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I just booked a Universal Orlando trip for the first week of June! I think I worked all of the deals including the Harry Potter "Exclusive Vacation Package" with lots of free goodies including breakfast in both the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron.  Third day of park passes is free with the first two and staying in the on-site Royal Pacific resort includes unlimited express passes for the entire party.

All of the resorts sound great and I have already stayed in Hard Rock in Las Vegas.  I chose Royal Pacific for the theme, amenities, and lower price.  I would also like to visit and soak in the newer Italian-themed Loews resort, Portofino.  Does anyone know if the water taxis or walking paths can be used to visit other resorts?  Anyone have other tips or secrets for the Uni parks?

So happy right now!
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Water taxi from Royal Pacific only goes to Universal,  if I remember correctly. Parking is super expensive at the Royal Pacific so if you can avoid driving I would. However, if you do rent a car and plan on going to Disney, you can park your car at Disney Walk (or whatever the mall section is called) and take the Magic Express into WDW for free. That'll save you getting double charged.

Also, food is kind of expensive in Orlando. If you want to eat healthy and not break the bank, go to Sweet Tomatoes. There are at least 3 in Orlando. The one next to the pirate themed mini golf is the better of the bunch.

If you have down time or you find yourself looking for something not related to theme parks, head north to Blue Spring and canoe or swim with some manatees.
It's my understanding that the water taxis and adjacent walking paths connect to any on-site hotel/amenity, but neither reach outside of Universal property.

As far as "secret tips," I highly recommend you visit http://touringplans.com/universal-orlando, the official site of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. It's a great site (and an equally great book; highly recommend) which provides boatloads of travel tips. Best of all, it offers customizable touring plans which they claim can cut your waiting in line by up to four hours a day.

Have a great trip!
^ I think, and I could be wrong, the Royal Pacific is the only resort under the bridge so there's no need for taxi service from the other resorts. However, Joe is probably right: the paths all connect.
Biggest tip that helped me back in 2011. Want to ride an attraction such as Gringotts or Forbidden Journey but the line has been 100 minutes plus all day. During the last 20-30 minutes get a snack or drink (preferably ButterBeer) and a few minutes before they close down the line enter the queue. The wait should be minimal and you aren't waisting any time.
So, I'm going to disagree with Joe a bit here. Doing research for our Universal trip, I noticed that Touring Plans has a real anti-Universal spin. They are great for Disney, but not other resorts. I found this site better: Orlando Informer

Last August we stayed at the Royal Pacific, so we could get the early entry and other benefits. It worked really well. Because we were there at a peak time, we lined up at the turnstiles more than half an hour before the early entry time, and we were able to get on Gringotts almost immediately. We also had no lines for the Hogwarts Express. I recommend reading all of the tips at that link; they have good advice about how best to do the Harry Potter stuff.

The water taxi is great, but because of the lines, we walked a few time, as well. I believe we could have taken the taxi t the other resort, but we didn't try, because I really loved the lagoon pool at the Royal Pacific.

We ate at a few of the City Walk restaurants, but I always love Mythos, so we ate there as well. Yu can get reservations on-line, if you want to eat there. The full service place in USO wasn't as good, however.

Have to run to a meeting. May think of more stuff from our visit last summer.
(01/27/15 11:27am)Nicole Wrote: [ -> ]I found this site better: Orlando Informer

Have to run to a meeting.  May think of more stuff from our visit last summer.

Thanks for the tips so far everyone.  Please keep them coming!  Nic, I found and began reading OI yesterday.  I agree it is a great resource for Uni and have been considering their 3 day plan.  I will probably go with a modified version of it as a guide for the trip.  I really like their suggestion to return to the resort in the afternoon to swim and relax and then return to the park 2 or 3 hours later.
So, I own five volumes of the Unofficial Guide and have used them to plan every trip I take to Universal. I have no idea what this anti-Universal spin is. Plus, Unofficial Guide (aka Touring Plans) offers comprehensive, customizable touring plans that supposedly cut wait times by four hours, a claim I don't know if Orlando Informer can make (it might, I just didn't see it).

Obviously, GeoUSA, the choice is yours, but I'm sticking with my recommendation for Touring Plans.

Better yet, use both. Tongue
I can't speak for their books, but having read through some of the dining and attractions pages on Touring Plans for Universal, I will say that I've seen a Disney slant as well. That's not to say their Universal information is bad, but I wouldn't treat them as a one stop shop for info on Universal like I would for Disney.
Many of the rides won't let you bring loose items on. They do provide free lockers but the locker areas at Gringott's and Forbidden Journey, in particular, are a cluster %^&*. You'll have a much more expeditious experience if you don't bring anything that won't fit in your pockets.

Although you have express that doesn't work for Forbidden Journey and Gringott's. Go through the whole line once, at park opening, to take in all the fantastic theming and then use the single riders line to repeat (also at opening). Your whole party will be out within a minute or two of each other

If you're eating at the sit-down theme park restaurants, i.e. Mythos, Finnegans, Confisco's, Lombard's, you can make a reservation on open table. You really don't need to do this very far in advance and it can save you a good amount of time. Some of the CityWalk restaurants (Margaritaville, NBA City, Emeril's and perhaps more) are also on opentable.

We've had better luck getting a quick butter beer fix in the bar area of Three Broomsticks instead of the outside carts. They won't allow you to sit in there if it's crowded but you can take your drinks out back on a nice deck overlooking the water. Fun fact...you can see one of the old embarkation docks for the Island Skippers Tour they used to run when the park opened from that deck.

We're just back from Universal and really enjoyed our meal at The Cowfish, a relatively new restaurant in CityWalk. You can check out their menu here. We thought the food that we ordered at Antojitos was fine but nothing special and expensive for what it was. Mythos was very good for a theme park restaurant.

You can supposedly get priority seating at CityWalk if you are staying at a Universal resort but we haven't had luck, except at Hard Rock Cafe with their accepting that 'benefit'. It's worth a try though.

And to clear up something Reggae said, you used to be able to park at Downtown Disney and take a bus to the theme parks but now buses only go to resorts.
Just remembered something: all the Duff beers are pretty good. Like, better than your average budmiloors. Sadly, you cannot take a bottle home with you :/
I love the ice cream at Fortescues and the new interactive wands. There are also some very interesting new drinks in Diagon Alley.
(01/27/15 01:18pm)Jesy Wrote: [ -> ]Many of the rides won't let you bring loose items on.  They do provide free lockers but the locker areas at Gringott's and Forbidden Journey, in particular, are a cluster %^&*.  You'll have a much more expeditious experience if you don't bring anything that won't fit in your pockets.

Jesy! Thanks for sharing so many great tips. I am intrigued that the wands are now interactive and can trigger things in shop windows and "other secret areas." I'm surly not going to try to flush myself into the Ministry. Tongue So I'm thinking this expensive wand will be even more expensive and painful if I have to keep dealing with it when we ride rides. Park days will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We will definitely hit the top attractions on Thursday and Friday. Maybe one 4 hour period will be just for HP... My understanding is the single-person line for Gringott's skips all of the preliminary stuff including the bank tour. That's a cool time-saver if you've had enough of the intro! Open table is a great tip I have seen no where else. Thanks, Jesy!
(01/27/15 01:33pm)ReggaeInMyJeggae Wrote: [ -> ]Just remembered something: all the Duff beers are pretty good. Like, better than your average budmiloors. Sadly, you cannot take a bottle home with you :/

Glad to hear Duff Bear is good! I was excited to learn Moe's Tavern exists in the Springfield section of the park.  This walk-through video is fairly interesting.  I am not sure how long I can stay in there with the soundtrack, but I suspect that is the intention.

I hope for a photo with Duffman!  I need a new profile pic.


YouTube Link
(01/27/15 04:45pm)GeoUSA Wrote: [ -> ]
(01/27/15 01:33pm)ReggaeInMyJeggae Wrote: [ -> ]Just remembered something: all the Duff beers are pretty good. Like, better than your average budmiloors. Sadly, you cannot take a bottle home with you :/

Glad to hear Duff Bear is good! I was excited to learn Moe's Tavern exists in the Springfield section of the park.  This walk-through video is fairly interesting.  I am not sure how long I can stay in there with the soundtrack, but I suspect that is the intention.

I hope for a photo with Duffman!  I need a new profile pic.


There's a bar outside. It's really nice if the weather is pleasant. Right on the fake lake.

All things on the table, I preferred IOA to Universal by the way. But if you're going to both, you're going to have a hell of a time. Take pics.
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