..I think I got it covered?

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Hi all, I just booked our families first Universal Trip. The third week of September. We will have 5 days (2 free bc of promo) w/ park to park. I booked one night at a premier hotel to take advantage of the Express pass for day of check in and check out (@ that hotel). I know HHN will be happening. We are Disney people, we've never experienced Universal. Am I forgetting anything? We will have 2 days at Disney too b/c my kids can't skip Animal Kingdom and Hollywood. Any tips? Is Uni more relaxed, less fast paced? I always feel like I need 8 months to plan a trip when going to Disney..
 

ClapYourHands

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
You will be fine! Some tips:
Use the days without EP to do rides with lower wait times. Also, Hagrid’s, Velocicoaster, and Pteranodon Flyers don’t take express anyway, so do those on your non-EP days, too.
Download the app so you can mobile order food and monitor ride wait times. Since you’re used to WDW, you’re probably used to FP+, but EP is not quite the same in that your wait will likely be about half the posted wait, so could still be significant.
Make sure to check the app for show times, because the entertainment at UO is very well done.
Getting ADRs at WDW is practically a contact sport, but UO is much more laid back. Still, you might want to book a few reservations in advance because the lines for counter service can be long at peak hours and it’s no fun having hangry kids. The app has a list of restaurants along with menus, so take a look to see what appeals. I don’t know how old your kids are, but most places don’t list their kids menus. Nearly every place has something (even if it’s only a few choices), but you usually have to ask.
If you are not going to HHN, you will be cleared out of US at 5. You can still go to IOA, but be aware that a lot of other people will be doing the same, so expect longer lines, especially if you’re planning to take the Hogwarts Express to switch parks.
Breathe and relax - you’re going to have a great time! There’s not really much planning like a WDW trip.
 

Kit Jackson

Mouseketeer
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
It helps to have an idea of what you want to do overall (which rides, shows, places to eat do you want to do). If you want to eat at Toothsome, make reservations about a month in advance. Five days is more than enough time to see and do everything you want. You will even be able to do your favorites a second time. You do not reserve a ride time in advance like Genie+/FastPass+.

When you say "tips" are you asking for things you need to think about it advance before you show up at the park (like buying tickets or booking a hotel room) or "tips" as in day to day things to get a better park experience? (must dos or things that can be skipped).
 

CAPSLOCK

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
You should be all set, so any additional planning just really depends on your personality.

I second the suggestion to look at menus, and consider making reservations for the more popular restaurants if you want to eat at them around dinner time / park close. You generally only need to book a reservation anywhere from same day to 3 weeks out, depending on how busy the places are (Toothsome & Big Fire are ones that you probably want to grab a few weeks out or more if you have specific nights you want them).

EP wait in low crowd times (ie, your dates) is typically 5 min or less, except for Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross in US to Hogsmeade in IoA.

There are 3 water rides. Jurassic Park River Adventure will get you spritzed to fairly wet on the top half. The other two, Popeye Barges & Dudley Doright log flume, will soak you all the way to your undergarments. They are a lot of fun, especially in the hot weather you can expect in Sept. Just plan accordingly. Keep in mind that if you are wet, the AC in restaurants suddenly becomes a lot less pleasant... I generally will ride Jurassic Park any time, but make a specific time to do the other two several times in a row. Or hit them after an unexpected downpour leaves you already drenched, that works too.

The soft serve ice cream at Florean Fortescue's in Diagon Alley is superb! The line gets long but it moves along and it is worth a wait.
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
It helps to have an idea of what you want to do overall (which rides, shows, places to eat do you want to do). If you want to eat at Toothsome, make reservations about a month in advance. Five days is more than enough time to see and do everything you want. You will even be able to do your favorites a second time. You do not reserve a ride time in advance like Genie+/FastPass+.

When you say "tips" are you asking for things you need to think about it advance before you show up at the park (like buying tickets or booking a hotel room) or "tips" as in day to day things to get a better park experience? (must dos or things that can be skipped).


I haven't been since I was a teenager over 20 years ago. So I know NOTHING about Universal. Nothing about the restaurants or shows. I know they have Harry Potter Land and its popular. So tip-wise, I'd say must do's, restaurant choices that are good, shows to see, etc... Can I take water bottles into the park? Things like this. HAHA. Any advice you want to offer is welcome :)
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
You should be all set, so any additional planning just really depends on your personality.

I second the suggestion to look at menus, and consider making reservations for the more popular restaurants if you want to eat at them around dinner time / park close. You generally only need to book a reservation anywhere from same day to 3 weeks out, depending on how busy the places are (Toothsome & Big Fire are ones that you probably want to grab a few weeks out or more if you have specific nights you want them).

EP wait in low crowd times (ie, your dates) is typically 5 min or less, except for Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross in US to Hogsmeade in IoA.

There are 3 water rides. Jurassic Park River Adventure will get you spritzed to fairly wet on the top half. The other two, Popeye Barges & Dudley Doright log flume, will soak you all the way to your undergarments. They are a lot of fun, especially in the hot weather you can expect in Sept. Just plan accordingly. Keep in mind that if you are wet, the AC in restaurants suddenly becomes a lot less pleasant... I generally will ride Jurassic Park any time, but make a specific time to do the other two several times in a row. Or hit them after an unexpected downpour leaves you already drenched, that works too.

The soft serve ice cream at Florean Fortescue's in Diagon Alley is superb! The line gets long but it moves along and it is worth a wait.


Thank you for all that! Do you put your stuff in lockers on these rides? Do I need quarters for the lockers? I will check out the menus for the two popular restaurants you mentioned above.
 

CAPSLOCK

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Lockers take credit cards. I put stuff in lockers for the 2 drenching rides - they're both adjacent in the same area of Toon Lagoon. Those rides have pay lockers, because you can bring things on the ride (there is a place to put them in the middle of the raft, but it is not fully waterproof so do so at your own risk). All the other lockers for the various rides that don't allow you to bring bags are all free. If Hulk or Forbidden Journey has a long wait posted, you can use those free lockers while you're on the water rides - the free ride lockers are free for the posted standby wait plus a grace period. After that, they charge. Since FJ & Hulk are closest to the water rides, those are the best to use - but this only works if their posted wait is long enough for you to get to the water rides and back.

Some "food for thought" (hehe):
  • Toothsome gets mixed reviews but I do really like it - good burgers, brunch options, apps, desserts (big, big desserts).
  • Cowfish is fantastic - creative menu items but also plenty of standbys for the picky eaters.
  • NBC Grill is very very good also - comfort food, reasonable price, sports bar setting. It's big and for some reason not all that popular so you can generally get same day reservations or just walk up. Their buffalo chicken mac & cheese is my favorite anywhere - which is saying something!
  • Breadbox - good sandwiches, one of the cheaper places, quick service. Beers are good size.
  • Red Oven Pizza - tasty, one of the cheapest places as pizza feeds multiple people. Quick service, no reservations needed (plan for regular "pizza cooking" time).
  • Antojitos - very good Mexican, often live music, big TASTY strawberry margarita... They automatically bring chips & salsa for the table too.
  • Simpsons quick service area - Fast Food Boulevard - lots of options, lots of seating. Across the way is the Lard Lad donut truck, which makes a donut sundae - donut cut in half and stuffed with soft serve & your topping choice - ah, happiness! It's really too bad that this and Florean Fortescue's are in the same park as they're the two best ice cream options. Well, those and Toothsome sundaes.
  • Harry Potter restaurants - 3 Broomsticks & Leaky Cauldron - food is fine, check out menus - ambiance/decor is really really well done. These two are among the slower quick service options, so you might want to plan for non-peak-lunch-times.
  • Thunder Falls Terrace (Jurassic Park area) - good BBQ, big portions, fast service. Same food as 3 Broomsticks & they're practically next door. If the wait at 3 Broomsticks is long, wander through to check out the place, grab a butterbeer from Hogs Head pub (attached to 3 Broomsticks), and then head over to Thunder Falls to actually eat.
  • Crepe stand in US - really good crepes, slow service as they're made to order. This is just a kiosk so no dedicated seating but there are benches nearby.
  • Confisco Grille - IoA - tasty sit down, variety of interesting menu options.
  • Mythos - IoA - very interesting themed decor, food is very good also. This would be one to make a reservation for if you want lunch here. You can typically make the reservation the day before. They will take you before your reservation time (I hit it 30min before mine and was seated within 5min).
  • Voodoo Donuts - interesting concepts, donuts are fine but not fantastic.
  • In general, many of the table service restaurants are not much more expensive than the quick service places, for generally better quality food.
 

bchbetha

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 27, 2016
Thank you for all that! Do you put your stuff in lockers on these rides? Do I need quarters for the lockers? I will check out the menus for the two popular restaurants you mentioned above.
If you can downsize what you must carry around the parks with you, you should. Keep your "just in case" stuff in a big locker at the front of the park. You don't need to have immediate access to every random item. :) The lockers aren't terrible at each ride but the free ride lockers are small so you don't want to have to worry about fitting.
 

Pooh's World

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 18, 2021
Hi all, I just booked our families first Universal Trip. The third week of September. We will have 5 days (2 free bc of promo) w/ park to park. I booked one night at a premier hotel to take advantage of the Express pass for day of check in and check out (@ that hotel). I know HHN will be happening. We are Disney people, we've never experienced Universal. Am I forgetting anything? We will have 2 days at Disney too b/c my kids can't skip Animal Kingdom and Hollywood. Any tips? Is Uni more relaxed, less fast paced? I always feel like I need 8 months to plan a trip when going to Disney..
How much was your 5 day (2 free) with promo?

Because it may be better to upgrade to the Annual Pass on the last day of your trip (you might even be able to do it now actually). At least one person should get the Premier or the Prefeered Annual Pass as that gives you discounts at Universal restaurants and stores (in the park and at City Walk).

Any Annual Pass will also get you discounts for the hotels.

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/annual-passes/your-annual-pass
 

Kit Jackson

Mouseketeer
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
Unless someone is a major serious Fast and Furious fan, skip the ride. It was dissapointing.

For food, I liked Toothsome, the NBC Grill, Mythos, BumbleBee Man Taco Truck, Florean Fortescue ice-cream, and the banana ICEE near the King Kong ride.

The lockers for most rides are free and not a big deal at all. I use the same crossbody bag at the park that I use in my day to day life and I have never had a problem fitting it into one of the free ride lockers. I never felt we were wasting time, especially since you pass the lockers on the way to the ride or the lockers are right before you get in line.

For better/more detailed reccomendations: Any Harry Potter fans in the group? Anyone with motion sickness issues? In terms of rides, are you mostly super into thrill rides, ride cowards, or will a mix of both be on the trip? How do the people you will be traveling with handle motion simulators/screen based rides?
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
How much was your 5 day (2 free) with promo?

Because it may be better to upgrade to the Annual Pass on the last day of your trip (you might even be able to do it now actually). At least one person should get the Premier or the Prefeered Annual Pass as that gives you discounts at Universal restaurants and stores (in the park and at City Walk).

Any Annual Pass will also get you discounts for the hotels.

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/annual-passes/your-annual-pass
It was $1272. But, it is for Volcano Bay as well
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Unless someone is a major serious Fast and Furious fan, skip the ride. It was dissapointing.

For food, I liked Toothsome, the NBC Grill, Mythos, BumbleBee Man Taco Truck, Florean Fortescue ice-cream, and the banana ICEE near the King Kong ride.

The lockers for most rides are free and not a big deal at all. I use the same crossbody bag at the park that I use in my day to day life and I have never had a problem fitting it into one of the free ride lockers. I never felt we were wasting time, especially since you pass the lockers on the way to the ride or the lockers are right before you get in line.

For better/more detailed reccomendations: Any Harry Potter fans in the group? Anyone with motion sickness issues? In terms of rides, are you mostly super into thrill rides, ride cowards, or will a mix of both be on the trip? How do the people you will be traveling with handle motion simulators/screen based rides?

I am the only one prone to motion sickness, since I have vertigo. So, for instance, I can't do Mission Space in Epcot because it will absolutely make me sick. We are HUGE thrill ride seekers, all of us. I have to be careful about rough coasters though because they can give me an instant migraine. Sadly, we've never read or seen any Harry Potter, but I am going to try and tie it in before we go :)
 

Kit Jackson

Mouseketeer
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
I am the only one prone to motion sickness, since I have vertigo. So, for instance, I can't do Mission Space in Epcot because it will absolutely make me sick. We are HUGE thrill ride seekers, all of us. I have to be careful about rough coasters though because they can give me an instant migraine. Sadly, we've never read or seen any Harry Potter, but I am going to try and tie it in before we go :)

Not everyone likes the same things and that's cool. If you're not super into Harry Potter, use ExpressPass on all the Harry Potter rides. The line is shorter which leaves you more time for other things. I have never been on Mission Space. What about the ride bothers you? (not trying to pry, just trying to help give you a list of rides to avoid or watch out for. It's awful being on vacation and feeling miserable due to a ride).

If you have the time or want a break after a thrill ride, the shows are fun. I enjoyed The Blues Brothers, the a capella show, Beat Builders, (all outdoors) The Universal Horror Make-Up Show (indoors) was enjoyable too.
 

Pooh's World

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 18, 2021
It was $1272. But, it is for Volcano Bay as well

Is that for everyone in your party?

You could buy/upgrade to a couple 3 Park Seasonal Pass for $399, since you are going in Sept.
Seasonal Pass Blockout Dates for Universal Studios:
January 1 – 3, 2022
March 12 – March 19, 2022
April 9 – April 16, 2022
July 1 – July 31, 2022
December 17 – 31, 2022


And one 3 Park Preferred Pass for $509
To get Free Parking and 10% off food and gift shops at Universal and City Walk.

Along with the savings from the Annual Pass hotel discounts you will come out way ahead.
 

Skywalker3

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Lots and lots of great info on these Universal threads here. Even if you can just watch the first Harry Potter, watch it, so you'll get a great idea of what everything is, especially Hogwarts Castle. But of course, try and watch them ALL! such a fabulous series. Get kinda dark/serious toward the end, but the first few, especially the first, are just so fun.
Sept is a great time for Orlando parks, Kinda between busy seasons. Can be pretty rainy though, just be prepared for that.
start reviewing rides, height requirements, etc. I get REALLY bad motion sickness on a lot of it, but I still go. Like Forbidden Journey can be the worst. But it's fun. Even the Minions make me queasy. I have to not ride on an empty stomach. SpiderMan, MiB, Mummy, and Jurassic park are my favorite non HP rides. I chickened out on our last trip in Oct, and didn't ride Velocicoaster, but hubby and kids LOVED it. My son says it's now his favorite ride in Orlando (surpassing the thrills at Seaworld.)
Happy planning!!!!!
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Not everyone likes the same things and that's cool. If you're not super into Harry Potter, use ExpressPass on all the Harry Potter rides. The line is shorter which leaves you more time for other things. I have never been on Mission Space. What about the ride bothers you? (not trying to pry, just trying to help give you a list of rides to avoid or watch out for. It's awful being on vacation and feeling miserable due to a ride).

If you have the time or want a break after a thrill ride, the shows are fun. I enjoyed The Blues Brothers, the a capella show, Beat Builders, (all outdoors) The Universal Horror Make-Up Show (indoors) was enjoyable too.
I love shows! And, I have no problem going off and leaving the hubby and kids to ride whatever they want. Mission Space is a Centifruge-spinning simulation ride. So, really I think it's the spinning with a screen that does it. Because I can ride a Tilt a Whirl with no problem.
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Is that for everyone in your party?

You could buy/upgrade to a couple 3 Park Seasonal Pass for $399, since you are going in Sept.
Seasonal Pass Blockout Dates for Universal Studios:
January 1 – 3, 2022
March 12 – March 19, 2022
April 9 – April 16, 2022
July 1 – July 31, 2022
December 17 – 31, 2022


And one 3 Park Preferred Pass for $509
To get Free Parking and 10% off food and gift shops at Universal and City Walk.

Along with the savings from the Annual Pass hotel discounts you will come out way ahead.
We aren't close enough to take advantage, IMO. We are from MD and we drive. So, I don't think the extra $ would be worth it.
 

my2lovedisney

Mouseketeer
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Lots and lots of great info on these Universal threads here. Even if you can just watch the first Harry Potter, watch it, so you'll get a great idea of what everything is, especially Hogwarts Castle. But of course, try and watch them ALL! such a fabulous series. Get kinda dark/serious toward the end, but the first few, especially the first, are just so fun.
Sept is a great time for Orlando parks, Kinda between busy seasons. Can be pretty rainy though, just be prepared for that.
start reviewing rides, height requirements, etc. I get REALLY bad motion sickness on a lot of it, but I still go. Like Forbidden Journey can be the worst. But it's fun. Even the Minions make me queasy. I have to not ride on an empty stomach. SpiderMan, MiB, Mummy, and Jurassic park are my favorite non HP rides. I chickened out on our last trip in Oct, and didn't ride Velocicoaster, but hubby and kids LOVED it. My son says it's now his favorite ride in Orlando (surpassing the thrills at Seaworld.)
Happy planning!!!!!
Thanks! I am going to bring one of those bands and ask for motion sickness patches from my Doc too. We went to Seaworld and my daughter drug me on MAKO and I swear, that is the craziest coaster ever!
 

MrBellatrixLestrange

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
Unless someone is a major serious Fast and Furious fan, skip the ride. It was dissapointing.

You're being kind, the little pre-ride show is funny but that's the highlight of the ride. I'm just glad I did that one during the Meetup because if i had wasted valuable park time in line for that I would be kicking myself.

Take advantage of the single rider lines but make sure not to miss all the theming particularly on the Harry Potter rides. Might be worth walking through the line to see things but letting those in line know you're just looking and not cutting the line.
 

MrBellatrixLestrange

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
I am the only one prone to motion sickness, since I have vertigo. So, for instance, I can't do Mission Space in Epcot because it will absolutely make me sick. We are HUGE thrill ride seekers, all of us. I have to be careful about rough coasters though because they can give me an instant migraine. Sadly, we've never read or seen any Harry Potter, but I am going to try and tie it in before we go :)
You may want to skip the Hulk ride, it's one of my favorites but I know it can jostle some.
 

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