Total Universal newbies going next week- need a plan!

TheDisneyCampers

Earning My Ears
Joined
Aug 2, 2014
We are Disney World semi-regulars, and I’ve gotten pretty good at planning our trips there (lots of thanks to the DisBoards!) However, we have never been to Universal. We are going next week for a mini trip- just Tuesday and Wednesday. We are staying offsite. We’ll have park to park tickets. I’m planning to buy the express pass to avoid as much wait time as possible. (Our room rate is so awesome, it’s cheaper for us to stay offsite and pay for the express pass than stay onsite and get it with the room).

There are two adults and an 8 year old in our party. She has no experience with Harry Potter, but is SUPER excited about it (as am I). She will ride anything she meets the height requirement for, and is quite adventurous.

Can anyone outline a day plan that will help us to navigate the parks? We are happy to go rope-drop to close. Food ideas? Is a dining plan worth it? We’ll eat breakfast at the hotel.

Thanks!!
 

macraven

Proud Redhead
Moderator
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
I never found dining plans to be that much of an advantage
It’s possible to save a few bucks at UO if you choose their meal deals

Check out the meal deal menus and see if it suits you.

Go early since you will be using the parking garage.
Give yourself extra time to enter and park.
You’ll go through security checks going into City Walk

Check out the park maps in the UO site for ride locations, eateries, first aide, restrooms, etc

Download the UO app so you can check ride wait times, show times/ street entertainment or any ride closures.

Enjoy your visit to the darkside!
 

Disxuni

"Where's the fun without a bit of risk?"
Joined
Mar 12, 2016
For a method, especially since you're planning to use EP, all I can suggest is find out what you want to do and work from there. If you do not have a preference on one particular attraction maybe scope out what you want and either start at a place where there seems to be a lot you can do all at once, or do whatever you wish along the way. However, I will say if HP is a focus to either try to hit that first thing in the morning, or when it gets too busy, or crowded to go later in the evening once things cool down.

As for the dining plan it's useful if you pick the right items that will either be worth, or be more than what you're already paying for and use all of what is offered. If not, you're essentially wasting money. However, it shouldn't be too difficult. For example, QS dining is $23.99 + tax. I just went and got Perilous Pair Platter (two bbq meats + two sides) recently which was $15.99 (essentially $16+tax). I bought an additional drink for $4+, but with the dining plan it's included with your meal. Right there is $20+tax worth. After that you'd have an additional drink you can use, as well as a snack still with your dining plan. If anything you don't need necessarily a plan for everyone. There's no rules against sharing (at least with QS I do not believe) and what I just had recently I could have easily shared with someone.
 
  • sandam1

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 19, 2016
    I always used to say that the dining plan wasn't a great deal, but they changed it to where, IMHO, it can be worthwhile.

    Point 1: Keep in mind that you don't have to buy it in advance. You can buy it when you buy the meal. The only time this is a problem is if you want to use the snack/drink first. If that might be the case for you, there are a couple of kiosks in each park dedicated to selling the dining plan.

    Point 2: With the dining plan, you get one meal with a drink. Then you get 2 snack/drink credits to use later. This is the BIG change! The snack and drink credits are interchangable! So you can get 2 drinks (a huge waste of value!), 1 drink and 1 snack (you're probably going to come out even), or 2 snacks (this is the best deal). Butterbeers are a snack. They are also $8 each. So if you use your 2 snack/drink credits on butterbeer that is an additional $16 value. I don't know when they made the change, but this rocked my math. Now, for me, it's worth it.

    We usually buy one dining plan for every 2 days (or so) that we are there since we also like to eat at our hotel and/or at City Walk, which don't participate in the plan.
     

    RamblingMad

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2019
    You don’t need a plan. Take your time and enjoy the parks. This isn’t WDW.

    Now, the food in the parks isn’t great, but the Harry Potter restaurants are well run. And it’s easier to get butterbeer in the restaurants.
     

    The Pho

    A heck of a paleontologist if I do say so myself
    Joined
    May 9, 2018
    With Express Pass you really don’t need a plan except for riding Hagrids. We tend to start in Islands of Adventure and start with Marvel Land on the left and walk in a circle around the lagoon hitting everything. Turning around after Seussland and hitting Hogwarts Express than basically making another circle at the other park. Diagon Alley towards Men In Black, ending at The Mummy. With Express Pass, we always manage every ride in both parks in a day with time for riding our favorites multiple times. With two days you can take your time to enjoy.

    For Hagrids I suggest watching/reading some of this thread: https://www.disboards.com/threads/hagrids-coaster-queue-updates-questions-reviews.3753033/page-66#post-61275676

    The ride isn’t exactly consistent on its opening and closing times, but it is absolutely one of their best attractions and if you do coasters should not miss it. Most try to rope drop it and generally that works out pretty well. I tried multiple times in the middle of the day and it worked great for us. Just be aware that the wait time sign is frequently inflated significantly.
     

    cfoxga

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 14, 2009
    We're going to be at Universal on the same dates, so I was curious about your desire to purchase EPs for 3 people for two days. I see the EP price for those 11/26 and 11/27 are $170 per-person per-day. Rather than pay $1020, it seems like you can save quite a bit of money by booking a throw-away room at a deluxe hotel instead. There is not much available at this point, but there is a king suite at HRH for $444 on the 26th. That will get you two days worth of EPs and save over $500, unless I'm missing something...
     
  • skylock

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 2, 2010
    As others have said. with p2p and EP, your planning is done.

    The only thing I would advise is Enter one park one day and the other park the next day.

    Work your way around the park you entered until you get to hogwart express. Ride that over to the other park, look around/ride a bit, take the train back to the original park and complete that park.

    The next day. start in the other park and do iy the same way.
     

    Mercenary

    To infinity and beyond!
    Joined
    Mar 7, 2002
    I always used to say that the dining plan wasn't a great deal, but they changed it to where, IMHO, it can be worthwhile.

    Point 1: Keep in mind that you don't have to buy it in advance. You can buy it when you buy the meal. The only time this is a problem is if you want to use the snack/drink first. If that might be the case for you, there are a couple of kiosks in each park dedicated to selling the dining plan.

    Point 2: With the dining plan, you get one meal with a drink. Then you get 2 snack/drink credits to use later. This is the BIG change! The snack and drink credits are interchangable! So you can get 2 drinks (a huge waste of value!), 1 drink and 1 snack (you're probably going to come out even), or 2 snacks (this is the best deal). Butterbeers are a snack. They are also $8 each. So if you use your 2 snack/drink credits on butterbeer that is an additional $16 value. I don't know when they made the change, but this rocked my math. Now, for me, it's worth it.

    We usually buy one dining plan for every 2 days (or so) that we are there since we also like to eat at our hotel and/or at City Walk, which don't participate in the plan.

    Hmmmm interesting. I can not find anything about 2 snacks per day vs 1 snack and 1 drink.
     

    sandam1

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 19, 2016
    Hmmmm interesting. I can not find anything about 2 snacks per day vs 1 snack and 1 drink.
    I didn't see anything on their website either, but that's what we were told - and how it worked - for us in September. Personally, I would never have even looked at the Dining Plan since I carry a water bottle with me at all times so the drink is of little value to me, but my travel partner wanted to buy one. Once the person at the desk (near the front of the Studios side) explained that it was two snacks or drinks, I was all in. And on the receipts it said "snack/drink credit." I don't know when the change happened, but that was what we experienced.
     

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