My UO, DC, AQ, & KSC Pre-trip report

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by CoachZ, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. CoachZ

    CoachZ Mouseketeer

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    Here's my pre-trip report for May/June 2018. I don't have exact dates yet. That is contingent on when my nephews & I get out of school for the summer. I'm Z-48 and my nephews are B-14 & T-12. I'm a high school teacher in a suburb of St Louis. My nephews are students in the same school district, so we will start summer break at the same time.
    I originally had planned this trip for June 2017, however the boys changed the dates once they discovered Fast & Furious wouldn't open until Spring 2018. I'm okay with waiting a year. It just gives me more time to read and gather information necessary to plan an awesome trip for the boys & I!
    The plan was to just go to the 3 Universal parks for 5 days. We will stay onsite at RPR. The plan is to fly into MCO and use Tony Hinds service to/from the airport. Then about a month ago my parents offered to pay the costs for a few more days in Orlando. So now our trip includes Discovery Cove, Aquatica, and Kennedy Space Center.
    The new plan is still 5 days/4 nights at RPR and 4-5 nights at a hotel near Seaworld. Haven't decided which one yet, but I think I have it narrowed down to either Springhill Suites @ Seaworld, Fairfield Inn @ Seaworld, or Best Western Orlando Convention Center.
    A little back story. This will be the boys first vacation with me without their parents. We've been to WDW in 2011, Seaworld, Legoland, & Clearwater beach in 2013, & Destin in 2016 as whole family. I've been to UO, SW, DC, & KSC back in 2003, so I know a lot has changed. I'm the trip planner and deal hunter of the family!
    I'm leaning toward flying out of St Louis on a Sunday or Monday morning as soon as we get out of school. If I follow this plan we'll be in Orlando over Memorial Day weekend. This option concerns me about an increase in crowd levels. My other option would be to start our trip on the first Sunday/Monday in June.
    I'm not planning on renting a car until we head to KSC. So we will Uber/Lyft from RPR to our SW hotel, and do the same to/from the SW parks.
    The boys have already told me they want their first ride to be The Hulk, so day 1 will be IOA. The rest of the tentative itinerary is day 2 US, day 3 VB, days 4 & 5 we will park hop. We'll take afternoon breaks for lunch and pool time, then head back into the parks for the evening. I'm hoping to have time to pool hop to other hotels as well.
    Once we move toward SW, I think DC will be on Saturday, AQ on Sunday, an KSC on Monday. We may go to SW one evening to ride the coasters. I think we'll stay an extra day just in case we encounter a day of bad weather.
    Possible trip dates May 20 or 21 - 29 or 30 or June 3 or 4 - 12 or 13.
    Restaurants we want to try: NBC Grill, Bubba Gump, Hard Rock Cafe, Margaritavile, and Bula Bar. We'll probably have breakfast in the room, the boys aren't big breakfast eaters. We'll stop for groceries on our way from the airport. Eat table service for lunch and then back to RPR to swim. Then have a quick service dinner in the parks. Our quick service choices are: Springfield food court, Mel’s, Thunder Falls, Confisco, and maybe Richters.
    After being at WDW in 2011 on the free dining plan I learned we are better off to eat table service at lunch and quick service at dinner due to the amount of food. In the SW area we'll eat breakfast at the hotel and lunch in the parks. DC thankfully includes both breakfast and lunch. Still looking at our dinner options. I'm sure one night we'll have pizza delivered, either Giordanos or Uno. We won't have a car most of this time but we can always Uber/Lyft to and from dinner.
    For tickets my plan is buy an AP to UO for myself, probably the preferred so I get discounts on food and merchandise plus hopefully an APH hotel discount. I figure the food discount will come in handing feeding 2 growing boys! The boys tickets I'll buy from UT. I'll get them 5 day park to park tickets plus VB. I'd prefer to buy them the 14 day explorer tickets just in case we want to come back while we're still in Orlando. Just concerned that UO will start enforcing the only for U.K. rule. I'll also purchase our DC and KSC tickets from UT as well.
    So now onto the rides. I know some won't believe this, but my nephews aren't into Harry Potter. I asked them if they wanted to watch the movies so they understand the rides, but they weren't interested. We'll ride the HP rides but may not understand it all. We will ride all the coasters for sure! Plus all the simulators look awesome! We've watched many YouTube videos of the rides thanks to The Tim Tracker and Midway Mayhem. Between the videos and this site I fell more than prepared for this trip. Thanks everyone!

    So what do you all think? Any suggestions or comments are appreciated!
     
  2. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

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    Well, you certainly seem quite organised.........:thumbsup2

    Not sure whether there's anything else to suggest! You have done your homework for this trip.......

    As for not being Potter fans, they don't have to be.......they'll enjoy the area for what it is.......everyone I know who isn't a huge Potter fan still loves it and is amazed how immersing the whole place is.......they'll enjoy the rides too.

    Some good food choices there too.........we avoid Richters, Margaritaville and BG.......but many enjoy them and have great meals there. For us Margaritaville just isn't as good as it used to be........but burgers and nachos still seem to be good........and cocktails of course.......

    Looking forward to reading along with you..........
     
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  4. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    take your time on figuring out which counter service places you will cover.
    a few on your list is not great as it used to be.
    another one is iffy at times.

    spfld food court has quite a few things and do repeats of that place on each visit.
    do NOT forget to buy the lards lad big pink donut.
    you can buy one at the shops near the front of the park to take back to the room and snack on later that night.

    check out the menu sticky and see if any others will interest you.

    do have to say i love st louis area.
    born in East St Louis on the other side of the river...

    enjoyed the hot air ballons viewing in september years back
     
  5. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

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    I missed coachz mention Mel's Diner........yep......avoid.
     
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  6. CoachZ

    CoachZ Mouseketeer

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    Thanks schumigirl!! I've read your trip reports and they've helped tremendously! What quick service restaurants do you recommend?
     
  7. CoachZ

    CoachZ Mouseketeer

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    Thanks macraven!! We definitely will grab a big pink donut!

    This site has been such a huge help!! I appreciate all the time and energy you put into this!! I have checked out the menu stickies as well as the food pics thread.

    Yes the hot air balloon glow is always fun!!
     
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  8. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    you didn't ask me but i'll tell you how i decide not to return to an eatery.
    i'll try the place three times, three years in a row.

    if each time there is the same issue on what i order, and i will order the same food each time so i can compare it, i don't go back.

    Mels is one of them i will not return to.
    did the hamburger and fries meal.
    luke warm food, limited taste, and buns with no taste (not fresh tasting)

    richters is a hit or miss
    if the place is busy and has a line wait to order, food should be fresh at those times.

    if the place is dead and only a couple tables being used, think twice so you don't get heat lamp warmed hamburgers or chicken sandwiches.

    Confisco used to be a place i ate at twice a visit as my stay is 2 weeks on site.
    last few years, i have had to have my food swaped out for various reasons.
    usually all fine then the second time they redo my order.

    if you see this place packed when you go, eat there.
    check out the menus for it in advance and get an idea of what will be made fresh and not kept on a warming oven

    simpsons, what i have had there i really enjoyed.
    ribwich sandwich is really tops for me but you'll need about 2 dozen napkins if you eat one.
    i cut mine in quarters now so not as sloppy to eat.

    the chicken waffle sandwich is another of my eats there.
    i always ask for additional sauce to be put on it.
    and if the waffle is not soft and fresh, i tell them make my sandwich again
    i ask before they fix mine if the waffles have been sitting there for 10 minutes.
    they will tell me to wait and they will do my sandwich with freshly made waffles.
    that's the trick to get a great chicken waffle sandwich.

    for the crusty burgers, i tell them to put the cheese sauce in a side cup
    when they put it on top of the burger, bun can shred up

    thunder falls is good.

    Blondies is one of my favorites for sandwiches.
    they make it as you order it.
    they put toppings on in front of you.
    turkey, roast beef, ham, etc meats for the sub sandwiches.
    comes with a side of potatoe salad that tastes home made.

    for city walk, i am one that loves Bubba Gumps.
    enough said....


    now i go twice a year to the darkside and stay onsite.
    for my fall long stays, i do plan out places for meals and snacks.

    since you will have a 4 night 5 day park vacation, look at the menus and plan on the must do in advance.
    guessing you will do 4 dinners and 5 lunches, maybe breakfast at orchid court lounge in the morning for breakfast or things you brought with
    you
     
  9. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

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    I mostly agree with what macraven said.

    For quick service in IOA we love Thunder Falls, Fire Eaters Grill and Blondies. Croissant Moon bakery is also nice, its attached to Confisco Grill which is excellent, but table service. Excellent value though. Same with Mythos, prices are decent. Places like Cafe4 and Circus Mcgurkas we would not eat in.

    Quick service in Studios. Decent places are Beverly Hills Boulangerie as you come into the park and most places in Simpsons food court. We enjoyed the chicken and waffles, pizza, hot dog (dh did anyway) chicken wrap, shrimp, chicken thumbs and the big pink donut. Louie's pizza is one not to miss. Ben and Jerry's :D nicer than the Potter ice cream.

    We wouldn't eat in Mel's or Monsters Cafe although that is worth a look around for all the classic Universal monster memorabilia.
     
  10. CoachZ

    CoachZ Mouseketeer

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    Thank you!
     

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