Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure vs Early Park Admission

qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Thanks a lot Joel, you guys are amazing, so much knowledge and so much patience to deal with people like me that are so clueless about the matter
 
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Andysol

Veteran Member
Jun 21, 2016
3,664
Hi,

We are planning our first Universal vacation for December, We will be staying on Hard Rock Hotel or Royal Pacific Resort. We already purchased a 5 days park to park tickets and will start using them on Monday 16 to Friday 20, in what should be a very busy time. We don’t mind showing up at 6:00 am to beat the crowds.

We want to do Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure at least one time per day during those 5 days, So what should the strategy be?

1- Ignore our early park admission hour that comes by staying at the hotel, since we have the unlimited express pass, and try to be the first every morning at the gates of Island of Adventure, so we can ride the Hagrid and start our day that way?

2- Do early park admission at Universal Studios and wait till the queue are lower during the day or night and try to do the Hagrid?

We were told that Universal could change the early park admission at any point to Island of Adventure. So we booked both hotels and are planning to keep them both until we are around a month away, in case we decide to go with strategy number two, we can be staying at the hotel that is closer to the park with the early park admission at that time.

We are discarding using the boats to arrive at the parks because we want to beat the crowds. So walking will be our approach.

So far this is what we know. So please correct me if I got something wrong.

There are 3 security checkpoints that start letting people through at 6:30 am:
  • City walk for the people that are driving in, or are being driven on a bus from the other hotels.
  • The bridge right before island of adventure, where the walking path ends for the guests at the Royal Pacific Resort and other guests from the other Universal’s hotels that shared the same walking path.
  • Right beside the entrance of Universal Studios for guests from the Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay.
So in case we go for strategy number one. We will be staying at the Royal Pacific Resort, because even though RPR and HRH are about the same distance to IOA, RPR security checkpoint is right beside IOA and therefore should be the first crowds to arrive at IOA.

Maybe there is a 3rd strategy I haven’t thought of.

Sorry for the long post but I’m so confused with all of these and I hope you guys can help me come up with the best strategy.

Thanks a lot

Alex
Reading all this... you're definitely used to Disney World, aren't you? ;)

This is not Disney World. In fact, with express; very very little planning is necessary. Hagrid's might have express by December also, so this whole post could be a moot point. If it isn't express yet, @Skold gave amazing advice.

Personally, I'd wait until early December to start planning. Yes, you don't have to plan 180 days out (crazy, right?) That way you'll have all the schedules for Holidays as well as which parks have early entry. HRH or RP hotels don't matter. Either are fine and the walk is insignificant for either. I'd pick RP just because it's less $ and closer to Islands. Even though it's December, consider a Volcano Bay day in there. It's an amazing place and December will yield fewer crowds.
 

qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Thanks Andysol, for your reality check lol

After doing a lot of research, especially with this helpful forum, is starting to sink in the fact that I'm treating these parks with a Disney like meticulous planning approach.

I was saying to my self today, imaging having unlimited fast passes at every Disney park during our past Disney trip? I wouldn't have the need to create all of that planning.

At Universal there are less crowds, we intentonally are coming the week before the heavy crowds are coming, December 20 is our checkout date, plus we have a 5 days ticket lol.

I'm realizing that if I take on these two parks with the Disney intensity, I will unnecessarily wake up the kids at 6am, be done each day with the parks by lunch time, be left trying to find things to do for the rest of each day, on top of adding a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress to our day.

Thanks I'll show this to my wife I'm sure she'll thank you too :)
 
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Joel

Premium Member
Apr 14, 2016
2,337
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Thanks Andysol, for your reality check lol

After doing a lot of research, especially with this helpful forum, is starting to sink in the fact that I'm treating these parks with a Disney like meticulous planning approach.

I was saying to my self today, imaging having unlimited fast passes at every Disney park during our past Disney trip? I wouldn't have the need to create all of that planning.

At Universal there are less crowds, we intentonally are coming the week before the heavy crowds are coming, December 20 is our checkout date, plus we have a 5 days ticket lol.

I'm realizing that if I take on these two parks with the Disney intensity, I will unnecessarily wake up the kids at 6am, be done each day with the parks by lunch time, left trying to find then things to do, on top of adding a lot of unnecessary pressure and stress to our day.

Thanks I'll show this to my wife I'm sure she'll thank you too :)
we call that the enlightenment period :ears:

there are holiday season activities/entertainment to explore as well!
 

qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Thank Joel, enlightenment period is a good way of putting it lol

Can you please elaborate more on ?
"there are holiday season activities/entertainment to explore as well!"
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,511
Pittsburgh area
Thanks Andysol, I just read through it. I guess everything will be covered with Christmas decorations.

By the way will it be like that by December 16th even though is not officially Christmas week yet?
Seuss Landing is the most immersive Christmas decorated area and it's loaded with streetmosphere Grinchmas actors during most times of the day. It's like stepping into the Grinch movies or TV show. Hogsmeade decorations are tasteful but not overwhelming, same with Diagon. The NYC area of USF is also decorated heavily, with a huge Christmas tree. and Christmas music playing most of the time. Port of Entry is tastefully decorated at IOA. All of the resort hotels have their own unique trees and decorations. It's worth it to take a water taxi ride to the various hotels to see their lobby trees.
 

qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Thanks Andysol and Mad Dog, I guess is great that we have the 5 days to take it easy and go in and out of the parks, what a refreshing alternative to Disney this is.

At the end of the day, we were so tired at Disney by waking up so early, that we didn't have the desire or the energy to look at the other hotels.

We have no plans to go to the parks on our first day at the hotel, so going to other hotels to look at their decorations sounds like an excellent and relaxing idea.

When we went to Disney we knew that it wasn't going to be relaxing, enjoyable yes, relaxing no, that we booked a week at Miami beach to relax and have a real relaxing vacation, this time thinking it was going to be the same, we booked a week at clearwater beach, so now I'm thinking it wasn't necessary but there is nothing we can do, because the airfare is none refundable, oh well too much relaxation is not a bad thing to complain about :)
 
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
18,511
Pittsburgh area
Thanks Andysol and Mad Dog, I guess is great that we have the 5 days to take it easy and go in and out of the parks, what a refreshing alternative to Disney this is.

At the end of the day, we were so tired at Disney by waking up so early, that we didn't have the desire or the energy to look at the other hotels.

We have no plans to go to the parks on our first day at the hotel, so going to other hotels to look at their decorations sounds like an excellent and relaxing idea.

When we went to Disney we knew that it wasn't going to be relaxing, enjoyable yes, relaxing no, that we booked a week at Miami beach to relax and have a real relaxing vacation, this time thinking it was going to be the same, we booked a week at clearwater beach, so now I'm thinking it wasn't necessary but there is nothing we can do, because the airfare is none refundable, oh well too much relaxation is not a bad thing to complain about :)
Universal is the epitome of relaxation and leisure for a vacation.I change my plans umpteen times every day, and it doesn't make any difference on wait times. Do 'what you want' . 'when you feel like it'.....and make sure you take a water taxi ride over to Portofino at dusk to listen to the Italian singers sing Christmas songs and Italian songs from the Piazza balcony, with a 40 ft. Christmas tree next to your seating. Get a bottle of wine and a pizza from Sal's, sit at a Piazza table, and your wife will never forget that romantic setting on the Portofino Bay.
 

qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Universal is the epitome of relaxation and leisure for a vacation.I change my plans umpteen times every day, and it doesn't make any difference on wait times. Do 'what you want' . 'when you feel like it'.....and make sure you take a water taxi ride over to Portofino at dusk to listen to the Italian singers sing Christmas songs and Italian songs from the Piazza balcony, with a 40 ft. Christmas tree next to your seating. Get a bottle of wine and a pizza from Sal's, sit at a Piazza table, and your wife will never forget that romantic setting on the Portofino Bay.
Thanks Mad Dog I'm feeling relax already lol, I was totally over planning this.

I showed my wife your post and she said "oh how enjoyable that sounds" :)

Now we just need slowly to start researching for a few places to eat around the area, we have a rental during our whole vacation, so driving outside of the Universal Studio's bubble, to taste the local cuisine is part of the plan.
 
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Skold

Rookie
Feb 17, 2016
483
Now we just need slowly to start researching for a few places to eat around the area, we have a rental during our whole vacation, so driving outside of the Universal Studio's bubble, to taste the local cuisine is part of the plan.
Do explore the restaurants at CityWalk - they are all quite good. We usually go back to the hotel for pool and relaxing after lunch and head back before dinner, usually catching dinner at CityWalk or another hotel on the way. :) :toast:
 

Andysol

Veteran Member
Jun 21, 2016
3,664
That’s what we’re here for. The friendliest theme parks forum in existence. Right @Mad Dog ;)

Note: I second what @Skold said, just stick to CityWalk for dinner for most cases. Antojitos is great Mexican and Vivo is solid Italian as well. And toothsome has a phenomenal atmosphere. Big fire grill just opened but I haven’t eaten there.

Also, small tip: if you have 5 day tickets, consider upgrading to a seasonal annual pass on your last day (do it at the end of your last day so you can still go to USF when concerts). It might only be $50-70 for your entire family to upgrade. That way you can go again in a year, say around November, and not even pay for park tickets.
 

qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Wow Andysol I didn't know that! 50$ to 70$ f0r the entire family to upgrade?

That is a big tip, where do I check this?

Not sure if is going to be that inexpensive though because we got these tickets on the cheap, we got the buy two days park to park get 3 extra days free deal.

We can only travel when the kids are on vacation and I think those are called blockout days for season pass holders right?

Plus our next trip is Europe but if is under $200 bucks I'll do it just for the crazy reason that we may find a supper cheap fly in march break or something.

My kids are only 8 and 11 but we are finding out that when it comes to rides they are thrill seekers. They were pretty bored with the majority of the Disney rides and we had never done rollercoasters before that trip. Don't get me wrong they liked the story that some of the rides were telling, but overall the rides that we repeated and some of them up to 4 times, where Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Fly of Passage, Expedition Everest and Mission: Space, even Test Track they found it wasn't worth repeating. We never did Hollywood Studios because apart from two rides everything else looked boring for our kids.

Well now thanks to the Disney experience we got a season pass to our local amusement park and our crazy kids got the wife and I doing some of the tallest and fastest rollercoasters in the world almost every weekend, so Universal for now seems like the right theme park for us :)
 
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qbacreative

Newcomer
Aug 11, 2019
42
Andysol I just get off the phone with universal, I need to wait to be at the hotel to know how much is going to cost us, to upgrade because they can't check the value of my tickets from Expedia.

According to the person I was talking to I will need to buy the preferred annual pass, because we can only come when the kids are on vacation and the preferred pass doesn't have those blockout days.

It says on the universal site that preferred annual pass has blockout dates for early morning entrance, but since we will always be staying at a universal hotel that offers unlimited express pass, that will come with extra morning hours for the guest and as a result it will overwrite this limitation right?