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Universal Orlando Resort (USF, IOA, Epic) Discussion Thread

P. 625: Dark Universe revealed!

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Has anyone stayed at Aventura or Cabana Bay that could recommend either one (or not recommend)? Planning a late April trip. Never intended on staying on site, but they have a pretty good deal for 5 days of park to park tickets and 5 nights at either hotel above for $1290 for 2 people. 

My original plan was to spend 3 days, and a 3 day park to park ticket costs $700 for 2 people. Then an off site room would still cost $100 a night plus daily transportation, so the way I see it its worth ~100 more to spend a couple more days and be able to go at a more leisurely pace. Last time I was at Universal was 2012, Dragons were still there and Forbidden Journey was the only Harry Potter attraction open. So between the new Harry Potter stuff and Velocicoaster I have a lot to look forward to! Plus I plan on hitting Seaworld and BGT at the end of the trip as well as the Fun spots. Disney will have to be its own trip some other year.

I was leaning toward Aventura as they have the rooftop bar, but if anyone could let me know what they think it would be appreciated!

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2 hours ago, Zand said:

Has anyone stayed at Aventura or Cabana Bay that could recommend either one (or not recommend)? Planning a late April trip. Never intended on staying on site, but they have a pretty good deal for 5 days of park to park tickets and 5 nights at either hotel above for $1290 for 2 people. 

My original plan was to spend 3 days, and a 3 day park to park ticket costs $700 for 2 people. Then an off site room would still cost $100 a night plus daily transportation, so the way I see it its worth ~100 more to spend a couple more days and be able to go at a more leisurely pace. Last time I was at Universal was 2012, Dragons were still there and Forbidden Journey was the only Harry Potter attraction open. So between the new Harry Potter stuff and Velocicoaster I have a lot to look forward to! Plus I plan on hitting Seaworld and BGT at the end of the trip as well as the Fun spots. Disney will have to be its own trip some other year.

I was leaning toward Aventura as they have the rooftop bar, but if anyone could let me know what they think it would be appreciated!

I love Cabana Bay because the aesthetic totally matches my style but I can't really deny that Aventura is the better hotel otherwise.

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Just here to echo everything said about Universal (IOA in particular). I have never been a Universal or Disney person, and honestly if IOA had never built Velocicoaster I probably wouldn't have bought a pass. But after going multiple times now since moving to Florida I have to say the park is so much more than Velocicoaster too. I think Incredible Hulk is the best B&M looper - period. It's basically my favorite B&M behind Fury. I also love Hagrid's but low-key I sometimes forget it exists because Hogsmeade is always such a clusterf*ck of people and with the whole virtual line crap that's always maxed out to capacity it's just difficult to ride. (I work weekdays and can only visit the park on weekends so maybe that's why).

And yeah, you can do SWO in a couple hours if you only care about coasters.

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3 hours ago, thrillseeker4552 said:

I think Incredible Hulk is the best B&M looper - period.

Kumba and Montu are RIGHT there.  Hulk is a fun ride but after the midcourse it completely loses momentum.

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1 hour ago, KBrylczyk said:

Kumba and Montu are RIGHT there.  Hulk is a fun ride but after the midcourse it completely loses momentum.

100%. Hulk's first half is amazing, but the second half is kind of meandering. Kumba and Montu are fantastic from start to finish. Montu might have the best second half of any B&M I've been on.

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2 hours ago, dankeykang said:

Don't sleep on Kraken either, 

I wouldn't recommend sleeping on Kraken but if you're at SeaWorld during the week in early February you might be able to. Just grab an inside seat in a middle row, fall asleep and the ops probably won't even notice you. 

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On 1/14/2022 at 10:48 AM, KBrylczyk said:

Kumba and Montu are RIGHT there.  Hulk is a fun ride but after the midcourse it completely loses momentum.

To each their own. I enjoy Kumba, Montu, and Kraken as well, but Incredible Hulk just runs like a bat outta hell. I find it faster and more forceful than any of the others. I also love the launch, insanely whippy zero-g, and the unique layout rather than the typical B&M looper sequence of elements. I also think it's a lot smoother than Kumba and Kraken (although none of them are really rough). But you're right, it does die after the MCBR. Luckily the MCBR is about 3/4 through the ride and that first 3/4 is just so, so good and nonstop insanity.

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Not sure if it's come up but Universal put out a official POV of the Hagrid coaster with the audio recently:

I think before that, there were only unauthorized recordings which couldn't be shared on this forum. I haven't been on this ride so I'm not sure but it seems like this video has been sped up or has some kind of motion blur effect on it.

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On 1/15/2022 at 8:56 AM, dankeykang said:

^ If you're the type of enthusiast who likes to do this type of thing, you could make it your 200th coaster 😉

I mean the schedule was to be at 200+ in 2020. Can't quite help how life goes but hey, better late than never! I am lucky to be able to do it, I'm an idiot and didn't realize I had 10 more PTO days than I thought, some of which need to be used by March so I was like **** it, might as well go to Orlando and ride VC LOL

BTW what is the deal with Universal and fast pass type things? Its a Feb weekday so I figure may not need one but then again its Presidents day long weekend. I probably will forego one, but just curious. 

OH wow little slow with that official POV but there ya go! Yes, its deff a tad sped up/theres an effect. On the illegal POV's Ive seen they deff dont look like that. I do kinda hate when parks fluff up their POVs like that but I also totally get why. I'll stick to the various not official ones XD

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1 hour ago, JJLehto said:

I mean the schedule was to be at 200+ in 2020. Can't quite help how life goes but hey, better late than never! I am lucky to be able to do it, I'm an idiot and didn't realize I had 10 more PTO days than I thought, some of which need to be used by March so I was like **** it, might as well go to Orlando and ride VC LOL

BTW what is the deal with Universal and fast pass type things? Its a Feb weekday so I figure may not need one but then again its Presidents day long weekend. I probably will forego one, but just curious. 

OH wow little slow with that official POV but there ya go! Yes, its deff a tad sped up/theres an effect. On the illegal POV's Ive seen they deff dont look like that. I do kinda hate when parks fluff up their POVs like that but I also totally get why. I'll stick to the various not official ones XD

Most of the schools in the New York area (and maybe other places in the NE) have the entire week of Pres Day off so it tends to get very crowded that week at the parks in Orlando. I would factor a fastpass into your plans or stay on property at one of Universal's deluxe hotels which include fastpass for everyday of your stay, including check in and check out day. We always stay at the Royal Pacific and in my opinion the price is reasonable for what you get and if you compare buying fastpasses on top of cost of hotel somewhere else it really is fairly economical, particularly if you have more than one person in your party.

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2 hours ago, JJLehto said:

I mean the schedule was to be at 200+ in 2020. Can't quite help how life goes but hey, better late than never! I am lucky to be able to do it, I'm an idiot and didn't realize I had 10 more PTO days than I thought, some of which need to be used by March so I was like **** it, might as well go to Orlando and ride VC LOL

BTW what is the deal with Universal and fast pass type things? Its a Feb weekday so I figure may not need one but then again its Presidents day long weekend. I probably will forego one, but just curious. 

OH wow little slow with that official POV but there ya go! Yes, its deff a tad sped up/theres an effect. On the illegal POV's Ive seen they deff dont look like that. I do kinda hate when parks fluff up their POVs like that but I also totally get why. I'll stick to the various not official ones XD

Not Universal, but I went to both SWO and BGT last year mid-week *before* President's day weekend, and it was dead.  I had the QuickQueues but did not need them at all.

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Oh well hotel already book and Im going cheap ass like usual lol And tis just me doing this one. Hmmmmm I think I'll try to go without. If its looking bad may hop on one quick, unless they sell out ahead of time in which case well....I'll have to live with it. 

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1 minute ago, JJLehto said:

Oh well hotel already book and Im going cheap ass like usual lol And tis just me doing this one. Hmmmmm I think I'll try to go without. If its looking bad may hop on one quick, unless they sell out ahead of time in which case well....I'll have to live with it. 

Understood. It's not quite as good a value at the deluxe resorts with just one person and I don't think it is too likely they will sell out ahead of time on a weekday, even on a busy week so you can certainly buy in park that day if necessary. Use single rider on Hagrids they don't let you do seat requests anyway so you don't really lose anything other than you will probably get the sidecar instead of the motorcycle side. VC, Hulk, and RRR have single rider too if you aren't picky about row. The two main HP rides have single rider which you should absolutely do and so does Spiderman, Men in Black and Transformers. Not sure if you are going to Studios side or not.

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On 1/16/2022 at 6:19 PM, teacherkim said:

Understood. It's not quite as good a value at the deluxe resorts with just one person and I don't think it is too likely they will sell out ahead of time on a weekday, even on a busy week so you can certainly buy in park that day if necessary. Use single rider on Hagrids they don't let you do seat requests anyway so you don't really lose anything other than you will probably get the sidecar instead of the motorcycle side. VC, Hulk, and RRR have single rider too if you aren't picky about row. The two main HP rides have single rider which you should absolutely do and so does Spiderman, Men in Black and Transformers. Not sure if you are going to Studios side or not.

These were my assumptions as well, and yes single rider is a god send! They have saved my butt on the HP ones for sure. 

Sooooo honestly I'm going mostly for VC and to a lesser extent Hagrid's as those are the new ones for me. I used to go to Universal every year (sometimes twice) so I don't feel a need to do everything, will of course do as much as I can. Likely gunna stick to IoA. Decided to mostly visit friends in Tallahassee and pop to Orlando for a day-ish, do the Fun Spots on my way out. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I visited IOA last Wednesday. As a person who has mostly visited SF, CF parks, I have to say the theming and detail blew me away. Animatronics and effects that work? Great ride ops? Check and check. I did not watch POVs of the coasters right before the trip. The rubber tire lift/launch on Hulk was a nice surprise. The drop track on Hagrid's was unexpected as well. I've been trying to branch out so I rode Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey. It really messed up my stomach more than any other coaster I've done. So I spent my necessary downtime waiting for Flight of the Hippogriff.  It is genius to split the Harry Potter stuff between two parks.

The star of the show and the real impetus for the visit was, of course, Velocicoaster. It did not disappoint. This coaster has a bit of everything. Intense and smooth generally don't go together when discussing coasters, but they do here. It is certainly a world-class coaster. I got two rides in the last row and two in the middle. You do have to have more than one ride just to figure out what happened. Not sure I could pick a favorite element. It is amazing throughout. Full trip report with pics will follow at some point.

Final thought on the cost of the ticket (that I thought was high before my visit): You get what you pay for.

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My sister and I are thinking about going to Universal for the first time in May. I could use some help planning the trip. Is there public transportation from Orlando International Airport that goes near Universal? How many days at the parks are recommended? Is it more beneficial to buy a season pass vs tickets? We don't know if we will be able to make another trip in the fall. Is it worth it to stay at a resort hotel or is an off site hotel a better option? Is May busy enough to warrant a fast pass? What are the go to places for food? What things do you suggest doing aside from the roller coasters and Harry Potter stuff? I would appreciate advice for anything else I didn't think to ask about too. Thanks.

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Most of the answers to your questions can be found on the Universal website.

There are several options to get from MCO to Universal. Here are a few:

https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Orlando-Airport-MCO/Universal-Orlando

I'd recommend at least 2 days to hit both parks.  They have packages that include hotel and tickets AND get you into the parks an hour early. If you're going on a week day in May, you may not need to buy express pass.

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There are a million questions here but I’ll try my best.

First of all: when in May? Are we talking Memorial Day weekend here or mid-week in early May? There’s a massive difference.

As for the hotel question, it depends but if you’re not wanting to rent a car I’m tempted to tell you to stay on-site. First off, you’ll save on the hotel parking fee. Second of all, while some nearby hotels that I do like offer a shuttle (The Comfort Inn on Canada Avenue comes to mind), it’s easier to just use Universal transportation when leaving the parks.

Their budget hotels are very competitive and reasonable and you get in early. If you want to go bigger, stay at a hotel with free Express Pass. Some of those hotels (like Royal Pacific) are also just fantastic hotels.

The Universal AP is a great deal compared to their day ticket but price it out. Note that if you come back in the fall you can ride Mummy, so that alone may convince you. You know what days you want to go though. Put it in the calendar and price it out. There are really no additional considerations here so it’s 100% a matter of admission price. The Seasonal Pass has no benefit aside from admission whatsoever unless they run a passholder hotel deal which they usually do in September.

Two days is perfect. Express pass will probably make your day better but whether-or-not you “need” it depends on when you go. Memorial Day? Yes. A Tuesday and Wednesday in early May? Maybe not. It’s never a bad thing to have it, but I get that it can be incredibly expensive and it doesn’t work on Hagrid’s or Velocicoaster which is annoying.

If you want Express, look to stay at a hotel that includes it. It may be cheaper than actually buying it separately for two days and you’ll be at a better hotel where you can walk or take a boat to the parks.

If you’re there for two days, every dark ride and simulator is worth riding except for Fast and the Furious and Fallon. Minions is cute but tends to get insane lines for no reason so it’s skippable without Express if the line is long. If you get express, then just ride every ride except for Fast and the Furious because seriously f*ck that ride. It sucks and has two horrible pre shows that you’ll need to sit through too. The only reason to ride this ride is out of morbid curiosity or for bragging rights so that you can say you’ve now ridden the worst ride in Orlando and possibly the world.

The water rides are all good but note that while Jurassic Park River Adventure is a must-ride, the other two are much wetter and will positively soak you to the bone. Don’t ride Ripsaw Falls or the rapids if you’re not okay with that.

Don’t miss the Bourne Stuntacular.

Best food: Disney Springs 

(uh… I mean… I don’t know, I liked Big Fire and Toothsome).

Just Uber to the park, it’s not that far.

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Yeah I know I was asking a lot and I appreciate the great answers. You've been most helpful. Looks like we would go on week days earlier in the month so that simplifies things. Since 2 days is enough I'm going to try to extend the trip by adding Sea World. My sister isn't an enthusiast, but the animals should be convincing. Thanks again.

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I love Cabana Bay and never stay anywhere else, but I've been super tempted by the higher tier ones that not only include Express Pass, but the water taxi.  We took one from CityWalk once just for the hell of it and I can see that just being a lovely way to end a day at the park.

CowFish at CityWalk is quite good, and I'm a huge Voodoo Donut fan.  In-park you can't go wrong with Mythos but I also particularly like Three Broomsticks.  And Florian Fortescue's has VERY good ice cream.

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59 minutes ago, Chiselphane said:

I love Cabana Bay and never stay anywhere else, but I've been super tempted by the higher tier ones that not only include Express Pass, but the water taxi.  We took one from CityWalk once just for the hell of it and I can see that just being a lovely way to end a day at the park.

CowFish at CityWalk is quite good, and I'm a huge Voodoo Donut fan.  In-park you can't go wrong with Mythos but I also particularly like Three Broomsticks.  And Florian Fortescue's has VERY good ice cream.

Cabana Bay is our go-to hotel at UO as well.  But if you are going to get Express Passes, I would compare the cost of the more expensive hotels that include the Express Passes.  For my family of 5, it's cheaper to stay at Cabana Bay as we only have to get one room and we just buy the tickets with the express passes added on.  

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