Express Pass in September?

Discussion in 'Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure Forums' started by WanderlustNZ, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    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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  3. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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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.
     
  4. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  5. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    so nice for you to say that, thank you. :goodvibes

    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.

     
  6. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    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.
     
  7. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    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.
     
  8. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    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.
     
  9. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    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.
     
  10. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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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.
     
  11. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    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 :-)
     
  12. auroraarielella

    auroraarielella Mouseketeer

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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"?)
     
  13. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    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
     
  14. auroraarielella

    auroraarielella Mouseketeer

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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.
     
  15. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    Thanks again for the info. :thumbsup2
    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.
     
  16. auroraarielella

    auroraarielella Mouseketeer

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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.
     
  17. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    Thanks. That's useful to know.
    I don't suppose you noticed how late the concierge and universal desks were manned until? We'll be arriving at the hotel around 5 in the afternoon and would love to sort out all our tickets and bookings that evening if possible. That way we can get going to the parks straight away the next day.

    I'm SO excited about this trip. Initially Universal was just an added bonus to what was going to be a Disney focused trip. Now, I'm almost more excited about Universal due to the relaxing way we are going to be able to tour the parks. No queuing for buses, no commando-style touring, no waiting in extra long queues. Just enjoying time as a family. Can't wait. :-)
     
  18. auroraarielella

    auroraarielella Mouseketeer

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    At least 8:00. We landed around 5:30, had to pick up checked bags, and get to the hotel and check in, and then we were able to do our universal tickets, express passes, etc. I want to say 8:00, because my friend and her children landed around 7:30, and while she could check in (of course), there was no human at the universal desk by the time they arrived. They do have a kiosk. if you pre-purchased tickets, and have the same credit card with you, you can swipe the credit card and it'll spit out your tickets (didn't work for my friend due to a divorce/name change on her card between purchase time and swiping time. But the human straightened it out the next morning when the desk opened at 7:00 a.m.)

    The express pass is all self-serve kiosks. Stick your room key in, smile, and it spits out an express pass with a bad b/w photo of you and your check in check out dates on it and a bar code. Like I said, they scan the bar code on the express pass at every ride.
     
  19. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    the front desk/check in counter, is open 24 hours a day.
    for those that arrive around midnight at mco, they sometimes call ahead to let the hotel they will be arriving within the hour.
    their ressies can be pulled up in advance and ready for them to check in when they arrive during the early morning hours.

    if you do not like the picture on your express pass, redo it.
    the button on the kiosk machine will ask, accept or retake.

    i did 3 retakes before mine was printed.

    the hotel concierge desk in the lobby, don't remember what time they close.
    i did use them once around 10:30 pm in october but not aware of what hours they normally carry.

    the front desk can handle what you need done though.
     
  20. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    The Express Pass can be used at the Barney show, FYI. We've forgotten about that each time, and I'm not sure we've ever encountered a queue for Barney that made us remember, but it can be used there. (my son is 8 and still likes the Barney show, though at this point I think it's more along the lines of "how can I torment my father" rather than "love that purple dinosaur!)




    The one issue with the Spiderman pictures is that if you take it with your camera, you get the picture with a green screen behind them.

    When THEY take the pictures, they add in the special effects, which look pretty cool. In retrospect, I would have bought the cool picture. Especially since, when I said "no, too expensive", they dropped the price by half. :3dglasses



    Very nice!


    :thumbsup2

    I like looking at this site to check out rates.


    There are big huge dementors on the ride, as you might now.


    WOW, he is tall! My son is 54" in shoes, and he's 8 and is considered tall. Then again, he's only 10" shorter than me so I make him look taller, LOL.

    Kids 48" and above can go on rides (that they are tall enough for) alone at Universal, FYI. You get to decide if you guys are comfortable with that. My son used that at Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster at 6, I believe, and then on Flight of the Hippogriff at 7. Not sure if he would have been OK with it at 5, though! But I thought you should know about it in case a TM (Team Member) mentions it, not knowing that he's 5.
     
  21. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    Thank you so much to all 3 of you for your useful advice. You're all awesome!

    I did know that there were dementors on the ride, but didn't realise they were huge. Eeek.
    How close do you get to them? Is it like the Expedition Everest and Jurrasic Park Rides, where big scary things jump out at you? If so, my husband and I might be doing a parent-swap thing and riding alone. Can you do that on the FJ ride?
     

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