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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 624: DreamWorks Land passholder preview report!

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10 hours ago, The username said:

Gonna be going to Universal next week on Thursday to get my velocicoaster credit and and hot up all my favorites again. Anyone have an idea of what the crowds are gonna be like. Both parks, don't have the express pass.

 

We were there Dec 18-22 last year. It was packed. While I appreciate anyone living within their means, truly not being snarky, IF there is anyway you can swing express for even a day it will make for a much better experience. However, if you just can't do it then like others stated prioritize your top 5 or so rides. I would rope drop VC if you need that credit, most people will run to Hagrids first and then if you do Hagrids later, use single rider. There are no row requests on it anyway. If you haven't seen the Bourne Stuntacular show go, even if you aren't a show person. Express not really needed there anyway. And I would be prepared to go balls to the wall from open until close with minimal breaks.

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11 hours ago, The username said:

Gonna be going to Universal next week on Thursday to get my velocicoaster credit and and hot up all my favorites again. Anyone have an idea of what the crowds are gonna be like. Both parks, don't have the express pass.

 

Temper your expectations. While you’ll be able to experience attractions during your visit, you’re going to wait longer than you would typically (for a Thursday or for any other time of year in general). Things that normally would have minimal wait times will have excessive waits as well. Shows have the potential to fill up during this busy period, so plan accordingly and queue early to ensure you can get in. 
 

My best recommendation is to prioritize what really matters to you for your visit and focus on working down that list as best as possible as your day goes on. Rope drop the park so you’re amongst the first people in the gates so you can rush to the most popular attractions before the largest crowds roll in within the next few hours that follow. With only one day, you won’t likely get to do everything you aim to. Also keep in mind that navigating the parks and park hopping will likely take longer than normal as there will be more people in park paths and in the line for entrance turnstiles. 
 

Plan ahead. Arrive early/on time. Set realistic expectations and be pleasantly surprised if they’re exceeded. Have a good time.

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I was at Citywalk this morning to meet up with some friends and was pleasantly surprised to see them using a whole other security setup near one of the garages. Made it so there was basically no wait for security on one of the busiest days. Well done!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Universal Orlando has announced details for this year's Universal's Mardi Gras, which will feature concerts, a parade, food, live music and new offerings that extend the fun beyond Universal Studios Florida to the other parks and resorts!

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https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/events/mardi-gras

We’re Going Beyond the Bayou for Mardi Gras!

What’s even more exciting than Mardi Gras? Universal’s Mardi Gras! We’re going beyond the bayou with an awesome party inspired by Carnaval celebrations from around the world. Watch a parade (on select nights) of spectacular floats. Sample flavors from the bayou to Brazil and beyond. Enjoy live music all around and concerts (on select nights), then go ahead and get your beads and your party on!

Prices, times, dates, entertainment, event and/or experience details are subject to changes and/or cancellation without notice.

Daytime and Nighttime Fun at Universal Studios Florida

At Universal’s Mardi Gras you’ll enjoy a glittering parade and some of the biggest names in music live in concert (both select nights only), along with unforgettable food from around the world (food available for purchase).

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Don’t Miss the Spectacular Parade

The dazzling floats will be rolling, the colorful performers will be moving to the beat, and the beads will be flying. This year’s parade features traditional floats plus six all-new floats straight from New Orleans and the party will bounce!

Float Riding
You haven’t experienced Mardi Gras until you’ve experienced it from atop one of our spectacular floats. Toss beads to the crowd while you make your way through the streets for an unforgettable time. A limited number of spots are available per night.

Reservations will be accepted in-park via the Virtual Line™ experience in the Official Universal Orlando App.

Note: There is no Mardi Gras parade on March 31.

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Food & Beverage

Universal CityWalk

The Mardi Gras festivities extend to CityWalk with specially-themed food and drink offerings in a number of venues.

Must be 21+ with valid photo ID to purchase and consume alcoholic beverage.

Mardi Gras Dining at Universal Orlando Hotels

The best way to experience Mardi Gras is with a stay at one of Universal Orlando Resort’s spectacular hotels. Whether you’re actually staying as a guest or just stopping in for a delicious meal, you’ll find a variety of tantalizing menu items specially themed for Mardi Gras.

Must be 21+ with valid photo ID to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages.

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

  • Trattoria del Porto
    • CAJUN JAMBALAYA PASTA
      • Shrimp, Smoke Sausage, Chicken, Onions, Peppers, and Mushroom in a Creole Sauce with Fettuccine Pasta
    • MASQUERADE CANNOLI
      • Mixed berry insalada
  • The Thirsty Fish
    • BOULEVARDIER
      • Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Campari, Sweet Vermouth
  • Splendido Bar & Grill
    • MOJITO LAMPONE
      • (Lampone is Italian for raspberry)
      • Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Chambord, simple syrup, raspberry, mint

Hard Rock Hotel®

  • The Kitchen
    • BOURBON STREET BEIGNETS
      • Bourbon Caramel Sauce, Powdered Sugar
    • FRENCH 75
      • Hendrick’s Gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar, champagne
  • Velvet Bar
    • N’AWLINS PO’ BOY SLIDERS
      • Smoked Andouille Sausage, Sautéed Peppers and Onions, Cajun Remoulade, Toasted French bread
    • FRENCH 75
      • Hendrick’s Gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar, champagne
  • beachclub
    • HURRICANE
      • Papa’s Pilar Rum, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, grenadine, pineapple, and orange juice

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

  • Islands Dining Room
    • KING CAKE PANCAKES
      • Lemon and powdered sugar glaze, spiced walnuts (breakfast only)
  • Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar
    • ORCHID
      • Nikka Gin, St.Germain, Crème de Violet, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Pea Flower Float
  • Tuk Tuk Market
    • CHOCOLATE BOMB
      • Choose from: chocolate and caramel with spiced pecan with Mardi Gras purple, green and gold decor, s’mores or cookies & cream

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

  • Amatista Cookhouse
    • SHRIMP & ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE GUMBO POT PIE
      • Vegetables and Okra
  • Strong Water Tavern
    • CUCUMBER HURRICANE TWIST
      • Light rum, lime juice, midori, sliced cucumber
  • New Dutch Trading Co.
    • TRADITIONAL KING CAKE

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

  • Bar 17 Bistro
    • CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE
      • Classic dish of crawfish, the holy trinity of onions, celery and bell pepper served over rice
    • MUFFULETTA SANDWICH
      • Genoa Salami, Mortadella, ham, provolone and swiss cheese, and olive salad
  • Bar 17 Bistro and Bar Ventura
    • HURRICANE
      • Bacardi Superior Rum, Myers’s Original Dark Rum, passion fruit, tropical juices
    • SAZERAC
      • Rye whiskey, absinthe, simple syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

  • Galaxy Bowl Restaurant
    • SHRIMP PO’ BOY WITH ZAPPS CHIPS
      • Crispy Cajun fried shrimp piled on a French baguette and topped with a creole inspired creamy remoulade sauce – add $7 for a choice of 16-ounce Abita draft beer or 12-ounce Abita king cake soda (Also available a la carte)
    • LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER HURRICANE
      • Let the good times roll with Bacardi Light Rum, Cruzan 12yr Single Barrel Rum, passionfruit puree, orange juice and grenadine – served with a 32-ounce souvenir Galaxy Bowl cup

Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites

  • Beach Break Café
    • NEW ORLEANS BBQ SHRIMP & DIRTY RICE
      • A classic creole dish. Sautéed shrimp in a rich butter and Worcestershire sauce on a bed of flavorful Cajun spiced rice with andouille sausage
  • Sand Bar
    • THE ENDLESS CARNIVAL
      • Castillo Silver Rum, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Chinola Passionfruit Liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice, a pinch of dried blackberries, pineapple wedge and a green sugar rim

Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites

  • Pier 8
    • NEW ORLEANS CAJUN ROASTED CHICKEN & DIRTY RICE
      • A classic creole dish of Cajun spiced oven roasted half chicken on a bed of flavorful Creole rice with andouille sausage topped with spicy sweet candiedbacon
  • Sunset Lounge, The Oasis Beach Bar and The Wave Maker’s Pool Bar
    • THE ENDLESS CARNIVAL
      • Castillo Silver Rum, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Chinola Passionfruit Liqueur, pineapple juice, orange juice, a pinch of dried blackberries, pineapple wedge and a green sugar rim

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  • 3 weeks later...

Went to the OI meetup last weekend. The description is pretty self explanatory, basically had everything open other than the couple things down for refurb, the water rides in toon lagoon (which it was too cold for anyway) and some of the bigger shows. The tickets do get you in at 5, so 3-4 hours before park close. There was a crazy amount of food included and my son took it as a personal challenge to see how much free butterbeer he could drink over the two night event, plus each participant got a $15 food voucher card for each night to use in the parks or citywalk before the start of the included food which began an hour after close.

Everything was a walk on during the entirety of the event with the exception of Pteranodon Flyers which was done by a lottery virtual queue so no guarantee on that for those of you without kids trying to get that credit and Hagrid's which ran about a 20-30 min wait. They were running the preshow for Hagrid's which is the first time in approximately 10 days worth of visits since it opened that we have ever seen it. I asked several team members why it didn't normally run and got a different answer every time, some contradictory of each other, so my conclusion is ......no one really knows, lol.

Happy to answer questions if anyone has any.

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22 hours ago, coasterbill said:

They were running the Hagrid's preshow a few weeks ago when we were there. I have no idea why. I hate it, and it's nowhere near the loading platform.

Do you just hate pre-shows or that one in particular? And if it's just that one, why? No argument, I'm just curious. 

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I feel like I hate almost any pre-show where it's just a total free-for-all in a massive room with everyone fighting to be near the door. Plus, that one is mostly uninteresting and you might still have 45 more minutes of waiting before you actually get on the ride. It's just awkward.

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I like the concept of pre shows but the execution is almost always lacking, and most of the time the crowd talks over it anyways.  Not that I expect rapt silence but you know what I mean.  

We'll be in the park a few days next week so I'm kind of glad it's running, I havent been since Hagrids or Velocicoaster have opened, so at least getting the 'full experience'.   

Does Universal do anything for Valentine's Day?  I'd assume no since Mardi Gras stuff going on.  

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On 2/8/2023 at 12:48 PM, coasterbill said:

I feel like I hate almost any pre-show where it's just a total free-for-all in a massive room with everyone fighting to be near the door. Plus, that one is mostly uninteresting and you might still have 45 more minutes of waiting before you actually get on the ride. It's just awkward.

Yep--it's not even a decent preshow. Just a bad video of two actors "phoning it in" for a check.

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4 hours ago, cfc said:

Yep--it's not even a decent preshow. Just a bad video of two actors "phoning it in" for a check.

The long wait afterwards was the annoying part for me. You think youre about to hit the load platform...But Wait Theres More Conor Mckenna GIF by FoilArmsandHog

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On 2/8/2023 at 11:48 AM, coasterbill said:

I feel like I hate almost any pre-show where it's just a total free-for-all in a massive room with everyone fighting to be near the door. Plus, that one is mostly uninteresting and you might still have 45 more minutes of waiting before you actually get on the ride. It's just awkward.

Gotcha. I was just curious. 

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On 2/9/2023 at 8:12 AM, Chiselphane said:

I like the concept of pre shows but the execution is almost always lacking, and most of the time the crowd talks over it anyways.  Not that I expect rapt silence but you know what I mean.  

We'll be in the park a few days next week so I'm kind of glad it's running, I havent been since Hagrids or Velocicoaster have opened, so at least getting the 'full experience'.   

Does Universal do anything for Valentine's Day?  I'd assume no since Mardi Gras stuff going on.  

No idea about VD, sorry, I would agree unlikely due to Mardi Gras. I will tell you to utilize single rider for Hagrid's (although that cuts out the pre-show) because there are no row requests anyway, but it isn't really helpful for VC. Have fun!

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On 2/11/2023 at 4:08 PM, teacherkim said:

No idea about VD, sorry, I would agree unlikely due to Mardi Gras. I will tell you to utilize single rider for Hagrid's (although that cuts out the pre-show) because there are no row requests anyway, but it isn't really helpful for VC. Have fun!

Nothing in the park for Valentines Day at least that I saw, although it was so freaking busy I might have missed something ><   Will do a better report later

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My youngest and I visited UO and IAl from 2/12 to 2/15, staying yet again at Cabana Bay.  About half of my visits to the parks have been in February and it was a great time to visit, but that may no longer be the case.  The 13th and 14th were extremely busy, I'd say the 13th rivaled summer crowds to the point I bought Express passes for the first time I've ever been visiting the parks.  The 14th was a bit better but definitely not low crowds, and the morning of the 15th seemed similar.   Apparently it quieted down later in the week so maybe just bad luck on my part but this was my son's birthday trip and it was a bit of a downer to be so crowded on his first trip to the park, although we made the best of it.

Everything was running except Jurassic Park River Adventure since it's under refurbishment.  Hagrid's never went below 80 minutes that we saw but Velocicoaster was surprisingly under 30 rather frequently and it's just as amazing as everyone has said.

 Most of my pictures are of my son, and most of the ones that he's not in are ones you've all seen a million times before, so just a small selection of things I found interesting:

Since we almost always visit off season, I dont get to see the parks at night very often; they really do a wonderful job of lighting.

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Badgers!

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The water tunnel in Poseidon is still awesome, my son was in awe.

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Spiderman queue has such great stuff in it.  One thing I discovered is the Express line goes through a couple unique rooms that you'd never see in the normal line, so that was pretty cool.  Didn't take the sting off the extravagant (for us) expense but you take what you can get.

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Celestina and the Banshees bringing the fire as always.  We also sat for the Three Brothers puppet show, just such a great story.

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Despite the business of the parks, we took time for Jurassic Playground.  My son would have spent half a day just in there.

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A real plant finding purchase on the fake roots and rockwork.  Life finds a way.

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Mardi Gras was in full swing.  Secret evil avocados are best avocados.

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Most of the Simpsons area staff are actually really nice; one of the guys running the games was helping kids out, etc.

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My timing was just a second or two off but got this clip from the line of Pteranodon Flyers with both coasters hitting their high points at the same time.

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