A Trip Report: Our first visit to UOR

We spent 6 days at Disney World because DD11 was participating in Dance the World. We had an amazing time. DD15 is a major Potterhead, so we couldn’t spend time in Orlando without taking her to Universal.

After spending a full day at Magic Kingdom, we called for an Uber from Pop Century to Royal Pacific Resort. It took less than 10 min for the Uber driver to get to Pop and the trip to the hotel was minimal. I don’t remember how long, but it was less than 30 min.

Royal Pacific Resort was gorgeous. We were content and happy with our stay at Pop, but obviously this is another level of hotel. Ultimately, I chose this hotel for the express passes and for the time period we were going (June and Hagrid’s opening) it was a smart idea. The parks were BUSY!

Night 1
Check in was super easy! I bought everything from UOR online including the dining plan and gift cards. I picked everything up at the vacation planner window. Great experience!

We had intended to walk to City Walk for dinner, but there was a huge downpour by the time we got settled into our room. We were all a bit tired and crabby, so we opted to try Jake’s, where we found a 45 min. wait. I’m not sure this is typical for Jake’s at 9pm. I’m pretty sure there was a convention of sorts going on. Jake’s didn’t seem that busy the rest of our stay. Since it was so late, we decided not to wait. We walked to the other side of the atrium/entryway where we found some Pan Asian food and a wok experience. It was a little more expensive than we had planned, but there was no wait. DD15 ordered General Tsao’s off the regular menu and the rest of us had the wok experience. It was about the same price, but the wok experience was all you could eat. It was delicious and I wouldn’t hesitate to eat here again.

When we walked back to our room, we saw a wine glass with lipstick on the table by the elevators. I know it sounds like a shallow complaint, but it really bothered me. First, that someone would just leave it there. Gross. Second, that no one came by to pick it up. It was still there for most of the next day, which I thought was kind of odd.

Day 1
Our intention was to go to Diagon Alley first thing in the morning, but after 6 early mornings in a row, my family was spent. We slept in and it was probably for the best. We got to USF around 10am. It was super crowded, which I expected, but after 6 crowded days at Disney it was something we were used to at this point. We had some Butterbeer (frozen and regular), DD15 bought a wand and we took our time exploring the shops in Diagon Alley. We rode Gringott’s, which was great! Turns out, DD11 REALLY loves rides. Before Disney, we’d never been to a theme park before, so I had no idea what to expect. Apparently, we all enjoy rides; some of us more intense rides than others. :smile:

We hopped on the Hogwarts Express, which was not really all that short of a wait with our EP. By the time we made it to IOA, we were starving, so we stopped into Three Broomsticks for lunch. A couple observations: the queue to order lunch is HOT inside. Is it normally not air conditioned or was it just this day? Holy cow. Secondly, I do appreciate that they only seat people with a tray of food. I get needing to get out of the heat and wanting to sit, but it was really nice to be able to have a seat available when our meals were ready and not having every table monopolized by people just sitting.

During lunch, DH said that we really should try to ride Hagrid’s coaster (just a side note…this is not his personality at all and not something we would ever have done as a family before this trip). We all agreed that after we finished some rides in Hogsmeade we would head back to our hotel to rest and then spend the evening in Hagrid’s queue.

We thoroughly enjoyed Forbidden Journey. We didn’t realize Hippogriff was a kiddie ride, lol, but we all shared a laugh and had a great time. We exited the park and kind of took note of what we’d like to do the next day that was not HP. DD11 wanted to go on Hulk much to our amazement.

We went back to the hotel, rested and then headed back to IOA about 5:30pm. The first thing we did was hop in line for Hagrid’s. I had been watching it since it opened and I had been following someone else’s adventure on chat that afternoon (one of the main reasons we decided to try it that day). The weather looked good and I remained optimistic that the 180 min wait was exaggerated. We entered the queue at 5:54pm and DH and DD15 were taking pictures of the roller coaster after our ride at 8:15pm.

Hagrid’s Adventure
I feel like this needs it’s own spot, lol. Now, a couple days before we waited 70 min to ride Slinky Dog Dash at WDW where we all regretted it. It was hot. It was a fun ride, but it wasn’t worth standing in sun for 70 min. Hagrid’s had been called “better than Flight of Passage” and “best ride ever” by some, so we figured if we could make the most of it, it would be worth it. There was a group of people standing around a CM when we approached the queue. I was hoping they weren’t talking about it being closed. I approached a CM who was standing in the queue kind of blocking it. I asked “Can we ride?” She looked surprised, jumped aside and said “Of course!” We wound our way around and landed at Hagrid’s hut outside. We were outside for maybe 45 min of the entire wait. It was shaded in spots and they had fans which made the wait outside bearable. Inside was air conditioned. I know the egg room isn’t supposed to have AC, but they had temporary AC hooked up and it was wonderful. The queue was quite fun- the various rooms and the video of Hagrid. I was shocked, but there was pretty steady movement with the line. It really didn’t feel like they had stopped the ride at all. We got to the part where they are telling you to choose bike or sidecar. DH and I, the weaklings that we are, told the kids there was no way we were getting on the bike. :rofl: Both girls happily took the bikes. The ride was as awesome as everyone has said it is. None of us regretted waiting for it. I don’t want to spoil details, but waiting 2 hours for it was one of the best things we did as a family on our trip.

Afterwards, we headed out of IOA for dinner. We walked to Chocolate Emporium which was really good. The wait was only 20 min, so I didn’t even ask about preferential seating (I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether or not they do preferential seating). The food was great, including the shakes. The service was great. I would eat here again!

Awesome first day at Universal Studios! I was a little worried when we got such a late start, but it turned out to be fine.


Thanks for sharing!

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Day 2
This morning we made up early! We stopped into Voodoo Donuts for a donut and coffee on our way to USF. We got to Diagon Alley and DD15 took the opportunity to cast some spells. She got a little frustrated, which I knew to be normal, but there were some helpful CMs about and in the end she had fun. DD11 and I had some frozen Butterbeer…so good! Then, we got in line for Ollivander’s wand ceremony. I thought it would have been cool for DD15 to be picked, but I was really hoping DD11 did NOT get picked. She doesn’t even like HP. No worries! A little boy got picked from our group and he made the show! His little face lit up when he was chosen. He knew the spell before the wizard told him which one to use to “water the flowers”. He was adorable and just a perfect little student. It made it so much fun to watch! We congratulated him on our way out of the show.

DH and I hung out next to Gringott’s while the girls rode and we checked into our flight for the following day. After Gringott’s, we headed out of Diagon Alley to ride some rides. We rode Jimmy Fallon, which we loved, Shrek 4D, which was hated, and Despicable Me (kids liked, adults didn’t), Mummy (loved) and ET (loved). We went over to IOA and ate at Thunder Falls Terrace, which was decent. It was 2pm and still incredibly busy. It took a long time to wind through the queue. This is where I started to regret the dining plan. It actually did save us money, but because we had it, this kept us from just going back and eating at City Walk or the hotel. Next time, I won’t get the dining plan so we have a little more flexibility. On a similar note, gift cards at Universal aren’t quite as easy as Disney’s. Disney has a great gift card manage system where I can keep track of all our cards in one place, transfer balances and whatnot. Universal does not. I’m not really sure there’s anything you can do if you lose a gift card. That was the main reason I opted for the dining plan so that I didn’t have to worry about carrying cash, cards and gift cards. Again, we were able to get a table once we had trays of food. It was a nice relaxing break once we were able to sit with our food.

DD11 really wanted to ride Hulk, but when I looked on the app, it was down. She was really bummed. I reassured her that it would be open soon (and then crossed my fingers that I didn’t just lie, haha!). After lunch, we rode Kong (adults liked it, kids didn’t really), Spiderman (all liked it) and DD11 was able to ride Hulk twice in a row (the rest of us were content just waiting for her). She LOVED it. I swear she would have just ridden over and over and over.

We headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit, pack up and then head back for the water rides. We loved all the water rides. Even though we got utterly soaked! So much fun! DH was going to meet us back at the Jurassic lockers while we rode the Bilge Rat Barge one more time. Without his glasses, he got turned around, broke the zipper thing off his lanyard pouch, couldn’t get the credit card out :rofl: It was a comedy of errors. And he is blind as a bat. We finally met up with him and were a little miffed he wasn’t where he said he’d be…we had no idea what all he had to conquer to get back to the lockers. We forgave him and headed out of the parks.

DD11 really wanted to swim at the pool, so she changed into her suit and the rest of us went to Jake’s to place a to go order. I sat by the pool watching her while DH waited for the food. Just an FYI…we were questioned when the pool attendant saw us bringing food into the pool area. They were not going to let us eat there until we told them we got it from Jake’s. Which was fine with us, but it was obvious they were not going to let us stay if we had brought in food from anywhere else.

Jake’s was really good! We had a pizza, a BBQ flatbread thing and cheese/chili fries to share.

It was a great trip! Next time, I’d add on a day so that we had more time to enjoy the pool and do the rides we really liked more than once (and there were lots that we skipped) or shop and eat at City Walk. Now, it’s not Disney, but I liked the Universal experience. I’m not sure I’d really even compare the two. Disney CMs are super friendly and helpful. Universal CMs are a bit on the sarcastic side, but still helpful for the most part. The hotel was lovely. Walkability to the parks was amazing. I loved not having to wait for a bus (which was never really a problem at Disney, but with everything so close at Universal it was a perk to walk). I could easily spend 4 days at a Universal Resort. I could also see myself taking a day out of a Disney vacation to spend at Universal. Ubering between the two was easy and affordable (less than $30 plus the tip for an XL). I’m so glad we added this onto the end of our Disney vacation!


I’m glad your overall experience was so positive! I love Universal and Disney for different reasons, and it always makes me happy when people are willing to branch out and give Universal a try!


Some pictures from our Universal adventure!


I’m so glad you had a fun trip! We love Universal!

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I just started breaking out of the Disney Bubble and heading over to USF/IOA. I love it. I am now a big advocate for getting WDW people to try it. Thanks for your Hagrid’s review. I had tickets that didn’t expire until yesterday. I wanted to pop back just to try it, but having heard the queue nightmares I decided to let them expire. Now, I am regretting it. :pleading_face:


Paging @OBNurseNH to the thread.


Yeah, we haven’t been to WDW since right before they opened SDMT, although we had been to DL twice since then. In the past, anytime we went to Orlando, we always did both WDW and UOR, but that got expensive. We decided once to do just a UOR trip when DA opened, since we love HP, and the rides there in general, and we’ve gone back many times.

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It’s. Not. Happening.

It’s just like kids with vegetables - try it with an open mind - you just might like it. :smiley:


I was going to write the same thing!!


Haha haha.

What is THAT supposed to mean??!! :open_mouth: