Disappointed with Universal Orlando

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jlm0013

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
We didn't want to be those people to complain about a theme park, but we became them yesterday after our experience at Universal Orlando.

For context, we are locals to Orlando, and have been WDW annual passholders for the past year. We go to WDW about once a week, and are seasoned Disney park veterans. We are very used to how things work at WDW and the My Disney Experience app.

I took some vacation time for the week before school started here to try the other parks in the area: Legoland and Universal Orlando. After looking at ticket prices for Universal, we decided to get annual passes. I had not been to Universal in over 20 years, the rest of my family had never been, and my daughter likes Harry Potter. So, we took the plunge.

Our first day was August 7th. We went around noon, and stayed until 5. I downloaded the app, and realized it is not as good as Disney's, especially the map. That day, our visit wasn't so bad. We mostly did Harry Potter stuff at the two parks, and ate at the Leaky Cauldron, which was a good dining experience. We also spend time at Seuss Landing. One thing we were not used to is a lot of attractions shutting down if there is a storm nearby. This first day wasn't so bad. But, then we went yesterday.

Yesterday, on August 8th, we decided to go later in the day to avoid the heat, and arrived at Universal Studios around 5 PM. Since it was near dinner time, we decided to look for something to eat around 6 PM. We went to Mel's, but the menu didn't appeal to me, so we looked for something else. What we discovered were a bunch of restaurants closing around 6 PM. I don't understand why they would close so many places around dinner time. We ended up eating at the food court in Springfield. It was adequate. For some reason, the atmosphere made the food less appetizing to me.

After dinner, we went to Islands of Adventure. My youngest daughter wanted to ride some rides in Seuss Landing. However, they closed things because of a nearby storm. We waited in the book store. I was going through the app there, and saw Kong had a single-rider line. So, I went to go ride Kong (75 minute wait). I get there, and there's no single rider line. I asked the team member if they had one, and he said they didn't. I said the app said there was one. He said they normally do, but it was closed. At the same time, my wife and daughters went to ride the Cat in the Hat. When they walked up, they closed the doors to the ride, and gave no reason, even though they just let some people in. Later, we saw it was open again, and then, it was closed again. At that point, we decided to leave and got some donuts at Voodoo.

Overall, the experience was disappointing. I think we may be spoiled from Disney. I didn't understand why there would be so many places to eat closed at 6 PM. I understand shutting down rides due to a storm, but it seemed like a lot of rides/attractions shut down, and limits what you can do, unlike at WDW, where a lot of attractions are indoors, and don't shut down. Plus, my wife was frustrated with her experience with team members who she would ask questions. It seems she could never get a correct answer and would get conflicting information.

I think we'll go again when the crowds die down to get some use from our passes over the year, but we will probably not renew. We really wanted to giver Universal a chance, but it wasn't a good experience.
 

Mysteryincorp

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 14, 2014
Sorry you had a bad experience, that’s a bummer! Our experience at Universal kind of spoiled us for WDW and now we are doing a Universal heavy trip. Hope you have a better time next trip!
 

jlm0013

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 9, 2017
Sorry you had a bad experience, that’s a bummer! Our experience at Universal kind of spoiled us for WDW and now we are doing a Universal heavy trip. Hope you have a better time next trip!
Let's hope. We really wanted to give Universal a chance. But, what happened to us made no sense, considering we've never had those experiences at Disney. We've had a few bad moments at Disney, but never a disappointing visit.
 
  • angryduck71

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 9, 2010
    Perhaps they close also because City Walk has a ton of restaurants and is an easy walk from the parks (unlike Disney Springs from the parks). I would suggest looking at orlandoinformer.com before your next trip. Might give you some tips for enjoying the parks.
     

    jlm0013

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 9, 2017
    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Universal is Universal, it's not Disney. If you want the Disney experience you have to go to Disney. Don't give up on Universal give it another try.
    I guess I expected Universal to up their game, since Disney is a competitor, and I had heard how things had gotten better at Universal.
     

    ToxicRoyalty

    Villain in a princess tiara
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2018
    I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I love Universal, and always go when I visit Disney.

    Unfortunately the ride thing is something that can't be helped by them. Most of their new rides have been indoors at least, but even Disney shuts down coasters during storms. I know the kiddie rides, coasters, and outdoor shows might be closed, but that still leaves rides like Spiderman, Despicable Me, the HPs, F&F, Cat in the Hat, Et, Men In Black.. plus more.

    I have found a lot of cast members to be less than helpful, but that's why I try to really have some sort of game plan before we go.

    I also understand wanting to miss the heat, but when you give it a second go, I would definitely consider going earlier in the day and trying to see some shows. Their shows are fantastic, and I think you'd find some "Disney" there.

    Most of the food places are open until park close/are open park hours (but subject to change) so I can see them closing up if there wasn't really much business. It's unfortunate, but angryduck is right, there are so many good places on Citywalk that it's not a huge harm (I can also see them having a rush of people to leave and deciding to close up since people were headed out to Citywalk)

    I really enjoy Universal, and do hope you don't let this experience or comparisons to Disney ruin a second chance for it. I would try to get a bit excited! Read about some of the shows, plan a fuller day, decide on a restaurant or two you want to eat at. Mythos is award-winning and a good choice, as are many places on Citywalk.
     
  • pattyw

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 7, 2008
    Sorry about your bad experiences! Florida storms can wreak havoc on daily plans at any of the parks! It is frustrating!

    I agree with you that the in park restaurants close too early. We were there a few days ago when IOA closed at 10. We did make sure to have some dinner at Circus McGurkus by 7pm, but we were hard pressed to find an open quick serve restaurant or even a food kiosk to buy a bottle of water by about 8:45pm. We did find a popcorn cart by Kong to get a bottle of water,thankfully.

    We truly love our Universal vacations! They are so relaxing! :thumbsup2I hope you have a better experience on your next visit!!:) Thank you for taking the time to share the details of your park days!:)
     

    bchbetha

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2016
    I guess I expected Universal to up their game, since Disney is a competitor, and I had heard how things had gotten better at Universal.
    How do they have to up their game?

    Restaurant hours are listed on the app. We always just do a later afternoon snack then dinner at CityWalk though.
     
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