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  1. #1
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    Question First Universal trip questions

    Hey, I'm a formerly frequent Disney visitor, but we are looking at a trip to Universal in mid-March. Me, wife and 17yo son. We're planning at a 3 day/4 night at the Hard Rock. I have a few questions from those with experience that I can't find answers to.

    - Should I expect really heavy crowds there in mid-March or just moderately heavy?
    - Is the dining plan worth it? The only time we did it at WDW was when it was free, though we did enjoy the TS restaurants.
    - What places are best for healthier dining options?
    - Are there microwaves in the standard queen rooms at Hard Rock?
    - You still need to purchase the two park pass even if staying on-site, right? In other words, it's not included like the express pass?
    - What are the best shows or the "must see" shows?
    - If opening time is 9am, early opening is 8-ish, right?
    - Besides going to HP first on early entry, what's your #1 suggestion or tip?

    Thanks ahead of time for your input.
    AP Platinum/Florida resident

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  3. #2
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    Mar 2004
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    I have those exact questions! Except, we are staying at the royal pacific onsite.

    Thanks for posting!

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryca1dreams View Post
    Hey, I'm a formerly frequent Disney visitor, but we are looking at a trip to Universal in mid-March. Me, wife and 17yo son. We're planning at a 3 day/4 night at the Hard Rock. I have a few questions from those with experience that I can't find answers to.

    - Should I expect really heavy crowds there in mid-March or just moderately heavy?
    - Is the dining plan worth it? The only time we did it at WDW was when it was free, though we did enjoy the TS restaurants.
    - What places are best for healthier dining options?
    - Are there microwaves in the standard queen rooms at Hard Rock?
    - You still need to purchase the two park pass even if staying on-site, right? In other words, it's not included like the express pass?
    - What are the best shows or the "must see" shows?
    - If opening time is 9am, early opening is 8-ish, right?
    - Besides going to HP first on early entry, what's your #1 suggestion or tip?

    Thanks ahead of time for your input.
    We have never been in March but went in April last year. Easter week....With the Express Pass you will be fine.

    I bought the quick service plan last year for the three teens we had with us because they went off on their own and I didn't want them carrying around a lot of money. It worked out great. It was two drinks, a snack, and an entrée and side. It saved a little money but it was really just for convenience. I didn't get it for me and my husband because I didn't want to be locked into quick service for us.

    You do want to get the "park hopper" because if you don't you won't be able to ride the Hogwarts Express.

    Be careful with the early opening times....You are correct...if the published opening time is 9 then early opening is 8...BUT they will let people in earlier if they are ready. I have been at the gate several times at 8 and people have already been in for 20 mins.

    Early entry is USUALLY for HP attractions only. There have been times when they have thrown in DM or Transformers but that is not the usual. Best thing is to check at the front desk the night before to find out if anything else will be opened.

    Love, love, love the Horror Make Up Show...it's so funny......try to sit in the front row, middle section.

    Terminator is a one of a kind show. Don't miss this one. It's 3D and live action combined.

    Shrek 4D is another one we really enjoy.

    Poseidon's Adventure is fun too, but I'm not sure if it is still running. There was talk of closing it down.

    We have been going to Universal since 1992 so any questions just ask.

    Universal is such a wonderfully relaxing vacation....not much planning needed. Have fun!
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  5. #4
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    Nov 2005
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    Food there is no more expensive than Disney and it is just as good. The only difference is that most table service are located in City Walk.

    Table service in the parks.....Mythos has been voted the "Best Theme Park Food" for many, many years.
    We enjoy Finnegan's Irish Pub. Confisco is another favorite.

    Quick Service in the parks....Café 4 has really good pizza. Blondie's makes fresh to order sandwiches. Beverly Hills Boulangerie is my favorite for a quick meal. Sandwiches are fresh.....and the bakery is very good too....cheesecakes, cookies, danish.

    In City Walk we enjoy Margaritaville for the food and the show. Hard Rock is always good. The new pizza place Red Oven Pizza was good. The menus at the new Mexican and Italian places both look good but we haven't tried them yet.

    We have eaten at almost every quick service and 80% of the table serrvice in both parks and City Walk so if you have a specific question just ask.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  6. #5
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    stayed at RPH last June and liked it and having the express pass..
    thought Butterbeer was ok not great
    Spiderman is the best ride..Transformers sorta a ripoff of it
    Ate at the Irish Pub, not bad
    Bubba Gump was good this time
    CR 4
    BC 2
    WL CL 1
    AKL 4
    SOG 3
    POFQ 3
    POR 2
    CSR 4
    CBR 2
    Asp 3
    AS m 2
    POP 7
    12-13 WL CSR ASM
    3-14 POR, AS s Dolphin
    6-14 Us CSR
    1-14 Unv
    6-15 WL, SSR.
    11- 15. AOA, OKw
    7 16..CSR, FW, AKL, POR
    7 17..ASM, CSR, WL AKL club POP
    8 18 As sports, Pop
    DL 9-19
    WDW DVC AKL 5-20

  7. #6
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    There are microwaves available for rental at the Hard Rock but none come standard in the room. There is also a "refreshment pantry" whch includes a mini-bar/fridge. We were able to use this to store small containers of leftovers, but if you need a bigger fridge you have to request that also.

    I want to second what Rita said--go to Early Admission at least 30 minutes before the supposed opening time for hotel guests. They have always let us in a little earlier than the scheduled time and that little bit can make a big difference with the HP stuff.

    Favorite restaurant--Finnegan's is a must for us, we love Bubba Gumps too. We tried Bob Marleys last time we were there; the food and the music were good, but the service was not the greatest and I didn't really care for the theming. Next time we go we want to try the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar (it wasn't open last May when we were there). Mythos was very good and the atmosphere really unique! But you really do need to make reservations there or you could end up waiting quite a while.

    As far as shows, I think everyone should do the Cinematic Spectacular at least once. The Blues Brothers are good too. The Sinbad show had a few good stunts but the acting and story was kind of lame and the audio was horrible.
    Beth
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  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNNHFLTX View Post
    The Sinbad show had a few good stunts but the acting and story was kind of lame and the audio was horrible.
    Beth, I can't agree with you more on this. I call it the SinBAD show. I think this is the only thing at Universal I really don't like. I can't believe this show is still around after all of these years.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  9. #8
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    wat about food and drink at Hard Rock.
    and which other places at Citywalk to hit for drinks.
    which park do you think first in the AM.
    i will be getting there on a monday afternoon so will prob hit a park then
    CR 4
    BC 2
    WL CL 1
    AKL 4
    SOG 3
    POFQ 3
    POR 2
    CSR 4
    CBR 2
    Asp 3
    AS m 2
    POP 7
    12-13 WL CSR ASM
    3-14 POR, AS s Dolphin
    6-14 Us CSR
    1-14 Unv
    6-15 WL, SSR.
    11- 15. AOA, OKw
    7 16..CSR, FW, AKL, POR
    7 17..ASM, CSR, WL AKL club POP
    8 18 As sports, Pop
    DL 9-19
    WDW DVC AKL 5-20

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    wat about food and drink at Hard Rock.
    and which other places at Citywalk to hit for drinks.
    which park do you think first in the AM.
    i will be getting there on a monday afternoon so will prob hit a park then

    I do like the restaurant in the Hard Rock...and for that matter the one at the Royal Pacific also. City Walk...you can get drinks at any restaurant. Margaritaville has seating outside which is right near the outside stage, and I like their drinks too.

    Before the HP addition to the Studio, if you were staying onsite, I would have said hit IOA first, but now I don't think it matters.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

  11. #10
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    The Kitchen is good at the Hard Rock - they're brunch buffet is very well done.

    If you're looking for a quick grab-and-go in the morning, you'll want to hit up Emack and Bolio's (originates up here in Boston and is a hippie/rock and roll ice cream shop). They have simple breakfast fare like yogurt, egg sandwiches, donuts, pastry cereal - not nearly as elaborate as the grab-and-go at the Royal Pacific but it hits the spot. Great to stop for ice cream, too, due to their whimsical flavors and malts. However, I don't know if we'll be there for ice cream during our upcoming trip, though. Florean Fortescue’s at Diagon has WON US OVER. Mmmmm... salted caramel blondie.....

    The Palm steakhouse is also there, but I have not tried this location (but I imagine it is on-par with the rest of the chain).

    Agree on Finnegan's at the Studios! A great stop for casual sit-down!
    '85-Disney Village Hilton; '87-Poly; '88-Day Trip-Disneyland; '89-GF; '94-GF; '97-ASMu; '98-Dixielandings; '02-CBR; '03-Offsite; '03-ASMo; '04-WL; '04-Offsite; '05-POFQ; '06-POFQ; '08-POP; '09-POP; '11-POP; '13-Day Trip-HS; Up next: Oct. '14-Day Trip-MK

  12. #11
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    it was margaritaville that was suprisingly good last time. so it might be there and poss cowfish. id say lunch or dinner on Monday, a dinner on tuesday and maybe a lunch before airport wed
    CR 4
    BC 2
    WL CL 1
    AKL 4
    SOG 3
    POFQ 3
    POR 2
    CSR 4
    CBR 2
    Asp 3
    AS m 2
    POP 7
    12-13 WL CSR ASM
    3-14 POR, AS s Dolphin
    6-14 Us CSR
    1-14 Unv
    6-15 WL, SSR.
    11- 15. AOA, OKw
    7 16..CSR, FW, AKL, POR
    7 17..ASM, CSR, WL AKL club POP
    8 18 As sports, Pop
    DL 9-19
    WDW DVC AKL 5-20

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mfarquar View Post
    The Kitchen is good at the Hard Rock - they're brunch buffet is very well done.
    Please everyone note.....I agree that the Kitchen is a very good place to eat. The buffet is very good...BUT....if you aren't getting the buffet I do not recommend this place if you are in a hurry. I do not eat at buffets often because I am a small eater, the kids love this buffet so we usually go once for breakfast each trip. I order toast and my husband usually gets a bagel and hash browns. It doesn't matter if the place is empty, it always takes about 20 mins to get our food. The kids are off to the parks before we start eating. We always joke that we should just get our toast and bagel off of the buffet table.

    Just a warning...it happens each time.
    Rita (aka NJGIRL)

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