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Old 08-24-15, 11:53 AM   #101
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Just got back from our trip last night and it was awesome. We did both parks in one day - in total about 15+ miles of walking over 14 hours but well worth it.
We did end up staying at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel -- and it was nice. Not outstanding, but nice. The service was VERY slow but getting Express Pass was well worth it.
Regarding the park, I was able to finally get over to Island of Adventure and that was pretty awesome.
I'd say the Spiderman experience was my favorite followed by the Hulk rollercoaster then the Harry Potter experience.
On the other side, the HP Gringotts experience kicked major ass... followed by Transformers and then the Minions or Simpsons rides. All in all it was an excellent day.

One thing I noticed is that it appears they're building a Skull Island ride or experience. It was pretty heavily blocked off but looked like a King Kong theme --- which would be outstanding.
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Old 08-24-15, 12:00 PM   #102
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by Rob V View Post
One thing I noticed is that it appears they're building a Skull Island ride or experience. It was pretty heavily blocked off but looked like a King Kong theme --- which would be outstanding.
Yup. Opens next spring/summer. It's going to be a little different than the similar portion that is part of the Universal Hollywood tram tour since obviously the IOA version will not be part of a larger tour. The Hollywood experience is essentially a part of the tram tour where you go into the Skull Island tunnel and Kong and T-Rex battle on either side of your tram vehicle According to the information that Universal had released, at IOA they will make up for the short actual "ride" experience by making your time in the queue part of the attraction like they do with Hogwarts castle.

Glad you had a great time. Wish I could fit in a short trip to see the things that are new since we were last there. Still waiting for my daughter to reach a height that allows here to take in all the stuff at Universal Orlando.
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Old 09-02-15, 08:44 AM   #103
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by Shoveler View Post
Yeah, absolutely hit Gringott's first. Don't stop and gawk as you go through Diagon Alley on your way to Gringott's, you can gawk after the ride. Oh, the entrance to Diagon Alley is great! It is unmarked, and hidden, so they had to have a park employee standing outside telling passersby where it was.
We just left Universal a couple of days ago. By the time we got to the Diagon Alley area, there was no one showing people the entrance, and it took us a few minutes.

The hidden gem for us was the Spiderman ride--I actually liked it better than the Harry Potter rides. Worst was the Dragon Challenge--I ended up not going on that Rip Rocket coaster later, because I found that too many sideways twists made me nauseated by the end of the ride (getting old, I suppose. I'm miserable on fishing trips, too.)

Oh, a tip for anyone thinking to order a butterbeer for each person--don't. Get one to share. We were 3 for 3 thinking it was disgustingly sweet.
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Old 09-02-15, 11:29 AM   #104
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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The hidden gem for us was the Spiderman ride--I actually liked it better than the Harry Potter rides. Worst was the Dragon Challenge--I ended up not going on that Rip Rocket coaster later, because I found that too many sideways twists made me nauseated by the end of the ride (getting old, I suppose. I'm miserable on fishing trips, too.)

Oh, a tip for anyone thinking to order a butterbeer for each person--don't. Get one to share. We were 3 for 3 thinking it was disgustingly sweet.
Haven't ridden that since it was Dueling Dragons. I don't know if it was age but that thing rattled my head around so much that I didn't want to ride anything afterwards.
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Old 09-02-15, 11:32 AM   #105
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Oh, a tip for anyone thinking to order a butterbeer for each person--don't. Get one to share. We were 3 for 3 thinking it was disgustingly sweet.
A little goes a long way. Lao helps cutting down the cost since it's way overpriced as well. The take home mug is cool to have, but one of those is also enough.
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Old 09-02-15, 12:35 PM   #106
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

I am going in October for three days, 10/29-10/31. Looking forward to doing the Halloween Horror nights, from reading online it looks like the express pass is necessary for that event to do all the houses in one night. Has anyone gone to the Horror nights? That express pass adds $90 to the ticket but would be worth it if thats the only way to get it done in one night, obviously the stay on site express pass won't work for the halloween event.
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Old 09-02-15, 02:52 PM   #107
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Express pass is a must... You can score a room for $300 (or less) that'll net you free express passes though.
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Old 09-02-15, 03:14 PM   #108
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Express pass is a must... You can score a room for $300 (or less) that'll net you free express passes though.
Yeah, we have the hotel booked for 3 nights, but from what I'm reading is that the express pass given wont work for the Halloween Horror nights. We will still need to buy an express pass for the HHN part of the trip for $90.
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Old 09-02-15, 03:53 PM   #109
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Yeah, we have the hotel booked for 3 nights, but from what I'm reading is that the express pass given wont work for the Halloween Horror nights. We will still need to buy an express pass for the HHN part of the trip for $90.
Yep, I did HHN last year, followed the advice I got here and got the Express Pass for the night, and it was, as you said, essential. I was in the park when it closed for regular guests, we were herded into the NYC street area near Revenge of the Mummy. Waited there for an hour or two, then we were let out to get in line. I hit Walking Dead first, did NOT use my Express Pass, got in *relatively* quickly, about 30 minutes. By the time I got out, the wait was roughly 90 minutes. I then hit one of the less popular houses, I think maybe Dusk to Dawn, again not using my Express Pass, got in in about 20 minutes. The rest of the night was all Express Pass, including a return trip to Walking Dead for the last house of the night.
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Old 09-03-15, 11:28 AM   #110
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by mh4268 View Post
I am going in October for three days, 10/29-10/31. Looking forward to doing the Halloween Horror nights, from reading online it looks like the express pass is necessary for that event to do all the houses in one night. Has anyone gone to the Horror nights? That express pass adds $90 to the ticket but would be worth it if thats the only way to get it done in one night, obviously the stay on site express pass won't work for the halloween event.
You'll also be going during one of the busiest times for the event so it's doubly necessary. Halloween and the days leading up are supposedly very busy, plus they're on a weekend this year so that will probably make it even worse. I went on a Saturday in late September last year and even the Express Pass lines got to be a bit long for the super popular houses (Halloween and Walking Dead last year). They say the Express Pass reduces the wait to between 25% and 33%, but doesn't eliminate it completely.

In addition to getting the Express pass, I'd strongly suggest you do some research before you go. Learn what houses are the popular ones that will have the horrible lines and try to knock those out as soon as you can. The one good thing about going when you are is that you'll have a month worth of event reports online so you should know what the popular ones are. Heck, I'll be going the first week of October so I can report back here and give you some tips. I'm not getting the Express Pass because I'm going three separate nights (Frequent Fear pass) but I'll try to note what the line situation is. Maybe take pics of the house board with the times on it.

Also, if you're going to the park that day - take advantage of the stay in the park 'corral' system. Basically if you are already inside the park that day, when they are kicking everyone out of the park at 5 to transition to the HHN event at 6:30 you have the option of entering one of several fenced-in areas around the park to wait instead of leaving the park and waiting at the front gate.

There are two advantages to this... 1) You are closer to the houses and can get a quick jump into the front of a line before the throngs of people from the gate get there, and 2) They usually let you out of the corral earlier than the 6:30 opening time. I've been out as early as 6 and as late as 6:30. Note that not every house will be open before 6:30, but usually one or two are. It's great to be able to crank out a house before the main crowd is even in the park.
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Old 09-03-15, 12:34 PM   #111
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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You'll also be going during one of the busiest times for the event so it's doubly necessary. Halloween and the days leading up are supposedly very busy, plus they're on a weekend this year so that will probably make it even worse. I went on a Saturday in late September last year and even the Express Pass lines got to be a bit long for the super popular houses (Halloween and Walking Dead last year). They say the Express Pass reduces the wait to between 25% and 33%, but doesn't eliminate it completely.

In addition to getting the Express pass, I'd strongly suggest you do some research before you go. Learn what houses are the popular ones that will have the horrible lines and try to knock those out as soon as you can. The one good thing about going when you are is that you'll have a month worth of event reports online so you should know what the popular ones are. Heck, I'll be going the first week of October so I can report back here and give you some tips. I'm not getting the Express Pass because I'm going three separate nights (Frequent Fear pass) but I'll try to note what the line situation is. Maybe take pics of the house board with the times on it.

Also, if you're going to the park that day - take advantage of the stay in the park 'corral' system. Basically if you are already inside the park that day, when they are kicking everyone out of the park at 5 to transition to the HHN event at 6:30 you have the option of entering one of several fenced-in areas around the park to wait instead of leaving the park and waiting at the front gate.

There are two advantages to this... 1) You are closer to the houses and can get a quick jump into the front of a line before the throngs of people from the gate get there, and 2) They usually let you out of the corral earlier than the 6:30 opening time. I've been out as early as 6 and as late as 6:30. Note that not every house will be open before 6:30, but usually one or two are. It's great to be able to crank out a house before the main crowd is even in the park.
Thanks for the info. I am in Orlando from 10/24-11/1, we are starting at disney for the food an wine fest and then going to Universal. We are doing the Thursday night instead of friday/saturday hoping that it may be ever so slightly less crowded and it costs less as well.

Will definitely use the corral system then that you and shoveler mentioned, and I will be doing some research to see what the popular houses will be, any help is appreciated. Hoping with the express pass we can get everything done. I am looking forward to the American Werewolf in London house the most as of now.
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Old 09-03-15, 05:23 PM   #112
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Haven't ridden that since it was Dueling Dragons. I don't know if it was age but that thing rattled my head around so much that I didn't want to ride anything afterwards.
Wasn't your age, more like the coasters age. I have rode it numerous times over the years and when we went last year my head took a beating while on that ride. I usually jump off and get right back on and ride again but not this time. Luckily we were heading toward Dr. Suess' Land after that ride, so I had time to re-cooperate before having to get on anything major.

We decided not to make our yearly trek to the Orlando/Kissimmee area this year. With so much construction going on in the Disney Parks we felt it was best to take a break. We've been talking about it for a couple of years and felt this was probably the best time to do it.
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Old 09-04-15, 01:38 PM   #113
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

I-4 is currently the biggest nightmare possible right now as well, so good call.
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Old 10-14-15, 03:20 PM   #114
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by mh4268 View Post
Thanks for the info. I am in Orlando from 10/24-11/1, we are starting at disney for the food an wine fest and then going to Universal. We are doing the Thursday night instead of friday/saturday hoping that it may be ever so slightly less crowded and it costs less as well.

Will definitely use the corral system then that you and shoveler mentioned, and I will be doing some research to see what the popular houses will be, any help is appreciated. Hoping with the express pass we can get everything done. I am looking forward to the American Werewolf in London house the most as of now.
Just an update, I just got back from Orlando and this year's HHN. I went 3 nights (Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday) and did the Unmasking the Horror tour. Even though I didn't go on peak days (Friday or Saturday) it was pretty busy every night.

There were 4 corral locations this year as far as I could tell... the Finnegan's pub block, outside the I Love Lucy building, somewhere in the Simpsons area, and Diagon Alley. I only corraled one night, at Finnegans, and we were sent to Freddy vs Jason first. Diagon apparently lets you wander aroung that whole area and even ride Gringotts while you wait, but the downside is I heard they do not give you early access to any houses.

As for order of houses, I can tell you Insidious was by far the consistently busiest house all 3 nights. The wait seemed to be between 70-100 minutes all night after 8:00 or so. Freddy vs Jason was pretty busy as well, and at one point was 120 minutes! But another night it had dropped to 35 minutes later in the night, so it was a bit less consistent.

Monsters & Mayhem, Purge, Walking Dead, and Body Collectors all seemed to fluctuate... some nights they were an hour, other times one would randomly drop to 30 minutes. Run and Asylum in Wonderland generally had lower times, especially early in the night. An American Werewolf in London was the easiest one to get any time of night... it was usually around 20 minutes while I was there. It's a great house, but it was there 2 years ago and is generally the same as 2013 with the exception of improved werewolves, so locals tend to skip it or only hit it once.

And the rides that were open during the event had pretty short waits. I think even Gringotts had under 20 minute waits most of the time, and Transformers was 5 minutes every time we checked.

As for a game plan, I strongly suggest you knock out either Insidious or Freddy vs Jason as soon as possible. I'm not sure which corral zone gets you closest to Insidious. What worked for me on Sunday even without being corraled was to head to the Kidzone area (past ET) first. We hit Walking Dead, which empties out right at the entrance to Purge. Then we did Purge, which deposits you right at the entrance to Insidious, which was 45 minutes at this point. Then you have to cross back through the park... you can either hit Run or beeline to the busier houses like FvJ to get them out of the way. Also, the shows are going on all night, so I'd suggest hitting most of the houses first before watching the shows.
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Old 08-02-17, 07:28 AM   #115
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Heading back to Universal next week --- almost two years to the date. Anything new and exciting we should keep on our radar? Obviously King Kong is new... anything else?
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Old 08-02-17, 08:55 AM   #116
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Heading back to Universal next week --- almost two years to the date. Anything new and exciting we should keep on our radar? Obviously King Kong is new... anything else?
Jimmy Fallon Race through New York is new (no more Twister: Ride it Out). If your a fan of Dragon Challenge, ride'em now because they close for good in September (making way for a new Potter themed coaster). Also, if you are staying onsite at one of the resorts that offers Express Pass as a perk, all Harry Potter rides are now included (FJ, Gringott's and the train).

Also, in City walk, head over to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. Chocolate themed food across the entire menu (everything we tried was quite good and the chocolate bread as great!). If you can't get in for lunch/dinner, their awesome shakes are available separately from the dine-in area as well.

My strawberry cheesecake shake:

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Old 08-02-17, 09:18 AM   #117
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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If your a fan of Dragon Challenge, ride'em now because they close for good in September (making way for a new Potter themed coaster).

When will the replacement coaster open?
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Old 08-02-17, 09:24 AM   #118
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When will the replacement coaster open?
They haven't given a good timeline, it was announced last week. No concept art yet. But the way they describe it, I'm thinking a grown up version of Disney's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride since they describe it as being heavily themed:

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This all-new thrill ride will take you deeper into J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World, where you will encounter some of your favorite characters and creatures. […] It will combine a new level of storytelling with an action-packed adventure…and a few surprises along the way.
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Old 08-02-17, 09:30 AM   #119
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Yeah, IoA appears to be easing off the thrill rides in favor of more themed ones but it's probably good for them, it has lost a lot of its initial appeal over the years and I don't think their iconic Hulk coaster (nor their other Marvel Themed rides) are in any danger.

Can't believe the place is almost 20 years old now.

Also, Universal's Volcano Bay opened recently if you feel like hitting a water park, I hear their queuing system is kind of broken still though.
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Old 08-02-17, 09:36 AM   #120
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Also, Universal's Volcano Bay opened recently if you feel like hitting a water park, I hear their queuing system is kind of broken still though.
Forgot to mention that, but I'm not big on waterparks. Yes, I've read about the troubles with Tapu Tapu ride system. Neat idea (virtual queue) but they are having trouble with execution. We're heading back in late September for HHN and took advantage of a ticket promotion that includes Volcano Bay, so I may venture over there and try their water coaster.
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Old 08-02-17, 09:41 AM   #121
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Also, if you are staying onsite at one of the resorts that offers Express Pass as a perk, all Harry Potter rides are now included (FJ, Gringott's and the train).
Awesome. Heading there in a few weeks. Are any rides not part of the Resort Express Pass system now?

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When will the replacement coaster open?
Everything I have read predicts late May 2018. Which makes sense given they want something new to promote against Star Wars land opening in Disney World in 2019. They should have no problem hitting that date given they said they will start in September and the rumored ride system is well established (motorcycle and sidecar themed powered coaster).

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Yeah, IoA appears to be easing off the thrill rides in favor of more themed ones but it's probably good for them, it has lost a lot of its initial appeal over the years and I don't think their iconic Hulk coaster (nor their other two Marvel Themed rides) are in any danger.

Can't believe the place is almost 20 years old now.

Also, Universal's Volcano Bay opened recently if you feel like hitting a water park, I hear their queuing system is kind of broken still though.
Hulk is likely safe for now, along with Spiderman, Jurassic Park, Kong, and all of Potter. But everything else might be replaced over the next decade.

What is going wrong with the TapuTapu's in Volcano Bay? I haven't read anything about that yet.
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Old 08-02-17, 09:50 AM   #122
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Awesome. Heading there in a few weeks. Are any rides not part of the Resort Express Pass system now?
I think all the major rides are now part of it, a few things like Pteranodon Flyers are exempt.

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What is going wrong with the TapuTapu's in Volcano Bay? I haven't read anything about that yet.
From what I've read, it's the poor volume management since they don't have enough data on crowds/ride capacities yet which is causing overly long waits overall, and long waits even when you show up for your ride time. Also, you can only "virtually wait" one ride at a time, which means either lounging in the wave pool/lazy river waiting doe that ride, or waiting in really long lines for other rides in the meantime. Then, you have 8 rides that use the Express pass system as well...so it may just be too much to manage at the moment.
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Old 08-02-17, 10:18 AM   #123
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Then, you have 8 rides that use the Express pass system as well...so it may just be too much to manage at the moment.
8 of the water park rides are on the Resort Express system? First I've heard of that, but it's good news since we are staying at one of their deluxe resorts.
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Old 08-02-17, 11:08 AM   #124
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

I'm staying at the Royal Pacific Resort -- specifically to get Fast Passes.
I won't miss the Dragon Ride... but if they ever tear down Hulk, I'll be disappointed. I had no idea what to expect and jetting from 0 to 100mph in mere seconds was crazy as hell!

Anybody try the King Kong thing? How is it?
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Old 08-02-17, 11:18 AM   #125
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

We went to Universal Studio's few weeks back in Orlando. Had a grand time. We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel and got the express pass and we were able to see everything while we were there. We stayed 4 days and went to the two parks. Didn't go to the water park..

We went early when the park opened for hotel guests and then stayed at the parks till lunch time. Went back to the hotel and took a nap and then after dinner we went back to the parks and stayed there till closing..

The longest we waited for any ride/attraction was a minute.. Some, we just got on..
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