We have always been a "Disney" family, will we like Universal?

Discussion in 'Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure Forums' started by barefootMom, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. barefootMom

    barefootMom Mouseketeer

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    Hi, Can anyone summarize what we might like/not like about going to Universal instead of a trip to the Disney Parks. Our daughters are 8 and 11 and we have always loved Disney yet I am looking to try something different and know NOTHING about Universal to get me excited about going somewhere else. Any info people feel like sharing would be appreciated!
     
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  3. Metro West

    Metro West <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><font color=blue> Moderator

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    I think the best thing for you to do at this point is to visit the Universal website and see what's offered at each park. Then check YouTube for ride videos and read some of the trip reports in the TR section.

    You should enjoy yourselves if you don't go to Universal and try to compare everything to Disney. Many people do that and don't have a good time because they want everything to be just like Disney...it isn't.

    You know what kinds of rides your family likes so check out the website and if they will be interested in spending time at Universal.
     
  4. damo

    damo Proud Redhead

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    Disney and Universal are very different. You can't go to Universal expecting it to be just like Disney. Universal puts more emphasis on ride experience than Disney does, so many find it too adventurous for them. If your family likes the physical experience of the ride just as much as what they see as they are on the ride, then you will like Universal just fine. If you are more about sitting in a slow moving vehicle watching things happen around you, then you may be disappointed with Universal.
     
  5. barefootMom

    barefootMom Mouseketeer

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    Thank you to both of you....We do like rides but more enjoy the other Disney "stuff" ...however, I did hear that if you stay onsite they have a "fastpass sort of thing" at Universal? That was appealing to me as we are considering going during a school vacation week and thought that might make it a good reason to try something new?
     
  6. johde

    johde DIS Veteran

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    My first thought is to not try and compare the Disney. They are different parks and different experiences. Universal's rides tend to be more high thrill compared to the comperable Disney but not to the level you'd see at a local amusement park. So for example Hulk is 110 feet tall with 7 inversions and HRRR is 167 ft tall with no inversions at Disney RNR is 80 feet tall with 3 inversions. Cedar point here in Ohio has several costers over 110 ft tall including a 200 ft, 300 ft, and 400ft coaster. Another example would be the Cat in the Hat, a classic dark ride, It's movements are are more similar to TSMM as opposed to HM or IASW.

    Universal has great themeing, but sometimes, especially in the coasters, the themeing goesn't extend to the ride itself, it's in the queue and station.

    I enjoy both Disney and Universal. But I also enjoy Sea World, Busch Gardens and most of our local Amusement parks.
     
  7. Metro West

    Metro West <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><font color=blue> Moderator

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    Yes...onsite guests receive unlimited Express access for the duration of their stay. It comes in handy during a heavy travel season but you wouldn't really need it during a slower period.
     
  8. conniehar90

    conniehar90 DIS Veteran

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    We are a big Disney family and I went last summer to Universal with DD11. She loved it and can't wait to go back. She loves Disney but liked the more exciting thrill rides at Universal. Me - I had a good time but left feeling like "it wasn't Disney." You just don't get that Disney magic feeling when there. I know everyone is telling you not to compare the two and that is good advice, but realistically if you are a big Disney family, you are going to compare.

    The major difference to me was the fast pass usage. Universal only has the "front of the line" access available to people that stay on property or for an extra fee. We usually go at peak travel times and cannot see the value in staying on property given the high room rates and the daily front of the line fee was pretty high. That said, we got there early and knew where to go first so we didn't wait in too many lines.

    We are going back in March to take DH and DS - DD is very excited. Good luck with your decision.
     
  9. RMulieri

    RMulieri DIS Veteran

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    We are also ( or should say were) a HUGE Disney ONLY family.We went in Jan 2012 on our first UNIVERSAL only trip staying at Portofino Bay with our 8 yr old.We had a blast.We went into it with a good idea of what its all about.Looked at the Universal website,Utilized this board ,bought Universal Orlando By Seth Kubersky and watched you tube videos.We went in NOT expecting anything and with an open mind...and definitely NOT comparing it to Disney.It is NOT Disney, and if you go expecting it to be , you will be one of the many that comes away disappointed.We came home having had the BEST trip to Florida in YEARS..We enjoyed it so much, that when we asked our 8 yr old where she wanted to go next, she said Universal again hands down..The parks are not as large but every bit as fun and with only 2 parks so close to each other and well within walking distance from our resort ( all Universal resorts are close and walkable or accessible by dedicated resort boat).We had plenty of time to enjoy the resort and the pools..And at Universal pool hopping is encouraged.The Express pass gave us little to NO waiting for rides and we enjoyed that immensley..No little pieces of paper to keep, no time restrictions .
     
  10. barefootMom

    barefootMom Mouseketeer

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    Would that Express Pass be really helpful during a school vacation week or do SO MANY other people have the express passes too that it doesn't help as much as I hope it would? Even fastpass at Disney does not do much for helping with waiting during the school vacation weeks but maybe this is better?
     
  11. RMulieri

    RMulieri DIS Veteran

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    I think it works well..Unlike Disney ,It is good on ALL rides/shows Except: Harry Potter Forbidden Journey, ollivanders wand show, Pteranodon Flyers and Rip Ride Rocket.When Transformers opens in the summer, it may or may not have express pass..It is good for multiple rides too.When looking at Universal hotels, you need to take into account that they are DELUXE resorts, so they are cheaper than Disney deluxes.At this time they do not have an onsite moderate/value/family suites priced hotel, though they are working on building one.I thought I read that it won't be unlimited express pass on the rooms only the higher priced suites, but only time will tell..As for wait times with express pass, even at busiest times( where standby is well over an hour wait) I think people posted waits of less than 20-30 mins with express pass, most times wait times are far less.So it does save time.Remember Universal only HAS 3 HOTELS.Alot less than disney, and the purchase express pass for non resort guests is limited to a certain amount, goes up in price with prjected crowd levels and is only good for ONE ride per attraction
     
  12. auroraarielella

    auroraarielella Mouseketeer

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    I was from a Disney only family, and have only been to Disney - until last week. We did Universal for the first time on Thanksgiving week. I was prepared for it to NOT be Disney, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The help was wonderful, the parks were clean, I had no issues with anything that made me want to compare Universal to my local amusement park.

    That being said, we did stay on site (Hard Rock) and had the Unlimited Express Pass and LOVED IT! The most we waiting was maybe 10 minutes once, I think because the cast member loading the ride vehicles just wasn't too swift, but he was still nice. (Remember Thanksgving!)

    I always said you have to stay on site at Disney, and I would say that is even MORE important at Universal. When we WALKED over from the Hard Rock, we had our own bag check (no lines with the parking lot people), then we had early entry, then we had express pass, then we could walk back to the hotel room for a break or a forgotten item, then walk back. It was great!

    Other people told me that they think Univesal caters to the Express Pass people more than Disney does to the Fastpass people.
     
  13. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    We thought we were Disney people. We were wrong. We LOVE universal. I currently have DLR APs that are expiring in nine days (mine) and two months (da and DH's). We also have universal APs that we renewed with no solid Universal plans, because we love it so much we KNOW we will go. (and renewing them is relatively cheap)


    But that isn't to say its not helpful in a slow period. Even if it saves you mere minutes per ride, by the end of the day it adds up. Add to that the fabulousness of the onsite resorts and you've got a proper vacation.


    You should consider it! While March probably isn't going to be cheap, you might be able to find cheapER than you think. My normal computer is in the shop so I can't give you the website I normally use (shows all three hotels availability at once, super easy and is a loews site) but maybe someone else can post it for you.

    Especially at a busy time, express pass through the hotels is really fabulous.
     
  14. LUVIOA

    LUVIOA Can't wait until my next visit!

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    I think a good strategy to enjoy yourself is to think about all the things that Universal has that you won't miss from Disney: Being able to eat at any restaurant with minimal wait and not having to make reservations six months in advance, not rushing across the park to get the next fast pass or timing the return time, no seas of strollers and screaming 2 year olds, truly funny shows that are a bit edgy, no commando Moms dictating the day's activities, the ability to WALK everywhere including park to park without waiting in line for buses, high energy music and lively atmosphere!...oh and BUTTERBEER :rotfl:

    It is so much more laid back so take the time and enjoy it for what it has. I'm sure you'll find some things that you like bettter than Disney. I highly recommend staying onsite, that is a perk that you can't beat.
     
  15. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    i started doing the motherland in 1975.
    started doing darkside day trips while staying at the motherland back in 1993.


    once the hotels went up onsite at the darkside, started doing split stays for my vacation.
    i have been going yearly, semi yearly, ever since 1992.
    darkside hotels (pbh)went up in 1999, rph/2001 then hrh.

    i am completely spoiled by staying onsite at UO.

    i love being completely involved in the hotels with city walk, the parks and entertainment there.

    it made me not compare the two theme parks at all.

    totally different parks, the motherland and darkside.
    both unique and enjoyable in their own ways.

    i can't imagine going to orlando and not spending time at both of their resorts.

    many new things have been added to the darkside over recent years.
    parks have new rides/shows, city walk has the cinema, mini golf, stores, restaurants, etc.
    read up on the parks at www.universalorlando.com
    and www.citywalk.com


    hope you can be happy with both places once you try the darkside.

     
  16. BrinkofSunshine

    BrinkofSunshine DIS Veteran

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    If you go to Universal open and willing to experience something very different from Disney, you will have a great time. Universal has two incredible parks, amazing scenery, and rides that rival Disney's (and sometimes surpass them). It's hard for me to decide if I like Disney or Universal better.. I love them both in different ways. I enjoy the atmosphere and "magic" of Disney parks, but I love the thrill of the rides and the special events at Uni. Universal really is just so much fun.
     
  17. reelmom

    reelmom DIS Veteran

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    We were a Disney only family until recently. Now that my kids are a little older, they prefer Universal. We stayed onsite for the first time this summer and fell in love. The express pass, being close to the parks and City Walk, and the pool hopping is wonderful. And you can get a great rate at the hotels with an Annual Pass. Only one person needs the AP to get the discount. Just go to Universal's website and click on hotels. When you put in your travel information, put APH in the group code(i think this is the box). If the AP rates are out, it will show up. If not, you can book and then have them change the rate when it comes out. I think you should definitely give Universal a try. It is different than Disney but still as enjoyable.
     
  18. Planogirl

    Planogirl I feel the nerd in me stirring

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    I was also always about Disney until DS finally talked me into going to Universal. I didn't really know what to expect but I literally had my Disney blinders ripped off my face and now there's no looking back. I absolutely adore Universal and have been twice this year. I wish that I could go right now. ;)

    Your experience might be completely different. You might not care much about Universal or you might recognize it as a different but also amazing experience. You'll never know unless you try though.

    I do agree and can't stress enough - do NOT go looking for Disney!!! It's not there but Universal is.
     
  19. BryceMc

    BryceMc Universal and Disney lover!

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    Universal Orlando Resort is amazing. The two parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) are world class, especially Islands of Adventure where the theming and rides in the park will literally blow you away. The parks have something for everyone. If you want to check out a ride at Universal Studios, but you're currently at Islands of Adventure, all you have to do is take a quick walk!

    The hotels are amazing, and once again, are all walking distance from each other, CityWalk, and the two parks. It's just amazing! I definitely recommend staying onsite, as your room key doubles as an Express Pass.

    I think you'll have a great time. Disney is more about magic and Universal is more about adventure and riding the movies. I definitely prefer the latter.
     
  20. metzgardesign

    metzgardesign Mouseketeer

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    We made our first visit to UO on our last trip to Orlando a couple weeks ago.

    I went into kinda "Meh".....the son wanted to see to Harry Potter, so we stayed at Hard Rock for a night (I was less than excited about it....UO was a speedbump for the first day/night on my way to WDW the next evening). And then went to IOA the following day, using the early entry and express passes for the rides.

    And we had a had a BLAST!

    The Hard Rock hotel blew away our POR stay the rest of the week. The Kitchen at the Hard Rock was our best meal of the trip.

    Hands down, the customer service....for us.....was better at UO than at WDW.

    We plan on making a shortened trip to UO only next time.....maybe a long weekend, 3 days and 4 nights or so. And avoid WDW entirely.

    It was THAT pleasant a change for us.
     
  21. Caseheidi

    Caseheidi DIS Veteran

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    We have always enjoyed doing both. To be honest, we really don't care for US but adore IOA. We have been several times, and always look forward to returning. Our last trip was with DD who was 19 months at the time, and we spent half the day in Seuss Landing. The photo opportunities alone were worth it alone. I agree, don't expect Disney because Universal has a different energy, but it is a nice change of pace. We will always be a Disney family, but will always enjoy a couple days at Universal.
     

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