Universal Studios vs Universal Islands of Adventure- 2019 Review
How many= 4 adults and 2 children ages, 6 and 8.
Stayed at: Cabana Bay Beach Resort (review coming for them soon)
Went: Sat April 20th, Sunday (Easter) 21st and Monday the 22nd.
Fast Pass= No. At time of ticket purchase the additional Fast Pass fee would have been $60.00 each. (By Easter Sunday when I inquired again the cost was $130.00 each)
Though this was a rather spur of the moment trip I tried to do as much research beforehand on tips to make our trip the most it could be. Food, best/affordable etc.
Tip One: Research the cost of staying at one of Universals Loews resorts. SOME give you FREE Fast Passes for staying with them. Cabana Bay, doesn’t offer this, however they DO allow guests into the parks ONE hour earlier than gates open.
TIP#2: Download the Universal App. It has awesome features but most useful, the WAIT TIMES listed in real time. So if you see one ride is an hour wait, seek another with less time and watch the app for when the other ride has a shorter wait time.
Tip #3: BUY the $15.99 refillable souvenir cup! Free refills all day INCLUDING ICEE’S! It paid for itself within about an hour. The next day cost (to make said cup refillable again) was $9.00.
Now, as MUCH as I love Universal, and I do LOVE Universal. I love their characters walking around and not always ONLY at set place at set time. The whole Fast Pass thing which started years ago I knew would change parks for the normal folks, forever, that said…you gotta get em. No way around it folks. We did not and it brought the overall enjoyment levels down quite a bit. I mean who wants to wait in an hour and half long line each ride? Your hot, tired and trying to keep two littles settled in a huge line is near impossible.
We chose Universal Studios the 1st day as I mistakenly thought it might be the less crowded of the three (including the new Volcano Bay as the 3rd park) parks and boy was I wrong. We only got to ride/watch about 4 things. The entire time was lost in line watching as Fast Passers zipped right by.
(I won’t lie… I wanted to trip a few who shot me that “special” look)
Now for any who have never to been to either park, here’s TIP #4: Universal Studios= More Virtual Rides/Shows where Universals Islands of Adventure= More real rides. (Though there is plenty of virtual to be found there as well.)
So if you have small children your enjoyment may be better found at the original park as all of you can ride together. Where at Islands, you will probably need to do the child swap, which THEY do have great spots readily available.
TIP#5: You are allowed to bring in snacks/waters/Capri Sun type drinks. Nothing which would be considered meal worthy. I packed Slim Jims, Fruit, Capri Suns and Waters. They really came in handy when stuck in line. Gave you something to munch on and rehydrate as you waited. Plus is helped the little ones be less cranky.
TIP#6: Google Universal and Easter eggs. I won’t go into it, but do it. It’s pretty nifty.
Don’t miss out on the ET ride. Little ones LOVE it! Its back where Barney is!
While the lines at Universal were incredibly long and we didn’t get to do too much Universals Islands of Adventure afforded far more fun!
The lines were far shorter (on average) the wee ones LOVED Suessville and those lines were little to none. The characters were plentiful at Islands as well. Cat in the Hat and all those characters, Marvel Characters, Betty Boop, Scooby Doo (My Fav!) and more!
There are also all kinds of play areas for the little ones to release energies before heading back to another line. I loved the Olive boat where you can shoot water guns at the passing riders on the Popeye and Blutos’ Blige-Rat ride. You WILL GET soaked on that ride, but it’s usually hot enough out it feels GREAT!
Jurassic Park is still my favorite. I just love that one. There’s a great flying ride too!
While everything was great, we did have a few flaws. Both ET the day before then Kong had serious glitches which sadly hit at just that moment which rather blew the ride. Both are still worth it, but sadly the special ending on ET was missed as the ride stopped and threw off the timing of the names being said.
Now, my older (as in grown) kids who didn’t come with were mortified we didn’t do more in Hogwarts. Sadly wee miss (age 6) wasn’t big enough to ride and we decided not to wait in the line. We did ride the Gryffindor coaster which was fun, but really quick for the hour long wait we had.
TIP#7: A near unknown something… one which meant the world to me as many moons ago, my youngest (now 27) found it and was amazed. MYSTIC FOUNTAIN!!! It is AMAZING, old fashioned fun! It is a beautiful large fountain just past Hogwarts heading towards Poseidon’s Fury. It is manned by a comical fella who gathers the children around, asks them what geysers do then douses them with water. The fountain can spray streams, shoot water from the top or all out get everyone around drenched. It also plays music.. Little ones LOVE IT and I assure there will be plenty of laughter to be had!! It’s a great break in the day.
FOOD: We ate at Thunder Falls in the Jurassic section of the park. The food was amazing. The ribs fell of the bone and the turkey legs were devoured. They offered everything from salad bowls, ribs, chicken, and a ribs and chicken platter. And of course the turkey legs, fries, roasted potatoes and deserts were offered as well.
Back over in Toon land near the Blige-Rat ride was Cathy’s Ice-Cream. I gotta say, it was the biggest soft serve ice-cream in a waffle cone I think I’ve ever had. But-it was also the BEST soft serve ice-cream I’ve ever had. WELL worth the $6. something each treat! You can even get cones that have been dipped in chocolate, peanuts, sprinkles and more.
ALL THE STAFF in the parks are wonderful. Truly. Everyone went out of their way. No cranky, overheated personnel. Nope. Everyone from ride operators to the concession stand staff was friendly and willing to help with whatever you needed. Directions, tips etc.
Universal Studios-BOTH parks get a big thumbs up and thank you!