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Old 03-28-15, 08:47 PM   #51
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by brainee View Post
How long were the lines for this?
The lines at Forbidden Journey are brutal. Average wait time was about 80-90 minutes by the time the park opened at 9. I saw it hit at least 130 minutes by 11AM every day I was there. How did I manage to go on it four times? I was there for three days, we went to the parks at 7:45 each day and invariably rode The Forbidden Journey first all three days (my daughter and my father also loved it). We had about a 15 minute wait each time, which is actually great because the queue is awesome. The fourth time we rode it was unplanned and due to a special "front of the line" waiver my daughter and I got because Minion Mayhem broke down while we were riding it. Which brings me to an interesting fact: The Forbidden Journey DOES in fact have a fully-themed express queue built into the castle, it starts just past the lockers in the castle and dumps you straight into the front of Dumbledore's office. You need to get one of these waivers to get into this themed queue (it even has talking portraits). We were on the ride in two minutes tops while there was a 120 minute queue... awesome. Clearly, Universal is planning ahead to when Express Passes make sense for the Forbidden Journey.

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This is one that you can't use the Express Pass for, right?
Correct. I believe the only rides you currently can't use the express pass for are Gringott's and The Forbidden Journey (I could be wrong on this).

Sidenote: why didn't I use one morning to go to Gringott's? Gringott's was tricky to get to as early opening was at IoA. This meant that if you wanted to ride Gringott's, you had to get into IoA, walk all the way to Hogsmeade (which is in the absolute back of the park), wait for the Hogwarts Express, get to a locker and put everything inside and then finally queue for Gringotts on the other side. Invariably the line for the Hogwarts express was huge every morning as everyone had this plan. It was just a pain in the ass and not a fun start to the day. We did The Forbidden Journey and both sides of the Dragon Challenge (which is basically walk on all day anyway) every morning instead in about the same time it would have taken us to begin queuing for Gringott's.

One other thing: Universal does offer a VIP pass at $330 per person (I didn't actually considered buying it...). This allows walk on access (true walk on, no waiting in even the express queue) to EVERYTHING in both parks (including all of the Harry Potter stuff) and a bunch of other stuff. This is outrageously expensive but might be worth it if you have only two people and one day to do both parks. Including park tickets and lunch, you're pushing $500 / person for one day with this option. Yikes.
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Old 03-28-15, 09:38 PM   #52
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

How much was Emeril? $50 a person?

I still like ET but they need to ditch the lame goodbye card.

Amazing how they keep raising ticket prices but people just keep coming here. At this rate, a one-day pass will be $200 in a few years.
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Old 03-28-15, 11:02 PM   #53
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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How much was Emeril? $50 a person?

I still like ET but they need to ditch the lame goodbye card.

Amazing how they keep raising ticket prices but people just keep coming here. At this rate, a one-day pass will be $200 in a few years.
Here's the Tchoup Chop menu for dinner:
http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/em...inner-desserts

We're planning to eat there too (or Roys--haven't made up my mind, but we like Asian fusion a lot)

Kind of pricey but not as horrible as many of the somewhat mediocre restaurants at WDW. We go out to a few sit down meals, but eat a lot of counter service and I cook in our room at WDW since we always have a kitchen. I'm kind of hoping that the restaurants at Universal will be better than WDW. I think they will be . . .

Also, yes to the ridiculous prices. The most satisfying thing about our trip in August is we bought 2 of our tickets many years ago, when they were around $85, both parks, for 7 days. Only thing cheap on our whole trip, it seems.

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Old 03-29-15, 09:49 AM   #54
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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How much was Emeril? $50 a person?
I spent $287 + tip for six people (one kid's menu), a ~$50 bottle of wine and one mixed drink. Tip was included in that price. Your estimate of $50/person seems about right.
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Old 03-30-15, 10:30 AM   #55
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Glad you had a great time, but didn't work the resorts right to get the FOTL. You can put 4 names on the room and get them for 4 people. It's a very common practice that others do all the time. They basically check in very early one morning and get two days of the FOTL pass. Many don't even stay in their room (they stay at Disney via DVC).

I agree that many of the attractions are better than their Disney counterparts. The theming is better in many areas of Disney as well. So much of Epcot and Disney Studios might as well not have a theme.
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Old 03-30-15, 10:49 AM   #56
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
One other thing: Universal does offer a VIP pass at $330 per person (I didn't actually considered buying it...). This allows walk on access (true walk on, no waiting in even the express queue) to EVERYTHING in both parks (including all of the Harry Potter stuff) and a bunch of other stuff. This is outrageously expensive but might be worth it if you have only two people and one day to do both parks.
I think it would be much more cost effective to just go in the off season (although I imagine this is tricky with children and school, which is the main reason the off season is 'off' in first place). I've been going in late September and it's great because most kids have just started fall classes up and not as many parents want to pull them out for a week at that point.
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Old 03-30-15, 11:34 AM   #57
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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I think it would be much more cost effective to just go in the off season (although I imagine this is tricky with children and school, which is the main reason the off season is 'off' in first place). I've been going in late September and it's great because most kids have just started fall classes up and not as many parents want to pull them out for a week at that point.
The issue is also the possibility of hitting a time when so many things are closed for a refurb. And like Disney, the off-season just isn't as off as it used to be now that the two Potter areas are open. Plus so many things that Universal does isn't available during the off-season.

I remember going back in the pre-Potter days during the off-season and it seemed like there was more workers than guests. These days I would never go during anything but the "on season with the FOTL option.
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Old 03-30-15, 11:54 AM   #58
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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I think it would be much more cost effective to just go in the off season (although I imagine this is tricky with children and school, which is the main reason the off season is 'off' in first place). I've been going in late September and it's great because most kids have just started fall classes up and not as many parents want to pull them out for a week at that point.
True.

My point is more that if someone is already in Orlando at (say) Disney and has one day for Universal, the VIP pass may be a reasonable option if they can afford it. With the VIP pass, you're guaranteed to get on everything in both parks at least once (more likely several times) and have a generally very ideal theme park day.
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Old 03-30-15, 11:59 AM   #59
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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I think it would be much more cost effective to just go in the off season (although I imagine this is tricky with children and school, which is the main reason the off season is 'off' in first place).
Exactly. I'd love to be able to go in the "off" season. But it's just not possible. I still remember one trip when I was in middle school, where my parents arranged for my brother and I to get out of school for a week in October. It was glorious ... no lines at all (at least on the weekdays).
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Old 03-30-15, 12:14 PM   #60
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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The issue is also the possibility of hitting a time when so many things are closed for a refurb. And like Disney, the off-season just isn't as off as it used to be now that the two Potter areas are open. Plus so many things that Universal does isn't available during the off-season.

I remember going back in the pre-Potter days during the off-season and it seemed like there was more workers than guests. These days I would never go during anything but the "on season with the FOTL option.
I actually haven't experienced many refurbs when I go... although I've heard January is a bad time for that sort of thing. But in late September last year I never had a wait for over an hour at Universal, even Gringotts... I waited longer to get pizza than I did for most of the rides.

The key is planning, in my opinion. Knock out the big dogs as soon as possible for all theme parks... first thing in the morning I beeline to Gringotts or whatever the park's 'longest line' attraction is. Early on a lot of guests are trying to get their bearing in the park, or dealing with strollers and small children, or simply taking in the park atmosphere. You still have the early admissions to contend with (unless you're on of them) but it's not that bad. I can then often double back and knock some of the other popular rides like Transformers out of the way while everyone else is finally making their way back to Gringotts.
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Old 03-30-15, 12:36 PM   #61
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by DRG View Post
I actually haven't experienced many refurbs when I go... although I've heard January is a bad time for that sort of thing. But in late September last year I never had a wait for over an hour at Universal, even Gringotts... I waited longer to get pizza than I did for most of the rides.

The key is planning, in my opinion. Knock out the big dogs as soon as possible for all theme parks... first thing in the morning I beeline to Gringotts or whatever the park's 'longest line' attraction is. Early on a lot of guests are trying to get their bearing in the park, or dealing with strollers and small children, or simply taking in the park atmosphere. You still have the early admissions to contend with (unless you're on of them) but it's not that bad. I can then often double back and knock some of the other popular rides like Transformers out of the way while everyone else is finally making their way back to Gringotts.
Agree completely about planning and getting there early. So many people just arrive around lunch, just wing it, and wonder why the whole day is present in line.

My point was about how it used to be in late September, or other off-season months, compared to now. Universal Orlando basically used to be a ghost town during the off-season. These days it's clearly better than peak times, but it's not like it used to be. Lots of attractions will have long lines in the afternoon right up through the earlier closing time.

If one can't foot the bill to stay at one at one of the on-site resorts for FOTL, I agree with going int he off-season vs. the peak times. But the best option is to go when everything is running and having the FOTL.

Disney is similar now that they have filled pretty much every off month with a special event that brings the crowds. With the longer hours, and extra attractions open, the peak times can be better managed by people willing to plan ahead and get to the parks early (and stay late).

We used to always go to parks in the off-season. Now we tend to go at times when the parks will be open longer and everything is open. Mostly this is because the parks are doing a better job at keeping the crowds coming all year, and with shorter hours, the afternoons during off-peak times seem just as crowded.

Of course none of the above is saying go between Christmas and New Years. That's just batshit insane. But we are considering doing that future year as well because places like Universal and Disney do some awesome things only during that week.
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Old 03-30-15, 12:45 PM   #62
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Glad you had a great time, but didn't work the resorts right to get the FOTL. You can put 4 names on the room and get them for 4 people. It's a very common practice that others do all the time. They basically check in very early one morning and get two days of the FOTL pass. Many don't even stay in their room (they stay at Disney via DVC).

I agree that many of the attractions are better than their Disney counterparts. The theming is better in many areas of Disney as well. So much of Epcot and Disney Studios might as well not have a theme.
Genius idea to have the room basically be a theme park cabana. So for about $200, you could get FOTL for up to 4 people for 2 days--$25pp per day. Plus, a place to relax and wash up in during the daytime. We may actually do that in the future if we go back. That would actually make complete sense for someone who has a vacation rental home of any type--some of them are pretty reasonable compared to what Disney and Universal charge for their hotels.
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Old 03-30-15, 12:51 PM   #63
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Of course none of the above is saying go between Christmas and New Years. That's just batshit insane. But we are considering doing that future year as well because places like Universal and Disney do some awesome things only during that week.
You callin' me batshit insane? But, it was surprisingly manageable with some smart planning. For Universal, the Express Passes are a must (with an early-morning bee-line to the Harry Potter area). The bigger negative of Universal wasn't the lines ... it was the mobs of people everywhere. Makes you really appreciate the "hub surround by spokes" layout of all the Disney parks. Universal parks are big ovals around a lake and the flow of people was almost crushing at times (especially in regions leading to and away from Harry Potter areas).

Combine the "early morning bee-line to the popular rides" approach with a staggered use of Fast Passes in the Disney parks and you'll be able to go on everything without waiting more than 20 minutes in a line.

And you're right ... there are some special things going on for just that week.
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Old 03-30-15, 12:53 PM   #64
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by tasha99 View Post
Genius idea to have the room basically be a theme park cabana. So for about $200, you could get FOTL for up to 4 people for 2 days--$25pp per day. Plus, a place to relax and wash up in during the daytime. We may actually do that in the future if we go back. That would actually make complete sense for someone who has a vacation rental home of any type--some of them are pretty reasonable compared to what Disney and Universal charge for their hotels.
It's so common of a practice that some have reported that the resorts seem all but empty on a Saturday night as all those that booked rooms actually stay in their real room off-site at Disney or elsewhere in the Orlando area. The same things happens at other resorts that offer perks at theme parks. Often booking a room (and naming 4 people for the room) is cheaper than buying the same perk directly at the park. The resorts love it because it's a lot less work for them.
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Old 03-30-15, 01:11 PM   #65
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by brainee View Post
Combine the "early morning bee-line to the popular rides" approach with a staggered use of Fast Passes in the Disney parks and you'll be able to go on everything without waiting more than 20 minutes in a line.

And you're right ... there are some special things going on for just that week.
Yup. After running into some very crowded off-season days at both Universal and Disney we are basically sold on the idea of going when there are longer hours and everything is running. People don't realize how much more crowded the park will get when a couple of the major rides are down for refurb and the parks close much earlier.

But this doesn't work for everybody. One has to be willing to plan and make the parks the priority.
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Old 03-30-15, 05:39 PM   #66
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Originally Posted by DRG View Post
I actually haven't experienced many refurbs when I go... although I've heard January is a bad time for that sort of thing. But in late September last year I never had a wait for over an hour at Universal, even Gringotts... I waited longer to get pizza than I did for most of the rides.

The key is planning, in my opinion. Knock out the big dogs as soon as possible for all theme parks... first thing in the morning I beeline to Gringotts or whatever the park's 'longest line' attraction is. Early on a lot of guests are trying to get their bearing in the park, or dealing with strollers and small children, or simply taking in the park atmosphere. You still have the early admissions to contend with (unless you're on of them) but it's not that bad. I can then often double back and knock some of the other popular rides like Transformers out of the way while everyone else is finally making their way back to Gringotts.
The last 4-5 years we have been going to Disney/Universal in either Oct. or Nov. It hurts that we have to take our daughter out of school for a week, but it's what works best for us. Last year was the first time we had did Universal in a couple of years and we used the same strategy as you mentioned. We hit Universal first and made our way to the new Harry Potter area. Along the way we stopped and jumped on the Transformers ride while it was empty. After riding Gringotts we hit the train and went to IoA. We did everything we wanted to in that park and then returned to Universal and do everything we wanted to over there. I would have liked to have ridden Gringotts again before we left at the end of the day, but it was fairly crowded(as expected).

Last year we went in Nov. and the crowd was pretty manageable except for the Potter area late in the day. The longest line we experienced was for the Simpsons' ride which was 20-25 minutes. There was nothing shut down that I can recall in either park, at least nothing we attempted to ride. But we did experience some shut downs the previous time we went 3 or 4 years ago.

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You callin' me batshit insane? But, it was surprisingly manageable with some smart planning. For Universal, the Express Passes are a must (with an early-morning bee-line to the Harry Potter area). The bigger negative of Universal wasn't the lines ... it was the mobs of people everywhere. Makes you really appreciate the "hub surround by spokes" layout of all the Disney parks. Universal parks are big ovals around a lake and the flow of people was almost crushing at times (especially in regions leading to and away from Harry Potter areas).

Combine the "early morning bee-line to the popular rides" approach with a staggered use of Fast Passes in the Disney parks and you'll be able to go on everything without waiting more than 20 minutes in a line.

And you're right ... there are some special things going on for just that week.
Until everyone tries to get to the front of the castle at the Magic Kingdom in time to see the light and fireworks show at the end of the evening. Whether you are heading there to watch the show or trying to leave, it is just plain awful trying to get through that crowd. Especially on nights when the Magic Kingdom park stays open until 11-12 at night and everyone heads from the other Disney parks over there to take in a few more hours.

We always get to the front of the castle at least 30-45 minutes before the shows start so we can get a good spot for that and hang around for the parade. But the past two years we have had a hard time just making it anywhere near the front for some reason.

But I do agree that the Potter area gets really crowded. I love the look of the HP area, but the paths within that part of the park seem really narrow due to the design. I don't recall having an issue with the rest of either of those parks.

I think we are taking a break from Disney/Universal this year. We've kinda gotten burned out on the whole area so we plan on taking a 1 or 2 year break. Plus with all the construction going on at the other Disney parks, we figured we would hold off going again until some of that is completed.
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Old 03-31-15, 10:30 AM   #67
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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ET is terribly lame and outdated.

Luckily, the crowds there were very small, so we really didn't have to wait in line long for anything.

LOL. Yeah, my wife and step daughter were raving about the ET ride and it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo outdated. It was fun just for the sheer crap factor. And i agree with you that i don't understand why people rave about the Men in Black ride. I found it ok at best......and i am being very generous with that assessment.

Whilst there were a lot of people at the park the wait times were not bad at all. I think the MiB ride had the longest wait and it was maybe 15 minutes.

I enjoyed walking around the park itself, but it certainly did not meet expectations, and the rides i felt were all way below. I think if i were a kid going for the first time i would probably enjoy it a hell of a lot more, but these days i have little patience for crowds, noise and especially lines. Yep...i am an old fart, but gimme a beautiful national park with the sounds of nature and a nice walk and i am happy.
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Old 03-31-15, 10:42 AM   #68
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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Until everyone tries to get to the front of the castle at the Magic Kingdom in time to see the light and fireworks show at the end of the evening. Whether you are heading there to watch the show or trying to leave, it is just plain awful trying to get through that crowd. Especially on nights when the Magic Kingdom park stays open until 11-12 at night and everyone heads from the other Disney parks over there to take in a few more hours.

We always get to the front of the castle at least 30-45 minutes before the shows start so we can get a good spot for that and hang around for the parade. But the past two years we have had a hard time just making it anywhere near the front for some reason.

But I do agree that the Potter area gets really crowded. I love the look of the HP area, but the paths within that part of the park seem really narrow due to the design. I don't recall having an issue with the rest of either of those parks.
Disney definitely has similar it's share of crowd bottleneck issues. But in the Magic Kingdom they recently corrected the castle issue by increasing the size of the hub area and making it much easier for them to open up the previous Main Street backstage area as a pass through. This leaves only the parade route as places where things still will get tight through land transitions.

The Potter area has really narrow paths because Rowling insisted it seem like real settings rather than the not found in reality wide areas often seen in theme parks.
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Old 04-03-15, 09:23 PM   #69
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Annual pass rates have been extended to include late summer (aug and I think sept). Just FYI--we were able to change from connecting double queen rooms to a king suite w/ 2 queen bedroom for just a little more than we were paying before. HRH only had suites at APH rate, but Portofino Bay especially had a variety of rooms discounted. Also, Cheaptickets has had a 20% off coupon pretty consistently lately and the Universal hotels are included.
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Old 04-06-15, 03:25 PM   #70
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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And i agree with you that i don't understand why people rave about the Men in Black ride. I found it ok at best......and i am being very generous with that assessment.
MiB is a great ride if you are a single rider or have express pass. You just walk off the ride and walk right back on.

I love it because I want to try to break 1,000,000 points. To date I can only get as high as 850,000. So I enjoy it like a video game - and I am trying to beat it. I have even been able to get my GF to score above 500,000 on a consistent basis

There are FAQs out there on MiB strategy, points, what to shoot etc.. so it is fun if you go into it from that angle. But just shooting random things is not all that fun, and I see your point.
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Old 04-06-15, 03:30 PM   #71
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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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. .
I think someone touched on this above but your parents should have registered your kids / wife as guests staying in the room. They would have had 4 express passes - you all could have shared.

The attendant just needs the code from the pass to scan.
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Old 04-06-15, 06:01 PM   #72
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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I think someone touched on this above but your parents should have registered your kids / wife as guests staying in the room. They would have had 4 express passes - you all could have shared.
Yep, got it. By way of explaining myself, two important bits of context here:

1. My mother was staying with my Dad and never went to the parks. Meanwhile my wife hates rides and my oldest daughter was there for a cheerleading competition and had very limited time in the park. Neither needed a pass. As a result, I ended up only paying for one pass for two days for my youngest daughter and I personally used my Mom's pass.

2. My Dad's (who is wonderful and whom I love dearly) is 72, retired, super type A and set in his ways. He doesn't deal well with hassle, complication or stuff he doesn't think is important. Also, he had just expensively rented a car to fit us all and driven for four hours to see us. I could have had him go through the entire routine of signing us all up through a process I was uncertain about when he was hot, tired and just wanted to relax -OR- I could have simply paid the $200 and not forced him to deal with it. I know my Dad, this was the best $200 I spent on the vacation.
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Old 08-05-15, 03:22 PM   #73
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

I'm taking the family back to Universal in two weeks... is there another way to get some discounts on tickets other than AAA?
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Old 08-05-15, 03:26 PM   #74
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

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I'm taking the family back to Universal in two weeks... is there another way to get some discounts on tickets other than AAA?
Don't know how these compare to AAA. I've used this company before for tickets. Very reliable.

https://www.undercovertourist.com/orlando/#tickets
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Old 08-05-15, 06:05 PM   #75
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Re: Universal Studios Orlando

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Nutt View Post
Men in Black is my favorite Universal ride, but I haven't been there since they added all the Harry Potter stuff. I hear the Gringotts' ride is a lot of fun.

If you like coasters and can get over to MGM Disney for a day, the Rock'N Rollercoaster is the best coaster in Orlando. Way better than Universal's The Hulk, IMHO.
the Men in Black ride to me felt ... so ... blah - to each his own.

Rip Ride Rockit with Daft Punk playing in my ears was nirvana!

I have to go back and Gringott's ride since it was opened when I was there. The Castle ride was a bit much, for me - all that stuff flying at your face ... saw a kid maybe nine or so utterly losing it in the gift store, crying uncontrollably - it's a tad intense - had to go back on it, since the first time I was closing my eyes most of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmackDaddy View Post
Assuming you are staying at on of the three main resorts and not the new Cabana Bay, then you will have unlimited express pass, so you will be able to very nearly walk on to anything (except the Potter rides).

My top rides/attractions for Universal Orlando/Islands of Adventure are :

Coasters:

Rip Ride Rockit (my Favorite)
Hulk
Revenge of the Mummy
Dragon Challenge (I like the Fire Side better)

Motion Rides:

Spiderman
Transformers
Forbidden Journey
Minion Mayhem

Water rides (you WILL get wet):

Dudley Do Right Ripsaw Falls
Popeye and Bluto Bilge Rat Barges

Shows:

Animal Actors
Horror Makeup Show

I have not been since they opened the new Potter area with Gringotts. Again, with the unlimited Express Pass, you should be able to ride pretty much everything over three days. If you don't have park hopper tickets, you will need to invest one morning for Universal and one for Islands of Adventure to see all of the Potter attractions. Hit those first thing as they do not have Express Pass lines.
of the motion rides, here's how I rank them:

Transformers (went on it five times)
Minion Mayhem
Spiderman

(Forbidden Journey [didn't go on it])

that 'Shrek 4D' movie was so lame and antiquated.
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