First Trip - Have I Nailed Down the Details Correctly

Jess_S

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2015
Hi everyone,

With help from the boards, we booked our first trip to Universal a while back. We will be heading down next month for a week-long stay. I have been continuing to follow along with trip reports and posts here and I think I have figured out a tentative plan for our week. But I wanted to check and make sure I was understanding the nuances of Universal correctly.

1. Ticket Pick-Up: Our travelling party is my family of 3 and my parents. We have 2 rooms at Royal Pacific, each as a separate reservation. Our room is in our name, but this trip was a gift from my parents and they paid for the room and tickets. My understanding is that we can pickup our tickets at a kiosk at the resort. Will my family be able to pick up our own tickets since the reservation is in our name? Or does my mother have to pick up our tickets since her credit card was used to pay for them?

2. Early Entry: Since we are at Royal Pacific, we will get both Express Pass and Early Entry and I am trying to figure out the best use of these benefits. It looks like the things that are open during early entry are Harry Potter area, Minions, and some of the thrill coasters. My family is unlikely to be interested in any big coasters since my parents cannot ride them due to vertigo issues and my husband, son, and I don't particularly care for them. For that reason, it seemed like the best use of early entry for us would be to just explore the Harry Potter area with lower crowds and save the rides for later using our express passes (or the virtual queue for Hagrids).

3. Express Pass: My understanding is that our room keys are our express passes. Does this mean that we need to get a room key for our 8-year-old? I am also curious about express pass and shows. I've noticed in Universal videos I watched on YouTube that some of the shows had an express pass line. How does that line work for shows and how early do we need to show up for a show in order to get a seat using express pass?

4. Wands: I was thinking of buying a wand outside the parks so that we have one to use for spells as soon as we enter for early entry. It looks like the only place outside the parks that has wands is the Universal Store on City Walk. Is that correct? Do they have a decent selection of the interactive wands.

5. Dining: Based upon the really helpful threads about crowds at quick service locations, I was thinking that we will plan our park days so that we either eat very early (in line for food a little before 11) or head back to the resort for lunch. Does that make sense? How are lines at the quick service locations at CityWalk, Volcano Bay and the resorts at lunch time? We have made dinner reservations for most nights and I am not keen on two sit down meals a day.

6. Lanyards: Can these be safely worn on rides? Are we risking choking ourselves and/or losing the lanyards if we wear them on any particular ride?

Thanks in advance for your help with these questions and for all of the useful information elsewhere in the Universal forums. It is always more fun to trip plan when the disboards are involved.
 

Mr. Drauer

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
Hi everyone,

With help from the boards, we booked our first trip to Universal a while back. We will be heading down next month for a week-long stay. I have been continuing to follow along with trip reports and posts here and I think I have figured out a tentative plan for our week. But I wanted to check and make sure I was understanding the nuances of Universal correctly.

1. Ticket Pick-Up: Our travelling party is my family of 3 and my parents. We have 2 rooms at Royal Pacific, each as a separate reservation. Our room is in our name, but this trip was a gift from my parents and they paid for the room and tickets. My understanding is that we can pickup our tickets at a kiosk at the resort. Will my family be able to pick up our own tickets since the reservation is in our name? Or does my mother have to pick up our tickets since her credit card was used to pay for them?

2. Early Entry: Since we are at Royal Pacific, we will get both Express Pass and Early Entry and I am trying to figure out the best use of these benefits. It looks like the things that are open during early entry are Harry Potter area, Minions, and some of the thrill coasters. My family is unlikely to be interested in any big coasters since my parents cannot ride them due to vertigo issues and my husband, son, and I don't particularly care for them. For that reason, it seemed like the best use of early entry for us would be to just explore the Harry Potter area with lower crowds and save the rides for later using our express passes (or the virtual queue for Hagrids).

3. Express Pass: My understanding is that our room keys are our express passes. Does this mean that we need to get a room key for our 8-year-old? I am also curious about express pass and shows. I've noticed in Universal videos I watched on YouTube that some of the shows had an express pass line. How does that line work for shows and how early do we need to show up for a show in order to get a seat using express pass?

4. Wands: I was thinking of buying a wand outside the parks so that we have one to use for spells as soon as we enter for early entry. It looks like the only place outside the parks that has wands is the Universal Store on City Walk. Is that correct? Do they have a decent selection of the interactive wands.

5. Dining: Based upon the really helpful threads about crowds at quick service locations, I was thinking that we will plan our park days so that we either eat very early (in line for food a little before 11) or head back to the resort for lunch. Does that make sense? How are lines at the quick service locations at CityWalk, Volcano Bay and the resorts at lunch time? We have made dinner reservations for most nights and I am not keen on two sit down meals a day.

6. Lanyards: Can these be safely worn on rides? Are we risking choking ourselves and/or losing the lanyards if we wear them on any particular ride?

Thanks in advance for your help with these questions and for all of the useful information elsewhere in the Universal forums. It is always more fun to trip plan when the disboards are involved.
1 - there is a separate Universal kiosk in the hotel lobby. you should be able to pick up the tickets if they are under your name.

2 - EE has limited attractions at USO, so exploring Diagon Alley is probably your best option. Express Pass is not valid for things during EE.

3 - Yes, each individual will get a key to use as the Express Pass. They are indivdualized based upon the attractions at the park. You can certainly hold it for the 8 year old. If a show has Express entry, you can typically get in line 15 minutes before the show start and still get in.

4 - the Universal Store has the same selection as the park. the only difference is if doing it at Ollivander's where the wand chooses the wizard.

5 - the lines for quick service, as well as the food/drink kiosks have been extremely long lately (think 30 minutes for a butterbeer on a Saturday). YMMV, but any of the QS places could be long, or be just fine, depending on the day and time. You need to make a reservation for any sit down (both in parks and City Walk) to ensure getting in, even for lunch. VB has a better Virtual Ordering option than the parks, in my opinion.

6 - no, you will not choke or lose the lanyards. any ride that is faster or has movement will tell you to tuck the lanyard in your shirt (hulk, RRR, VC), otherwise you will be fine.

have a fun trip
 

cfoxga

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
2 - For EE, it is nice to be able to walk around the park when it is not so crowded. Because you have EPs, the shorter lines during EE don't really help much. But given the August heat in FL, it will be much cooler in the morning. We tend to go in for EE, head back to the resorts in the afternoon for nap/pool time, and then return to the parks in the evening after an early dinner.

4 - I highly recommend the Olivander wand show if you've seen the movies or read the books. It is really well done and would be a great way for an 8 year old to get their wand (you can still pick out you own in the shop afterwards).

With a week long trip with EPs, you should be able to take your time a do everything you want. If you are HP fans, you will continually discover new details in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. There are lots of shows to entertain all ages. I'd also recommend visiting the other resorts to look around or have a meal. Each one is unique...
 

Bethany10

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
As the PP said, there is a kiosk at RP for ticket pick up. It's to the left of the doors when you walk in.

I recommend doing the Harry Potter areas during EE, especially if this interests you. it's a great way to see this beautiful area before the crowds come in. There is SO MUCH theming in this area, the details are incredible and worth looking at without the crowd.

Express Pass - yes, everyone will get a credit card sized key. When we went in 2019 our then 13 and 10 year old each just popped their key into their own lanyard and wore it every day no issues. I had everyone pick out a lanyard of their choosing before we went. Lots of options on Etsy, 5 below and of course in the park itself. These were packed away once we got home and brought out when we returned in June of this year.

Wand - Honestly if you're a HP fan, wait for Olivanders. It's a really cool experience to get your wand IN the store and there's a show that is part of that. In my opinion, I've spent a lot of money to be here, I want to immerse myself in the experience as much as I can. But the value of the park for me is in the experiences and the theming, the rides are secondary. Your value may be elsewhere.

Dining- Things have changed since we were there in June. They are now no longer doing the mobile ordering, and have hired a ton of people. I'm hearing the lines for food have remained horrid. They were awful when we were there in June. This included Volcano Bay. There are food trucks scattered throughout the park as well, that looked to have lunch options. I think food lines are just going to be an ever moving target, especially this summer.

Enjoy the trip, be sure and take the boat to the parks - one of the nicer perks of staying at RP!
 

Jess_S

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2015
Thank you guys. I think we will definitely plan do do the early entry on our first day to see the Harry Potter area. My husband, my mom, and I are HP fans. My 8 year old is not. I tried to get him to read the books and then watched the first movie with him. He says it's boring. We have a running joke about it now (stripping away the magic bits, its a story about a boy who runs some errands, take public transit, and then goes to school -- all things any 8 year old should love). But I do think he will enjoy playing with the wands and seeing all of the theming even without being a fan.

I just ordered lanyards for everyone and I am looking into something to carry my phone so that I won't need a purse to avoid lockers where possible. For dining, we will keep checking back on the boards to see the latest news. We still have a month to go before our trip, so I am hoping that they can get the food situation under control before we go. I would love to be able to eat when we are hungry without having to advance plan it. But we will do what is needed so that we can have a nice time without any hangry-ness incidents.
 

cfoxga

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
Thank you guys. I think we will definitely plan do do the early entry on our first day to see the Harry Potter area. My husband, my mom, and I are HP fans. My 8 year old is not. I tried to get him to read the books and then watched the first movie with him. He says it's boring. We have a running joke about it now (stripping away the magic bits, its a story about a boy who runs some errands, take public transit, and then goes to school -- all things any 8 year old should love). But I do think he will enjoy playing with the wands and seeing all of the theming even without being a fan.
Hopefully, seeing things live and being able to participate will change his mind about HP. I would think that even non-HP fans are generally impressed with the scope and quality of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at UO.

We still have a month to go before our trip, so I am hoping that they can get the food situation under control before we go. I would love to be able to eat when we are hungry without having to advance plan it. But we will do what is needed so that we can have a nice time without any hangry-ness incidents.
Yeah, the food situation is the disappointing to hear. We have never had to make any dining reservations at UO, but we started seeing long lines for quickserv on our Nov and Feb trips. We were always able to find somewhere to eat, but we know the parks well and had to be flexible in what we ate and when. It sounds like as the crowds increased, this got even worse.
 
  • Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Does it fit comfortably in your pockets? That solves the problem entirely.
    Not really. I don't think practical pockets are particularly prevalent in women's clothing. I am thinking of bringing the arm band I use for running to carry the phone. But I realized that we will also have a wand, so maybe avoiding the lockers is not possible.
     

    jmbarnes101

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 1, 2016
    Different places have different wands. We just got back from a two day trip and my girlfriend got a non-interactive Sirius Black, 1 of 2 left, from the big Universal shop and an interactive Lupin this morning from the hotel lobby store, stayed at Aventura. Neither of these were available in either HP land and Lupin wasn’t in the big Universal shops. If you’re looking for someone in particular keep looking everywhere.
     

    Lynne G

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2009
    Think using that ever fashionable three prong fanny pack. I use one, and only time I can’t wear it is the coasters that allow nothing but your lanyard. Put my phone, small wallet, sunglasses, phone charger, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. As well as receipts and my photo pass card. Car keys too, if I was driving after park time.
     

    allaboutthemouse

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2006
    Not really. I don't think practical pockets are particularly prevalent in women's clothing. I am thinking of bringing the arm band I use for running to carry the phone. But I realized that we will also have a wand, so maybe avoiding the lockers is not possible.
    Since you mentioned you run, I wear the running skirts I wear running to the theme parks because they have two awesome pockets on the sides and a zippered pocket in front, so I can go “bagless.” I can fit my phone, wallet, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and probably something else in them. I have many pairs from a company called Bolder Athletic, which are made in florida. I never carry a purse at home either, these are my everyday shorts used to carry my phone and wallet as well as running skirt/shorts :)
     
  • soniam

    Wooden leg named Smith...
    Joined
    Jun 22, 2012
    Have you considered a SPI belt?

    I would suggest making dining reservations in the parks or Citywalk, especially for lunch. You can much more easily eat at the hotel for dinner. If you must eat QS, do it for lunch and do as early as places open. At night, QS stills seems difficult in the parks. They are closing early, running out of food, and still have long lines :(
     

    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Different places have different wands. We just got back from a two day trip and my girlfriend got a non-interactive Sirius Black, 1 of 2 left, from the big Universal shop and an interactive Lupin this morning from the hotel lobby store, stayed at Aventura. Neither of these were available in either HP land and Lupin wasn’t in the big Universal shops. If you’re looking for someone in particular keep looking everywhere.
    Thank you! I didn't realize that wands were available at the resorts. We will shop around before buying any. I am thinking we will probably get 2 so that the adults can play too. Maybe one before we enter the parks and a second from Olivanders.

    I actually hadn't considered bringing any any running belts or skirts, but those are great suggestions -- particularly since I already own them. My SPI belt is somewhere in the basement where it has been since the last time I was motivated enough to run a race. I will dig it out today. (It will definitely not look that great with any of my outfits, but I guess I can live with that).
     

    yeheyprincex2

    Adventure is out there!!
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2013
    Thank you guys. I think we will definitely plan do do the early entry on our first day to see the Harry Potter area. My husband, my mom, and I are HP fans. My 8 year old is not. I tried to get him to read the books and then watched the first movie with him. He says it's boring. We have a running joke about it now (stripping away the magic bits, its a story about a boy who runs some errands, take public transit, and then goes to school -- all things any 8 year old should love). But I do think he will enjoy playing with the wands and seeing all of the theming even without being a fan.

    I just ordered lanyards for everyone and I am looking into something to carry my phone so that I won't need a purse to avoid lockers where possible. For dining, we will keep checking back on the boards to see the latest news. We still have a month to go before our trip, so I am hoping that they can get the food situation under control before we go. I would love to be able to eat when we are hungry without having to advance plan it. But we will do what is needed so that we can have a nice time without any hangry-ness incidents.
    My boys are 10 and 8 we went to Universal in June they were not HP fans. By the end of our trip they are now both fans and my older son even asked for a wand and we spent time playing with the wand our last day, bye the way the EE is a great time to play with a wand less people waiting around to make the magic happen. And remember its all in the wrist movement not arm movements.
     

    Deb1993

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 29, 2019
    Hi - sounds like it will be a great trip. I would definitely recommend dining reservations, at least for dinner. We were a party of 8 including my in laws and I booked lunch and dinner reservations every day. We just cancelled what we didn't want. We were there for a week through July 4th and saw folks turned away that did not have reservations. For Universal you do not need to leave a credit card and there's no issue to cancel.
     

    Jess_S

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 14, 2015
    Thank you guys. I am starting to get panicky about the delta variant and it is taking away the fun of planning. But we do have reservations lined up for meals and I was wondering what the rules were for cancelling. I am hoping with lower crowds maybe the eating situation will get easier.
     

    Deb1993

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 29, 2019
    Thank you guys. I am starting to get panicky about the delta variant and it is taking away the fun of planning. But we do have reservations lined up for meals and I was wondering what the rules were for cancelling. I am hoping with lower crowds maybe the eating situation will get easier.
    There are no rules for cancelling. I cancelled what we didn't use in order to open it up for someone else, but you are not charged for changing or no shows.
     


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