We are in Universal Orlando staying at the Hard Rock Hotel, having spent the last 13 days at Walt Disney World. Our day started late, having decided to have a lie in following the exertions of our final day at Walt Disney World. Once up we decided to visit Universal Studios Florida.
As we are staying at Hard Rock, we have an included Universal Express Pass as part of our package. This pass allows priority access to all attractions at both parks except the new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. These passes are not cheap and can cost as much as $180 a day plus tax. Guests staying at Portofino Bay, Hard Rock & Royal Pacific Resorts get a free complimentary Express Pass, and often this works out cheaper than purchasing a pass.
We have mixed views here at Modern Life is Good on whether Express Pass represents good value for money. I prefer the free Walt Disney World FastPass system, but Express Pass does allow you to ride more attractions but at a significantly increased cost.
The number of Express Passes available is a closely guarded Universal Orlando Secret. However, on busy days, they do run out. I have noticed in recent years the lines at Express Pass seem to be getting longer and I suspect they are selling more of them. Although they offer a reduced wait, they are not a front of the line pass. Universal aim to ensure your wait is never longer than 15 minutes, but this is not always achieved including today when we had a lengthy wait at Escape from Gringotts.
The park didn’t seem to be as busy as last summer, and we did manage to complete quite a few attractions.
Despite the late start, we did have a mid-afternoon/early evening break to visit the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium for dinner.
The food was excellent, and despite mixed-reports, they can adapt a lot of the menu for guests on gluten-free diets. The actual menu on the restaurant website only states one gluten-free dish, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, but this isn’t correct.
After dinner, we returned to the Hard Rock Hotel for early evening drinks. We are staying in the Rock Royalty area of the hotel, and every evening between 5 and 7 there are complimentary beverages.
We will discuss the Rock Royalty Lounge further in one of our upcoming posts, but I suspect evening drinks will become a daily event.
Tomorrow we are off to Islands of Adventure to see how long the wait is for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. You can catch up with all our Orlando Live Blogs for 2019 by clicking the link.