Universal Orlando for the Disney World Fan

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If you are reading this blog it is because you are a fan of Walt Disney World, but what do you know about the other resort destinations in the area? Many Disney fans do not like to leave “the bubble” that is Walt Disney World while they are on vacation and believe me, I was one of them! However, as a travel agent I have clients who want new and exciting experiences and for that reason I knew it was time to leave my safe haven and go exploring!

I was really lucky to attend a recent agent familiarization trip to Universal Orlando and brought back with me a wealth of knowledge and understanding of this fantastic destination. To say that if you don’t give this park a shot you are missing out is a staggering understatement! Let me take this opportunity to tell you a bit about my experience and what you can expect from a trip to USO!

First of all if you are a fan of Disney parks then you are a fan of theme parks on some level. My first piece of advice is to hone in on that love of theme parks and bring that with you. Try to understand that Universal is not Disney and Disney is not Universal. They are both unique destinations. It took me only a few quick minutes to realize that by comparing Universal to Disney I was doing it a great disservice.

So lets look at some of the great things Universal has to offer!

The Resorts– Currently Universal has 3 on site hotels all of which are considered “deluxe properties.” These include The Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay, and Loews Royal Pacific Hotel.  They are all beautiful and are all within WALKING distance to the parks. This means you are always about 15 minutes away being in your room for a nap! There are also free water taxis that can transport you. Each resort has many room options and most rooms can sleep 5 with the addition of a rollway bed. They also all have family suites that will have a king bed in the main room and two twin beds in the kids room! The kids rooms are themed with Despicable Me being the newest addition at Portofino Bay!

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Each resort has a pool, child care center, dining options, and beautifully done themeing. By staying on site you will also have some perks. The biggest one is called “Universal Express Unlimited”. This pass grants you front of the line access to most rides throughout the property! This is not fast pass. This is a right now pass. You simply walk up to the ride you wish to experience, flash your pass, and you go into a special line and are on the ride within minutes. There is no return time, no schedule to uphold, nothing. You just get to the head of the line, period, end of story!

The Parks-Universal is made up to two theme parks; Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and one entertainment district known as City Walk.

At Universal Studios you will find rides themed around popular movies and shows. There is Minion Mayhem, where you will become a little yellow minion and go on an intense 3D adventure, Transformers which is hands down the best ride I have experienced anywhere ever, and even an entire area dedicate to “The Simpsons” where you can have a duff beer or a flaming moe to wash down your gigantic donut before riding the Simpsons attraction! This park is all about bringing the movies we love to life.

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At Islands of Adventure you will be put into the pages of the books we know and love; Jurassic Park, The Sunday Comics, Marvel Comic Books, Dr. Suess, and of course, the crown jewel; Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was designed to put you into the story and I would have to say the mission was a success. From breakfast at The Three Broomsticks to walking through Hogwarts you are a wizard. It is an amazing area and I will dedicate and entire post to this later. I simply cannot do the place justice in just a few sentences!

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City Walk is comprised of bars, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. You can hit up Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville or check out live Karaoke at Rising Stars, and by live I mean there is a band and back up singers to help you really feel like a rock star!

The Food- Universal has some wonderful options for both quick service and table service dining. The really cool thing though, is the dining plan. They offer two options; A quick service plan and a full service plan. I know, you are thinking that it sounds an awful lot like Disney’s plan. In someways it is, but there are some HUGE differences.

First of all the quick service plan can be purchased by day guests. Meaning you do not have to stay on property to use this plan. You will be allotted one quick service meal, 2 snacks, and a beverage  per adult. Children under 10 will only get 1 snack. Your quick meal will include and entree and beverage.

The table service plan allows each guest 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal, 1 snack, and one beverage per guest. This plan is for on site guests only, but is VERY flexible. You do not have to purchase it for length of stay. If you are staying 4 nights and think you only want the meal plan for two that is fine!

Every guest in your party does not need the plan either! If you are traveling with friends for example, and you want the plan and your friend does not that is totally cool! You can buy it and your friend can decline!  This makes Universal a great choice for spring breakers who may all be on different budgets or even two families traveling together!

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THE ABOVE DONUT IS A SNACK OPTION!!! IT WILL FEED YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY!

Pricing-Now this is where I do have to compare to Disney a little bit. Lets say you have a family of 4; 2 adults, 1 child over 10 and 1 child under 10. Lets say they are staying for 4 nights in January.

If they stay 4 nights at Walt Disney World at All Star Movies, a value resort, buy the dining plan and 4 day park hoppers they are going to spend $2303.77

If this same family stays 4 nights at Loews Royal Pacific, A deluxe resort, with a 4 day dining plan, and 4 day park to park tickets including Universal Express Unlimited they are going to spend $2159.10

So, for a little less money a family can stay at a Deluxe resort at Universal over a Value Resort at Walt Disney World! By the way, that family would pay over $3500 to stay at a The Polynesian, a Walt Disney World deluxe property,  so you can see a good savings at Universal.

If you are not 100 percent sure you want to take the plunge into an entire Universal trip, I would highly recommend the take two transfer option and do a night pre or post Walt Disney World. With this option you can stay at a Universal Resort before or after you go to WDW and Universal will handle two of your transfers! If you are staying at Universal prior to Walt Disney World you will be picked up at the Airport and brought to Universal and then upon check out you will be delivered to your Disney Resort. If you are staying at Universal after your Disney vacation, you will be picked up at your WDW resort and brought to your Universal resort. Then upon checkout you will be delivered to Orlando International Airport. There is a small cost associated with this but it is very reasonable and really worth it!

So who is a trip to Universal Orlando for? Families with children over the age of 7 who want to do some wonderful attractions and see some great shows, spring break travelers, honeymooners, friends who want to experience great theme parks and awesome nightlife, and of course theme park enthusiasts of all ages. If your family has done Disney for years, it may be worth checking out Universal for a day or two next time around!

If you would like more info on how to book your Universal Vacation email me Jess@PixieVacations.com. If you book a trip now through February 1st I am offering a $25-75 gift card bonus based on total package cost! Don’t forget, as always I am also here to help you plan your magical Walt Disney World vacation as well!

 

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