Finally- first visit to US/IA in 18 years!

lorenae

I'm going to Disney World!
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
I was actually trying to consider ways to extend a 4 day Florida resident ticket for my grandkids (I'm a passholder at WDW), but thought hmmmmm.......about US. I found that the tickets were about the same price, but Dockside Inn was $100 night. So, I pulled the trigger and have 2 nights/2 days to visit!

Our first day happens to be a Sunday, so I was thinking that we'd go early and see how the lines are before committing to an express pass. Would that make sense? I'm a total newbie when it comes to this, and not sure what to do but if we can buy it if the lines are too long for the little guy with Asperger's later if he starts to struggle, that would be great. The dates are 1/23 and 1/24, so hopefully not too busy.

I know NOTHING about Harry Potter or most of the things at Universal for 8 and 11 year old boys. The one time I went in early 2003, Spiderman was the big hit and the Hulk Coaster a great second. So it's been a while. I'd love tips on getting from Surfside to the park(s), and leaving. We'll have a rental car.

I'm really excited- this is a surprise trip for my grandsons who had our 2020 trip cancelled three times, and never rescheduled. Just me (grandma) and the two boys.
 

Lynne G

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 29, 2009
I’d just take the bus from Dockside to City Walk. It’s fast, and usually low waits for it. Enjoy, great ages for the kid to enjoy all in the parks. Sweet of you to let the grandkids have some fun this year. With a rental car, when you get back from the parks, you can drive to any of the restaurants and stores all around that hotel.
 

lorenae

I'm going to Disney World!
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
I’d just take the bus from Dockside to City Walk. It’s fast, and usually low waits for it. Enjoy, great ages for the kid to enjoy all in the parks. Sweet of you to let the grandkids have some fun this year. With a rental car, when you get back from the parks, you can drive to any of the restaurants and stores all around that hotel.
Thank you! I have a feeling I'll be wiped out by then........Can we bus/walk to dinner?
 

lorenae

I'm going to Disney World!
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
You can maybe walk to some, but CityWalk has great sit down and quick meal places that would be good to eat at after a long park day. Then could just take bus back when done. Maybe then go to an off site restaurant on your way back home or to airport, as will have that rental car.
We'll be driving over to our Disney hotel on our second (last) day. But it sounds like we might need a rest day!
 
  • lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    This is probably a silly question, but I felt with Disney trips that I was organizing an invasion of a small country- with every minute from booking into the arrival fully planned out, and of course after arrival meeting our goals.

    Is the same true of US/IA now? What should I plan for, and allow time for, vs just walking where we want?
     

    susustudios

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 22, 2020
    universal requires nowhere near the amount of planning as disney. you can walk where you want and do attractions. if you want you can get the express pass but unless you plan on doing rollercoasters a lot it's probably a waste
     

    lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    universal requires nowhere near the amount of planning as disney. you can walk where you want and do attractions. if you want you can get the express pass but unless you plan on doing rollercoasters a lot it's probably a waste
    Whew, thank you! For two boys, what would you do first and look for?
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    Take a look at the park maps online
    Check out any restrictions
    Talk with the boys on what they want to ride and see

    I have 4 boys and needed them to be on the same page of what they wanted to do and ride
     
  • lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    Take a look at the park maps online
    Check out any restrictions
    Talk with the boys on what they want to ride and see

    I have 4 boys and needed them to be on the same page of what they wanted to do and ride
    Well, we can talk on the plane down I guess- it's a surprise for them after last year. I had booked a Disney vacation in May, which was cancelled. Rescheduled for August, which was cancelled. This time, I'm not telling them because there are so many things that can still go wrong. I'm going to fly from Tampa to surprise them, and then fly with them to Orlando, return with them to Wisconsin, then fly back to Tampa. The logistics of this are already messy, without constant airline changes, new rules, unknown future, etc, so I'm not talking to them about it. I don't think our family can take another disappointment like that- last year was extremely hard for everyone.

    But our family went through so much- their mom (my daughter) lost her job. They moved to another town 90 minutes away, we sold their house, Disney was cancelled twice, their church camp cancelled of course, living in a new town with no school going on, they had no friends, one got hurt pretty badly and was laid up for a while, etc. 2020 was hard for everyone, and I recognize that, but I just can't disappoint the little guy (who has Aspergers) again. He didn't even really know they moved- we assumed he knew it was a permanent thing but he kept waiting to "go home". When we realized what he was thinking, and that he was devastated, my heart just broke. I know as people we all have to live with disappointment, but it's been exceptionally hard on the 8 year old.
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    Find out if the boys like Harry Potter. Maybe buy them the first book for Christmas if they have only seen the movies. Buy a used interactive wand on Ebay (you can tell they are not just the prop kind because they have kind of an acrylic tip or bulb on the end) which should run you about $20, as opposed to $60 in the parks. They never wear out - its mechanism works with the windows and signs etc to cast 'spells'. They boys are the perfect age for this! Ebay is also a great source for cheap robes and other Harry Potter ephemera.

    You'll need WAY less planning than for Disney - but you can make dinner reservations (since Covid) 30 days out if you're into table service dining at the parks or Citywalk. At that time of year, you could probably make them the morning of. 2 fun Harry Potter restaurants, Simpsons town fast foods, and other counter service restaurants should be a blast for them!

    Do they like bowling? Cabana Bay has neon bowling at its Galaxy Bowl! Mini Putt? There's a SUPER cool looking miniputt at Citywalk. Since you only have two days, the parks should be plenty, but I know once you visit Universal you'll want to come back. So much less expensive and less hassle than Disney - and this is coming from someone who used to go to WDW almost every year.

    Have fun!!!
     

    lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    Find out if the boys like Harry Potter. Maybe buy them the first book for Christmas if they have only seen the movies. Buy a used interactive wand on Ebay (you can tell they are not just the prop kind because they have kind of an acrylic tip or bulb on the end) which should run you about $20, as opposed to $60 in the parks. They never wear out - its mechanism works with the windows and signs etc to cast 'spells'. They boys are the perfect age for this! Ebay is also a great source for cheap robes and other Harry Potter ephemera.

    You'll need WAY less planning than for Disney - but you can make dinner reservations (since Covid) 30 days out if you're into table service dining at the parks or Citywalk. At that time of year, you could probably make them the morning of. 2 fun Harry Potter restaurants, Simpsons town fast foods, and other counter service restaurants should be a blast for them!

    Do they like bowling? Cabana Bay has neon bowling at its Galaxy Bowl! Mini Putt? There's a SUPER cool looking miniputt at Citywalk. Since you only have two days, the parks should be plenty, but I know once you visit Universal you'll want to come back. So much less expensive and less hassle than Disney - and this is coming from someone who used to go to WDW almost every year.

    Have fun!!!
    They’ve read the Harry Potter books and seen the movies, so thanks for the tip about the wand- that sounds great! I think they’ll be so excited- I’ve never once mentioned universal to them and I don’t even know if they are aware that it exists!

    We’ll be heading over to WDW after leaving US/IA so no time for bowling I would think.
     

    lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    Find out if the boys like Harry Potter. Maybe buy them the first book for Christmas if they have only seen the movies. Buy a used interactive wand on Ebay (you can tell they are not just the prop kind because they have kind of an acrylic tip or bulb on the end) which should run you about $20, as opposed to $60 in the parks. They never wear out - its mechanism works with the windows and signs etc to cast 'spells'. They boys are the perfect age for this! Ebay is also a great source for cheap robes and other Harry Potter ephemera.

    You'll need WAY less planning than for Disney - but you can make dinner reservations (since Covid) 30 days out if you're into table service dining at the parks or Citywalk. At that time of year, you could probably make them the morning of. 2 fun Harry Potter restaurants, Simpsons town fast foods, and other counter service restaurants should be a blast for them!

    Do they like bowling? Cabana Bay has neon bowling at its Galaxy Bowl! Mini Putt? There's a SUPER cool looking miniputt at Citywalk. Since you only have two days, the parks should be plenty, but I know once you visit Universal you'll want to come back. So much less expensive and less hassle than Disney - and this is coming from someone who used to go to WDW almost every year.

    Have fun!!!
    Can you tell me more about the wands? Do they take batteries or otherwise go dead? I'd like to get them for Christmas for them!
     

    cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Can you tell me more about the wands? Do they take batteries or otherwise go dead? I'd like to get them for Christmas for them!
    They do not take batteries. As long as you keep the end piece clean and free from scratches, they should work indefinitely. If, for some reason they do stop working, I've heard that the wand shop team can 'repair' them.
     

    lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    Another question- our first day is on a Sunday- January 23. Is it worth it to stay at a Premier resort for the unlimited line pass? We will have a two park/two day ticket. I got a GREAT rate for the Dockside- like $65/night so to go to $329/night would hurt.
     

    Kit Jackson

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 2, 2014
    I have no idea what franchises the boys like or what their tolerance for rides are (some are ride cowards and some want to want ride everything)
    Minion Mayem is fun if they like Minions/Despicable Me
    The King Kong ride is great.
    If they are fans, the Harry Potter section is fantastic and there is so much to see. If you want a break, watch the in park shows. Try the ice-cream in Diagon Alley.
    There is a Marvel section of the parks if they are into that (There are people who love the Spiderman and Transformers rides but I am not a fan of them).
    Unless they are superfans, skip the Fast and the Furious ride (It isn't very good)
    The Simpsons section is great. Bumble Bee Man's Tacos are really good. Walking around Springfield is so fun because its detailed. The Simpsons ride is okay.
     

    Kit Jackson

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 2, 2014
    I forgot to mention that the banana icees near the King Kong ride are also really good.

    Everyone likes/dislikes different rides, and that's totally cool. The same is true for food as well.
     


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