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Old 09-12-2012, 09:51 AM   #1
IndianaJ
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Smile Newbie looking for tips

Hi everyone! This will be our first trip to Universal. We've taken our 9 and 10 year old to Disney a few times, but we are only spending three days in Orlando this October, and I thought it would be a perfect time to visit Universal.

The 10 y.o. loves Harry Potter, and the 9 y.o. loves roller coasters. We are staying at HRH from the 14th-16th. I normally make a pretty tight itinerary for our Disney trips, but now I'm clueless as to where I should begin.

We fly into MCO at 8:30 AM. My parents will be picking us up from the airport, and from there I need to start planning. We have three day park to park passes.

HELP!! Give me suggestions, tips, eating advice, anything you have, I'd love to know. I do have to say I'm slightly sad to be leaving my Disney comfort zone, but I'm sure we will have a great time at US. DH used to be a huge Simpsons fan, and with the HP obsession in my home, that should be a huge hit too.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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read thru some of the stickies, especially the menu one created by damo.

check out the website
www.universalorlando.com to get the layout of the parks, and to review what there is to do in each one.

check out some of the other threads to read of others' experiences in the park and how they handle first day in the park.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:27 AM   #3
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Are you flying home on the 16th? If so what time is your flight? I need to know if your last day is a full day of touring or a partial day in order to help you plan.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patster734 View Post
Are you flying home on the 16th? If so what time is your flight? I need to know if your last day is a full day of touring or a partial day in order to help you plan.
No, we will be driving to my parents home in Naples on the 16th. That should give us a full park day since it closes at 7PM.

Thanks for the help!!

My mom purchased the tickets for them and the kids at the FL resident rate for three days, and I'm currently looking for tickets for my husband and me. I don't see the tix on Costco.com, and I get access to ticketsatwork.com. Not sure what's a better deal right now.

Any thoughts on the meal deal? Looks like I can get kids for $20 and adults for $33. Good deal or skip it?

This is a lot more work and confusion than an eight day Disney trip.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:23 AM   #5
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I personally don't care much for the restaurants included in the meal plan. I think that you can get much better food at some of the other restaurants.

Have you checked ticket prices at undercovertourist.com ? I don't know if they can beat CostCo.
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Planogirl View Post
I personally don't care much for the restaurants included in the meal plan. I think that you can get much better food at some of the other restaurants.

Have you checked ticket prices at undercovertourist.com ? I don't know if they can beat CostCo.
I agree with Planogirl. I avoid the meal plan as the restaurants I like (Mythos and Finnegan's) aren't included. Also look into undercovertourist.com as she mentioned. I got my upcoming trip tickets from them.

Because the parks close relatively early, you might want to think about eating dinner in Citywalk. The restaurants at Citywalk are for the most part good and decently priced. Look at Damo's thread stickied at the top for a list of restaurants with their menus.

Here is my typical dining itinerary:

Breakfast (one of the following each day):
  • Breakfast buffet at the resort (good but expensive).
  • Boulangerie at US (decent food/decent price).
  • Croissant Moon Bakery at IOA (decent food/decent price).
  • Pastamore's Market (decent food/decent price but can be slow service).

Lunch around 1 or 2pm (one of the following each day):
  • Mythos at IOA.
  • Finnegan's at US.
  • Louie's at US.
  • one of the Citywalk restaurants.

Dinner in the evening(one of the following each day):
  • Citywalk restaurants.
  • hotel restaurants (The Kitchen at the HRH or Emeril's Tchoup Chop at RPR (expensive)).

Of course there are additional options that I left off my list as we have never tried them but typically get good review. (Three Broomsticks, Thunder Falls Terrace, and Confiscos at IOA; Lombard's, and the Classic Monsters Cafe at US).

As for the parks, expect the Harry Potter area to be packed throughout the day. Because of that, I suggest you take advantage of the early entry to see it when it isn't quite so packed. My preference would be to do US on the day you arrive; IOA on the second day, taking advantage of the early entry to see HP; then on the third day, visit both parks, seeing things you either missed on the previous days or revisiting areas that you really enjoyed.
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:49 PM   #7
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I would definitely do WWoHP with early entry on the two days that you can. And eat at Mythos and Three Broomsticks. And watch the Cinematic Spectacular. And do Spiderman. And all of Jurassic Park. And eat at The Kitchen if you can. And swim at the resort pool if you can. And explore your resort. That's all for now...
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:54 PM   #8
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Thanks all! I stumbled upon Orlando Informer, and wondered what the scoop was for it. If it's worth it I'd subscribe, but if not, I don't want to waste the money. I do have to say I used TGM for a spring break trip to WDW once, and it really ended up being quite helpful.
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Old 09-13-2012, 03:46 PM   #9
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It sounds like you are staying with your parents correct?

Staying offsite, my advice is as follows:

1. Go to Dragon Challenge first (if you like coasters). It's really the only time of day you can easily ride in the front row. Do each Dragon at least once, perhaps more (we often do them 3 times each).

2. After this go to Forbidden Journey.

3. After that, make your way counter-clockwise back around to the entrance hitting the rides along the way. The waits shouldn't be too bad as it should still be early.

4. You can continue past the entrance and around to Suess..etc or you can head over to IOA for some rides there.

Order at this point shouldn't matter much. On rides with long waits, single rider will help and you will often end up with a member of your party too. Especially on MIB and even sometimes the Mummy or RRR.

Make sure to get the schedule for the shows. I think Horror Makeup and Animal Actors are must sees. Beetlejuice is good to as is Sinbad.

Since you'll have a few days, skip anything that's a long wait and try it later in the day or early on a following day.
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:52 PM   #10
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Matryx, thanks for the advice on the shows. I haven't read much about them, so I appreciate it.

We are staying at Hard Rock Hotel, so we will have Express Pass. Am I correct in assuming we need to check in first even though it will be before 10 when we arrive? Is that how you get the express pass? Also I booked standard room. That's OK, right? I'm not one to stay in the room, and we usually book moderates at Disney. I'm frugal, but not cheap, KWIM?
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:21 PM   #11
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Correct, you'll need to check in first. I've checked in at 7am before - haven't got the room that early, but did get the express pass

Any room will do. We always book the cheapest room. We have friends this trip (one week to go!) that are staying offsite for free (points) and we're just going to add them for 2 nights to our room so they get the express.

Horror Makeup show is my favorite. I've often seen it multiple times during my trips as its different every time!

Animal actors is very cool too. Try to wear a bright shirt (red works well) and sit about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up in the center of the center seating. When they bring out a small bird (lorikeet I think?) volunteer! Using this method, I've been picked about 90% of the time I've wanted to be picked

Also - it helps to plan a wet day - we usually make it a wet morning and head back around noon to dry off and change. That morning, we always hit Dragon Challenge first, the Harry Potter and make our way to Bluto's stopping at Dudley and Jurassic park. If its quiet (as it usually is between 10 and 11am) at Bluto's, you can often (with a small group) get them to let you stay on. We did this 6 times straight and then another 10 going around the express queue again. It was a lot of fun - hoping to break out record this trip
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