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Thread: WDW Trip Planning Help [including Universal and Miami]

  1. #1

    WDW Trip Planning Help [including Universal and Miami]

    Hi all! We have the crazy idea that we'd like to squeeze in a trip to Florida before the Tinkerteen moves to college in August. (Yah, already. ) I'm finding what we'd like to do sort of complicated, however, for a not-so-talented trip planner like myself, and am looking for any tips/suggestions you may have.

    What we'd like to do is spend two full days at WDW (Magic Kingdom and Epcot), then two full days at Universal. The Tinkerteen is a HUGE Potter fan and has been pining to visit Wizarding World since it opened its doors. Since part of it will just have opened and our time is so short, I'd like to spring for the front-of-the-line experiences at Wizarding World.

    From Orlando, we'd like to go to Miami for a couple days to meet family. I know it's never going to be cheap, but I'd like to figure out how to do all of this as cost-effectively as possible, since tuition and housing payments are going to send us to the poorhouse very quickly.

    How would you schedule a trip like this? Would you stay at one resort, then move? I would be very grateful for any help anyone can offer.

    Thanks!

    To all who come to this happy place...quit stepping on the back of my shoes!

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  3. #2

    I would do two nights at Disney in a value for the least spend and two nights in a Universal hotel because that gives you front of line passes as part of your hotel privileges. Actually one night would give you FOL passes (check in and check out day) so that would be cheaper but you'd have to get up at WDW on day three super early, check in Universal for you passes and take advantage of early entry. Universal hotel guests also get early entry an hour before park opening. It's not yet clear if the new HP land at Universal will be open for early entry but HP Land at IoA is. I don't know if the new value resort at Universal has these perks applied but the three deluxes certainly do. I found Hard Rock Hotel the cheapest deluxe resort.

     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  4. #3

    I just checked. Cabana Bay (the value resort at Universal) gets early park entry but not Express Pass Plus.

     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  5. #4
    Registered User
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    Aug 2012
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    Drexel Hill, PA

    I am planning a trip for August 2015 Tinkermommy and my group wants to go to Universal too. I am going back and forth on the best way to do it too. There might be anywhere from 9 to 13 of us and I am trying to figure out transportation if we stayed at universal since we wouldn't have a car. I would love to see what you decide to do and how it works out for you.


  6. #5

    I believe there is transport from Universal to Sea World and Aquatica but not certain. The 6 park flexi ticket includes transport to Busch Gardens. There is no transport from Universal to WDW. That would be a cab.

     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydooby View Post
    I believe there is transport from Universal to Sea World and Aquatica but not certain. The 6 park flexi ticket includes transport to Busch Gardens. There is no transport from Universal to WDW. That would be a cab.
    Mears goes between universal and wdw.

  8. #7

    Thank you all! I'll let you know how it works out.

    To all who come to this happy place...quit stepping on the back of my shoes!

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by 3Princesses1Prince View Post
    Mears goes between universal and wdw.
    Sorry my bad. I didn't know that.
     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  10. #9
    Registered User MajorMickey's Avatar
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    Not sure how reliable this is, but I read somewhere that front-of-line passes aren't good for the Harry Potter attractions.


  11. #10
    Registered User
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    Do Universal Deluxe Resort guests (not sure about the new value resort) still get early opening to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

    John

  12. #11
    Registered User
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    Drexel Hill, PA

    I was checking the Universal site the other day and it said all the resort guests were allowed in one hour earlier than the park opening time. That's one of the reasons I am considering staying there for a few days next year then going to Disney


  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by MajorMickey View Post
    Not sure how reliable this is, but I read somewhere that front-of-line passes aren't good for the Harry Potter attractions.
    Front of Line was fine for the two coasters but not HP and the Forbidden Journey when I went in April. Not sure how it is now with the new side opening up but I'm going to guess most if not all of the new attractions are restricted.

    I still think the front of line is worth it to make up time after going on the HP attractions.

  14. #13
    Registered User LauraTD's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
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    El Cerrito, CA

    I had good luck getting an affordable rate at All Stars Music from Expedia for my end of August/beginning of Sept. trip. That and All Star Sports were the best price onsite and even less expensive than anything decent offsite. Since I am a music teacher and almost flunked PE the choice of where to stay was pretty obvious. I am planning to take the Mears shuttle for my Harry Potter day at US/IOA. They won't take all your luggage if you are switching hotels though. If you drive, I read that renting a car is probably the cheapest way to get from WDW to US. Both the Forbidden Journey ride and the new Gringotts ride have single rider lines. You don't get to do the super cool queues but they give "tours" of the queues so if you ask for a tour and then do the single rider it reportedly saves a lot of time on Forbidden Journey and is predicted to do so on Gringotts. The reports from the sneak peeks of Diagon Alley sound A-MAZ-ING. I am wishing I had scheduled two days there instead of just one. I am planning on ignoring any non- Potter parts of the park to make time to soak in the magic.

    I remember you and Tinker teen from the time you helped that nice young man propose to his girlfriend at Snow White's wishing well. If you are there the last week in August and you see a plump, middle aged woman with a Celebrating my 50th Birthday Button and a pink umbrella protecting her freckled flesh from the Florida sun say "Hi"

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  15. #14
    Registered User
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    Jul 2014
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    Arlington, Texas

    If you are driving and want to save the most money, staying offsite is the cheapest. The hotels/motels are not that great but you can get a hotel offsite in Orlando for around $25-$40 per night easily on Priceline. The tickets at universal and Disney world are the same price whether you stay on or off property. Some hotels/motels have free transportation to both Disney world and Universal. Regarding the Harry Potter at Univeral, the only Harry Potter express pass attractions(front of the line) are the Dragon Challange(dualing dragons coaster) and Flight of the hippogriff(mini coaster). Harry Potter and the forbidden journey, Harry potter escape from Gringotts, and Hogwarts Express do not have express lanes(front of the line) but like previously stated gringotts and forbidden journey have single rider lines. Side note regarding universal, if you want to experience Hogwarts Express, which is an awesome train ride, you will need a park to park ticket. The train travels between both parks.


  16. #15

    Harry Potter rides

    [QUOTE=Draven;1858464]Regarding the Harry Potter at Univeral, the only Harry Potter express pass attractions(front of the line) are the Dragon Challange(dualing dragons coaster) and Flight of the hippogriff(mini coaster). Harry Potter and the forbidden journey, Harry potter escape from Gringotts, and Hogwarts Express do not have express lanes(front of the line) but like previously stated gringotts and forbidden journey have single rider lines.


    This was true in January, and I read that it's true in the new diagon alley, too. One thing we didn't know until we got there is that you can take a walking tour of Hogwarts without going in the ride line. You can take your time and see a lot of details in the castle, which are really cool. Maybe they have a similar tour of Gringotts -- but it's worth asking about!

    Have fun!


  17. #16

    Thanks for all the tips. I was surprised to hear that the front-of-the-line passes only work for some rides. They sure don't make that clear in their promotions of this feature!

    I'm still working on it -- trying to decide if we should drop the Miami portion of the trip. My daughter is half-Cuban but has had very little exposure to her culture, and I keep thinking it would be a good experience for her, especially if we're already on that side of the country. What to do, what to do...LOL

    To all who come to this happy place...quit stepping on the back of my shoes!

  18. #17

    WDW Trip Planning Help

    The FoL passes work for most rides apart from the big Potter ones from what I have read and so I am planning on using early entry for the Potter stuff then the Express Pass Plus for the other attractions. That said I hope the EE has calmed down this time next year. I've been looking at U Tube videos from this week. It's utter madness!!!!

     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  19. #18
    Registered User
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    Aug 2012
    Location
    Drexel Hill, PA

    I was at Universal the first week Wizarding World opened. We took a Mears van from Disney and got there about an hour before the park opened. I think we were in line for almost three hours before we got in. It was soncrowded you couldn't do a lot but it was fun.


  20. #19

    Can't comment on Gringotts (a few weeks too late!) but for the Hogwarts ride, we really enjoyed the standby line. It was never too long, and we sadly felt that we moved too quickly through the best parts of the line! (It was a pretty amazing line). Our schedule: Olivander's first thing (the lines are probably going to go down for this now that there are 2 locations), then Hogwarts' Forbidden Journey. We didn't get there right when the park opened, yet still waited less than 45 minutes in a very, very cool line. We didn't have the chance to do all of the Diagon Alley stuff, sadly, based on when we visited. After spending lots of time in Hogsmeade, we went on everything else in IoA of interest, then went back to Hogsmeade to go on the rides again. I would probably recommend doing the Hogsmeade stuff in the middle of the day at this point, and using the early entry for Diagon Alley, then take the Hogsmeade Express over (the lines don't seem to be long for that) and enjoy everything there. For people who enjoy roller coasters, none of the lines for any of them were long, even in mid-June (Hulk and Dragons). The roller coasters were very smooth and fun, for those who enjoy roller coasters. While I enjoyed some of the other IoA rides, the Harry Potter stuff was the best by far. Don't feel too guilty just enjoying your time there. (By the way, you can really skip the Cat in the Hat dark ride, but Spiderman was fun). One important note for Harry Potter stuff- No soda is available in Harry Potter lands. While I appreciate the themeing, if you need your daily Diet Coke, this can be a problem. Also, getting Butterbeer from the Leaky Cauldron, instead of the outside vendors, was way, way faster. Usually no line. Many family members also enjoyed the specific Harry Potter beers and Strongbow. You can hold then with you while you wait in line for Forbidden Journey (amazing how visits differ when most of the party are adults!).

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  21. #20

    Booked it!

    Hoo, boy...I don't think I did it cost-effectively, but I booked the trip tonight. Leaving for Orlando August 6; booked three nights at Lowe's Royal Pacific (which ended up being cheaper than the Hard Rock) to take advantage of those benefits, and planning to spend most of August 7 and 8 at the two Harry Potter parks making the Tinkerteen's dreams come true. (LOL!) On the 9th, we're checking out early and moving to Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter, where we have three day park hoppers. (She has little interest in going back to AK, but desperately wants to see what we missed in MK when she was little; re-experience a couple things at Hollywood Studios, and eat her way through Epcot.) We go home the evening of the 12th, so I imagine we'll spend time on the 12th at Downtown Disney. The very next day, she has her housing orientation at her college, and the following week, she moves into her dorm. Since this is our last vacation before she moves out, I'm hoping to have a good plan to do as much as possible in the little time we have at each park (recognizing that it's going to be crowded). I would be grateful for ANY other suggestions you all have for planning our days and nights, since the Orlando resorts are so different from ours here in CA, and I have VERY little experience with WDW and none with Universal there. Thank you! I truly appreciate it!

    To all who come to this happy place...quit stepping on the back of my shoes!

  22. #21

    To get the most out of a short time I suggest subscribing to Touring Plans and using their touring plans to help guide you around the park. www.touringplans.com

     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkermommy View Post
    Thanks for all the tips. I was surprised to hear that the front-of-the-line passes only work for some rides. They sure don't make that clear in their promotions of this feature!

    .....
    The list of attractions for each park on the universalorlando.com website lists whether each one participates in Express Pass or not.

    I believe you have to click on each attraction for it's info and view them all, I don't think there is a handy table that just defines them line by line.

    I cannot confirm the actual accuracy for each attraction, but I noted this when researching a week or so ago.

    Mostly it was the HP attractions listed and maybe one other that I am forgetting that were not participants in the Express Pass program.
    -Dave

  24. #23

    Thanks! Another question -- we're going to Universal first, and unless I'm missing it, it doesn't look like they offer free transportation to their resort. We'll be going back to the airport from Disney, so I don't want to pay for a round trip shuttle with our Universal package. What's the best way to get (1) from the airport in Orlando to Lowe's at Universal, and (2) from Lowe's to Port Orleans on the morning that we move? Thank you!

    To all who come to this happy place...quit stepping on the back of my shoes!

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