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Trip Report Completed- Photo Heavy!! Lines, Lines, Fast Pass, Lines, Lines, repeat- A Quick trip to the World

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Hello again everyone!! Got another whirlwind trip report for you!

So on this trip, we were offered by my Mother and her Husband a trip down to Florida to visit them as our Christmas present for this year.
And what a present it was!!
They rent this beautiful house every winter to hang out and to get away from the cold winters up north.
So we got to fly down, spend a few days with them and at the parks, then back home to work, school, and worst of all, cold weather again.
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Here we are in our first of many lines on this trip! In line to check bags at the airport. The cast on this trip is my Wife, 2 sons, daughter, and myself.


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Yay for flying coach!! Look at all that leg room!!

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The entrances to the airport monorail had these cool stickers on the glass advertising Black Spire Outpost!

Next up, Universal Studios!!
 
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bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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Ok, so some of you may be wondering, why I said "Universal Studios next!" in what you may think is a WDW trip report?
Well, when doing research for this trip, we discussed maybe going to Universal for a few days, as it had been 24 years since we had been to these parks. That was before IOA was even constructed! Plus, we are all Harry Potter fans, and wanted to check out those areas, and Hagrid's!!

We knew it was going to be busy the week we were going to be there (week of December 29th), so I was thinking of purchasing the Express Pass to help avoid the lines. I noticed that Universal was offering a deal, where you purchased your tickets from them, stay in one of their deluxe hotels, they would throw in the unlimited Express Pass.

So after pricing things individually, and comparing it to the package price above, it was actually cheaper for us to stay one night in their hotel, 2 days in the parks, and unlimited Express Pass, than not staying in the hotel, 2 days in the parks, and the lower priced Express Pass!!!

So this seemed like a no brainer to us. So our first night we stayed at my Mom's house, then we got up the next morning early, drove to our hotel, checked in, got our tickets, then walked to IOA for resort guest early entry!!

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We made it!!

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We stayed at the Royal Pacific. We pretty much just slept, showered, recharged phones here, so didn't get much of a chance to look around. But from what we saw, it was a beautiful resort! Check in was smooth, and the area where you get your park tickets was fast. I think the nicest part (except for the unlimited Express Pass) was the ability to either take a 5 minute boat ride, or a ten minute walk to get into the parks. Makes heading back to the hotel for an afternoon nap much easier!!

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So are first stop was Islands of Adventure. None of us had ever been here before, so we were all looking forward to exploring a brand new park!

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As another perk to staying in their hotels, you get in an hour early to their parks. So we got in that morning before the sun even got up!!

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So far, just after entering, we were impressed in the theming.
So we followed the crowds towards Hogsmeade.
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Almost there!! We didn't get the park hopper, so didn't get to experience the train. More on that later.

At this point, we hit the line for Hagrid's. The workers at that time were estimating a 6 hour wait, and the ride would not be opening at park opening due to mechanical issues. So no telling when or if we would get on the ride. We decided that we would go on to the rest of the park, keep our eye on the wait time, and hopefully the ride would come up, and the wait time would go down as the day went along.



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Going in!!

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The reveal after going under the arch seen above.
I have to admit, as a WDW fan boy, this view made me stop and take it all in. I was very impressed.

IOA part 2 coming next.
 

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We then entered the castle to ride the Forbidden Journey.

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The queue for this ride was fantastic. Since it was early, we didn't have to stop in the queue until right before boarding.

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The sorting hat. We scratched our heads as to why they didn't have some sort of sorting hat ceremony. Seems like a wasted chance to sell more house merchandise if you know what house your in! They could even rig it so if they had too much Hufflepuff gear, they could assign everyone to that house!

Thoughts on the ride: I loved it. I thought it was a great mix of sets and screens. Some effects were not working 100%, but they didn't detract from the ride. I sat on the end, and was able to look over the side of the ride car to see how the ride works, and that impressed me as well. I would love to walk the track while the ride is in operation, just to see the Kuka arms at work.

We rode the Hippogriff coaster next, but didn't get a picture.
this was fine for a kiddy ride, and if there was no wait. I wouldn't waste for than a 15 minute wait to ride this one.

So after experiencing Hogsmeade for a few hours, we decided to start back tracking.


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Mythos- they had a banner outside saying this restaurant was voted the best dining spot in theme parks. We didn't eat there, but it was very photogenic.
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Next up was the Poseidon's Fury
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Again, another photogenic attraction. More to come!!
 

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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This was the entrance to the attraction.

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We weren't sure what this was at first!! It is a type of show using special effects, where you walk from room to room as you follow along with the story. We loved it. Thought it was a very unique experience. Still trying to figure out had they did that last room!!

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Next was Seuss Landing!
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We are all fans of the Dr. Seuss books, so we really enjoyed this land.

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We had a great time exploring this land and trying to figure out which book the displays were from.
 
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bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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We met the Grinch. He complained about me having a "rat" on my backpack (it was a Mickey pack). He was great!!

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You can see Hogwart's from just about anywhere in the park.

We starting heading towards Marvel Island next, but met a new friend on the way.
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Kung Fu Panda is one of my oldest Son's favorite movies, so this was an added bonus for him!!

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By this time, lines were forming for every ride. So we got to use our Express Pass for the first time on Hulk! Saved us at least 40 minutes!! We thought this ride was great! The track was very smooth, and just when we thought the ride was over, it turned us upside again! And again! And again!! I lost track of how many times we were upside down on this coaster.

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Next up was Spiderman. I had heard a lot about how great this ride was, and it did not disappoint! I thought it was a great ride. Enjoyed seeing the Stan Lee cameos, and Universal sure likes squirting you with water! Just about every ride in both parks seemed like it had at least one section where they sprayed you with water.

Marvel Land was fun to see all of the comic book references scattered around, but we felt it was still lacking something. Not sure what.

Next up- Toon Lagoon
 

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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Helga the witch, she crashed her broom into that yellow pole!


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I personally thought this was a great themed area. But I grew up in the 70's and 80's reading the funny pages, so I remembered all of these characters. I had to constantly explain to the kids who these characters were. I've heard rumors of how this land would be the first one to be remodeled, and I can understand why. I noticed that most guests would just walk thru this land without stopping, even though there were so many inside jokes everywhere.
 
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bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Toon Lagoon had two rides
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First was Popeye. This was a water ride, and since it was kind of chilly the day we were there, we didn't feel like getting wet, so we skipped it.
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The other ride is a Dudley Do Right log flume. It looked neat, but again, didn't feel like getting wet.


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Next up was King Kong!!

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The facade was very impressive. I had a chance to ride the original Kong ride back in the day, so was looking forward to comparing the two. This ride, you basically ride in a truck thru a bunch of 3D screens, with a real Kong showing up at the end. It was neat, as the 3D was great, but I think I enjoyed the original version better.

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Next was Jurassic Park. Didn't get many pictures from this land. The land has one major ride, which is a boat ride that sails past dinosaurs, when something horribly goes wrong!!! It sounds like an exciting ride, but we were let down on this on. We thought it was slow and boring. Even though it was a water ride, we decided to try it, as we wanted to experience the ride, but we didn't get very wet. So that was good.

Believe it or not, by this time it was only 11 a.m. Between the early entry and the Express Pass, we had almost every ride on our checklist done.

So after lunch, we went back and re-rode some of the rides that we liked. By then it was only around 3 p.m.

We kept checking Hagrid's wait times all day and most of the time it was at 4 hours or more. At this point with us having everything done we wanted to do, my 2 Sons decided to brave the line. It was still a four hour wait, but it actually only took them about 3 hours and 20 minutes!! They really enjoyed the coaster. They thought it was the best ride between the 2 Universal parks.

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The closest we got to Hagrid's

So the last thing on our list to do was the projection show on Hogwart's.
So we made our way back into Hogsmeade.

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Again, very impressive at night
 
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bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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Here was our view for the show. It was very interesting to me how Universal handled the crowds for this show. They would close off the bridge from Hogsmeade to Jurassic Park, to be an exit only from Hogsmeade. So everyone had to enter the land from the archway. They would let a certain number of people into the plaza to watch the show, while holding other guests back by the entrance to the land.

Once the show was over, the would get the crowd to exit the plaza, and then let the next group enter the plaza, the blocking the crowd again until the next show. The show repeated many times during the night.

My son's were still on Hagrid's so we walked over to where the exit was for the ride to wait for them. The first show started, so we walked along this little alley to this merchandise cart that was selling wands. We had a great view of the show from there.

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Here was our view across the street from our spot to give you that have been there a better idea as to where the spot was.

After the show, we went back down the alley to the Hagrid's exit, letting the workers know why we were there. The show started up again, and we walked back down the alley and watched it again.

I know we were kind of cheating, but none of the workers said a word to us!

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The show is basically Harry Potter music mixed with projection mapping on the side of Hogwart's. With a little fireworks at the end. The show had a Christmas theme to it. We really enjoyed the show. It wasn't on the level of a Fantasmic, but very enjoyable.
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After this, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

We were going to be up early the next morning for our early entry into Universal Studios.
 

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Darstarr

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
We kept checking Hagrid's wait times all day and most of the time it was at 4 hours or more. At this point with us having everything done we wanted to do, my 2 Sons decided to brave the line. It was still a four hour wait, but it actually only took them about 3 hours and 20 minutes!! They really enjoyed the coaster. They thought it was the best ride between the 2 Universal parks
3 hours and 20 minutes???
Were there porta potties along the line?
 

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 2- Universal Studios

So we got to get in an hour early this morning, and like everyone else, we all headed straight for Diagon Alley.

The reveal to this land was good, but not as good as Hogsmeade to me, but that dragon is sure impressive.

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So everyone went to Gringott's Apparently Express Pass doesn't work during early entry, so we got in line thinking it wouldn't be too bad this early in the morning.

So we enter thru the main entrance and you immediately enter into this great lobby:
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And you think, wow, this is cool
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bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Then the line takes you back outside, into an enormous covered queue!
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We all thought that was kind of sneaky
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The signs in the queue were humorous
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But we finally made it into the main part of the queue.
To see all the Goblin clerks.

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The inside queue was fun, with newspapers everywhere giving you back story. Some of the papers had pictures that were "alive" in the magical Harry Potter way.
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After two brief pre-shows, one that sets up why you are there, and the other an elevator simulating you going miles under the ground, you get to the load station. Part of that shown above.

I thought this ride was great. I liked it better than Forbidden Journey. It is very similar to FJ, where it uses practical sets and screens to tell the story, but you are in a more traditional roller coaster type car. I thought the 3D was much better in this ride. I think it would be neat if they could have designed it as you travel between scenes that you saw other people in their cars, but I guess it is all about space.
 

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We all thought the area outside of Diagon Alley was very well themed, maybe too well themed.
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The entrance to the land is under the red archways. We saw many people walk right by it not knowing Diagon was back there!
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Grimwault Place
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Kreacher peaking out the window

We then made our way around the lagoon. Going to Men in Black first. We weren't exactly sure what to expect from this ride, and was pleasantly surprised that it was a shooter ride! We all thought the ride was very fun, but they were only operating one of the two tracks, so that eliminated the interactivity with the other track. We rode it again later in the day, and it was still the same way.

Time for a minor rant. The major rides at the two parks would not allow you to bring any kind of carry on, onto the rides. Some also made you take everything out of your pockets. You had to go thru a metal detector even. I think their screening was more thorough than what we experienced in the airport!

I understand why they do this, I just wish they would be more consistent in how they do the lockers they have for you to put your bags in. Some of the rides, the lockers are free, then you go to MIB and the small locker is free, but a large locker you would have to pay.

I just found it annoying to get the locker for free at some rides, and then have to complete extra steps to pay for a locker at other rides. I know, first world problems!!

After MIB, we entered Springfield
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I remember riding the old Back to the Future ride, but this was a fun replacement. I'm not a huge Simpson's fan, but I think some parts of this area is pure genius. Love all of the jabs at Disney scattered throughout the land.

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Kwik-E-Mart was fun, but not as fun as the one in Myrtle Beach.
 
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bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
More Simpson's

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We did eat at the Krusty Burger food court. We thought the food was good with large portions. Universal also offered a refillable cup that you could get free refills all day on day of purchase, and then get refills for one low price on every day after the first day. I'm a big Coke drinker, so I'm sure I got close to getting my money back on these refills.

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Did get to see the Back to the Future vehicles from the movies.
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And we got to meet Doc Brown!!

We then went back to what we called the "Kiddie Area" of the park. First up was the E.T. ride. My kids know who E.T. is, and I rode this ride the last time I was at the park, so I was curious to see their reactions.

It ended up being one of their favorite rides in the whole park!
The wet mildew smell in the queue brought back a lot of memories, lol. Why don't they sell a candle of that smell in the gift shop?

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The rest of the land had us scratching our heads. It was like they took a bunch of IPs and just mashed them together. First there was a big play ground area themed to Curious George. Cute, but kind of weird, as the place was deserted, and the fountain seen above left us disturbed with what the water was doing to George.
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There was a Barney the purple Dinosaur show and play ground. Do little kids now a days know who Barney is?

There was also a Fievel goes West playground. My kids love animated movies, and are familiar with the first movie, but they had never head of the sequel.

There was also a Woody Woodpecker roller coaster. We rode it, as we are coaster nerds and wanted to say we had the credit, but see my comments above about Toon Lagoon.

We continued our way around the lagoon, and ran into some more new friends
 

bauton

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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Betty Boop
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Popeye and Olive Oyl
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My son and the Mystery Machine, that's my son in front.
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Transformers!!
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Bumble Bee was great. He would play music to interact with people.

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Megatron
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Simpson's

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Next up was Minion Mayhem. It was a fun ride, but similar to other motion simulator rides we have been on before.

We also went across the street to the Shrek Movie. We like the Shrek movies, and loved how the theater interacted with the movie.

We also rode the Transformers ride. It was the Spiderman ride with robots in disguise instead of super heroes. I thought it was okay, my two sons loved it.

Next was the Mummy Coaster. The first 3/4ths of the ride was fun, with the Mummy chasing you, fire!!!, and then the cool dark scene coaster track towards the end. Then the ride just ends. We weren't sure if the ride was over or not, and thought the ending was lacking.

By then, it was around 2 p.m. and we had done everything we had on our checklist, thanks to the Express Pass.

So my tip to anyone considering going to the Universal Parks and purchasing the Express Pass. Save some money and only purchase a one day ticket with the park hopper. Even with the holiday crowds, we think we could have done everything at both parks in one day.

Next up, random pics from the park
 
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