First Universal Trip for a Disney family!

Ike&Jakesmom

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 5, 2010
Hey there, we are a family of 4 (2 boys ages 19 & 15) and are going to Universal! My mom will also be joining us on this adventure. We have been going to Disney yearly since 2008 and are DVC members. This is a whole new world and I have a few questions. Our vacation will be the week of Memorial Day (yikes!).

1. We are looking at staying at a DVC property and driving over to Universal each day since this would eliminate hotel cost. Is express pass important enough to pay for a Universal resort vs. Using our DVC points?
2. Are 2 day park to park tickets plenty to see what Universal has to offer or is a third day needed?
3. Any tips, tricks or pointers for this newbie Universal family?

Thanks everyone! We love Harry Potter and are so excited to try Universal!
 

CynBeth

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 17, 2011
I recommend you stay on Universal property at a premier hotel would make life so much easier then driving back and forth and you save money with getting the package through them and having the express pass and get early entry to one of the parks. We did the park to park ticket. Depending on which hotel you choose can walk or take a boat. We stayed on Universal property for 2 nights for the first time at Portofino before a Disney trip around Thanksgiving and loved it. We only had about a day and a half and do not go on roller coasters or anything with a drop so got to do almost every ride we wanted plus saw some shows. If we go again would want 2 or 2 1/2 days. If you decide to do this get lanyards with a clear card holder. You put the bar code of the room key which is also the express pass facing out on one side and then the ticket bar code facing out the other side.
 
  • Ross Kratter

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 5, 2019
    I agree with the previous poster. Staying on property at Universal, especially at the three Premier hotels (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, Portofino Bay), is so easy and convenient. They are beautiful hotels with excellent service, and the Express benefit is unparalleled; you’ll need it during Memorial Day week. You can use it for every major attraction except for Velocicoaster and Hagrid’s, as many times as you want every day.
    If you have Express, 2-day Park-to-Park tickets should enable you to do a lot of the hits, per se, but I would add a third day if you can, so you can really do everything.
    There are so many great and unique shows, too, that are worth catching - Celestina Warbeck, the Bourne Stuntacular, the Blues Brothers, and more.
     

    GinnyBear's_mom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 1, 2008
    We're DVC as well. If you can bank or rent some of your points then I would say stay on Universal property. If you have to use your points this year then just stay DVC. What non-DVCers might not understand is that we are already paying to use our points (annual dues, initial buy in price) so to add the cost of a few days at a Universal hotel might not make financial sense.

    Some DVCers or people that don't want to checkout of a Disney resort book a throwaway room for 1 night at a Universal deluxe resort and that will give you express passes for 2 days (check in and check out day). Rack rate around Memorial Day would be $500-$600 for 5 people for 1 night, express passes around that time are about $130-$150 per person per day. If you do the throwaway room you don't have to worry about switching hotels if you aren't up for that. Two days with express passes is plenty. If you opt to go without the express passes you might need that 3rd day if your family is really into Harry Potter, otherwise you should be ok.

    If you are a DVC'er that uses points yearly or more often than that and will be back in the next 12 months, you may want to look at an annual pass. APs are way cheaper at Universal compared to Disney and make sense if you are going there for just a few days in a 12 month period.
     

    JakeAZ

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 25, 2018
    Some DVCers or people that don't want to checkout of a Disney resort book a throwaway room for 1 night at a Universal deluxe resort and that will give you express passes for 2 days (check in and check out day).
    This is the absolute best (and cheapest) way to get EP for two days. The more people you have in your room (up to 5), the better deal it is!

    I would not do UO, if you have limited time, without the EPs. I don't care what time of year it is. They just make the experience so much better. You can really take your time in the HP lands (you need park to park tickets in order to ride the Hogwarts Express) and just jump into line whenever.

    EP will really help with time management if you are going to prioritize Hagrids and Velocicoaster (which you absolutely should as there is no Disney ride in the same conversation as either of those) since standby is your only option for both and they could eat up quite a bit of time.

    Just beware....you will most likely end up having more fun at UO (especially with teenagers) than you ever could at a Disney park.
     
  • Skywalker3

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2018
    Hey there, we are a family of 4 (2 boys ages 19 & 15) and are going to Universal! My mom will also be joining us on this adventure. We have been going to Disney yearly since 2008 and are DVC members. This is a whole new world and I have a few questions. Our vacation will be the week of Memorial Day (yikes!).

    1. We are looking at staying at a DVC property and driving over to Universal each day since this would eliminate hotel cost. Is express pass important enough to pay for a Universal resort vs. Using our DVC points?
    2. Are 2 day park to park tickets plenty to see what Universal has to offer or is a third day needed?
    3. Any tips, tricks or pointers for this newbie Universal family?

    Thanks everyone! We love Harry Potter and are so excited to try Universal!
    Lots and lots of great threads here! we're DVC too, but for Universal visits, we want to be in that bubble, and stay onsite there, at least 2-3 nights, but I know a lot of DVC folks who just get up and go over to UO for the day. We just prefer to be able to not worry about driving back/forth, and so nice to walk back to the hotel. (one of the reasons we love our 'home' at BWV...so easy to walk back, from Epcot/HS) It's a bit of sticker shock sometimes for us, to stay at one of Universal's premier hotels, when we think we just could be using points, but we just love having Express pass. Makes for such a more fun trip. Often we'll stay offsite the first night, and the last night after the premier. You can check in very early, like 6AM, and get the express pass going for that day. it's good all day checkin through all day checkout. But if that's not an option, with some planning, and idea of what to expect, it's still super fun even if you're in regular lines. And there are some rides with single rider lines.
    WE often travel to Orlando at Memorial day, even did Universal in 2016, although usually we're at Disney then. It will be busy for sure. If you're used to crowds and the busyness at Disney, take that same idea at universal. Rope drop and go-go-go. Happy planning. Again, lots of great threads/tips here that were so helpful when we planned our last Universal trip in Oct
     


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