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Ask The Disney Experts Discuss The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip) in the Ask The Experts forums; After a few weeks of consideration, and not wanting to take time away from our annual Spring WDW vacation, I am looking to book a quick 3 to 4 day ...
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    Serkazong's Avatar
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    The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    After a few weeks of consideration, and not wanting to take time away from our annual Spring WDW vacation, I am looking to book a quick 3 to 4 day stay at Universal Orlando this October.

    I know absolutely nothing about Universal's, hotels, dining or transportation and honestly never thought I'd go, but the allure of Harry Potter has proven too strong for my wife and son to resist.

    After many vacations to WDW, I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable and have enjoyed learning what I have about all things Disney in the process. Universal does not hold the same appeal for me, but I'm looking for some advice from you whom may have vacationed @ both parks.

    Any websites, podcasts or other information would be welcomed also- Thanks.

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Shhh. We did this also.

    We stayed on sight at their best hotel, the Portofino. Similar to the Beach Club. They too have hotels at varying price points. In addition, at the time we were there they allowed pool hopping. Worth the time. We did venture over to Hard Rock one day to use their pool. Their hotels are all reachable by canals. They use shuttle launch boats instead of buses. They are more timely than Disney buses and drop you very close to the entrance of both of the Parks on the skirts of City Walk, their DTD.

    The best thing about staying on Sight at Universal beyond not having to use their parking garage out in Egypt is your room key is your fast pass.
    Any attraction that accepts their version of fast pass you hand them your room key and you go in the fast pass line. No come back later or only X amount per hour. It was worth every penny it costs to stay on sight.

    Now the hotels at Universal have extremely expensive restaurants. You can buy a hot-dog for the price of a steak dinner. In the morning, try going to their general store, they sell bagels, pastry, coffee, juice etc. at a decent price. Eat at either City Walk, few minutes by boat or eat in the parks. Still pricey like Disney but not the drop your jaw prices of the hotels. If you are going pool side stop in at the general store for your adult beverages and snacks before you go to the pools.

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Thanks Haunted Gabe. We were thinking about possibly seeing Harry Potter next year. You have some great advice.

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    When we went to Universal we went from the airport to Universal stayed 4 days and took a Mears towncar over to Disney and stayed there a week.

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    We've been to Universal several times and have always enjoyed it. We've stayed at all 3 of the resorts there and I think the Portofino is our favorite. As I remember they take the AAA discount at the resort and for shopping (not sure about the tickets, but I would ask). I don't know of any specific podcasts for Universal but I have a book by Kelly Monaghan called Universal Orlando, the Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Park Adventure, my book is old but you could check the local library or bookstore to see if a newer version is in print. Also they have a rewards system for staying in Lowes resorts, so be sure to sign up for that.......https://www.loewshotels.com/en/youfi...spx?Culture=en To really enjoy it, go in with an open mind and don't expect it to be a Disney clone, it's not. Embrace it for what it has to offer and don't miss Spiderman
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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    I've never stayed at the Universal hotels, but I always buy my park tickets through CAA (the Canadian version of AAA- same company) so I'm sure you can buy discounted ones through AAA.

    I'm going on a 2 week trip in 3 weeks and we're doing 10 days at Disney and 3 days at Universal... I always have a lot of fun when I'm at Islands of Adventure, but I love love love Harry Potter so it was a must do. If I was only going on my trip for a few days I wouldn't give up a Disney day, but we're going for so long that it's not a big deal to give up some days. Oh and I agree with GIOny... don't miss Spiderman, and keep an open mind and you're sure to have a lot of fun!

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Thanks all. Everyone has good advice and brings up points I hadn't yet considered. The one that hit home the most was to keep an open mind. I'll try to experience it for what it is and not judge it against Disney too much.

    Interestingly, I have negotiated a trade off trip for next fall since I'm being "stong armed" into Universal. Sounds like a 3 to 4 day Disneyland trip is a possibility as long as I'm a good sport!

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    i really like the in park dinning plan they have.. for like $25 per person you can eat at both parks as m any times as you want.. and you can get a mug for like $8 and me and brent shared it and he made us eat like 3 times before we left...lol
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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    I also recommend checking out City Walk, it's fun to just walk around and check out all the different stores and restaurants.
    "It's a small world after all..."


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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Hmmm...I haven't been to Universal in years, so take my advice as dated...

    My husband and I have stayed in all 3 Universal resort hotels, and we adored 2 of the 3.

    Portofino Bay is, in my opinion, one of the best resorts in Orlando. It is luxurious, elegant, and spacious. The theming is breathtaking, and it truly does separate you from the hustle & bustle of the parks. The rooms are large, and the beds are very comfy (if insanely high off the floor). If you're looking for romance, this is it. Yes, I'm biased. My husband proposed to me down by the bay there.

    Royal Pacific was also a favorite of ours. I always felt as if I had wandered into an old Crosby/Hope Road movie. It perfected that sense of 1930s tropical luxury. I loved the indoor pools and fountains, the dark wood, and the orchids in the lobby. We loved staying there in the King suites, but were very disappointed with the standard rooms; they seemed very small.

    Hard Rock was our least favorite. I know a lot of people who adore it. It was sleek, hip, and modern. The shapes were geometric, the colors were art deco, and it wasn't me. A lot of people love the high-rolling atmosphere combined with the kid-friendly attitude of the place. It just wasn't for me. Too hip for me and too many kids running down the halls late at night.

    Dunno if that helps, but those are my experiences!

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Quote Originally Posted by MorenaSangre View Post
    Hmmm...I haven't been to Universal in years, so take my advice as dated...

    My husband and I have stayed in all 3 Universal resort hotels, and we adored 2 of the 3.

    Portofino Bay is, in my opinion, one of the best resorts in Orlando. It is luxurious, elegant, and spacious. The theming is breathtaking, and it truly does separate you from the hustle & bustle of the parks. The rooms are large, and the beds are very comfy (if insanely high off the floor). If you're looking for romance, this is it. Yes, I'm biased. My husband proposed to me down by the bay there.

    Royal Pacific was also a favorite of ours. I always felt as if I had wandered into an old Crosby/Hope Road movie. It perfected that sense of 1930s tropical luxury. I loved the indoor pools and fountains, the dark wood, and the orchids in the lobby. We loved staying there in the King suites, but were very disappointed with the standard rooms; they seemed very small.

    Hard Rock was our least favorite. I know a lot of people who adore it. It was sleek, hip, and modern. The shapes were geometric, the colors were art deco, and it wasn't me. A lot of people love the high-rolling atmosphere combined with the kid-friendly attitude of the place. It just wasn't for me. Too hip for me and too many kids running down the halls late at night.

    Dunno if that helps, but those are my experiences!
    I would have to agree with the order of the resorts. Portofino as our favorite and Hard Rock as our least favorite
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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    I like the look of the Royal Pacific and have requested a quote via e-mail from a well known travel planner on these forums for it and the Portofino Bay resorts. I have a skeleton plan on how I'd like to see the trip go based on the advice above. I still feel a tad guilty cruising the Universal site though!

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    I have an AP for both Disney and Universal. Although the 2 parks are smaller we had a real good time. Buy the meal and drink plan..they don't care how many times you go back. Pizza was pretty good. Its just not Disney and they don't pretend to be. It is sometimes hard to get used to some folks not wearing shirts there and no one telling them anything. Rides are good place was very clean the times we were there and they were busy. AAA discount also works on merchandise as well as food/drink.
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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Quote Originally Posted by Serkazong View Post
    I still feel a tad guilty cruising the Universal site though!
    Don't worry, I promise you're not hurting Disney's feelings

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    Re: The Unthinkable (need info and advice on Universal Orlando trip)

    Serkazong -
    So glad you posted this! I am heading down to Universal in October for the first time. We bought the HP pkg., staying at Fairfield Inn across the street. I hope I have done the right thing. Tried to save a buck not staying on site and bought the Express Pass as an add on. I hope I can squeeze in a day or two at Disney! I think I would cry not being able to see the World while I am there!
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