Considering going to UO instead. Thoughts?

So considering maybe trying UO instead of WDW for my anniversary trip in late August. It would be 5 full days at universal. thinking about Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. The cancellation policy seems pretty generous if I book by may 31. No risk right?

I would be going 8/23 - 8/29 so definitely in the time frame.

My Questions:

  1. no “risk” right
  2. i would get tix for all 3 parks, no “park hopping”. is 5 days too much?
  3. besides CW, anything else to do at hotels? (I am not a HP fan, marvel is neat but not into it that much)
  4. i have never been here, so i know nothing.

I realize there is a UO forum, but I posted this here since it is regarding changing a WDW vacation.


Vacation Package Policy

Applies to vacation package reservations made March 4–May 31, 2020 for travel March 4–Aug. 31, 2020:


  • No fee if modified at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
  • $50 fee per reservation if modifications are made within 24 hours of arrival.
  • For packages including airfare, additional fees and penalties imposed by airlines may apply.


  • No fee if cancelled at least 24 hours prior to arrival.
  • $200 fee per reservation, plus any additional hotel imposed fees if cancelled within 24 hours of arrival.
  • For packages including airfare, additional fees and penalties imposed by airlines may apply.

I agree with the no risk thing, as long as you don’t mind having the deposit money temporarily tied up with them until you decide for sure.

We have reservations at Endless Summer resort for 3 nights because we figure (hope) that being at a Universal resort will give you first (“guaranteed”) entry into the parks with reduced capacity. But this hasn’t been fully clarified yet, so we’ll find out I guess soon!

Assuming so, we plan to get there early for the early entry benefits to get ahead of the non-resort guests and make sure we get inside the parks.

In terms of comparing UO to Disney…you will definitely need to modify your expectations. The experience of Universal is entirely different from Disney, but also entirely different from other pure amusement parks. Expect to experience a lot of similar simulator rides, for example.

But there is some really great theming throughout definitely worth enjoying.

The question is the 5 days thing. We did 4 days in 2018, and we were done each day by 3:00. We could have stayed longer, but we started early, and wanted to be able to rest and relax each day. We were able to do everything we wanted without any problem.

With 5 days, you will be able to take it easy even more…which, given the heat and masks, is probably a good thing. By mid-afternoon, finish out the park day and head back to the hotel, refresh, and then back to Citywalk for dinner, etc. Or head over to Disney Springs, etc.

So, I think it could be fun. But definitely NOT the same as you’ll experience at Disney.

Regarding WWoHP…while we are HP fans, the detailing of the lands there are incredible and worth experiencing even if you’ve never read the books nor seen the movies. It raised the bar that Disney then had to catch up to. But much like we didn’t care for Avatar, but are looking forward to seeing Pandora in AK, I think planning to do WWoHP even if you aren’t fans is something to definitely do.

And, actually, since you plan to do Volcano Bay as well…perhaps 5 days is perfect.

I WOULD consider upgrading to the Park to Park tickets…maybe get the Annual Pass instead (it might actually be cheaper) so that you can take the train between the parks, or split your time.


thanks @ryan1 go to know. a couple of clarifications:

  1. we would do all the HP rides, shows, etc. interested in seeing the designs, atmosphere, etc.
  2. I think the park-to-park increase costs by $923. Not willing to cough that up.
  3. appreciate the expectation level-set.

Really wanting to know what disney plans are for pools and bars in late august. I realize they may not know either at this point.

Pandora is pretty cool. you’ll like it.

It SOUNDS like pools will be open, but with social distancing guildelines/limits. But they didn’t detail that out specifically.

I have cancelled my six night stay at CSR, but I still have the flights. It seems likely that I’ll either have to take them, or abandon them and lose the money.

So I’m considering a six night stay at Endless Summer. (I am a UOR AP holder.) As I have WDW park hopper tickets in hand, I envisage taking “day trips” to WDW during the stay.

I really love UOR. As @ryan1 says it is different in some ways to WDW but — to me, at least — in some ways it is better.

WWOHP is one of my favourite places in the world. The theming is absolutely as good as anything Disney has to offer. Better, in fact.

There are more and better thrill rides at UOR and there are a lot of very technologically advanced rides which, coming from the UK, where we have none of this, absolutely blew me away.

UOR trips are much easier to plan than WDW trips because you don’t really need to plan at all. There are no FPPs or ADRs. You’ll get Express Passes, which means you’ll have FPPs for everything. Well, except Hagrid, probably.

Five full days is a lot. Too much, really. Well, unless you have really, really chilled out days and really give yourself the time to take everything in. There is certainly a lot to take in. But the two parks together are not huge. You’ll easily ride everything twice.

I’m shocked the park hopper is so expensive. It means you’ll miss out on Hogwart’s Express — which is exceptionally themed and very clever, and also very convenient as a way of getting from one park to the other.

My experience is that UOR is very good at giving refunds. Indeed, every bit as good as WDW.

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We went in 2018 without Express Passes, and still really didn’t require any planning, and still managed to do everything. So having Express Passes is just all the better!

We went to UOR for five days this last March, the last week in fact before everything shut down. I. Loved. It. We stayed at Royal Pacific, so we had the express passes which were great. DS11 and I rope dropped Hagrid’s two days in a row, and it was totally worth it. Just a reminder that if you don’t have park to park tickets, you cannot ride the Hogwarts Express which is something to not be missed in my opinion. We even did DAH at MK one evening which I am assuming, though, this will not be an option for who knows how long. With five days at UOR you would absolutely have plenty of time to explore everything at your leisure and re-ride whatever you want as many times as you want!

  1. Yep. You’ll have to place a deposit, but it’s refundable

  2. My first trip ever was 5 days. It was a buy 2 days get 3 days free. It is almost too much. I wouldn’t buy 5 days, but I would do this same promo again. If the water park isn’t a “must-do” I would get the Buy 2 days get 2 days free (park-to park ticket / park hopping ticket).

Park Hopping at Universal is more like Disneyland than DisneyWorld. You can very easily travel between the parks - especially if you see a low queue time on a popular attraction at the other park through the Universal or TP Apps. Plus, it’s the ONLY way to ride the Hogwart’s Express - an experience itself with 2 different “shows” one for each direction of travel.(Even if you’re not a HP fan it’s worth the ride)

  1. I’m a value resort traveler, so I can’t help you here. Plus, I like CW. I can play in the parks all day and have a few drinks at Margaritaville on the way back to the hotel. You aren’t in the “bubble” so much and if you are driving you have the whole Orlando area to see.

  2. People may tell you to lower your expectations, but I disagree. The theming of Hollywood in USF is as good as DHS at WDW. The WWOHP was designed by the same people that did SW:GE. The Simpsons Springfield is awesome! So well decorated! Are there areas with little theme? Sure! But they have those at WDW too… people just tend to “overlook” it because they LOVE WDW so much. Plus, there’s this odd loyalty to WDW that people feel about going anyplace else. I did for almost 30 years. I wished I’d gone to Universal decades ago.

If your main reason to stay at PBH is the Express Pass, I’d really suggest reconsidering. The UXP is AWESOME! I wish WDW did it. I’d pay the money to get the “real” Fast Pass experience of just walking up and getting on. However… it’s not always needed at Universal and you can buy the passes at almost any retail location on site. I’d rather save up to $1000 on the hotel if crowds are low and queues are short.

They have their own version of PhotoPass. I became well-versed in it last year. The employees aren’t well trained / educated about it. I think it’s worth it, but you have to know some of the ins & outs.

The reputation for “screen” rides is deserved. However, some of those rides are cutting edge. They will often “duplicate” a ride by using the exact same tech with a new theme. It’s still fun IMHO, but afterwards I caught myself thinking… that ride was just like previous one. (I don’t want to spoil anything by telling you which)

Please… ask anything about USF/IOA. I,too, was waiting on today’s flight info / pricing release to decide what to do. I’m going to wait until at least August to decide, but I’ve been debating just going to Universal exclusively this year. (I don’t care about too many of their shows or character meetings so I don’t feel like I’d be getting a limited experience. Plus, it’s almost 65% cheaper than my Disney plans.)

One of my biggest reasons for wanting to go to USF exclusively is because of how stress-free it is. I still do a Touring Plan. However, it’s more of a checklist than itinerary. I don’t need ADRs or FPP selections. (It can feel very weird to not have to prebook so much!) You can just “show up” and ride. You can still make dining reservations, but you don’t have to do it 6 months in advance & I’ve never had any issues getting a reservation - if flexible

You can do all the “Big Stuff” at USF/IOA in 2 very full days with some repeat rides or do it all easily in 3 days. We are HP fans, so we spent a lot of time just absorbing WWOHP and being “in it”


Was at UO for a day last summer before going over to WDW, and I agree with all of what was said above. We love so many of the rides there, and WWoHP theming is ridiculously amazing. Hagrids is probably the best combination of well themed and thrill ride we’ve experienced. We are keeping our options open to an all-UO trip instead of WDW depending on how UO runs throughout June and the details yet to come from WDW. The biggest hurdle to making that change is probably losing the free dining we currently have with the recovery deal.

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Did you price out a seasonal annual pass? I would price out both the two park, and a separate volcano bay ticket, and a three park. You are traveling outside the blackout period.

As everyone is saying- you need access to both parks!


@darkmite2 has nailed it. Superb answer.

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The “basic” season pass is a good deal if you don’t care about the blackouts. It’s only about $50 more than the Buy 2 Day Get 2 Days Park-to-Park (Yikes! Too many 2’s!)

If I do cancel my DLR trip for Universal I’m considering it myself as I’ll have to extra airline miles. (The cost of flying to DLR is more than double going to WDW)

I did the math and for the price of one trip to DLR I can get a USF Season Pass and go at least 3 times doing up to four days each. (At the value “endless” resorts and watching my budget)

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They have currently extended merchandise and food discounts to those passes too but I don’t know if they have extended it?

You may also want to look into booking the hotel with AP discount. (You Miley need one AP). That can save you $100 or more per day at the deluxe resorts. I checked your dates and discounts are available for all hotels:

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Ugh. Because of you I just had to cancel my existing reservation. Thanks for nothing!

Oh, except I rebooked using your link (I have an AP) and saved $66. Woohoo!

Thanks :smile:

UOR is great! You can show up without any preparation before and have a great time.

Both parks have considerably less attractions then MK - they are similar to Animal Kingdom when talking about just the number of options.

Food inside the parks is not that great, but there are a lot of good options just outside at City Walk.

Characters are almost non-existent there.

There are a lot of simulator rides. They are about as similar to each other as WDW’s dark rides. I enjoy them, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea.

3 of the 6 thrill rides at Islands of Adventure are water rides that leave you soaking wet.

UOR’s thrill rides are considerably more intense (and less themed) then their WDW counterparts.

Hagrid’s is my favorite attraction in Orlando (technically the world, but that would be misleading since I didn’t visit that many parks outside of Orlando).

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We really liked the Portofino. If they are open, the pools are good (or so said my kids who got to go). There are several pools. We also enjoyed the restaurants there and shopping at the stores (although that was a time saver to avoid having to buy wands at Ollivanders; you would have more time than we did). We really want to go back and do more time at UO, probably at the same hotel.

That will cover a couple of meals! I’m glad my comment helped someone! :slightly_smiling_face:

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I checked for our stay. Interestingly, the Annual Passholder rate for our room is about $30 MORE per night than the price I paid. Guess it just depends on the hotel and what deal you booked under.

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