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We're off to see the wizards! We leave tomorrow!!

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by -Hope-, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. reelmom

    reelmom DIS Veteran

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    We went in June and definitely needed Early Entry and Unlimited Express Pass. Not sure about September, we have never been during that time. I broke down and bought a fanny pack for our trip. I got a Vera Bradley one. I was able to ride all rides, including Forbidden Journey with it. I think as long as you have the 3 pronged clasp, they won't make you take it off.
     
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  3. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    I probably wouldn't even consider staying offsite in June! I'm still up in the air- my next update will probably be about my conflicting reasoning and trying to make that decision.

    I'd have never thought to check how many prongs are on the clasp of the fanny pack! Thanks for the heads up. :thumbsup2
     
  4. Tink2Day

    Tink2Day DIS Veteran

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    We didn't find the lockers to be that big of a pain. We went a few months after WWoHP opened. Maybe the cold weather kept the crowds lower?

    Remember though that at least the WWoHP FJ is a tight squeeze, I think it's to keep people from flying off their 'brooms':rotfl: I had a cellphone case on my belt and the lapbar nearly killed me. Think I still have the imprint:lmao:

    Love your bottles too!

    p.s. HP has ALWAYS been cool!
     
  5. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    We should have low crowds so maybe the lockers wouldn't be a huge deal. I'm not sure- but when it comes to keeping everyone happy I usually try to err on the side of caution. ;)

    As for the tight squeeze, I'm working toward being considerably smaller for that very reason but hadn't really thought about the fanny pack adding to that issue. Leaves me with some thinking to do on that! Thanks for mentioning- I'm pretty good at problem solving outside the moment but in the moment I might have just had a meltdown. :rolleyes1:

    And yes, HP was always cool. I should've said mom knew he was cool before I did. ;)
     
  6. jodi90

    jodi90 Mouseketeer

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    Love that you started your PTR! We are planning a one (maybe two) day trip to Universal next February. I'm excited to see your plans.

    I've been to WWoHP once last December. It was awesome!!!
     
  7. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    :welcome: Did you only visit IOA on your last trip? Any tips or hints?

    Honestly, I'm so excited for WWoHP I wouldn't care if we did nothing else on this trip! :hyper:
     
  8. niffer5150

    niffer5150 Mouseketeer

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    stetsons are cooler. ;)
    ecards are so humany wumany.
     
  9. jodi90

    jodi90 Mouseketeer

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    Actually I've only been to WWoHP. I went the Dis Unplugged Podcast Party last December. We got to go in after the park was closed and it was just us. About 700 or so people. It was awesome to see the park without it being super crowded. I love it!! I'm a huge Harry Potter fan so I'm sure I'm a bit biased but it was spectacular. My only complaint was the stores were small on the inside. They were really authentic but tiny. The stuff in the stores was pretty expensive but it is a theme park.

    I didn't get the opportunity to ride Forbidden Journey but I'm hoping to change that next February. The ride isn't designed for people who are bigger and I fit into that category so I couldn't ride it. Hopefully by February I will be able too.
     
  10. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Good luck! I've been working on losing weight for exactly the same reason. I know they've added the seats at the ends for larger guests but I'm determined to ride a regular broom! ;)
     
  11. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Oh, and going to the unplugged party sounds amazing!!!
     
  12. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    that 3rd week of september should have low crowds.
    mid sept to near the end, but not on the weekend, usually has the low season rates for onsite hotels.

    what is nice about staying onsite is you become immersed in the entire theme of the park.

    a short 7 minute walk from the park back to your hotel.

    you'll love the pool activities that go on each day.
    dive in movies at the hotel pools are really a lot of fun.

    enjoy your planning for next year.
    you have a lot of time to think things through and make changes.


    yes, the homies on the darkside generally don't start their trip reports to the last minute.
    but at the motherland trip report side, i have seen many do a pre planning report a long way out from their trip.

    i enjoy reading them all.

     
  13. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    :welcome: and thanks for popping in. As I've been exploring the UO boards I've noticed that you are kind of the go-to guy so I definitely appreciate your input. :thumbsup2

    I love staying onsite for the very reasons you mentioned. We stayed onsite for our trip to WDW two years ago (has it really been that long??) and loved it. Well, mostly- the buses took longer than we anticipated and the walk from the stop to our room was fine in the mornings but killer at the end of the day. I'd love to stay onsite again, I'm just not sure it's in the budget. If we weren't going at such a low-crowd time I'd jump at using the UEP and early entry as my excuse... However, it is low crowd time so I'm still crunching numbers to figure out if I can swing it. I have a post coming up soon to weigh the pros and cons for our family but just haven't had time to do it. I'd definitely love your opinions when I get that update posted though. :goodvibes

    Now, back to work... :crazy2:
     
  14. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    many peeps will book a one night stay only for the darkside onsite hotels.

    you get the hotel perks for the day you check in and the day you check out.
    the day you check out the perks are valid until the parks close.
    you can have valet hold your luggage once you check out and go to the park for that day.
    take the water taxi back to your hotel and pick up your luggage.

    if you drive, you only incur a one night parking fee.
    parking fees start at midnight, so if you leave the parking lot on day #2 before 11:59pm, no charge for that day.

    stay onsite for one night, then move offsite for the rest of your stay.
    get two days of unlimited usage of all express lines for rides and shows.
    and, early entry to both parks.

    if you have 4 or 5 in your group that spends the one night on site, figure out what the express pass plus would cost you for each person X 2 days.
    (5 homies allowed per room)

    usually, you come out ahead booking a one night stay then.
    that one night you are paying for could be less than having add ons to pay.
     
  15. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Great idea, I'm still unsure if it's right for us (that post explaining all my thoughts is coming right up). My main question is, do we really need the express pass? If not then it's not really saving us money to stay onsite for an add on we wouldn't pay for anyway.
     
  16. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Okay guys, I really need your input on this one! I am so on the fence about where we should stay for our trip. There are so many factors to consider and it is one of the things that will really have a major impact on our vacation so I just want to be sure I make the right choice for our family. :scared:

    I thought I'd break down the pros and cons of each choice and then get some feedback from you guys to help with the decision. :thumbsup2

    On site:

    Oh, there are so many fantastic things about staying on site! Walking to the parks and City Walk, beautifully themed rooms, pools and properties, early entry and, of course, that unlimited express pass. The only real drawback is the price.

    I'm not really sure we can afford to stay onsite. And if we can it would mean sacrificing a weekend getaway with Robbie. My thought was that since he's not going on our major vacation with us that he and I could take the kids for a long weekend somewhere nearby. But if I tie all of our vacation budget to this trip then we won't be able to do that. Staying off site would save us about the amount we would need for a three or four day weekend. :confused3

    So, my question for experienced dark siders- how important is early entry and UEP going to be during the third week of September. I know at WDW it is (along with the previous week) historically the slowest week of the entire year. When we went in 2010 we had Express Fast Passes from the Give A Day, Get A Day promotion but we really hardly needed them even on days we arrived well after rope drop. (Though it was a lifesaver for TSM and Soarin'.)

    No one in my family really likes the high octane rides. My kids just don't like roller coasters, my mom has vertigo and I think coasters are okay but don't love them. We can't use the EP for FJ. So, do we really need them? Staying onsite one night might be a possibility but again, I only want to go to the expense and the hassle of that if it's really worth it.

    I would also add that we stayed onsite at WDW (for the FD) and while we enjoyed it, it wasn't as thrilling as we thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was nice but not something that we felt was really worth the added expense. I am not a person who loves looking for hidden Mickey's or swoons over the details on the bedspread. I want my vacation accommodations to be comfortable, have access to a pool and reasonably close to major attractions. I honestly don't care that much about theming. :confused3

    Partner Hotel:

    I love that UO has partner hotels that offer some, but not all perks of staying onsite for a much cheaper price. When pricing things out I've pretty much settled on Drury Inn that would give us free hot breakfast and some perks in the evening if we were back from the parks (some light snacks for the kids, popcorn, soda, even wine!). Parking is free and there's a free shuttle to the parks. The free shuttle doesn't include early entry but there is a bus stop nearby and we could use public transit or just pay for parking at the park a couple of times if we want to get there early.

    But- is early entry really something I'm going to need? My mom is the only "morning person" in our family and even for her that means waking up around 7:30- which is the time we'd need to be arriving at the gate for early entry! I have the Undercover Tourist app for UO on my phone and have been watching wait times for a while now. At this time of year there doesn't seem to be much difference in wait times at various times of day- at most I see about 10-15 minutes extra at the busiest parts of the day. I would rather wait in line for a few more minutes than wake up at the crack of dawn. Don't get me wrong- I'd be up and at 'em super early if it meant not getting to ride or a difference of half an hour in each line but for 10 minutes it just doesn't seem worth fighting my kids to get up early while we're on vacation. We're homeschoolers- I don't even fight them to get up early when we're not on vacation!:upsidedow

    Home rental:

    This is really the option I'm leaning toward most. I love renting condos or houses for vacations. We get so much space, a kitchen, usually laundry facilities and for so much less than we'd pay to stay in a hotel.

    We may need the space. My brother has a new girlfriend who loves Harry Potter. My mom and I have discussed that if they are still together and as serious as we think they are it might be nice to include her. But it's too early to know if that's going to be a good idea at this point. It would be nice to have the option to invite her along when we get closer to the trip if we want.

    I also like having time and space to myself to recharge, write in my vacation journal, etc. I love my mom but she can be a little overwhelming at times and she likes to talk. A lot. This weekend she and I spent a night at my cousins house and she kept talking to me while I was trying to go to sleep- I was on my phone and she thought that meant I was still up even though I'd explained that reading is what helps me settle into sleep. And then as soon as I rolled over the next morning she started talking to me even though I told her that I need a few minutes to be myself and fully wake up in the morning. Having our own space would help avoid these issues and save my sanity! :crazy2:

    As for the kitchen and laundry facilities, I know that may not seem like a bonus to some but for us it is. I like packing light and would rather throw in a load of laundry than lug a huge suitcase all over. As for the kitchen, I really thought I'd love not having to cook when we had FD for our WDW trip but honestly, by the end of the week we were all so sick of themepark food and I would have loved to just whip up an easy meal. Generally for vacation I make a few freezer meals and put them in ziploc bags so I'm really just warming something on the stove or in the oven and maybe tossing together a salad while actually there. Not a lot of time cooking, not a lot of dishes. Just simple, easy, cheap and healthy food to refuel us. And if we don't want to do that we can still eat out- but it's nice to have the option IMO. :thumbsup2

    So, really the only drawback of renting a house or condo is that we won't have early entry or an EP (though we could buy an EP, I'd have to price it out to see if that's an option).

    That's what it keeps coming back to and will probably play the biggest role in my decision- do we REALLY need these perks or will we have plenty of time without them? We'll probably do three single park days with the option of adding park to park or a fourth day if we want. (Another perk of the house/condo is that it will most likely be a one week rental so adding a park day won't add to our accommodations budget.)

    Whew, that was long winded and rambling (I warned you!) so if you're still reading I appreciate it. :faint: I'd love some feedback and opinions about this! :goodvibes
     
  17. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

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    Drury Inn is a well kept secret of being a great place to stay.

    i have some friends that have been using that place.


    you should break down the costs involved.
    hotel stay cost, tickets separately and then compare that to the packages.

    most of the time, you will come out ahead by booking everything separately.


    the hotel shuttle at DI is free if you have a package or not.

    they honor AAA discounts.
    if you stay during the weekdays, the rate will be lower there.
    the free breakfast is good there.

    since you are not staying for a long time, i would go with a hotel rather than a condo set up.
    when i am on vacation i do not cook, clean, do dishes, etc.
    you would have lots more room in a condo/private rental house, but you then have the down time in getting back and forth to the parks, shopping areas, restaurants, etc.

    how do you want to spend your time on vacation?
    shopping, park fun, city walk adventures, etc.

    if you want to concentrate on theme parks as your main entertainment, go onsite one night then offsite.
    or, stay at drury inn as it is close to the parks.

    parking is $15 in the garage at city walk.
    only do that one day if you plan to take breaks back at your offsite place.
    show the parking stub so you are waived from paying again when you return to the parks later in the day/evening.

    the parks close earlier in september.
    do you really want to take breaks in the daytime away from them?

    do the parks all day and spend the early evening at city walk or other places in that area off site.

    you have plenty of time to think this all through.

    promos for onsite rooms come up frequently.
    there are times rooms can go for $150 a night.
    i have paid less with my AAA card and with my APH card for a room.
     
  18. Twoboysnmygirl

    Twoboysnmygirl DIS Veteran

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    I vote OFFSITE. Seriously, you need to make a pros/cons graph. I think you will see that there are FAR MORE pros for your family to stay in a condo. :thumbsup2 I know it's not the same staying offsite for WDW, but we had a fabulous trip when we rented. Yes, it was different than the whole immersing yourself, but it was also more relaxed, spacious, and comfortable!

    There are great reasons for on and offsite, but you have to decide what is best for YOUR family, YOUR budget, and YOUR trip. :goodvibes
     
  19. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    That is a good rate and one I'll be on the lookout for if we determine we need to stay onsite. I'm still curious if you think we'll need the express pass at this time of year. I've been watching my line app but would value input from someone who's actually been to the parks. :confused3

    A GRAPH!! :hyper: Ooooh, you know me so well.

    I'm definitely leaning toward off site if I could just figure out if I'm going to need that EP. And I'll also need to find just the perfect offsite spot- good location, pool, spacious, right price... :surfweb:
     
  20. reelmom

    reelmom DIS Veteran

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    Here is reason to stay onsite:

    [​IMG]

    This was the third week in June. It was raining this morning but Early Entry to WWoHP without crowds was amazing.
     
  21. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    That looks amazing! I'm not sure it's enough incentive for us at this point but it sure is tempting!
     

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