Universal Newbie - plan and which hotel?

fujamaga

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 29, 2015
Hi! So my family (me, hubby and 2 kids: 6 and 8) will be in Orlando 9/27-10/6 doing a split Disney, friend and Universal stay. I haven't been to Universal in about 20 years and could use some advice.

I decided to book a night stay at Portofino to get the express pass for 10/4 and 10/5, but didn't want to pay so much for another night. It looks like either Cabana Bay or Aventura is the cheapest option while still receiving the universal early admission benefit, but wanted to know which would be the easiest to get to either UF/IOA.

ANY advice on my Disney/Universal itinerary would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

I'm hoping to get an Ohana dinner reservation, but so far, no luck.

9/27 - Disney Springs/pool at hotel; T-Rex lunch [Check-in At All Star Resort]
9/28 - AK; Tusker's Lunch; fireworks cruise for Illuminations
9/29 - MK and halloween party; BOG lunch
9/30 - Epcot; Victoria & Albert's dinner
10/1 - HS; ABC Commission dinner [Check-out At All Star Resort]
10/2 - IOA [Friend's house]
10/3 - MK; Liberty Tavern Lunch; Sanaa Dinner [Friend's house]
10/4 - UF [Check-in Portofino]
10/5 - IOA; Mythos Lunch [Check-out At Portofino]
10/6 - UF [Cabana Bay or Aventura?] fly out in the evening.

Thank you!!
 

bobbie68

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Hi I think your itinerary looks good. We use to do Disney every year then the teens got older and prefer Uni now. We stayed at Portofino last summer and loved it. It is a great resort.

I would go to Cabana Bay for the other night if you don't want to stay at PBH again. I have stayed at Cabana several times and love the resort. I think it has great bus service to the parks and good customer service and food court. I have not stayed at Aventura but I am not sure it gets as many good reviews as Cabana. Cabana and Avenutra are across from each other so not much difference for traveling.
You will enjoy the express pass I can't do the parks without it. If you want to go back to the resort for a swim PBH has a nice pool as well as Cabana.

The best advice is for the HP worlds if you are interested go there at early entry or later in the evening. It gets very crowded during the day and they are very narrow lands.

I hope you enjoy your trip!
 

Monykalyn

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 11, 2014
Looks so fun! V&A is a fantastic experience.

Just FYI-those dates at Universal the Studios close at 6pm to convert to Halloween Horror Nights (NOT kid friendly and a hard ticket event), usually Islands of Adventure closes at 9. So I'd choose Cabana Bay as early evenings at a great pool to relax around sounds nice!

Have a great trip!!
 
  • fujamaga

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2015
    Thank you! Looks like it’s Cabana Bay for me then. Yes, we definitely planned on using the early entry. Since I only have the express pass for 2 days, I was thinking of exploring the HP world on the days I don’t have the pass. I just couldn’t decide if I should try riding any of the rides the first day, or make it solely a non-ride day.

    Are there any rides you recommend we not use the express pass for so we can get the full experience walking through the lines?

    Hi I think your itinerary looks good. We use to do Disney every year then the teens got older and prefer Uni now. We stayed at Portofino last summer and loved it. It is a great resort.

    I would go to Cabana Bay for the other night if you don't want to stay at PBH again. I have stayed at Cabana several times and love the resort. I think it has great bus service to the parks and good customer service and food court. I have not stayed at Aventura but I am not sure it gets as many good reviews as Cabana. Cabana and Avenutra are across from each other so not much difference for traveling.
    You will enjoy the express pass I can't do the parks without it. If you want to go back to the resort for a swim PBH has a nice pool as well as Cabana.

    The best advice is for the HP worlds if you are interested go there at early entry or later in the evening. It gets very crowded during the day and they are very narrow lands.

    I hope you enjoy your trip!
     

    fujamaga

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2015
    Thanks for the heads up on the Halloween nights. I was thinking to either go back to the hotel early or to switch over to IOA since my tickets allow me to go between the parks.

    Thanks for the recc on cabana bay and I’m glad you had a good time at V&A, I’m super excited about going!!

    Looks so fun! V&A is a fantastic experience.

    Just FYI-those dates at Universal the Studios close at 6pm to convert to Halloween Horror Nights (NOT kid friendly and a hard ticket event), usually Islands of Adventure closes at 9. So I'd choose Cabana Bay as early evenings at a great pool to relax around sounds nice!

    Have a great trip!!
     

    bobbie68

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2009
    Thank you! Looks like it’s Cabana Bay for me then. Yes, we definitely planned on using the early entry. Since I only have the express pass for 2 days, I was thinking of exploring the HP world on the days I don’t have the pass. I just couldn’t decide if I should try riding any of the rides the first day, or make it solely a non-ride day.

    Are there any rides you recommend we not use the express pass for so we can get the full experience walking through the lines?
    You're welcome.

    Forbidden Journey has an amazing queue and you will miss a lot through express. The express line for Kong can miss things. Gringott's is fine to use the express pass. I have never gone through the Mummy line only express pass. I feel the others you really don't miss much through express pass line.

    I think if you are interested in the rides in the HP lands that it will be hard to go through, look around then not experience it. As far as the other rides for my family we do rides any day cause we enjoy them that we want to ride them as much as possible. Not everyone is about the rides. I think it depends on your family what is more important. You certainly could try some rides on your day without express pass.
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    I use the hotel ep and there are some rides I do use the regular line at least once per trip.

    Mummy has a great regular line.
    By using the ep line only for it, you miss a few things

    ET is another one I do the regular line at least once.
     
  • Sue M

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 27, 2009
    Thank you! Looks like it’s Cabana Bay for me then. Yes, we definitely planned on using the early entry. Since I only have the express pass for 2 days, I was thinking of exploring the HP world on the days I don’t have the pass. I just couldn’t decide if I should try riding any of the rides the first day, or make it solely a non-ride day.

    Are there any rides you recommend we not use the express pass for so we can get the full experience walking through the lines?
    If you have the Express Pass for your first day I wouldn’t waste it by not using it to ride, and making it a non ride day.
     

    Monykalyn

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2014
    There are more story telling that make the rides seem "fuller" in most of the regular queues: MiB makes more sense if you go through regular line once, as does Spiderman (after that go single rider or EP). Mummy has a neat regular queue. Forbidden Journey is a must at least once regular queue especially if a potter fan-Frankly a 30-40 minute wait for FJ at least once through regular line will let you appreciate each unique area and theming-yes the portraits DO talk, and the ride set up is more fully appreciated by taking time through the rooms (I will let people go by me until I am ready to go).
    On your non EP days would be good times to catch the shows-both in Wizarding world and out: Horror make up show, Blues Brothers, Beat builders...Parade, and just catch the street performers and characters in general. Definitely catch Beetlejuice if you can-he is hilarious to interact with!
     

    fujamaga

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2015
    I have the express pass on my 2nd and 3rd day, which is why I was thinking of making the first day a non-ride day.

    If you have the Express Pass for your first day I wouldn’t waste it by not using it to ride, and making it a non ride day.
     

    fujamaga

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 29, 2015
    awesome, thanks for the recommendations! I'll probably go on those my first day and then if I like them a ton, I'll use the express pass to go on them the second and third day too! :)


    There are more story telling that make the rides seem "fuller" in most of the regular queues: MiB makes more sense if you go through regular line once, as does Spiderman (after that go single rider or EP). Mummy has a neat regular queue. Forbidden Journey is a must at least once regular queue especially if a potter fan-Frankly a 30-40 minute wait for FJ at least once through regular line will let you appreciate each unique area and theming-yes the portraits DO talk, and the ride set up is more fully appreciated by taking time through the rooms (I will let people go by me until I am ready to go).
    On your non EP days would be good times to catch the shows-both in Wizarding world and out: Horror make up show, Blues Brothers, Beat builders...Parade, and just catch the street performers and characters in general. Definitely catch Beetlejuice if you can-he is hilarious to interact with!
     
  • Sue M

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 27, 2009
    I have the express pass on my 2nd and 3rd day, which is why I was thinking of making the first day a non-ride day.
    I misunderstood you! But on your first non express day I’d still do rides. Get there for early morning when there isn’t Express Pass anyway! Diagon Alley gets so congested later at peak times. It’s nice to ride Gringots then walk around before the masses arrive. Then at 9:00 you can take the train over to Hogesmeade and ride FJ. Since it’s at the back of the park people won’t have gotten to it yet. The train is so much fun, and different each direction.
    Once queues get too long you can just wander around and take in the scenery, eat lunch somewhere interesting, and look for attractions with low wait times.
     

    iona

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 24, 2011
    10/2 is a Wednesday and over a week before Columbus Day so you should be able to get a lot of IOA done even without the EP if you’re there in the morning. We find Universal quite different from Disney in that, on a weekday, the crowds don’t really seem to begin to build until late morning. The first couple of hours in the park are great for getting rides done.
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    On your Wednesday-Friday, the studios closes at 5:00 to the public for hhn

    Switch from the studios to IOA by 4:00 and avoid line waits for the potter rides
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    It looks like either Cabana Bay or Aventura is the cheapest option while still receiving the universal early admission benefit, but wanted to know which would be the easiest to get to either UF/IOA.
    If you're looking for better convenience to the parks, I would go with Cabana Bay. There is bus transportation, but you can also walk from there or walk across to Sapphire Falls and take the water taxi from there.

    10/1 - HS; ABC Commission dinner [Check-out At All Star Resort]
    I would caution that no one knows how crowds will be at DHS for the foreseeable future with the opening of Galaxy's Edge. I would expect long waits for everything and consider it a bonus if its not as bad as anticipated. Because of this, I would either book an ADR at a TS restaurant at DHS, or plan to go elsewhere for dinner. And then if its not too bad, you could always switch back to ABC Commissary. The Boardwalk, YC/BC, and Swan/Dolphin are just a boat ride away from DHS and offer several dining options that would be quick and easy to get to for dinner.
     

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