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CheapMom
01-15-2005, 03:25 PM
We just had a great trip to WDW in Dec. and we have been to WDW many times. We have some airfare vouchers to Orlando that we must use before April 1st or we will lose them. We were thinking of doing a non-Disney Orlando trip. Our kids are 2, 8, and 9.
We were thinking of getting the 3 day Universal Tickets from ticketmania (3rd day free tickets)

Are the parks good for my kid's ages?
What is a good, cheap place to stay around Universal?
Will we need a rental car?
Will it be a dissapointment after WDW?

TIA :D

Cindy B
01-15-2005, 03:43 PM
As you may not know, there is a Universal Board on this website. They are very helpful there.

As for your question, 2, 8,9 that all depends on thier likes. My 9 year (now 10) loved Universal/IOA better than WDW on our last trip in November.

What is thier heights, fear tolerance, etc. are all questions you need to ask yourself.

Annual passes are a great deal here, we bought ours in August and by our families third day in the parks, the pass was paid for.

Good cheap place to stay, well you can stay on WDW property provided you have a car. Its only about a 15 minute drive down I4. As for close hotels, there is a Country Inn and Suites on Carrier Drive, and lots others on Kirkman, Sandlake, and International Drive. Some hotels do not offer a shuttle to universal, but to WDW so take that into consideration. Onsite Universal is wonderful, but it can be pricey. However, you do get onsite express which is wonderful way to see the parks with little wait. The hotels are gorgeous if you want to outlay the cash.

I've seen people walk it from the Country Inn and Suites, but your kids are young. You basically walk over a paved overpass over I4! Its all paved, and lights, but your kids are young. I've seen middle school/older attempt it with adults guardians.

Universal is near Wet n Wild, so if you find hotels that state they are close to Wet n Wild you should be fine. Check for shuttles though.


As for disappointment, my son couldn't wait to get back to Universal (we did a split trip). However my son is a thrill seeker, who is big for his age. He found WDW boring with the exception of ToT and Rock N Roller.. he even said those rides got boring after a while.

Its fun, intense and vastly different from WDW.

bethnburke
01-15-2005, 04:58 PM
We took a trip to Universal and WDW last year with DS who was 2 1/2 at the time. He loved Universal, probably had a better time there than at WDW. There are several areas at both parks that cater soley to small children. IMHO I think their play areas are better than the ones at WDW, at least for small children.

Sandyincanada
01-15-2005, 05:26 PM
Universal/IOA is fantastic. If you post on the Universal boards, you'll probably get more answers. I just wanted to say that before you buy those tickets, I do know that Universal is having a sale where you get a kid ticket free with every adult ticket. Its on their site and I'm not sure of all the details as my kids are older but its worth a look, its a great deal.

CheapMom
01-15-2005, 05:46 PM
thanks for all your great info- I will also check out the Universal board.

Leigha
01-15-2005, 06:01 PM
I don't know if it is just because we have girls (princesses ages 14 and 10) or what but we went to Universal this summer and we've been there, done that and don't really need to go back again. We too were curious and we enjoyed all they had to offer but it just wasn't Disney. My sister feels the same way. I will say that we would NEVER go and not stay on Universal's property. The front of the line service is the best thing they have going! I can't tell you how many people we passed in line and how many times I was thankful we were staying onsite! You can watch and get good deals. We stayed at the Royal Pacific and Hard Rock and both were great! Check out the Universal Resorts board to watch for pricing and tips. I'm a curious person so I wouldn't be satisfied until I had been there but I won't have to go back. We're just Disney people! :earboy2:

Sandy22
01-15-2005, 06:11 PM
My DS (10 at the time) loved Universal much more than Disney. We actually didn't go the first 3 times we went to Florida. After we went to Universal, I couldn't believe we had missed out on it for so long! And I agree the play areas are great for the little ones. Your 2 year old will love Barney, the Curious George waterpark and the Dr. Seuss area.

HappyLawyer
01-15-2005, 10:35 PM
this was our first time doing seaworld and universal in addition to disney, i am sorry i had so much more fun at IOA-lol it doesn't matter because nothing will ever beat disney but they plenty of tings to do there is one little section just for kids, they can play and get wet, it was awesome, keep watch and check the universal site, they were offering 5 days for the price of 2 which beat out what ticketmania was offering, i still used ticketmania cuz i had never been and most of my days would be at disney and i would not go more then 3 to universal but next time i will get the 5 days if they offer it

Luv2Roam
01-15-2005, 10:54 PM
I would look for hotels on the side of I4 that Universal is on, rather than near Wet N Wild. On the WnW side is the Red Horse Inn. I don't know anything about it or what it looks like, except driving by it. But to me that would still seem like a long walk. I am sure those surrounding hotels all have shuttles.

CheapMom
01-16-2005, 08:17 AM
Thanks-
I tried the Univ. board but I am not getting much response. Here is a budget/Universal question regarding hotel/lodging.
I am pretty sure I can't afford to stay on-site at Univ.- it looks like at least $200 per night. Anyone know of a clean hotel with a decent pool for around $50- $75 per night?
Also- am I right about Universal on-site? Or can you get onsite for less than rack rate?

One more question- I am trying to say this nicely- the tickets are so cheap to Universal parks- does that attract a "rough" crowd to their parks. Please don't flame me but we live near a cheap 6 Flags and I can't go there with my family because the people behave so badly- like people yelling at their kids and littering- using foul language... I am not trying to sound snobby- I hope this isn't offensive to anyone.

aka-mad4themouse
01-16-2005, 08:30 AM
I think that the 8 & 9 yo's might enjoy Universal but there's not a lot there for a 2 yo. The exceptions would be Seuss Island in IOA and Feivel's Playground in USF. If your older children like thrill rides (and are tall enough), they'll love the coasters in IOA. Spiderman (in IOA) and The Mummy (in USF) are awesome, high-tech rides. Disney has nothing that matches them! The shows are very well-done. We loved the Sinbad show at IOA.

You can get a great deal right now at Universal's website for 5-day Bonus Passes. They're offering one free child's pass with every adult pass purchased. The adult passes are $119.50 (before taxes, which are 6.5%), plus a $2 charge for Will-Call pickup. That would bring the cost of up to 5 day's admission for your family to $256.54. Buying the 2-day with a 3rd day free from Ticketmania would cost your family $402!

Here's the link to Universal's offer: Universal Kids Free Offer (http://themeparks.universalstudios.com/orlando/website/kids_free_landing.html)

The drawbacks to the passes are the following: The passes are good for 5 consecutive days of admission. You can visit the parks, hopping between the two, everyday for 5 days. On the sixth day after the first use, regardless of whether you've visited the parks 5 times or only once, the tickets expire.
The children's pass first day of use must be by Dec 27, 2005.
You cannot have the passes sent to you. They must be picked up at the Will-Call window when you visit the parks. It's pretty easy to do and you don't need to stand in the long line for regular tickets. I think that the will-call pickup is being used to discourage people who do not need children's passes from re-selling them at a profit on eBay.
Like Disney, Universal considers a "child" to be between the ages of 3 & 9. Children ages 10 & older pay the adult price. Children under the age of 3 get in for free.

As far as hotels are concerned, I think that you'll find there are some very nice hotels along the I4 corridor. There are some real dives, as well. So be careful and read reviews before you book! A cheap place may not be worth the little bit of cash that you spend.

You will not need a rental car if your hotel offers free shuttle service to the parks. Staying onsite would be the best option but the hotels are not cheap. However, they often give great discounts with the Entertainment Book. You cannot check those rates on the Loew's Website. You would need to call to check availability. The Royal Pacific is Universal's most affordable hotel. I would rate it at the same level as a Disney moderate.

Finally, will you be disappointed? If you go there expecting Universal to be like Disney, you will be. The parks are marketed to an older target group than Disney. You will not get that warm, fuzzy feeling that Disney promotes so well. You'll see a lot more unsupervised teens at Universal. You may get a little "homesick" for WDW while you're at Universal. I would personally find it very difficult to be so close to WDW and not visit at least once.

sweet maxine
01-16-2005, 09:23 AM
We just got back recently from a Christmas time trip to Orlando. During our trip we decided (well I guess my kids and their friends did :rolleyes: ) to spend a day at US/IOA. I'm so glad they came up with that plan! As a family, we had not been to US for about 9 years or so. What a surprise to see all of the new changes! We all loved both parks, and we are now trying to plan a return trip to US/IOA. We would like to stay onsite next time, if only for just one night.

I agree, the folks over on the US/IOA board have lots of good advice.

Also, I have to comment on your concern about the visitors to US/IOA. Overall, I didn't notice any foul language, littering, or parents yelling at their kids. I saw much more of that at Disney this year. I think the night at around 10 pm at a restroom at the Contemporay when I overheard a very well-dressed mother chew out her little 3 or 4 year old son for not behaving at dinner was enough for me. "We're at Disney!", she yelled. I'm sure her son realized that, but that late in the evening he seemed very tired.

casey49781
01-16-2005, 09:31 AM
we were there the week of 12/21/--12/29 and the lines at island of adventure were very long 90 min wait times,,,,the only thing i didnt like is you buy your tickets and when you get inside the park they sell the express pass seperate,,,,and for a family of 4 it was 149.00 thats a little expensive for a family,,,however my children are 7 and 4 and loved dr suess land we were there all day,,,,not sure if i would go back to there park again

sweet maxine
01-16-2005, 09:50 AM
Just wanted to add---my teenagers loved the Dr. Seuss area, and especially the Whoville celebration that goes on in December--go figure :rolleyes: . Everyone wanted their picture taken with either the Grinch or one of the Whoville characters. We went on the 21st of December, and the lines weren't bad at all for us. We did go to the park as soon as it opened and did all the thrill rides on the IOA rides by about noon, then went over to the US side, and finished up the day. Mummy was the kids favorite!

There is a great thread that tells all about US/IOA on the UK Trip Planning forum that is called the "Guide to Universal". That might make for great reading to help in your decision. It's about 13 pages printed if you're interested.

Sandyincanada
01-16-2005, 10:13 AM
Thanks-
I tried the Univ. board but I am not getting much response. Here is a budget/Universal question regarding hotel/lodging.
I am pretty sure I can't afford to stay on-site at Univ.- it looks like at least $200 per night. Anyone know of a clean hotel with a decent pool for around $50- $75 per night?
Also- am I right about Universal on-site? Or can you get onsite for less than rack rate?

One more question- I am trying to say this nicely- the tickets are so cheap to Universal parks- does that attract a "rough" crowd to their parks. Please don't flame me but we live near a cheap 6 Flags and I can't go there with my family because the people behave so badly- like people yelling at their kids and littering- using foul language... I am not trying to sound snobby- I hope this isn't offensive to anyone.

There haven't been too many onsite deals lately, its quiet expensive. We always have a rental car so not sure about shuttles, etc. We are staying in a 2 bdrm condo at Cypress Pointe this yr for 72.00 a night. http://www.hotelkingdom.com has some great deals, we booked through there.

No, it doesn't attract a rough crowd. More teens though but I agree, I hear alot more yelling at kids at Disney, I find the crowds ruder at Disney period for some reason. They seem more relaxed at Usf. The teens are too busy running from ride to ride, lol.

I love Disney because its sweet and cute and brings back childhood memories but USF/IOA brings out the exitement in me. Its fun to ride the movies. I loved when the big doors open in Jurassic Park..I was in awe, lol.

Suess Landing has amazing theming which imo, rivals DW easily. Even my teens (who also grew up on Dr Suess) loved it there and they had the only characters my DD cared about seeing.

MommaluvsDis
01-16-2005, 11:25 AM
We went to U/IOA for the first time this past summer. Even though my DS is older (17) we ALL enjoyed the Universal theme parks. It was every bit as clean as Disney (remember they're in compition for the business) and the people there were no more rowdy than at WDW. We really liked the fact that we could walk from one park to the other with extreme ease! We had a great time. It was also nice to enjoy the other characters. If you can swing the price of an on-site resort room at all, I would suggest it. It's so handy! Look for savings codes on mousesavers.com

phamton
01-16-2005, 12:55 PM
we were there the week of 12/21/--12/29 and the lines at island of adventure were very long 90 min wait times,,,,the only thing i didnt like is you buy your tickets and when you get inside the park they sell the express pass seperate,,,,and for a family of 4 it was 149.00 thats a little expensive for a family

You do know they have the express pass machines that are free just like Disney fastpass machines, right? You can insert your pass into them and it will give you two choices of return times. You pick the time you want and it prints off your express pass. I have never bought an express pass booklet except for Halloween Horror Nights and never wait in lines. I just use the express pass machines. No need to spend any money.

As for what kids can do at Universal/ Islands of Adventure, check this out. It should answer all your questions:

Universal Orlando for Kids (http://www.ioacentral.com/news/columns/barrys_backwater_bar_stool/universal_orlando_for_kids_part_one.htm)

Islands of Adventure for Kids (http://www.ioacentral.com/news/columns/barrys_backwater_bar_stool/universal_orlando_for_kids_part_two.htm)