Mid-day Relaxing at Universal Orlando

Laura's Dad

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 8, 2000
My wife and our two daughters are going to do a one day Harry Potter themed day at Universal on our upcoming WDW trip. They will be there most of the day. Since they won't have a chance to go back to the hotel like we do at WDW, my wife is curious is there are rides/shows like the Hall of Presidents/Mickey's Philharmagic/American Adventure to chill out and take a catnap while at either Universal Park. They will be going in December and really want tot see the Christmas projection show on Hogwart's Castle. She is afraid that she cannot hang for the entire day, Any recommendations would be appreciated.
 

Zombie

Mouseketeer
Joined
Sep 13, 2014
Hollywood Horror and Make-Up Show is a long show and inside.

Jimmy Fallon is a long, interactive queue experience that you can take extra time going through (if you want) -- inside. Expect the 'ride' (including the queue 'experience' to be at least 40 minutes). ET's queue is really long and inside/cool. You can take you're time walking through it. The ride itself is longer too, though not really conducive to slouching and closing your eyes. You're on a 'bike'.

Sinbad and Animal Actors are longer shows, seated and shaded but not indoors. Posiedon Fury is indoors and an extended show but you're moving along through it and standing. Since you're there at the holidays, I'm assuming, the Grinch show will be running. Also longer, inside and sitting. Though, it's a good show so you might not want to close your eyes through it.

There's the American Express lounge, if you have that and bought your tickets with it.

I'm blanking on the name of the stage -- but there's a big park-like, grassed space in front of a stage by RRR. Lots of people spread out there. There's also benches around "Central Park" on the USO side.

There's lots of little quiet, sitting and shaded spots here and there. If Discovery Centre is still open it's indoors and cool, though not exactly quiet. But you can spend as much time there as you want.

If you do just need to chill out, you can always go out into CityWalk and go into a bar/lounge or restaurant for a couple hours. If you really want to chill out and sit there's the movie theatre so you could go and catch a show in the afternoon.

Or you could take one of the boats over to the various hotels on the resort property and zone out in the lobbies, lounges/bars, by the pool, in the arcade, etc. Cabana Bay has a bowling alley. The pool bars and the rum lounge at Sapphire Falls are nice. Lots of memorabilia at Hard Rock to browse, etc. There's walking paths to all the hotels too that are scenic and quiet to just get out of the crowds for a bit. But the boat rides are only about 5-15 minutes depending on which hotel you want to go rest/chill at.
 

Laura's Dad

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 8, 2000
Hollywood Horror and Make-Up Show is a long show and inside.

Jimmy Fallon is a long, interactive queue experience that you can take extra time going through (if you want) -- inside. Expect the 'ride' (including the queue 'experience' to be at least 40 minutes). ET's queue is really long and inside/cool. You can take you're time walking through it. The ride itself is longer too, though not really conducive to slouching and closing your eyes. You're on a 'bike'.

Sinbad and Animal Actors are longer shows, seated and shaded but not indoors. Posiedon Fury is indoors and an extended show but you're moving along through it and standing. Since you're there at the holidays, I'm assuming, the Grinch show will be running. Also longer, inside and sitting. Though, it's a good show so you might not want to close your eyes through it.

There's the American Express lounge, if you have that and bought your tickets with it.

I'm blanking on the name of the stage -- but there's a big park-like, grassed space in front of a stage by RRR. Lots of people spread out there. There's also benches around "Central Park" on the USO side.

There's lots of little quiet, sitting and shaded spots here and there. If Discovery Centre is still open it's indoors and cool, though not exactly quiet. But you can spend as much time there as you want.

If you do just need to chill out, you can always go out into CityWalk and go into a bar/lounge or restaurant for a couple hours. If you really want to chill out and sit there's the movie theatre so you could go and catch a show in the afternoon.

Or you could take one of the boats over to the various hotels on the resort property and zone out in the lobbies, lounges/bars, by the pool, in the arcade, etc. Cabana Bay has a bowling alley. The pool bars and the rum lounge at Sapphire Falls are nice. Lots of memorabilia at Hard Rock to browse, etc. There's walking paths to all the hotels too that are scenic and quiet to just get out of the crowds for a bit. But the boat rides are only about 5-15 minutes depending on which hotel you want to go rest/chill at.
Thanks for all of the terrific information. This really helps.
 

Zombie

Mouseketeer
Joined
Sep 13, 2014
We've gone the past two years in the week following American Thanksgiving -- so basically the first week of December -- to see and do the parks and their Christmas offerings. We've stayed on property at Cabana Bay. But we've found the parks to be very quiet and a much less crowded and chilled out experience than WDW, generally. We've also been surprised with how easy it is to pass time rather quickly in the parks.

An example being last year we ended up spending over three hours in just the Jurassic Park area -- walk over, checked out a couple of the store, had a slushy and waited for the Blue Meet and Greet, met Blue (fun experience), went into the Discovery Centre and did the various activities there and watched the dino hatching show, had a sit down rest with some drinks and popcorn, went and rode River Adventure twice, did some souvenir shopping -- and all of a sudden we'd put in a good chunk of the day. Went and had some lunch on CityWalk and then headed back to Cabana Bay for a rest.

We had similar experiences the previous year. One day we spent several hours just in Diagon Alley. Another day we did the same on the Hogwarts side and then had a nice long break at Thunder Falls for lunch (also a nice quiet place to sit) and did Kong and called it a day.

I should've mentioned Shriek as another extended sit-down option -- inside, show. Probably about as close to Philharmonic as you'll get there. It's on the USO side. MIB is also a longer ride but sort of like Buzz Light Year or Toy Story Mania ... so not great for closing your eyes. But also an extended queue that's inside and kind of fun. Then a longer, sit down ride.

At Christmas time there will also be the Macy's parade, which is worth seeing. And there's lots of little random street type performers and entertainment that quickly put in time and make the day disappear too.

Universal is a very easy going experience and I suspect if you aren't going right at the holiday week, you'll find the crowds very, very light making it easy to go at your own pace and get as much or as little done as you'd like.

As a side note -- get to Hogwarts for the projection show early and don't expect to be able to stay in the spot you claim. They definitely herd you and squish you and close off areas and direct traffic. Some of the areas you aren't allowed to stand are a little surprising and frustrating. And then they try to herd you out going through the Jurassic Park area. You have to really fight the flow if you don't want to do that.

We also found the Hogwarts show very short and rather disappointing.

We set ourselves up that night to do the 'tour-only' of Hogwarts -- which was disappointing as the park was so quiet they put you in just the general queue and then let you take the chicken-route exit at the end. So we were blocking people who were just charging for the ride with the no-line wait. But then we also got stuck waiting to get out at the end because we eventually did catch up tot he line.

We watched the Hogwarts show and then resisted the herding to go through Jurassic Park to back track to Hogwarts Express (also a longer ride that you could technically close your eyes on for a few minutes). We took that across to USO an then watched the night-time fountain show there. It was a much better show than the castle projection. Though, you definitely have to be directly in front of it (in our experience) for it to look like much of anything. We had to move several times before the show and then during the show to finally find a spot where we could tell what was being projected on the water screens.

The previous year we'd made the mistake of thinking we could see the Macy's parade in USO and then take the Hogwarts Express over to IOA and watch the Hogwarts projection in the same night. Big, big mistake. About the whole park thought the same thing. There was about a 90 minute wait to get on the train and we didn't think we'd make it over in time for when the parks were closing that day (and even if we did we knew we'd be at the back of a mob of people pretty far back from the castle). We thought about walking around instead -- but be aware it's a very long walk -- so we ultimately just called it a night after going and seeing the big Christmas tree all lit up in USO. So if they are trying to see both -- or all three: Macy's, Hogwarts and Nighttime Cinematic Spectacular -- be aware that it might not be possible and definitely prioritize or be prepared to walk (and potentially at boot it speeds) between the parks.
 

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