Cancelled Disney, Changed to a Universal Vacation!

RamblingMad

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 29, 2019
Universal hotels beat the pants off WDW resort hotels, especially now that Disney removed so much theming in the rooms. And it's magical not to be forced to plan every second of our vacation 6 months in advance. That is the most magical part of Universal. I just get to relax. I will always love Disney, but I just don't feel like my hard earned money is appreciated by them. I'm just one of the masses. Universal makes you feel special. And the team members seem happier and seem like they are having more fun.
This. For FL Universal is the place to go.

I stayed in a Universal hotel for the first time because I extended my vacation. I was fearing horrible beds like I experienced at the WDW onsite hotels, and I was surprised when the beds were actually good. I also liked that I was able to book three days out without any problems.
 

DisneyMomx7

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
From 2003-2018 we went to a Disney every year. Sometimes twice a year and once we even went 3 times! So I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Disney. That being said I’ve been hugely disappointed in what Disney has become. It feels like pay a lot more and get a lot less now

This year we are spending a week at Universal at Portofino and just going over to Disney for MNSSHP. It feels great to know we can go with the flow. No picking rides way inadvance, a few dining reservations but they were made last month, not 6 months in advance. We are looking to pool time, relaxing and being way more spontaneous- and kids are looking forward to a lot of sleeping in!
 
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  • UOAP

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 19, 2019
    From 2003-2018 we went to a Disney every year. Sometimes twice a year and once we even went 3 times! So I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Disney. That being said I’ve been hugely disappointed in what Disney has become. It feels like pay a lot more and get a lot less now

    This year we are spending a week at Universal at Portofino and just going over to Fisney for MNSSHP. It feels great to know we can go with the flow. No picking rides way inadvance, a few dining reservations but they were made last month, not 6 months in advance. We are looking to pool time, relaxing and being way more spontaneous- and kids are looking forward to a lot of sleeping in!
    Yep, we are going over thanksgiving week and spending it resort hopping: CBBR, RP, SF, and PB. At Disney I would never do that because it would cut into critical park time to move from one hotel to the other like that. But we will have EP for all except 3 days, which just makes it possible to sit back and really enjoy the hotels and the different theming. I'm really excited.
     

    glocon

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2010
    Yep, we are going over thanksgiving week and spending it resort hopping: CBBR, RP, SF, and PB. At Disney I would never do that because it would cut into critical park time to move from one hotel to the other like that. But we will have EP for all except 3 days, which just makes it possible to sit back and really enjoy the hotels and the different theming. I'm really excited.
    We’ve tried all of those, and like SF the best. It is so new still, and you can tell. It’s just so clean and beautiful... if only it had EP!
     

    Chickinvic

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2019
    We also changed our plans from WDW to Universal - we have not been to UO since before HP opened and I have been wanting to go. Since we are west coast we do Disneyland often enough and the idea of WDW was stressing me out, it has been five years since I was there and the planning is just getting too daunting. Have a great trip!
    Good choice. I have always believed that Disneyland California is by far a better experience than WDW. I would do exactly as you are doing.
     

    Chickinvic

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2019
    This. A million times over. It's what has driven us from Disney to Universal. In Disney's attempt to make things "easier" on guests, they have pushed some away. It's not just your personality type. If you want to do Disney the way it should be done, and go to restaurants you want to, ride all the rides you want, there is no relaxing.
    I think that experience can still be found at Disneyland California, but most definitely not at WDW.
     
  • blewits

    Wendy
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2002
    I know you weren't asking me but I'd love to answer this. I think Universal landscaping is world's better than WDW. It's not as "clipped," but they use local flora in a spectacular way. When we stay at Portofino we always walk to the parks instead of taking the boat because the walk is gorgeous. Not a bunch of planted flowers, but lovely flowering bushes, different types of bamboo, etc. We live on the Gulf Coast so I would pay to talk to whomever does their landscaping so we could do our yard the same way! As for clean, Disney USED to be known for being pristine, but our last 2 visits were shocking. Trash all over the place and the bathrooms STANK. Universal seems cleaner, although neither live up to Disney's old standards. "Magical" is in the eye of the beholder. The HP areas are amazingly magical. WDW wins for nostalgia, but I grew up going to DIsney, and only went to Universal for the first time in my late 30s. I do not love toon lagoon theming. It seems a bit cheap (although the water rides are fantastic). But I love Port of Entry and the Jurrasic Park areas. Universal hotels beat the pants off WDW resort hotels, especially now that Disney removed so much theming in the rooms. And it's magical not to be forced to plan every second of our vacation 6 months in advance. That is the most magical part of Universal. I just get to relax. I will always love Disney, but I just don't feel like my hard earned money is appreciated by them. I'm just one of the masses. Universal makes you feel special. And the team members seem happier and seem like they are having more fun.
    Thank you. Exactly the info I was curious about.
     

    DisneyMomx7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2004
    We arrived at Portofino yesterday. Here’s the biggest difference for us from years of Disney trips. DD asked me last night which park are we going to tomorrow and where are we eating lunch- and my answer was whenever you want to go and wherever you want to eat! Love this go with the flow vacation!
     

    LuvMyEAR

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 23, 2009
    I have been a diehard Disney fan since my first DL visit, but the scales have tipped. Fast Pass+ system adds a lot of anxiety for trip planners like me, and we find ourselves crisscrossing the parks in order to keep to a self-inflicted schedule. But, if you don’t buy into the madness, you can rarely get into any reasonably popular attraction without an unreasonable wait. I am over it!

    The most recent structure and restrictions around tickets was the final straw. We’d happily buy 5-day passes with Water Parks & More option. That would put us into a Disney venue almost every day for 14 days, as we’d tour resorts or visit Downtown/Disney Springs on our “off “ days, and usually go to a MNSSHP or MVMCP. It was full-bore Disney immersion and we loved it. Now, we would be forced to buy park hoppers in order to add water park admissions AND couldn’t even have a full day to enjoy the water parks as the tickets are not even good for 10 days! Yup. I am over it.

    I sat today pricing up a visit to Universal, staying on site and was shocked by the realization that the hotel was affordable and including tickets brought it in under the price of a hotel alone at WDW. I have planted the seed with my family. We could always add on a party at WDW, or an evening at Disney Springs. Maybe.
     

    Chickinvic

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2019
    I have been a diehard Disney fan since my first DL visit, but the scales have tipped. Fast Pass+ system adds a lot of anxiety for trip planners like me, and we find ourselves crisscrossing the parks in order to keep to a self-inflicted schedule. But, if you don’t buy into the madness, you can rarely get into any reasonably popular attraction without an unreasonable wait. I am over it!

    The most recent structure and restrictions around tickets was the final straw. We’d happily buy 5-day passes with Water Parks & More option. That would put us into a Disney venue almost every day for 14 days, as we’d tour resorts or visit Downtown/Disney Springs on our “off “ days, and usually go to a MNSSHP or MVMCP. It was full-bore Disney immersion and we loved it. Now, we would be forced to buy park hoppers in order to add water park admissions AND couldn’t even have a full day to enjoy the water parks as the tickets are not even good for 10 days! Yup. I am over it.

    I sat today pricing up a visit to Universal, staying on site and was shocked by the realization that the hotel was affordable and including tickets brought it in under the price of a hotel alone at WDW. I have planted the seed with my family. We could always add on a party at WDW, or an evening at Disney Springs. Maybe.
    These are my thoughts exactly. I am considering the same idea (going mostly to Universal and just throwing in a party at WDW or something). It is too bad that Disney has taken this direction, but really it is kind of a stressful process for me now and that isn't what I want on vacation. Disneyland I think is still reasonably doable and that might be another option for me. A trip to Disneyland every couple years, but keep the Florida trips for Universal and perhaps a WDW party.
     
  • mdsouth

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 15, 2005
    We also changed our plans from WDW to Universal - we have not been to UO since before HP opened and I have been wanting to go. Since we are west coast we do Disneyland often enough and the idea of WDW was stressing me out, it has been five years since I was there and the planning is just getting too daunting. Have a great trip!
    I currently have a Disney hotel booked, but my plans have changed and I will be cancelling it. I am starting to plan to go at a different time and have decided it will be a Universal trip. My first time there! My DD has been wanting to go to see the HP stuff. And the more I have been checking out the threads and prices, I I think it will be great to spend less money on the resort and tickets for a great visit.

    QUOTE="UOAP, post: 60891121, member: 645229"]
    You are going to have a great time! I love how stress free Universal trips are. In fact, I keep trying to plan another Disney trip and when I run the numbers it is just mind boggling so we just keep going back to Universal.
    [/QUOTE] This is what I keep doing, checking the numbers and am going to give Universal a try for the first time this summer 2020.

    You made a very smart choice. I'm usually a ga ga Disney girl--but we just got back from our worst Disney experience ever. We totally planned to go next summer, and now I am looking and learning all about Universal for this reason! Disney was SO SO packed--worst I've ever seen. They did not have the park hours to compensate for the crowds. Even the FP line regularly took 15-20 mins...we paid over $600 for an after hours party and it was just swamped with people (and wait times to all major rides!). We felt so taken advantage of for what we paid. Enjoy--and I'd love to hear about your vacation afterwards! We've never been to Universal!
    Sounds like me. I, too have sentimental ties to Disney. I have only been to WDW four times and the last time was five years ago. I was looking forward to returning soon but just hate to spend all that money to only be super stressed while there.

    I find this discussion so incredibly interesting. I’m die hard Disney, but I’m becoming so aggravated with the planning involved.

    Also, sentimental with Disney. I took my kids there.

    I don’t know Universal material. Not even Harry Potter so much.

    But I would like to relax. And not pick restaurants and rides 180 out for eating, and 60 days out for fast passes.

    It’s becoming ridiculous.

    It is ridiculous.

    Thanks for the honest posts. I’m booked for WDW right before Christmas to take a German niece who has never been. If it’s awful, we may need to find something new.

    It should not be this difficult to freely give people my money.
    True, True, True!
     

    bagpiper

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2007
    My wife and I are exploring changing our mid October 2019 Disney trip into a Universal Trip.

    This year we let our Annual Passes expire in April expecting to renew in October but after the 2nd AP price increase this year we refuse to pay the extra $400 for both of us for more crowds, more construction and less value.

    We were just planning on at least walking around Hollywood Studios to view SWGE , then maybe hit up MNSSHP, and spend most of the weekend in Epcot for Food & Wine.

    Now after watching Disneyland‘s SWGE lack of crowds it doesn’t seen to have much to offer us with only one ride, a $99 droid making shop, a $200 light saber experience and an overpriced bar. Both SWGE lands seem devoid of Darth Vader, Luke, R2D2 and any other legacy characters.

    Next Epcot is going to have some huge changes to the front of the park. We are tired of paying top dollar for the privilege of walking around closed shops and construction zones. At with all the price Increases we expect cleaner bathrooms and some seating around the World Showcase so you can eat and drink and not eat over a garbage can where the rats run back and fort to

    Next the recent reviews of the hard ticketed parties are terrible with how crowded they are. I remember the original $15 E Nights which were great, cheap and fun. We have attended dozens of Halloween/Christmas/Pirate parties over the years, and each one is more crowded then the next. Why pay ever inflating prides going just to wait in line after line when you can do that on any other day ?
     

    bagpiper

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2007
    Another Disney vs Univeral Difference...

    The Phone Call to Reservations Line.

    Disney goes like this

    Hello, so your agent can better help you, we need to verify your identity...
    Please Say and Spell your name like this ....
    ‘We did not hear your response please repeat your first and last name...
    Next your address, phone, email, repeat, repeat, blah blah blah.

    Next finally a live agent answers the line, who has to verify everything you just verified with the computer
    My favorite is right after they ”verify me” I hear welcome back ! Your next trip is to The Polynesian Resort as a DVC member in December, thank you for being a DVC owner.

    Then I say “Sorry, I am not a DVC owner and that’s not my trip” and then back to verifying me - every time !

    Now if I have a question the agent can’t handle, I get transferred and then have to repeat all of my information again, including the confusion of my info with a different guest.

    UnIversal goes like this ...

    Hello, welcome to Universal Studios, whom do I have the pleas of speaking with ?
    ‘Hi, I am Kevin”
    “Hello, Kevin, how can I help you ?

    Then it’s straight to my question and not any other nonsense.

    I get that’s the way my US trip will be- more relaxed
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    Next the recent reviews of the hard ticketed parties are terrible with how crowded they are. I remember the original $15 E Nights which were great, cheap and fun. We have attended dozens of Halloween/Christmas/Pirate parties over the years, and each one is more crowded then the next. Why pay ever inflating prides going just to wait in line after line when you can do that on any other day ?
    I can remember paying $10 for the E night tickets.....
    Still have the copy of it.

    E ticket nights were great back in the 90's.
    Last year I took a pass on that paid event.

    Too many peeps in the same place for me.
     

    bagpiper

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2007
    My 1st trip was July 4th week in 1976, during the nations bicentennial

    Luckily we drove from NY back to Florida in the summer of 1978

    My first adult trip was in 1988

    I totally skipped Disney in the 90’s!

    In 2001 we took our son down to Disney for his first trip. This vacation was in the last weekend in August 2001 right before 911, before everything changed.

    After 911, the travel industry suffered greatly and Disney was not immune. Sometime around October 2001, Disney offered First Responders Free 7 day park hopper ticket, plus up to 5 additional tickets at 50% off for family members and even 50% hotel rooms on property which expired on 12/31/2001

    I emailed Disney around December 3, right after I got out of a 3 week hospital stay, thanking them for their gracious offer but explaining that the first responders in NYC had little to no days off from 9/11 onwards, our 2001 vacations were cancelled so basically I knew no one who could take advantage of the free pass before 12/31/01

    I also explained that personally I couldn’t go to Disney because I just got out of a 3 week hospital stay after a near fatal car accident and was trying to learn to walk again.

    I was among many other 1st responders that fall and winter who were getting into car accidents going to and from work due to the very long hours we were working without any time off.

    Disney replied to my email inquiry about extending the offer and said they were going to extend everyones offer until 12/31/2002 !!

    In July 2002, my family and I went to Disney on a much needed vacation. I believe that it was on this trip was that we first attended the $15 E Night at the Magic Kingdom and it was great!

    Since then we have made multiple family trips staying on and off property. We even went to Universal a few days while staying at Disney, my wife felt guilty !

    I remember some solo trips I took after retiring and becoming an Annual Passholder. Those trip were a no brainer when I found $99 round trip airfare and got AP discounted room as low as $50 a night room at one of the All Star resorts.

    What I enjoyed the most over the years was ability to walk around the parks, trip after trip and find rides or something to do that wasn’t always sold out or 2 hours long. The New Fastpass System has created artificial long lines on rides that never usually always had them.

    I have appreciated alot of new changes, attractions and technology over the years but with everything good there always something bad to follow it.

    In hindsight there was something positive about not worrying about making fastpasses 6am in the morning 60 days out, the same ADR’s at 180 days out.

    The free dining promotions seem to clog up the restaurants, and the fastpass system reduces hotel rooms availability due to guests staying off property grabbing rooms for a single night just to make their FP

    The hard ticketed events seemed to turn back the clock a bit when guests just went to any and all a rides without fastpass, it was first come, first served. Now the current problem with these Hard Ticketed Events are they over sold, the lines are just as long as any park day, so you pay a premium for nothing extra over a nornal day at the park.

    With today’s technology Disney could even come out with a less expensive park pass for those who just want to walk around, shop and eat. These tickets would be great for those who just want to accompany their family/group for a couple of hours, but cant take advantage of any rides.

    Maybe allow those with a discounted pass go on A/B/C rides/attractions based on crowd levels and if possible allow those individuals to pay for a last minute fast pass for ride in order to join a family group.

    I also like the idea of allowing a guest with this discounted ticket to even pay extra for a D / E rides/attractions when available !

    I am hoping that Universal provides for a bit of the spontaneity that Disney lost years ago.
     

    keishashadow

    Proud Redhead...yes, I have some bananas!
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2004
    only to find out AKL is under refurbishment and the expensive savanna view we would be paying for is compromised by construction vehicles, porta potties, and animals that aren't roaming as freely due to noise and activity. Disney is giving me all the signs that it doesn't want to see me this year.
    The room rehabs/construction at AK is hit or miss. Your experience is dependent upon the luck of the draw as to room assignments.

    We were there 4th of July week and experienced zero issues. Had balcony on smaller/giraffe savanah. Plenty of animal sightings. Same when we walked out to main savanah. Have another res there for first week in December. No plans to cancel it.

    However, we use DVC points and are fortunate to visit the resort often, kidani when jambo is not available. I understand completely not wanting to be near construction on a pricey vacation. It’s one of the reasons I switched the Universal portion of Sept/Oct trip from RPH to HRH. Just didn’t want to deal with the lobby rehab. Unfortunately, if you travel enough, the odds are you will run into it.

    Relax and know you have a lovely trip upcoming at the dark side:).

    As for spontaneity, well I just looked at my calendar and it has dawned on me if I don’t finally make my FP for the above-referenced trip, the 30 day (offsite/locals) will grab what’s left. I’ve never had issues getting decent FP for any park, even if decide to visit a different disney park the day beforehand. Helps that i’m Not a pandora fan at epcot, nor do we need to jump thru DP hoops.

    Am I concerned that SWGE will muddy the waters? Absolutely! One of the reasons we switched up our annual back-to-school trip from WDW to DL. Things have been relatively dead there. It’s changing now that AP blackouts have lifted but had no issue booking res 14 days out at Olga’s & for the droid making thing. I’ve yet to garner either for fall or winter trip.
     

    mouselike-harrier

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 7, 2010
    I'm adding my experience to the mix. We hadn't been to Universal since 2010 and were DVC members up until last year when we sold it. My son went to school at Embry-Riddle and for his graduation in May, we decided on Universal because he had an annual pass (couldn't afford Disney's) and I really wanted to see Diagon Alley. I was totally nervous because we were strictly Disney people. My goodness, what a difference! We got APH rates at PBR (for 2 rooms, something we couldn't afford at Disney) and the resort was so beautiful and relaxing. No dining reservations, no planning, no leaving for the parks an hour early or rushing to make our ADR's before we get charged, even though we don't feel like going there anymore. No deciding what we would be doing months in advance. My daughter summed it up by saying that she felt like she had a real vacation. I must admit I felt like a little kid in Diagon Alley and stayed until closing the very first night we arrived, something that we would never have done at Disney! We are converts.
     

    Chickinvic

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 9, 2019
    I'm adding my experience to the mix. We hadn't been to Universal since 2010 and were DVC members up until last year when we sold it. My son went to school at Embry-Riddle and for his graduation in May, we decided on Universal because he had an annual pass (couldn't afford Disney's) and I really wanted to see Diagon Alley. I was totally nervous because we were strictly Disney people. My goodness, what a difference! We got APH rates at PBR (for 2 rooms, something we couldn't afford at Disney) and the resort was so beautiful and relaxing. No dining reservations, no planning, no leaving for the parks an hour early or rushing to make our ADR's before we get charged, even though we don't feel like going there anymore. No deciding what we would be doing months in advance. My daughter summed it up by saying that she felt like she had a real vacation. I must admit I felt like a little kid in Diagon Alley and stayed until closing the very first night we arrived, something that we would never have done at Disney! We are converts.
    Now THAT is a vacation! Sounds wonderful.
     

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