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Old 08-16-2012, 10:57 AM   #1
momofkhm
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New to Universal, need help starting

Point me in the right direction please! We've always done Disney but we want to try Universal for the first time ever. The kids are now into thrill rides is one reason to go. Kids will be 18g, 15g and 12b when we go, if we go. DH say we can go if I can get it cheap and only the week from Christmas to New Years. Bad time for discounts and crowds I'm sure. BUT his office closes down that week so that's when vacation would need to be.

I've read enough that staying on site is a good plan due to early entry and fast pass benefits. But which hotel? Do I need a park hopper? Multiday pass - someone said that Universal only takes 2 days. Really? If that's true, what to do the other days? I guess Disney is an option, but what about Sea World?

Thanks!
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Old 08-16-2012, 11:21 AM   #2
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I'm going to move this from the resorts board to the main board so you can get more responses.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momofkhm View Post
Point me in the right direction please! We've always done Disney but we want to try Universal for the first time ever. The kids are now into thrill rides is one reason to go. Kids will be 18g, 15g and 12b when we go, if we go. DH say we can go if I can get it cheap and only the week from Christmas to New Years. Bad time for discounts and crowds I'm sure. BUT his office closes down that week so that's when vacation would need to be.

I've read enough that staying on site is a good plan due to early entry and fast pass benefits. But which hotel? Do I need a park hopper? Multiday pass - someone said that Universal only takes 2 days. Really? If that's true, what to do the other days? I guess Disney is an option, but what about Sea World?

Thanks!
Any of the three onsite hotels (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, or Portofino) would be a good choice and virtually necessary to have a chance at a fun time that week. The included Express pass will be vital to avoid ridiculous waits.

I think also this week is a good time to have park-to-park benefits to give you increased flexibility. Two days is a good start and enough for most, but I recommend three normally to go back and hit favorites. This particular week, I think three is also a near-must.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:34 PM   #4
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Our Family are (is?) big WDW fans, and we also love Universal. We hit Universal every (or every other) WDW trip. We were there early December 2010 and are planning another visit this October. Some thoughts...

We always stay on-site at Universal. The hotels are very nice but a bit on the expensive side. Royale Pacific is the cheapest but it's still $275/night this October. The room was nice and it had the biggest bathroom I've ever seen in a hotel. We're at Hard Rock ($309/night) this trip since it has a cool pool, like out of a Hollywood magazine. Cabanas, rock music pumped into the water, drinks. I felt like a rock star! Last trip December was a bit cool to really enjoy the pool and we're looking forward to warmer weather. The benefits of on-site hotels are great. Getting into Harry Potter an hour early is worth a lot. This, combined with front-of-the-line access on most other rides makes on-site a must for us. I would guess that the parks between Xmas & NYE would be packed and this makes these benefits even more important. Close proximity to City Walk is nice. There are many different restaurants(Emeril's, & Jimmy Buffet's are our favs), movie theaters, mini golf. The often have live music, as well.

The thrill rides are really great, Hulk, Spiderman in IOA and Mummy & Rip Rocket at Universal are all great rides. If you or your kids are into Potter that place is incredible. For a brief moment right at opening when it's not crowded you'd swear that you've entered the movie. The Harry Potter ride is one of the best attractions I've been on. The Line itself is better that some attractions!

Here's our plan for this October trip...
Friday afternoon arrive at Hard Rock Hotel. Check-in, Pool, dinner @ City Walk or Hotel, maybe somewhere off-site (Fridays, Perkins Etc).
Sat Early Entry to Potter, Then Rest of IOA Most of day at IOA but we will hop over to Universal for new evening show, Maybe squeeze a pool break in the afternoon.
Sunday Another early Potter entrance, then hop back to Universal to hit any missed rides. We check out Sunday and head over to WDW for 4 nights then 3 night cruise.
Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

have fun
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mauisam View Post
Here's our plan for this October trip...
Friday afternoon arrive at Hard Rock Hotel. Check-in, Pool, dinner @ City Walk or Hotel, maybe somewhere off-site (Fridays, Perkins Etc).
Sat Early Entry to Potter, Then Rest of IOA Most of day at IOA but we will hop over to Universal for new evening show, Maybe squeeze a pool break in the afternoon.
Sunday Another early Potter entrance, then hop back to Universal to hit any missed rides. We check out Sunday and head over to WDW for 4 nights then 3 night cruise.
Whew! I'm tired just thinking about it.

have fun
mauisam
Not to hijack this thread, but I thought I'd give you a heads up. In October the new evening show won't be running on Friday nights. Thursday-Sunday nights (and some wednesdays) will be Halloween Horror Nights at the studios park, which has it's own entertainment and vibe so the regular nighttime lagoon show won't be running on those nights.
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:54 PM   #6
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You can do the Magic Kingdom in a day....but if you want to see all the shows and do all the rides then two days is better. Same thing with Universal for each of the parks.
Also to go for a 2 park pass from 3 days to 4 days is only $8 per person more, so the more you go the more you save.

To emphasize what others have said, it is VERY IMPORTANT to consider staying on site. If you stay at a Universal hotel, you get an express pass for (almost) every ride...that is like having a Fast Pass at Disney for all the rides...No running to get a fast pass, no one FP at a time, but all the time fast pass using your hotel key. Xmas-NYE is a very busy time and it would be very very useful. Which hotel? You can always go with the cheapest or ask your kids which one is more interesting.

No matter where you go, Xmas time and cheap won't go together.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mauisam View Post
We always stay on-site at Universal. The hotels are very nice but a bit on the expensive side. Royale Pacific is the cheapest but it's still $275/night this October. The room was nice and it had the biggest bathroom I've ever seen in a hotel.




have fun
mauisam
if you think the royal pacific has large bathrooms, wait til you see the size portofino bay has.......they are much bigger.

if you check the website, you can see the dates in october that the cinema spectacular show will be held.
with hhn happening, you won't find that show done on fri,sat,sun and a few wed,thur that month.
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:15 PM   #8
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Onsite and Cheap don't really belong together. Especially during a busy time. Here' what I'd suggest to make it less expensive.

Figure out how many days you want to visit Universal. Why you can do the parks in 2 days, I could easily spend a week riding things over and over and taking my time going around each park multiple times. Then only stay onsite for days you'll visit universal. Clearly its convenient to stay onsite the whole time, but if you really want to keep costs down, changing to a cheaper hotel for some days might help. Also look at rates using AAA or an annual pass (APH code). It could pay to get one annual pass.

There's also other activities around, like Wet N Wild. We did a day trip out to Cape Caneveral one trip and that was fun - no shuttles taking off these days, but it still could be an interesting trip.

So if you are going to spend a day elsewhere, consider staying off site that night, even if it means staying onsite the following night.. for example:

Arrive Sunday night - stay off site.
Move onsite Monday AM - Universal Mon/Tue/Wed
Stay offsite Wed/Thur Night.
Wet N Wild Thursday
Universal Friday/Saturday
Stay onsite Friday
Leave Saturday night


Just an example - for each night you stay onsite, you can use express the day of and following. So in the above example, you could have 5 days at Universal with express privleges but only stay onsite 3 nights. Cheapest method would be to swap every night onsite to offsite, but that would be pain. In a Friday night to Tuesday night stay, I changed 3 times. Offsite Friday, Onsite Saturday and Offsite Sunday/Monday. Changing that many times was no big deal.
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:56 AM   #9
mauisam
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Thx for the heads up on the Oct nightime spectacular. I might have to leave the young ones at the hotel and hit HHN.
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Old 08-18-2012, 08:24 AM   #10
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Universal for Ride Wimps Staying at Disney World Resort

We are planning a 10 day January 2013 trip to Disney World but want to do 2 days at Universal. Never been to Universal but my wife, age 7 son, and I are not big on thrill rides so hopefully, there will be enough for us to do. At Disney World, we will do Expedition Everest, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but no one but me wants to get on Space Mountain again. I might be able to talk my son into it again.

Also not sure if we should just stay at Disney World and try Universal for one day or if it's better to stay on site at Universal for 2 days, then have a reservation at Disney World. We would be at Universal for Martin Luther King Weekend Sun-Mon, then going to Disney World Tuesday morning.
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Old 08-18-2012, 11:21 AM   #11
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just got back from my first trip to Universal. Since I too am not a big roller coaster person I was concerned there wasnt going to be enough to do. Turns out there were only 2 rides at each park that I wouldnt get on (dueling dragons and hulk at IOA, mummy and RRR at univeral). Would highly recommend staying onsite at universal since it gets you "fast pass" on many of the rides (all though not harry potter) and also gets you early entry to the park. I would recommend you stay one night at universal which will get you 2 days of 'express pass'...so leave disney in the morning, head to the hotel at universal, get your 'express pass', go to univeral and do everything there, then the next morning you would check out and head over to IOA 1 hour before park opens and do the harry potter stuff. you could also try and do the harry potter stuff the night before. crowd control is problematic there. mobs of people and the area isnt that big. most of the real good rides were "simulation" ones...shrek wasnt as good as I expected. despicable me was very good, need to hit that early since afternoon express pass line was estimted to be at least 45 minutes. simpsons and spider man were also very good. twister was kind of lame, terminator was ok (I actually didnt care for the movies). the 3 rides in IOA that you "might get wet on"...you will get soaked.
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