Back from Aug 4th through 11th Trip

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by robl45, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    I don't know if I'll ever have time for a full trip report, but I at least wanted to post some of the major likes and dislikes of Universal for my family with some contrast to Disney. It was myself and my wife and DS 9 and DD 7

    For starters my family is not a fan of Voodoo doughnuts. My wife and son got the oreo topped raised yeast one and both didn't care for them. My daughter and I got the chocolate frosted one like you would get at Dunkin Donuts. It was fine, but so is the one at Dunkin Donuts. We also got a Voodoo doll to share. I tried it, its not bad, my son didn't care for it and he likes jelly doughnuts at Dunkin. I was going to get the big Texas glazed doughnut but 9.99 was more than I wanted to spend on a doughnut.

    We stayed at Portofino Bay. No issues with the hotel and I'd say the room was a bit better than your Deluxe Disney room. We had the Deluxe room with the tub and shower. The room was definitely roomy, but the kids missed the balcony. The pool was nice enough and the slide was nice, I'd say not as nice as the nicer Disney pools but they got the job done. My kids didn't like how the activities aren't catered as much towards kids and my 7 year old was not interested in a smoothie as a prize. She likes her Duckies from Disney. They were nice and gave her a ducky as a prize instead. We also tried to go over to the Hard Rock pool as well, but unfortunately the slide as broken that day so we ended up going back to our pool. I did notice how people say the Hard Rock pool is very shallow.

    We took the boats a number of times from Portofino to CityWalk and back and it was a bit aggravating how out of 9 times I think we made the boat that was waiting once. Going how at night was nuts, I waited longer for a boat then I did for a bus at Disney and it honestly felt like they didn't run them any quicker at closing time than they did during the day. About the 5th night we tried walking since we ate at the Kitchen at the Hard Rock and that was much easier. I posted in another thread that the walk for me was about 10 minutes and definitely was a better walk than walking to Hollywood Studios. It was a no brainer at closing time for sure.

    We had express pass obviously staying at Portofino Bay and of course it was nice, but seemed to suffer the same problem as Disney has where they seem to have a set system instead of trying to clear the fastpass or express lines. At Disney though the fastpass system is free. I could see someone paying 100 dollars for a fast pass for a day getting aggravated when the fast pass line is still 30 minutes long. It appeared that the system was we take some fast pass people, then we take twice as many regular people, then we take some fast pass people. So if a ride has an 80 minute wait, you are pretty much guaranteed to wait 30 minutes or so even with express. I actually had one time where the wait was the same or longer than the normal line because of the system they use. The normal line was 10 minutes and we waited at least 10 minutes because of the every other system that is used. I think both Disney and Universal could improve that.

    The photopass or whatever universal calls it was miles behind Disney. It wasn't bad and we certainly got our monies worth, but it is much more complicated than Disney. Some rides you have to go to the counter and its frustrating when you just want to scan your card and move on while the one person working the counter is tending to the family that is taking 10 minutes to decide if they want to buy the overpriced photo. Even the rides that have self scanners frequently would take 3 tries before I could get it to scan and then find the photo. You constantly have to pull the card out of the lanyard for the photographers too. I will say that we were impressed that the photographers were willing to take pics of basically anything which we haven't experienced at Disney as much. Rip ride rocket was the worst for photos. They have a self serve scanner but that doesn't work for the digital package. You have to go to the counter, get a stupidly long number and then add it into your account on the website. And if you want that picture printed later, you better keep those pieces of paper. Luckily one of the numbers was still in my phone as my son wanted a rip ride rocket picture as one of the two pictures you get printed with the photo package. One tip we were told is rip ride rocket doesn't have scanners so while they printed the picture for us as part of the package, they said we still had another picture we could use.

    Volcano bay the kids loved. We only got one day there because my older one developed a bad cough which by the time we left it seemed most employees at the park had and both kids also scraped their knees up nicely on the orange kiddie slide of all places. We got there for the 8am early entry and there was no wait for anything. We went on the 125 foot drop plunge which me and my son felt was much scarier before you do it, the actual ride the worst part was water in your face at the end. We did pretty much every slide except the two tame large raft slides. Each of the large raft slides has a tame and more adventurous one. We like the large raft slides and everyone enjoyed the aquacoaster. My son and I did the ohno slide and got nice pictures from that. We did the green drop slide in the volcano later in the day and both my son and I said we wouldn't go on it again. It was too fast and we both banged our heads. The best part truthfully was the fearless river, we spent hours on that. As others have said, after about 10, the lines for the many of the rides were 90 minutes plus, the aqua coaster and the plunge slide were over 3 hours.

    We had fun with the interactive wands and while all of them would fit in the lockers including the long skull one my son got, even he said he wished he had got a smaller one as it was quite long. Speaking of lockers it was a bit confusing when you have different types of lockers between the two parks. I think they should all be standardized. Some use fingerprint, some use park ticket.

    We went on the 3 water rides at IOA. I loved the Popeye raft ride. We always do the one at AK, but its really short compared to this one and you don't get very wet most of the time. About the only bad thing about the Popeye one is you get completely soaked. No way around it, you are getting really wet. We brought a change of clothes the second time so we could go on the rides and then change. It was not lost on us that Universal had the space to put personal dryers for profit, but couldn't put a little extra space in the bathrooms for people to change.

    I think that is about it for now. I'd say the kids loved Universal Studios more than IOA. My son couldnt go on the Hulk so that is part of it, but it was also frustrating when there are only a few rides open every time it rains. The Studios is much less affected by that. We saw 3 shows while we were there. Sinbad at IOA and the makeup show and Fear Factor at the studios. The kids like all 3 shows and I was picked to be in the beginning of the Sinbad show much to my son's delight. The favorite was the makeup show for my son. He wanted to go see every showing, but I explained they would all be the same.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  2. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    I’m glad you took the time to tell us about your trip

    Some great moments along with the bad

    I enjoy the honest opinions of all posters

    Yes the studios have more rides to do when it rains
    Glad you made the choice of that park on your rainy day there
     
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  4. Liningup

    Liningup Earning My Ears

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    Nice details and tips here. Thank you! We are about to leave for a first trip and I'm keeping my expectations kind of low since I'm a Disney person. My family wanted something different and I like family friendly so Universal it is.
     
  5. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    Oh that was one part I forgot to mention. We went to get on the escape from Gringotts ride and my wife had her phone. They said stick it in your pocket and she said I don't have any pockets so they said stick it down your shirt. I looked at my wife and said we aren't in Disney anymore. Its definitely family friendly, but all ages can have fun where Disney is more towards kids in my opinion.
     
  6. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Loose objects can fly off the ride and hit someone or land on the track

    That is why no loose objects are allowed on the ride

    The TM wanted you to be able to stay on the ride and not have to remove you

    That is why they said to put it in a pocket or inside your clothes
     
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  7. angryduck71

    angryduck71 DIS Veteran

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    One tip if you're staying onsite... we usually picked one afternoon to do water rides (LOVE Popeye!). I have a bathing suit that looks more like shorts and a tank top and my son wore swim trunks and a swim top. We would go back to the room at lunch, then change into these things, do water rides over and over for the afternoon (luckily, they're all in one park), then go back and change for dinner. Works well for us! That way we could care less if we're drenched.
     
  8. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    I didn't like walking around wet. The wet shorts were grabbing at my legs while walking from Jurassic Park over to the other two. We basically did the same thing we just changed at the bathroom outside the raft ride.
     
  9. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    Yes, I was just pointing out that at Disney they wouldn't say shove it down your shirt which essentially was stuff it down your bra.

     
  10. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

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    Not always.

    In July we joined the EP line when Despicable Me regular line was showing 100 minute wait......we were on in around 15 minutes. We were only that time because she stopped at us to let some of the regular line in.

    RRR was 70, we were on in less than 10.

    Hulk was showing a long line, I forget the actual time, but we got on twice in less than 20 minutes with EP.

    It`s a shame you experienced that, but what you experienced isn't guaranteed. Sure at times you may wait a little longer...….but in our experience it`s nearly always less than 20 minutes.

    We did wait almost 30 minutes once for DM but there was an issue with the ride.
     
  11. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    The only time I had a long wait for the minions ride is when they roped off two entire row across for repair

    Now that did create line waits no matter which line you were in

    When you take out a couple of rows, less seats for the riders
     
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  12. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    We had. a long wait for Express whenever the regular line was long almost always but sometimes it was long even when the other line was not that long. My wife skipped minions once because wait was 30 minutes. Regular was 80 I think at that time. We waited 40 for Kong. I think regular at the time was 120 because it was raining. It was very clear at each ride they follow a set formula and not a let's clear out the Express lines formula
     
  13. HM

    HM My tag from the Tag Fairy is now too long to use.

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    Thanks for your report. Sounds like you had a good time overall.

    We were frustrated this week when we were in line for Minions first thing (supposed to be a 20 minute wait, reg line) but they kept letting EP people in without letting them form any type of line and it ended up taking us more than a half hour. Also at Forbidden Journey one morning, the EP people were let in one after the other while the regular line got longer and longer. That was our longest wait of all at about 45 minutes (said 30 when we got in line).

    So your experience of the EP line building up doesn't always happen. We felt that the EP folks were definitely getting their monies worth. You just hit them wrong, I guess.
     
  14. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    School started last week in part of Florida which may have dropped the waits a bit. I've experienced the same thing multiple times at Disney and Universal. Express should be express even if the non express have to wait longer. Its been my experience over 10 plus visits that it rarely happens like that, its always typically a function of how long the regular line is. Also, the fast pass line at Disney have skyrocketed when an attraction reopens after being down for a bit. I get that many fast pass people are waiting but fast pass lines shouldn't hit an hour because you have to stick to a specific formula. They clearly are counting the amount of people coming through each side and its not because of the amount of seats so its a very basic formula they are using and not lets clear out the express and fast pass lines.

    As for having a good time, we had an excellent time. I think it was better than Disney honestly, but they aren't going to compete on the same level until they figure how to make things as smooth as the magic band system.
     
  15. J'aime Paris

    J'aime Paris Living happily ever after

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    Your experience is your experience, and I respect that.

    I have had opposite experiences with Disney being WAY more annoying! Looking at you, MDE app:mad: and your glitchy issues!
    I've been going to WDW since I was a small child, and FP+ has not been a welcome addition for my touring style.

    We are going to WDW for my DD's bday in October, and I'm honestly dreading it.
    Had to make dining at 180 days, which is almost mandatory since it is Food and Dining at EP and many nights of MNSSHP during our stay. I've been trying for about 2 months to add one night to our stay (a weekday), and our resort is showing zero availability.

    We went the exact same timeframe last year to Universal, and every moment was carefree and unplanned. We enjoyed the short walk from RPR, had a fabulous meal at The Palms, and experience little to no wait for most attractions.

    Hopefully next year will be back at Universal...
     
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  16. robl45

    robl45 DIS Veteran

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    Disney is way more annoying no doubt about it. Having to pick 3 rides a day if you can get them that aren't an hour plus wait, picking dining 180 days in advance without knowing which park you will be in due to fast pass availability is not a lot of fun. Having to stick to a rigid schedule that can never be changed takes a lot of the joy out of it. We enjoyed Universal much more because of that aspect.

     

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