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Calling all Universal experts!

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  • Calling all Universal experts!

    Let me start off by saying that my family is all over the place with this year's vacation. We are between going back out west, on a cruise, to New England, to the beach, to Niagara Falls/Toronto, or back to Disney with a trip to Universal, so yes, all over the place. I'm honestly starting to have anxiety about vacation because I always have the next summer's vacation planned a good year in advance, so for us to not have something booked now for the summer is totally not the norm. Today, we spent a lot of time talking about and looking at different options, and I think Disney and Universal are going to win out - for now!

    Here is where I need help! My sons spent one day at Universal in the spring when they went with their high school marching band. They absolutely loved it, hence why we are considering a trip there. Since neither myself nor DH has never been, I'm having a hard time guesstimating how much time we will need there. I've asked my boys, and they are being as helpful as two, 16-year-olds can be.

    We are thinking of flying down on a Monday morning, arriving to Universal between 2:00-3:00pm. Would it be beneficial for us to go to a park when we arrive or just spend time at our hotel and get the lay of the land? We plan on spending one night at one of their premiere (deluxe?) resorts to get the Express Pass. We also want to go to Volcano Bay one day and will probably spend a night or two at Cabana Bay. How many days/nights total should we plan for? If we did visit a park on our arrival day, could we see/do most of the rides between the two parks with Express Pass in 1 1/2 days or should we plan for another day? We would like to to arrive at Disney by Friday, but was also wondering if we could plan on a Thursday night arrival?

    Any help would be appreciated! I'm at a total loss.
    Louise

    2022 ~ POP; 2021 ~ BC/Poly; 2018 ~ POR/YC; 2017 ~ Disney Dream/BLT; 2016 ~ BC/Poly; 2015 ~ BC/Poly (June) and Disney Fantasy (November/December); 2014 ~ Poly; 2013 ~ Disney Fantasy; 2012 ~ BCV (June) and Disney Magic (August); 2010 ~ WL; 2009 ~ POP/CBR; 2004 ~ WL; 1996 ~ Dixie Landings; 1991 ~ CBR; 1985 ~ Fort Wilderness

  • #2
    It really all depends on whether you want to do absolutely everything. My sons (22 & 27) are getting quite blasé about parks in general, and each was happy with 3/4 of a day visiting both parks this summer, on separate trips.

    Are they Harry Potter fans at all? You can spend quite some time exploring all the HP things. You'll need the park-to-park pass in order to ride the Hogwarts Express, which is fun. Each direction has a different experience, so be sure to ride it twice.

    Velocicoaster is SO. MUCH. FUN. if you're a thrillseeker like me. It has a single rider line that's usually much shorter.

    The Hulk coaster is too rough for me, but my sons like it. Your head is just battered between the back cushions and it gives me a huge headache.

    The food options are MUCH more limited than at Disney, but there's plenty.


    1 1/2 - 2 days will get all the major rides in (except maybe during high-crowd periods).

    Their app is really good, so I'd advise downloading it and starting to decide what you want to ride. A whole lotta 3-D rides there, btw.

    Have fun!
    WDW visits: 1977, 1985, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 3-2014, 9-2014, 11-2015 (birthday trip), 5-2016, 2-2017, 3-2017 x2, 6-2017, 8-2017, 10-2017x2, 11-2017x2, 12-2017. Living in Florida now--lost count!
    DISNEYLAND(no kids): 1984, 1993, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 6-2014 (DS19 & me!), 8-2014 (solo), 12-2015 (solo), 9-2016, 9/2019.

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    • #3
      My boys want to do almost everything, I’m just along for the ride, lol.

      My boys rode the Velocicoaster twice when they were there and absolutely loved it! I’ll pass on that one, but DH is definitely looking forward to it. They also rode Hulk and they liked it, but said they are totally okay not riding it again.
      We definitely want to ride all the Harry Potter rides and we just want to have time to explore the HP area. Good tip on riding Hogwarts Express both ways. I know I want to see the Bourne stunt show, and I’m sure there are other things I want to do, I just don’t know what those things are yet.

      Any food recommendations? We’ll probably do mostly quick service, but might eat at a sit down restaurant once.

      I’ll get the app. Thanks for the suggestion!
      Louise

      2022 ~ POP; 2021 ~ BC/Poly; 2018 ~ POR/YC; 2017 ~ Disney Dream/BLT; 2016 ~ BC/Poly; 2015 ~ BC/Poly (June) and Disney Fantasy (November/December); 2014 ~ Poly; 2013 ~ Disney Fantasy; 2012 ~ BCV (June) and Disney Magic (August); 2010 ~ WL; 2009 ~ POP/CBR; 2004 ~ WL; 1996 ~ Dixie Landings; 1991 ~ CBR; 1985 ~ Fort Wilderness

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      • #4
        Originally posted by disny_luvr View Post
        My boys want to do almost everything, I’m just along for the ride, lol.

        My boys rode the Velocicoaster twice when they were there and absolutely loved it! I’ll pass on that one, but DH is definitely looking forward to it. They also rode Hulk and they liked it, but said they are totally okay not riding it again.
        We definitely want to ride all the Harry Potter rides and we just want to have time to explore the HP area. Good tip on riding Hogwarts Express both ways. I know I want to see the Bourne stunt show, and I’m sure there are other things I want to do, I just don’t know what those things are yet.

        Any food recommendations? We’ll probably do mostly quick service, but might eat at a sit down restaurant once.

        I’ll get the app. Thanks for the suggestion!

        For meals, you might do just as well going to City Walk outside to eat. I wasn't hugely impressed. DS22 and I did eat at the big sit-down place with the (very old) sign out front that said "voted best park restaurant" or something like that. He's vegan and was impressed with what they had. I think I liked my food, too.

        I'm not a foodie, alas, so don't remember that stuff too well, sorry!

        But the boys can get the big smoked turkey legs at a few places, which is what DS27 enjoyed most.
        WDW visits: 1977, 1985, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 3-2014, 9-2014, 11-2015 (birthday trip), 5-2016, 2-2017, 3-2017 x2, 6-2017, 8-2017, 10-2017x2, 11-2017x2, 12-2017. Living in Florida now--lost count!
        DISNEYLAND(no kids): 1984, 1993, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 6-2014 (DS19 & me!), 8-2014 (solo), 12-2015 (solo), 9-2016, 9/2019.

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        • #5
          We did one day at Universal at the start of out Disney vacation this summer. Two of my adult children, their spouses and two Harry Potter crazy kids-aged 6 and 8.

          I've stayed at Royal Pacific and Portofino Bay and loved both. This year we were just there for an overnight so stayed at the Surfside Inn and suites. It was overall pretty disappointing but it may have been we were in and out and it was a Friday night.

          It was very crowded at Universal (and the downpour started around 1:30 and continued. While the kids enjoyed it, they much preferred Disney even though they are both thrill riders. I think the crowds and the layout didn't help. My son and his family stayed longer than the rest of us and they seemed to enjoy it more when the crowds cleared after a few hours of heavy rain. My kids preferred Universal when they were teens but as adults prefer Disney. I think my granddaughter didn't like some of the "darkness" of the rides. She loved every Disney mountain and coaster but hated the Haunted Mansion and beginning of the Tower of Terror (loved the drops)

          We spent most of the time on Harry Potter and the kids shared a wand which they enjoyed although I think it was ridiculously priced at $75. and was glad my grandchildren are good at sharing. I think one day was enough (we had park to park tickets) and if you are going I would urge staying at one of the hotels with Front of the Line Access. It makes a huge difference. With two teen boys, I might plan three days and let them return to the hotel when they wanted. We did not have a car and transportation was easy, even from a lower priced hotel.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Huntermom View Post
            We did one day at Universal at the start of out Disney vacation this summer. Two of my adult children, their spouses and two Harry Potter crazy kids-aged 6 and 8.

            I've stayed at Royal Pacific and Portofino Bay and loved both. This year we were just there for an overnight so stayed at the Surfside Inn and suites. It was overall pretty disappointing but it may have been we were in and out and it was a Friday night.

            It was very crowded at Universal (and the downpour started around 1:30 and continued. While the kids enjoyed it, they much preferred Disney even though they are both thrill riders. I think the crowds and the layout didn't help. My son and his family stayed longer than the rest of us and they seemed to enjoy it more when the crowds cleared after a few hours of heavy rain. My kids preferred Universal when they were teens but as adults prefer Disney. I think my granddaughter didn't like some of the "darkness" of the rides. She loved every Disney mountain and coaster but hated the Haunted Mansion and beginning of the Tower of Terror (loved the drops)

            We spent most of the time on Harry Potter and the kids shared a wand which they enjoyed although I think it was ridiculously priced at $75. and was glad my grandchildren are good at sharing. I think one day was enough (we had park to park tickets) and if you are going I would urge staying at one of the hotels with Front of the Line Access. It makes a huge difference. With two teen boys, I might plan three days and let them return to the hotel when they wanted. We did not have a car and transportation was easy, even from a lower priced hotel.
            Thank you for your response!

            I booked Cabana Bay for four nights with three day, three park, park-to-park (that's a tongue twister) tickets. I also booked a throw away room at Royal Pacific to get the Express Pass for two days. I went back and forth on this with my TA for a few days and after we broke it down, this made the most sense.

            I'm excited, but also a little sad to be cutting our Disney portion of the trip shorter to go to Universal. I'd love to go to Universal first, but we want to take advantage of the extra magic hours for deluxe guests and in order to do that, we have to go to Disney first. I hope I enjoy Universal and am not secretly wishing I were still back in Disney. Regardless, my boys are really, really excited about Universal and that makes me happy and excited for them.
            Louise

            2022 ~ POP; 2021 ~ BC/Poly; 2018 ~ POR/YC; 2017 ~ Disney Dream/BLT; 2016 ~ BC/Poly; 2015 ~ BC/Poly (June) and Disney Fantasy (November/December); 2014 ~ Poly; 2013 ~ Disney Fantasy; 2012 ~ BCV (June) and Disney Magic (August); 2010 ~ WL; 2009 ~ POP/CBR; 2004 ~ WL; 1996 ~ Dixie Landings; 1991 ~ CBR; 1985 ~ Fort Wilderness

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