This latest visit was with my wife and children (1 teen and 2 tweens). Not much has changed since the last time we visited 3 years ago. Oh wait, there was one big change, THE PRICE. Universal tickets now go for about the same price as Disney single day (their most expensive option), but you end up getting only about a quarter to half what you would get at Disney. The roller coasters are better than what you'd find at Disney, but not much else. The 3-D rides don't have the same pizzazz they once had. The newer Harry Potter ride was a big disappointment to me. I know that was sanctimonious to all the muggles out there, but I couldn't believe I waited almost 2 hours for that 2 minutes. There were even lines just to get into the section of the park, where the Harry Potter rides were at. Mind you, we went during Spring Break, so everything was packed and all the lines were long. But that ride just made you feel like you got cheated out of your time. My younger children are a little older and could enjoy more of the rollercoasters, so it was a bit more fun. The parks are open later which is helpful if your family gets a late start like mine. We were probably the last family to leave.
Other points to consider ... The meal plan was worth it, it helped in a big way. Their 'express pass' type of program (called unlimited express) is a big joke. The express tickets can cost more than the tickets to get in on certain days. During spring break they were asking $90 each, just for the option to skip most of the wait. I ended up doing the same thing for free by opting to ride as a single rider or letting them split up our group. Another helpful hint, if you can stand it, is to go on the water rides later in the day. Most of them will have short lines because everyone wants to dry off and not be soaking wet on the cooler Florida nights.
If you have never gone to Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure and you have teens then it is the place to go. Otherwise, take them to Disney instead.
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