Universal Thoughts

goodeats

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
I hadn't been to Universal in 20 years and my DH even longer. We took my two girls for my older daughter's 10th birthday and brought one of her friends. July is peak season for the whole month, so the Express Pass was $130 on top of your admission - times five that was a big nope for us. I found buy one day plus a "free" day on Undercover Tourist for $586 for the 4 adult tickets and 1 child ticket. We live an hour away (without traffic!) so chose to visit on a Sunday so we didn't have to deal with commuters. We left our house at 7:00am and got to parking structure at 8:00. Security was easy and we waited for the gates to open. We did not have Early Entry so we chose to rope drop Jurassic World. EE was let in a little before 8:30 and we were let in by 8:45 (maybe a little earlier).

* It was a huge bottle neck to get down to the lower lot and with three kids in tow we were not the fastest. My tip is to stick to the left hand side and take the stairs down. That puts you in a good spot for JW at the bottom. The lined moved decently fast until we got to the front and they had to load and unload guests in two sets of boats and the line just stopped. The ride was really fun though. My 7 year old cried at the dinosaurs, but loved the drop. I don't remember all the indoor scenes from the original, but it's possible I forgot. I appreciate that it's an actual ride.

* Then we headed to Hogsmede. As a HP fan (but obviously not a super fan since I haven't made to USH or Orlando since it's been built!) I was super impressed. I mean the land, shops, restaurants, attractions are worth the $586 right there. We went to the FJ (posted at 60) and ended up waiting 90+. Most of our queue was outside the castle in the sun and was not fun. There was a point where the line just stopped, so I'm assuming the ride had issues. I really enjoyed the queue inside the castle though. I was super nervous about this attraction as I get motion sickness (can not ride Star Tours) and get claustrophobic with the shoulder restraints. I took a "less drowsy" Dramamine the night before, which made me wake up groggy, so I didn't take a second. But I did fine on the ride. I don't need to ride again though. I wish you couldn't see the robotic arms of the vehicles in front of you. Don't know if that was a glitch of the ride or what. The ride paused/stopped towards the end and they said we could ride again, but we didn't. I thought the movie was kind of blurry and the thematics (whomping willow, dementors, etc) a little too scary. Would have liked more of the Quidditch.

* We ate at Three Broomsticks. I thought this was going to be a mess of crowds and a big headache, but it was really efficient. I kind of hate the themed water. It was $5.49 for a small bottle of Gilly Water. No, I need a liter of Dasani please! We tried the cold butterbeer (I think it's A&W cream soda) and the pumpkin juice. I would get the butterbeer again, but not the pumpkin juice. Food was fine, but not great. LOVED the restaurant though and would go back. Pricey though - $100 for 2 adult entrees, 3 kid meals, 2 butterbeers, 1 lemonade, and 1 pumpkin juice.

* At this point it was 1:00 (yup only 2 attractions and lunch so far) and all the queues were 60+ except for Studio Tour which we headed to. Line moved fast and I enjoyed this, although the kids had no idea what most of the movies they referred to were. I was impressed by Skull Island, but not Fast and the Furious. I was on the drivers side of the tram and could not see Bruce/Jaws at all. After this attraction it was 2:30 so we probably could have left then, but since we drove up from South Orange County we soldiered on.

* Headed to Silly Fun Land, which was a big mess. The water area is ridiculous. I had brought flip flops for the kids, but not towels or changes of clothes. We did not participate. The Descpicable Me line was at least 45 minutes so the kids rode the stupid wheel/spoke ride. The worker said my 7 year old needed an adult (even though she was clearly over 48") so my DH rode with her.

* Saw the Animal Actors show, which was cute, but short. They had a shade structure, but it was still pretty hot and sunny. Needed ice cream and shade after this, but the Simpsons Ice Cream line was long and no real shade, so headed to Lower Lot

*Got Ice Cream, iced Starbucks and sat on the upper level of Jurassic World, which was pretty shady. I didn't realize they did have cups of ice cream in Hogsmede, so we could have headed there and found air conditioning. But this was a nice respite anyway, just a long trek to get there.

*Then we headed back to Hogsmede to enjoy the shops. They are amazing! Again, worth the price of admission. And so air conditioned! My only complaint is how impractical they are, but I guess it's part of the charm. I just wanted an ice cold bottle of Dasani! Even in other parts of Universal the water was exorbinantly priced.

*Rode Flight of the Hippogriff with only a 15 min wait and then we saw Forbidden Journey was only 45 min. Girls wanted to ride again so DH and I waited with them (didn't need to use a locker and they let us wait in child switch area). The line this time was mostly in the castle and was really 45 min. They didn't get stopped and it enjoyed it.

*Lines were shorter by then, but it was already 7pm and we hadn't had dinner so we did Despicable Me and headed out to get dinner on City Walk. This attraction gave me a headache and I would not recommend it for those with motion sickness. Girls giggled through out though.

*City Walk is nice for a cheaper dinner. We ate at Karl Strauss and it was $85 before tip for 2 adult entrees, 3 kids meals with drinks, and one glass of wine.

*Overall Universal is about what I expected. I don't like screen rides (won't try Simpsons - I remember getting nauseated on it 20 years ago!) and hate the Express Pass system. We have a "free day" before Sep 26, so may use it to try Mummy and Transformers and enjoy Hogsmede again.

Overall I will not need to visit Universal for another 20 years.
 

Sjwillia

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Thanks for the trip report. Very helpful. Did you get really wet on the Jurassic World ride? I got literally SOAKED on the previous one.
 

goodeats

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Thanks for the trip report. Very helpful. Did you get really wet on the Jurassic World ride? I got literally SOAKED on the previous one.
Yes, very wet, but not our shoes thankfully. It was hot enough that we dried quickly. Glad I didn't wear the denim shorts I was debating.

Some people wore ponchos, but I thought it was way too hot to wear plastic on the ride. Especially if you got stuck on the lift hill in the sun!

Oddly enough, you don't get wet on the last big drop - it's everything else.
 
  • Aladora

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 22, 2011
    and hate the Express Pass system.
    Out of curiosity, what do you hate about the Express Pass system? We have a trip coming up in August and we have 1 day tickets with the Express add on (not the VIP, just the regular express)

    Thanks!
     

    goodeats

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 6, 2005
    Out of curiosity, what do you hate about the Express Pass system? We have a trip coming up in August and we have 1 day tickets with the Express add on (not the VIP, just the regular express)

    Thanks!
    I'm sure if I had used it I would have enjoyed it. I hate the fact it exists and what it does to the rest of the park. It was $250pp for when we went (July - peak season). That's $1,250 for our group. I do not think Universal is worth that much, so we didn't do it. So we got to wait in longer lines, while people who paid more didn't. That's great they were willing to pay it, but I hate the fact that it directly affects the people who didn't pay for it. Without Express there's no way JW would be a 120+ minute wait (not counting tech issues), same with HPFJ. That ride is such a fast loader it would probably generally only be 30-45 min waits.

    I don't mind the Disney FP system, but I do think it makes wait times longer overall.
     

    baozi

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 18, 2017
    Transformer might cause problems to people with motion sickness as well.
     

    ExcitedMama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 29, 2013
    Consider checking out the Waterworld show when you go back. I completely agree about all the lines and the sun there! But it was worth it for HP!
     
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