We are avid Disney travelers, but never done universal. I'm looking at booking for a long weekend in December 8-13. Loews falls and Loews royal pacific are both available. I know the Falls doesn't have UEPass but it is about $400 cheaper. Crowd calendar showing that weekend as low. Which should I book? Is loews royal pacific worth the extra money? 5
I'm not much help on choosing the resort, other than to suggest adding up the costs and comparing. The Express passes are typically around $80 per person, per day, and they are not honored on all rides - the Harry Potter rides, for example. On low CL days, the waits are very short, except for a few choice attractions. For some reason, the Minion ride wait times are always insane. The HP attractions vary from short to long throughout the day. The TPs are immensely helpful in getting you into the shortest lines.
In any case, we - DH and I - will be in USO parks also Dec 8 - 10 before doing Disney for the following week. I plan to be on the Lines chat too. We've been to USO several times in recent years, and love it, though it is a very different experience from Disney.
$400 is a lot of money (at least to me) - however IMHO having the express passes (regardless of the crowds) is worth it. And as nice as the Falls is - Royal Pac is probably just a touch nicer. So $100 a night worth it? For me yes. I would book RP and save aggravation and time.
Plus you can resort hop so you can enjoy Falls as well if you want.
For our last trip i sent so much time planning planning planning for WDW - at Universal NONE and to me that was worth every penny.
We stayed at RP two summers ago to take advantage of EP. It was amazing to walk on practically eveything! We plan to go back in two years and will definitely get EP again! We happened to get a newly renovated room and it was beautiful! You'll have a great time either way, but EP was extremely handy!!
We stayed at Sapphire Falls when crowds were low, 3 - 5 most days, and never needed the express passes. We took advantage of the early entries each day and it was great. We loved Sapphire and had a great stay. The lobby bar/restaurant, Strong Water Tavern, was really good.
Also, you could stay at Falls to save $ and wait and buy the Express Passes only if needed. That was our plan and we found by using the early entry and line apps we truly didn't need the passes.
Was there last week and stayed at Portofino. It was our first visit. I found the Express Pass extremely valuable because we didn't feel the need to get up early every morning. We did just one early morning out of our 3 days there. The rest of the time, we got up when we felt like it and loved being able to use the EP on all those rides. I also found that if you go to the HP parts in the evening (like 7:30pm), you can have very short lines on Gringotts and Forbidden Journey and the Hogwarts Express. Don't miss riding that train as it was possibly the best experience of anything.
I also recommend what many say...if you go for early entry, definitely first do Minions and then head straight to Gringotts. First off, Minions is EXCELLENT (my favorite non-HP attraction) and 2nd, we still got to Gringotts and it was 30 minutes in total from the time we closed our locker at the ride, waited in line, rode the ride, and then got our things out of the locker again. I'd say that was perfect because you really do want to experience the line. It's incredible.
Just think through how you want to tour and whether you can afford the extra cost. All these replies above are useful and there is no one right answer.
Have a great trip.
So I am the cheapest bastard around. So I offer the following to help you save money in areas that we found we could without compromising the experience.
1 - PACK Breakfast - we bring baegels, oatmeat etc and eat in the room. Get a bit of milk / juice and have a relaxed, cheap breakfast
2 - LUNCH is the big meal - have a larger lunch and a smaller dinner
3 - Limit Alcohol / soda. I realize traveling with the family is reason enough to drink - but by limiting it - you can save a lot. Also - ordering water instead of soda saves a lot of money if you consider $2.50 x 4 people by 7 days - that is $70 in soda alone
4 - Car service instead of car - do the math. It may be cheaper to get a car service instead of renting a car
5 - Buy tickets at discount site - I save LOTS of cash by buying tickets at UNDERCOVER TOURIST - several hundred dollars
6 - Get a good CC that has good travel rewards - we have the Capital One card and basically paid via points - you have to do this smartly - but paid about $2000 worth of the vacation with points.
7 - check the dates - by moving our room dates around just a little ended up saving $300