Feedback on plan, dining, for our express visit

Thanks to all who’ve responded to by many, many questions. I have to be fairly efficient in my planning because we have just 3.5 days, so appreciate all the advice. I’ve played around with TPs, using non Express function (even though we will have EPs) so I think my plan is doable (pending weather, ride closures and the like).

First, do premier hotels still transfer bags to another Universal hotel?

Second, any thoughts on the below plan of action for July 4th-July 7th trip. I don’t know what lunch options are at VB, so if anyone has any recommendations or faves lmk.

Arrive MCO at 2pm (from Manchester, NH where we will have been for a family reunion for 4 nights).

Staying two nights at either HRH or RPR plus one night at Aventura.

Arrival Evening: arrive MCO 2pm. Uber to resort.
3.30pm: Drop bags with concierge
In IOA, 4pm-9pm (park closes at 10pm, but not staying till closing time)
Dinner: Wimpy’s
If staying HRH. One way Hogwarts Express.
If staying RPR. Round trip Hogwarts Express.

Day 1: To go breakfast from hotel cafe’/marketplace.
Rope drop USF (Minions + DA). In USF 8am-1.30pm-ish, includes Bourne, Make-Up, Animal shows etc.
Early AM Butterbeers at Leaky Cauldron.
Lunch at Central Park Crepes or London Taxi Hut
Long Mid-day pool/R&R break (with naps)
Dinner: Cowfish (with ressie), then continue to parks
Evening Park: IOA
If staying HRH, return to USF via Hogwarts Express (if still open)

Day 2: Check-out. Leave bags with concierge. To go bfast from hotel cafe/marketplace.
Rope Drop IOA: (Hagrids). In parks 8am-1.30pm-ish.
Early AM butter beers at Three Broomsticks
Lunch, Green Eggs & Ham
Mid-day. Walk back to HRH or RPR, then transfer to Aventura via uber (if room is ready) or swim/hang at HRH or RPR resort pool till room ready check in text, then transfer to Aventura.
Dinner: Toothsome or Antijotes (with advance reservations) then continue to parks
Evening: USF. Hogwarts train to IOA if want one last Hagrids shot.
Back to hotel.

Day 3: Check-out. Leave bags with concierge.
Walk to VB/Rope drop VB.
Volcano Bay - all day w/Express Pass.
Return to Aventura for showers / change (in hotel gym)
Dinner TBD - likely rooftop bar at Aventura if back at hotel by 6pm-ish. Or, eat at Volcano Bay or airport if we stay late at VB.
Uber MCO by 7.45pm for a 9.55pm departure (we are all TSA Pre)
Arrive Denver 11.55pm (very tired but content, I hope)

1 Like

Only to another Universal Premier hotel. Example - They take bags from HRH to RPR, but they won’t take bags from HRH to Aventura (a moderate hotel)

They food at VB is surprisingly great! (You wouldn’t think a water park would have such good food, but they do!) I always eat at Kohola Reef Restaurant. I’m a fan of the Mahi Mahi sandwich. The coconut curry is good too! (Both pictured here)


If you enjoy cocktails, then VB is the place to be! Be warned!! The Dancing Dragons Boat Bar is one of the few bars at Universal that actually gives you a full pour of alcohol in the drinks! They don’t skimp on the booze there! It’s great, but I’ve had a few in a single day and really felt it later that night & the next day! (no regrets & I still get a couple every visit!!) I’ve had the entire drink menu and they’re all good!

I’ve done this enough to know that it will take 90 minutes just to get your bags, Uber to the hotel and drop stuff off. You’ll be in the parks closer to 4:30pm - 4:45pm (it’s no big deal, but if you are on a limited time every minute counts!)

Those three shows combined will take at least 2 - 2.5 hours and they don’t start until 10:45am - 11am. Do you have enough time for all three before lunch?

These are both great choices. (They are big meals at a decent “theme park” price) Make sure not to get too full before your Cowfish dinner!

Both are good choices! It will really depend on what you’re in the mood for! If all you want is a Toothsome’s milkshake you don’t have to have a sit down reservation. They have a milkshake “To-Go” section in the lobby. You can eat Antojitos and then get a milkshake for dessert. I will say I like both places, but prefer Antojitos.

The bar IMHO is underwhelming. I love Aventura. I stayed there a few months ago for the first time & now don’t want to go back to Dockside! (It’s so sleek & quiet! It’s not a “family” hotel.) I say that to say that the bar is also very “quiet” and somber. I love the food court at Aventura as they make fresh food to order, but IMHO wouldn’t eat upstairs at the bar. The bar has a vibe, to me, of a place for singles to hook-up than a cozy pub. Just my opinion. I hung out there for about 20 minutes before just leaving as it didn’t feel like a place to relax.

I know you are prepared and you’ll have fun. PLEASE be prepared for the MASSIVE July 4th crowds! Even with Express Pass (UXP) you are still going to have waits that you normally wouldn’t. You’ve chosen one of the Top 3 busiest weekends of the year to visit. It always breaks my heart when someone visiting at peak times & then comes back mad at the queues…

Keep asking questions!!

If I haven’t already recommended it, check out The Frugal Brit on YouTube for the best videos about all the resorts, parks and hotels!!

1 Like

Such great advice! Thank you.

I hear you on the crowds. Timing is dictated by when we will already be on east coast for a family reunion where incremental cost of the triangle flight was minimal. Otherwise flights to Orlando from Denver when kids can go have been outrageous. $500-$700 a ticket.

The reality is I’ve only ever been to theme parks during peak times (thanksgiving, new years, Oct Halloween etc) and somehow we’ve always made it work, but I plan like crazy and follow TPs.

I did read a thread from someone who said I should plan the day as if I didn’t have EPs, and I thought that was good advice, and different than my original ‘no rush I have an EP plan.’ So I optimized as if I didn’t have EP to see how things stacked up, and I plan to just try to be a bit ahead of the EP crowd, like I would if I didn’t have EP. TP prioritized Minions, Gringotts, Simpson’s (right at 9am), then transformers, mummy and rip rocket I believe.

So we are going to try for front of the pack rope drop minions, then DA, (skipping Gringotts in EA though in favor of spells) then plan to be at the entrance to express pass lane right at 9am when Simpson’s opens (I had the longest EP wait of my life for Simpson’s back in ‘15) then head to transformers, mummy and rip rocket.

More walking and park back tracking than I had originally anticipated doing with EP, but hopefully will give us back time in our day.

My kids are rope drop troopers so they are game for anything that saves them time in line.

As for shows, we will drop animals if need be, or push a ride or two intended for the AM back to the afternoon to make the show.

Trying to make the 11am Bourne, but if lines don’t cooperate, we will push to 12.

With that said, does USF sneakily open rides like Simpson’s early, before non EA park opening? For example what time should we be there to be in front of fellow EP folks?


If we have no checked bags (we will have access to my SILs laundry in NH, so planning on packing light), what time do you think we can arrive at hotel with Uber and 2pm arrival?

Yeah… waiting at baggage claim is easily 20 minutes you won’t have to deal with!

This used to be true @darkmite2 that they transfered to any UOR hotel, did it change?

I confess, as you know, I don’t have experience staying at the premiere hotels. However, when I called about baggage transfers last year, between CBBR & Aventura, this is what I was told. Maybe the TM didn’t give me all the details since I wasn’t staying at one of those resorts?? :man_shrugging:

I did a little online research before replying & I do see a Reddit that says if you start your stay at either Royal Pacific, Hard Rock or Portofino they will transfer it anywhere…

I’d call to confirm if you really need to know. I’ve just taken my bags with me in the Lyft.

1 Like

So, our last trip, no checked bags. From our landing time at MCO to hotel front desk was 1 hour. We were sitting near the front of the plane, two adults. We used Lyft.

1 Like

Thanks all for your advice.

Darkmite2 - I am looking forward to Aventura. I tried to talk myself into Cabana Bay b/c I have kids (8 and 14) and I just couldn’t get excited about the exterior entrances, decor and spread out property. The vibe at Aventura is much more up our alley and I love the compactness. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. When they dropped the AP prices even more, I splurged and spent $20 extra for the deluxe queen/queen just to give me and my boys a little more room to spread out and to get a nicer/more expansive view.

I didn’t research to see that they had a QS onsite, Urban Cafe. That’s definitely where we will eat. Need to keep it simple when trying to catch a plane.

I just hope the weather is OK on that Friday we are at VB. Because of the EP passes/premier stay, this is the only day we can do VB (can’t adjust for weather forecast).

The food at VB is def up my alley so thanks for the pro tip on drinks and lunch spot. I do love a cocktail, never more than on vacay. Since it’s our last day and I can sleep on the plane I’m sure I’ll indulge.

I’m definitely getting excited. I love theme parks and this seize the moment visit with my kids will have to tide me over till my ‘big’ WDW trip in Nov, 2025, meant for my youngest, then that will be it on the Theme Park vacation front for my family (at least with my oldest who is 14) as we have our vacation plans outlined for several years all the way through his graduation. I may have a work obligation in Orlando next Spring, so I may get to pop in solo in '24 using my AP, but I can’t count on it, plus I truly love being in the parks with my kids.


thanks, magical jo. I’ve estimated 90 minutes, so that looks possible. Then another 45 minutes for check-in to get EPs/room keys and leave bags with concierge, then walk to parks. I usually check Lyft and Uber to see time estimates and price so we’ll play last minute roulette there.

All this feedback makes me want my trip to be next week :).


I’m not “scheduled” to go back until Epic Universe opens…

Giving all this feedback makes me want to go next week!!! :crazy_face: :innocent:

1 Like

Jesus Christ, do not go to the London Taxi Stand for lunch. And Wimpy’s is just a meme restarting. Just, don’t.

1 Like

Boo Joe Matt :slightly_smiling_face:

Also, I wouldn’t tell Jesus what to do and not do. :laughing:

Whoever tells someone to buy a baked potato in the middle of summer in Florida needs to touch some grass.


I can’t hear you right, take your mask off! :joy:

1 Like

I have personally transferred luggage from RP to CBBR and PBH to AV. You can transfer from a premier to any resort. Just doesn’t work the other way around.


I would also reevaluate your outdoor dining plans for July. Just too hot! Pick an indoor dining location with AC. Mythos would be one you could reserve and wouldn’t cost much more than a qs. Leaky Cauldron and Thunder falls have large indoor dining areas for quick service and are consistently solid choices. RPR and HR both have excellent poolside dining as well. Having lunch and a drink brought to my beach chair is a luxury I love!

I’d agree about Bar17. If you have more time than the quick service at AV, walk across the street to SF and hit Strong Water for tapas. Amazing food and drinks!


This one I am curious about. We have watched several vloggers all say Wimpy’s is definitely the best burger in the parks, and give positive reviews. Are you saying it is bad?

Of course, in the past you ragged on Blondie’s as well, which we really liked. :grin:

1 Like

I guess I’m one of those starting a meme then, because I LOVE WIMPY’S!! There really is a difference in quality. Is it the best burger at all of UOR property - Nope!

Is it the best burger inside IOA and IMHO inside any of the 3 parks - YES!

They literally make them fresh and hand them to you. No heat lamps. Plus, I really like the special sauce / “spicy ketchup”.

If I was going to choose between London Taxi Hut or Crepes - I’d always pick the crepe. However, I’ve eaten a Shepard’s Pie Potato in the August heat. You can take it over to the San Francisco area or the benches near MIB / Fear Factor Stage and find a shaded bench or table in each area. The potatos are nothing special, but for $11 you get a “stick to your ribs” meal that will fill you up.

Furthermore, all the selections at Green Eggs and Ham Tots are to die for! If you need a shaded place to eat them, take them over to the Cat in the Hat gift shop. There is a shaded and very quiet alcove off to the side that almost no one uses. (I just “gave away” one of my favorite / secret quiet spots in IOA just to prove a point!! lol!!)


All good points. I was really looking for fast-not wanting to eat up a chunk of time that we can use for a long mid day pool break. I’m planning on being in the pool with a cocktail in hand by 2pm-ish those two afternoons, weather permitting. If it’s storming, then we will nap in our air conditioned room followed by the pool, cross our fingers, if weather clears up.

At first I scheduled cowfish as lunch vs dinner, but it would be on the late side for my kids who wouldn’t make it that long since we will be at park entrance st 7.15am.

Everything I’ve heard about 3 broomsticks and leaky cauldron is the interminable wait to get in (in the sun). And I don’t want to go there so early when lines are still building and we could be knocking out rides with lower waits.

We def have frozen butter beers and ice cream on our list too. And we are only buying chocolate frogs from hogs Meade on our first night in the parks on our way out of the park, to avoid a sticky mess!

Is there an indoor QS with AC where you don’t wait outside first to get in? At Universal Hollywood we ate at a chicken place in Simpson area that served its purpose.

And yes, understand the heat. I refuse to go WDW in summer, which limits my options.

Since this is a short trip, and being within walking distance of our hotel for easier mid day pool breaks, and with one day at a water park, I’m taking a big leap of faith that we can survive 2.5 park days in the heat.