So, you're planning a trip to Universal? You have loads and loads of questions. Well, we're here to help. Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions that have been asked in this section of the DIS. Its here to help, and keep in mind that information changes, so we'll do our best to keep it current. Q:I've gone to Disney and love it, we want to try Universal...but it seems like there is nothing for kids to do. Is there enough for kids to enjoy? A:Yes. Universal Orlando may not be as big as disney, and there may be only two parks, but there certainly is quite a lot for everyone. Islands of Adventure does have a lot of thrill rides, but there are really only two major coasters, and one drop tower. There is a whole world of adventure for little ones with Seuss Landing which boasts four rides, and a play area. There is also the Flight of the Hippograff in WWoHP, Camp Jurassic (with Pterradon Flyers and a maze of caves nets and fun) JP Discovery Center (With loads of educational games and a hatchery) Me ship the Olive (a huge playground) in Toon Lagoon, and Storm Force Exccelerator just outside of the Hulk. In the Studios you have a wide world of Shrek, Nicktoons, Curious George and Barney. Not only that but every ride, with the exception of the Mummy is pretty much enjoyable for the entire family. Certain rides are a little scary, such as JAWS, but they are a lot of fun for kids five and up. For a good start off point, check out: http://www.universalorlando.com/prs_fun_w_kids.html Can My Kids go on everything? A:Not everything. Islands of Adventure, while having a great amount of rides for children and families, has a number of thrilling rides that not all children can enjoy either because of their intensity or the fact that they have height requirements. The same goes for the Studios. Height requirements At each attraction location, signs are posted to indicate specific height requirements and warnings for certain medical conditions. Listed below are all the attractions at both Universal Studios Florida® and Islands of Adventure that have a height requirement. If a show or attraction is not listed then this show or attractions does not have a height restriction and is open to all guests. NOTE: Children under 48" (1.22 meters) must be accompanied by an adult at all times and on all attractions. Hollywood Rid Ride Rockit-Must be at least 51" and no more than 78" Revenge of the MummySM- Must be at least 48" Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast- Must be at least 40" (persons under 40" can experience this attraction from an adjacent stationary location.) ( Back To The Future The Ride)The Simpsons® - Must be at least 40" MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack - Must be at least 42" Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster® - Must be at least 36" Jurassic Park River Adventure® - Must be at least 42" Pteranodon Flyers® - Must be at least 36" (36" to 56" must be accompanied by an adult) Dragons Challenge® - Must be at least 54" Flight of The Hippogriff® - Must be at least 36" Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey®- Must be at least 48" Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls® - Must be at least 44" Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges® - Must be at least 42" Incredible Hulk Coaster® - Must be at least 54" The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man® - Must be at least 40" Doctor Doom's Fearfall® - Must be at least 52" The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! - Must be 34". (Children 34" to 48" must be accompanied by an adult.) How Many days do you need for the parks? A:To fully enjoy the parks, you need at least a day and a half at each park. Three days total. This will give you enough time to enjoy every single attraction, explore all the nooks and crannies and enjoy some of the world class dining options. However, if you have express you can enjoy the park in less time. If you get there early you can do it in even less time. The parks generally start getting busy around 10 a.m. and will be at their fullest by 2. You can rush through it and see a lot of things in the parks in a short amount of time, I've done it in 2 hours per park....but I am a professional kids...dont try it at home. To fully enjoy it, I say three days. Q:Are there characters, and character dining in the parks? A: Yes! Both parks have resturants that offer character dining, as well as at their onsite hotels. One really cool thing is that pretty much at both parks you have a "streetmosphere". The characters arent all stiff with a line of families waiting, they walk the streets interacting with you! Sure, a lot of families do want pictures, and in those cases there will be a line formed, but just like disney, they will try their best to get you in before the characters have to go. And just like disney, the characters do take frequent breaks...but rest assured they will be back! Some of the characters you can expect to find: IOA: Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Things 1 and 2, Sam I am and Guy. Popeye, Bluto, Olive Oyl. These are all suited characters. You can also find the following "Face Characters" which are people not in suits:Betty Boop, Spiderman, Cyclops, Storm, Captain America, Rogue, Wolverine, The Grinch, All of the Sinbad characters, Dragon stiltwalkers. And you can even sometimes find a Dinosaur handler walking around with a baby Triceratops. In the Studios you can see:Shrek, Donkey and Fiona. Ricky Ricardo and Lucille Ball, Zorro and Esmerelda, The flintstones, Beetlejuice, Popeye and Olive Oyl, Shaggy, Scooby, Barney, Woody Woodpecker, Curious George and the man in the yellow hat, The gang from Madagascar, Nicktoon Characters and more! Does Universal do Pin collecting like Disney? A: Ahh, Pin Collecting. Pin Collecting is an art form at Disney. They have shops with just pins, they have places to stop and trade with your fellow pinheads, and even the cast members will trade with you. While they do have pins at Universal, its not promoted like it is at Disney. They do sell pins in all of their major shops, if an employee has pins, they are more than happy to trade with you, bit its not a big commodity at Universal as it is at Disney. Why? I dont know. But I personally dont care for pins......I'm more interested in the rides shows and attractions myself. Q:Where Can I find a list of Ride Rehabs? A:Well, you cant. Unfortunately Universal doesnt give a huge list of rides to be rehabbed months in advance the way disney does. The best thing to do is to call the 800 number for Universal a week before you go and ask, or keep reading the boards. Chances are if the rides go down, we'll be talking about them here. Usually a big theater goes down for Halloween Horror Nights depending on the park in which the event is held. Example, if Halloween Horror Nights is going to be in the studios, then Fear Factor Live will be closed at the end of September. Some shows and attractions will close to make room for Haunted Houses as well. Q:Are there any places to eat in the parks? A:Yes, of course. You can get pretty much anything to eat and take as much or as little time as you want. In the Studios there is Lombardi's Landing and Fennegans for sit down service. Lombardi's Landing is good for seafood though they do have many different menu items. Fennagans is traditional irish food from corn beef and cabbage to shepards pie. In Islands of Adventure there is Mythos, the number 1 rated theme park restaraunt for about 4 years running. It has an unbelievable atmosphere, great food, and a wonderful view of the rest of the park. As far as counter service there are all kinds of food to satisfy any pallette. You can go from anything to pizza and burgers to even rotisserie chicken. My personal choices for counter service: Richters Burgers (Studios-Right across from Earthquake) International Food and Film Festival-which serves everything from hamburgers and hotdogs to chinese food, to pizza. (Studios in the kidzone next to Simpsons) Monster Cafe-Chicken (Across from Twister) Three Broomsticks-ribs and chicken (The only restaurant in Harry Potter) Circus McGirkus Cafe Stupendous-Fried Chicken and Spaghetti (The big circus tent) Burger Diggs (Jurassic Park) What about the CityWalk restaraunts? A:All of the Citywalk places are good, and it just depends on how much you would like to spend. They all have kids menus and they all have a wide variety of different dishes. Qo I need to make advance reservations for the resturaunts months in advance? A:No. While its good to make reservations, its best to do it while you are in the park, or a few days before. In the park they have a few booths where you can go and make reservations for later that evening. If you do it by noon, you should be able to get the restaraunt and times you want. The only exception to this is the character dining. Q:What are the hours of operation? A:Hours of operation vary depending on times of the year, and additional events. Be sure to check Universalorlando.com to find out the hours for the time of year you'll be going. Qoes Universal have a "fastpass" option? A:Yes...and No. Universal has Express, which allows you to skip the line at any time of the day...without a time reservation. The catch? You have to pay extra for it. The cost usually runs about 25 dollars, but it depends on the time of year. Also, this option is good for one ride at each attraction. However, if you stay onsite at a Universal hotel you get free Express with your room key. You can go at any time you want, as many times as you want. Check out more details at http://www.universalorlando.com/tic_express.html Q:I'm going......Is it going to be busy? A:The busyness of the park depends on when you go. The rule of thumb is this: If Disney is busy, Universal will be busy. Will there be 2 hour waits and as many people as there is at disney? Of course not, but its not near as big as disney either. On a busy day you will see the most popular rides anywhere from 45 minues to 90 minutes. On a really busy day it might get longer...but there are ways to get around it. You should get to the park at least 45 minutes early, everything will be a walk on for the first hour.Utilize single rider lines for all of the big attractions such as Hulk, Dr. Doom and Mummy. I'm going on a weekend? Will it be Busy? A:Yes. Fridays are for field trips, and Saturdays are for families. It will be busy....how busy depends on the time of year. Sundays can be slow, especially after Mardi Gras...but they can also be pretty busy. Q:But I'm going Christmas-the week after/the last week of March the first week of April/Around Easter/Memorial Day/Labor Day/Groundhogs Day--------Will it be packed? A:Yes. It will be busy. Anytime you have a period of time where people are off of work and/or school......expect it to be busy. Q:I want to stay a few days at Universal, should I stay onsite or off? A:Well....that all depends on you. If you stay onsite at Disney you get free transportation to the parks, you get "extra magic hours" on days that they select for you, and thats about it. If you stay onsite at Universal you get free transportation to the parks. Or you could walk. You also get FREE EXPRESS! You use your room key for your "fastpass" and get on all the rides as many times as you like. You also get preferred seating at any of the onsite resturants. There are a variety of activities for kids with HUGE pools. Also if you are a guest at one hotel, you are a guest at all three and you can go hopping from one to another using things like pools and restaurants, as well as the transportation. Now, if you stay offsite, you dont get any of these options. However, because these hotels offer more, they do cost a little more than an offsite hotel. In comparison to the disney hotels, the cheapest of the three is going to be the Royal Pacific Hotel, a pacific island themed resort. This is going to be comparable in price to disney's "moderate" priced hotels. However, all of these hotels offer discounts for AAA members, Florida Residents, UK Residents and Annual Passholders. Prices vary at times of the year, and are subject to availability. For more info go to: http://www.universalorlando.com/ht_index.html for booking check out https://universalhotels.ibe.netbooke...=969&locale=en Q:Can I Do the Studios/Islands of Adventure in one day? Yes it is possible to do eiter park in one day. The trick is to avoid the crowd, and know when to fold em. Yes, I quoted Kenny Rogers. If you arrive at the park early, and I mean at least an hour before the park opens, you should have a lot of time before the crowds get huge. Also get the most popular rides done first. Rides like Hulk, Spiderman, and Pterradon flyers will get busy quick at IOA, and rides like Shrek, Mummy and Men in Black will be the busy ones fastest at the Studios. Also eat lunch early. Avoid the rush! If you want to hear more suggestions on how to survive check out IOACentral Radio's Spring Break Survival Guide. Sure it says Spring Break, but it can really work for the rest of the year as well. http://ioacentralradio.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=195034 Another link is for onsite and offsite hotels affiliated with Universal http://www.univacations.com/hotels/index.asp Q:There is a big event happening...do I have to pay extra? Aepends. Universal has several events throughout the year. But the rule of thumb is this: If it happens during normal park hours, its included in admission. If it is an event such as Halloween Horror Nights, Rock the Universe, or Beerfest....yes, you will have to buy a seperate ticket. IQ: Is Mardi Gras good for kids? A: YES! YES! YES! Mardi Gras is traditionally a family affair in New Orleans...except on Bourbon Street......and the same is true at Universal Orlando. There are excellent floats, wonderful characters and BEADS. Loads of beads. Just like any parade, you need to find a spot early, and there will be rude people...just like at every other park in the world. After the parade there is a concert, and its free! Q: Is Halloween Horror Nights good for kids? A:NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!! Halloween Horror Nights is a nightly event where the park shuts down and is transformed. It depicts images of ghastly horror, violence and sexual content. If you are planning a trip to the parks during this time, the park will close earlier than normal, and the festivities will not carry over into the day. This event is recommend for children over the age of 12. But every kid is different. I recommend testing your child out on your local haunts, and watching scary scary movies first. Q:We are going to be going during Halloween Horror Nights, will the parks be scary during the day? A:No. If they did, would we pay almost 50 dollars extra to go at night? They have decorations and some props up for HHN, but there is nothing scary that goes on during the day. Q:Will HHN be going on while I'm there during the day? A:NO! They close the park early (usually about 4 or 5) and push everyone who does not have a ticket out of the park. Then, at 6:30, they open the park back up to everyone who has a HHN ticket. Q:What are the lines like for HHN? A:Its a once a year event hat happens for a certain amount of days. Its busy. Very busy. You can expect hour long lines or better on really busy nights. Q:When are the busy nights? A:The busy nights for HHN are Friday, Saturdays and any night when the local kids dont have school the next day. They call those weeks in which there are days off "Hell Weeks" simply because the teenagers make things a living hell more nights out of the week. For this reason, the ticket prices are more during Friday and Saturday nights or "Peak nights". You can get lesser crowds and cheaper tickets on Sunday through Thursday nights or "off peak" nights. For more information go to halloweenhorrornights.com Q:Is there a "fastpass" to skip HHN lines? A:Yes, but its not free. You will pay upto 60 dollars for a HHN Express pass. This are good for each house once, and during past years it was good for the rides that were open as well. You can also take a RIP tour which will guarantee you access into all of the houses at least once, and if time permits access to the rides as well. This is an additional fee on top of your HHN admission tickets and last a few hours. But you will get to see all the houses and shows. If you stay onsite at one of the hotels you will NOT be able to use your room key for FOTL at HHN. Q:Can I go more than once? A:Its your money, you can do whatever you want. However, if you can go during the week they have whats called a frequent fear pass that gives you admission on all "offpeak" nights of the event for about the same price as a peak night ticket. Q:I heard there are drunks all over the place, does Universal sell alcohol? A:Yes. But...they do have very tight security, and do not tolerate rowdy behavior. And you also have to remember, alcohol is a commodity that makes a lot of money. They sell it in every park at disney, except for Magic Kingdom. Q:What do they do for Christmas? A:For the past few years Universal Studios have had the Macy's Day Parade, which is the same parade from NYC complete with huge balloons, and a visit from Santa. There are Christmas decorations all over the place, from chirstmas trees to lights and wreaths. In addition for the 2009 Season during select Saturdays, Universal presents the Winter Concert Series which is a free concert after the Macy's Day Parade. It is included with park admission. Islands of Adventure is home to Grinchmas which will be making its triumphant return to the Islands as of 2007. The event sees Suess Landing decorated in trees and lights and the daily "Whobilation" where everyone gathers around the tree to sing and tell stories. There is also a reinactment of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" complete with the green one himself. You can also get your picture taken with the mean one also. Q:Are there fireworks? A:No. There is no regular fireworks display at either of the parks. However, there are special occasions such as New Years, and 4th of July. And Universal has rolled out its very own nightime spectacular Universal 360, where images are projected onto spheres throughout the lagoon area. Its really quite nice. The Univesal 360 show seems to be reserved for the busy times of the year such as the summer, Chirstmas break, and Halloween. Q:What is The Blue Man Group? Is It okay for Kids? Is It Scary? Is it included in Park Admission? A:Blue Man Group is a unique form of entertainment that combines music, comedy, and multimedia theatrics to create a party atmosphere unlike any you have ever seen. It is part of the CityWalk Complex and resides in what used to be the Nickelodeon Studios attraction. It is now the Sharp Aquos Theater, and it is very good. It is a seperate ticketed event, meaning that it IS NOT included in park admission. You can not go see Blue Man Group simply by waiting in line. You have to buy tickets for the shows that happen several times a week. It is similar to Cirque Du Soleil at Downtown Disney in the fact that it is a performance show for all ages. That is where the similarities end. It features three unique looking individuals with Blue heads and arms.....they dont speak, and the theater is in the dark. There is also a lot of loud music. That may be frightening for some SMALL children. However, it is very entertaining and recommended for children of all ages. For more iformation about Blue Man Group please visit www.universalorlando.com And also check out a preview of the show by clicking the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwLBBK4eXcM Q:a.Where is the Harry Potter theme Park? b.Can I meet Harry? c.What rides are there? d.Is it Scary? A: a.Harry Potter has recently been opened as an addition to Islands of Adventure. It is not a seperate theme park, nor is it be a seperate ticket. It is part of Islands of Adventure as the "Seventh Island". It has taken residence in part of what was the Lost Continent, and empty land between Jurassic Park, and the Flying Unicorn. b. You will not see characters from the movies walking around, no Harry Ron or Hermione. You can see them in the ride, and you can hear them and other characters from the book as audio samples throughout the area. No meet and greets with main characters, but you can meet other witches and wizards as well as the train conductor c. The entire Lost Continent area has been destroyed and is being rebuilt as Harry Potter. Rides include 1.Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey-A dark ride that takes you through the world of Harry Potter using Kuka Roboarm technology. 2.Flight of the Hippogriff-Basically the Flying Unicorns Coaster rethemed and Potterized. 3.Dragon Challenge-Harry Potter version of Dueling Dragons which remains the same as it was except for the queue line, they ruined that and it IS scary. Ask yourself this question: Are parts of Harry Potter Scary? The answer I get is yes. The ride has some scary moments, although the rest of the area is very family friendly The biggest thing is the immersive shopping and dining experiences. # Dining Three Broomsticks Looking suspiciously like the Enchanted Oak Tavern that occupied the spot before Potter-mania ensued at Islands of Adventure, the restaurant features British fare. If you sit around long enough you can spot a house elf as well as other witches and wizards coming and going. Hog's Head Adjoining Three Broomsticks is a pub that offers drinks of all kinds, such as Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and real beer. Honeydukes And for dessert, you could head to Honeydukes for gastronomical curiosities such as Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans and Chocolate Frogs. Shopping Ollivanders A wand shop that was featured in the Potter books and films. Billed as an interactive experience where "the wand chooses the wizard," I'm not sure whether this will be an attraction, a shop, or some hybrid. My guess is that it will be the latter. Zonko's A joke shop with Potter oddities like Sneakoscopes. Dervish and Banges An instrument and equipment emporium that will offer Quidditch equipment and Remembralls as part of its wares. Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods This store will offer Ministry of Magic goods, such as Omnioculars and remote-controlled Golden Snitches. Other Wizarding World of Harry Potter Features Hogsmeade station At the head of Hogsmeade village, the train station will welcome the arrival of the Hogwarts Express. The Owlery A place to rest and contemplate the owls roosting in the rafters. The Owl Post An actual, working U.S. post office from which guests will be able to send letters and cards postmarked from Hogsmeade. D.While the entire area is meant for the whole family, the movies and books deal with scary parts, so parts of the new land will be scary. The height requirement is going to be 48 inches for the Forbidden Journey, and it will include Giant spiders, Giant snakes, and Dementors. Q:What is Butterbeer? Do they have a non-alcoholic version of the Harry Potter drink? A:Silly Muggle. Butterbeer is a non-alcoholic drink. It's like cream soda, but it's not. It's very delicious and very addicting. It is sold either from the Butterbeer carts, or in the 3 Broomsticks/Hogshead area. It is only sold at the WWOHP, and can not be purchased anywhere else in the park. If you find out exactly what it is, let me know so that I can make it at home. A:There are many events scheduled throughout the year, many of them are annual events, but the schedule is constantly changing with the addition of newer smaller events. And some of these events are seperate events at areas like CityWalk. You can find a complete list of events scheduled for the year at: http://www.universalorlando.com/events.html Q:What about weather? What if it rains? A:Contrary to popular belief, not even disney can control predict or create the weather. So all of the same rules apply at Universal that do at Disney. It is Florida, and the weather is very unpredictable. The only time that the parks have been known to close are when there are Hurricanes, which Hurricane Season runs from June 1st to November 30th. When the most likely time for a storm is can be anyones guess. But summer generally starts in March and increases in heat until October. Then it starts to cool off a bit...but not cold, in comparison to what you are most likely used to. Our winters here consist of temps in the high 30's to low 70's. Brutal. The best thing to do is check out the Orlando forecast by heading to an Orlando site such as: http://www.wesh.com/weather/index.html The majority of the rides are inside, or have at least queues that are covered so you are protected from the rain, heat and cold. The only rides to be affected by inclement weather will be Hulk, Dr. Doom, Dudley Do Right, Popeye, Pterradon Flyers, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Flight of the Hippogriff,Dragon Challenge, JAWS and Woody Woodpeckers Nuthouse coaster at the Studios. That sounds like a lot, but those really dont close unless lightning is in the area or winds pick up to speeds around 25 mph. Q:We are going, its going to be busy, but I dont want to get Express and I'm not staying offsite. Whats the best way to do this? A:Okay...it can be done....really. Just remember this......EARLY EARLY EARLY. Get to the parks early, at least a half hour or hour before the parks open. The parks tend to open the gates when they anticipate large crowds early. I've seen them open the park as early as 8:15 when it is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. The next thing to do is go in a circle...starting with the biggest signature attractions. Personally I would start off at IOA first. Start off with Hulk, then work clockwise with Doom Spiderman, etc. End at Suess Landing. Then head over to USF, and start with Jimmy and Shrek, end with T2. I've done this plenty of times, with the latest being in the middle of July. Never have I had to wait more than 30 minutes for a ride. Q: Where can I find more info? There are a variety of sites. I recommend first checking universalorlando.com That is the official site. There are also news sites such as Screamscape, Behind The Thrills, and Theme Park Insider for the latest information. There are also fansites such as Orlando United I hope this helps some. If there are any questions that I missed, please feel free to add, or comment.