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View Full Version : Tour Guide Mike for Universal ???


Julie-at-home
01-11-2009, 08:14 AM
I have never been to Universal. My friend and I are going the end of January to scope the place out for a weekend, so that we can take our families later and have an idea of what to expect. (and YES, enjoy a mom's weekend away for the first time EVER) I would NEVER go to Disney without tour guide mike. Is the anything or anyone available that gives his type of advice for the Universal parks? Mainly, what rides in what order, the ins and outs of manuvering through the day??? Tour Guide Mike for Universal, PLEASE?????

macraven
01-11-2009, 09:34 AM
I have never been to Universal. My friend and I are going the end of January to scope the place out for a weekend, so that we can take our families later and have an idea of what to expect. (and YES, enjoy a mom's weekend away for the first time EVER) I would NEVER go to Disney without tour guide mike. Is the anything or anyone available that gives his type of advice for the Universal parks? Mainly, what rides in what order, the ins and outs of manuvering through the day??? Tour Guide Mike for Universal, PLEASE?????

i have used TGM for 3 years in a row and it's not all it is cut out to be.
the only reason i have subbed to it is for the forums and the chit chat.

it's the same thing each year with just different dates involved.
i guess because i have been doing disney since 1974, i know pretty much what i need to know about it.

there is no "TGM" for universal.
the best thing is to read thru the stickies to get a basic foundation of what universal has to offer and how to do it.

the trip reports also give a lot of personal insight.
not everyone agrees on the things in the parks but you do get many pictures and personal experience.

the forum threads also have a lot to offer.

since you are a newbie to the universal parks, you need to fill us in on some basic info before we know what type of suggestions you need.

are you staying on site?
renting a car?
have likes and dislikes on certain types of rides? food?
your thoughts on entertainment?


if you are doing a 2 day weekend, are you talking about sat and sun?
saturdays have more crowds than any other day. staying on site is the best way to go then.

post again and let us know what you want to do in the parks and try to give more information so we can help better.

hth

Julie-at-home
01-11-2009, 10:02 AM
We are 2 moms going to check out the parks, so we want to see as much as we can fit into 2 to 2 1/2 days. We are staying at a universal preferred hotel, does that count as on-site? It includes early admission to the parks, if that is why we should stay on-site. Is there another big reason? We were planning on just getting the meal plan that includes the beverage cups, but I just read a post that the lines are long for that. We aren't planning on any fabulous meals (more time for riding), but I did read that you can get better food for still a great price w/o the meal plan. Any opinions??? I realize weekends are busy, but this is when we could manage to get away, and without kids in tow, we should be able to get around a LOT faster. Thanks so much for any info.

ps: I have had GREAT success with tour guide mike for our family of 5.

macraven
01-11-2009, 10:39 AM
We are 2 moms going to check out the parks, so we want to see as much as we can fit into 2 to 2 1/2 days. We are staying at a universal preferred hotel, does that count as on-site? It includes early admission to the parks, if that is why we should stay on-site. Is there another big reason? We were planning on just getting the meal plan that includes the beverage cups, but I just read a post that the lines are long for that. We aren't planning on any fabulous meals (more time for riding), but I did read that you can get better food for still a great price w/o the meal plan. Any opinions??? I realize weekends are busy, but this is when we could manage to get away, and without kids in tow, we should be able to get around a LOT faster. Thanks so much for any info.

ps: I have had GREAT success with tour guide mike for our family of 5.


what is the name of your hotel where you are staying?
when someone says they have a package for the partner hotels, that means it is off site. when you say preferred hotels, i am thinking preferred and partner mean the same. maybe i am wrong. the onsite hotels are the royal pacific, hard rock and portofino bay hotels.

the preferred/partner hotels are not on site and universal does sell a package vacation for them.
i know double tree is popular in the package deal.

this is the partner hotel site that universal offers.

http://www.universalorlando.com/florida-vacation-packages/partner-hotels-nf.html

those preferred off site hotels have free shuttles.
the times are set by the hotels.

in some packages with the partner hotels, universal gives special perks.
one is early admission but not the fotl/front of the line, for the express lanes for rides and admissions.

if you can state the name of the hotel, that would help.
for some of the off site hotels if you miss the shuttle, it is walkable to the parks and not an issue.

the meal deal and the beverage deal is another add on to a package.

i am in the minority on enjoying that promo. i love the food at Louie's and IFFF.
more of the regular posters don't find it beneficial to purchase both of those promos.

the meal deal promo is for 3 places in each park. (did you buy the both park meal deal or just one park meal deal?)
you have an armband to show you entitlted to the dining program.

i only buy the meal deal for the studios side of the park as i prefer the menu there for favorite resturants.

you can find the menus on the allears.net site for universal places and city walk.

with the meal promo, you have to go thru the line each time you want additional food. there is no cut off on how many times you go thru the line but each time you will get the full entitlement.
if the lines are long at the counter services, then it does take away from ride time.
i do louie's a lot. and i do the line twice in a row for additional pizza/salad.

the places do not serve breakfast. they open at 11:00 and close 30 minutes before park closing.
to make it worth it financially, eat at 11 again late afternoon and before the 30 minute closing time comes.
maybe you can buy the meal deal for the first day and then decide if it is worth it for you.

in a 5 day stay for me, i only do it once on a trip as it cuts into my ride time in the parks.

i have read that people buying the beverage cup for unlimited drinks have been able to use it throughout their stay. they have not had to rebuy it for each day they are in the park.

i take back my refillable mug each year and pay the refill price for soda.
if this will be your only trip to universal, you probably won't want the refillable mug thing then.

the only problem when you take a mug back to the park, or buy the sippy cup beverage promo is you have to carry it around with you all day.

some rides do not allow any carry ons.
that includes purses, back packs, umbrellas, mugs, cups, etc.

free lockers are outside those rides that do not allow carry ons.

i get lazy and hate to use lockers before getting in a ride line.
it might not be an issue for you though.

guests that stay on site at the 3 hotels i listed above, have perks at universal.
the use their hotel key cards to use the express lane for all rides and attractions. it is valid for unlimited rides.
if you stay off site, you do not get that perk.
off site people can buy the express pass plus but it is only valid for each ride/attraction once only.
sometimes the epp is not necessary especially if the parks have low attendance.

if you are off site, i suggest you be at the park entrance turnstile 30 minutes before opening. many times universal will open prior to the official opening time.
if you do that, go to ioa first as they have more rides before opening time.

if you have access for early entry with your package, take advantage of it.

you can cover a lot of ground with the parks when it is empty.
crowds usually begin around 11ish in the day.
you could do the highlights of ioa and then move over to the studios side by noontime.

are there any rides you prefer not to do such as coasters?

at the universalorlando.com you can find the interactive website for all rides.
this will give you an idea of how the ride will function.

pick up a park guide map when you enter the park.
it will list character greetings locations and times for the day.

there's more i can say but i'll wait so others can jump in.

macraven
01-11-2009, 10:42 AM
if you have AAA, you will get 10% off of food and merch in the universal parks.
some of city walk honors AAA discounts also.


you only need one card between you to get the discounts.

Julie-at-home
01-11-2009, 04:56 PM
Thank you so much for all of the information. Gives me something to chew on for a while. I would LOVE to stay at one of the 3 on-site hotels, but I have trouble justifying it if the only real benefit (other than the luxury!) is the front of the line passes. As good as they sound, are they worth ALL of the extra $$$ ??? I am still debating the meal passes. Are the lines for the meals that long in January??

macraven
01-11-2009, 05:17 PM
i think i stand alone on the meal deal promo being a good thing.

most people don't feel it is worth it.

for me, it is.

i love louie's pizza, salads and meat ball sandwiches.
they don't taste like regular park food.

i also love IFFF, international food film festival...may have mixed up the F's though

i really like one of the chinese dishes, the fruit salad, fried chicken dinner and another entree there.

when i do the meal plan, i always go right before the 30 minutes before closing time and get pizza to take back to my room.

i take one park day to pig out on food......:laughing:
i'm then rolled back to my hotel room......

if you are only going for a couple of days, it will take time out from the rides and attractions by standing in the food lines.
most of the counter service places are situated indoors with the exception of amityville cs places.

to do repeats, meaning to get another slice of pizza, you have to go back thru the line and they give you everything that is to be on the meal deal promo. even if you don't want the dessert again, you still get it.

if you go to the parks on a day that it is opened late, i think it is worth it.
but if you are only going for 2 days, it does take time away from doing other things.

i just looked back and you are staying in january.
the parks do not stay open late that month.

i have stayed off site and on site.
when i stayed off site, ioa was not built at that time.

with both parks and city walk, i prefer to stay on site.
it is more money but i travel solo now and like to not have to deal with renting a car or leaving the park when it is dark.

after a long day in the park, i'm tired at the close of the parks.
i like being very close to the hotel and not have to deal with anything but returning back to the hotel for the evening or city walk to dine.

i stay at least for 4 nights and try to get the super saver rates.
these are available to the general public.
when i can't get them, i use my AAA card for a discount on the rooms.

i also have the ap but have not found them to give me the cheapest discounted rates for the time i go.

i also check the rates prior to my going on my trip.
if the hotels on site have not sold out or have a high occupancy for my dates, rates are typically lowered.

you can call and modify your room rate when that happens.
they only lower it if you request it as it is not automatic.

i figure in the cost of the off site hotel and transportation.
i also figure in the cost to travel to off site places for food.

then i compare it to the total on site cost.

when i took my boys with me, we would come out ahead by staying on site.

at this point by going solo, i might come out ahead by staying off site but don't want to deal with the commuting back and forth to a park.

i can do the water rides and return to the on site hotel to change.
then go back to the park.
if i was off site, i would probably call it a day and not return to the parks.


it's a tough call to make if you should stay on site or off.

you could compromise and spend the first night at the onsite hotel and the second night stay off site.
all guests at the 3 hotels get to use their hotel room key for fotl perks the day they check in and the day they check out of the hotel.

you would have 2 days of fotl then and save money on the second night of your room by being off site.

many of the partner hotels offer free shuttles to the park.

macraven
01-11-2009, 05:25 PM
Thank you so much for all of the information. Gives me something to chew on for a while. I would LOVE to stay at one of the 3 on-site hotels, but I have trouble justifying it if the only real benefit (other than the luxury!) is the front of the line passes. As good as they sound, are they worth ALL of the extra $$$ ??? I am still debating the meal passes. Are the lines for the meals that long in January??

as usual i didn't answer your questions but rambled in my last post.

perks of staying on site include the fotl, pool hopping to the other pools, free transportation from hotel to parks by water taxi or internal bus.

there are activities at the pools daily. towels provided free at all hotels.
there are dive in movie nights free to the hotel guests on some nights at the pool.

they have star service to provide you with anything you forgot to bring.
toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, etc (free)

you can have the lobby concierge help with ressies at city walk resturants, call a cab, print out boarding tickets for flights.

if you travel with a pet, all the hotels are pet friendly.

all the on site hotels have resturants and you can go to any of them.

i'm sure others can come up with more perks.

i like the total immersion of universal by staying at the hotels on site.
i also like having city walk near the hotels when i want to eat after the parks close.

i have not been in january to the parks in ages.

from what i have been reading on the threads, it looks like lines have been long for rides but not many have mentioned long lines for food.

kirbsam
01-11-2009, 06:04 PM
staying on site is worth it. fotl is the best. it eliminates all touring plan headaches. you go on what you want when you want, and never worry about lines. plus your hotel is less than a ten minute walk from the parks, and you never have to worry about transportation issues. pool hopping isnt my thing. so that perk does nothing for me. but fotl is the best perk there is.

joeytdog
01-12-2009, 03:23 PM
Does anyone have a TGM like plan for a DD4 and DS5 years old?

We are going on Memorial Day weekend and dont want to tour like "them" (wink wink to the TGM crowd)

We plan on being at the RD and are staying at Disney

can anyone offer up a plan for rides?

We are not really interested in playgrounds etc

Like, hit this ride 1st then this ride then this ride, etc

We have never been to Universal and I am really looking forward to it, just cant go without a plan

Thanks!

macraven
01-12-2009, 03:52 PM
Does anyone have a TGM like plan for a DD4 and DS5 years old?

We are going on Memorial Day weekend and dont want to tour like "them" (wink wink to the TGM crowd)

We plan on being at the RD and are staying at Disney

can anyone offer up a plan for rides?

We are not really interested in playgrounds etc

Like, hit this ride 1st then this ride then this ride, etc

We have never been to Universal and I am really looking forward to it, just cant go without a plan

Thanks!

are you staying on site at universal for one night? if you are, you can get 2 days of fotl for all rides and attractions free. it is a perk for on site guests.

how many days do you plan for universal?
or, are you doing a one day trip only?

i would definitely avoid the weekends at uo during the time period you are going. do disney then and do universal during the week.




looking back at your post, you stated you are doing disney for the memorial day weekend.
let me rephrase my question and ask, how many days do you plan for the vacation? just the 3 day weekend of sat, sun, mon...





some rides at universal, just like at disney, have height requirements.
before i list rides and a system to follow, how tall are your children?
and, are you planning to do both parks on the day trip?

joeytdog
01-12-2009, 04:18 PM
TIA

We are traveling to Disney from May 18th until the 26th, I believe. Whatever the Monday before Memorial Day is to the Tuesday after.

I have not yet planned which days I will hit which park as Disney has yet to release their May hours.

However I have begun to plan the rides and order in which to see them

When it comes to universal, I am going into the unknown as I no nothing about it and have never been

I will try and avoid Memorial Day weekend and hit Universal during the week before.

What about order of rides? What are your thoughts there?

My children will be over 40inches, but not over 42 (at least not both of them) DD will just be 4 in July and she will make it over 40 but not 42

What are your thoughts?

joeytdog
01-12-2009, 04:20 PM
Would you drive over from Disney Boardwalk Villas or take a cab? How much is the cost difference in terms of paying for parking versus taking a cab. What time should I leave the boardwalk to make RD? Sorry for all the questions

Metro West
01-12-2009, 04:53 PM
Would you drive over from Disney Boardwalk Villas or take a cab? How much is the cost difference in terms of paying for parking versus taking a cab. What time should I leave the boardwalk to make RD? Sorry for all the questions I would look into Mears Transportation...it's cheaper than a cab. You would need to make arrangements 24 hours in advance...the website is below. The round trip fare is $16.00/per person...I don't know what a rental car would cost but you would save the $12.00 parking fee. I would leave around 7:45am or so...you want to be there before the parks open to beat the crowds.

www.mearstransportation.com

macraven
01-12-2009, 05:12 PM
TIA

We are traveling to Disney from May 18th until the 26th, I believe. Whatever the Monday before Memorial Day is to the Tuesday after.

I have not yet planned which days I will hit which park as Disney has yet to release their May hours.

However I have begun to plan the rides and order in which to see them

When it comes to universal, I am going into the unknown as I no nothing about it and have never been

I will try and avoid Memorial Day weekend and hit Universal during the week before.

What about order of rides? What are your thoughts there?

My children will be over 40inches, but not over 42 (at least not both of them) DD will just be 4 in July and she will make it over 40 but not 42

What are your thoughts?

the height requirement is 40 inches for some of the rides while some others are at 42" and 54".

there are quite a few that have no height requirement for the rides.


this is the link to universal:

http://www.universalorlando.com/amusement-parks/theme-park-overview.html

look thru and check the height requirements on the rides you think would be good for your family.


i started to make a list in order for you but not sure if the rides i point out would be okay for your family.

i have boys.
they started roller coasters and thrill rides when they were 5 years old at the local SF. by the time i took them to universal, they did all fast rides without fear.

will you have another adult with you so you can utilize the child swap program? i'm not sure your 3 year old will able to do some of the rides due to height or fear. thinking spiderman ride here. it is a 3 D ride w/some fast movements.

joeytdog
01-12-2009, 05:20 PM
Please make a list order

If we cannot all ride the ride, we skip it. i.e. 40 inch height requirement

keishashadow
01-12-2009, 05:26 PM
the WDW unofficial guide had park touring schedule last i looked, same as u'd find for disney parks...which always worked well enough for us that i didn't have to spend the money on TGM:confused3

if u don't have the time or inclination, then i'd look into it; yet for me...planning is 1/2 the fun of the trip:thumbsup2

there are other guides in various books, Kelly Monaghans is the best imo for newbies

donaldduck352
01-12-2009, 07:04 PM
Please make a list order

If we cannot all ride the ride, we skip it. i.e. 40 inch height requirement


The stickys on top of the page and the peeps that try and help you should give all the info you need..

Stickys have more info, if you would read them, then anywhere!!
We-us on this board try too help,but if you dont read the stickys(they are there for A reason)we cant answer everything for everyone!!:thumbsup2

AlexandNessa
01-12-2009, 07:23 PM
I agree, donald. I don't think anyone reads the stickies. :(

Raven, what is the going rate for your travel agency/TGM services? :lmao:

Maybe you could set up a little site, and charge $18.95 with a Disboard discount? Tour Guide Raven?! TGR for Universal! Isn't there some saying about buying the cow when you could get the milk for free? Well stop, and just earn a living at it already. :rotfl:

nascarcheshirecat
01-12-2009, 07:38 PM
I read the stickies notes and get really great info.
I also get the Universal Guide by K. Monaghan.
What a great book! Loads of practical, usefull advice!http://bestsmileys.com/reading/4.gif

bubba's mom
01-12-2009, 08:53 PM
there are other guides in various books, Kelly Monaghans is the best imo for newbies

I agree...Kelly Monaghan's Universal Orlando book is THE Universal bible for noobs. :thumbsup2

http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Orlando-2009-Ultimate-Adventure/dp/1887140786/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231817231&sr=1-1 It has touring plans for 1 day, 2 days, 1 park, 2 parks....

Just a warning tho...if you aren't looking for 'playgrounds' (which are a TON of fun!) and aren't riding anything over 40", you might want to do some serious research. I think you'd be disappointed.

Seriously tho...read thru the stickys, Universal's home page and buy Kelly's book...it's awesome. :goodvibes

by the way mac...very well answered...as usual...above and beyond ;)

loribell
01-12-2009, 09:19 PM
I would LOVE to stay at one of the 3 on-site hotels, but I have trouble justifying it if the only real benefit (other than the luxury!) is the front of the line passes. As good as they sound, are they worth ALL of the extra $$$ ???

Absolutely without a doubt!

Joeytdog - most of us that love Universal stay onsite. We do not have to worry about touring plans. We can not tell you which order to do which rides. That is something you will have to decide for your family. As the others have said Kelly Monaghan's book is your best bet.


Mac once again you went above and beyond!