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So, I went to Universal Studios for the first time since my 6th bday (on topic)

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  • Trip Report So, I went to Universal Studios for the first time since my 6th bday (on topic)

    My new wife and I did a bit of a mini honeymoon w/ her sister for the last few days. Got married Saturday, drove up to the Disneyland Hotel on Sunday, did both parks on Monday, then checked out early Tuesday and hit Universal. My last stay at the DLH was in the Summer of 1996, I believe. Did Club level, which was pretty neat, since they send someone to meet you up front and do all your check in at the room. Plus, free snacks and beer. I had a blast, since it'd been about a year since my last trip to the DLR, so I finally got to do Hyperspace Mountain and Star Wars Launch Bay, which as a huge fan, absolutely dug.

    Now, Universal was a whole new beast for me. It was basically a completely different park since I was a kid. It was pretty fun, but the majority of the park is well below Disney standards as far as presentation goes. Random unthemed areas with a few cool rides in them, which I pretty much expected. That being said, even though we got a stripped down version of it out west, I was blown away by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I'm not even a huge HP fan. The amount of detail crammed into the area was phenomenal. I gotta give em credit.. they out Disneyed Disney on that one. That's a good thing though IMO. I'm hoping the Disney Imagineers saw that and said "Ok, we gotta beat THAT now" All in all, very fun few days for me.
    "Have I gone mad?"
    "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are. "

  • #2
    Hogsmeade shows what Universal is capable of. USO Hogsmeade is pretty much identical with one additional re-themed coaster (I think it was there before wizard of world) and the station to go to Diagon Alley. I am a huge Potter fan so I'm hoping USH expands wizarding world to include Diagon Alley. The Gringotts attraction is a lot of fun and their goblin animatronics are so good.

    Glad you had a good time and congrats on the marriage!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by DisneySpaceAce View Post
      My new wife and I did a bit of a mini honeymoon w/ her sister for the last few days. Got married Saturday, drove up to the Disneyland Hotel on Sunday, did both parks on Monday, then checked out early Tuesday and hit Universal. My last stay at the DLH was in the Summer of 1996, I believe. Did Club level, which was pretty neat, since they send someone to meet you up front and do all your check in at the room. Plus, free snacks and beer. I had a blast, since it'd been about a year since my last trip to the DLR, so I finally got to do Hyperspace Mountain and Star Wars Launch Bay, which as a huge fan, absolutely dug.

      Now, Universal was a whole new beast for me. It was basically a completely different park since I was a kid. It was pretty fun, but the majority of the park is well below Disney standards as far as presentation goes. Random unthemed areas with a few cool rides in them, which I pretty much expected. That being said, even though we got a stripped down version of it out west, I was blown away by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I'm not even a huge HP fan. The amount of detail crammed into the area was phenomenal. I gotta give em credit.. they out Disneyed Disney on that one. That's a good thing though IMO. I'm hoping the Disney Imagineers saw that and said "Ok, we gotta beat THAT now" All in all, very fun few days for me.
      It's hard when Disney sets the bar for other parks because most will never achieve it. But if Universal can continue to grow and be the best park it can be, then it can remain competitive. It has to start by replacing some of those motion theater rides with better experiences. I couldn't do more than half of the rides there last time because of my tendency to get sick on motion theater rides. Forbidden Journey was too much for my equilibrium, but it was still outstanding, and that's something USH should be moving toward.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think Disney to Universal is apples to oranges. Disney has various themed "Lands" Where as Universal is an entire park with a movie theme showing off their various IP's in an almost random way. ( Sadly Disney is tending to follow this philosophy more then their own original idea. ) Knott's on the other hand like Six Flags I have always put into the category not of a "theme" park as much at they are "amusement" parks.

        Comment


        • #5
          First off, DisneySpaceAge...Congratulations and Best Wishes for Many Years of Happiness!

          Glad there was a bit of Disney in the mix. Good plan!

          Now I have to ask the million dollar question: Do you want to go back to WWoHP again? That's where I found something missing. It was cool beyond cool, but for some reason I'm kind of one and done. Not that I wouldn't go again if in the area and others wanted to go. It's so weird how I just get a real craving to go back to DL when I've been away from it. Obviously you do, too, being here on MC and all.

          Comment


          • #6
            I took my kids to Universal for the first time last year. We went in July and the tickets we got enabled us to have repeat visits until the end of February. Since we had those we did go back again last month. My kids are teenagers so they enjoy the mix of rides and movie themes. To us it is a once or twice a year park because you can get it done in a day. But we are BIG Harry Potter fans and that will always be our first stop, just makes us smile

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pips View Post
              First off, DisneySpaceAge...Congratulations and Best Wishes for Many Years of Happiness!

              Glad there was a bit of Disney in the mix. Good plan!

              Now I have to ask the million dollar question: Do you want to go back to WWoHP again? That's where I found something missing. It was cool beyond cool, but for some reason I'm kind of one and done. Not that I wouldn't go again if in the area and others wanted to go. It's so weird how I just get a real craving to go back to DL when I've been away from it. Obviously you do, too, being here on MC and all.
              I'd like to go back and spend more time in it, yes. I mean we both got the interactive wands, and barely got to use em because of the crowd that day. Universal is a place I would probably want to do once every year or two though, since the rest of the park doesn't remotely hold my interest to that extent, with the exception of Springfield, since I'm a huge Simpsons fan, and didn't get to do stuff like check out Moe's Tavern.
              "Have I gone mad?"
              "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are. "

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by DisneySpaceAce View Post

                I'd like to go back and spend more time in it, yes. I mean we both got the interactive wands, and barely got to use em because of the crowd that day. Universal is a place I would probably want to do once every year or two though, since the rest of the park doesn't remotely hold my interest to that extent, with the exception of Springfield, since I'm a huge Simpsons fan, and didn't get to do stuff like check out Moe's Tavern.
                Interactive wands? H'mm...need to look into that. May be a reason to go back. I have a wand, but it relies purely on my own powers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Congrats DisneySpaceAce! Awesome that you found someone to experience the rest of your lives together, and that includes theme parks!

                  I think it's amazing how the parks have changed since childhood. I'd have to agree that USH is more of a once or twice a year park. The atmosphere of Springfield and the Wizarding World is up there with Carsland (and hopefully the new Star Wars land) for sure.

                  I'd have to say that the Forbidden Journey sets the bar for dark rides, similar to how Radiator Springs Racers did when that was new. But the wands and attention to detail at the Wizarding World is definitely up there to the point you truly feel like you're no longer in Southern California.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DisneySpaceAce View Post
                    I was blown away by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I'm not even a huge HP fan. The amount of detail crammed into the area was phenomenal. I gotta give em credit.. they out Disneyed Disney on that one. That's a good thing though IMO. I'm hoping the Disney Imagineers saw that and said "Ok, we gotta beat THAT now" .
                    They did see it...almost 7 years ago when it opened in Florida in 2010. Notice how Disney just happened to make the first announcement for "Pandora: The World of Avatar" in September of 2011 a little over a year later? Coincidence? Probably not entirely.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DisneySpaceAce View Post
                      My new wife and I did a bit of a mini honeymoon w/ her sister for the last few days. Got married Saturday, drove up to the Disneyland Hotel on Sunday, did both parks on Monday, then checked out early Tuesday and hit Universal. My last stay at the DLH was in the Summer of 1996, I believe. Did Club level, which was pretty neat, since they send someone to meet you up front and do all your check in at the room. Plus, free snacks and beer. I had a blast, since it'd been about a year since my last trip to the DLR, so I finally got to do Hyperspace Mountain and Star Wars Launch Bay, which as a huge fan, absolutely dug.

                      Now, Universal was a whole new beast for me. It was basically a completely different park since I was a kid. It was pretty fun, but the majority of the park is well below Disney standards as far as presentation goes. Random unthemed areas with a few cool rides in them, which I pretty much expected. That being said, even though we got a stripped down version of it out west, I was blown away by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I'm not even a huge HP fan. The amount of detail crammed into the area was phenomenal. I gotta give em credit.. they out Disneyed Disney on that one. That's a good thing though IMO. I'm hoping the Disney Imagineers saw that and said "Ok, we gotta beat THAT now" All in all, very fun few days for me.
                      Congrats!

                      Your last point really nails it. Even if you think WWoHP is overrated, you can at least appreciate that its success provides a healthier competition. Disney still reigns supreme overall, but they are no longer the only ones who can create intense theming magic. In the end, we all win.

                      I said I wouldn't get the interactive wand. Like Pips, I had a wand that required the power of imagination and I said that would be enough. I said that I could enjoy watching others levitate instead. Then, I was chosen for the wand fitting. I had to buy it.

                      When it's busy, I use the wand at the end of the night / after closing (they still let you play with displays for about an hour and the sweet shop is usually open as well).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DisneySpaceAce View Post
                        My new wife and I did a bit of a mini honeymoon w/ her sister for the last few days. Got married Saturday, drove up to the Disneyland Hotel on Sunday, did both parks on Monday, then checked out early Tuesday and hit Universal. My last stay at the DLH was in the Summer of 1996, I believe. Did Club level, which was pretty neat, since they send someone to meet you up front and do all your check in at the room. Plus, free snacks and beer. I had a blast, since it'd been about a year since my last trip to the DLR, so I finally got to do Hyperspace Mountain and Star Wars Launch Bay, which as a huge fan, absolutely dug.

                        Now, Universal was a whole new beast for me. It was basically a completely different park since I was a kid. It was pretty fun, but the majority of the park is well below Disney standards as far as presentation goes. Random unthemed areas with a few cool rides in them, which I pretty much expected. That being said, even though we got a stripped down version of it out west, I was blown away by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I'm not even a huge HP fan. The amount of detail crammed into the area was phenomenal. I gotta give em credit.. they out Disneyed Disney on that one. That's a good thing though IMO. I'm hoping the Disney Imagineers saw that and said "Ok, we gotta beat THAT now" All in all, very fun few days for me.
                        Congrats! I used to have an AP to Universal pre-Potter and it was definitely a half day kind of park. I haven't experienced the Wizarding World yet but I think it's taking the park in a cool direction and I'm hoping another land or more re-themes can fully maximize the park's potential. I'd also argue SWL likely exists, at least in part, because of Potter so it's good to see Disney trying to keep up with new, fully fleshed out destinations.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          WWOHP is as good as it is because of JK Rowling's strict and massive input on the land. Had she left Universal to do whatever they wanted with her property, it would have been disastrous I think. That's why the land outdoes everything else on Universal property. Let's hope that Nintendo's involvement in the creation of Nintendo World will yield similar results.

                          And yes, Universal getting HP was the best thing to happen to both Disney and Universal. It forced Disney to step up their game at a time when they were dragging their feet through the dirt and HP's massive success allowed Universal to grow in all the areas.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            While the other area's arn't as detailed as Disneyland...I love Springfield as much as Potterland...as a Simpsons fan its a great subland

                            Disneyland is better...but I enjoy Universal more because it has less crowds....I get to interact with most characters many times just walking up to them or waiting less then 5 mins....can't do that at Disneyland...same with rides many times rides are low 20 min or less waits

                            So depends on where you are in life....I've been to Disneyland easily over 100 times in my life time. They have not add enough since DCA 1.0 to make me feel the need to go back until Star Wars Land opens. While Universal is a fun cheap option...120 bucks for a season pass and less lines. Sounds like the real magic kingdom
                            Happy Halloween!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Universal has gone from afterthought to a legit threat for my family every visit. We're tempted to stop by during a 2-3 day Disneyland trip just because of the vast # of solid attractions, especially Wizarding World. We probably visit it one trip out of the year now vs. wouldn't even think about it before.

                              It's more tailored for adults, but our family is growing up and no one is under 18 anymore. Jurassic, Mummy, Transformers, Studio Tour, TWD and WW are all solid rides. Now, USH is also still at a relative value vs. Disneyland. If the price suddenly shoots up, the decision is tougher. But bravo to USH for now creating a real competition for Disneyland to at least make them want to one up them (See: Star Wars Land)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Granted I am much closer to USH than I am Disney (a 15-20 min drive vs 1 hour), but even so, I'd say I get more value and enjoyment from my USH pass than I did from my Disney pass these last few years. The parking is so much easier, the security lines are so much better managed, the rides and theming are stepping up, the cast members are friendly and outgoing, and with their Platinum Pass, I get one Gate A pass for every attraction. So that means no matter how crowded the park gets, I'm practically guaranteed to get one ride one whatever I want whenever I want at my leisure.

                                That's a lot more than I can say for Disney, where the security lines are poorly managed and long (and ugly), it takes 45+ minutes to get from parking to main gate, there's not much new in terms of attractions, the crowds are unbearable, and I have to plan lines and fasspass within an inch of my life and still not get on everything I'd like.

                                Because of all that, I gave up my Disney AP and am USH all the way now.
                                Does anyone even bother with signatures anymore?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by d1mex View Post
                                  It's more tailored for adults, but our family is growing up and no one is under 18 anymore.
                                  How in the world is Universal "more tailored for adults"?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by PragmaticIdealist View Post

                                    How in the world is Universal "more tailored for adults"?
                                    Much more thrill ride oriented in most places, lots of places to drink alcohol, scary attractions like the Walking Dead walk through attraction (which is really cool if you like the show)
                                    "Have I gone mad?"
                                    "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are. "

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Every time that I've been there, the repeated attempts Universal makes to scare visitors never do. It's just all so much cheese.

                                      Universal Pictures, historically, made cheap horror schlock and B-movies, and Universal Studios still has some of that heritage evident in the presentations there. But, the effect is more juvenile and adolescent than adult. The tacky image is akin to Spencer Gifts, which incidentally was owned by Universal's parent company from 1967 to 2003.

                                      Disneyland, conversely, is refined, creative, cerebral, and sophisticated. The Magic Kingdom has a depth and a complexity that far outshines anything else.

                                      I haven't been back to Universal since the Potter stuff was added, so I can't comment on that. I never read the books, and I think the films are awful. But, I did think the Transformers attraction was relatively well done, even though it's based on a Hasbro toy that I never enjoyed and on some horrendous Shia Lebouef films that are atrocious, even by Michael Bay standards.

                                      The Mummy roller coaster pretty much sucks, and it, too, was based on a bad film. For that matter, I never liked the "Jurassic Park" movies, and the attraction also is pretty underwhelming, although one can't go wrong with John Williams' scores.

                                      Alan Silvestri's score for "Back to the Future" was similarly excellent; however, the attraction was cringe-inducing. I much prefer "The Simpsons," and I think the ride-through portion of the attraction was written, conceived, and executed exceptionally well.

                                      The best thing I can say about Universal Studios is that the views of the Hollywood Hills and of the San Fernando Valley create a really nice backdrop for the guest areas, that the nearly-direct rail connection with the subway is a great thing, and that the place does seem more manageable and less crowded than Disneyland. Also, Jon Jerde's CityWalk does employ some clever ideas that do help enrich a visit to Universal's property and make it much more interesting than it would be otherwise.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by PragmaticIdealist View Post

                                        How in the world is Universal "more tailored for adults"?
                                        Alcohol sales, Cast Members in shows use humor geared towards teens/adults and mock Disney PC, darker themes within rides, more thrill rides. The basis for their whole USO marketing push is that teens have outgrown Disney World and are ready to vacation at a resort which isn't geared towards little ones. It makes sense. While Disneyland occasionally can skirt into a very light PG-13, Disney World seems almost all G-rated. Having adult entertainers give a joke with a knowing wink is a nice refresher for many adults and teens as they finally feel acknowledged.
                                        Women, they make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.

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