It's an epic 16th birthday celebration (PTR & TR) - update 3/17 - what should we eat?

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by skier_pete, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    Hey everyone! I just wrapped up my last trip report, and decided it was probably time to start working on the next one. We are a small family (myself, DW and DD) and while we like Universal, we LOVE Disney. But we are all big-time Harry Potter fans, so in 2016-2017 we got APs for Universal. We spend February break 2016 at Universal - stayed offsite,and for 2017 February break we went back for 2 days before a Disney trip - using our AP and staying on-site for one night to get the FOTL pass. Here's a couple of pictures from that trip.

    [​IMG]

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    We weren't really thinking about going back to Universal this soon, but DD decided that she really wanted to go back for her 16th Birthday present. So while it doesn't fall EXACTLY on her birthday, we are going to travel down to Florida for Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

    We picked this weekend for a few reasons:
    1) Both DD and myself have 4 days off for the weekend - this is particularly important for DD to be able to not miss school. School in New York state goes until around June 20th, and in high school right before finals is not the time to miss school.

    2) I know it will be hot, but maybe not as hot as going in the dead of summer (July/August) which would really be our other choice.

    3) Universal is having a ticket sale where you buy a 2-day pass, and you get 2-days free. This is perfect for a 4-day weekend. The sale ends at the end of May. We are going to buy the single park ticket to save money - and spend 2 days in each park.

    The other issue of course is the cost. Travel to Florida and park stays for a weekend aren't exactly cheap, and we really had to watch the price for this trip. Because she only made the decision that she wanted to do this in like February - we weren't able to jump on prices for Southwest when they went on sale. We were able to get a semi reasonable air fare rate, but our flights are not great times:

    Flying down at 5:15 AM and arrive at 7:45 AM. This is WAY too early - we probably need to get up at 3:30 AM to make this flight. The good news of course is we could even make park opening. The return flight is the opposite problem, where our flight leaves Orlando @ 10:25 PM and gets back home at 1 AM. This may make the next day really rough considering we won't get home unit probably 2 AM. (I may take the day off.)

    Past that - we were already at $1600 with airfare and park tickets, so we needed to really look at where we could afford to stay. I looked a little at on-property stay, but really the cost for the holiday weekend was just too high, even at Cabana Bay. Since we have access to timeshare exchanges, I was able to exchange into the Hilton Grand Vacation Club @ Las Palmeras. This location is about 3 miles from Universal, which is plenty close. We were able to get a 1-bedroom unit, allowing DD to have her own sleeping area (sofa bed) and also gives us a kitchen we can use for breakfast.

    Best of all, because the cost was so low, I was able to book a 4th night for Monday night. Since our flight doesn't leave until 10:30 PM, we can now leave our stuff at the hotel in the room, and can even come back in the afternoon for a swim if it gets too hot. The actual cost is less than $100 a night using the timeshare points, and the actual fee cost is only $139.

    Last up in Transportation. In the end - we just couldn't justify paying for a vehicle. If you think about it, each day we would have to pay for a car rental ($35), parking at the resort ($22) and parking at Universal ($25). So realistically we are looking at $82 per day to have a car. If we use Lyft or Uber, the drive to/from Universal is probably going to be about $12 each way with tip, so even if we go back to the resort for a break every afternoon - we are still looking at $48 in expenses versus $82 for the rental car. Yes, we also have the travel to/from the airport, but it still should be much less than it would be to rent a car. Plus we are expecting to meet up with a friend at least one day, so maybe even less than that.

    This leaves us with food and souvenirs as the only remaining expenses. We hope to get to a grocery store / bring some food with us for breakfast so we don't have to buy 3 meals a day. Since it's really only 4 days I am not too worried about food expenses. The only place DD REALLY wants to eat is Toothsome's:
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    I am going to leave off here - the actual plan for each day is still yet to be determined - we still don't yet know which parks we will do which day.
     
  2. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    You are a terrific dad doing this add on trip for your daughters birthday!!

    You win dad of the year award
     
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  4. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    Thanks. Mom gets half the credit. We cancelled an adults only food and wine trip in the fall to do this one!
     
  5. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    That is truly parental ♥️
     
  6. iluvet58

    iluvet58 Earning My Ears

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    What great parents you are. I understand though, we have one son and love to spoil him. Can’t wait to read along about all your plans. And May weather here in Florida is strange. It could be hot or unseasonably cool.
     
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  7. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    Sounds like a fun, and slightly expensive trip, but glad you're able to pull it off. For grocery delivery don't forget WeGoShop. I use them for all my grocery deliveries and they're efficient and not too expensive. You give them a list and they charge you a delivery fee and tip, so you can specify brands and sizes of what you want.

    Looking forward to seeing you this summer!
     
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  8. NJlauren

    NJlauren DIS Veteran

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    Following along! I really can’t wait to get back to universal.... so excited to hear about the planning and the trip!
     
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  9. Malia78

    Malia78 Flotsam and Jetsam

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    Following as I usually do with your trip reports but am going to try to do better with actually commenting as I know that is a source of encouragement to keep on writing these entertaining reports. Will look forward to reading about this Universal trip...hope to make it back there this September.
     
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  10. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    We are really looking forward to being there that week also!
     
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  11. buteraa

    buteraa DIS Veteran

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    You guys are awesome to do this. Looking forward to hearing more about it.
     
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  12. skier_pete

    skier_pete DIsney-holics Anon

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    So....was thinking about food yesterday. One of the big differences for us between Disney and Universal is the food. We like to play a game in the car where we go "OK, top 3 things we want to eat in Epcot" or "Top 3 things we want to eat at MK". But, then we play the game at Universal and it goes like this.

    "Top 3 things you want to eat in Universal..."

    1) Butterbeer
    2) Butterbeer Ice Cream
    3)......Um.....

    Yup, we don't find there's really anything to look forward to at Universal outside the Harry Potter Worlds. I mean, the food at the 3 Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron is OK and at least a little unique, but everything else is just blah burger and chicken fingers. Fine for a day, but not really something that makes me want to eat for 4 days. Some of the stuff in Citywalk seems OK, but we don't always want to have to go out of the parks.

    So - since I have posted this on the Universal boards....anyone out there give me something that's worth my theme park money in Universal. With 4 days to play I certainly am interested in trying something new!
     
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  13. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Quite a few threads on food in the parks, hotels and city walk

    Don’t know where to begin as I have eaten at about all of them over the years
    Probably Louie’s is my present favorite for pizza/Caesar salad or the meatball sub
    Simpson’s ribwich sandwich at least once in my two week stay at uo

    Depending on the menu, Finnegan and
    Lombards has been fine for me

    Only places I have had a burger has been at Hard Rock Cafe in City Walk and at Simpson’s

    There are some eateries I will not eat at for a few reasons
    I base it on 3 strikes and I’m done with them
    Mel’s has been a disappointment for me and others

    I’m of the same opinion as you.
    Potter food eateries were ok but not a repeat for me
    Tried them both a couple of times and call it no more for me
     
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  14. NJlauren

    NJlauren DIS Veteran

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    I am of no help on food at universal.... but I am interested to hear what others have to say!
     

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