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Old 12-01-2012, 12:08 PM   #1
WanderlustNZ
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Express Pass in September?

Firstly, can I start by saying that I know questions like this get asked all the time, so a big thanks to Damo and other regular posters who continue to answer them patiently. :-)

I'm in a big quandry over staying onsite at the HRH or offsite at The Homewood Suites where I could potentially save A LOT of money.

To help me decide, I'm keen to find out just how necessary express passes and early entry will be at the time we're traveling????

The plan is two full days at the parks during mid September. Probably won't bother park hopping regardless of where we stay.

Thur 19th - Universal Studios
Fri 20th - IOA

The types of rides we definitely want to do include the likes Spiderman, Simpsons, FJ, ET, Men in Black etc. We have a 5 (almost 6 year old) so we won't be doing any of the big roller coasters and we will be spending quite a bit of time in the kids playground areas and at shows.

Any advice greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:52 PM   #2
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mid september will not have crowds.

stay off site and save some money.



if any line is longer than you wish to wait in, use the single rider line if it is available.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven View Post
mid september will not have crowds.

stay off site and save some money.



if any line is longer than you wish to wait in, use the single rider line if it is available.
Thanks Macraven. I spend a lot of time browsing the Universal posts and I've really appreciated being able to read all your contributions to this forum.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:46 PM   #4
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Thanks Macraven. I spend a lot of time browsing the Universal posts and I've really appreciated being able to read all your contributions to this forum.
so nice for you to say that, thank you.

bring a change of clothes for the 5 yo in case your child gets wet in the water area at the studios side play area.


if parry hotter section is too crowded in the morning time, try back a few hours before park closing for that section.
it usually is not crowded then.

lots of peeps start back with harry and then move forwards to the front of the park.
that helps lessen the crowds in the back section an hour before park closing.

pick up the park guide map when you enter the park.
it will list show times for that day and street entertainment times, locations, info.

try to catch the 3:00 parade in the studios.
if you stand in front of the mummy ride, you will have a good view.
i also have watched it at the end of the street.
this is the area where the parade stops and the characters dance in the streets for few minutes.

if your child likes the super heroes, check the guide map for IOA on times they arrive in front of the spidey ride.

bring your camera!!!


use the child swap when you want to.

let the TM in front know this is your plan so you don't have to wait in a long line, in case there is a long line.....

mid september is a very nice time to hit the parks.
decent weather and less peeps in the park.
i have gone during this time period before and really liked it.

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Old 12-01-2012, 11:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven

so nice for you to say that, thank you.

bring a change of clothes for the 5 yo in case your child gets wet in the water area at the studios side play area.

if parry hotter section is too crowded in the morning time, try back a few hours before park closing for that section.
it usually is not crowded then.

lots of peeps start back with harry and then move forwards to the front of the park.
that helps lessen the crowds in the back section an hour before park closing.

pick up the park guide map when you enter the park.
it will list show times for that day and street entertainment times, locations, info.

try to catch the 3:00 parade in the studios.
if you stand in front of the mummy ride, you will have a good view.
i also have watched it at the end of the street.
this is the area where the parade stops and the characters dance in the streets for few minutes.

if your child likes the super heroes, check the guide map for IOA on times they arrive in front of the spidey ride.

bring your camera!!!

use the child swap when you want to.

let the TM in front know this is your plan so you don't have to wait in a long line, in case there is a long line.....

mid september is a very nice time to hit the parks.
decent weather and less peeps in the park.
i have gone during this time period before and really liked it.
Thanks again. :-) So much useful info.
Will definitely check out the times for the super heroes. I wouldn't be surprised if my son is more excited by the likes of Spiderman and Batman than Mickey and Donald.
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Old 12-02-2012, 12:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
Thanks again. :-) So much useful info.
Will definitely check out the times for the super heroes. I wouldn't be surprised if my son is more excited by the likes of Spiderman and Batman than Mickey and Donald.
the super heros ride in on atv's and a siren is blaring.

very cool effect when you see and hear them coming.

they do meet and greets, picture taking time with anyone.

so bring your camera!

the park guide map should give the time periods this happens everyday.

also, in the (comic book section) store near (located on the corner that jags out) the spidey ride, you can find spidey there during the day.
again, bring your camera to get pics of your kids with spidey.


there is a photo system that UO has.
you can have pics taken by the UO photographers and order the prints they take.

i don't have the interest in it like others do but i could pull up the threads about it if you want to learn more about it.

it is a lot cheaper system than what disney have with their photo ops program for guests.
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Old 12-02-2012, 01:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven

the super heros ride in on atv's and a siren is blaring.

very cool effect when you see and hear them coming.

they do meet and greets, picture taking time with anyone.

so bring your camera!

the park guide map should give the time periods this happens everyday.

also, in the (comic book section) store near (located on the corner that jags out) the spidey ride, you can find spidey there during the day.
again, bring your camera to get pics of your kids with spidey.

there is a photo system that UO has.
you can have pics taken by the UO photographers and order the prints they take.

i don't have the interest in it like others do but i could pull up the threads about it if you want to learn more about it.

it is a lot cheaper system than what disney have with their photo ops program for guests.
I just asked my son who he'd rather meet, Spiderman or Mickey Mouse. He deliberated for a few seconds before deciding definitely Spiderman. So superhero meet and greets are now definitely on the must-do list for IOA.

Thanks for the offer to pull up info about UO's photo system, but being avid photographers we're happy to take pics ourselves.

BTW, I just ignored my head, followed my heart, and booked the Hard Rock Hotel. It was the ease of being able to take my son back to the hotel for a midday nap that won me over in the end. I'm trying not to think too hard at present about the extra money I've just spent. Eeek - so excited!

Can I just confirm that you can leave a park for a break and re-enter it later in the day on the same ticket.
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Old 12-02-2012, 01:32 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
I just asked my son who he'd rather meet, Spiderman or Mickey Mouse. He deliberated for a few seconds before deciding definitely Spiderman. So superhero meet and greets are now definitely on the must-do list for IOA.

Thanks for the offer to pull up info about UO's photo system, but being avid photographers we're happy to take pics ourselves.

BTW, I just ignored my head, followed my heart, and booked the Hard Rock Hotel. It was the ease of being able to take my son back to the hotel for a midday nap that won me over in the end. I'm trying not to think too hard at present about the extra money I've just spent. Eeek - so excited!

Can I just confirm that you can leave a park for a break and re-enter it later in the day on the same ticket.

you made a wise choice.
it is so easy to leave the park, walk 5 minutes to hrh and take a break during the day. if it is not for a nap, you could spend an hour at the pool and do their activities.
returning back to the park refreshed is great for everyone in the family.


sometimes the convenience of staying onsite out weighs the cost from staying off site.
the time it would take to walk thru city walk to the garage to get your car, then drive back to the offsite hotel, can be taxing with all the time involved.


i know.
i did that a few times with 3 boys all under the age of 9.
stayed offsite, took a early afternoon to return to offsite hotel and wasted a good hour doing so.
one day, i just couldn't bear returning back to the parks when i started to think of driving back, parking the car, walking thru citywalk to reach the studios all for another 2 + hours more in the park for the evening.

i did save money that trip but it was time consuming rushing in the morning to get the 3 boys dressed, fed, into the car and then reach the parking lot at CW.
staying onsite alleviates those issues.
you can get up later and still be in the park for early entry..


present your ticket at the gate and you'll be re-entered.

the ticket you use that day, can be used for coming and going back into the park as many times as you need.

no hand stamp, just the same ticket you used earlier that day is needed.
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Old 12-02-2012, 01:34 AM   #9
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keep checking your room rates at hrh.

if they drop, call and have your rate modified to the lower rate.


i do this all the time.

if the hotels have a low occupancy rate, they sometimes lower the rates in order to encourage people to book during those low time periods.
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Old 12-02-2012, 01:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven

stayed offsite, took a early afternoon to return to offsite hotel and wasted a good hour doing so.
one day, i just couldn't bear returning back to the parks when i started to think of driving back, parking the car, walking thru citywalk to reach the studios all for another 2 + hours more in the park for the evening.
Thank you! You've instantly made me feel so much better about my decision!

What you've quoted above is EXACTLY what I was worried about. As much as we're keen to see the fireworks and enjoy the parks later in the day, I just knew that if we returned to an off-site hotel for a break , it would become too much hassle to return to the park later on.

This may very well end up being a once in a lifetime trip for us, so I figure we might as well do it properly. Thanks again :-)
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
I just asked my son who he'd rather meet, Spiderman or Mickey Mouse. He deliberated for a few seconds before deciding definitely Spiderman. So superhero meet and greets are now definitely on the must-do list for IOA.

Thanks for the offer to pull up info about UO's photo system, but being avid photographers we're happy to take pics ourselves.

BTW, I just ignored my head, followed my heart, and booked the Hard Rock Hotel. It was the ease of being able to take my son back to the hotel for a midday nap that won me over in the end. I'm trying not to think too hard at present about the extra money I've just spent. Eeek - so excited!

Can I just confirm that you can leave a park for a break and re-enter it later in the day on the same ticket.
We just stayed at HRH and I want to add that besides the 5 minute walk, there is seperate security checkpoint too, and I never encountered a wait at it. We walked back and forth several times a day. Or they have surry bikes that work for tips. (That took a minute!) They have waitress service at the pool for a relaxing afternoon and lunch. The concierge desk got me all my dining reservations (day of) at Citiwalk and hotel restaurants. Even though posted wait times for the rides didn't appear unmanageable (except Forbidden Journey and Descpicable Me), it WAS nice to walk on the rides and have more time for relaxing. The early entry to HP was wonderful. About 9 a.m. if you look towards the Lost Continent area, it looks like the Boston Marathon is heading for you! By that time, we had done everything in HP and been in the shops too. Forbidden Journey is not included on ExpressPass, anyway, so do it on early entry (I don't recall if you said if your child was over 48"?)
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
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We just stayed at HRH and I want to add that besides the 5 minute walk, there is seperate security checkpoint too, and I never encountered a wait at it. We walked back and forth several times a day. Or they have surry bikes that work for tips. (That took a minute!) They have waitress service at the pool for a relaxing afternoon and lunch. The concierge desk got me all my dining reservations (day of) at Citiwalk and hotel restaurants. Even though posted wait times for the rides didn't appear unmanageable (except Forbidden Journey and Descpicable Me), it WAS nice to walk on the rides and have more time for relaxing. The early entry to HP was wonderful. About 9 a.m. if you look towards the Lost Continent area, it looks like the Boston Marathon is heading for you! By that time, we had done everything in HP and been in the shops too. Forbidden Journey is not included on ExpressPass, anyway, so do it on early entry (I don't recall if you said if your child was over 48"?)
Thanks heaps for your feedback. It's helped to confirm even further that we've made the right decision. :-)

Will have to measure my son again today as I can't remember how tall he is. He's very tall for his age (in the top 2%), so will probably be okay. In saying that, I'm undecided whether or not we'll take him on FJ due to the scary aspects. I've been testing him out recently on HP movies. He loved the first two, but we got half way through the third and stopped because the dementors were making him anxious. We'll go to US on our first day to see how he copes with some of the slightly scarier rides, then play our next day at IOA based on that. Either way, I'm excited about early entry as we'll probably head straight for Ollivanders. The show looks delightful. Also, I'm going to enjoy just being immersed in the theming before the general public arrive and overrun the area.

Out of interest, does the express pass give you preferential seating at the shows?
Also, what are considered to be the more popular restaurants in the parks and at the Citiwalk? I haven't done any research yet into Universal eateries, so if there's any really worthwhile ones, I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks again
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:48 PM   #13
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The shows that I attended (animal actors, sinbad) has a seperate line for Express Pass, and they dropped that rope first before they allowed the other line in. So it's not "perferred seating" per say, but you get in to the show area to pick your seats earlier if you are in line (although they keep saying to slide all the way over). They do let the "other" line in prior to show time too, so if you are last minute, I don't think your express pass helps. But they only drop the ropes 5-10 minutes before show time, so there really isn't a long wait.

Tip for Sinbad - the seats with water drops painted on them (front and center) REALLY get wet.

My son did not like Twister, and after that we couldn't even get him in the mummy and dragged him into disaster, but loved forbidden journey. We did forbidden journey first. If we had done twister first, I don't think I would have gotten him into forbidden journey. That being said tho, there are dementors in forbidden journey.

My daughter was "picked" at Ollivanders, and it was wonderful for her. Not so much for the other kids in the room. My son is more shy so it didn't bother him. The guy keeps announcing that they let in 27-30 people and one, and only one, will be picked. It may be old, it may be young, it may be male, it may be female, it doesn't matter what you are wearing, etc....You can enter the wand shop and buy wands w/o the show if you will have trouble explaining to your child why they weren't picked.

We had a breakfast in three broomsticks. Nothing fancy, but the theming of the restaurant is great. We had a great meal at Margaritaville. We had great service and meals at the pool bar at HRH. Similar menu to the kitchen's lunch menu and more relaxed for the kids. Kitchen is nice for a bit more atmospere. Didn't eat much in the parks with the relaxing at the hotel.
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:53 PM   #14
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The shows that I attended (animal actors, sinbad) has a seperate line for Express Pass, and they dropped that rope first before they allowed the other line in. So it's not "perferred seating" per say, but you get in to the show area to pick your seats earlier if you are in line (although they keep saying to slide all the way over). They do let the "other" line in prior to show time too, so if you are last minute, I don't think your express pass helps. But they only drop the ropes 5-10 minutes before show time, so there really isn't a long wait.

Tip for Sinbad - the seats with water drops painted on them (front and center) REALLY get wet.

My son did not like Twister, and after that we couldn't even get him in the mummy and dragged him into disaster, but loved forbidden journey. We did forbidden journey first. If we had done twister first, I don't think I would have gotten him into forbidden journey. That being said tho, there are dementors in forbidden journey.

My daughter was "picked" at Ollivanders, and it was wonderful for her. Not so much for the other kids in the room. My son is more shy so it didn't bother him. The guy keeps announcing that they let in 27-30 people and one, and only one, will be picked. It may be old, it may be young, it may be male, it may be female, it doesn't matter what you are wearing, etc....You can enter the wand shop and buy wands w/o the show if you will have trouble explaining to your child why they weren't picked.

We had a breakfast in three broomsticks. Nothing fancy, but the theming of the restaurant is great. We had a great meal at Margaritaville. We had great service and meals at the pool bar at HRH. Similar menu to the kitchen's lunch menu and more relaxed for the kids. Kitchen is nice for a bit more atmospere. Didn't eat much in the parks with the relaxing at the hotel.
Thanks again for the info.
That's interesting about Twister. I haven't done much research into that one, so I'm going to look it up now.

I think I'll go with the attitude that we won't get picked for Ollivanders, so that if one of us does, it will be a pleasant surprise.

So, just to check, can concierge at the HRH book 3 broomsticks for us? It does look like a fun place to dine and breakfast there sounds like a great idea.

I just measured my son and he is 49 inches without shoes. I'd say that in 9 months time, and with shoes, he'll be topping 50inches. Most people struggle to believe us when we say he's only 5.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:10 AM   #15
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the only meal three broomsticks takes reservations for is breakfast. We got our "vouchers" for breakfast at the universal desk in the HRH lobby (a ticket). Just so you know, slightly difft from Disney, where everything is loaded on your key to the world card, in the HRH there is the check in desk, the hotel concierge desk, and the Universal desk. The check in is exactly that, the concierge got dining reservations, airline check-in etc, the universal desk did park tickets etc.. You end up carrying more cards - hotel key, park ticket, hotel express pass (at a min) we also had breakfast vouchers one day. The lanyards are a necessity. They scan your hotel express pass at each ride entrance.
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