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!
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.