(Topic ID: 327567)

Universal Studios Florida

By Parkshow30

1 year ago


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#1 1 year ago

We are longtime Disney World annual passholders who finally jumped ship. We still love Disney Parks but are taking a break and trying something new. One of our favorite things about Disney World has always been there are a lot of things to see and do that aren’t just the rides. This Halloween we watched all the Harry Potter films with my 2 girls, 9 and 6 years old, and they are loving the Wizarding World. So this Christmas we bought annual passes to Universal Studios. They have been to Disney World more than 99% of adults already (2-3 weeks on property every summer plus Christmas trips) but they have never been to Universal. My wife and I haven’t been in 12 years.
We have already looked at what rides they have there and watched videos on them so we know what ones we want to hit, but what are some non ride things that are a “must do”?
Any special foods, snacks or drinks besides the butter beer? I had one last time and enjoyed it so we will be getting that for sure. We especially enjoyed the different snacks and desserts in Disney and would watch the Disney Food Blog before our upcoming trips to see what new stuff we needed to try.
Is the city walk worth spending anytime in? We like Disney Springs for the food and night entertainment but can’t say I remember anything about the City Walk last time.
Thanks for any tips and ideas!

#2 1 year ago

I've mentioned in other threads, we use to do rollercoaster vacations. Sometimes two weeks straight. I'd buy a SixFlags season pass and at the time, you could visit any SF for free. We did just about all the theme backs east of the Mississippi. We became pros at managing the crowds (we hated to wait in long lines).

But back to Universal. We'd hit City Walk when the crowds were in the parks (i.e. while everyone is doing the rides, we'd eat). Then when people are eating, hit the rides

Can't say I've done a lot at City Walk. Just meals and walk around the shops. There was a Lowe's theater if you want to catch a flick and get off your feet (don't know if it's still there). The HP area is neat just from the aspect of detail. Some of the rides queue areas are just amazing. That's the problem when the rides are walk on - you miss just how elaborate the queues really are.

You might already know this, but here's some tips: Get there early, and go to the back of the park first. Everyone is still up front working their way back. Then when everyone is in the back, head towards the front. Stay late - people leave early. We'd also go to the park during off times. How do you know when that is? When the airlines charge the cheapest rates to fly to Orlando. Universal is rather empty the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you just about have the place to yourself. But they close earlier too.

Have you seen the Christmas thing where they project images outside onto the HP castle on YouTube? Crazy cool. I haven't seen that in person tho.

Not sure if I really answered you questions. Most their rides are top-tier. Eating the the Jurassic Park Visitor Center is fun - looks a lot like the visitor center in the movies. Not fancy food. Eating by the pond at Universal (not IOA) is nice too - in warmer weather. Nice views.

If I'm not mistaken if you buy a wand at IOA, it can be used to 'activate' different things at the HP area. But look into the details since I've never done that.

#3 1 year ago

There is indeed an interactive wand thing going on.

PS: I always wanted to try Krusty Burger and Moes Tavern.

#4 1 year ago

Ok, so I’m in no means an expert, but we’ve been recently and have some ideas.

For the HP diehards (like my wife), we had to buy the park hopper or whatever Universal calls it. It allows you to take the train between parks and its HP-themed. Going towards Hogwarts may be scary for kids (towards Islands of Adventure) but towards Gringotts (the original park) it’s pleasant.

The rides for Harry Potter can be nauseating tho. The Gringotts has a legit fast drop (the rest of the ride is meh tho hahaha) and I experienced motion sickness on the Forbidden Journey (in Hogwarts). The one that was probably the smoothest coaster I have ever been on is Hagrid’s. A hack that my wife and I did was split up as separate riders. We ended up in back-to-back carts.

Beyond that, the rest of both parks are super fun.

Oh, we usually eat at The Three Boomsticks next to the train/Hagrid’s at Islands of Adventure. It reminds you of a London pub with tasty food.

#5 1 year ago

Also, Universal had on just about every ride a family room. It’s super nice with big families because you can swap parents/take the kids for a break while the adults ride rides.

I’m really surprised Disney didn’t have anything like that

#6 1 year ago
Quoted from mrSATURN2012:

Ok, so I’m in no means an expert, but we’ve been recently and have some ideas.
For the HP diehards (like my wife), we had to buy the park hopper or whatever Universal calls it. It allows you to take the train between parks and its HP-themed. Going towards Hogwarts may be scary for kids (towards Islands of Adventure) but towards Gringotts (the original park) it’s pleasant.
The rides for Harry Potter can be nauseating tho. The Gringotts has a legit fast drop (the rest of the ride is meh tho hahaha) and I experienced motion sickness on the Forbidden Journey (in Hogwarts). The one that was probably the smoothest coaster I have ever been on is Hagrid’s. A hack that my wife and I did was split up as separate riders. We ended up in back-to-back carts.
Beyond that, the rest of both parks are super fun.
Oh, we usually eat at The Three Boomsticks next to the train/Hagrid’s at Islands of Adventure. It reminds you of a London pub with tasty food.

Did you every try Dramamine? Personally, I've never needed so I don't know how well it works, but that seems to be the 'go to' OTC med for rides.

#7 1 year ago

I went to Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Florida Islands of adventure in October 2019 pre-covid as a grown ass man by myself and had a blast. My experience was unique, as I booked an extra day at the end of a certification bootcamp inbetween the end of my bootcamp and my test (ISC2 Certified Cloud Security Practitioner... CCSP). I brought a study book, and was perfectly content to wait in line all day while studying my book. If I got to do a ride, so much the better. I did the single rider line and I think the longest I had to wait was 20 minutes... minus hagrids ride.

My favorite rides were the Hagrids Escape and the Jurassic Park flume ride. The Rockin Roller Coaster was great as you could just run to the front of the line while I was there and it was like a 5 minute wait.

Food was... okay.

Looking around at stuff was not as good as Disney, with the exception of the new Harry Potter areas which were really well done. Let your family dress up if you want to nerd out. The Gringots escape had the best "line" experience with cool animatronics.

Roller coaster/thrill rides are much better at Universal.

A few of the rides were really obsolete. I'm looking at you Men In Black Ride. 3-D Simpsons was overwhelming.

I did a whirlwind tour in a day.

If you are a cheap bastard like me, my recommendation would be to stay off property, take an uber to the Waffle House near the Hard Rock Hotel, eat a great breakfast, then walk to the Hard Rock Hotel and into the park (safe for walking with kids).

That Hard Rock Hotel looked really nice and the pool was huge. As I understand it, some of the Universal Hotels come with free lightning pass and/or get into the park early stuff.

If it was me, I'm guessing Disney is better for the 10 and under crowd but Universal is better for 11 and up.

Just my 2 cents, and would do again. Going to take my family on the next Florida trip (in 4 years or so).

#8 1 year ago

There's a YouTube channel called Amusement Labs that 'goes behind the scenes' and explains how rides work. The guy does a great job explaining with examples.

Here's the Forbidden Journey:

#9 1 year ago

It's hard to put into words, but there's a certain "feel" at Disney that Universal just can't quite replicate, in my opinion. But we've had some great times there too, and it definitely has its pluses. Their Express Pass system puts Disney's version to shame. I love going in the fall for Halloween Horror Nights -- Disney could never do anything even approaching that!

One thing we haven't tried (because they just opened) but that I'm very excited about are the new Back to the Future and Jurassic World escape rooms at City Walk. We're obsessed with adventure/escape room style games, and these look to be very cool, very immersive experiences.

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/entertainment/universals-great-movie-escape

#10 1 year ago

Stop for a sit down meal at Mythos. Great food and about the same cost as quick serve.

#11 1 year ago
Quoted from SantaEatsCheese:

...If you are a cheap bastard like me, my recommendation would be to stay off property, take an uber to the Waffle House near the Hard Rock Hotel, eat a great breakfast, then walk to the Hard Rock Hotel and into the park (safe for walking with kids)...

Same here. Probably went to the park maybe 8-10 times and never stayed on site. If memory serves me right, we just stayed at a hotel on Kirkman Rd. and walked to the park. Then we'd hit up a restaurant outside of the park at night sometimes for a nicer meal.

#12 1 year ago
Quoted from Parkshow30:

Any special foods, snacks or drinks besides the butter beer? I had one last time and enjoyed it so we will be getting that for sure. We especially enjoyed the different snacks and desserts in Disney and would watch the Disney Food Blog before our upcoming trips to see what new stuff we needed to try.
Is the city walk worth spending anytime in? We like Disney Springs for the food and night entertainment but can’t say I remember anything about the City Walk last time.
Thanks for any tips and ideas!

I always found that Disney has more dining "experiences" one would want to actually dedicate time to. For Universal, I found myself stuffing my face with something quick just to get back to it. They just don't have the exotic places like in World Showcase or the character breakfasts like Disney that would actually justify consuming part of your day.

As mentioned two posts above, Mythos gets the most votes as the best sit down restaurant. I've heard that Leaky Cauldron (Edit: May have been Three Broomsticks, it's been so long since my talks) is better than average, but never did it myself.

I personally had to experience Krusty Burger and Moe's, but that's just because I grew up with The Simpsons. But don't kid yourself, it's a Food Court, nothing more. Maybe the burger is advertised as "Now with less squirrel!" or whatever, but that whole building is a Simpsons food court... and IMHO could've been done a bit better.

Universal is a lot less cohesive than Disney (and that says something, looking at your Epcot). Places like Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom you sort of just walk and find yourself somewhere new without realizing the transition. At Universal (esp. IOA) it's stark. So you get less immersion because you keep resetting. It's like a ton of little theme parks glued together. I think they know this and keep the food offerings basic as well... maybe make the soda cups a bit more wacky in Seuss land, or more sustainable looking in Jurassic.

I'd suggest just getting quick snacks/grub in the parks and hitting up as much as you can. Also don't overeat since they have rides that can actually make you sick. With all the thrill rides, parents/teens get as much out of the parks as the young ones. Then when the day is over, go get a nice dinner.

I will say that I ate at the tourist trap Margaritaville right outside IOA... and actually it was fine. If you're out on the large deck, the views and people watching are nice, the live music was better than I expected, and the food was actually decent. YMMV.

#13 1 year ago

I go to Universal often, and mostly walk/people watch and the easier rides. I really enjoy my time there.

Look for the 2 pins between the 2 parks (Spider-Man vault and AC/DC)

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#14 1 year ago

They have an ACDC pro inside the arcade in Universal and a Spiderman Vault in the arcade inside Islands of Adventure. I haven't been since Halloween but this was reported by a Universal Orlando blogger. They were both added in early November.

As other have said, Mythos is a great place to eat inside IoA. The Today Show Cafe in Universal has great breakfast options and good coffee. During events like Mardi Gras, Halloween, Christmas, ect, they always have food trucks/stands with specialty foods. Also make sure to hit up the Tribute store inside Universal when they have events going on.

As for rides, Velocicoaster is pretty extreme so younger kids may not like it. Hagrids is a fan favorite and lines can get very long so they switch over to virtual que. So download the app if you haven't already.

I've been a UOAP for the past few years. Me and my wife hit up Mardi Gras and HHN but haven't tried Christmas yet. Maybe next year.

#15 1 year ago

I was there a few weeks, it was ok.

#16 1 year ago

IMG_4053 (resized).JPGIMG_4053 (resized).JPG
See Mark James at the "Horror Make Up Show"... I saw him in August this year when I went to visit, had to shake his hand as he's been doing it FOREVER.

Have a Butterbeer....

Eat the overly expensive themed out candy...IMG_4071 (resized).JPGIMG_4071 (resized).JPG

Ride The Movies... (I like to end or start with E.T. every time I go.... It might be outdated and needs a facelift but hope it NEVER GOES AWAY!) IMG_4063 (resized).JPGIMG_4063 (resized).JPG

#17 1 year ago
Quoted from Parkshow30:

We are longtime Disney World annual passholders who finally jumped ship. We still love Disney Parks but are taking a break and trying something new. One of our favorite things about Disney World has always been there are a lot of things to see and do that aren’t just the rides. This Halloween we watched all the Harry Potter films with my 2 girls, 9 and 6 years old, and they are loving the Wizarding World. So this Christmas we bought annual passes to Universal Studios. They have been to Disney World more than 99% of adults already (2-3 weeks on property every summer plus Christmas trips) but they have never been to Universal. My wife and I haven’t been in 12 years.
We have already looked at what rides they have there and watched videos on them so we know what ones we want to hit, but what are some non ride things that are a “must do”?
Any special foods, snacks or drinks besides the butter beer? I had one last time and enjoyed it so we will be getting that for sure. We especially enjoyed the different snacks and desserts in Disney and would watch the Disney Food Blog before our upcoming trips to see what new stuff we needed to try.
Is the city walk worth spending anytime in? We like Disney Springs for the food and night entertainment but can’t say I remember anything about the City Walk last time.
Thanks for any tips and ideas!

We made the switch from Disney to Universal when our kids were about 12-13. Had been to Disney every year for many many years but it was time for something different and the kids really liked it. We think Volcano Bay water park there is really good. Staying at one of the Universal hotels that includes their Express Unlimited line skipping ride pass was great too. Also, Sea World & Discovery Cove aren't too far away and definitely worth going to.

For unique food/treats at Universal try Toothsome in CityWalk. The shakes there are amazing. Google "toothsome shake" and check out the images that come up.

#18 1 year ago

Was a Disney AP holder for years, then moved to Universal cause Disney prices have gotten stupid, and the crowds bad.

The bad of course is that there is a ton of people doing the same, ditching Disney cause of expense and crowds, but it's now starting to creep into Universal. Prices have recently gone up again when they had just gone up around Covid as well, so that's two of the quickest price increases, and it's clear theres a huge influx of folks migrating away from Disney after all the huge price bumps and the changes made to the parks, so Universl has become a lot more congested this past year, even normally non busy times are pretty heavy. We are dropping out APs for Universal soon as price went up even with renewal discount and it's just getting tired.

I think if your not a regular, then there is a cool new park to discover, but asking about stuff to do, well compared to Disney, Universal has always lacked in that. Food/drink options are much more limited. Their festivals and events are also generally smaller in scale outside of Horror Nights which is the big one for Universal, but it's also a separate ticket anyways.

If your Harry Potter fans, then you got two dream areas to hang out in but also expect to be in the busiest parts of the park

We found the park very limited though, they have a ton of old and badly aging areas that really need to be scrapped and updated. It was ok for a couple years but it's overly a much smaller offering of everything compared to Disney, but also lot cheaper so there is that. We though feel we got our fill of Universal after 3 years of being AP holders and like I said, the crowds are getting worse, I know lot of locals who switched from Disney to Universal recently and it shows with how packed the parks have been, which sucks and I fear is just promoting them to keep raising prices as Disney keeps doing that as well.

It's nowhere as cool, but has fantastic rides if you are into coasters, but look into Busch Gardens and Sea World. For the cost of going to any of the big Orlando theme parks for 2-3 days, you can get APs for both Busch and Sea World which give tons of benefits also. You don't got all the IP branding and they are simpler parks, but they offer some of the best roller coasters in the state and have lots of animal activities too. Crowds are also way less in comparison.

#19 1 year ago

Thanks for all the suggestions!
Sounds like we need to eat at Mythos which I have never heard of. Also the Visitors Center as we all love Jurassic Park and the Three broomsticks for the Harry Potter experience.
We will probably go 3 days over Christmas break, another 3 over spring break and another 3 next Christmas before the annual passes expire. Not bad for $539. Disney APs are over twice that amount but last AP we got 18 days one summer, 5 days over Christmas and 21 days the following summer all on one AP.
I will for sure play some Spider-Man pinball while I am there, one of my favorite games and the location I used to play it at closed during covid so I haven’t played one in years!

#20 1 year ago
Quoted from Parkshow30:

Thanks for all the suggestions!
Sounds like we need to eat at Mythos which I have never heard of. Also the Visitors Center as we all love Jurassic Park and the Three broomsticks for the Harry Potter experience.
We will probably go 3 days over Christmas break, another 3 over spring break and another 3 next Christmas before the annual passes expire. Not bad for $539. Disney APs are over twice that amount but last AP we got 18 days one summer, 5 days over Christmas and 21 days the following summer all on one AP.
I will for sure play some Spider-Man pinball while I am there, one of my favorite games and the location I used to play it at closed during covid so I haven’t played one in years!

The AP's you are getting are ok with those dates? As those are typically blackout dates for many of the pass tiers.

You are also going at the busiest times of the year. Expect 2-3hr waits for popular rides like Hagrids

#21 1 year ago

I'm starting to like Universal more. Yes - there isn't the Disney feeling but you also don't have all the social preaching at Universal either. I've talked to a few Universal employees - and most of the tech ones are former Imagineers. There's a lot of Disney talent at the Universal parks.

#22 1 year ago

As someone who frequents all the parks, here’s my 2 cents.

The state of WDW is just depressing these days. Not only the condition of the parks from an upkeep and maintenance perspective; but, from the ever increasing amount of micromanagement that is required to accomplish anything. Planning dining, planning park reservations, planning prepaid LLs, etc, etc. I can’t blame anyone from needing to take a break and change the routine.

Universal can be a bit of fresh air and it sounds like you are all ready for a change.

The first and foremost bit of advice I can provide is there is NO GREATER VALUE in all of the theme park pantheon as the “free” unlimited Express Pass that is offered to guests of the Deluxe level resorts - Portofino, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific. It allows you to go even on “busy” days and still get a ton done. Going on light days means virtual walk ons at any ride that has it. This allows you to do everything re-ride your favorite attractions minus the couple of things that don’t currently offer it (Velocicoaster and Hagrid’s). You will never look at Disney’s system the same way again.

If you want to save some money or want to experience different resorts, a nice feature of the Deluxe Resort Express Pass is that you get the benefit on check-in day and check-out day. So, you can bounce between hotel classes (deluxe>non-deluxe>deluxe>non-deluxe for example) and get multiple days of benefit.

The non-deluxe offerings at Universal are much nicer than Disneys as well.

As you probably have heard, Universal’s attractions have much higher thrill level than Disney. For example, Velocicoaster is a legit top 10 thrill ride. Extreme forces and outrageous pacing.

Universal also has an over abundance of screen based attractions. This leads to a “sameness” that is hard to escape; but, they also have some of the best screen based attractions ever. Spider-man to this day is still class leading at integrating real motion, physical sets and effects, with screens. Unfortunately, in the park next door Universal forgot (or chose to forget for budget purposes) the lessons learned on Spider-man and took the same tech and ride vehicles and mostly removed the physical sets and effects and made Transformers which never hits the highs of the original. We will have to see how the Ministry of Magic fares when it opens at Epic Universe as it will use the same RV system.

So, with physical thrills and screens - be ready to combat motion sickness if anyone in your family is prone. HP and the Forbidden Journey is especially prone to this do to how the RV tech works. The KUKA arm RV is always moving to the side even though the ride may simulate on screen motion in different directions. This combined with a somewhat narrow field of view can make even the most hardened inner ear or stomach queasy.

Regarding CitiWalk, there are a lot of options and it’s worth spending time. Fortunately, it’s open late enough you can always explore at the end of the day. I’m looking forward to the BTTF themed escape room.

One final suggestion regarding the WDW fatigue. This one needs to be taken with a bit of a “pre-pandemic” disclaimer as er haven’t been back since. If most of your Disney love comes from being inside the parks and not mostly from the “bubble” of the resorts, then Disneyland Resort is such a refreshing change of pace. While some of the pandemic changes or park reservations and budget and staffing challenges are the same, the experience in the parks is so different than Florida. Compared to Florida, you don’t have to micromanage anywhere near as much. The “magic” is (or at least was in my last non-covid visit) still palpable just showing up and letting the day unfold. The most we would ever plan on our DLR trips was where we wanted to end our day for the nighttime spectaculars and maybe get advance reservations for dining for them. Simple things like seeing characters wandering around the streets just adds so much to the equation. It also doesn’t hurt that because they have just about the same amount of attractions (but many more actual rides) in the two parks as WDW has in the four put together means that everything is close together and you aren’t anywhere near as tired at the end of the day. The lack of humidity helps as well.

I hope the break has the intended effect and you have a great time. Let me know if you have any questions.

#23 1 year ago

We lived in Florida for several years and always stayed in the Universal hotels, as other have mentioned the fast pass is well worth it in addition to the early entry. My son and I would walk on the hulk, ride it and then get right back on. Harry Potter is incredible.

Mythos is great, so is Springfield/Simpsons Love the Duff Brewery bar.

#24 1 year ago
Quoted from PanzerKraken:

The AP's you are getting are ok with those dates? As those are typically blackout dates for many of the pass tiers.
You are also going at the busiest times of the year. Expect 2-3hr waits for popular rides like Hagrids

Yeah they are the no blockout date passes. It’s the second highest level. The next level up gave you express after 4pm, preferred parking and a free Halloween ticket.
We aren’t ride warriors, we just like going to parks and taking it easy which is why we can spend 21 days in Disney. We often don’t go to the parks until after lunch or even dinner but always stay till close.
We don’t wait in super long lines either so during peak hours we eat, see shows, find playgrounds, take breaks, go on the least popular rides etc. right before the end of the night we always get in line for the most popular ride as it’s always much shorter then and we don’t mind be last out of the park.

#25 1 year ago

Just got back from Disney (7 night stay) and spent 2 days at Universal. We go to Universal at least once a year, and it is awesome.

Definitely stop and have a beer at Moes if you are a Simpsons fan. They have a little asked for beer, called Duff Dry. It's a dark porter style, and delicious.

Also, almost every ride has a single rider lane. I don't get the Express Pass, just use Single Ride. Obviously if you want to ride together, it doesn't work, but I am typically the only one riding.

Lastly, Mummy, Rock and Roll Coaster (pick Rolling by Limp Bizkit), and Velocoaster were my favorite rides this time around. But the other virtual type rides (Spiderman, Transformers, etc...) are awesome too.

#26 1 year ago
Quoted from mrclean:

...Ride The Movies... (I like to end or start with E.T. every time I go.... It might be outdated and needs a facelift but hope it NEVER GOES AWAY!) [quoted image]

ET has always been a nice change of pace after doing all the thrill rides. A little cheesy in some spots, but still fun. I always thought flying over the city was neat. Same with the animal stunt show, good place to rest the feet or get out of the sun. Sort of a 'filler' attraction.

#27 1 year ago

I go when I want, which isn't often, still having open access.
Everyone posting has sound advice, and my only dining recommendation is Boma at the Animal kingdom lodge. African fusion buffet, and plenty to see in the hotel and animals.
Check out the menu online, and others, and see if it's for you.

#28 1 year ago
Quoted from Parkshow30:

We are longtime Disney World annual passholders who finally jumped ship. We still love Disney Parks but are taking a break and trying something new. One of our favorite things about Disney World has always been there are a lot of things to see and do that aren’t just the rides. This Halloween we watched all the Harry Potter films with my 2 girls, 9 and 6 years old, and they are loving the Wizarding World. So this Christmas we bought annual passes to Universal Studios. They have been to Disney World more than 99% of adults already (2-3 weeks on property every summer plus Christmas trips) but they have never been to Universal. My wife and I haven’t been in 12 years.
We have already looked at what rides they have there and watched videos on them so we know what ones we want to hit, but what are some non ride things that are a “must do”?
Any special foods, snacks or drinks besides the butter beer? I had one last time and enjoyed it so we will be getting that for sure. We especially enjoyed the different snacks and desserts in Disney and would watch the Disney Food Blog before our upcoming trips to see what new stuff we needed to try.
Is the city walk worth spending anytime in? We like Disney Springs for the food and night entertainment but can’t say I remember anything about the City Walk last time.
Thanks for any tips and ideas!

Do yourself a favor: If you can swing it, buy VIP tickets to get the full tour, which also comes with the opportunity to go on every ride with the tour guide, then jump to the front of the line for the rest of the day. It comes with a full buffet lunch as well. A day you'll never forget, but it will make you forget all about Disney.

#29 1 year ago
Quoted from Parkshow30:

We are longtime Disney World annual passholders who finally jumped ship. We still love Disney Parks but are taking a break and trying something new. One of our favorite things about Disney World has always been there are a lot of things to see and do that aren’t just the rides. This Halloween we watched all the Harry Potter films with my 2 girls, 9 and 6 years old, and they are loving the Wizarding World. So this Christmas we bought annual passes to Universal Studios. They have been to Disney World more than 99% of adults already (2-3 weeks on property every summer plus Christmas trips) but they have never been to Universal. My wife and I haven’t been in 12 years.
We have already looked at what rides they have there and watched videos on them so we know what ones we want to hit, but what are some non ride things that are a “must do”?
Any special foods, snacks or drinks besides the butter beer? I had one last time and enjoyed it so we will be getting that for sure. We especially enjoyed the different snacks and desserts in Disney and would watch the Disney Food Blog before our upcoming trips to see what new stuff we needed to try.
Is the city walk worth spending anytime in? We like Disney Springs for the food and night entertainment but can’t say I remember anything about the City Walk last time.
Thanks for any tips and ideas!

We were just there last month. Hagrid's (ride on bike) and Velocicoaster are must do rides if you can handle them. We stayed at the Hard Rock - location is perfect and very walkable, hotel is decent. As far as food, the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium (we sat at the bar on the 2nd floor) actually had good drinks and good food. Bigfire and Vivo were also good. We didn't have a car, so we ended up there most nights. The atmosphere really wasn't my thing - you'll know within 10 minutes if it is for you or not. If you like Disney Springs, it will be fine for you - similar. Mainly chain restaurants and stores.

Be prepared - the crowds were insane. Our Disney tour guide said they were near or at capacity. Wait times were up to 2.5 hours for the big rides - this was the week before Thanksgiving, so it caught us by surprise.

#30 1 year ago
Quoted from mrclean:

[quoted image] (I like to end or start with E.T. every time I go.... It might be outdated and needs a facelift but hope it NEVER GOES AWAY!) [quoted image]

Gone in my studio.

#31 1 year ago

But I will admit I’m liking universalhollywood more and more. The Jurassic world ride made me feel like a kid for a moment.

#32 1 year ago
Quoted from Azmodeus:

Gone in my studio.

That's sad... I know a home brew is being worked on E.T. as far as a pinball machine.... man one of the pin manufactures should certainly pickup that title. I always envisioned a feature where it has a mechanical backbox where the pinball "flys" in a bicycle basket with the moon in the background.

#33 1 year ago

Hotel, tickets, and express passes to skip the lines runs about $1000 -1300 / night for a family of 4!! Yowzers.

I don’t think I’d want to sit in a 2+ hour line but these prices make it impossible for most families

#34 1 year ago
Quoted from jedimastermatt:

As someone who frequents all the parks, here’s my 2 cents.
The state of WDW is just depressing these days. Not only the condition of the parks from an upkeep and maintenance perspective; but, from the ever increasing amount of micromanagement that is required to accomplish anything. Planning dining, planning park reservations, planning prepaid LLs, etc, etc. I can’t blame anyone from needing to take a break and change the routine.

I heard on a podcast recently - and I can't source it so take it with a grain of salt....but Disney Executive Management stated somewhere (earnings call, some DXX event) that the planning time was now seen as part of the vacation, and that people actually enjoyed the planning involved with WDW and they were planning on using this as a marketing/sales tactic.

#35 1 year ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

Did you every try Dramamine? Personally, I've never needed so I don't know how well it works, but that seems to be the 'go to' OTC med for rides.

Good to know, I’ll have to check it out. One of the negatives of getting older lol.

Can someone explain to me the magic of Disney? Sure, there’s the boat ride or tram going into the park. And the main street. But honestly most of the rides are meh. And now that prices are skyrocketing and the whole Genie fiasco, what’s the point?

And I feel like they could have done so much with Galaxy’s Edge, but they made it a desert. And when it gets crowded, I don’t feel like I’m on an alien planet but in a tourist trap.

Additionally, there are the waiting rooms that Universal has…Disney doesn’t have it. So when I went recently with my 2 year olds, I couldn’t even wait in line for The Rise of the Resistance because they couldn’t ride and there would be no way for my wife and I to swap right before the ride between the kids. Frustrating.

#36 1 year ago
Quoted from lancestorm:

Hotel, tickets, and express passes to skip the lines runs about $1000 -1300 / night for a family of 4!! Yowzers.
I don’t think I’d want to sit in a 2+ hour line but these prices make it impossible for most families

Yea the hotels with express pass are nice and all, but you are also paying a premium for those resorts. When you can get super cheap hotels anywhere in Orlando close to the park. The only advantage is if you are staying for an extended stay, otherwise it's actually cheaper to get a hotel off site and just buy express passes, but if your going to be there a long time with a family, then math wise it works out to get the multiple days of express via the hotel.

#37 1 year ago
Quoted from mrSATURN2012:

Good to know, I’ll have to check it out. One of the negatives of getting older lol.
Can someone explain to me the magic of Disney? Sure, there’s the boat ride or tram going into the park. And the main street. But honestly most of the rides are meh. And now that prices are skyrocketing and the whole Genie fiasco, what’s the point?
And I feel like they could have done so much with Galaxy’s Edge, but they made it a desert. And when it gets crowded, I don’t feel like I’m on an alien planet but in a tourist trap.
Additionally, there are the waiting rooms that Universal has…Disney doesn’t have it. So when I went recently with my 2 year olds, I couldn’t even wait in line for The Rise of the Resistance because they couldn’t ride and there would be no way for my wife and I to swap right before the ride between the kids. Frustrating.

Disney does rider swap but you have to wait somewhere else so you can take your kid to a store or another ride then you go through the lightning lane.
We enjoy being in the Disney bubble, staying on property, using transportation like the skyliner, swimming in the pools, doing resort activities, hitting the parks and doing a few rides and a lot of extras like scavenger hunts, dance parties, food, snacks, etc.
To us it’s just a fun way to spend time together and be entertained, much better than sitting at the beach all day or walking through a mall. I completely understand though why some people aren’t into it. I would never go and pay 1k for one day, I would be disappointed as well with what you got for your day. That’s why we pretty much only do annual passes at parks. It’s nice to be able to walk into Epcot, ride 2 rides, see 2 shows, snack around the world and see some fireworks at night all in just 4 hours at night. If I was paying almost $200 a ticket per person I would want to be there all day too but that’s hot tiring and gets on peoples nerves. We would much rather have spent the morning and afternoon riding a surrey bike, painting pottery playing at the pool etc.

#38 1 year ago
Quoted from Methos:

I heard on a podcast recently - and I can't source it so take it with a grain of salt....but Disney Executive Management stated somewhere (earnings call, some DXX event) that the planning time was now seen as part of the vacation, and that people actually enjoyed the planning involved with WDW and they were planning on using this as a marketing/sales tactic.

Yes. That is what is circulated internally.

Unfortunately, the reality is that all of this planning “crap” is a byproduct of supply and demand.

WDW has long exceeded the demand category so everything now is trying to increase revenue per guest - not drive more guests. The micromanagement planning is a byproduct of controls put in place to make sure guests are locked in and steered around as best as possible. Operational capacity is finite and if you can’t get everyone into what they want to do (park/ride/attraction) you incentivize them to go somewhere else on property. While that will continue to work because of the supply and demand imbalance, it does drive those like the OP away over time.

The real issue is that the company makes so much profit from the parks and WDW in particular is seen as a liability over time due to its travel destination reliance. They learned after 9/11 that demand far exceeds supply and why bother with heavy investment to fix the supply problems if another travel down turn puts that investment at risk.

All the parks need more reasons to have people not fighting over the same handful of attractions. Honest high capacity attractions (rides/shows) that get people out of the current headliners. Update/prune away the underperforming attractions and make them hold their own weight. You can’t keep artificially trying to steer someone that wants to ride a headliner like Test Track into Imagination and think that is a satisfactory solution. It still leads to disappointment. Just like park reservations do. If someone wants to go to MK and it’s not available because of staffing - sending them to AK is going to do them same.

The irony is that WDW’s woes could be alleviated if they were operationally more like DLR and DLRs woes could be improved by having WDWs space.

WDW with per captia rides/attractions per park with Disneyland or even California Adventure would improve the experience so much.

DLR with the wider walkways and services would fix their challenges.

The issue is why fix WDW and make the investment when you don’t have to? The status quo is working fine.

#39 1 year ago
Quoted from jedimastermatt:

Yes. That is what is circulated internally.
Unfortunately, the reality is that all of this planning “crap” is a byproduct of supply and demand.
WDW has long exceeded the demand category so everything now is trying to increase revenue per guest - not drive more guests. The micromanagement planning is a byproduct of controls put in place to make sure guests are locked in and steered around as best as possible. Operational capacity is finite and if you can’t get everyone into what they want to do (park/ride/attraction) you incentivize them to go somewhere else on property. While that will continue to work because of the supply and demand imbalance, it does drive those like the OP away over time.
The real issue is that the company makes so much profit from the parks and WDW in particular is seen as a liability over time due to its travel destination reliance. They learned after 9/11 that demand far exceeds supply and why bother with heavy investment to fix the supply problems if another travel down turn puts that investment at risk.
All the parks need more reasons to have people not fighting over the same handful of attractions. Honest high capacity attractions (rides/shows) that get people out of the current headliners. Update/prune away the underperforming attractions and make them hold their own weight. You can’t keep artificially trying to steer someone that wants to ride a headliner like Test Track into Imagination and think that is a satisfactory solution. It still leads to disappointment. Just like park reservations do. If someone wants to go to MK and it’s not available because of staffing - sending them to AK is going to do them same.
The irony is that WDW’s woes could be alleviated if they were operationally more like DLR and DLRs woes could be improved by having WDWs space.
WDW with per captia rides/attractions per park with Disneyland or even California Adventure would improve the experience so much.
DLR with the wider walkways and services would fix their challenges.
The issue is why fix WDW and make the investment when you don’t have to? The status quo is working fine.

I don't disagree with anything you have stated. To me, there are two main issues:

1) The cash cow that the parks have become (WDW in particular) is NOT what the original intent was - far from it.
2) There is an element of leadership that is now in control that is also pretty distant from what the original intent of the parks was; or even in the purpose of the parks - the firing of Joe Rohde confirmed that.

I view the era of the parks as they have been for 50-60 years, is coming to an end. It's just a matter of time. Like Stern in pinball - maybe Universal can be the one where we go for the magical experiences.

#40 1 year ago

The new Velocicoaster at Islands of Adventure is incredible. Can’t wait to go back and ride again.

#41 1 year ago

I mentioned earlier about Hogwarts Castle and the Christmas video Universal projects on it. Figured I'd post a YouTube about it. I haven't seen this in person (long overdue for a trip down there). It's pretty amazing what the Universal design team comes up with these days.

It's definitely a must watch if you're a fan.

#42 1 year ago
Quoted from mbwalker:

I mentioned earlier about Hogwarts Castle and the Christmas video Universal projects on it. Figured I'd post a YouTube about it. I haven't seen this in person (long overdue for a trip down there). It's pretty amazing what the Universal design team comes up with these days.
It's definitely a must watch if you're a fan.

That is exactly what we were looking for very cool we will check it out!

#43 1 year ago

I'm partial to the ET ride if you hate crowds universal is the way to go because there are literally roads between all the buildings, lots of space to walk around. harry potter world connects the parks in the back using the train which is awesome, no more going back up front only with park hopper, avoid all restaurants in the park and simply hit city walk to eat way more choices and more food for the same price or cheaper, I'm 6'4" 290(not fat) I can fit on almost all the rides there, any Disney park I go to I'm fucked due to legroom. make sure you due hagrids rollercoaster, its so awesome, it bridges adrenaline ride and show ride together!

if you have to choose between the two id do universal it has more kid friendly stuff.

universal has a simpsons area where you can get the donuts and duff beer, im pretty sure its just miller light tho, and they got turkey leg stations now i heard!

#44 1 year ago

Update: Spiderman Vault is now in the MIB store in Universal Studios not Islands.

#45 1 year ago
Quoted from PanzerKraken:

Yea the hotels with express pass are nice and all, but you are also paying a premium for those resorts. When you can get super cheap hotels anywhere in Orlando close to the park. The only advantage is if you are staying for an extended stay, otherwise it's actually cheaper to get a hotel off site and just buy express passes, but if your going to be there a long time with a family, then math wise it works out to get the multiple days of express via the hotel.

The math for me shows if you have 5 or more, it’d be cheaper to stay at the premium hotels.

For a family of 4 staying off site: regular tickets + fast pass = at minimum $800 for one day… ridiculous!!

#46 1 year ago
Quoted from Methos:

I don't disagree with anything you have stated. To me, there are two main issues:
1) The cash cow that the parks have become (WDW in particular) is NOT what the original intent was - far from it.
2) There is an element of leadership that is now in control that is also pretty distant from what the original intent of the parks was; or even in the purpose of the parks - the firing of Joe Rohde confirmed that.
I view the era of the parks as they have been for 50-60 years is coming to an end. It's just a matter of time. Like Stern in pinball - maybe Universal can be the one where we go for the magical experiences.

Unfortunately, the drive to keep WDW as crown jewel isn't a priority. The mindset is to do as little as absolutely necessary to make sure the resort occupancy levels are maintained. As long as they feel there is enough demand to keep that happening, they don't have any reason to raise the bar and have proven time and time again to continue to whittle away at it to sink it further. Since 9/11, they literally have been playing chicken with guests and daring them not to come and yet attendence rose. Even now when they are actually doing their best to maintain attendence levels and focus on squeezing every nickel they can out of the guests as possible, they are hitting internal operational limits of staffing and logisitics.

Disneyland Resort has two thing keeping them honest.

- the legacy of Disneyland park gives it preferential treatment. Being down the road from Burbank also adds to that equation.
- the resort can and is self sufficient with just the local population. While Parks would love to turn DLR into a mini-WDWesque "bubble", the reality is that even if they controlled all the land around the resort and drove off all the 3rd party hotel access, SoCal's local population can jump into the car and come. This is a negative for them (as guest spending per capita is lower with the locals); but, also an insurance policy that protects the resort in times of travel/economic uncertainty. This is why DLR's local population is Parks fans greatest saving grace. The locals keep DLR honest. They can't let quality slip too far as the bottom line impact is very quickly felt if they stop showing up.

With all the micromanaging controls in place to "lock" WDW guests into spending as much time onsite as possible when combined with the long lead times to travel to Orlando, TDO knows far in advance how busy they will be at all times - plus or minus any weather. While I'm sure Disney could keep all 4 parks busy enough at all times to be profitable even if travel tanked, the real concern is they can't keep the rest of the resort profitable. All those hotels need to be filled or they are a huge liability and if people can't get to them - they are a concern.

Don't get me wrong - I love Disney Parks and still love WDW; but, things are likely to get worse before they get better. As long as just being at the Magic Kingdom is viewed as Disney quality with no understanding of what Disney Parks quality was and should be - we will have to settle for less and less.

#47 1 year ago
Quoted from lancestorm:

The math for me shows if you have 5 or more, it’d be cheaper to stay at the premium hotels.
For a family of 4 staying off site: regular tickets + fast pass = at minimum $800 for one day… ridiculous!!

That's why the deluxe hotels are such a great value. 2 days of unlimited express plus lodging on top of the close proximity and early access is unbeatable value. When we go during the busy times of the year, we've never felt the pain of long lines in the parks for attractions and during the slow times of the year we can literally knock out both parks in one day and still do rerides.

Also for anyone planning a multiday visit to Uni, look into the annual passes even if you are out of state. Uni makes the math on those so appealing. We've been getting them for several years as we go a couple different times; but, usually there is a break even point at 3-4 days. They know if they get you for that once - you likley come back again to take advantage of it. When we first started going to Orlando and picked up the Uni pass, we would occasionally park hop from WDW over if there was the desire to ride something or shop.

Oh and for the OP - another thing to consider with Universal Orlando is if you want to go during Halloween Horror Nights. They are industry leaders in the haunted house world. This past year, one house - Dead Man's Wharf, was so spectacular. If you wanted a curveball from Disney - then HHNs at Uni are the furthest things from the Mouse you could imagine. Even if you don't like all the houses themes, they are all amazing productions.

#48 1 year ago
Quoted from jedimastermatt:

Unfortunately, the drive to keep WDW as crown jewel isn't a priority. The mindset is to do as little as absolutely necessary to make sure the resort occupancy levels are maintained. As long as they feel there is enough demand to keep that happening, they don't have any reason to raise the bar and have proven time and time again to continue to whittle away at it to sink it further. Since 9/11, they literally have been playing chicken with guests and daring them not to come and yet attendence rose. Even now when they are actually doing their best to maintain attendence levels and focus on squeezing every nickel they can out of the guests as possible, they are hitting internal operational limits of staffing and logisitics.
Disneyland Resort has two thing keeping them honest.
- the legacy of Disneyland park gives it preferential treatment. Being down the road from Burbank also adds to that equation.
- the resort can and is self sufficient with just the local population. While Parks would love to turn DLR into a mini-WDWesque "bubble", the reality is that even if they controlled all the land around the resort and drove off all the 3rd party hotel access, SoCal's local population can jump into the car and come. This is a negative for them (as guest spending per capita is lower with the locals); but, also an insurance policy that protects the resort in times of travel/economic uncertainty. This is why DLR's local population is Parks fans greatest saving grace. The locals keep DLR honest. They can't let quality slip too far as the bottom line impact is very quickly felt if they stop showing up.
With all the micromanaging controls in place to "lock" WDW guests into spending as much time onsite as possible when combined with the long lead times to travel to Orlando, TDO knows far in advance how busy they will be at all times - plus or minus any weather. While I'm sure Disney could keep all 4 parks busy enough at all times to be profitable even if travel tanked, the real concern is they can't keep the rest of the resort profitable. All those hotels need to be filled or they are a huge liability and if people can't get to them - they are a concern.
Don't get me wrong - I love Disney Parks and still love WDW; but, things are likely to get worse before they get better. As long as just being at the Magic Kingdom is viewed as Disney quality with no understanding of what Disney Parks quality was and should be - we will have to settle for less and less.

You are spot on that now - just being in the park is viewed as "magical". Maybe Main Street, but that is it. We have never been to DLR; just WDW for the past 14 years. We have planned a trip next summer to visit Walt's park. I have no idea what to expect after being conditioned for all these years, but we are looking forward to it.

#49 1 year ago
Quoted from Methos:

You are spot on that now - just being in the park is viewed as "magical". Maybe Main Street, but that is it. We have never been to DLR; just WDW for the past 14 years. We have planned a trip next summer to visit Walt's park. I have no idea what to expect after being conditioned for all these years, but we are looking forward to it.

The way I describe DLR to WDW diehards is like this:

- if your love of WDW is primarily based on being in the parks, you will LOVE DLR. It’s like taking all of the magic of the FL parks and cramming it into a space not much bigger than EPCOT. In my opinion, operationally everything is better and closer to what many of remember WDW was until the early 90’s. Maintenance usually is better. There’s a ton more street level entertainment. Characters wander around in their natural habitats and aren’t hidden away being queue lines and walls. I’ve seen Alice take a child by the hand at the front gate and walk them all the way through the park and then ride the Tea Cups. I’ve seen Mickey by himself (no handler or Photopass photographer) just posing and playing at the end of Main Street. Characters come out and interact with each other too. You can find them just being silly. It’s so refreshing. Then you add in that there are more rides in the 2 Cali parks than all of FL put together, so you just go from one experience to the next so easily. Long lines at DLR usually aren’t as long as their WDW counterparts because there are so many other attractions pulling people around.

- if your love of WDW is from the bubble of the resorts, then DLR can’t match that. Even if you stay at one of the 3 on prem resorts, the real world intrudes much easier.

Now, there is one big downside to DLR. While a busy day at WDW will have insane lines, the FL parks can handle crowd traffic much better. Disneyland park on any night with Fantasmic running will feel jammed packed due to the narrower layout of the paths. All things considered, the average busy day at DLR you may feel more crowded but can usually get much more done since they have significantly more attraction capacity.

The best lesson with those that head West is don’t try to micromanage the planning like WDW.

#50 1 year ago
Quoted from Parzival:

Just got back from Disney (7 night stay) and spent 2 days at Universal. We go to Universal at least once a year, and it is awesome.
Definitely stop and have a beer at Moes if you are a Simpsons fan. They have a little asked for beer, called Duff Dry. It's a dark porter style, and delicious.
Also, almost every ride has a single rider lane. I don't get the Express Pass, just use Single Ride. Obviously if you want to ride together, it doesn't work, but I am typically the only one riding.
Lastly, Mummy, Rock and Roll Coaster (pick Rolling by Limp Bizkit), and Velocoaster were my favorite rides this time around. But the other virtual type rides (Spiderman, Transformers, etc...) are awesome too.

Anything ever go in the old Terminator attraction spot yet?

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