Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Stay on site if you can afford it. It’s worth every penny. I recommend Hard Rock Hotel. It’s a short walk from the hotel to both theme parks – Universal and Islands of Adventure – and City Walk. Plus, as a perk, Islands of Adventure is open one hour early so hotel guests can enjoy Harry Potter before the general public. Also, as a guest at an on-site hotel, you get to use your room key as an express ride pass that allows you to bypass the regular lines at select attractions. The hour-early admission and express ride pass save tons of time. And since I’m not patient, this was perfect.
My second tip is to take your AAA card. Your card can save 10 percent at select gift shops and restaurants at both theme parks and at Universal City Walk. I discovered this my first day when a cashier noticed the card in my wallet and told me about the discount. From then on, I was using the card and saving, saving, saving.
I recommend hitting the park in the morning then heading back to the hotel to relax in the afternoon. I enjoyed cooling off in the hotel pool and sipping a frozen drink (or two). After a few hours of downtime, head back to the park(s) and stay until closing. The parks really do look different at night with their colorful swirls of bright lights.
I like to hop from park to park so I always get a park-to-park pass. This means I can jump back and forth between both parks throughout the day. There were days that I was in Islands of Adventure in the early morning, Universal in late morning, Islands early evening, Universal late evening. A park-to-park pass gives you the most flexibility. I would hate having to stay in one park for the entire day.
Go see Blue Man Group show. I ordered the tickets online before we left and picked them up at the box office upon arrival. We had great seats: two rows from the stage and dead center. I had never been to a performance like this and didn’t know what to expect. I’m not even sure how to describe it. The men are blue. They don’t talk, and their eyes look like golf balls. They’re awesome drummers and they do funny things that will crack you up. And the best part – at the end, tons of toilet paper rolls (and I mean tons) unroll forming waves of white across the entire auditorium. The show is just plain fun and you laugh so much your jaw hurts.
So those are my travel tips. If you been to Universal/Islands and have additional tips, please share in comments. Oh, and did I tell you, it’s great to be back with all of my cyber friends. I have a lot of catching up to do.