Help me get excited about Universal....

Discussion in 'Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure Forums' started by acarsme123, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. SA mom

    SA mom DIS Veteran

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    You may want to pick up a couple Harry Potter books or watch the movies to really appreciate these two areas. That might pump you up.

    You are going to have a vacation. When you go to WDW, it's fun, but not relaxing at all. When you go the UR and stay at one of the top 3, you can tour at a relaxed pace and enjoy. If you decide you want to eat at a particular table service restaurant, no big deal, just go. Cowfish is amazing. We enjoyed it so much that when we were visiting family in Charlotte, NC, we went out of our way to eat there. My kids LOVE, LOVE the High Class Hillbilly. The spiked shakes are pretty special, too. I'm looking forward to trying out Toothsome. The food in Springfield is really good. I could go for a Bumblebee Man taco right now.


    Which hotel? Just a matter of preference. We love Royal Pacific and are trying Hard Rock this time. We find Portofino bay to be a little stuffy, however, I hear their club level is amazing. (Did you know you can book these hotels on points through Chase Ultimate Rewards?)

    I think your touring schedule looks good. Leave yourself time to enjoy the resort pool.

    It will definitely be a different experience, but you will have a blast.
     
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  2. TommyJK

    TommyJK DIS Veteran

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    One thing we always do is that we never spend full days in the park.

    Since the resorts are so close to the parks (~15 min door to door +/- 5 min depending which resort) we ALWAYS do mid-day breaks each park day.

    We'll go for early entry, then by around noon we'll head back to the resort to spend a few hours relaxing by the pool then head back to the parks around dinner time.
     
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  4. DisneyMom93

    DisneyMom93 DisneyMom

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    Does that really work? Universal parks seem to close so early to me. I think they close at 7pm when we go in November. Do they close later when you go?

    I'm just picturing hanging out by the pool for a couple of hours and then all of us showering and then heading back to the parks at dinner time. So at dinner time do you ride more rides and also eat at the parks? Or Citywalk? I've always wondered about this. I never see it working for us. I feel like I'm paying to be in the parks and experience the park attractions. I can't imagine having enough time to do all this. I feel like going back to the park to eat dinner takes up the needed time for the attractions.

    I was also reading posts about going on water rides and back to the room to shower and change and thinking it would take a chunk out of our park time.

    I was thinking we would spend the day at Universal, leave closer to closing time and aim for dinner just after 7pm. It's later than we would want to eat dinner, but if we eat dinner at 6pm the park will be closed by the time we are done.
     
  5. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Our normal dinner hour is 7 pm and don’t change it when on vacation

    There are time periods the studios close at 7 when I am there so I don’t leave the parks until 6:30 or soon after

    With IOA closing an hour later, easier to get dinner at city walk without long waits

     
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  6. SA mom

    SA mom DIS Veteran

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    Yes, it does work when parks are open later. We usually go in March and the Parks are usually open until 10pm. We would grab something quick to eat and then ride some rides. We rarely stay in the park all day.
     
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  7. MarBee

    MarBee DIS Veteran

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    So last year we planned our first Universal trip and stayed at RPH. We have been to Disney 9 times in the past 4.5 years. We looove Disney! I was kind of in the same boat about our Universal trip.
    I will tell you that Universal is not Disney. There wasn’t that “magic” feel that I get when I’m at Disney. However, I will tell you in was pretty awesome! Just go in with the mindset that you’re not going on a Disney vacation.
    The simulated motion rides are far too many in my opinion. (I have to close my eyes on them or else I get sick.). We simply stopped going on them, but there was still plenty to do.
    So Disney wins for overall theming and better rides, but there are a few things that Universal did better in my opinion:
    The character interactions there are way better than the Disney ones in my opinion. They don’t do autographs but they hang out and interact for a while, and there’s no waiting in line forever. We booked a character dinner and probably spent an hour on and off just conversing and hanging out with the avengers and x-men. My son was in awe!
    The food at Universal was much better in my opinion. Like it’s all theme park food, so it’s clearly not cuisine. However, Universal did the burger and fries meals better than Disney does. We really didn’t do any sit down restaurants though.
    RPH was beautiful. Amazing theming and great staff. It was just like a Disney deluxe hotel. Don’t get me wrong, the Disney hotels are amazing as well, but this was amazing at a fraction of the Disney price. You can walk to the park from RPH in under ten minutes on a super pretty trail. We also took the boat one night, which was cool but unnecessary and took longer.
    Express Pass was soooooo cool! We never waited in a line for more than 10 minutes! How crazy is that?! There was only one ride with super long line even for EP, but since it was a simulated motion ride (King Kong), we skipped it.
    There is very little planning involved. I’m a Disney nut, so I get into hunting for ADRs at 180 days out and fastpasses at 60 days. However, it was kind of nice to have a “just go with the flow” trip like at Universal.
    Harry Potter world was soooo cool! It was done very “Disney,” so you felt fully immersed in the experience. That part gave me a magical feeling.

    We did two full days at the park and did pretty much every ride at the two main parks. We didn’t get to check out the water park or the “downtown” area, but both looked cool. I think your 5 days is more than enough, especially since you’ll have fastpasses.

    It’s going to be a great trip! Have an awesome time!
     
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  8. TommyJK

    TommyJK DIS Veteran

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    Even with a 7:00 close time we've made it work in the past. Break time at the hotel from noon to say 3:00, then back to the parks until 7:00, then a late dinner after that (usually back at the resort or citywalk if it's not too crowded).

    We find that when we go for early entry, after a solid 4 hours in the park we might start to tire so going back for that 2-3 hour downtime helps.

    But either way, with express pass from one of the deluxe resorts you can definitely play it by ear where you don't need to try and meticulously schedule out your days and park touring. Go into the parks and tour till you get tired. If that means you can go the whole day without breaks then great. But with express pass you'll probably find that you can get a ton of stuff done in a much shorter amount of time leaving yourself open for breaks from the park mid-day if you feel like it.
     
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  9. lebeau

    lebeau Mouseketeer

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    THIS.

    You need to put aside any preconceptions you have from your experiences at Disney. Staying on property at a WDW hotel, an afternoon break will eat up around two hours in travel time. At Universal, you can get from the park to your room in about 20 minutes. Getting back and forth is a snap. If we get to the parks early, we always head back to the room for a break. Of course since we have EP, we can also sleep in if we want to.

    The bottom line is you will have more flexibility to do whatever you want than you could ever dream of having at Disney. It's a completely different mindset. We tour the parks differently depending on what mood strikes us that day. Some days we will get an early start, others we'll sleep in. When we start getting tired, we take a break. If that puts gas back in our tanks, we head back to the parks. You can just go with the flow.
     
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  10. achang2001

    achang2001 Mouseketeer

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    We were just in Orlando for the 1/2 marathon. Even though we stayed at the Grand Floridian, we spent 2 days at Universal instead of Disney. We ate at Toothsome both days. We had a great time. Didn’t have EP but rode what we wanted in 4-5 hrs. Never have I ever not fit on a ride or even come close to not fitting but the 2nd time I rode Escape from Gringotts, it was a tight fit. The CM had to push down on the restraint to click.
     
  11. Nsaudra

    Nsaudra Earning My Ears

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    We really didn't expect to love universal like we did... the first people we met was Lucy ( I love lucy) and marylin manroe as we walked and took pics with people we knew it was kinda cool... we also really enjoyed the parades. It's just a completely different experience than disney. When we went to the islands of adventure we had fun but it was more the typical amusement park experience. Kids really liked jurrasic park and harry potter on the islands side and transformers and minions.
     
  12. Travelgrrl

    Travelgrrl Disneybounder

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    Here's why I'm super excited about our upcoming trip to Universal:

    The convenience of being able to easily return to our hotel room, mid day or at the end of the day. The older I get, the more I HATE how spread out everything is at Disneyworld. Your hotel is close to Magic Kingdom? Good luck easily getting to Animal Kingdom!, etc. I am so chuffed to be within walking distance of the parks!

    The prices for food and souvenirs is much more reasonable than Disney. I love the mouse, but he loves my wallet. Seems like the counter service food, drinks, treats, and everything is more modestly priced at Universal.

    The rides are absolutely amazing. Even an older one like Spiderman is technologically far beyond most rides at Disney. I'm easily made sick, and have had no problems with any ride at Universal. (I take a Bonine every morning, just in case.) Forbidden Journey is the best ride I've ever been on, hands down!

    The theming of Harry Potter World is just lovely. Completely immersive. Take the time (and sounds like you'll have time) so explore every nook and cranny. It's worth the $50 to buy an interactive wand to do spells (I bet your kid will love it, especially if he's familiar with Harry Potter's books or movies). It seemed a bit expensive when we got it, but 2 adults and a teen had a blast with it almost 2 years ago, and now my 28 year old daughter and I will be using it again this trip - so: well worth it!

    As far as the 'magic' - the most intense, emotional moment I ever had at a theme park was at Ollivanders in Hogsmeade at Universal. I cried hot tears, it was so REAL. The team members (employees) were also super nice, equally so as Disney's, and perhaps a bit less frazzled?

    I do love Disney, but the need to decide months in advance what ride you're going to go on at a specific time, as well as the need to choose dining reservations months out has gotten me down. I do love just taking it easier at Universal!

    The theme park tickets are much less expensive, when they run deals (and they always run deals). This time, we're paying for two days and getting three. You could do something similar for your stay, with the three midweek days and either part of your arrival or departure day. Don't forget to just hang out at your hotel's pool (or pool hop to another Universal resort - Cabana Bay's Lazy River is popular)!

    It's also extremely handy to have Citywalk adjacent to the parks. Plenty of restaurants (Toothsome's is a goal, this trip) and fun things to do. I hear the mini putt is terrific! Imagine if Disney Springs, the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios theme park were all adjacent and within walking distance to each other and your hotel!

    I didn't expect to love Universal, but I did.
     
  13. Shughart

    Shughart Mouseketeer

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    I am in the same boat, our first trip and trying to get excited but having a hard time. We went to Disney with a larger group in 2016 and weren't able to fit in a side trip. This time we're spending a day at Universal. It's mainly for me, I'm a Potterhead. I'm Pooh sized though, and am learning that I probably won't fit on the Harry Potter rides, so I'm basically just going for the atmosphere. Which is still exciting, because I've seen pictures. But now I'm waffling, because it's almost 1k for the 4 of us...
     
  14. Travelgrrl

    Travelgrrl Disneybounder

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    Don't give up on the rides before you get there. There are outside seats that are roomier and they'll put you in one if necessary. Try the outside seats and see if they latch! Some people are not that heavy but carry a lot in their thighs or chest and have problems; others are heavier but more evenly distributed (like me) and don't have any problems.

    Good luck! And if you can't ride the 2 Harry Potter headliner rides, you will still find a ton to enjoy in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley!!!
     

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