the ticket packages.
You still have to have an admission ticket. It gives you front of the line/express pass on most rides and you can use it multiple times per ride. Universal sells some express passes that can only be used once per attraction. You can also use it for priority seating at restaurants. To me, having express pass with the room key makes choosing an onsite resort much more appealing. Without that benefit, we'd probably stay in our Disney Vacation Club villa and just drive to Universal for the day.
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Old 03-14-15, 01:38 PM   #40
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

I was there first week of January. I enjoyed all the Harry Potter stuff. The rest of it I found rather dull and a lot of the rides to be extremely outdated. Seeing the T2 experience after all these years was funny, and actually pretty good. Better than the last two movies for sure.
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Old 03-14-15, 03:50 PM   #41
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

So I just booked a trip there for easter break. Staying at the Royal Pacific. Can anyone recommend any good sites for discounted tickets? AAA offers a discount that I need to look into. For previous visitors of Universal, how many days needed to do both parks? I see the two day special where they give you 3rd day free, but would believe going there for 3 days would just start to get boring.

Any recommendations on good restaurants and/or microbrews in the area?
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Old 03-14-15, 04:02 PM   #42
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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So I just booked a trip there for easter break. Staying at the Royal Pacific. Can anyone recommend any good sites for discounted tickets? AAA offers a discount that I need to look into. For previous visitors of Universal, how many days needed to do both parks? I see the two day special where they give you 3rd day free, but would believe going there for 3 days would just start to get boring.

Any recommendations on good restaurants and/or microbrews in the area?
You can get everything done in two days in both parks. Easter break might slightly be more busy but it's still doable. As for tickets I typically just buy from the website. You can buy through third party vendors but I never found the discount to be substantial enough.
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Old 03-14-15, 04:19 PM   #43
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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I was there first week of January. I enjoyed all the Harry Potter stuff. The rest of it I found rather dull and a lot of the rides to be extremely outdated. Seeing the T2 experience after all these years was funny, and actually pretty good. Better than the last two movies for sure.
I share your view. I see people raving about Universal, and I just don't get it. I was there in Feb 2014 for 2 days. Spent 1 day in each park. I liked the Harry Potter stuff, but was really let down by almost everything else.

ET is terribly lame and outdated, the T2 thing is just dumb, the Simpsons ride was meh (pun intended), the Men in Black ride is pretty boring (people really love this ride?), "Disaster Movie" is appropriately named (I saw the Chris Walken version), the "Horror movie make-up" show thing was cringe-inducing, the Shrek movie is just that, a movie, most of the interesting-looking buildings are just facades, you can look in the front window at some things, but that is all there is to them (Harry Potter world is also guilty of this - some cool looking buildings that you can't go in).

Luckily, the crowds there were very small, so we really didn't have to wait in line long for anything. There was a big Harry Potter special weekend with some of the actors there the weekend before I went (I went on Tue-Wed, I think), so I guess the crowds probably went those days.

If I was forced to go again, I wouldn't mind seeing the new Harry Potter things, and riding the roller-coasters (they are pretty good), but my desire to go back is very low.
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Old 03-19-15, 01:11 PM   #44
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
So I just booked a trip there for easter break. Staying at the Royal Pacific. Can anyone recommend any good sites for discounted tickets? AAA offers a discount that I need to look into. For previous visitors of Universal, how many days needed to do both parks? I see the two day special where they give you 3rd day free, but would believe going there for 3 days would just start to get boring.

Any recommendations on good restaurants and/or microbrews in the area?

AAA is good, and some people like undercover tourist (the discount is just a few bucks)

You are staying on site and if they are offering a free day why not take it? The onsite hotels at Universal are close - not like disney where you have to commute for 40 minutes. Go into the park, go back to the hotel to swim, lunch, etc.. then go back later. The parks at Universal are not open till 1am or anything crazy. Prob close at 9pm ish.

If you like micro brews there is the ale house about 2 blocks away from the hotel. and in orlando there is the house of beer which has tons of beer. enjoy
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Old 03-28-15, 08:10 AM   #45
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

OK, went to Universal for three days and then spent the rest of last week in south Florida. Impressions of Universal:

1. It's a great theme park, in some ways better than what Disney has on offer. In particular, the rides are often simply better as true thrill rides: more real roller coasters, better motion simulator rides. Where it doesn't quite match Disney is the non-ride attractions, non-thrill rides and overall theming. It's close though. At about 1/2 Disney prices, Universal is a relative bargain.

2. The Forbidden Journey is better than simply the best ride in Universal, I'd say it's the best ride in Orlando. I went on it four times. I think it may be the best theme park attraction I've ever been on.

3. The Hulk and the Dragon Challenge are both excellent, world class roller coasters. The Hulk is one of the best coasters I've ever been on and I've been on a lot.

4. Universal's Harry Potter stuff is way better than anything else in Universal in terms of theming and attention to detail. It's easily the equal of anything Disney has done to date. The new Diagon Alley stuff is just as good if not better than Hogsmeade. The train between the two makes sense thematically, is a lot of fun and has such huge throughput that it actually is practical as a way to navigate between the two "lands".

5. Overall ride ratings: Great: The Forbidden Journey, The Hulk, The Dragon Challenge, The Mummy, Ripsaw Falls (awesome). Good: Transformers, Spiderman, Minion Mayhem, Pterenodon Flyers. OK: Jurassic Park, MiB, Simpsons, Flight of the Hippogriff. Not worth waiting for but fine itf there's no wait: E.T., Poseidon's Fury, Shrek (all of which were fairly awful). Major attractions missed: Gringott's (insanely crowded at all hours), Rip Rocket (daughter didn't want to go on it.)

6. You NEED an express pass if you're going this time of year. You'll have a much, much better time at the park with one. Of course, they cost a bloody fortune (~$100 / day / person, no multi-day deal) but I think they're worth it. Stay on property (anywhere but Cabana Bay) to get complementary passes for everyone in your party. Despite the advice above, having someone else stay on property DOES NOT get you complementary "guest passes": you actually need to stay in the Royal Pacific, Hard Rock or Portofino to get the complementary express pass. Regarding Cabana Bay (more later): you save some rack rate money staying there vs. the other hotels but adding the cost of two express passes to the ticket prices makes paying for one of the nicer hotels basically a wash. My recommendation if you can swing it: bite the bullet, pay for the expensive hotel and get the free express passes.

7. I stayed at Cabana Bay. My parents stayed at the Royal Pacific. I ate dinner at Portofino Bay. Didn't go to the Hard Rock. Cabana Bay is just fine for the cost: comfortable, friendly staff, perfect for families, great pools and I love the mid-century theming. Canaba Bay is also brand new. The Royal Pacific is significantly nicer in every respect... at roughly 2.5X the cost (but with complementary express passes, see above). Portofino is pretentious and annoying to me but inarguably a nice, themed hotel (it's also HUGE). All three hotels are just as good as their price-band counterparts at Disney. Also, all are very, very close to the park, it's very, very convenient to stay on property: you can walk everywhere.

8. They are building yet another resort (Sapphire Falls) and a huge King Kong themed ride.

Overall, I'm a convert. I really liked Universal and my kids actually preferred it to Disney (I won't go that far). It's certainly far less expensive than Disney and almost as good (better in some ways). It's a two or three day trip to see everything in both parks, plan accordingly.
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Old 03-28-15, 06:17 PM   #46
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Thanks for the review. I'm going next week.
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Old 03-28-15, 06:30 PM   #47
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Thanks for the review. I'm going next week.
Have a good time. I ate at Emeril's in the Royal Pacific one night. It was expensive but very good.
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Old 03-28-15, 06:45 PM   #48
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

If the lines are long and people in your group don't need to necessarily sit together, I highly recommend checking out the single rider lines that are available at most attractions. Wait time is usually 50-75% less.
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Old 03-28-15, 06:51 PM   #49
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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The Forbidden Journey is better than simply the best ride in Universal, I'd say it's the best ride in Orlando. I went on it four times. I think it may be the best theme park attraction I've ever been on.
How long were the lines for this? This is one that you can't use the Express Pass for, right?

When I was there last (Christmas week a couple of years ago) the Express Passes made line waiting a non-issue. Considering the family only gets there every few years and the one girl was the perfect age (8 years) it was still money well spent to make the trip as ideal as possible. But I still remember that enormous FJ line: 90 minutes (though the listed wait time was 150 minutes), stretching all the way out to the Jurassic area. Annoying, the line moved slowly on the outside, but once we were inside to where all the interesting theming was we were rushed through and didn't really have a chance to look at stuff Still, the wait was worth it ... something that has to be experienced if you're there. But there was no way we could've handled waiting in that line for a second (or third or fourth) ride.
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Old 03-28-15, 06:53 PM   #50
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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If the lines are long and people in your group don't need to necessarily sit together, I highly recommend checking out the single rider lines that are available at most attractions. Wait time is usually 50-75% less.
Though I wish ride attendants kept a better eye on people who went through the single-rider short line, only to duck under the rail to the regular line at the last second.
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