Universal Studios Orlando :)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by D.T., Sep 17, 2014.

  1. D.T. macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #1
    Thought this would be fun for folks who dig on Universal Studios, or have some interest in going.

    (I'm reposting some of what I write in another thread about Disney!)

    We live about 2 hours from Universal (Orlando), up in the North East coast of Florida, so we generally get a season pass. You go twice the second trip is about 1/2 price, three times and the 3rd is free (and we go ~3 times a year). We always stay at an onsite resort: they're very nice, fun, super convenient (5-10 minute walk to the parks) and as extra perks you get a Fast Pass (let's you skip the main lines at most attractions), and you also get into the park an hour earlier for some specific attractions (they don't open the whole park).

    This time (and 85% of the time) we stayed at the Royal Pacific, it’s a < 10 minute walk into either park beautiful hotel, great pool and good dining at Jakes (they even do "take out").

    For those that don't know, Universal Studios has two parks that are right next to each other, there’s some solid places to eat outside the two (Hard Rock has a great bar, good food).

    One is Studios, and it's the original movie themed park. Rides like Revenge of the Mummy, Men in Black, Transformers and now its own Harry Potter area, and the other is Islands of Adventure which has 5 separately themed areas: Marvel Superheros, Old School Toons, Jurassic Park, Suess Landing and the other Harry Potter area (that replaced the "Mystic/Medieval" area though some of that remains).

    If your kids are into Harry Potter, they’ll lose their minds. Here’s the thing: the new Potter section is in Studios, connected via a magic train to the other Potter section (in Islands of Adventure), and you have to have a two park pass to use the connector. Plus each park has a major Potter ride: Escape from Gringots and Wizarding World.

    Some random thoughts:

    - Rides in Universal like Spiderman, Transformers, Gringots, Potter are incredible, immersive experiences that combine physical effects, 3D, coaster mechanics, massive hydraulic motion, they're an order of magnitude over bounce-and-watch-a-movie sort of rides

    - There’s a major breakpoint at motion rides and “small” coasters at about 48”, then next jump for the MAJOR coasters is in the mid 50” for Hulk, Dragons, Rockit (amazing coaster).

    - The Mummy is the best “themed” coaster we’ve ever ridden (food tip: the Irish pub across from it is solid, eat in the bar, and just avoid prime lunch/dinner times)

    - At the entrance of Islands on the right corner of the main intersection is a nice little bar, always cool and quiet, called Confisco Grille - it's a nice place to duck into for an adult bev, enter from the backside, and you can sit in the bar (Regina is awesome) and get full service for food too

    - Also, some ol’ school fun things for all ages, kind of silly fun like ET, Disaster, Terminator

    - If you want to get some exercise, the play area in Jurassic Park is _crazy_, it’s huge, high and lots to explore, the Pterodactyl ride is really neat, and you must be accompanied by a child :D

    - Plenty of parades, and events, just check the schedule, lots of characters to meet like Spongebob, the Simpsons

    - We pretty much only eat at "sit down", full service, so YMMV for any of the cafeteria style joints

    - You really have to explore, there’s all sort of interesting little things tucker away. Suess has a like 4 rides, a big candy shop, and a “hidden” playground with a little mini water park type area (for smaller-ish kids), in the kids area near ET and the Woody coaster, there’s a whole playground with a small water ride and a whole big water park area with slides, ball canons and whatnot

    Major kind of “must do” for each:

    STUDIOS
    Escape from Gringotts
    Transformers
    Minion Mayhem
    Rip Ride Rockit (major epic coaster)
    Simpsons
    Shrek (fun 3D show/ride, very minimal motion/effects)
    The Mummy
    Men in Black (interactive, shoot aliens game/ride)
    Woody Woodpecker Coaster


    ISLAND OF ADVENTURE

    Spider-Man
    Hulk Coaster
    Doctor Doom Fearfall
    Pteranodon Flyers
    Flight of the Hippogriff (small coaster, but very fun!)
    Dragon Challenge (two different, intersecting hanging style coasters)
    Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (main Potter ride on IOA side, incredible)

    [water rides, do last, bilge rats and Dudley will SOAK you ]
    Popeye Bilge-Rat Barges
    Dudley Do-right Ripsaw Falls
    Jurassic Park

    EATS and DRINKS
    Hard Rock (outside the two parks)
    Confisco Grille (bar area only)
    Finnegan’s Bar and Grill (also eat in the bar, more fun experience)
    Jake’s at Royal Pacific


    A few photos from the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley area:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Liberty. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
    #2
    I'm German, but I went to Florida some month ago and I liked the Universal rides much more in comparison to the Disney ones. The immersion was really great. But they should add wind machines to the Harry Potter rides.
     
  3. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #3
    ... and we went back again this week! It’s our Christmas/Grinchmas seasonal trip :)

    Monday was a little wet and chilly, we even hit the pool, but bailed after 45m (hahaha, the little one didn’t even ask to go back), the other days where pretty amazing, just a little cold - but hey, that perfectly set off the the whole Christmas experience.

    Excellent room (upgraded), great food (new Mexican joint is outstanding), super fun park(s) experience, Grinchmas, the always magical Macy’s parade (everyone in the parade was stopping to chat with our little girl) We doubled, tripled, even _quadrupled_ up on some rides, hit all our favorites: all the Potter rides, Transformers, Mummy, Spiderman, MiB, Simpsons and even got a little time with Spongebob and Patrick :cool:

    View from our room

    [​IMG]


    Grinchmas!

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #4
    Awesome! We're going in March, hopefully it's somewhat warm like last year when I was there. Did universal, sea world, Disney, and aquatica
     
  5. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    #5
    If I move to Florida I'm definitely getting season passes to Universal and Disney! Great values.

    There's enough to do if you to every other weekend right? ;)
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Boston
    #6
    My kids are not big Harry Potter fans (nor are we) and we spent one day at Universal Studios. It was ok, but not something that the family and I got a lot of enjoyment out of. Most of the rides were similar in nature, just simulated roller coaster type rides with a theme.

    Except for the Harry Potter section the lines weren't bad, in fact the crowds were light for everything else but HP.

    We didn't go to the Islands of Adventure park, but just the older original Universal Studios. All in all, my kids wanted to go back to WDW instead of being at Universal Studios.
     
  7. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #7
    ... and we're headed back!

    The little G is totally stoked, she hit right at 48" without shoes, so she should be good-to-go for two more pretty major rides: The Mummy and HP Forbidden Journey! She was tall enough for Gringots the last few trips, which is pretty amazing, but Forbidden Journey with it's full 360º movement and physical effects immersion is amazing.

    She's pretty hardcore, if we could duct tape her into a seat on The Hulk, she'd totally ride it :D


    Interesting, are your kids really young? If you don't do IOA you miss out on: Spiderman, 3 coasters, Jurassic Park, the whole Seuss land (especially if your kids are little).

    Funny, a friend/partner of mine had the exact opposite experience - drove his whole crew down to Orlando from the ATL, mostly for his daughter who is 13 [I believe] - anyway, they are big fans of all the Universal themes (Potter, Marvel, etc.), but she's also a huge Disney fanatic.

    They had a whole week planned, did three days at Universal (both parks), planned on two days at Disney - wound up shorting Disney by a day. Basically his daughter hopped on a few classic rides, got pics with a couple of princesses, and was done/bored.

    They actually went _back_ to Universal with that extra free day :)

    I guess YMMV, if you're not into Harry Potter, and/or don't like coasters (the Rockit is in our Top 5, and we've ridden a lot of coasters :) ) and have a real connection with Disney properties.
     
  8. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #8
    Venturing to huge overcrowded parks does not thrill me any more. My introduction to a park like this was Disneyland California Navy Night, 1980 where the park was open to USN personnel only. At night, not crowded, short lines, magical! :)

    Since then I've been to Universal Studios, Los Angeles, Disney World, Florida, and Disneyland, Tokyo. Disney characters talking in Japanese, just don't have the same impact. ;)

    If I have any tip to offer, go to these parks if possible avoiding Spring Break, and before or after Summer break. It makes all the difference. Especially Florida, summer is brutal.
     
  9. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    #9
    That's exactly the window we're sneaking into, plus lower traffic days of the week. Looks like we're even going to have days in the mid-80s :cool:

    Born and raised in Florida, so anything under 90 is cool and anything under 70 I put on a sweater :D
     
  10. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    #10
    We did Orlando in March. Great time. 3 days of universal (it takes that to do everything in both parks), sea world and aquatica. My family loves universal much more than Disney. The child swap is the best thing for families, I'm baffled Disney hadn't done it yet. Both universal parks are great, but I like ioa with the marvel theme. Their Harry Potter ride is better too. at regular universal the mummy ride and riptide rocket were my favs.
     
  11. scottyy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2015
    #11
    I live in Michigan and am a huge Harry Potter nerd.
    I went for opening day for both of the Harry Potter expansions.

    As soon as my fiancé finishes nursing school we plan on moving down to Orlando and buying season passes every year.

    I proposed to her on the Hogwarts express when we went in October.
     
  12. eko91 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2015
    #12
    looks amazing!

    I honestly didnt know they had a universal studios at Orlando... So Florida has Disney World and Universal Studios?? I live in California and I rarely go to either one of the amusement parks... but thanks for the great info and pictures!!!
     
  13. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    #13
    Once again, it was +super+ fun :D The weather held up nicely, a few easily avoided scattered showers, but a nice low/mid 80s few days (even into the 70s in the evening).

    The little G had a _blast_ on the two new rides (to her) she was able to ride since she hit 48" :) Bouncing between the two Harry Potter areas via the train was fun, and the little one is starting to really get into the HP material. The had already done Gringots last trip (42" height requirement), and that was the early entry ride for onsite hotel folks, but we lucked into Forbidden Journey being the 8am ride this time (new for her), so we hit it up twice in a row, < 5m wait :cool:

    Also tried the new-er-ish italian joint (kind of a mid/upper end) in the City Walk and it was *fabulous*. Hard Rock and Finnegans were their normal goodness (the latter always a nice rest spot for some outstanding beer and hitting up The Mummy).

    FYI, the new Kong Ride is under construction. It is H U G E. EXcited to see the finished product.

    Apple product related: my wife's Apple Watch showed up on the 24th, she of course wore it to the park, and had a ton of fun using it, not to mention it was very convenient. We also said, WTH, and she wore it on some water rides (takes a licking and keeps on, er, oscelating and computing ...)
     
  14. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
  15. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    Vilano Beach, FL
    #15
    OMG, hahaha, we went __back__ the following weekend. Some good friends went a few months back, and they asked their girls about a birthday trip, they chose Universal and invited us on short notice (we had our August tripped planned for months). So we figured we had season passes, it's only ~2 hours away, it was a long weekend, so back we went. :D

    Got an interesting tidbit this trip: they'll be closing The Hulk coaster for a year for a revamp, not sure if the coaster itself will see any design changes, or if it's just the theming and ride intro that will get revised. I'd assume they're going to make it align more with the MCU.

    Also off note, the new giant Kong ride is looking pretty amazing (since the April trip), and no surprise given the multi-billion dollar franchise it's become: a new Fast and Furious ride is in development (tearing down the old Earthquake/Disaster ride, probably clearing out that whole area between the Mummy and Harry Potter).
     
  16. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
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    Vilano Beach, FL
    #16
    Another fantastic trip to Universal, our *4th* this year, though this was our family Christmas trip, so it's super special :)

    A little change up, stayed at the Hard Rock this trip and we *loved* it. Not our first time, but previously the wife and I just stayed one night, didn't even get to explore, hit up the pool - so fun though, great music everywhere, even underwater at the pool, super close to the parks through a beautiful walkway.

    As part of our annual visit we saw the Macy's parade (lots of photos), got a great spot on a narrow street so we could almost touch the balloons! The Grinchmas was fun as always, and this year they had Mannheim Steamroller playing, so we found a nice spot and got to listen to some terrific live Christmas music.

    The Hulk is now _mostly_ gone, pretty amazing seeing it missing from the park skyline (pic below), and so it looks like a pretty serious re-engineering.

    So much fantastic food and drinks, from our regular park stops like Finnegan's, one of new favorites, Antojitos, and the super tasty food at The Kitchen right in the Hard Rock hotel, complete with Jerry (the minion ...) :D

    Photogs:


    Our poolside view and what a view, the weather was +amazing+:

    [​IMG]


    The missing Hulk Coaster:


    [​IMG]


    Portable movie setup - AppleTV + iPhone 6S+ - for in room entertainment:

    [​IMG]


    Awesome location to view the parade, so close:


    [​IMG]


    Lots of photos this trip for a change, just an anonymous sampling :cool:
     
  17. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Vilano Beach, FL
    #17
    Spring trip 2016 :)

    We had another super fantastic trip to Universal, one of the better adventures, Hard Rock awesome again, the weather was incredible, mid-70s, sunny, during the day there was a slightly cool breeze, [literally] not a cloud in the sky for hours at a time, and so quiet, like 5-6 people in the pool, no waits, no lines, so much delicious everything :cool:

    My wife is in the car at the top the Immelmann loop on the RockIt!

    IMG_8930.JPG


    Some work completed on The Hulk V2.0, the wrap around the launcher and a series of additional loops/inversions on the rear section!

    IMG_8943.JPG
     
  18. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040

    MICHAELSD

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    NJ
    #18
    Do you enjoy Disney as much as Universal? I see a lot of diehard Disney World fanatics but much less for Universal.
     
  19. MacRazySwe macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    #19
    Love Universal. Went in 2014 with my girlfriend, we had a great time! I will definitely return next time I'm in Florida.
     
  20. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

    Joined:
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    Vilano Beach, FL
    #20
    Up front, I don't want this to become some kind of "vs." thread - my reasons are my reasons :)

    Some folks have a big emotional/mind share investment in Disney, we don't. Our little G liked Tangled, Frozen and princesses in general, we did a special princess room at Disney one time (her birthday), but otherwise, we're just vested in any Disney property, and she's kind of not into that any more.

    For us, it's not even close.

    We (and that includes our little girl) prefer the properties at Universal: Marvel, Simpsons, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss (etc). The rides are way more immersive and engaging, and there are a few major coasters that have no comparison (RickIt!, Dragons, Hulk) - there are major themed rides like Spiderman, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Harry Potter: Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts, that are experientially way beyond anything that Disney offers.

    We also like the restaurants, a few more sit down options, the easily accessible (between the two parks) City Walk has some outstanding options (the new NBC Sports Grill & Brew, Hard Rock) and there are terrific options at the hotels.

    Speaking of, the hotels, are in easy access of the park, and Hard Rock and Royal Pacific are < 5 minute walk. No busses, no waiting, you hit up a beautiful walking path and you're at either park, and all of the "on site" offer nice eating options, "free" fast passes, boat based transportation and excellent pools. The various Disney parks are spread out, onsite hotels still require a mass transportation option.

    Lastly, if you enjoy a nice adult beverage while having fun, that's not much of an option at the Disney, except for Epcot which is, frankly, boring. Don't get me wrong, while Universal does have ample opportunities to get a drink, it's extremely family friendly, clean, and the customer service is outstanding.
     
  21. UKgaryb macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2013
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #21
    I went to universal studios last year, was a bit ... meh, did both parks went for 4 days and then did some driving around and then cable back for 3 days.

    The rides: All seem to be re-hashes of the same IMAX screen + bit of wind, water and movement and get a bit tiresome, MiB ride was terrible. E.T. Ride was nostalgic and I went on it about 6 times.

    Harry Potter land... well it's really annoying that it's even here at all, should be in the UK and the studio tour in Luton is far better, it looks really impressive and their take on British Stuff is a bit annoying, Then you realise all the fake buildings are gift shops selling the same rubbish. Looks amazing though.

    NO WHERE sells breakfast.

    Had higher expectations really but it was a great trip.
     
  22. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #22
    Oh yeah, back with an incredible balcony view (Lowes/Plat perk!)

    [​IMG]


    ... and our *8* year old, badass little chick that she is, got just to 51" and got to ride the Rockit (in fact, rode it _four_ times ...) that's her headed up (and my wife's hand waving)

    [​IMG]

    Saw most of the new Hulk, looks fantastic, same launch and initial cobra head, but lots of new inversions, wraps around the track (should be fun with multiple cars running). Also the construction on the new Steam Punk restaurant, replacing the NBA joint, new Kong ride, start of Fast and Furious, should be a ton of new stuff when we make it back in September :)
     
  23. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #23
    Headed out tomorrow :cool:
     
  24. D.T. thread starter macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    #24
    Took a few days for an unplanned getaway to Universal :) Tried the new Sapphire Falls, really nice, it's less expensive than the Royal Pacific (which is connects to), but actually a touch nicer (much newer), and only another 7-8 minutes further to walk (the water taxis are of course, no walk!) The downside is while it does include early access, it does not include Fast Pass.

    We figured no biggie, early gets you to most of the major rides easily without FP and we've been so many times, we only wanted to hit up a few things - the park was actually super quiet, we walked in and on < 5m wait for everything, and most of the time we chilled at the massive pool area.

    We also didn't tell our little G - prepacked without her knowing and then we left a school event to "go home", then "Oh yeah, we're just running into a store", she flipped out!

    Anyway, one of the reasons I posted was due to an old post:

    It's been fun watching our little G grow to be able to ride more and more rides - well, she blew past the 54" height requirement (she's pushing 56") since we were last at Universal in January. Easily tall enough to ride everything now!

    We celebrated by riding the [new] Hulk coaster, and both Dragons ... again and again and again ... :D

    (She actually kind of "snuck" on the dragons last trip back in January, she had high-ish shoes and super high hair. She got one ride on each, then when we came back later the new crew did a _really_ precise measurement and wouldn't let her ride especially after her hair lost its poofiness)

    Picture is the little one being amazed at the pool view {love}

    IMG_0972.jpg
     

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