10 thoughts about the Universal Orlando Resort


#1

I stopped going to the Universal Resort five years ago thanks to my overall boredom with the parks. Let’s face it, they’re no Disney!

But since then, UOR has invested some mullah into their parks and they have added 3 new attractions to boot. Plus I had some frequent flyer points to burn (because they were about to expire), so after some hemming and hawing, I decided to pull the trigger and use said points to book a room at the Royal Pacific Resort in O-Town for two nights (the week before last).

Like I said, it’s been a while and a longer vacation somewhere out of state was out of the question, mainly because my DGF could only afford to take a few days off from tutoring (she has to supplement her income thanks to the meager salary that the State of FL allots to its teachers, even with a Masters. For example, FL teachers make less than ½ of NY teachers… but I digress).

So we decided to go during the week with the assumption that the crowds would be lighter plus we were both excited to finally check out Harry Potter!

Anyways, here are ten thoughts that I have about the Universal Orlando Resort:

(01) The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is amazing. The theming is some of the best that I have ever seen! Let me tell you, Universal spared no expense and they definitely paid attention to detail. Yes, we were both in awe…

Now with that in mind, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, while a very cool ride, is NOT (contrary to popular opinion) the best ride in the whole wide world. I love the fact that they have blended the dark ride concept (animatronics and all) w/a simulator ride… But after all of the rave reviews that I have heard from friends and peers within the Amusement Industry, I can easily say that I was quite underwhelmed with the ride.

Now the queue itself is by far the BEST queue I have ever experienced in my life! But like I said, the ride was underwhelming. HPATFJ is definitely not worth more than a 40 minute wait considering that the best part of the whole attraction is the queue itself. I’m not saying that the ride stinks, because it doesn’t, it just didn’t live up to the hype.

And another thing… is the magic wand shop really all that and a bag of chips???

Really?

Really???

I mean, a 3+ hour wait for a fake magic wand?

Come on…

For a wait like that, the bugger better cause a chair to levitate or something, you know what I mean?

And as soon as they let us in (early entry before the general public could access the park), many a person headed straight for the wand shop in lieu of HPATFJ!

What gives?

Yeah, I know, the wand picks you and blah blah blah… But it’s not a REAL magic wand folks! I don’t know, perhaps both DGF and myself are missing something…


#2

(02) The Dragon Challenge is an awesome coaster (top 25% of all coasters I’ve been on) that boasts a very little wait time. I know that there are two coasters available that can push though twice the amount of people that a normal coaster can handle, but a maximum wait time of 10 minutes during peak season? That’s insane.

(03) The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, while a great concept (which has a very cool restraint system I might add), was probably a bigger let down than HPATFJ. My problem with this coaster is that is slows down WAY too many times. Just when you get going… It slows down.

Then it does it again…

And again.

This is a bottom of the barrel roller coaster that I would never stand in line for in the event that the wait time was more than 20 minutes. What a letdown.

(04) Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show is probably the most underrated show in all of Orlando. It’s amazing! We laughed our butts off plus it’s very informative & entertaining.

This is a MUST DO.

(05) Last time I was at USO, Back to the Future still occupied the World Expo area so needless to say, this was the first time that I had the opportunity to check out the Simpsons Ride. Well, it was AWESOME! It’s the best ride at both parks by far. And we rode it again and again…

(06) And speaking of best rides, the best coaster at UOR is still, in my opinion, the Revenge of the Mummy ride. Sure, it’s WAY too short, but it’s still the best… Yes, better than the Dueling Dragons, errr, Dragon Challenge (the Montu @ BG in Tampa kicks its butt as well) and better than the head jarring Hulk (man that coaster gave both of us a headache every single time!!!).

(07) Finnegan’s Bar and Grill is the shiz. Their corned beef sandwich blows the Rose and Crown’s sandwich out of the water! Yeah, I know we’re talking Irish pub vs British pub but to me it’s no different than comparing a Canadian Steakhouse vs. an American Steakhouse.

We definitely stopped in for a pint or two throughout the day… many times. And I have to say, the gentleman who was singing & playing the guitar was a great entertainer, funny and excellent at his craft. Yes my friends, we had an awesome time there.

(08) I love Suess Landing. Yeah, that’s right. I said it… Grown man and all… And the Cat in the Hat whip ride is freakin awesome. This is my favorite land at IOA with Harry Potter coming in a close second and the Land of the Lost coming in third (eat at Mythos btw, it’s really good)

(09) The ONLY way to do the two theme parks is w/an express pass. Staying at a US resort is worth its weight in gold especially when you consider that your room key becomes an unlimited fast pass (express pass in “Universal” speak) for every darn attraction excluding the lame Rip Ride Rocket and HPATFJ. On top of that, you are allowed early entry into IOA one hour before everyone else (to experience Harry Potter Land) which is the only way to go.

Now, if you choose NOT to stay at one of the US resorts, then go ahead and spend the extra cha-ching for the EP.

Seriously.

We rocked out each park by 1pm each day (starting at rope-drop) which allowed us time to go back to the resort to relax, enjoy the pool, take a nap, and then re-do our faves later in the afternoon and evening.

The longest wait we had was on the Spiderman Ride because it broke down for 15 minutes… Other than that, we pretty much walked right on to every single ride and attraction… Even if it boasted a 60+ minute wait! How cool is THAT???


#3

(10) And last but not least, I got a lot of grief from the President of my company, the CEO as well as other colleagues in the Amusement Industry for staying at the Royal Pacific Resort. “Ghetto” they all echoed! Yes, that’s my personal summarized term based on everyones opinion but the fact of the matter is, not one single person supported the idea… Everyone was all “Portofino” this and “Hard Rock” that…

Well, I am here to say that we LOVED the Royal Pacific Resort and it is not ghetto in any way, shape or form. It’s gorgeous! The theming, the pool, the ROOMS! They hooked us up with a theme park view that allowed us to watch the boat roll by in the canal, watch the Hulk Coaster, Dr Dooms Free fall and a bunch of the other attractions in the area.

It was nice…

Now, we checked out all three resorts and I have no idea what the heck anyone was talking about. It’s as good, if not better than the other two resorts. And it’s about $100 cheaper a night.

I have no clue what you get for that extra $100 a night and after talking to various staff members at all three resorts, everyone completely agreed with my assessment.

Sure, the Portofino looks beautiful but the resort doesn’t offer any extra amenities compared to the Royal Pacific!

In fact, the Royal Pacific Resort has by and large, THE best Restaurant out of the three! And I’m talking about Emeril’s Tchoup Chop. It’s far better than his other restaurant that you will find in City Walk.

Really.

In fact, just go ahead and skip Emeril’s city walk restaurant right off the bat and check this place out. It’s a leisurely walk from Margaritaville and you’ll avoid the hectic madhouse that you’ll find in City Walk as well.

The food is outstanding, the presentation is phenomenal and the service is fantastic. And like I said, we were thrilled with the Royal Pacific Resort. It’s quite lovely! We really enjoyed it, and so will you…


#4

Some final thoughts…

Okay, so much for “10 thoughts” but I have no idea why Universal thinks it can match the same ticket price as Disney! Especially if you have to shell out the extra bucks for the Express Pass!

The value is far smaller than what you’ll find at WDW especially when you consider the lack of evening entertainment (Fireworks & such), the lack of a free fast pass system and the lack of the number of quality shows & attractions available at a single park (compared to any park that Disney provides).

Yes, Universal Studios IS better than Hollywood Studios when compared one on one, but when you throw all 4 Disney parks plus Fantasmic!, Wishes and the like into the mix, US & IOA has no business charging the same ticket price as Disney…

On top of that, DGF and I have satisfied our Universal cravings and we’re good to go for the next 5 to 10 years. That is, unless they unleash some amazing new ride or attraction between now and then.

With that said, this once again begs the question: “Why do we NEVER get bored with Disney”?

While we were at US & IOA, there were times when we were actually bored!

Yeah, that’s right. Bored.

This has never happened at Disney.

Ever.

In three full days, we experienced everything that the Universal Resort had to offer, restaurants & all.

In my entire lifetime, there are still things that I haven’t experienced at the WDW Resort!

And yes, I did leave out the fact that the service you receive from Cast Members vs. Universal Employees are light years apart… But the parks themselves are apples and oranges (iron park vs. “family” parks), the business model is apples and oranges so that’s why you really can’t compare the two.

Either way, the two of us had an amazing time at the Universal Orlando Resort and we’re glad we went… Overall, the Universal Resort is definitely worth a visit.

But like I said, it’s no Disney.

:ninja:


#5

Thank you very much for this post. Very informative. We were there in 2009, but are returning this year solely because of the WWoHP, while we will try to see everything in two day using express pass, do you really think we need two days? We’re actually planning on 1 day for both and then a half a day at IOA for the Wizarding World. Is that doable at the end of Aug (30th, 31st to be specific).


#6

What is this Universal Orlando Resort about which you speak?
Is this in the new fantasy land expansion?


#7

Great summary of your visit! I must agree with you, I loved Royal Pacific Resort when I stayed there. It’s beautiful! I also agree with your opinion of Tchoup Chop! Soooo good!


#8

E tupeppertink., e tu


#9

Great assessment of US and IOA. We spent 99.8% of our time during our two day visit in the WWoHP, the kids just needed to be immersed in HP. As for the wand shop…my kids would NEVER wait 3 hours in line for anything; luckily we only had maybe a 20 minute wait when we were there and both of my kids were chosen together by Ollivander, which made for the best experience! Glad you had a great time.

I’ll second your plug on Mythos…we too enjoyed our meal there, it’s was very yummy!

And I agree that the Royal Pacific is a GREAT resort, the rooms and the pool area was wonderful. The grill at the pool serves up a mean nachos and quesadilla.

I won’t say we’ll never go back to US and IOA, but we did what we went to do and have no interest in returning any time soon.


#10

What can I say, it was one time…I was young and experimenting. I didn’t inhale though.:sleep:


#11

You’re welcome. Thanks for reading!

I think two days is perfect KeroKero if you would like to stop to smell the roses, which is what I recommend.

That way, you will be able to enjoy the intricacies of all of the lands, the restaurants, some shops, etc… And if this is the route you choose, make sure to pay a little extra for a park hopper. Because I’m sure you will bounce from park to park each day.

And on top of that, make sure to get to IOA at opening because the Harry Potter land fills up rather quickly, even during the week when it’s slower.

Now if you’re without children and you’re armed with an Express pass, you could definitely fit both parks in on one day. But you may miss some things and you will be running from one attraction to another.

In other words, you will be killing yourselves to fit everything in. But, if you’re energetic, you know the lay of the land and the heat doesn’t bother you, then by all means feel free to jam in both parks in one day.

Keep in mind though, if you go this route, you might miss a ride on the Rip Ride Rocket should you choose to go to Harry Potter Land first thing in the morning (which is why you’re going in the first place)… Mainly because the Rip Ride Rocket boasted an average wait time of 120+ minutes all day long until park close… In fact, there were times when it hit 3 hours plus… :pinch:

The day we went to US, there was a sign at the entrance of the park that indicated that the Rip Ride Rocket was down for the day… But when we strolled by the ride later on at 10am, they just opened it up for riders and we waited maybe 30 minutes to ride the thing.

We got VERY lucky.

And from what I understand, the coaster has been plagued with problems since day one so its no guarentee that it will be operating on the day you plan on riding the thing.

Keep that in mind…


#12

[QUOTE=Boss Mouse;1086636]What is this Universal Orlando Resort about which you speak?
Is this in the new fantasy land expansion?[/QUOTE]

Or perhaps its Disney’s “Marvel” expansion??? :laugh:

It’s the Marvel Universe… without the “class”.

Doh! :pinch:


#13

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:


#14

[QUOTE=MickeyEars;1086643]Great assessment of US and IOA. We spent 99.8% of our time during our two day visit in the WWoHP, the kids just needed to be immersed in HP. As for the wand shop…my kids would NEVER wait 3 hours in line for anything; luckily we only had maybe a 20 minute wait when we were there and both of my kids were chosen together by Ollivander, which made for the best experience! Glad you had a great time.

I’ll second your plug on Mythos…we too enjoyed our meal there, it’s was very yummy!

And I agree that the Royal Pacific is a GREAT resort, the rooms and the pool area was wonderful. The grill at the pool serves up a mean nachos and quesadilla.

I won’t say we’ll never go back to US and IOA, but we did what we went to do and have no interest in returning any time soon.[/QUOTE]

Thank you MickeyEars! Isn’t the décor in Mythos something else? It’s stunning…

And I have to tell you, your recent TR was a contributing factor for us going to the UOR as well as the Royal Pacific resort.

So thank YOU!


#15

Very interesting perspective. I do have to disagree about Forbidden Journey - I was totally awe-struck. Definitely the best amusement park ride EVER! There is no denying that US/IOA has some terrific rides. Men in Black, The Simpsons,
ET, The Mummy, Spiderman. They are pretty terrific.

Personally I don’t compare WDW and US. I take them on their own merits. WDW is our holiday destination - it’s “home” to us and we love it. No place can compare. Simple as that. But US can be a heck of a lot of fun. It’s just a different dynamic.

We’ve never used the Express Pass and have to honestly say that we’ve never really had a problem with lines at US - but we do go in “off” season, so I’m sure it’s different in the middle of summer.

And yes, the Rocky Horror Make-up Show still makes us laugh, even though we’ve heard the jokes at least 20 times.


#16

Thanks so much papa bear! Your tips will definitely be taken into consideration. Looking forward to IOA (for WWoHP that is) … but not as as excited as we are for WDW of course!!


#17

[QUOTE=papa bear;1086630]

And another thing… is the magic wand shop really all that and a bag of chips???

Really?

Really???

I mean, a 3+ hour wait for a fake magic wand?

Come on…

For a wait like that, the bugger better cause a chair to levitate or something, you know what I mean?

And as soon as they let us in (early entry before the general public could access the park), many a person headed straight for the wand shop in lieu of HPATFJ!

What gives?

Yeah, I know, the wand picks you and blah blah blah… But it’s not a REAL magic wand folks! I don’t know, perhaps both DGF and myself are missing something…[/QUOTE]

Maybe it’s not real to you, Muggle.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Three hours? Really? Wow.:wacko: I think I’d head straight there, too, especially since the FJ queue is so cool.


#18

[QUOTE=Andrea;1086663]Maybe it’s not real to you, Muggle.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Three hours? Really? Wow.:wacko: I think I’d head straight there, too, especially since the FJ queue is so cool.[/QUOTE]

Muggles! They’re everywhere! We only waited about 20 minutes and well worth it when Mr. Ollivander chose DD for a “wand fitting”. (yes, Daddy bought it for her.) (Yes, she’s 27:laugh:)


#19

[QUOTE=papa bear;1086652]Thank you MickeyEars! Isn’t the décor in Mythos something else? It’s stunning…

And I have to tell you, your recent TR was a contributing factor for us going to the UOR as well as the Royal Pacific resort.

So thank YOU![/QUOTE]

Gwarsh, thanks Papa Bear!

Yep, Mythos decor was pretty neat.

When’s your next WDW trip? We’re going the first week in April for 9 days, with a day trip to Legoland. We’re going all out on this trip, we’ve included hoppers and the waterpark fun and more option. It’ll probably be our last WDW trip for a while, I really want to take the kids to the caribbean.


#20

Interesting perspective, Papa Bear. I agree with much of what you said, including Royal Pacific being a great hotel. We have stayed at Hard Rock and Portofino as well, and I would not consider Royal Pacific compared to those.

We also agreed that after three days we were a little bored, yet we visit WDW four or five times every year.

However, I disagree about Forbidden Journey (I completely agree with llama)- we thought it was a fabulous ride and I was shocked at how amazing it all was. Thanks so much for your ideas!