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  1. #1
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    Default First Universal Studios visit - trip report!

    We have been wanting to try these parks for years! Our DH19 is a huge Harry Potter fan and she was so excited to finally be going. Overall, we had a wonderful time - but it was one of THOSE trips, where things keep going wrong. None of those things were the fault of the parks though.

    We were completely wowed by the Harry Potter sections of the parks! The girls both got wands and I think they hit every interactive spot there was. The ride on the Hogwarts Express wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it was a fun ride. I liked Diagon Alley much more than Hogsmead, but both were a lot of fun.

    The rest of the park - we stayed at the Royal Pacific, so we had express pass for every ride except Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure. Really enjoyed what the rest of the parks had to offer. They put on a good show and had really fun theming. It didn't feel quite as immersive as Disney though. They're also really heavy on the simulator rides. I thought the graphics could have been much better, and they need more airflow. The Forbidden Journey did me in for the night! It was just too much and I'd even taken a Bonine. Loved the Gringott's ride though!

    I was so impressed with the employees in the parks!! I just cannot say enough how upbeat and helpful they all were. When DD15 got sick after a ride, I was scrambling to get her new clothes. When they found out why I was buying the clothes, they would not let me pay for them! Wow!!

    The food was good, we did not have a bad meal there. However, it seemed WAY more expensive than at Disney! I questioned whether I was just mis-remembering the cost at Disney, but DH said the same thing. We ate at both the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks, and had great meals at both. We also had some counter service and had one meal at the Chocolate Emporium in City Walk. All good meals.

    The hotel - we were not impressed with the hotel unfortunately. I'm guessing Royal Pacific is maybe a partner hotel and not an official Universal hotel? It was a beautiful place, and the employees were pleasant, but having two different counters for check in and park tickets was kinda brutal. And, having two different kinds of tickets to carry around was not ideal. Especially since one was a paper ticket. DH's got pretty beat up looking after the water rides. Our room was spacious and nicely decorated, but the wall and one headboard had stains. Our fridge and our Keurig didn't work. And housekeeping was definitely sub-par.

    The crowds - were not bad AT ALL! I was floored actually. Just before Christmas, and a new ride in one of the HP lands, I thought it would really be busy. There was one evening where Hogsmead was pretty full, but other than that, totally manageable, I would even say light. We were there for Thursday 12/19, Friday 12/20 and Saturday 12/21 - and even Saturday's crowds were fine!

    We would love to go back again! None of us would choose it over Disney, but we'd definitely do a 3 day visit if the opportunity came up again.
    Susanne

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  4. #2
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    Thank you for the report. I have been thinking about going there for quite a while. (Since they announced the new park)
    I'll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge.

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  6. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheVBs View Post
    The hotel - we were not impressed with the hotel unfortunately. I'm guessing Royal Pacific is maybe a partner hotel and not an official Universal hotel? It was a beautiful place, and the employees were pleasant, but having two different counters for check in and park tickets was kinda brutal. And, having two different kinds of tickets to carry around was not ideal. Especially since one was a paper ticket. DH's got pretty beat up looking after the water rides. Our room was spacious and nicely decorated, but the wall and one headboard had stains. Our fridge and our Keurig didn't work. And housekeeping was definitely sub-par.
    No, I'm pretty sure the Royal Pacific is one of the "Universal resorts", and should be considered an official hotel. Isn't that one of the hotels that offers Express Pass when you stay there? I think Hard Rock, Portofino, and Royal are the first 3 resorts they built, and are the ones that offer Express Pass.

    Thanks for the report. We also enjoy the occasional trip to Universal and Islands of Adventure - usually a very fun day or two. We've stayed at the Hard Rock already, and have enjoyed our stays there. We have not done Royal Pacific. Your report has us thinking we might not need to! Thanks for the information.

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  8. #4
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    Thanks for the report. I love both Forbidden Journey ( except the whomping willow) and Gringotts ( except the beginning when you are hanging waiting for the drop). I too like Diagon Alley better than Hogsmead. Did you make it over to Volcano Bay? That's where I work. Sometimes at USF. You must have gone before the holidays. I worked Christmas Day and it was totally packed.
    Marci
    9/2/12 DLH Half Marathon
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    AKL Kidani 4/14 Vero Beach 5/14 & 6/14 Boardwalk 6/14

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  10. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThanxForNoticin View Post
    No, I'm pretty sure the Royal Pacific is one of the "Universal resorts", and should be considered an official hotel. Isn't that one of the hotels that offers Express Pass when you stay there? I think Hard Rock, Portofino, and Royal are the first 3 resorts they built, and are the ones that offer Express Pass.

    Thanks for the report. We also enjoy the occasional trip to Universal and Islands of Adventure - usually a very fun day or two. We've stayed at the Hard Rock already, and have enjoyed our stays there. We have not done Royal Pacific. Your report has us thinking we might not need to! Thanks for the information.
    I wrote to them about the issues we had there, and part of their response was, "while we are a Lowe's Hotel, we strive to have a seamless destination experience between us and Universal Orlando Resort." That's not exactly definitive, but it does sound like they're a partner hotel. But yes, you do get the express pass when you stay there! That's one of the reasons we chose it.
    Susanne

  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinderelley View Post
    Thank you for the report. I have been thinking about going there for quite a while. (Since they announced the new park)
    We are so glad we finally made it there. Definitely worth the visit! Just brace yourself for some of the in park costs. I know it seems silly to say that to a Disney veteran, but I paid $5.50 for a small bottle of "Gilly Water" in Hogsmead!! The bottle wasn't even cute. I actually couldn't hear how much she said it was and I handed her a $5 expecting change. I was floored when she told me I owed her more. I mean, this was a *small* bottle of water.
    Susanne

  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disney4us2 View Post
    Thanks for the report. I love both Forbidden Journey ( except the whomping willow) and Gringotts ( except the beginning when you are hanging waiting for the drop). I too like Diagon Alley better than Hogsmead. Did you make it over to Volcano Bay? That's where I work. Sometimes at USF. You must have gone before the holidays. I worked Christmas Day and it was totally packed.
    We did not do Volcano Bay this time. We could have actually gotten a ticket for that park and paid a few dollars less. Debbie at MJ found awesome package options for us. But, we figured it would likely be too cold to swim, and we only had three days to spend there. We wanted to have a full day for each park, and a third day to go back and do things we missed or do favorites again. We had jackets with us every day, it just wasn't warm enough to swim. Well, that's how we felt anyway! Obviously, lots of people hit the water park!
    Susanne

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  14. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheVBs View Post
    We did not do Volcano Bay this time. We could have actually gotten a ticket for that park and paid a few dollars less. Debbie at MJ found awesome package options for us. But, we figured it would likely be too cold to swim, and we only had three days to spend there. We wanted to have a full day for each park, and a third day to go back and do things we missed or do favorites again. We had jackets with us every day, it just wasn't warm enough to swim. Well, that's how we felt anyway! Obviously, lots of people hit the water park!

    I know what you mean. I'm wearing long pants and a jacket, and people are running around in swim suits. lol �� I freeze when it hits 70 degrees.
    Marci
    9/2/12 DLH Half Marathon
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    WDW Trips
    7/05 12/06All Star Movies
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    8/11 OKW/AKL Kidani 1st DVC stay
    SSR/AKL 8/13 AKL Jambo 12/13
    AKL Kidani 4/14 Vero Beach 5/14 & 6/14 Boardwalk 6/14

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  16. #9
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    Universal does a lot of things right, but lately the meal prices seem out of control for what they are
    Too many trips to keep track of now! Vacation WDW twice a year so any questions ask freely ☺️

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  18. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptSmee View Post
    Universal does a lot of things right, but lately the meal prices seem out of control for what they are
    Though "Gilly Water" is a specialty item. I made the mistake of buying it too.

    Better to get a bottle of aquafina in the main park.
    John - aka. The Master Control Program
    Owner, Chairman & Chief Imagination Officer - INTERCOT

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  20. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptSmee View Post
    Universal does a lot of things right, but lately the meal prices seem out of control for what they are
    I am so glad I'm not the only one who feels that food prices at Universal are completely out of wack. It isn't new though, I remember feeling the same thing on our first visit 15 or so years ago.
    Heather aka ibelieveindisneymagic
    INTERCOT Staff: Vacation Planning, Nightlife, Shopping & Waterparks, Collectibles


    Engaged at the castle!
    My Disney Home is POFQ


    Upcoming: Carnival Cruise & Disney October 2020

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  22. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    Though "Gilly Water" is a specialty item. I made the mistake of buying it too.

    Better to get a bottle of aquafina in the main park.
    I did wonder about that. I didn't check bottled water prices anywhere else. But, for a specialty item, they didn't put a lot of effort into it. They could have made the bottle/label much more interesting.
    Susanne

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