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Old 09-03-2012, 11:37 AM   #1
couturelover
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Talking Just back! 8/27-9/1

Hey all!! I was a little dormant after I posted in the spring, but I figured I'd do a quick just back. I apologize if this is in the wrong place!

Key thoughts on IOA:
  • WWoHP was great! Early entry was for 8am and the gates opened promptly every day each week. The process was quick, and on my last park day I was the first person through the turnstile and into Hogsmeade!
  • I am not sure how it is supposed to work, but my family had our tickets signed and ready for our park days. A lot of people were moving slow as molasses. Now I'm not sure if that was us just being overly ambitious/not following the rules, but it did seem to hold people up for a few minutes each day.
  • The mornings were PERFECT and empty in WWoHP! I was able to snag amazing photographs of the entire section without there being a single person in any of the frames. I will cherish those pictures forever.
  • Crowds in IOA were what my family perceived to be an all-time low. We did stay on-site/utilize express, and did not notice particularly long waits for rides. The longest wait all week might have topped out at 60 minutes, which I am fairly certain was for Forbidden Journey. Otherwise, the crowds seemed great for day trippers and people staying off site
  • I purchased goodies from WWoHP and had them delivered to my room as well as to the front of IOA. I am not sure if this is exclusively for on-site guests, but it definitely beat lugging around my things all day and squashing them into a locker! I highly recommend this service. Everyone is more than happy to help you do so!!!
  • The supes were our in Marvel Superhero Island in their four wheelers! Captain America and Spider-Man drew relatively long lines, as did Dr. Doom. If you want to catch these guys, do so early!

Key thoughts on USO:
  • We were able to "do" Despicable Me, as well as the Simpsons, which were new attractions for my family (in addition to Disaster!). Again, waits were at an all-time low for us.
  • We tried asking various staff and employees about the two construction jobs going on, but received no answers. Most conveyed the rumors that are going on the boards right now.
  • We were super bummed about the lack of Jaws, but the big shark is still hanging outside across from Disaster! So you can snag your pictures! My sister was thrilled to find a really nice Jaws keychain, as well as pressed pennies near the Fear Factor stage. There were two of the pennies, and both were Jaws themed. Definitely a successful moment for her
  • HHN props are being put in to place throughout USO, but they were not distracting. Fear Factor Live was closed as a result to prep for HHN, which was a slight bummer but did not take away from our trip at all!
  • My family enjoyed old favorites such as T2, ET, and Twister. Of all of the attractions that we enjoyed, we all came to the mutual agreement that ET could use a refurbishment or replacement. Our main concern was the animatronics of people throughout the ride, which do not seem to have aged well.
  • Characters were EVERYWHERE! Marilyn, Lucy, the Simpsons, Woody, Gru & the girls, Spongebob, Dora, etc. I am a HUGE BTTF fan and was absolutely giddy that Doc still makes his appearances. He was near the Boulangerie, where a majority of the characters were. To see Lucy, Marilyn, and the one Spongebob/Dora afternoon parade, head towards Mel's and the Horror Make-Up show area. A lot are roaming out and about.
  • The 100 year anniversary show was GREAT! My dad has been to WDW since the month it opened, and has been bringing my family to USO since the early days of Alfred Hitchcock, the Jetsons, and Earthquake (which I still remember ), and he was EXTREMELY impressed with the show! Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it highlights the past 100 years of Universal Studios films. We all really enjoyed the style of the show and the shout-outs to things of the past like BTTF. All in all, it was a great show to see and felt extremely fresh. We sat near Krustyland/the Simpsons and had a great view!

As for dining, we ate at Margaritaville, Pastamore, Mythos, and Bubba Gump on site. Margaritaville is a family favorite, so no complaints there. Pastamore was refreshing and we enjoyed the Sangria that they offered. For $15.95 a pitcher, my parents and I each enjoyed two generous glasses each. What a STEAL!!! Mythos was excellent. We enjoyed having a bread service during the day. They also feature a cocktail of the month, and I can't recall exactly what it was but it was only $5!!!! Bubba Gump was great and the staff is very accommodating. Their fried shrimp was delicious, light and breaded and not greasy whatsoever. We will return in the future!!!

As a side note, we found options in the park that were not too astronomical. We ate at Croissant Moon Bakery. They had a continental breakfast, breakfast sandwiches, and other options that did not break the bank. Isaac did not impede on our trip at all. We stayed at Hard Rock Hotel with connecting rooms.

I apologize if this is all a big blog! I went to post and had to do the whole thing over again so I left out some detail I would be happy to answer any and ALL questions about attractions, weather, lines, hotel, food, prices, etc. Please pick my brain
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Old 09-03-2012, 12:50 PM   #2
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Good review. I enjoy posts like this. We don't get enough of them on the Universal board.
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:01 PM   #3
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Thank you for posting! Great details.

How was HRH? Was it crowded while you were there? Did you eat at the hotel at all? Were your rooms ready when you checked in?

Glad you had a wonderful trip and thanks again for the review.
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:50 PM   #4
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Thanks guys! I don't think we see enough of these.

JessicaR, HRH was great! This is our third stay there. We drove overnight from NJ and arrived relatively put together at 7am. We were able to check in to our rooms then!!! We were just past the lobby on the third floor near the elevators. Our rooms were 3087 and 3089. This is an excellent location We did not experience much crowding at all. The only time there was anything really "crowded" was the Velvet Session with A Flock of Seagulls. I believe that was Thursday. They blocked off the main staircase from the lobby that takes you down to the pool entrance, Emack and Bolios, and the Kitchen. We did not attend and used the elevators instead. It was not a hassle for us. The only real eating we did was some chips and salsa at the pool, and some ice cream and snacks at Emack and Bolios. The pool does have a table set up with cups for complimentary chilled water that is flavored with fruit, which was nice because it was HOT! My parents thought the bar menu went up, with drinks averaging anywhere from $12-14 and up. Most were served in souvenir glasses. However, we did not inquire if it was possible to buy the drinks without the glasses.

I'd like to add that there were park-wide issues with the room keys not accepting charges. We had to replace ours twice, and I eventually stopped trying and just used my credit card. There would be a time where mine would work and my sisters would not. It would flip flop. I could definitely see this being inconvenient for a lot of folks, so having some cash or a backup would be a great idea

Also, AAA discounts are accepted all over the property. We saved easily over $100!
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Can't wait to plan another great trip!
August 2012 at HRH, awesome time
Many trips to WDW, Disney Cruises, & UOR
"May the odds be EVER in your favor"
Keeping the Phillies PHAITH.. Here's to 2013!
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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And by AAA discounts all over the property, I meant to say at a majority of the food and merchandise locations. A lot of the kiosks are actually third party vendors, which we didn't know until we asked!
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Can't wait to plan another great trip!
August 2012 at HRH, awesome time
Many trips to WDW, Disney Cruises, & UOR
"May the odds be EVER in your favor"
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:58 PM   #6
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Oh yes, Dr Doom was back! We saw him too and it looked like he had a very long line with only Spidey's being worse. I'm so pleased that Universal brought him back.

Thanks for the post. I should have done one too.
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Old 09-03-2012, 02:01 PM   #7
couturelover
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No problem, Planogirl! I definitely was not expecting them to have such a draw! We had not been in 6 years and my memory was a little fuzzy at how out and about the characters are.

If Thor was present, however, there might have been a stampede...
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Can't wait to plan another great trip!
August 2012 at HRH, awesome time
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Old 09-03-2012, 02:58 PM   #8
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I'm going to move this to the Trip Reports board.
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Old 09-03-2012, 05:44 PM   #9
JessicaR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by couturelover View Post

JessicaR, HRH was great! This is our third stay there. We drove overnight from NJ and arrived relatively put together at 7am. We were able to check in to our rooms then!!! We were just past the lobby on the third floor near the elevators. Our rooms were 3087 and 3089. This is an excellent location We did not experience much crowding at all. The only time there was anything really "crowded" was the Velvet Session with A Flock of Seagulls. I believe that was Thursday. They blocked off the main staircase from the lobby that takes you down to the pool entrance, Emack and Bolios, and the Kitchen. We did not attend and used the elevators instead. It was not a hassle for us. The only real eating we did was some chips and salsa at the pool, and some ice cream and snacks at Emack and Bolios. The pool does have a table set up with cups for complimentary chilled water that is flavored with fruit, which was nice because it was HOT! My parents thought the bar menu went up, with drinks averaging anywhere from $12-14 and up. Most were served in souvenir glasses. However, we did not inquire if it was possible to buy the drinks without the glasses.

I'd like to add that there were park-wide issues with the room keys not accepting charges. We had to replace ours twice, and I eventually stopped trying and just used my credit card. There would be a time where mine would work and my sisters would not. It would flip flop. I could definitely see this being inconvenient for a lot of folks, so having some cash or a backup would be a great idea

Also, AAA discounts are accepted all over the property. We saved easily over $100!
Thats terrific that your rooms were ready so early! I bet it was appreciated after that long drive. Wonder what the problem was with the hotel card and charging. Hope they have it sorted out now - that could be a pain. I always just charge it all to the card. Nice savings using your AAA card - it really is great that they offer discounts with that and the AP.

I agree with your parents - we were last there in March and I thought the drinks went up too. Will be back again in a few weeks so I will compare again.

Absolutely love HRH and the staff is the best!

Thanks for the additional info.
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by couturelover View Post

Key thoughts on IOA:
[*]I purchased goodies from WWoHP and had them delivered to my room as well as to the front of IOA. I am not sure if this is exclusively for on-site guests, but it definitely beat lugging around my things all day and squashing them into a locker! I highly recommend this service. Everyone is more than happy to help you do so!!!
We won't be staying onsite but I was planning on using that option and picking up in front of IOA. Is that something that all the stores there participate in? Will I have to ask for that service or is that something they visibly promote?
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:27 AM   #11
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all park guests can use that service.

tell the TM when you make the purchase you want it sent up front for you.
They will explain the process to you.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:08 PM   #12
couturelover
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It is definitely a life saver! Who wants to lug around bags all day?
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August 2012 at HRH, awesome time
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:45 PM   #13
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Sounds like a great trip -- thanks for posting! What is the 100 anniversary show? I'm hoping it's something about Universal's movie-making history. (And if Morgan Freeman is narrating, count me in no matter what it's about!)
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:03 AM   #14
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hey thanks - great trip report. We are leaving next Friday ~ staying at HRH also and eating at many of the same restaurants so glad to hear you had delicious meals! Hopefully, I will do a quick trip report upon my return!!!!! We have not been back since 1999 and I just saw un updated park list that Universal is open until 8:30...guessing for that new show at night???? Hours I have printed lists 6 pm closing i think.

good tip on signing tickets -- have them tucked away safe and sound so I'll get on that.

My only questions regarding the rides and I was just going to post on boards but maybe someone can answer it here. I'm used to carrying small bag around in Disney but have been reading about no bags on certain rides and know about the lockers (which some have said are inconvenient). Are there other lockers for longer time period where you can stash cameras, water bottles, extra junk i carry around. I am so used to having "stuff" with me but we will all be riding and I just can't picture having nothing. Makes sense??? I guess my daughter can also takes pics with iphone too.

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Old 09-07-2012, 09:25 AM   #15
couturelover
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sn00zn View Post
Sounds like a great trip -- thanks for posting! What is the 100 anniversary show? I'm hoping it's something about Universal's movie-making history. (And if Morgan Freeman is narrating, count me in no matter what it's about!)
Thank you! It was a blast It is about the past 100 years of Universal Studios, 100 years of heroes, 100 years of good vs evil, etc. I don't want to spoil too much but it was definitely pleasant!
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Can't wait to plan another great trip!
August 2012 at HRH, awesome time
Many trips to WDW, Disney Cruises, & UOR
"May the odds be EVER in your favor"
Keeping the Phillies PHAITH.. Here's to 2013!
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