Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Break Universal/Disney Vacation -- Part 1

Welcome to my new trip report. It was a wonderful trip and we were greatly surprised with Universal.

Now on with the report. In case you didn't read my pre trip post, this was a family vacation for my husband, my daughter and my myself along with my brother, his wife and their son.

We left on Saturday morning around 8:00 am which is a little later than our normal leaving time but my brother and his family are following us on the drive. I didn't take any pictures of the way down. Not sure why but there are none. We finally arrived in Valdosta, GA after about 9.5 hrs. We ate at Zaxby's for dinner then hit the bed because we were leaving bright and early at 6:00am the next day.

This is our king suite at the Hampton Inn - Conference Center in Valdosta the next morning after we destroyed it.

Today was a new experience for us as we were heading to Universal Studios and checking into the on site resort Royal Pacific. I couldn't wait but had no idea what to expect except I had heard it was not as great as Disney.

Along the interstate we passed this neat overpass that we see each time. It is so pretty with the flowers and gate.
We are all giddy with excitement of new parks to explore.

Before long we start seeing signs of this wonderful new to us land......

Our next turn was our resort and I couldn't wait any longer.

We park our car in the parking lot and walk over to the bridge that connects to the lobby. We were welcomed but I will say they didn't say "Welcome Home" like Disney so I was a little sad but that quickly left as I saw the beautiful gardens on each side of the bridge. Pictures can not do this justice. It was gorgeous.

Onward Neville family lets go check in......

To say the least, we were very impressed so far with the resort. I go to check us in and in my sweetest southern voice I kindly ask the cast member if there was any way we could be upgraded for free to a suite to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary and our very first trip to Universal. The cast member who's name I can't remember but think it was Shawn said YES!!! Score!! We got a king suite but it wasn't ready yet. He said he could store our valuables in the safe and we could head to the parks and that is exactly what we did!!

We are leaving the secret safe room and ready to explore some Universal Studios.

But before we can explore we must get our Express Pass. You see at Universal you will have several tickets to keep up with. You have your room key which is similar to Disney's Key to the World but at Universal this ONLY gets you in your room. Then you have your paper park ticket, your paper express pass which has your picture on it, city walk pass (which no one ever ask to see) and any special event tickets. Here is a picture of one person in our groups tickets. My hubby had the pleasure of keeping up with every one's tickets and was constantly asking me what ticket he needed. So this was a little more trouble than the way Disney's Key to the World ticket works.

We walk out toward the pool to find the walkway to the parks and City walk.

We finally start on the actual walkway and it is beautiful too. I will say the grounds of this resort are just as nice as Disney Resorts and I was quite surprised so far.

And we finally start seeing parts of the parks....

When you come off the walkway, it's City Walk and I don't know really know what I expected but it was HUGE and ton of shops, restaurants, kiosk, and more. We did not have time to explore it all.

Before I go any further, you need as much time to explore Universal as you do Disney! I thought 2 days would be plenty and I was so WRONG! I think you need as least 3-4 days for the parks then another day at least for City Walk plus a day to explore the resort. It greatly exceeded my expectations and I was shocked out how much I enjoyed the Dark Side.

On with the report. We entered City walk and take in everything.

Our mission for the day is Universal Studios!! I haven't mentioned yet that it is HOT! Like June HOT!! It was humid and blazing. We were sweaty already!!!

A nice cast member takes our picture for us. We tried their photo pass like program but wasn't impressed.


Universal Studios was decked out in Halloween decorations for it's Halloween Horror Night Parties which Al and Jamie have tickets to. I am too chicken so I will be chilling in the room.

During HHN this year, they have Walking Dead characters and such so I was so excited to learn that some of the props are set up all the time in the park. I love me some Walking Dead so I was so happy!!

We walk along and decide to do the Shrek 4D show. It was a great show but I will say it's the same little video that came with the Shrek movie so while the effects were great, I was disappointed that we saw the video at home.

Al and Jamie decide to ride Rip Rocket which will be Jamie's first loop roller coaster. She had done Everest, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain at Disney World but never Rockin Roller Coaster.


So they both survive and I ask how they feel....Al was pretending to be sick.

Al bought the picture and video of their ride.

We decide it's time to stop for lunch and the Monster Cafe sounds good. We decided to share 2 meals between the 3 of us. The food was so good!!!

Next we explore more of the park. We found the parade!

We ride some more shows and keep exploring.

It's time to head back to the resort so we can get our luggage and see our room. Al and Jamie need to rest up for the party tonight. The heat has zapped our energy. We decide to ride the boats back to the resort.

I am so excited to see the room so we run to the car and get the luggage then head back into the resort to see our room. Here is the view as you walk in. This is the living room of the suite.

Next is the bathroom.

Then on to the bedroom.

We eat dinner then rest up before it's time for Jamie and Al to go to the Halloween Party. I walk over with them to do some shopping and exploring.


Later that evening actually I guess it was early the next morning around midnight or 1:00 am, we went to play mini golf on the new courses. It was so much fun!!

The next day we got up early so we could go to early entrance into Islands of Adventure - Harry Potter.

Finally, we arrive at the magical world of Harry Potter.

I walk through the castle with Al and Jamie. I do the chicken exit while they ride. They end up riding it twice and they love it!!

While I am waiting on them at the next ride, I snap a great picture of the castle.

After they ride the last roller coaster in this section, Dueling Dragons, we decide it's time for some breakfast. 

Next we check out the shops in this land and buy some souvenirs.

Butter Beer, Anyone??

We start exploring the rest of the park and ride some rides.

Al and Jamie ride The Hulk and I take a rest in the shade. It was so hot this day!!

It's time for our visit to Universal to end so we start making our way out of the park. We are sad that we didn't get to see everything so we will be back.

On the way out of the Marvel area, the Super Hero Parade comes by.

Good Bye Universal until next time.....

In closing on this section of the trip, I will say that we were surprised at how much we enjoyed Universal. We had heard that it was not themed as well as Disney or as nice as Disney. We found this to be incorrect. We thought the theming to be perfect and we enjoyed ourselves.

Up next Disney!!

Thanks for stopping by!!