New to Universal - Annual Pass and Resort Questions

notatallmagic

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Former Disney Annual Pass family hoping to try Universal in February of 2023. We were so impressed that they actually answer their phone when you call - like on the 4th ring!! For our 4 night 5 day trip, the ticket cost was about $400/person, and they have an Annual Pass for about $500, so thought that might be worth it? We could definitely make another trip during the year to utilize...

Also was looking at Royal Pacific due to the unlimited Express Pass; at least for our first trip. I love the idea of walking everywhere after some Disney transportation challenges. Experiences?

We would appreciate any and all tips and thoughts! The Universal lady was so nice - she did say we could do grocery delivery, walk everywhere, and that the pace was more relaxed (which is what we are missing and need for our vacations).

Any ideas when either resort, package, or Annual Pass discounts might be available? Can we book now and then add the discount later if one pops up?

Any and all tips and advice would be so appreciated! Thank you!
 

CAPSLOCK

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Price things separately, most Universal packages are just bundled for convenience but don't really save any money. Therefore it is often better to book things separately (better cancellation terms on hotels, for example).

For $100 for tickets on a whole additional trip, why not do APs?

I believe you can book the hotel now. Directly through Loews/Universal, it is free cancellation up til 5-6 days before the trip.

AP hotel rates take their sweet time to come out. You can wait for them, but they may never show up on certain days so it's a risk. I suggest booking something that works now, and the keeping an eye on the AP rate website so you can snag one if/when it appears (probably Fall-ish). It is a separate reservation, can't be applied to an existing booking.

RPR is very walkable, along a nicely landscaped shady garden path. The boats are also quite nice & frequent IME. Either way, you avoid the main security hub which is a nice perk too.
 

Kit Jackson

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
Universal is far more laid back and relaxed. My last trip we stayed at Hard Rock Hotel. Everything is walkable and the boats are also an excellent method of transportation. ExpressPass is great; there's nothing to book/reserve. Get in the ExpressPass lane, show your hotel key, they scan it, and that's it. Lanyards are helpful, especially with ExpressPass.

There are certain popular restaurants that you will need to book a month in advance if you want to eat there (Mythos, Toothsome, and a few others), so when you get closer to the trip take a look at the website and see what looks good.
 

AJA

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 16, 2008
For a first visit Express is totally worth it especially if you have a Harry Potter fan. They can explore Harry Potter in the early morning when crowds are light and still get in all the big rides.

I would get AP’s if you think you will return. If you do definitely take the time to research what tiers benefit your family, visiting schedule, and purchasing with the AP discount.
 

georgina

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Depending on what type of annual pass you want, take a look at the blockout dates on the Uni website. February has Mardi Concerts on some weekends and seasonal passes will be blocked out of the Studios park on those days.

I would book the resort now, you may be able to get a savvy traveler rate for now, can switch to AP rate if one becomes available.
 

Skywalker3

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
we've always booked Universal separately, not as packages. This is our first year with a Universal AP, and we are LOVING it! We've done 2 trips just for Universal, and I just returned from a primarily Disney trip, but easily modified to add a day at Univeral. So nice to have AP just to pop over. Also hope to do a couple days in Oct, before they expire. I'm so glad we did APs. we have the preferred, but premier would've been a good choice too, extra discounts, HHN ticket. etc. Look over the tiers to see what fits best. We started w seasonal for the kids, but one of trips was during their spring break week, and completely blocked out, so we upgraded theirs that week.
we've stayed at RP a few times, and loved it, also love HRH a lot. They are both so very convenient to the parks/CW, and can easily walk everywhere.
we've recently stayed at CB, Aventura, and endless summer, and Portofino. All great in their own ways, All still convenient w bus service. But for a first stay, and to get express pass, I'd recommend RP or HR. Express is such an awesome way to enjoy the experience, especially on first trips

Happy planning!!!
 

UOAP-Naples

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Former Disney Annual Pass family hoping to try Universal in February of 2023. We were so impressed that they actually answer their phone when you call - like on the 4th ring!! For our 4 night 5 day trip, the ticket cost was about $400/person, and they have an Annual Pass for about $500, so thought that might be worth it? We could definitely make another trip during the year to utilize...

Also was looking at Royal Pacific due to the unlimited Express Pass; at least for our first trip. I love the idea of walking everywhere after some Disney transportation challenges. Experiences?

We would appreciate any and all tips and thoughts! The Universal lady was so nice - she did say we could do grocery delivery, walk everywhere, and that the pace was more relaxed (which is what we are missing and need for our vacations).

Any ideas when either resort, package, or Annual Pass discounts might be available? Can we book now and then add the discount later if one pops up?

Any and all tips and advice would be so appreciated! Thank you!
Royal Pacific is a great resort. We have stayed there a lot the last two years. You can take the water taxis to City Walk or it's a 7-10 minute walk. You have to walk from the dock to wherever you're going anyway so we rarely take the water taxis. If you're starting at Universal Studios, I guess you can take the boat to save a few steps. If you're going to IOA, you might as well just walk most of the time.

Express pass is a great perk of the 3 premium hotels. You can easily see and do everything in 4 or 5 days.

The packages won't save you much. They're for convenience to book everything together. We used a travel agent to create a package for our first trip and it was the exact same prices as I could book online individually.

The annual pass hotel discounts usually get posted about 3 months out if they have room availability. You can book the annual pass rate before you buy your annual pass. You'd just need to have your annual pass when you're there for your stay. Since they have a ticketing area in the hotel, you can upgrade your passes and then check-in to the hotel right afterwards.

I'd book a hotel now and then keep checking back for lower rates. They'll have other discounts posted from time to time. You can make a new reservation and just cancel the old one if something new pops up. They allow cancellation until 6 days before arrival.

I doubt you'll see many discounts on annual passes. There is strong demand. They've raised the annual pass prices twice in the last 90 days already.
 
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ckelly14

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 23, 2010
Thanks, but I'm not seeing anywhere to put in the code on the new Universal or Loews website. Any ideas?
 

wdwrule

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2013

IRISHGRUMPY

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 1, 2018
Morning All,

If my wife has a preferred annual pass , but she is not driving , can we still get the free parking , or do I as driver have to have the annual pass

many thanks
 

CAPSLOCK

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
I would think as long as she's in the car, and has ID, you'd be all set. But I don't know that for certain. Hopefully someone else can confirm for you.
 

kbelle8995

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 28, 2009
For the ticket price It seems for an extra $100 dollars, I might really consider getting the AP. Depending on the pass (Preferred and Premium) you can get discounts on Merchandise and food. I use it for discounts at Starbucks. I have preferred and really love it. I just renewed. I will be down in September. And can't wait
 

Gr8t Fan

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 7, 2009
Morning All,

If my wife has a preferred annual pass , but she is not driving , can we still get the free parking , or do I as driver have to have the annual pass

many thanks

My husband always drives, but I have the preferred pass. It's never been a problem. Sometimes the team members tease him a bit by telling him he looks nothing like the person on the driver's license, but that's it.
 

notatallmagic

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 21, 2014
Thank you all so much! We just got back from our Seaworld adventure, and spent part of a day exploring the Universal resorts and City Walk.

I have to say we are now very excited! My daughter is a HUGE (currently disappointed) Disney fan, and she was so impressed! I love how compact and easy it was to get around. City Walk had so many dining options at different price points; the merch was AMAZING in the shops; and the walking distances were so easy!

We walked over to Royal Pacific and looked around - loved it! We also stopped at Sapphire Falls and had lunch, and then went over and looked around at Portofino (it was lovely, but I think my other teenager will like Royal Pacific a lot better). The walkway from the parks to the resorts was so pretty and all the "Cast Members" we say were super pleasant.

Can't wait to start planning! Thanks again everyone!
 

kbelle8995

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 28, 2009
Thank you all so much! We just got back from our Seaworld adventure, and spent part of a day exploring the Universal resorts and City Walk.

I have to say we are now very excited! My daughter is a HUGE (currently disappointed) Disney fan, and she was so impressed! I love how compact and easy it was to get around. City Walk had so many dining options at different price points; the merch was AMAZING in the shops; and the walking distances were so easy!

We walked over to Royal Pacific and looked around - loved it! We also stopped at Sapphire Falls and had lunch, and then went over and looked around at Portofino (it was lovely, but I think my other teenager will like Royal Pacific a lot better). The walkway from the parks to the resorts was so pretty and all the "Cast Members" we say were super pleasant.

Can't wait to start planning! Thanks again everyone!

I think you will find that planning for a Universal trip is pretty easy. And once you get there you can relax and go as fast or slow as you like. If you decide to stay at a Universal Hotel, make a plan to spend a day just hanging out at the resort.

Also the boats are great when the weather cooperates. Such a relaxing way to ride around the area.
 

UOAP-Naples

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jun 9, 2022
Thank you all so much! We just got back from our Seaworld adventure, and spent part of a day exploring the Universal resorts and City Walk.

I have to say we are now very excited! My daughter is a HUGE (currently disappointed) Disney fan, and she was so impressed! I love how compact and easy it was to get around. City Walk had so many dining options at different price points; the merch was AMAZING in the shops; and the walking distances were so easy!

We walked over to Royal Pacific and looked around - loved it! We also stopped at Sapphire Falls and had lunch, and then went over and looked around at Portofino (it was lovely, but I think my other teenager will like Royal Pacific a lot better). The walkway from the parks to the resorts was so pretty and all the "Cast Members" we say were super pleasant.

Can't wait to start planning! Thanks again everyone!

For Disney fans, nothing compares to the size and scope of Disney World. Disney has 4 theme parks plus 2 water parks. Universal only has 2 theme parks and 1 water park. Disney has 30+ hotels. Universal has 8. Disney Springs is 2 or 3 times larger than Universal's City Walk. Disney also has the Wide World of Sports and all sorts of other things going on outside of the parks.

Universal is still amazing on its own. The 3 parks, City Walk, and 6 of the 8 hotels are all right there together. It's like having Epcot, Hollywood Studios and 1/3 of Disney Springs all right next to each other. The buses are just as good as Disney. The water taxis are fun. Lots of the stuff you can just walk to without ever needing to get on a bus. Staying at one of the premier resorts with express pass will make your trip pretty easy and effortless.

I hope your family enjoyed Seaworld and I hope you enjoy Universal.
 








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