I think I’ve been brainwashed by Disney so that my brain rejects all non-Disney. I can absorb Disney World stuff like a sponge but Universal is making me scramble and feel unsure of everything despite my studying the Unofficial Guide and searching through this amazing forum (you guys are the best!)
First, their app confuses me with its basicness. As far as I can tell, it’s only useful for finding attractions on the map, looking up Wait Times, and ordering food for a handful of Mobile Order locations. Am I missing another useful perk of using the app? Also, do I “need” to link my park tickets to the Universal Orlando app? Are there any benefits to doing so? Will it make park entry faster?
We’re staying at the Loews Royal Pacific for one night to obtain the Express passes for 2 days (thanks for the tip, everyone!). How far is the walk to both USF and IOA? Everyone talks about the bus and boat but I thought simply walking over should be faster? Are we talking a 5 minute walk or 20/30 minute walk?
Even their Photo Package seems cumbersome. I bought it ahead of time but I still need to bring my receipt to a photo kiosk to actually get my photo package. I’m assuming the photo “package” is a physical photo card which I’ll have to get scanned at each attraction/photographer? (I miss my Magic Band!) I’m also thrown by all the cautions I’ve read about checking my photos online to make sure all photos are present and with special effects layered in BEFORE I leave the park. (Do mistakes happen that often?) I feel like I read somewhere that I should go to a photo kiosk inside the parks to obtain my package instead of the front entrance photo location, which will likely be mobbed in the mornings. Anyone have recommendations about this? This makes Memory Maker seem like such a breeze!
Lastly, planning for HP Worlds at both locations has been incredibly stressful. We only have 2 days at Universal. I think we will hit Forbidden Journey/Gringotts first on their respective days (using the regular standby lines to experience the full queue’s pre-shows/gawk at the HP stuff) and explore some of Hogsmeade/Diagon Alley before escaping the HP crowds to do other IOA/USF rides with Express Pass. I’m counting on the Express Pass to help us get onto non-HP rides easily no matter what time we eventually leave HP world. How much time would you guys guess we would have in the HP worlds before the congestion makes us run for the hills? 1 hour? 3 hours? I’m hoping that after we are done with the non-HP attractions, we can then head back to Hogsmeade/Diagon Alley to explore more with hopefully less congestion? Is it too much to hope for that it will die down a bit by 3pm?
I was planning to visit the Ollivanders in Diagon Alley to purchase the interactive wand for my kids (as I had read that the shop in Hogsmeade is much smaller and thus generating much longer waits) but our USF day is day 2. So now I’m worried that we should really hit the first Ollivanders despite the smaller shop just so we’ll have the wand to play with on both days. How fast does the wait usually build up in both Ollivanders? My crowd level for IOA on day 1 is predicted to be 5 and the crowd level for day 2 at USF is an 8 (ick!).
Based on what I’ve read on the Forum, I think we’ll forego waiting in line for Hagrid’s in the mornings (to avoid eating up valuable morning touring time and to avoid getting trampled at rope drop) and just hope to get lucky with Hagrid’s wait times later in the day. I’m terrified that if we try rope dropping Hagrid’s, we’ll be waiting 2 hours in vain for a ride that seems to go down with alarming regularity. My family is spoiled by my FP planning, rope drop strategies, and Lines TPs for Disney so they’ve never waited more than 20 minutes for anything. Waiting for several hours for Hagrid’s while my family is chomping at the bit to try everything at Universal for the first time seems like a bad idea.
Any advice is appreciated!