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Old 10-23-2012, 04:34 PM   #1
guenzo1
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Universal Studios Hollywood & Sea World San Diego -- Things I Learned

Our family traveled from Utah to Southern California last week, 10/14-10/20 and I want to thank everyone for their tips by sharing with you some of the things I learned. We are a family of 6 and had the Southern California CityPass. Our four kids range in age from 5 to 11.


Universal:
We went to USH on Wednesday, 10/17. Traffic on I-5 to/from Anaheim is HORRIBLE!!! I don't know if there is an alternate, but if there is, TAKE IT. It took us 1.5 hours to drive the 35 miles from Disneyland. Not fun. Being at the parks at rope drop will help you get in all of the major rides before any lines develop. Just be sure to ride The Simpsons first thing and then go down the escalators to the lower lot rides. The queue and pre-show for The Simpsons is long. We rode Transformers 3D four times, The Mummy Returns three times, and Jurassic Park four times, all with minimal to no wait. Bring ponchos for JP, as you will get SOAKED! We had ponchos.

Definitely get the refillable drink cups. They were $7.99 each with $.99 soda refills.

Sea World:
If you are driving from Anaheim, try to leave Anaheim as early as possible to avoid the traffic on I-5. Also, if you are driving back the same day, stay in San Diego until later in the evening, again, to avoid traffic. We had dinner and wandered around Old Town before heading back to Anaheim at 8 pm. The drive only took one hour and 25 minutes. At Sea World I would also suggest you get the refillable drink cups. They were $8.99 each with $.99 soda refills or $2.99 slushie refills. Turkey Legs in SW were $9 and just as good as the Disney ones.

Pirate's Dinner Adventure:
The night of our visit to Universal Studios we went to the Pirate's dinner show. It was great! My wife and I had been to the one in Orlando, Florida, but the Buena Park show was much better. The actors were really into it and it showed. The food staff was quick and efficient. The food was good with large portions of chicken. We had to take one and a half full chickens with us. Prices for pictures ($20 - you get two copies) and souveniers (flags $4 and swords $8?) were reasonable. We bought tickets on goldstar.com which I would highly recommend to get great savings on the cost. We opted for the regular show, not the Vampirates.

Los Angeles Zoo:
While the San Diego Zoo gets most of the attention in California, don't overlook the LA Zoo. It is a large zoo compared to our local zoo in Utah, the Hogle Zoo. Prices are reasonable. I would suggest to buy the one-year membership online. Look for promo codes. We were able to get a family membership for $86 which is only $4 more than the one-day price. And you can use the membership card to get discounts at over 125 other zoos throughout the U.S.

DLR:
With the opening of Cars Land, the Disneyland Resort crowd forecasts reported by various websites are no longer accurate. On the days we went, 10/15,10/16, & 10/18, the forecasts were for between 1-4 (out of 10). In reality, I would say the crowds were on the scale of 7-8. Even early entry strategies were only marginally useful. Use FastPass strategies as much as possible-like having a runner and knowing which FP machines are not on the network. Fastpasses for RSR were gone each day 40 minutes after official park opening and the Matterhorn bobsleds (why no Fastpass??) were never under a 30 minute wait (at least not between 9am - 7pm). It is true what others have mentioned about the size of the chicken dinners at Plaza Inn. Two meals fed our whole family. Also, we love to get Turkey Legs but the prices have become outrageous! $10 for one leg is way too much. BTW, Walmart stores in California carry Turkey Legs for $5. Not as good as the theme park ones, but for half the price, they are a good alternative.

Last edited by guenzo1; 10-23-2012 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:14 PM   #2
KEmum
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Did you enjoy USH, or should I say did your youngest kids enjoy it? We are heading down with our 4 and 7 year-olds and are a little worried about that park but it's part of our City Pass.
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:56 PM   #3
Lynne G
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Thank you for the US info. We want to do DL and US next year. DS really wants to see US Hollywood. Any way to get discount tickets? I see only 1 day there for the time we will be in LA. Is that enough time, if we get there at rope drop?
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:19 PM   #4
lizabu
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You can do a SoCal city pass.

Last edited by lizabu; 12-06-2012 at 10:30 PM.
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