Where do I start?

kristas mom

Earning My Ears
Dec 28, 2000
Now that I have somewhat figured out Disney, I have to start to plan a trip to Universal for next year.
There will be 11 of us, including 7 children under the age of 10.
We will be in Orlando for 14 days, probably 4 at Disney and then 3or4 at Universal and IOA.
With that many children we won`t be doing any of the thrill rides.
I`d like to know about the character dinner, which characters are there specifically.
Any other tips would be great.
I was hoping to get some information such as which are the best days to go to which park Universal or IOA. Also if I`m planning three days should we spend two at IOA and one at Universal.
Is it better to go first thing in the morning or later in the day.
I`d appreciate any input at all.
Hi Krista's Mom,
First of all, where will you be staying while at Universal/IOA? If you are staying on-site, you will easily be able to do both parks in 3 days. We went to parks early each morning, stayed for lunch, headed back to hotel about 1:00 pm (HRH) until dinner. Went back to City Walk for dinner, and stayed in parks until they closed. We were there the week before Easter, and it wasn't too crowded in a.m. or after dinner. Towards the end of our trip we just wandered in and out of both parks, catching anything we may have missed.
There is a character lunch at Confisco's Grille, which is located right inside IOA. They have all the characters there between noon and 2:00 p.m. If you stay on-site you don't need reservations. Toon Lagoon had all their characters out all week while we were there. The Marvel characters showed up on 3 wheelers at lunch time one day mid-week. I was able to learn a lot about the parks and pick up some great tips by reading the trip reports board and this board also. There are so many decisions to make! That's the fun of planning a vacation, don't you think? :)
Hi again,
I just read that Confisco's Grille will no longer have a character lunch! :(
See what I mean about learning from reading these boards?

Here's what I had to say on the "best day of the week" topic in the latest edition of my Universal orlando guidebook:

A fair bit of advice has been written about the best days of the week to visit the various Orlando area theme parks and I’ve written my share of it. In the fullness of time, however, I have come to believe that such guidance is of limited use, for a number of reasons. First, as I’ve already mentioned, if you’re anywhere near normal, theme park crowds are going to seem overwhelming most of the time anyway. Second, there’s a problem with averages. You could well arrive on the “slowest” day of the week only to find that there’s been an atypical blip in attendance.

One reason for attendance being unpredictable is the frequent special events and corporate promotions that can flood the parks with an extra several thousand people or even close them altogether. To cite just one example, I was visiting Islands of Adventure on a day when a major car manufacturer was hosting thousands of its customers as part of a special promotion. Not only did these lucky folks get early admission to the park, so that when the rest of us mere mortals were allowed in the place was packed, but the park closed early so that the favored few could have the place to themselves until late into the night.

Note: In theory, you can get advance warning about these park-flooding events by calling Guest Services, but only 48 hours prior to the actual date of the event.

That being said, one popular view has it that Saturday and Sunday are good days to visit Universal Studios Florida on the theory that most folks start their vacations on the weekend and that most of those who come to Orlando go to Disney first. Following this theory, Monday through Wednesday become the “busy” days. However, my recent experience suggests just the opposite. I found fewer people in the parks on weekdays and bigger crowds on the weekends. Go figure.

It is also more than likely that Universal Orlando will attract still larger crowds now that it has two on-site resort hotels open. Therefore, it will be a good while before anyone will be able to hazard an educated guess as to which are the busiest days of the week at the parks. And even then, it will only be “on average.”

Finally, there is no reason to cram a visit into a day or two (although many people insist on doing just that). If you decide to make Universal Orlando your primary (or only) Orlando destination, you can get seven- and ten-day tickets (see The Price of Admission, below) that offer unlimited admission to both Universal Orlando parks, as well as some others nearby. The per-day cost of these tickets is quite reasonable and they remove the insane pressure that can come with a park-a-day touring schedule.


I think Barry Hom said not so long ago on this board that Monday and Tuesday are the "slow" days and that's been my experience too.

Hope this helps.

Kelly Monaghan
Author of "Universal Orlando: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure" and
"The Other Orlando: What To Do When You've Done Disney & Universal"
<img height=100 src=http://www.theotherorlando.com/images/use.jpg> <img height=100 src=http://www.theotherorlando.com/images/orl3.jpg>>
We are staying off-site. Unfortunately with 4 children we would need two rooms and I just don`t want to spend that much on accomidations.
I`ve rented a house with a pool in The Manors at Westridge, so I`m not sure if going back and forth will be an option. I hope so that`s what we do at Disney and I love it.
We will have to cram the park into 3 days, because we also want to do Disney and SeaWorld. I`d also like a few non-park days.I will try the Monday and Tuesday, thanks for the tip of calling ahead to make sure there are no large groups on those days, I wouldn`t have thought of that.
I assume the Express is the same as Fastpass, which I love.
Thanks again


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