9/29-10/6 Universal offsite & AP questions...

Discussion in 'Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure Forums' started by Matthew81, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. Matthew81

    Matthew81 Earning My Ears

    Feb 25, 2019
    Me, wife, and 12 year old son looking to drive to Orlando from NC so will have our car and stay at Sunshine Resort 11 because a close family friend says they own a timeshare and we can get a 2-bedroom for a week for $328. I went to Universal and sea world in the 90's but my wife and son have never been. I like the idea of having the car, full refrigerator, extra space, etc. Planning on Seaworld 1 day and possibly Aquatica 1 day since its a cheap add on so that leaves 4 full and 2 half days we have available to do Universal. Is there any reason to avoid the chosen week? With the annual passes I want us to be able to go to Universal a year later for a week's vacation but would like at least 1 or 2 new attractions to do like the new JP ride but what if its not ready at that time? Which annual passes do we need? (need a parking pass or is there a shuttle? Need early entry or fast pass after 4pm? My son probably has slight ADHD that he probably got from my wife and they don't like waiting. Getting 3 premier over seasonal annual passes would add $765 to the cost. :( Things close to the area to do?

    Thanks so much everybody for all your great info I have been reading the forum for weeks now. :)
  2. Lynne G

    Lynne G DIS Veteran

    Mar 29, 2009
    To get free parking in the Parking Garages, you need at least one Preferred. If you do get the Premier, does include valet parking in the Parking Garages, and yes, one ride, express pass after 4 pm. When you enter the Garages, to pay to enter, you show your pass. They usually ask for ID too. So, I always have my driver's license ready, just in case. No shuttle from the parking garages to the Parks, except for the water park, Volcano Bay.

    Just remember, that time of year, HHN closes the Studios at 5pm. Islands is open later, like until 7 or 8. I would say, the early mornings in both parks, and Islands late in the day, are probably where you get the lowest crowds. City Walk becomes crowded from about mid afternoon to until first hour or so hour of HHN. Also, crowds in City Walk, when the parks are both closed.

    Also, if you buy your pass before the 4th of April, you get 6 months free. So, certainly, if you want to go next year, buy now.

    I don't know when the new JP ride is going to be ready, but in June, the new Potter one is. Close to Universal is the I drive, and lots to do there. The is the Fun Place, right off of I drive, the ICON with the wax museum, Sea Life Aquarium (small), and of course, the large wheel, with pods you ride in. And, there's some fun mini golfs, besides the ones at City Walk, movie theater at City Walk. As well as I Fly, Wonder Works. Lots to do on International Drive, from Universal to Sea World.

    Oh, and I'll be there at that time, as I love the Fall. I like HHN, and the weather's usually nice.

    I hope you have fun, whatever you decide, and 12 is a great age, if not afraid of fast rides, to enjoy Universal's larger coasters. And remember, if you do park in the Garages, it is a walk to City Walk, and security before you enter City Walk. That could take some time, depending on how many are entering City Walk from the Garages as you.
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  4. skylock

    skylock DIS Veteran

    Sep 2, 2010
    They will not be able to take advantage of the 6 extra months on the pass because they are not going until Sept so will have missed the deadline to activate the pass for the extra months.
  5. Monykalyn

    Monykalyn DIS Veteran

    Jun 11, 2014
    We are out of state Premier pass holders. We own a timeshare and frequently stay offsite when in Orlando. The advantages of the higher level is the EP after 4, the preferred parking (much closer) and free valet, early entry and the free HHN ticket (usually for days in September which work for your dates). We have a much more relaxed touring style knowing we will likely hit the parks later with our EP, and haven't yet felt like we got to "do everything"-and I have 3 trips on my pass since June '18. If you like Halloween at all, then the HHN ticket may be worth the upgrade. If you go and decide you don't care for HHN at least you have all the other perks of that pass. Premier also has the 15% off most restaurants (including City Walk) and merchandise. Remember that parking at Universal will run you $22 (regular) to $35 (preferred-included with premier). So factor that into cost difference of the AP...
    We are a family that prefers the space and kitchen and resort amenities of the offsite resorts, and my DH, myself and oldest DD are comfortable driving around Orlando. Last year for HHN I got a 2 bed at Marriott Harbour Lake for a week for $285-only needed it 4 nights but way cheaper than any cramped hotel!

    We hit the Publix for snacks for the condo-mostly breakfast stuff, maybe a meal kit or two for lunches (the Publix in Dr Phillips has a great selection). We also like KeKe's breakfast cafe. I prefer the Lake Buena Vista outlets to the more upscale premier outlets. And with a car you can also visit Disney Springs (favorite places there too!)
    Look for discounts on AP to Seaworld as well-recently they had free AP to Aquatica with the seaworld pass-which would make it easy to fill a future 2 week Orlando vacation with a universal pass!!
  6. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

    Apr 21, 2003
    I feel you have picked a good week to do Orlando
    Crowds will not be a headache for your time period

    Since 2003, I always booked a two week stay and it ended a couple of days after the Columbus Day holiday weekend

    Prior to that, my trips from
    1992 was mid September for a couple of weeks staying onsite

    Last year it was so over crowded, I made up this years vacation to begin late September and be home the Friday of CD weeekend

    Big savings over room cost alone onsite
    Offsite places will run cheaper also for your time period

    You have made a wise choice in your dates
    You should not have any loss of time driving to the parks or when you leave to return to your offsite place

    I hope you enjoy everything that you do in Orlando

    SeaWorld and Aquatica for a day trip won’t be overpacked

    You will time to take all the sights in for those places

    Check the hotel you are booking for any low cost transportation to sea world and universal
    Maybe you won’t have to deal with driving to the parks
    Or check out Lyft and Uber if you don’t want to deal with driving your car

    Some have posted over the years of it being time consuming dealing
    With traffic and driving to the uo parking garage
    Sea world was not an issue though

    Check out the sea world forum on deals on ticket sales in advance

    If you get an ap for universal, time it by dates so you can still have a valid ap to cover a trip 50 weeks later for the next calendar year

    Hope this planned trip will be the highlight of the year for you and the family
  7. skylock

    skylock DIS Veteran

    Sep 2, 2010
    OK, here is my two cents.

    If you are after free parking, get the third level pass. The others can have The first level. I can't remember the names of the passes, sorry. I think it is preferred and seasonal. Just check for blackout dates on the seasonal passes.

    Then use your savings to book a throw away room at one of the three top hotels that gives express pass. One night will get you two full days of the unlimited express pass. Great for riding the rides you like multiple times. That will also get you two days of early entry for the one night. (A throw away room is one you get for the perks. You don't have to actually stay in it, or you can pack an overnight bag and stay on property for one night.)

    You can book the room with a Annual pass rate. Usually available 90 prior to stay.

    As for other things in the area to do, check out the fliers you can find everywhere. There will probably be a book or something in your condo.

    If your son (or wife even) seriously has a problem with waiting in line, you can also see guest services about a "handicapped" type pass for the days you do not have express pass. I think they assign you a time to return instead of waiting in the line.

    On the days you do not have express, check the Universal App for wait times and do the shortest wait times. Or you can do the things that do not do express pass. Interact with the dinosaur, watch the transformer. Do meet and greets. Check out the pass holder lounge on the universal side. (I read today it has been extended until dec) Typically the time you are going is a low time so that may be in your favor.

    You can also do single rider lines on your non EP days.

    Plus at that time of the year I would expect early closing times, so with express after 4 once each ride, you would spend a lot more time without it than with it. Whereas with the hotel express pass you could ride everything all day to your hearts desire.

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