1 Day?

So…I have a son (will be 9) and a daughter (will be 7) and plan to go to Universal. The kids are not Harry Potter fans, so we plan to skip those attractions. We are heading there for November and based on my plan, we can accomplish what we want to see (more like what I think the kids want to see) in 1 day. I have never been to Universal with kids. I have a couple questions for the vets out there.

  1. Is visiting for one day realistic?
  2. If I just have one day, should I buy an express ticket for each member?
  3. What do you recommend as non-Harry Potter must sees for that age group?

Thank you for your time!

Can you do Univeral in one day - YES. Will you have more fun doing it in TWO - yes.

Even if you are not a HP fan - there are some great rides. Forbidden Journey, Escape from Gringotts and Hogwarts Express are all great rides regardless of if you love, hate, or don’t care about HP.

Should you get an Express Ticket? I would suggest instead of getting 3 express tickets - I would just stay at a delux hotel for an evening. 3 x 60 (at LEAST is $180). If you stay at one of the hotels it will be around 280 - 350. So basically 100 - 170 for the night when you back out how much you would be paying for the express passes. So my suggestion would be to NOT get express but stay onsite. This will also give you early entry.

It really depends on what they like. We loved MIB, Minions Ride, basically loved most of the rides. Only suggestion is that if you do the water rides - do them last - you WILL get wet - really wet.

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I agree that it is doable in one day and with the ages of your kids they may want to skip through Seussland. Even if the kids are not Harry Potter fans the themeing there is amazing and worth a walk through. As for the express pass keep your eye on the crowd level and watch the wait times on the must do rides. Did both parks in March (not spring break) and were able to get through everything with the two park on ride express pass.

I am a HUGE HP fan, so I have a hard time removing it from the equation and, as was mentioned above, the rides are absolutely amazing, even if you don’t like HP. However, if you prefer to avoid them altogether, if you are not going around Thanksgiving, I suspect you will be able to do what you want in 1 day without EP, provided you can be there at RD and stay all day. Will you be doing the big coasters, or sticking mainly to the smaller rides and simulators? The most important thing I can tell you with regard to efficiency is to hit Despicable Me FIRST THING in the morning. The line continues to grow all day, and, even with EP, can get up to 45 minutes. If you can do that, and you are not doing any Harry Potter, you should be good to go!

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So I used to be a WDW snob and thought that anyone gong to US needed their head examined. I have been converted. If you are in the planning stages still - I HIGHLY recommend just staying at US for a night or two as part of your vacation. I think you will have an overall better time. You still don’t need a car - in fact I would recommend against it. Just Uber or take a service. But if you can - I really wold recommend just enjoying US the same way you enjoy WDW.

Adding to all the good expert advice above, I wanted to share our recent experience with our similar family.

We are a family of 4, with 7 year old girl/boy twins, and were on our first trip to UO in January. With no Harry Potter, we still couldn’t do it all in one non-Harry Potter day.

On Day 1 of our trip, we did only Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter (fantastic!). Then on Day 2, we focused solely on the rest of USF and IOA. The parks that day were open from 9am - 6pm. IOA was a 4 and USF was a 7. We had Universal Express passes from staying on site. We had Touring Plans and UOG research out the ying yang. We entered IOA before 9am, headed to USF after lunch and were there until close.

By choice, we DID NOT do any real roller coasters (kids were too short, which we knew going in), we didn’t do any timed shows except Horror Make Up Show, and we didn’t do either of the soaking wet water rides. The Simpsons ride was closed. No playground time or really even parade watching time. The only thing resembling a break was table service lunch at Mythos. And the kicker…

Our day was COMPLETELY filled up having an amazingly awesome time doing a long list of attractions we wanted to do. (And we went back the next morning to do more.)

As I step back from the trip, thinking about our next visit, and thinking about your Q1, it’s pretty crazy to think we spent an open-to-close day doing tons of fun attractions we wanted, with a great plan and UE, while NOT doing any headline roller coasters, any Harry Potter, and virtually any shows. I think doing it in one day is going to be hard.

That said, if you really have only one day, you should go anyway. It’s too much fun. :grin:

wow! Thank you for your post. I was thinking about getting Express (although, I am offsite). Did that help at all? was that worth it? My wife and I will be going over the plan. The trip is really a Disney trip but I want to do USF and IOA because we have never been. I have been debating taking down a rest day to do universal but concerned it will be too much. We have some shows and a parade that we wanted to see…is two days good? Is Express worth it?

Universal Express is absolutely worth it. However it’s not a failsafe, eg. We still waited over 30 mins for Transformers in the Express line (and see Minions advice above), and UE doesn’t work for the best Harry Potter rides. But we wouldn’t have been able to do even close to as much without UE. For instance, we did Men in Black Alien Attack three times in a row (bc my kids wanted to) without waiting and walking past a huge standby line.

As has been suggested here above, you should really consider spending a night at a UO hotel. 1. Stay at one where you all get Universal Express included and you will get it for the day you check in and check out (yes, 2 days even if you stay 1 night), and 2. If you decide you want to spend more than one day at UO, even a day and a half, you might as well stay there, right?

However, I totally get these are tough decisions. We admittedly planned a UO specific trip (a long weekend). It was a year and a half after our first WDW trip (a week). Both incredibly fun.

PS. In a previous “sort of trip report” I posted in January, I listed our attraction scare factors for our 7 year olds. May come in handy for yours. Cheers!