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tripletsmama 02-02-2013 06:54 PM

Considering a trip
We are Disney lovers. I've lost track of how many times we've been. We are considering 2-3 nights at universal on an upcoming trip. It would be myself, my DH, triplet DDs who are 8, DS who will be 8 months, and my parents. We are DVC owners and love the villas because the kitchen and washer/dryer are so great with kids. We always stay on Disney property for ease of transportation, clean, kid-friendly atmosphere, and great pools.

So, would you recommend universal for Disney lovers? If so, where would you stay? What do I need to know about tickets? There are 2 parks, right? DDs and I love thrill rides. DH and my parents won't even get on a ride like Big Thunder Mountain. I'm also wondering about dining options. Do they offer a dining plan?

Anything and everything you can share about universal would be appreciated! :)

Lynne G 02-02-2013 08:05 PM

Welcome. We enjoy both Disney and USO. The three on site hotels are very nice. With your size party, two rooms. Most of the rooms are limit 5 to a room, as it is fire code rules. None of the hotels have a kitchen.

Most of the time, it is best to buy your tickets and hotel separately. All three hotels honor an Annual pass holder rate, but not every day, and most likely not at busy times. To get the best rate, use the hotel website. You can use the code APH, to see if a pass holder rate applies. If you see no discount, then no discounted rooms are available. Right now, until the 2nd week in June, there is a discount on tickets and room/ticket packages. Otherwise, if you are willing to stay 3 nights or more, there is the SMSM rate. The longer you stay, the better the discount.

For tickets, check the Undercover Tourist website. It generally has the best rates. And their price includes tax and free shipping.

Your parents may enjoy the city walk. Colorful stores and food places and mini golf.

There is a meal deal, but ,ost of us agree it is not worth the cost. The best thing to do is check the food stickie at the top of this thread. That stickie has menus with pricing so you can get an idea of what you wiould be interested in. Open table is where you can make reservations for most of the restaurants. Unless it is a really busy time, you do not need reservations very far out or at all.

tripletsmama 02-02-2013 11:46 PM

Thanks for the reply. :) We will probably get 3 hotel rooms. My family needs 2 and my parents will want their own! Of the onsite hotels, what are the benefits to each? Is one better in terms of transportation to the parks? How are the pools?

How many days are recommended for each park? Would a day to just hang around the hotel or do the city walk be a good choice?

It definitely hit me that this is different than planning a WDW trip when I read that you don't need reservations far out or even at all for the universal restaurants!

cvjw 02-03-2013 08:23 AM

We are also DVC owners who love to visit Universal. My kids are both teenagers, and love the thrill rides at Universal. We normally stay in a 1 or 2 bedroom DVC villa for our family of 4, so it is a change staying at Universal in a regular hotel room.

We have stayed at all 3 of the Universal hotels. Royal Pacific only once - it was our least favorite, and numerous stays at both Hard Rock and Portofino Bay. Hard Rock is our favorite hotel for location - you can walk to both parks within minutes, but we love the rooms and pool best at Portofino Bay. The only downside to Portofino Bay is that the walk to the parks is longer - we usually end up taking the boat.

You will get spoiled by the front of the line access that Universal gives their on site guests. It makes touring their parks so easy, and means that you need less days at the parks to enjoy all of the attractions.

RMulieri 02-03-2013 08:36 AM

The 3 resorts are all within walking distance of the parks and each have a dedicated boat launch as well.The studios and IOA are literally next door to each other.You can walk between them in less than 5 mins..Out of the 3 resorts, Royal Pacific is closest to IOA, HArd Rock is Closest to the studios and Portofino Bay is the furthest out and more secluded( and even than it is not that far).Portofino also has the largest rooms onsite and is frequently ( though not always) the most expensive of the 3..All 3 give you early entry into IOA every morning to experince WWoHP before opening to dayguests.All 3 give you Unlimited Express pass.Unlimited Express is similar to fastpass in that it gives you access to a shorter line than standby.In the Case of Express pass though,there is NO limit, No return times and no pieces of paper.When you check into the resort and receive a room key you take your keys to the Express pass Kiosk and print out your photo Express pass.At the parks you each show the attendant in the express line and off you go..Even in extremely crowded times the waits are minimal if any.The Express pass is also good on almost ALL Rides and shows..EXCEPT- Rip Ride Rocket coaster, Pteranodon FLyers ,Ollivanders Wand Shop and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.After experiencing Universals Express, you will be spoiled .LOL
As for how many days..We can easuly do 4 days and not be bored..However you mentioned 2-3 days..3 is bettter....One for each park and either an extra day to repeat your favorites or a down day at the resort..Unlike Disney, Pool Hopping between the 3 are encouraged.

By staying onsite, very little planning is required..You have express pass and early entry so that cuts down waiting.You don't really need dining ressies , though you can make them online at about 60 days before ( we made them simply because we are used to Disney..LOL).If you have AAA, AAA gives you a 10% discount at most restaurants and stores.

tripletsmama 02-03-2013 10:04 AM

Just spent some time looking at pictures of all 3 resorts. We will definitely stay on property for the express pass benefit. That sounds wonderful!

Can anyone compare the hotels to Disney resorts in terms of which are considered value, moderate, and deluxe? Nothing stood out to me at any of the hotels, so not sure which one we would pick.

Also, I saw pictures of kids suites. Are those a good option for bigger families?

The pools looked pretty standard. Do they have slides and hot tubs?

Thanks again for all the information!

tripletsmama 02-03-2013 10:10 AM

One more question...what do the hotels offer for dining? Do they have food court type locations? Sit down restaurants?

Metro West 02-03-2013 12:18 PM

Since this has turned into a hotel thread, I'm moving it to the Universal Resorts board.

OP...if you have specific questions about Universal and they are not related to the resorts, please feel free to start a new thread to ask those questions.

sejejoemmiev 02-03-2013 01:25 PM

I believe the three on site Universal Hotels are similar to Disney Deluxe. We have only stayed at Hard Rock and loved it. The pool has a waterside but not deep water. Beach sand and zero entry. Loved the music and pool games. We would go to the park opening, leave for the resort at lunch time every day have lunch and drinks poolside and head back to the parks for more rides and dinner at city walk each evening. I was much more relaxed on our Universal only trip. We are die hard Disney fans but always come home exhausted. The mid day break at Universal is so easy to do with the quick walk back and unlimited express pass.

Sent from my iPad using DISBoards

RMulieri 02-03-2013 01:25 PM

All 3 resorts are Deluxe by Disney standards( I actually like them better than the Disney deluxes I have stayed at) .There are NO value and moderate price ranges at this time..They are building a value style resort, but it will not have the perks the other resorts do ( namely the unlimited Express)Kids suites are nice, but not cheap and not sure how many they sleep. The pools vary..Royal pacific pool has a water play area but no slide.Both Hard Rock and Portofino Bay pools have slides.Not sure about the Hot tubs, I know they have them at Portofino Bay.You can pool hop between any of the pools.

Smething to keep in mind...NEither Royal Pacific or Hard Rock rooms have balconies.Some Portofino rooms do, but not many of them.
Dining at the Resorts: all have table service venues and a grab and go style place.No food courts like Disney.If you go to the restaurant sticky at the top of the board you can see each resorts offerings as you scroll down.

TheAviator 02-04-2013 12:21 PM

I think Universal will exceed your expectations and blow you away, I am always blown away when I go. It is very magical, and very themed, possibly even more so than Disney, although I do love Disney as well.

The 3 hotels are all nice, personally I would recommend the Royal Pacific which has a great Pacific tropical theme and is the cheapest, but I really love the theming there. If you want to splurge and spend more, the Portofino is probably the most elegant. You can not go wrong either way though, you will love every minute of it.

tripletsmama 02-04-2013 02:55 PM

Thanks for all the information! We have decided on portofino bay. Now we need to decide how many nights, what type of room and tickets, and how to tour the parks. Sounds like I should start new threads for the individual questions. :)

RMulieri 02-04-2013 06:04 PM


Originally Posted by tripletsmama (Post 47405017)
Thanks for all the information! We have decided on portofino bay. Now we need to decide how many nights, what type of room and tickets, and how to tour the parks. Sounds like I should start new threads for the individual questions. :)

YAY:cool1: We love Portofino Bay! We are booked there on Club level for 7 nights this August

bumbershoot 02-04-2013 10:53 PM

I wanted to give you the website for booking onsite room-only rooms. You can see all three at once on that page. And if you pop "APH" into the code field you can see if a discount pops up for your dates that would make an AP make sense. You do have to have a Preferred or Premium (?) AP; the power pass doesn't give you discounts. And I'm not sure how many you would have to have to get 3 rooms.

Anyway, you CAN see deals, depending on when your trip is. And if you book using one rate then see a better one, you can call and change it.

I think Portofino is a good choice since you're used to DVC; the rooms are nice and roomy, which can make you feel more comfy. Our first Uni visit (first WDW visit, too) we went from OKW 2 bedroom over to Royal Pacific, and it felt like the 3 (just 3) of us were falling over each other, LOL.

tripletsmama 02-05-2013 10:15 AM

Thank you! We were going to do the buy 2 days get the third free tickets. I will have to look at whether an annual pass would save us more. :)

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