Recommended Blogs/Websites for Universal Newbie?

SquashBanana

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Hello everyone! I'm pretty familiar when it comes to touring the Disney parks and have a number of blogs and websites that I routinely follow. Universal, however, is a completely different story. I'm basically starting from scratch. The last time I visited Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure was in 2003. My family is planning a 4-day trip this Summer (2 days each park) and need to begin forming a touring plan. I already listen to the Disunplugged Universal Edition podcast, but I was wondering what website/blogs (besides this one of course 😁) you'd recommend for what basically amounts to a first-timer to Universal/IOA. Thanks!
 
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Lashed34

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 18, 2019
We used the DIS boards here, DIS on YouTube (they have tons of videos and information, Tim Tracker on YouTube was also great and the Universal site itself.

But the biggest help of all was here - so much amazing advice, hints and tips. If you want to know ANYTHING about Universal Resort (Orlando) just ask here.
 

smiths02

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 13, 2009
Orlando Informer
DIS boards (stickies in the Universal Orlando sections) and wdwinfo.com
Trip reports on DIS boards @schumigirl and several others have great trip reports

For watching/listening
Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast
Dis Unplugged Universal Edition
Rix Flix
Tim Tracker
Orlando Informer Podcast
 

cfoxga

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
For Universal, you really don't need to plan like you do at Disney. That doesn't mean there isn't a learning curve, but it is quite different. Most of my time is spent getting the hotel booked. I don't think about where we'll eat, what parks we'll do each day, or what rides we'll go on.

The first decision to make for the hotel is Deluxe Onsite (gets Express Pass and Early Entry), Value Onsite (get Early Entry), or Offsite. I started with Value Onsite (Cabana Bay) at Spring Break in 2017. The park was packed, so we did most of the rides early in the morning. Lines were too long in the middle of the day, so we tended to do shows instead. With Early Entry (EE), we got an extra hour in the Harry Potter areas, which was great.

Our second trip was Thanksgiving 2017 and we decided to try the Deluxe Hotels for the Express Pass (EP). We stayed at Royal Pacific. Not only are they Deluxe hotels closer to the parks, but they have a ferry to take you to the park (Saphire Falls, which is a value hotel, also has a boat). The Express Pass is kind of like a permanent Fastpass that works on almost every ride. Rather than 1 hour+ wait times, you end up with 5-15 minutes in most cases. We were sold on the value of EP and our 3rd and upcoming 4th trip are at Deluxe Hotels (Portifino Bay and Hard Rack respectively).

Ticketing would be the next consideration. Annual Passes at Universal are inexpensive compared to Disney and are often cheaper than 3-4 day tickets. They also have the added benefit of opening up special APH rates at the onsite hotels. I think they tend to give a 20% discount on a limited set of rooms. That is why I spend so much time planning my room. Once I have my dates set, I check every day until I get an APH room booked at the hotel I want. Often I have to book a room at another site because it is all that is open, and then later change when the one I want opens up.
 

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