Help.... overwhelmed and confused

Lee E

Earning My Ears
Jun 29, 2019
Hi everyone,
We have booked to stay at Lowes Potofino Bay hotel 22 July - 5 August, we will be flying from Manchester with Thomas Cook. 2 adults, 3 children ages 7,8 and 10. Apart from applying for our ESTA we have nothing else organised and are a bit overwhelmed and confused by it all. I have a 101 questions that i could ask and would like someone to point me in the right direction as to where i should be asking the next questions!

Should i get a hire car?
Do i need to buy a meal plan deal?
Should i pre book my restaurants?
Where should i get my tickets from?
Where should i get a detailed itinerary from?

I like to be organised and know everything that's going on or planned, but i've read so much and just got lost and stressed with everything.

Thanks in advance!


DIS Veteran
Nov 19, 2010
1. Should i get a hire car?

The answer to this depends on whether you plan to leave the property and explore Orlando, or whether you plan to stay at USO.

2. Do i need to buy a meal plan deal?

This would depend on your eating habits. As you are staying at one of the Universal Orlando hotels, it doesn't appear that you have to pre-buy it (but the regular dining plan is only available with a vacation package). Here are details:

What is your family's eating habits? Do you like to have sit-down meals or do you like to snack around the park? Does your family like to drink a lot of soft drinks (more than what you would get with the quick service dining plan, which is 2 [one with the quick service meal, one outside of it]).

Additional information about the Quick Service plan:

3. Should i pre book my restaurants?

Maybe. Again, it depends on your family's eating habits and whether there is a specific restaurant you want to eat at that accepts dining reservations.

4. Where should i get my tickets from?

Check if there are any deals through the UK (Disney has them). If not, Undercover Tourist may be a good option.

5. Where should i get a detailed itinerary from?

Not sure what you mean by this, do you mean about what plans to make?


DIS Veteran
Mar 31, 2009
Ok first off don’t panic.
If your staying at Loews then that looks like your going to be mainly at universal as opposed to WDW.
Work our a plan of what rides, shows and other things you want to see at each park.
Lowes you get the express pass included but you still have to have tickets for universal
For Disney you need to link your passes to the MY Disney experience app to get fast passes booked. Offsite guests can pre book 30 days in advance. Vs on-site who can book. 60 days in advance.
If your planing to go to WDW parks and don’t want to rely on taxis or resort shuttles (never stayed at universal so don’t know if those are available) then I would say hire a car. Be aware that every park charges for parking $25 per day.
I can’t comment on meal plans at universal but I wouldn’t think getting the Disney one would be of any benefit as your not staying on site etc
As for dinning, if you want to do character meals etc at Disney then you need to get on to the my Disney app to get those booked. Most of the character ones are booked months in advance as onsite guests can book from 180 days out from their trips. But don’t panic as some do open up either on the day or so before. You might have to be flexible with your dinning times though. Some places will take walk ups but a lot won’t. Cinderella royal table would be tough to get a walk up as would Be Our Guest dinner just off the top of my head.
Under cover tourist and attraction tickets direct seem to be the most popular places to get tickets and you might find the combo deals to be the best options.
Hope that helps
  • Woodview

    DIS Veteran
    Dec 29, 2013
    Slow down there are 3 children & another adult ASK them for help

    What do the kids want to do ? DO NOT FORCE them to do various rides

    MOTTO ........ Watch how the ride works ......,. look at it ..... do they wish to try it

    IF .... Yes Good ... Go ahead // IF NO that's also Good ... NO crying child

    Every one wins

    AND near the end of the day DO THE WATER attractions ...... go home wet

    Everyone is happy .......... wet yes ....... but a great day had by all

    Mrs Doubtfire

    DIS Veteran
    Feb 27, 2006
    As others have asked it would be helpful to know if you are only going to Universal. If WDW is in the mix then you are looking at a whole different ballgame.

    Lee E

    Earning My Ears
    Jun 29, 2019
    Really sorry for the delay in getting back, thanks for the replies so far!

    We booked it as a last minute decision and have done very little research as to where or what we are going to see and got lost with all the different advice and information that was out there.

    I've seen mentioned on websites that some people have been able to obtain an itinerary tailor made for their stay specifying the best time to visit certain parks etc. Have you had any experience of this?

    We intend on visiting WDW and want to make the most of our 2 week stay, we intend on doing 2-3 day visits to the parks followed by a days rest at the hotel so that the kids don't end up overdoing it and burning out!

    Thank you so much for all your help.


    DIS Veteran
    Feb 23, 2019
    Maybe buy the Undercover Guide books and look at the touring plans on the Touring Plans website.
  • Mrs Doubtfire

    DIS Veteran
    Feb 27, 2006
    This might help a lot check this for crowd calenders and you can get personalised touring plans, you do have to pay but I have used it (some years ago) and it was useful.

    As you are staying at a Universal resort you would probably be best spending your first few days at the Universal parks. Then go to WDW choosing the best park as per the crowd calender. I would say you need to allocate approximately 2 days per WDW park if you want to see most things.

    As for car hire, remember You will have to pay for parking at your hotel and then again each time you visit a WDW park. You may find Uber works out cheaper depending on how many trips you will be making. We have never gone and not hired a car as we often do a split stay, but many people report how good Uber has worked for them. If you want to check some hire prices try Alamo Brits or Discount Florida Car Hire as a starting point.

    As for tickets I would check a few sites such as Floridatix, Attraction Tickets Direct and Orlando Attraction Tickets as well as the WDW and Universal sites for prices to compare. The money savings expert site has some codes on there you can use for discounts.

    You won't be able to buy a meal plan for WDW as you are not staying on site.

    There is so much we can all tell you it might be best to report where you are with everything and then ask "what next" !

    I hope some of this helps and am happy to answer any other questions :)


    DIS Veteran
    Nov 23, 2010
    You could pay to have an itinerary made, but with a good plan you should be ok. Start by making a plan of which park you want to visit on each day. Are you hiring a car to visit the Disney parks or will you be using Uber/taxi etc?
    Look at the wdw website to see which parks are offering extra magic hours for Disney resort guests and avoid those (they will be busy) When you have decided which parks to visit make fast pass reservations for attractions at wdw. You can book 3 per day initially and more once you have used them.
    For universal you will have early entry to Harry Potter - use it! and express pass included in your hotel stay - this will make your universal days manageable and enjoyable!
    If there are any meals you want to book see if you can book them before you go - character meals at Disney can be lots of fun!
    You're staying in a lovely hotel and paying lots of money - a bit of time researching and making a plan will really help you when you are there. Have a great time!

    Lee E

    Earning My Ears
    Jun 29, 2019
    Evening everyone,
    I'm in the process of looking which tickets to buy and i'm unsure what the length of days should i purchase my tickets for and which tickets are best?
    We are thinking of spending 3-4 days in WDW and 7-8 Days at universal studios. We have a total of 14 days, our first day will be at the hotel adjusting and letting the kids recover from the flight, we are then thinking of spending 2 days at universal Studios followed by a day relaxing at the hotel and we intend to repeat this 3 times total of 9 days plus 1 day at the hotel on arrival so that would be 10 days taken up. We then intend on spending the remaining 4 days at WDW, probably 3 days at the parks followed by 1 days at a water park.
    Does this sound viable with kids aged 7,8 & 10?
    Which tickets would suit us best?
    Should we consider park hopping tickets?
    any other suggestions?


    Mar 13, 2019
    Some say a day to adjust is good but personally I don’t agree. It is highly common on the first morning for people to wake up mega early as their body clock has not adjusted. So why not just go to the park? For sure don’t stay on into the evening, maybe even the afternoon.

    At 3 days you may find WDW tickets cheaper buying the US tickets, but longer and it’s likely that buying a 14 day ticket will be cheaper, I know it sounds stupid. If you have U.K. tickets they are automatically ‘hopper’ and have their photo taking app Memory Maker.

    I would urge you to consider evening out your days at Universal and Disney considering your kids ages. If tall your 7 year old might make the height restrictions at Universal but a lot of their rides are still far more ‘extreme’ than those at Disney. Also Universal is 2 parks (while they say 3 the third is their water park Volcano Bay) vs Disney having 4 parks and 2 water parks. I’d suggest you have a day for each Disney park (not including the water parks which you could go to for half day or so if wanted). Then maybe allow yourself a day or 2 towards the end where you could chose either Universal or Disney.

    But it is your holiday and whatever you choose to do I’m sure it will be amazing.
  • Mrs Doubtfire

    DIS Veteran
    Feb 27, 2006
    I agree with pp that you might as well make the most of an early wake up and go to a park for a few hours on your first day. Also WDW is a lot bigger than Universal so you may want to adjust the amount of time you are spending at each park.
    Whatever you decide you can get a guide to the US prices from this seller who I have used before. As you can see the 7 day UK ticket (currently available as buy 7 days and get 14 days) is not much more expensive and lets you vsit throughout your holiday giving you flexibility should you decide to change your plans


    DIS Veteran
    Aug 30, 1999
    If I were you, I'd hire a car if you intend to spend time in WDW. It's not as close as you might think and there are no shuttles from Portofino. Taxis can be expensive and you may soon get bored of the Universal food (it's not great) and want to get off site.

    I'd buy a 14 day pass for Universal, perhaps through Attraction Tickets direct. It will work out cheaper than buying over there but get a move on as time is ticking. The 14 day pass will let you park hop (important for the Hogwarts Express Ride) and visit Volcano Bay. At this time of year, pool time is important to cool kids off and they often prefer the pool to the parks lol.

    A 7 day WDW pass is probably enough if you are doing predominantly Universal. Buy here not there. A 4 day Summer special ticket is $360 + $100 for park hopper + Tax so around $500 as opposed to a 7 day UK ticket is £390. Currently (until midnight on Monday) ATD have 14 day WDW + 14 day Universal tickets for £665 for adults and children (same price)

    Don't do the meal plan at Universal unless you really really like burgers.


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