Water Sports

Universal Studios Florida (Orlando) – 2021 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

Had a great time during Spring Break with my sons – ages 11 and 9. We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel for 2 reasons – the Jurassic Park suite (super cute) and the express passes. We did the 3 park, 4 day pass, but with the express tickets you could probably do everything in 2 really full days. Loews Royal Pacific Hotel: We arrived around 1:30 pm after taking the Universal Shuttle from the airport. We actually rode in a tour bus and the driver told us about the area and did some trivia with us. I would do that again. Luckily when we arrived, our room was ready so we could go right to our room. I booked the Jurassic Park suite as a surprise to my kids and they loved it. I enjoyed having my separate space. We were on the ground level so cell reception wasn’t the greatest, but the free wi-fi worked well. Despite the Jurassic Park room, the hotel wasn’t overly kid friendly with the styling and pool. I expected there to be some slides into the pool or something, but it was just a large pool. They did have a kids area with some water spraying – my sons only played there about 5 minutes. We ordered food from Jake’s American Bar and ate it in our room (I wasn’t impressed with the in room dining menu). The food was fine – not overly impressive. Another night we had dinner by the pool at the Bula Bar and Grill – I really enjoyed their food, especially the nachos. Our server was really attentive as well. I would have eaten there again had we had time. The other wonderful feature at the hotel was they had an Avis car rental directly in the lobby. They brought the car to the front of the hotel so the convenience couldn’t be beat. Each morning – they checked your temperature and gave you a wristband. This way you didn’t have to do it at park security. We also took advantage of the water taxi coming back from the parks on two occasions. That is a really nice feature and the wait was never too long for a boat. The last day it was not in operation due to the weather – I guess the water was too choppy (that was too bad because our feet were tired at the end of the week). The signs around the resort were helpful and very clear. It was easy to know which way to go, like to the bus for Volcano Bay. Volcano Bay: In theory, they have a great system but there are kinks that need to be worked out. They give you this Tapu Tapu band where you can reserve a time for a water slide, but you can only do one attraction at a time. So if one has a 120 minute wait, you can’t do any other water slides during that time that also would require a return time. While there are other things you can do while you wait – like the lazy river, adventure river, and wave pool, it doesn’t make sense that you couldn’t at least have 2 slide reservations at a time. Waiting 120 minutes between slides is crazy. Also – just because it says 120 minutes when you reserve your time, doesn’t mean that is the actual time. My sons and I tapped at the same time. When we got to 60 minutes, 40 minutes was added back to their time but mine stayed the same. I asked a staff member about it and they said it would sync back – the system was just trying to handle over 400 people at a time. It did eventually sync back – by adding 40 minutes to my time. When it got back to 60 minutes again, I began tracking it against my watch and while the Tapu incremented in 5 minute intervals, it did not match 5 minutes on the watch. It could take 10 or so minutes to go down by 5 minutes. So your 120 minute wait could actually be a lot more. We were waiting to do the water coaster and it kept extending our day (and again, we couldn’t do any other water slides during that time). I again asked a staff member and they said that at times when there are delays or system issues, time is added. I get a few minutes, but not the additional hour we had to wait. My son’s Tapu came off on one of the water slides and we had to get a replacement and it wasn’t clear where to get it from – we got different answers from various staff members. I did like that you could link a Tapu to your credit card via the app so that you didn’t have to carry money when buying food, etc. The only other complaint I have is that the park was somewhat confusing – it was hard finding the various attractions’ tapu sites and then entrances. Also, some slides allowed water shoes and others didn’t. The main saving grace of Volcano Bay was the adventure river – you get a life jacket and get into a more rapid lazy river. It was a lot of fun and we spent quite a bit of our wait time in there since they didn’t limit how many times you could go around. City Walk – we didn’t spend much time here since we aren’t really into shopping and many of the food places were ones we could get locally or had been to other places. We did go to the Chocolate Emporium for dessert – that was great. This is also where you get the water taxi. Universal Studios – we took advantage of the early entrance and did the Minion Ride and Harry Potter ride first thing. They had a Mardi Gras theme going on while we were there and my son enjoyed catching beads from all of the floats. We didn’t take advantage of those food carts because my sons aren’t adventurous eaters. I love the decorations in Universal Studios – there are so many picture opportunities and it’s just really well done. Due to COVID, we did have to wear our mask but we took frequent stationary drink breaks to get some relief. Luckily it wasn’t too hot on our visit- I’m sure on hotter days, it is very difficult to wear. We used the Express Pass to our advantage over the several days we were there. It makes such a difference in how much you can see and do while there. The rides are great, but I can’t see standing in line an hour or so for a 2 minute attraction. The one area where the Express Pass failed was the Hogwarts Express – that line was extremely long and it didn’t seem to make much difference to have the pass, there was still a long queue line. The locker areas throughout the park could get crowded at times so they easily adjusted and said only one person per party in the locker area – that helped quite a bit. The Harry Potter area was very tight – and my kids couldn’t take full advantage of the wands I bought them which is too bad. Men in Black is still one of my favorite rides and we rode that multiple times until we reached Galaxy Defender title. The food lines were extremely long – we waited 45 minutes for lunch in the Simpsons area – there were plenty of empty tables so I questioned why the wait. The greeter said the restaurant wasn’t staffed for the number of tables they had. The food was fine though – standard park fare, definitely seemed on the high side for price when compared to other amusement parks. I really liked the mobile ordering and payment – that way we could be seated while we ordered and paid rather than standing in a queue. There were workers throughout the park reminding people to wear their masks fully and they had people wiping down railings, etc. I liked that they gave hand sanitizer to everyone before they got on the ride. I saw them spray some rides in between people, but not everytime which I appreciated. I was at another place last summer where they sanitized every seat in between customers which made the wait extremely long. They also had hand sanitizer available after the ride for anyone that wanted it. Islands of Adventure – we took advantage of the early entry at this park to get to the Hagrid’s Motorbike ride since it doesn’t take the express pass. Both times, we had to wait about 90 minutes, but that ride is definitely worth it. My kids enjoyed the butterbeer several times- make sure you check both sides of the cart, many times people were lined up in one line not realizing there was also a shorter line on the other side. The Harry Potter area was again crowded, but the kids were able to use their wands in this section. The water rides will get you wet – especially the barge one where you sit in the circular raft – we did not have a dry spot on us after that ride. We tried to use a People Dryer but it took my $5 without turning on and I could not find someone to help us with that. Luckily the sun dried us for the most part. It was too bad the shows were closed due to COVID. We enjoyed our time in this park – my sons liked that there was more variety in the type of rides in this park vs Universal Studios.…

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The water has always been a favorite place for outdoor recreation. Paddling a canoe along a rambling creek, jumping the wake behind a fast boat, or snorkeling among coral reefs, are just a few of the many ways you can have fun in the water. The one thing that these and every other form of water recreation have in common is that they can all be made more enjoyable with our water sports equipment. We have all types of inflatables from balls to boats, every kind of towable equipment from tubes to water skis, canoes and kayaks and the carriers and racks to get them to the water, snorkeling gear, pools, waterproof action cameras to record your aquatic adventures.