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1st Time DLR California & Universal Hollywood : 9 - 17-Oct-16 *Photos added*

Author Topic: 1st Time DLR California & Universal Hollywood : 9 - 17-Oct-16 *Photos added*  (Read 7980 times)

DisneyRon

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EDIT: Photos have been added to most posts, enjoy!

 ;D Hello everyone

Today marks the start of my trip to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California and Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles. :) I'm currently typing this from my hotelroom at Schiphol, and will be flying to LAX early in the morning on the 9th of October.

This will be my first visit to the park that started it all, and I'm looking foward to it a great deal.
I'll be flying directly from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to LAX in Los Angeles, and will take the Disneyland Express to the parks and my hotel.

The first hotel will be the relatively new Holiday Inn Express and Suites in the Anaheim resort area.
About 15 minutes from the entrance to the parks itself.
I have parkhopper tickets for 5 days, as well as a ticket for the Halloween Party on Wednesday October 12th.

On the afternoon of the 13th I'll travel to the Hilton Universal City for the 2nd half of my stay, close to the entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood. I have a 2-day ticket starting on October 14th. Universal hosts the Halloween Horror Nights all of the evenings of my stay, but I do not have tickets for it, as I'm not exactly the biggest horror fan.

Disney's brand of "horror" I can handle just fine, I dislike the "real" stuff. ;)

This leaves me with Sunday the 16th to play tourist, but I'm not sure where to go just yet. Currently I'm thinking the Aquarium of the Pacific or one of the museums, though all of that is quite a distance from the hotel.

On the 17th I'll be heading back to LAX and flying back home, landing early in the afternoon of the 18th in the Netherlands.

This report will attempt to be a Live Trip Report in the same style as my previous visits to DLP and WDW, bringing stories of each day as they come with photos to be added once I return home.

No dining plan for this trip, as DLR is in many ways a very different park from WDW and DLP, but I'm looking forward to a lot of nice restaurant visits and the beautiful Halloween decorations and treats available only this time of year. :D
Universal Studios is an unknown for me, no blogs exist detailing daily park life to anywhere near the level of detail they do for WDW, even DLR feels a little under-reported in that sense. But I'm curious to see how it looks and feels, especially during Halloween Season. :D

Feel free to ask questions and leave comments below.
 
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 09:42:23 PM by DisneyRon »

norhel

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Have a great time! ☺
3 trips to DLP, 2 to WDW, 1 to Disneyland California



Puffin

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I really enjoyed your WDW report and it was quite useful for planning our own trip there earlier this year, so eagerly looking forward to this DLR report. Haven't been there either. Have a magical holiday!
may 2012 hotel new york ● november 2013 sequoia lodge ● may 2014 tokyo disneysea ● december 2014 sequoia lodge ● may 2016 fort wilderness resort (WDW) ● september 2016 sequoia lodge ● november 2016 newport bay ● march 2017 sequoia lodge ● april 2017 tokyo disneysea  ● may 2017 newport bay ● september 2017 hotel cheyenne  ● november 2017 santa fé  ● december 2017 tokyo disneyland  ● january 2018 tokyo disneysea ● april 2018 hotel cheyenne ● july 2018 newport bay ● august 2019 hotel cheyenne

bad-pink-tink

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have a great time, I miss LA, my one visit a year is just not enough lol

One suggestion for your free day is to take the Metro Red Line and go see Hollywood Boulevard / Walk of Fame. There is a free shuttle bus from Universal City Walk to the Universal Metro Station, which is just down the hill from the Hilton Hotel. Its about 10 minutes on the Red Line Metro from Universal Metro Station To Hollywood and Highland Metro Station. The same line continues to Downtown LA - get off at 7th Street Station and walk down Figeroa Street to Grammy Museum and LA LIVE / Staples Centre.
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DisneyRon

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have a great time, I miss LA, my one visit a year is just not enough lol

One suggestion for your free day is to take the Metro Red Line and go see Hollywood Boulevard / Walk of Fame. There is a free shuttle bus from Universal City Walk to the Universal Metro Station, which is just down the hill from the Hilton Hotel. Its about 10 minutes on the Red Line Metro from Universal Metro Station To Hollywood and Highland Metro Station. The same line continues to Downtown LA - get off at 7th Street Station and walk down Figeroa Street to Grammy Museum and LA LIVE / Staples Centre.

That sounds good Tink, thank you for the information, I'll look into it.
I had seen that the Red Line was close to the Hilton, but mostly followed it in the other direction, I did not realise Hollywood Boulevard was that close. :D

Have a great time! ☺

I really enjoyed your WDW report and it was quite useful for planning our own trip there earlier this year, so eagerly looking forward to this DLR report. Haven't been there either. Have a magical holiday!

Thank you both, I'm very much looking forward to the trip myself. :D


lovindisney87

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Have a fantastic time, I look forward to hearing all about it in your trip report  ;) :P
[size=150]Disney trips
Many i cant remember from childhood including a 2 week holiday to Disney World in Florida

Davy Crockett Ranch November 2003
Santa Fe October 2010
Santa Fe March 2012
Cheyenne January 2014
Cheyenne January 2016 😁
Davy Crockett Ranch January 2019

Hopefully many more to come

DisneyRon

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Have a fantastic time, I look forward to hearing all about it in your trip report  ;) :P

Thank you, I'll certanly try.

Now on to the events of Day 1

The day started nice and early at 5:30 CEST to get up, have breakfast and then check-in for my flight.
Everything went smoothly, and about 15 minutes after checking in I was through security and in the KLM Crown Lounge to wait for my flight.

We left nice and on time and had an uneventful and pleasant flight.

Once landed though the steps required started taking more and more time.
Security went reasonably quick, and the Electronic ESTA thingy worked just fine.
I was outside the Terminal around 12:25, I didn't catch my transfer until close to 14:00.

Prior to the Disneyland Express Bus I eventually took, I spotted 2 more, but these had made no indication to stop.

As a result, it was close to 4 PM PST before I left my hotel and went to pick up my ticket for the coming days.
Around about 16:30 I was in Disneyland. :D

Greeted by the familiar sight of Mainstreet USA I felt at home right away, despite never having visited this particular park before and plenty of differences between the Mainstreet sections of the 3 parks I've visited.

I popped into the Disney Gallery to look at some of the art, and as it happens a show of "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" was just starting. Hopping into the room this little show is a fun little excercise in American patriotism, but I have to say, the Lincoln animatronic model looks really good. :D

Exiting the Gallery after the show I walked right into the 4:30 showing of "Mickey's Soundsational Parade" which was rather fun, though getting through mainstreet was not easy, things had gotten very crowded all of a sudden.
This was a Sunday afternoon after all, and the park was rather full of guests. Wait-times for most rides were getting quite high, and the walkways were always full of people, whether walking or standing in extended Standby queues.

I decided on a little reconaissance walk around the park, to get to know the lay of the land somewhat.
Big Thunder Trail from Fantasyland to Frontierland was closed off due to Star Wars construction, which reduced available attractions and walking space, making the crowds even worse. Oddly enough, Critter Country was also closed off for some reason.

After completing my walk around the park I wandered towards the new Orleans area to kill some time before my 19:00 Dinner reservation at River Belle Terrace. As it turned out, Pirates was only on 25 minutes Standby Time, so I get in line. The ride was both familiar and new to me, the 2 large drops at the start are certainly missing at the versions in DLP and WDW, but beyond that the ride was enjoyable, and looked really good. No failing animatronics here, certainly.

By the time I returned from a trip on Pirates, it was time for dinner.
After cashing in my reservation I waited for 5-10 minutes to be seated.
The food was delicious and hit the spot after being awake for around 20 hours. ;)
As my starter I had the Pimento cheese dip (with celery and bread) and for the main course the BBQ Spare Ribs.
The dip was very tasty, with a nice hint of pepper and about 10k calories worth of cheese (I don't think I ate even half that cup of molten cheese), the main course was cooked to perfection with the meat falling off the bone with ease.

After dinner I debated whether or not I wanted to visit California Adventure, or get some sleep after typing the report.
In the end, I decided on the latter, as I was getting very tired indeed.

Tomorrow is another day, but now SLEEP! ;D

« Last Edit: October 10, 2016, 06:23:34 AM by DisneyRon »

Puffin

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Greeted by the familiar sight of Mainstreet USA I felt at home right away, despite never having visited this particular park before and plenty of differences between the Mainstreet sections of the 3 parks I've visited.

Having only visited DLP and WDW at times I find this so confusing already that certain parts of the parks look the same but in reality aren't. Like you think of a certain restaurant or ride around the corner that isn't there.  ;D
may 2012 hotel new york ● november 2013 sequoia lodge ● may 2014 tokyo disneysea ● december 2014 sequoia lodge ● may 2016 fort wilderness resort (WDW) ● september 2016 sequoia lodge ● november 2016 newport bay ● march 2017 sequoia lodge ● april 2017 tokyo disneysea  ● may 2017 newport bay ● september 2017 hotel cheyenne  ● november 2017 santa fé  ● december 2017 tokyo disneyland  ● january 2018 tokyo disneysea ● april 2018 hotel cheyenne ● july 2018 newport bay ● august 2019 hotel cheyenne

DisneyRon

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Greeted by the familiar sight of Mainstreet USA I felt at home right away, despite never having visited this particular park before and plenty of differences between the Mainstreet sections of the 3 parks I've visited.

Having only visited DLP and WDW at times I find this so confusing already that certain parts of the parks look the same but in reality aren't. Like you think of a certain restaurant or ride around the corner that isn't there.  ;D

Exactly Puffin, it's especially confusing as DLR and WDW have a very similar layout (the stores are different though), but the castle at the end of Mainstreet looks so much smaller at DLR, it was quite confusing. :)

bad-pink-tink

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really interesting reading a first timer report, its making me homesick for the Cali sunshine and the parks, I prefer California to Paris so looking forward to your thoughts :)
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Lavi

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Have a great time! Thank you for posting, I' ll follow your TR for sure.

DisneyRon

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Day 2 started rather early as Jetlag with a 9 hour time difference woke me up at 2 in the morning.

After dozing on for another few hours I got up and had breakfast at 6:30.
I walked towards the park around 7:50 and was through bag-check a little after 8.

As I was waiting in line I found out that it was Columbus day, all the children were free from school, so the park was going to be rather busy, though right now it was not bad at all.

Entering the park I headed into Adventureland, Indiana Jones is a rather popular ride and I wanted to try it out before the wait got too long.

When I arrived at the ride the wait was only 10 minutes, so after a short wait we were on our way.
This ride in many ways feels like a combination of DINOSAUR at WDW with the new version of Star Tours.
Like the new Star Tours there are many different routes the ride can take, but in this attraction you physically travel the chosen route with a vehicle similar to the giant jeeps in DINOSAUR.

After a short, but energetic ride were arrived back at the loading dock.
This ride is more vigorous than the one at WDWs DINOSAUR, but it's not too wild.

After exiting the ride I picked up a Fast Pass to it for a little later in the day.
Jungle Cruise next door had a 5 minute wait as well, so I got in line for that.
The cruise was entertaining as you'd expect, our captain having some fun on our tour around the jungle.

After exiting I had some time left until my 2nd Indiana Jones ride, so I headed out of Adventureland into New Orleans square to have a look at the wait at Haunted Mansion Haunted Holiday, this had been incredibly busy yesterday, but now the listed wait was only 10 minutes so I quickly got in line.
Having watched Tim Burtons Nightmare Before Christmas a few days ago this was a really fun trip into the film, crossed with the usual fun macabre atmosphere you'd find at the Haunted Mansion.

After the ride it was time for my 2nd trip with Indiana Jones, after a short wait (thanks to Fast Pass, the wait was over 30 minutes now).
Unfortunately I experienced the exact same ride as my first time, but it was still quite enjoyable. :)
Though I do not know how long it takes for the ride to be reconfigured, or if things can change on the go.

After Indie I made my way back to mainstreet, I wanted to drop in on the Photopass shop, as I had been unable to buy a week pass for my trip. At the shop they were more than willing to help, but after 20-25 minutes with Disneys tech support the problem remained unsolved. As it turns out, most EU Disney accounts can not buy things on the US DLR website, something they were unable to work around.

So in order to work around the issue they gave me a voucher code that unlocks all photos on my account after my vacation. I should just grab photos from rides and photopass photographers as much as I want, and the unlock code should give me all of them for free on my last day. I wonder if Disney will find a way to fix it at some point.


Next I walked into Tomorrowland, the crowds were pretty dense here, but the wait for the various Fast Pass stations was quite short, so I picked one up for Star Tours, the return time was an hour away.

The wait time for the other rides here were rather long, so I decided to take the Monorail for a short trip to Downtown Disney. At Downtown Disney I had a quick walk around and ate a lovely cherry churro. :) At Build-a-Bear I made a few pictures of the unique bears available and sent them to my friend Andybear asking her if she wanted one.

After looking around I headed back to the Monorail, a quick trip later I was back in Tomorrowland, and headed over to Star Tours for my flight. Our trip took us to Hoth this time, and got us into a fight with Boba Fett.

After Star Tours I wandered around Fantasyland and Frontierland a little, to kill some time until my 13:30 reservation at Blue Bayou restaurant for lunch. At the Golden Horseshoe I thought to grab a small sundea to help beat the heat. As it turns out the Golden Horseshoe does not do small sundaes, and I was presented with a rather large one instead.
2 fresh cookies, 2 large scoops of icecream and a pile of chocolate fudge, rather filling but delicious, and a live performance of some country classics to go with it.
Finishing the sundae I walked back to New Orleans square and had a sit down at the waterfront next to the Mark Twain paddleboat to rest a little.


At 13:15 I walked over to Blue Bayou for my lunch reservation. After waiting a few minutes I was seated in the restaurant. The atmosphere here is wonderful with the dark bayou that's part of the Pirates of the Caribean attraction serving as a background (a little like the ride runs along the outside of Blue Lagoon at DLP), the restaurant is a little dark as a result (much like the Blue Lagoon), but the food is wonderful. I had a cup of their signature gumbo as a starter and the Portobello Mushrooms as my main course, and a small Mango sorbet as the dessert.


The food was wonderful, but I was getting rather tired, because back home it would have been around the time I went to bed. Before I headed back to the hotel I wanted to swing by Build-a-bear to pick up the bear Andybear had selected as her gift. After picking it up I walked through Downtown Disney back to my hotel, this also gave me a chance to drop of a couple of things I bought in the park (The Disneyland Mug from Star Bucks among a few other things).

After resting a little at the hotel I walked back to the parks and headed into California Adventure for a look around at 17:20. The Pixar Play Parade was just setting up, so I found a nice spot along the route and watched the parade.

After it finished I walked around the park, the scenery here is gorgeous especially the canyons of the Carsland are amazing to watch, such detail, and so like the film. Quite a remarkable bit of Imagineering. Especially at sunset.

A little before 7 I headed to the entrance to the Grand Californian and made my way to Napa Rose, where I would be having dinner. This is a beautiful restaurant, and the food here is amazing. On the servers recommendation I tried the Scalop and Waigu Beef starter, which was delicious indeed. For the main course I chose the duck breast. For desert I once again selected the recommendation of the server, a Bombolino with some salted caramel icecream paired with a small glass of Madeira.
I had a good conversation with those seated at the table next to me, a pair of gentlemen from Detroit.

After dinner I walked back to the hotel, as my lack of sleep was starting to really wear me out, and California Adventure had closed for the night anyway.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After a lovely nights sleep (again waking at 2:30, but after that sleeping until 7:30) I will visit California Adventure again, though I will be arriving late, as I typed out my report of yesterday first.
It is now 11:10, and I'll be heading to the park in a little while.

EDIT: Yikes, this was rather long, my apologies.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 08:38:57 PM by DisneyRon »

DisneyRon

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To continue with my report for day 3, I arrived at the parks around 11:40, heading into California Adventure.

First looping by Soarin'  to grab a fast pass. The return time was 15:20, so I had quite a bit of time to kill.

Seeing that Ariels Adventure had only a 20 minute wait on the DLR app, I headed to that part of the park.
This ride, as far as I could see, was identical to the one in WDW, but still rather fun. :)
Though I will say it's Standby Line is very small, even at only 20 minutes the crowd was already well outside the allocated space for the ride.

Walking around the park for a little while to kill some time and picking up a Sea Salt Caramel Quake Shake at Ghirardelli's.


After finishing it I headed to the Carthay Circle restaurant, as I had a lunch reservation there. After waiting in the lounge for about 10 minutes I was shown to my table upstairs.
As my starter I had the restaurants signature biscuits.
The main course was the waygu beef ravioli, and finally as dessert the Butterscotch Panna Cotta.

After settling the bill, I headed over to the California Adventure Starbucks to grab the parks "You Are Here" mug.

It was now a little after 3, and my fast pass at Soarin' was coming up. :)
This was the first time I had seen the new "Soarin' around the world" show, but unlike some of the early reviews from WDW the showing here was flawless, no visible lines and such in the screen at all, just lots of beautiful videos.
It is a shame that each of the clips in the show are so short, as some of the scenes would be worth exploring further. :)

Next I watched the preview for the new Doctor Strange film and went on the Monsters Inc ride.
I was rather curious about Doctor Strange, as it's quite a different take on Marvels super heroes, and the preview was rather nice. Looking forward to watching the film once it comes out.

A little before 7 I headed over to the Grand Californian.
I had a 7:30 reservation at Story Teller's Cafe, I spent a few minutes looking around the hotels lobby to pass the time until my reservation.
For my starter I had the corn chowder. for the main course I had the pasta with duck confit with the warm chocolate bundt cake for dessert. :D


After dinner I headed back to the hotel to type up the days report.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 08:33:32 PM by DisneyRon »

DisneyRon

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Day 4,  I got up bright and early so I could be at California Adventure when it opened.

My first stop of the day would be the Radiator Springs Racers fast pass station, this ride looked rather good, but it had consistently been at 80 - 120 minutes of standby wait.
There was a mad scramble to the line, but it already ran from the fast pass station down to the restrooms on the far side of A Bug' s Land. The wait wasn't too long, and my return time was between 11:50 and 12:50.

I now made my way over to Toy Story Midway Mania, though the wait time had already gone up to 45 minutes by the time I arrived, I got in line anyway, as right now I mainly needed to kill some time until my Racers fast pass.
I managed to get my best score yet at Midway Mania, 107100 points. :D

Seeing in the Disneyland App that the wait for the Finding Nemo Submarine voyage was only 20 minutes, I decided to head over to the main park to do that ride. By the time I arrived the wait had gone up to 40 minutes, but since I still had about an hour until my fast pass I got in line anyway. The ride was quite fun, but its low capacity and lack of fast pass options this means the waits here tend to be rather long.

By now my Racers fast pass was 10 minutes away, so I made my way back to California Adventure.
Arriving at the ride, the fast pass line got me nice and close to the loading bay and a few minutes later we boarded the ride.
Surprisingly, despite the very different theme, the ride itself is quite like the driving section of Test Track at WDW.
Racing around the beautifully constructed landscape at high speed, it is more exciting than the simple circular track at WDW due to the greater variety of the road you race on.


After concluding the ride and grabbing the ride photo I walked over to Flo's V8 Cafe for lunch.

After lunch I returned to the hotel to rest a little, as it was going to be a long night with the Halloween Party and the accompanying parade and fireworks. I also have a dinner reservation at Blue Bayou, which includes VIP viewing for the parade and fireworks.

I'll probably edit this post after the party to include my thoughts.

EDIT: Mickey's Halloween Party added

I headed back to Disneyland at around 15:30, and relaxed in the park a little bit.
Most rides had long waits now that both Halloween Party guests and normal visitors were in the park.
But it was a nice day, so just sitting around people watching is a lot of fun.
There were many beautiful costumes on display already.


Around 6 I noticed that Pirates of the Caribean was showing a short wait, so I headed over and got in line. After another enjoyable ride I headed over to Blue Bayou, as it was nearly time for my reservation, I was seated after a few minutes of waiting.

The food was lovely, but it took a while, as the restaurant was very busy with many people coming for the Dining package as well as normal diners.
The ticket and lanyard for the parade viewing included a large bag of candy, so I wouldn't need to go and trick or treat. :D

It was nearly 8 o' clock now, and the parade viewing area opened at 8:15, with the parade itself starting at 8:50 with the ride of the Headless Horseman.
The parade was beautifully done, with many villains on display.

apologies for the blurry picture, my camera does not like low-light conditions

The fireworks followed closely after the parade.
An explosive display, accompanied with projections on the castle.
Though in my opinion this didn't work as well as it should, as the castle at DLR is very small.
So there isn't that much surface area to work with. The castles at DLP and WDW are far larger, as such these projection shows work better on those castles, rather than DLRs.
It was still a cool show though, with Jack Skellington playing the MC to a big scare shows featuring various villains.

After the fireworks I wanted to do Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, as the wait was far shorter now than it had been during the week. Unfortunately, I discovered that I physically don't fit in the trains. My legs are too long, and there's not enough room to fold them down so the bar can close.
This meant that I left Space Mountain somewhat disappointed, but such is life sometimes.

After this I headed back to the hotel to complete my report for the day.

Tomorrow is my last day at DLR and I will be heading to Universal City, and 2 days of Universal Studios Hollywood. I'll probably try and sleep in a little, and spend a few hours at the parks, then I'll head over to the Hilton at Universal City. My Universal ticket won't be valid until the day after tomorrow, so I'll be able to have a nice quiet day, with maybe a little shopping at Universal City Walk.


« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 08:54:23 PM by DisneyRon »

DisneyRon

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While I woke up at 3:45 in the morning, I woke up a 2nd time a little after 8.
After breakfast, packing my suitcases and checking out of my hotel, I headed to the parks, arriving a little before 11.
As I was arriving late, I decided to try and grab a few character photos, rather than waiting in line for rides. :)


I headed into DCA first, getting my picture taken with Oswald the lucky rabbit.
After that I headed towards Hollywood land to meet Olaf.
Olaf had not yet started meeting guests, so a little waiting around was needed.


After getting my picture taken with Olaf, I noticed that Nick and Judy were meeting next door.
Judy unfortunately left, but I did get my picture taken with Nick (not saved, so no photo  :o). :D

After taking a walk around DCA and snapping a few more pictures I headed through the Grand Californian into Downtown Disney to catch the Monorail, as that would probably get me into DLR faster than through the main entrance which was very busy indeed.

After arriving in Tomorrowland I headed into the Star Wars Launch Bay and got a picture with Chewbacca.
Chewy gives lovely hugs indeed. :D


It was now around 1 and I was feeling hungry. Wanting to try Bengal BBQ I headed into Adventureland.
There was quite a queue at the popular eatery, and after waiting in line I ordered a pair of skewers, a Tiger Tail bread-stick and a Pomegranate Piranha Lemonade. One of the skewers and lemonade were new items introduced for the 60th anniversary of the park. Good food indeed, it was easy to see why this little counterservice is as popular as it is.

Seeing that it was around 3 I headed for the exit of the park, swinging past the photo pass store to link all the photos I had taken. Unfortunately not all my photos were linking properly as there had been a technical issue with the server that handled ride photos. So unlocking my photos would have to wait until later.
On my way to the exit I noticed Halloween Goofy setting up for photos, quickly stepping in line and getting my picture with him, I exited the park and headed back to the hotel.


Once back at the hotel I called an Uber and travelled to the Hilton at Universal City and checked in.
For dinner I headed to Wasabi on the Universal Citywalk, and after returning typed up the days report.

Tomorrow I head into Universal Studios Hollywood. :) I'm very curious to see how big the differences between the Disney Parks and this one are.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 08:52:02 PM by DisneyRon »

 

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