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Old 12-15-2011, 09:50 AM   #766
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I can't wait to hear more about your Universal experiences. We have been to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but not in nearly 7 years. I am desperate to see the Harry Potter area!
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:10 AM   #767
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Originally Posted by Flossbolna View Post
And since Katharina's DH is a great Simpsons fan, we obviously had to make sure to see that ride, too!
The Simpsons?



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On the way there our van driver got into a rant about a jogger which was running along the road in the Epcot resort area. It did look rather dangerous and I really don't see any point to run on a road with traffic there, especially since there are several walkways in that area where you could run.
I KNEW running was bad for you.

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So I gave the paper to the van driver in exchange for our return trip voucher...
You had me worried something bad was going to happen here.

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We really liked the fact that once you are in the theme park area you can hop from one park to the other without going through annoying bag checks!
That sounds heavenly!

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We did not count on being able to get into the park at 8am, but we certainly wanted to try our luck. So we went to the Team Member (Universal's term for the people called Cast Member at Disney) and Katharina showed her her ticket and she waved us through to the turnstiles!!
Good thinking! You are obviously theme park masters!
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:14 PM   #768
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OOOH Can't wait to hear your take on WWOHP!! Looking forward to reading more about your trip!!
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:54 PM   #769
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Nice intro to you day at Universal!! How awesome that you could get in at 8:00. But that little bit about severe weather does NOT bode well for this day of touring! Hmmm....
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:13 PM   #770
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Oh man, I think I kicked off all of that Mounds/Almond Joy discussion and then missed all the fun. Oh well. Yes, I think I've seen Bounty before and they're basically the same.

Good job on getting into the parks early. Whenever that year rolls around that I get to Universal, I'm going to have to come back to this report and Cynthia's (EandEsmom) for tips and suggestions!
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:37 PM   #771
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Very interesting Magdalene.... so what US chocolate HAVEN'T you eaten??? Oh and guess what??? 2013 I think will be bringing us meaning the kids too back to Germany! Dave wants to come during summer and I want Christmas... That still needs to be worked out. I'll email you more with how this came about lets just say Dave mentioned it before I could say anything...

Ok now I need to go read your update...
Wendy, that is wonderful news!! I will be looking forward to meet the whole family in 2013!!

I know how much you love Christmas time, but really, my recommendation for the best time to visit Germany would be June or July. Just be prepared to live without air condition if it gets hot... But Germany is much prettier when everything is green and the sun is shining.

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That picture you posted the weather did look rather daunting! I hope the day wasn't a complete washout for you. Good to know about the shuttle, if we had planned a Disney vacation for next year Universal was on the kids list of things to do. Anxious to hear how you liked it and Harry Potter as I'm a huge fan...
Well, you will have to wait and see about that weather...

Next update will be the first part of our time at Hogsmead village and Hogwarts!
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:45 PM   #772
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I can't wait to hear more about your Universal experiences. We have been to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but not in nearly 7 years. I am desperate to see the Harry Potter area!
There will be more about Potter very soon!

I think it is very much worth the trip over there - and not just for Harry Potter!

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The Simpsons?




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I KNEW running was bad for you.
Well, here it was more the location that was bad, not the activity...

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You had me worried something bad was going to happen here.
Than I succeeded to transport exactly the feeling I had there as well!! I already was thinking about whether I would have to find a place there where I could print out the email a second time...

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That sounds heavenly!
The no bag check thing really was very wonderful!! Amazing how little things like that can really impress you.

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Good thinking! You are obviously theme park masters!
I think I have spent enough time on the DIS...
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:01 PM   #773
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OOOH Can't wait to hear your take on WWOHP!! Looking forward to reading more about your trip!!
There will be much more about WWoHP and the rest of Universal!

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Nice intro to you day at Universal!! How awesome that you could get in at 8:00. But that little bit about severe weather does NOT bode well for this day of touring! Hmmm....
Let's see how the weather works out!!

And getting in at 8:00 am felt really great - and we were very happy that we had dragged ourselves out of bed at such an ungodly hour!!

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Oh man, I think I kicked off all of that Mounds/Almond Joy discussion and then missed all the fun. Oh well. Yes, I think I've seen Bounty before and they're basically the same.

Good job on getting into the parks early. Whenever that year rolls around that I get to Universal, I'm going to have to come back to this report and Cynthia's (EandEsmom) for tips and suggestions!
As a veteran European traveller, I am not surprised that you had a Bounty!

So, no Universal visit planned for 2012? Which reminds me, your ticker is nearing the 6 months mark - don't you think that this would be a good time to start your PTR?? And I hope the Vero Beach reservation was acquired at the 7-months mark?
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:09 PM   #774
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Part 2: Starting the Day – with a Bonus Hour

Part 2: Starting the Day – with a Bonus Hour

We had just entered IoA one hour earlier than the normal public would be allowed to:



This is the entrance to the entrance area of IoA called Port of Entry.



Katharina picking up a German guide map which gave us some amusement because of strange choice of words...



Port of Entry is a beautifully themed area which I loved very much, more pictures will follow later, but I will keep the pictures chronological for this part of the report!

First we had to find the lockers at the entrance since we had brought a bag with clothes to change into for dinner. Since we might get wet during the day (on rides or because of the weather) and the restaurant where we had a reservation for dinner was a bit nicer, we wanted to make sure to be presentable. The locker was easy to get, the screens even offered German as a language option.

IoA has a very different layout from the parks at WDW. It has several themed areas all arranged around one large lake in the middle. WWoHP is about halfway around the lake from the entrance, so we had to walk through lands which weren't open yet.

We passed through Seuss Landing:



and the Lost Continent:



to arrive here:



Hogsmead Village! There was nearly nobody on the street as we headed toward the main attraction: Forbidden Journey, which takes place “inside” Hogwarts Castle at the end of the village:









the entrance to the Three Broomsticks Pub:







and off towards Hogwarts:



Universal is different from Disney with regard what you are allowed to take with you on the rides. On the bigger rides, especially the roller coasters, you can't take any bags. However, they have lockers at every ride with such a restriction which are free for a certain time, at the least long enough for you to go through the line, ride and then come back and collect your stuff without being charged.

Forbidden Journey is not a roller coaster, but you still have to use lockers. I had heard horrible things about the chaos at the FJ lockers, but since it was so uncrowded in the morning (the posted wait time for FJ was 5 minutes) we did not have any problems to find a locker and put our stuff away. The lockers work so that there is a screen and they scan your finger print and then assign a locker in the vicinity. You then put your stuff in and press a button on the locker to lock it. If you want to reclaim your stuff the screen asks you to enter the locker number and then they scan your finger print again. After having used several lockers in a short time after a few rides, the inevitable happened: I forgot my locker number!! But luckily Universal provides a button on the touch screen for just this purpose: and it then takes you directly to the finger print scan which then opens your locker anyway. So I don't know why they make you type in your locker number to begin with???

Enough about lockers, this is not the most interesting part of our day at Universal!! So we soon were off through the queue – which is very long!! Well, I meant to say, there was a lot of space to walk through we never had to stop until we got to the loading platform and were asked “How many in your party?” - yes we walked onto Forbidden Journey. We did walk slowly and did take in the things that entertain you throughout the queue. It is quite amazing. One effect made me truly jump because I had no idea that this would happen. It isn't interactive as the new queues that Disney is adding, but it was truly immersive and entertaining. By far the most impressively designed queue I have ever seen!

But theme parks aren't about the queues, the rides need to deliver as well! I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone, so I won't describe what the ride is like. But I will say that it is like nothing else I ever experienced. The thing that amazed me the most is that you changed between seeing bits of film to moving through real rooms. The atmosphere of the ride is very dark and there happen some scary things. I was screaming quite a lot during that very first ride and even closed my eyes a few times.

Still, I was very impressed. However, part of me was also disappointed. I had seen quite a few reviews which were claiming that this was incredible and absolutely amazing, some from people whose opinions I trust because I feel that we have similar tastes. Still, I was trying to not get my expectations too high, I was afraid to be disappointed in the end. And I think to a certain degree that was exactly what had happened. It is still a theme park attraction and it has certain limitations. Maybe because I was rather busy being scared during that first trip, I did not really get into the mood of the attraction and therefore did pick up on some minor faults more than I would have otherwise...

But it was nevertheless so great that Katharina and I decided to go on it a second time since there still weren't any crowds around... We walked onto the ride again (I think there might have been a line of about 10 people in front of us now...). And wow, the second time around I fell in love with the ride! I was no longer scared and just enjoyed it! It is absolutely fascinating and I wish that we get more attractions with that ride system in the future!! I was really sad when the ride was over...

In Part 3 we will visit more of Hogsmead!
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:39 PM   #775
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WOW I really really want to go to WWOHP some day!!! Yay for no crowds!! That is just awesome that you were able to walk on twice with no wait!! Will have to remember that if you do that deal your ticket does get you in early!!! NICE!!!

Can't wait for more of your review!
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:57 AM   #776
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WOW I really really want to go to WWOHP some day!!! Yay for no crowds!! That is just awesome that you were able to walk on twice with no wait!! Will have to remember that if you do that deal your ticket does get you in early!!! NICE!!!

Can't wait for more of your review!
It was really great to experience WWoHP without crowds. But at some points in the queue I would not have minded if we had to wait for a while. I think there is so much to see, I am sure that we did not take it all in. But I am sure that I will be back and I don't expect to be as lucky again.

I am not sure whether the ticket gets you in early all the time. There is some debate about that on the Universal board here on the DIS. And the official line is that it does not include early entry, but then there is this code on the ticket. And most people seem to be able to get in.

However, if you want to see Universal and can spare the time, I would recommend to rather visit for two days and maybe stay one night at one of the Universal resorts - which gives you early entry as well and front of the line access for most attractions all the time.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:01 AM   #777
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Nice update and interesting perspective of viewing your tour of WWoHP through the eyes of someone stalking Katharina like that. Not that I would ever take similar pictures or anything.

Great that you got the early entry and didn't have to fight crowds. A little disappointed it isn't more about the lockers and the line queues though. Those were the two big attractions that had me considering a day or two at US and IOA when we go back. J/K.....if I let Jonathan and Andrew read these updates we'll be going for sure since they are such big HP fans.

Can't believe you actually got scared on Forbidden Journey and were screaming and closing your eyes.....
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:13 AM   #778
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Great job on WWoHP. I do see that on my radar someday. Early entry seems to be the ticket ( ) to being able to get through without unbearable crowds.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:36 AM   #779
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On the bigger rides, especially the roller coasters, you can't take any bags. However, they have lockers at every ride with such a restriction which are free for a certain time, at the least long enough for you to go through the line, ride and then come back and collect your stuff without being charged.
I think Disney could take a lesson from this. This is a great idea!

Hmm... maybe that weather was a good thing considering you were able to get right into Hogsmead without crowds! I hope the weather holds out!

On a side note did you get my thank you email? I know you are busy just checking.
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:41 AM   #780
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So, no Universal visit planned for 2012?
No, not at the moment, ....however....Marlene and James walked by while I was reading the update you put up yesterday and Marlene said "What's that?" I explained that it was the WWoHP at Universal and that the writer of this particular TR was the same kind lady who sent her a postcard from Disney Paris. (James became confused at that point saying, I thought she was in Germany??? ) Marlene said, "Oh, I like her!", and then after reading, said, "We need to go there!"

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Which reminds me, your ticker is nearing the 6 months mark - don't you think that this would be a good time to start your PTR?? And I hope the Vero Beach reservation was acquired at the 7-months mark?
I have the Intro written, so it can begin any time! Keep watching.
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