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First time at Universal this August

Discussion in 'Universal Orlando' started by lighttech, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    Hi all!
    I'm fairly new here (posted on the introduction thread, but that's it so far...)

    At the end of August, my family and I will be making our first trip to Universal! I'm so excited! (Actually, my husband and I went for 1 day about 15 years ago, and I used to work in broadcasting and did set up for a show at City Walk about 10 years ago... but I don't really count those. This time were doing it "for reals.")

    We've booked the flight, and the hotel and are working on the tickets. I'll be poking around on the boards for all of your tips! Here's our general itinerary if anyone has any suggestions or things I should definitely do, not do, see, eat, ride, etc.

    Arrive before lunch on day 1 - No park for this day. Just settle in, hang out and hit pool or City Walk.
    Staying at Cabana Bay. (We upgraded to a family suite so the boys *might* not fight all night trying to sleep in the same bed. lol. The little one has already agreed to sleep on the pull out couch)
    4 days for parks. We want to actually *relax* a little this vacation, so I'm thinking 4 day 2 park tickets so that we won't feel guilty heading back to the hotel for a mid-day break if needed.
    We think we're skipping Volcano Bay. As cool as it looks, I don't think I want to dedicate a whole day to it.
    We fly out after that, fairly early in the am.

    It'll be me, the hubs, my 12yo son (**LOVES** Harry Potter) and my 8yo son (very into just about everything else that Universal has - dinosaurs, Transformers, super heroes and Minions; but not-so-much on the HP). DH and I both love amusement parks of all kinds, and he's just happy he can have a beer while we wander. lol. We have vaguely discussed going to see Blue Man as well. DH and I saw them years ago in New York, and loved the show.

    That's us and our plans in a nutshell. I'm off to start hunting for all of your great stories and suggestions. What do I need to know? :)
     
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  2. jseal777

    jseal777 Member

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    If it's not super busy, ask a TM at the MIB ride about the "immigration room tour."

    When you ride the Kong ride, at the end of the ride-you will know what I'm talking about when you get there- take off your 3-d glasses.

    For food, Toothsome is the new big shiny place and it's worth all the hype, and Antojitos (spell check) is a pretty good Mexican place- both in city walk.
    As far as in the park Mythos is good but a little dodgy with the hours and the taco truck in Springfield is a little gem for grab and go.
     
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  3. Skold

    Skold Rookie

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    Welcome to the forms!

    We always stay at CBBR; here's a few tips that we use:
    • Mid-day breaks at the hotel from about 12 - 4. The lazy river is an awesome break; you can bring the "adult sippy cups" that they sell at the Hideaway. You can buy tubes there or bring your own (which they will inflate for free).
    • Rope drop in order to get lots of rides with minimal waits. Despicable Me is the only ride that consistently gets out of control lines later in the morning, so get that first. Rip Ride Rocket is also one to get early, as the queue is horrible. :p If IOA has the EPA, rope drop USF at least once to get to these rides quickly. If you rope drop these, and use EPA for HP, you can relax from 9:00 AM until bedtime. :) Most rides have ebbs and flows so you can watch the wait times on the app.
    • Get an interactive wand for HP. You can go to the Olivanders show to get one but you do not need to. If you do, the one in DA has 3x the capacity and an indoor queue. HP stores start selling alcohol at 10:00, so this makes for a great time to sip away while the kids play! :D
    • Fire whiskey!
    • Toothsome is great. My kid loves getting the foosball table at NBC as well.
    Have fun!
     
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  4. Joe

    Joe aka TestTrack321 Staff Member Moderator

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    As I mentioned in your welcome thread, keep checking back for if the prices go down. Book the new rooms for the reduced price and then cancel your previous reservation. I've done that before and saved quite a bit.

    Since you're at Cabana Bay you'll be able to enjoy those great pools on property. Also check out the other hotels this day. The resort is compact and easy to access by foot.

    That sounds good, you'll have plenty of time to get the attractions done.

    Your best bet is to do HP as early and as late in the days as you can and Minions as early as you can in the morning, usually first thing. Another pro tip is to take a morning to do a "water ride" day going to all the water rides in IoA at once then going back to the hotel to change, shower, etc.

    I'm a fan of BMG and if you'e enjoyed the NYC show you'll enjoy this one too. It's MUCH larger production with newer segments and a new ending.

    My other suggestion would be to get The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando 2017 (or 2018) and use the attraction reviews, restaurant reviews, and their tested touring plans guide you.
     
  5. GadgetGuru

    GadgetGuru Premium Member

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    I listed a couple tips on your Welcome post, but I'll add a couple more. Never stayed on-property, but I have some random parks tips I've accumulated.

    • The Despicable Me ride has the longest lines in the resort. The ride is popular and doesn't hold a ton of people. I'd get there early or stay late to ride it. If anything, just go through the gift shop to the dance party in back and you'll get a big dose of Minions.
    • I definitely agree that you should buy an interactive wand for Harry Potter. I've heard they have cast members with wands at some of the interactive stations, so you can experience some of the interactive things without buying a wand. But, it's easier to just buy a wand. 1 for the whole family to share is plenty. You can buy them in many of the shops.
    • Check out the kids playgrounds in Islands of Adventure. Camp Jurassic (in the Jurassic Park land of Islands of Adventure) is absolutely magical at night. It's the home of a couple of my favorite Universal memories from when I was younger. If I Ran the Zoo in Seuss Landing is nice too, as is the Toon Lagoon playground. Camp Jurassic is still the most underrated part in the entire resort. Seriously, if you get nothing out of this, check out Camp Jurassic at night.
    • I'm not an expert on this, but I've heard nothing but good things about some of the beers throughout the parks. In particular, check out the Harry Potter + Simpsons (Duff) beers.
    • I feel like this is poorly advertised, but there's a small Marvel parade (emphasis on small) in the superhero section daily. Many of the heroes stick around for photo-ops. I know for a fact that Spider-Man literally leaves the parade route and runs over to a small storefront for meet-and-greets immediately afterwards. If you time it right, you can cut out the lines.
    • In the mornings, when the park is emptier, Universal parks some meet and greets on the streets in the Hollywood section. You can typically get pictures of Scooby-Doo + the Simpsons.
    • We exclusively do quick-service on park days, so I can't speak about sit-down restaurants. But, I can't recommend Fast Food Boulevard (Simpsons) enough for food. Granted, I'm a huge Simpsons fan. But, between the ambience and the good food, we ate all of our (few) meals there. If you go, check out the food trucks as well.
    • If you decide to eat at the Three Broomsticks, try eating on the patio. It's a little hidden. You get some absolutely amazing views and it's always very empty. From the couple times I've been there, I'd say it's one of the emptiest, calmest areas in the entire resort.
     
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  6. Joe

    Joe aka TestTrack321 Staff Member Moderator

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    To follow up and double emphasis

    • Make sure to do the Olivander's Wand show! Go early as possible and get the kids up front. Have them looking excited, wearing Potter stuff, and looking extroverted.
    • The best beer in the parks is Dragon Scale, a very light stout with some chocolate notes. It's in Diagon Alley only. All the "exclusive" beers are legit.
    • There are always great photo ops for characters in Hollywood Boulevard. Make sure to spend some morning time there.
    • FFB is great for "normal" food; burgers, chicken fingers, fries, etc. If that's what the group wants go there. Also don't feel bad to leave the parks and go somewhere in CityWalk for lunch.
    Some other things I want to recommend:
    • Make sure to see the Horror Make Up Show. Yes I know the name, but trust me here. If you want you can check out a video from IU here to sell it for you.
    • Go see Terminator 2: 3D. It's unlike any other 3D show in Orlando, it's really.... suuuuper.
     
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  7. GadgetGuru

    GadgetGuru Premium Member

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    Just as a follow up to T2: it's not meant to be a scary show but it has some sudden noises and scary looking robots. I'm not sure what everyone's advice is on what age is good for it. 12's probably fine, 8 is a maybe?

    (Somebody be more definitive because it's been a long time since I did T2 or was 8)
     
  8. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    Oooo. I love costuming and make-up. I was a theatre major, so this is right up my alley! Thanks!

    I feel like you recommend checking out Jurassic at night... :lmao:
    Thanks so much for the tips!

    Feel a little silly asking this, but is this an actual book? And, where would I buy such a thing? (Told ya' I was *very* new to Universal. lol)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2017
  9. Joe

    Joe aka TestTrack321 Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes it's a book, go check amazon.
     
  10. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    Thanks! I figured as much, but I thought maybe it was a guide offered by the website or something. Appreciate it!
     
  11. jseal777

    jseal777 Member

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    Another neat trick I just remembered. This is pretty standard but I always forget. If you buy something in a gift shop or anywhere in the park, you can usually have them wrap it up and send it to the front of the park for you to pick up later in the day. It's a free service. This is especially helpful if you buy chocolate!!!!!!
     
  12. fryoj

    fryoj Premium Member

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    I would buy one Preferred annual pass. It's only $100 more than the tickets you are planning on buying and the discounts more than make up for that. Just in buying your park tickets alone it will save you $127. You just have to buy them at the gate with the annual pass. Then it gives you 10-15% off your food and merchandise. 20% off blue man group tickets if you decide to do that. It's well worth it to get it. They also offer hotel discounts, but with you not having the pass yet, I'm not sure how to make that work. Someone else on the board might have a better answer on that one.

    You may also consider instead of getting regular tickets for the other three, just going ahead and getting seasonal passes. They are the same price as the 4 day 2 park tickets. They aren't blocked out based on the time you are going, and it gives you more flexibility. If you want to run into the park the night you get there just to walk around or grab a butterbeer, you can, essentially for free. Same goes if you are there longer. It also means that if you decide you can go back to Orlando in the next year, you already have tickets to get in. When we went to Cali, we were only doing the parks 2 days but bought the seasonal passes just so we could run in and grab a donut and a butterbeer in the mornings we weren't at the parks. It was nice to be able to do that. But even if you don't do the preferred pass(which I would), 4 seasonal passes make more sense than 4 two day tickets.

    You can also have them sent to your room up until the last day you are there.
     
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  13. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    Whoa. This is amazing information! Thank you!!
    I can't believe that seasonal passes are the same price as our tickets... Even with seasonal, we can still use early admission since we are staying on-site (at Cabana Bay), right?

    Doing research now... I can't believe that the cost is the same. I'm working on figuring out what the discounts are so I can see how much we would save... Thanks again!
     
  14. Joe

    Joe aka TestTrack321 Staff Member Moderator

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    Type in "APH" for rooms and see if you can rebook the Cabana Bay room with an AP discount. That'll save a ton of money already. Plus you get various levels of discounts on merch and food in the parks, resorts, and CityWalk.
     
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  15. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    Sorry... Where do I type in "APH"?
     
  16. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    I think I figured it out... I went through the link in one of the articles. It looks like the "stay more save more" special is better for us on hotel rates than the APH discount.
     
  17. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Premium Member

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    Those are all really good tips that we also take advantage of even though we stay on site. :thumbsup:
     
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  18. Mad Dog

    Mad Dog Premium Member

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    Yes, Stay More Save More, if you're going for more than a few days, is generally better than APH rates....Even though we live in Pennsylvania, we get Annual Passes. You can't beat the rates if you're on a fairly long vacation.
     
  19. JoeCamel

    JoeCamel Premium Member

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    Yes, any onsite gets EPA, the pass is your room card. The annual pass may allow you to book the room for less and reap discounts on what you buy in the parks and at CityWalk along with food discounts. Many times having one pass in a group will allow savings of 10 - 15%. Pays to run the numbers..

    As Joe posted the code is APH for rooms, if you are more than three nights the stay more discount will be more than the APH discount.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  20. lighttech

    lighttech Newcomer

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    Thanks. Confirms what I found. We are staying 5 nights, so our rates were slightly better using the Stay More, Save More. (More on some nights, less on others, but balanced out a few bucks lower.)

    The 10-15% discounts look good... but what I think I'm reading is that if I want to use the AP to buy the multi-day passes, I have to buy at the gate price. So, I wouldn't actually be saving $127 dollars, because the starting price of the tickets would be higher.

    Anybody know if you can use an AP to buy discounted Season Passes? (I'm thinking no... but a girl can dream!)
     

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