I first want to thank all of the TP Universal community, reading the forums and Liners chat for a few months really helped me prepare for the trip with my sons this last weekend (our first time to Universal). To do my part I wanted to record a few things to help others as they plan. This will be stream of consciousness style. But I’ll say first we were there on what apparently (historical) was Friday CL USF5 and IOA2 and Saturday CL USF6 and IOA2. I am a bit surprised by this, especially IOA on Saturday because after USF closed at 5 the people just SWARMED into IOA. It was ridiculous. On the whole, though other than Sat evening, I was really not overwhelmed by the crowds in either park and I HATE crowds. We had EE but not EP as we stayed at CBBR.
So some observations:
-Single rider is a GOD send. The last time I was in an amusement park my boys were 5 & 7. Having them at this age allowed us to take advantage of single rider which I think is faster than EP. We did the two headliner HP rides in the standby line first as a group to get the full show and then the boys did them several times in single rider and sometimes were in the same car so they exited together. Once I had time to grab a beer before meeting them at the end. Never had trouble finding them.
-You can buy a half gallon of milk at CBBR for $3.50. We had cereal in our room each morning to cut down on costs.
-We pool hopped to Sapphire Falls as it was right across the street but your key will not work there. You just have to ask someone to let you through the locked gates. Take your keys to prove you are AOK. The boys liked that pool and that hotel a lot.
-If you are at CBBR it’s not too much trouble to cross the street to Saphire Falls and take the water taxi. They do the security there so you can bypass the main security hub at City Walk. I doubt it’s faster first thing in the morning but it might be later in the day. It’s much more genteel though. Even though you are at the discount hotel you can live it up a bit by taking this approach.
-OBS, take advantage of EE. It wasn’t hard for us as EE in November is at 8:00. We were at the front gates by 7:30 each day. My 10 year old HATED waiting in the line but he understood the value being one of the first in DA. Walk on for gringotts and Olivanders. Oh and Olivanders at DA does get a bit of a line later on. It’s hard to predict. The wands were great though. My kids loved it.
-The lockers were mostly not a big deal. I had a terrible time remembering which locker I had though. The new ones by the Hulk are great as you only need your ticket. There are staff to help dummies like me but you really have to remember your number.
-We ate lunch at 3 broomsticks at 11:00 one day (walked right up) and 2:00 another day (20 minute wait to order). So if you can eat early, don’t expect it to wind down after the noon hour.
-Duff Brewery was a great open air place to have a snack. Beer for me, squishees for the boys. It was very nice.
-We went into Toothsome to get my wife a present (she had to work back at home). It looked incredible but oh man the lines on Saturday evening were CRAY-CRAY at 5:30. I’d say if you want to go there for dinner go very early.
-Red Oven pizza was great. We got one pizza and I got a salad to go. Pizza stayed hot by the time we got back to our room. I had one piece with my salad and the boys shared the rest. Just the right size but they don’t eat a lot.
-Bayline Diner was nice for my picky eaters there was at least one thing each of them would eat. The churasco steak was fantastic and was just enough food for me.
-Lastly, on Sunday I treated the boys to a hot breakfast. We walked to the Royal Pacific Resort for their buffet. The Liners App says that the kids price ($10) is for 12 and under. Well, the line at the Islands resturant to get into the buffet was really long so we went to the one at Saphire Falls (Amatista beautiful dining room and delicious) . I figured it was the same. Acting like a big shot I just went for it. Well the kids price is 9 and under and so we had (with tip and tax) an $80 breakfast. Something a Wisconsin boy like me is just not used to. Still, we didn’t eat lunch that day at the airport so full were we so I guess it kinda came out in the wash.
Anyway, hope this helps. Thanks to everyone again,