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“New Year's Eve at Universal and City Walk (Not Islands of Adventure)”

Universal Studios Florida
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Universal Orlando Tickets - USA / Canada Residents
Ranked #8 of 444 things to do in Orlando
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: This vast complex houses two theme parks (Universal Studios, for movie rides, and Islands of Adventure, for thrills), an entertainment/nightlife complex (CityWalk) and a variety of hotels. You can buy passes for admission to the parks or just visit the bars, restaurants and stores on the CityWalk.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Lockers / storage, Stroller parking, Stairs / elevator
Reviewed January 3, 2011

My girlfriend and I visited Universal Studios (not the Islands of Adventure) on December 31, 2010. It was her first time ever and my third visit (the last time I was there was in 1994)
We arrived close to 10:00 AM and had bought the tickets from our partner hotel.

We were concerned about the large crowd because we were going to the New Year's Eve party at City Walk. But we were pleased that the majority of the crowd headed to Islands of Adventure to see Harry Potter.

A Fast Pass at Universal Studios was not necessary during this time since all of the rides at the park had about a 10-15 minute wait. We lucked out since there were few guests on this side of Universal Studios which made our visit even more pleasant since it gave the impression that we had the park to ourselves.

In an almost an unheard of experience, we were able to experience every single ride in a five hour window. This park is very friendly to child-free couples since most of the attractions seem to be directed towards adults rather than children.

ADVICE FOR GUESTS IN GROUPS OR FAMILIES: The Mummy Ride and Men In Black Alien Attack do not allow backpacks or purses on their rides. You have to put them away in a locker section next to the rides. The lockers are only big enough to fit one backpack and only offer 35 minutes for free. So if you are going to be in line for over thirty minutes you will have to pay for the locker use.

There is a small children oriented section in this theme park, but to be honest with you if I was parent I would not take children under the age of 10 to Universal Studios since all of the children there looked bored out of their minds.

Universal Studios may not be as popular as their younger sibling (Islands of Adventure) but it still offers very good rides and wonderful shows that are very entertaining. So if you wish to avoid a large crowd, I would recommend visiting Universal Studios during the day and save the trip to Islands of Adventure in the spring or fall seasons.

NEW YEAR'S EVE CITYWALK: This was a separate party that did not offer entrance to any park. Never have I seen such a wonderful display of customer service and fun provided for such a large and drunk crowd. If you have the opportunity to spend new year's eve at citywalk the money that you pay for entrance is well worth it. Many different foods and open access to every single club. You were also allowed to drink on the street as long as you had a plastic container. What really impressed us was that they had a large shrimp and crab section that was fresh and very tasty. A wonderful new year's eve party indeed. The only downside was the long wait for cabs to every hotel in the Orlando area.

15  Thank oakcityandy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 2, 2011

We went to Universal on Xmas break. Over $600.00 for our group to get in and we spent the whole afternoon to get on one ride. Express tickets, sold out. Priority parking,sold out. Human gridlock, music so loud you had to scream to converse and long lines for everything from bathroom to food. Biggest waste of a day our whole vacation.

Save this attraction for off peak season, if at all!

6  Thank cinmac39
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 2, 2011

We have just returned from Hard Rock Hotel to visit Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a party of eight. Even though this was absolutely the worst time to visit this park, I must tell you it was worth the wait, the money and the sleep deprivation. The Hotel is expensive, there are cheaper hotels nearby, but the perks for staying at the Hard Rock made it worth it.
The Hard Rock Hotel staff even though they seemed to push smiles, did not have the information needed for travelers to Universal or their hotel (they need the 411 for their customers). The reason to stay at the hotel is the distance to the parks; Hard Rock is the closest to the parks, the early entrance to the parks and the best part, express ride access to most rides. The Hotel standard rooms are larger than typical, very clean and the beds were heaven. We asked for our room to be on the first floor which gave us immediately exiting to the path that leads to the parks. Short cuts are noteworthy. The pool is large and the kids loved the music underwater. We did not have a chance to visit the health club but it was busy and other families liked it.
IF you have a car, parking is $15.00 per day and valet is $22.00, if you are not going to use your car, why pay for the upgrade? The Palm restaurant (expensive) held up to its reputation in service and food, I highly recommend it. I highly recommend this Hotel for families and adults alike.
Universal Studios theme park: We were able to enter the park at 7am and beat any outside crowds. Well let me tell you all three hotels were sold out so we had a crowd anyway. Our main reason this visit was to see the Harry Potter world. We were just down here last spring break to see it, but because of its delayed opening, missed it. The crowds were unbelievably large for the holidays. Just to get into line for the 7am entrance we had to wait 10 minutes. The park did have a system to handle the crowds and it did work until 9am. At 9am when the general public entered the WWHP, they literally ran to the rides causing some kids to fall down. We felt terrible watching the kids and adults very happy to enter the WWHP but not aware that they were running and causing a possible stampede. The park did not seem to have enough employees to guide the crowds or keep them informed on the length and time they were to stand in line. The main attractions are; a ride called forbidden journey, which takes you through Hogwarts School into the halls with talking pictures, Dumbledore’s office with details such as the memory pool, a classroom with Harry, Hermione and Ron and other rooms. Take pictures, this is the place! The ride is tough for tiny ones, but walk through it anyway to see it because before you actually get into the seat, there is a room for those that are not able to take the ride. Kudos to Universal to be thoughtful and provide a room with a HP movie playing to keep you occupied. The shops such as Ollivanders, which 20 people enter the shop and only one is picked to receive a wand. Actually the wand picks you, very cute, just like the book, done very well. Only half of us got into see this due to the lines. Honeydukes the candy store must buy a chocolate frog ($10) even if you save it for Valentine’s Day. Dervish and Banges a store that has not only sells wands ($30.00) but shirts, sweats, hoodies, scarfs($31), ties, key chains and more. We were trying to find a scarf only to find they were out and would be out for a week. Believe it or not all ages want this, from grammar to high school and even the college kids. I think we need to remember the college kids grew up with Harry Potter books and still adore them. I even tried to buy a scarf off of an employee’s neck and they refused. I still need 4!!! No coffee or Tea shop for adults to sit at. The restaurant is The Three Broomsticks. Even though they offer two outside carts that sells Butter Beer, you should buy it at the bar in Three Broomsticks, just like Harry, and sit at one of the tables. You avoid the long lines and can revive your party. The details such as the corner table where Harry sat and the shrunken heads are in the pub area. They offer food on one end and a pub on the other. They do have a breakfast with reservations only, so please call ahead to reserve, it books quickly. The hotel did not know this!
If you go at night the lighting is horrible, no joke. It was hard to see the walkway at times and the signage had absolutely no lighting to read it. Wheelchairs, scooters and strollers had a very difficult time at night managing the crowds due to poor visibility. I do recommend this part of the park for anyone who enjoys the books and movies of Harry Potter. Hope to return soon myself!

3  Thank 365dpificould
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2010

We revisited Universal Studios after two years, the filling what we had, it is not worthy to go there more than once, the wonderful firework was missing, the Reality Show was closed
but the customer service was the most upsetting ,I called in the morning to find out if they have WF ,the person Who answered could not give me an answer, I asked about the fire work ,she said it will be around midnight, I realized that she has no clue, my accommodation was closed to the parks so I heard the noise (fire work) around ten.
Later I called again, it was better, this time they confirmed that there is no internet in the park, but they told me they will have fire work around ten. So I planned my day to see the fire work, get later to the park, just to find out at 9 in the evening that there is no fire work, disappointing. Two years ago it was a beautiful fire work, not to mention the ticket price is the same just you got less out off it

1  Thank sweetandsour_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 30, 2010

Our family of four just got back from Universal/Islands of Adventure. We had a great time, but mainly due to planning. It would have been a nightmare otherwise.

Since this week is one of the busiest of the year and I really hate theme parks and crowds, I went all out to try to avoid as much hassle as possible.

We knew we had to stay on site or with a partner hotel to get the early entry (7am vs 8am for general admission). I can't stress enough how important this was to our entire trip and ability to experience ANYTHING at WWHP. Originally, we were booked at a partner hotel because the on site hotels were full. Because of the storm and closed airports all along the east coast, I felt sure some reservations had been cancelled at the on site hotels. After three phone calls and waiting over an hour on the phone with Universal Vacations, Paul (a supervisor) got us a room at Royal Pacific on site. He was so helpful, but due to the number of rooms they are allowed to book and maybe just slow computers/communication, I think they were slow to recognize cancellations. One Universal person I spoke with said there was no availability without even checking until I suggested with all the closed airports, I found it hard to believe they had not had any cancellations or delays.

On site helped for the early morning entry as even a 10 minute walk or water taxi ride had us up at 5:00 AM. I can't imagine the hassle of driving, parking etc.. and still getting there when the gates opened. I don't think I mentioned it was about 32 degrees for our visit. Not too fun in the dark at 6:30, but it was worth it.

The hotel keys serve as the "Express Passes" for the rides that accept them. Forbidden Journey (the main ride at WWHP) does not honor express riding, but again, the early admission saved us both mornings. We did the castle and Forbidden Journey on the first morning along with shopping at Honey Dukes (had to have a chocolate frog) and Zonkos.

Apart from the Hogwarts Castle, Forbidden Journey and Ollivander's wand show, there are two other rides that are both fun and some shops and that is really all there is.

We did Ollivander's wand show on our second morning and did have a reasonable wait. My 11 year old got picked for the little skit. we were all smiles after that.

Since I was so concerned about the crowd and picking this time of year to go, I booked a VIP tour for Islands of Adventure that was 5 hours on the afternoon of our second day. The reviews on this were mixed and these tours are not cheap, but it was worth it for us. This is the way to do a crazy crowded theme park!! We also got to go back to WWHP and got a "back door entry" to everything. It was amazing given the crowed circumstances this time of year. Islands of Adventure closed at capacity one day of our stay at 2PM.

Maybe during a calmer time, either the early entry or VIP tour will do and not both, but the VIP tour did not cover Ollivander's or any shops. We were able to get into Hog's Head for a drink and snack without a wait - which was a nice surprise.

Overall, we just got red carpet service everywhere we went with those VIP cards hanging around our necks. The restaurants also gave a small discount.

It took very careful planning, but we had an amazing time that we will always remember.

9  Thank mtravels11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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