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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Chicago
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    Default I need convincing!!!

    My 3rd grader is a huge Harry Potter fan. She has read the first 5 books and seen those movies as well (we make her read the books before watching the movies). She has been asking for the past year to go to Universal Studios. I have been before (prior to having kids - who are ages 6 and 9) and found it to be fun...BUT I cannot believe how expensive it has become.

    I am looking for a long weekend and I prefer to stay at a Universal Resort. The resorts themselves are ok price-wise, but the tickets!!!! We would have to get park to park tickets in order to ride the Hogwarts Express. And those tickets are pricey. Going for only 2 days puts my family at over $800. Just for tickets!!!

    So I need convincing. Anyone who has been to Universal (I have not been there since 2013) and thinks this money is worth spending on a long weekend. It's almost as much as I spend on a week long trip to Disney!

    March 2017 - Pop Century
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Almont, MI
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    12
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    I'm in the same boat as you. My 6th grader is obsessed with all things Harry Potter. I was at Universal Orlando 20+ years ago. I've looked into it several times and it just seems crazy expensive for a few days, and that's without tacking on the cost of front of line passes or anything like that. I've just never been able to justify the additional $800+ tacked onto a Disney vacation. But we finally broke down and are going this year instead of a full Disney trip. I will tell you one tip I DO have. Check out Costco Travel. They have some VERY well priced packages there including park tickets. We are going in August (I know, yikes but it's the only time we can do it), for 8 nights staying at the Sheraton Vistana Villages in a 2 bedroom condo, including park tickets (2-day, 2-park, park-to-park), and a rental car for $2000, that's for three of us. We don't need plane tix because we have enough frequent flyer miles, but I did price out airfare through them as part of the package and going through Costco would have saved me about $200 on plane tickets. Same Delta flights, same times that I was looking at. If you're not already a Costco member (which we weren't) the $60 membership fee for the year is well worth the money saved. I priced out everything separately, using whatever discounts I could find, and apples to apples I saved $700, with the cost of the membership factored in. They have packages with on-property hotels as well. And ones with Disney tickets.

    My sister-in-law uses them to get great prices on cruises. The great thing is you can go on-line and check out all of the pricing without being a member. It will only ask you for a membership number if you try to go through the actual booking process. I will be checking out Costco Travel whenever I go anywhere from now on. Gee, I sound like a commercial. LOL.

    Good luck on whatever you decide!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Lafayette, Louisiana
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    My two sons also read all of the books, and watched all of the movies. We didn’t even have an interest in going to Universal until all the Harry Potter stuff open. Honestly, when we finally decided to go it was some of the best spent vacation $$. My boys absolutely loved it. We’ve been back 6 or 7 times, and have even taken Universal only trips (skipping Disney). My kids enjoy the universal parks as much as the Disney parks, and they enjoy the Harry Potter sections of the parks more than any other theme park experience.

    We also enjoy the ease of a Universal trip. Literally all I have to do is pick dates, book the hotel, and show up! No booking dining months out. No getting up at the crack of dawn to book fastpasses. We also get a lot more relaxing time on a Universal trip than a Disney trip. Don’t get me wrong we still love and visit Disney, but we’ve come to appreciate what Universal has to offer.

    I will say that when we first started visiting Universal it was for one day out of our weeklong Disney trip. There were a few trips where we stayed in Disney for 5-7 nights, then stayed in Universal for 2-3 nights. Those combined trips were so expensive. Having to purchase two sets of tickets was tough. That is why we eventually started doing one or the other. When we do a Universal only trip we still take a night or two to go have dinner in Disney, and sometimes we will spend an afternoon at Disney Springs.

    Wanted to add that we have never spent more on a Universal trip than a Disney trip. We have always paid far less for our hotels than we have for comparable disney hotels, and we spend way less on food at Universal. I find the tickets are the only Universal component that we have paid the same or more for.
    Denise

    Resorts we've stayed at in 20+ trips: ASMo, ASMu, ASSp, PC, CSR, CBR, POR, POFQ, WL, AKL Jambo, AKL Kidani, Poly, Contemporary, BC, YC, BWV, OKW, SSR, Swan, Shades of Green, Vero Beach, Disneyland Resort

    Next Trip: ???

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzznwoodysmom View Post

    We also enjoy the ease of a Universal trip. Literally all I have to do is pick dates, book the hotel, and show up! No booking dining months out. No getting up at the crack of dawn to book fastpasses. We also get a lot more relaxing time on a Universal trip than a Disney trip. Don’t get me wrong we still love and visit Disney, but we’ve come to appreciate what Universal has to offer.
    This is exactly why we are planning our first ever Universal trip. We have been saying we were going to go over for a day or two and visit the parks for years but we never seem to make it. It is partly because of the extra expense to tack on tickets for Universal but it has also been due to time constraints. We are so sick of all the planning and scheduling and trips to guest services to fix problems with magic bands and tickets and all of that we decided we are going to make our next trip a Universal and Universal only trip. I am pretty excited about the fact that all I have to do is set up the hotel, buy tickets and then just show up and have some fun.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Lafayette, Louisiana
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1DisneyNut View Post
    This is exactly why we are planning our first ever Universal trip. We have been saying we were going to go over for a day or two and visit the parks for years but we never seem to make it. It is partly because of the extra expense to tack on tickets for Universal but it has also been due to time constraints. We are so sick of all the planning and scheduling and trips to guest services to fix problems with magic bands and tickets and all of that we decided we are going to make our next trip a Universal and Universal only trip. I am pretty excited about the fact that all I have to do is set up the hotel, buy tickets and then just show up and have some fun.
    I think you will have a fantastic time!!! We used to only stay at Hard Rock, which is super convenient considering you can walk to both parks and get free express pass. Our last few trips we have stayed at Cabana Bay, for the cost, and have come to really love it there. Never, ever have to wait for a bus going to the parks, the bus ride is literally 5-10 minutes or less, and have only had to wait on a bus leaving the parks at park close. And even then it’s like a 10 minute wait, maybe. You get way more bang for your buck at the Universal resorts. Hard Rock is usually no where near as expensive as Disney’s deluxe resorts on the monorail or near Epcot. And Cabana Bay has always priced out less expensive than the Disney value resorts and it blows Disney’s value resorts out of the water! You don’t get express pass with Cabana Bay, but we’ve done just fine without it. Our last trip was over 4th of July week and we didn’t mind not having express pass at all. We were able to do everything we wanted, plus spend tons of time at the resort pool with little effort. And if you are going in the summer and plan on going to the water park you can walk to it from Cabana Bay.
    Denise

    Resorts we've stayed at in 20+ trips: ASMo, ASMu, ASSp, PC, CSR, CBR, POR, POFQ, WL, AKL Jambo, AKL Kidani, Poly, Contemporary, BC, YC, BWV, OKW, SSR, Swan, Shades of Green, Vero Beach, Disneyland Resort

    Next Trip: ???

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Davenport, FL
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    3,242
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    I was there yesterday. Luckily a friend from church who works there got us passes. It was incredible. Park to park passes are the way to go. Loved both areas. Diagon Alley looked amazing. Need to renew my Disney AP or I might consider a universal ap .
    Marci
    9/2/12 DLH Half Marathon
    10/12 VGC
    WDW Trips
    7/05 12/06All Star Movies
    12/10 ASMO/CBR
    4/11 POFQ
    8/11 OKW/AKL Kidani 1st DVC stay
    SSR/AKL 8/13 AKL Jambo 12/13
    AKL Kidani 4/14 Vero Beach 5/14 & 6/14 Boardwalk 6/14

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