1st Time Universal Questions

Hi Everyone!

We are planning our first trip to Universal!! So far we have been a WDW family, but as our twins are turning 10 we have decided to up the ride anty and head to Universal. I have a few questions that have arisen thru my reading and I am hoping the gurus on this forum can provide advice.

  1. Best suites for Families on site? I am trying to find floor plans like TP has for WDW. We are a family of 5 (2 10 year olds and a 1 year old), so we prefer a suite as the little guy goes to bed earlier than the rest of us.
  2. How many days to do the first visit? Boys are big HP fans. We recently did WDW for a weekend which was fine since we have been before, but overall rushed and not relaxing.
  3. Can you swim in February? Not sure how much to worry about the pools and their features.
  4. Is it worth it to do a annual pass to get the discounts?
  5. Do we need the express pass in off-season? crowd calendar is looking like a 3/4 when we will be there. If not, I may throw CB in the mix of resorts.

Thanks for the help! Happy touring!

The unlimited express pass makes doing the parks so easy

If you had one of those I think two days in the parks and park hopper so you can move back a forth using hogwarts express would let you try every ride you love at least twice but in a very calm way.

You would even be able to do ropedrop , return to the Hotel pool in the afternoon then back in the parks in the evening and do everything you want and more in two days with the express passes and a good plan IMO

To get one of those passes you can either stay in a cheaper Hotel and pay for it on top or stay in one of the 3 deluxe hotels (which are also very close to the parks)

All 3 deluxe are good Hotels but I would highly recommend staying in whichever is cheapest for your dates (its normally royal pacific) as you won’t spend much time in your rooms

Having done Universal twice with the deluxe Hotel unlimited express pass I would HIGHLY recommend it

Even if the park was due to be quiet crowd rise it’s so great just going straight on the rides as there’s always some kind of queues to face without the pass

And when using touring plan ap for planning your days just focus on minimise walking rather than worrying about waiting times

Do HP lands first thing with your Hotel early entry in the mornings then maybe return to them in the evenings as well.

2 days would be enough

3 days even better maybe as it’s your first time

But if you plan travel right you can do 3 days with just 2 nights in the Hotel to get universal express pass for the 3 days I’m sure

And you could even stay in a cheap hotel nearby before and/or after (depending on how many days you intend to travel) to keep costs down and just arrive at the deluxe Hotel early to get your express pass and leave your baggage etc.

Re your comments a a WDW weekend being rushed and not relaxing

The unlimited express pass at Universal would make the weekend not rushed and you would feel very relaxed in comparison

Our first visit was two days and we all agreed that we needed at least another day. You could easily spend half a day just doing the interactive wand spots in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade!

We typically go at periods of low crowds, but our boys love being able to skip the queues with EP. We’re RPR people: setting is lovely and serene, and the walk to the parks is short and pleasant. Worth every penny extra vs the Value or off-site properties, IMO.


Not knowing what your budget is, it is difficult to say what the best suite is. However I highly recommend staying on site at a top tier hotel. We stayed Portfolio. The room is HUGE - so think you may be well in not doing a suite. They do have suits but very expensive.

YES the Express Pass is worth it (and free at top tier resorts)

3 days with an EP will be PLENTY. We too are HP fans. Just get there first thing so you can enjoy it before the deluge of the crowds.

We just got back. I bought a 2-day plus one day free ticket and I’m really glad we had that third day. My 11-yr old wanted to ride every ride except the Hulk and the “little kid” rides, and that plus a bit of time in HP filled out 2 full days. On our third day, we arrived around noon to just stay the afternoon and only do HP; well, we didn’t leave until 8pm! It takes a while to go in every shop and alley and the spells can take quite a bit of time depending on crowds. We had to wait in a line for most spells. In fact, just picking out a wand and activating it and all that takes time. Also the train takes a fair amount of time if you’re going back and forth. If you can talk them out of doing every Universal ride, then you could probably do it in 2 days. But I was thrilled to have a “just HP” day.


Being a HUGE Harry Potter nerd, every trip, I take a “just HP” day and it is usually the best part of my trip. If people have the time and means and are fans, I highly recommend doing this so you can just get lost in the details and atmosphere!

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We have a WINNER!!!

Did you try the Harry Potter ice cream?

I did!