I Added a Wrench!

I will tackle these from my $0.02.

  1. Yes, I would always consider the crowd levels if you have the ability to be flexible on the the days you are there. Just watch out for special events or things that could cut down your time there.
  2. Personally, I think Genie+ is a necessity for some parks. Maybe not all. But to get LL’s stacked and the chance to purchase something you like as well with no wait. Might make park hopping even better.
  3. I think park hopping is a great idea if you just want to hit a couple of favorites and move on. It might be smart to get some LLs for the afternoon in the park you plan on hopping to and then have freedom to rope drop or meander in the mornings.
  4. Resorts will give you a birthday badge at the front desk. From then, it is up to a cast member to make any magic and pixie dust.
  5. Universal is easier to navigate and less constraining in my opinion. Just have a game plan when you want to hit the headliner rides to reduce wait times.
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Be aware that currently you can only park hop from 2pm onwards (sometimes around 10 minutes earlier). But other than that you can visit as many parks as you want. You just book the first one and must tap into it before entering another park.


I’m not entirely sure how much the budget isn’t an issue, so I’m going to throw in my two cents on the “Luxe side”. We add a VIP tour to the end of our trip to make sure we can redo and or catch anything that we missed previously. It gives us breathing room to enjoy the rest of the trip without feeling like I’m going to miss something important. It’s costly though. $425-$850 an hour with a 7 hour minimum depending on season/day.

I was also just trying to find the attractions group tours they used to have. IIRC it was $200 -ish for just the headliners or another one was geared towards the classics. I wonder if they stopped because of the pandemic. Maybe someone with better knowledge can jump in.

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Since you are staying off-site, you should be able to get a birthday button at the gift shops or guest services at any of the parks. (This is for WDW. I don’t know about UOR)


The one thing Universal does better than Disney, hands down imo, is their express pass. No pre planning needed (unless there’s a huge line at Velocicoaster). You just pick where you want to go and get in line. No pre scheduling or availability concerns.
Now, there isn’t a huge Minion area, just so you’re aware, but the Harry Potter areas are pretty spectacular.

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That was me before our trip last month! I can honestly say that LLs are totally easy if you download and use BG1 on your phone. I don’t recommend reading everything because trying to read everything just made my stomach churn and other’s comments made me feel totally unprepared.

Jeff’s first post summarizes Genie+ fabulously! He also has priorities for Genie+, which is data driven. That priority worked very well for us.

Download and use BG1! It really is super easy to use. Just read the first post and NOT all 3358! Trying to read and understand them all stressed me out and it really isn’t necessary to read them all.

I posted screen shots for the Virtual Queue here but the LL screens are very similar.

I also find it helpful to read a few trip reports to see how it is on the ground recently.


  1. Yes, I would always consider the crowd levels if you have the ability to be flexible on the the days you are there. Just watch out for special events or things that could cut down your time there.

Got it! - plan on disney’s crowd calendar, not universal’s.

But to get LL’s stacked and the chance to purchase something you like as well with no wait. Might make park hopping even better.

“stacked” 2nd time i read this word in the threads pertaining to LLs. Can you explain what this means pertaining to LLs?

On average, does universial have lighter, the same, or worse crowds than disney?

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this is a very good point. i do remember reading this. thanks!

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yet another genie thread! aye-yi-yi - i feel a migraine coming on. :smile:

i had to go to the thread you referenced to find out what BG1 was. I think i need a youtube tutorial!

I’ll go back and read the Genie thread you mentioned however, when i browsed it briefly, it mentioned that disney has updated MDE with some of the features of BG1, so is BG1 still necessary??

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Do not read the whole thread! Just the first post :slight_smile:


Calm down! I totally can relate with you because I was in your same spot a few months ago. But a couple of Liners calmed me down.

BG1 is much faster and less cumbersome than MDE for LLs and Virtual Queue. And BG1 will list the hardest to get rides on top and tell you when a drop of more LLs may happen. You don’t get this in MDE. BUT you still need MDE to buy Genie+ and buy ILLs.

Don’t read the whole thread to the posts I referenced! That will definitely give you a migraine and stomach ulcer! Just read the first posts to both threads. That is really all you need. Download BG1 to your phone and allow it to work its magic! After your first use of BG1, ALL apprehensions will fly out the door! We all promise! :smile:

We bought Genie+ for our Epcot day, even though we didn’t need it because I didn’t want to use it for the first time at HS, where it would matter a lot. BG1 got us BG4 for Cosmic Virtual Queue and the first hour return time for Remy the first time we used it. So easy!

By the way, previous to our trip last month, our last trip was also 2019.

I encourage you to read a few trip reports, for fun, to see what’s happening on the ground. If you want, my February 2023 TR is here: https://forum.touringplans.com/t/chip-n-dale-host-their-friends-at-their-fl-home/92283.


Yes! The OP keeps the first post very up to date. Reading the whole post is unnecessary and just stressed me out!


Jeff explains this clearly and in great detail in his post I listed above under Rules. They are Rules 3-7.
The Genie Thread! All WDW Info Here.


Adding on to what @Bubblez said on this…

VIP at Universal is much more reasonable, and a great way to make sure you get all of the high points of both parks hit in one day. Charge is generally between $189-$229 per person, but that’s for the full 7 hour tour (not per hour). The first time we did UOR, we did this and it made the park much more understandable/manageable for us. After the 7 hour tour, you get an express pass for the rest of the day as well.


Not that i would ever spend that kind of money in a amusement park (i’m still trying to make my dreams come true :laughing:) but you have definitely peaked my curiousity…
What’s included in the VIP tour? How does it work?

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I lovingly refer to them as walking fast passes.

They can pick you up from the hotel or you can meet them in a designated spot and then Disney World is your oyster! You can go on any ride/show/restaurant you want without having to wait in any of the lines or spending all day trying to work G=/LL’s on the phone. That alone to me is worth the added expense.

You can pre-plan an itinerary with them so they can set up everything in advance or you can do what we like to do and just wing it day of. They’ll even end the tour at your favorite parade/show in a special VIP seating area or at your favorite restaurant.

We find more of a value using them in California because there are only two parks and you can walk from one to the other. Trying to cram 4 parks into 7 hours is a lot harder than I thought it would be. So, for instance, our trip to Disneyland, we did Radiator Racers 4 times in a row and Matterhorn 5 or 6 times in a row iirc. We filled the rest of the time with favorites like Peter Pan, Splash Mtn, etc. Then we ended with front row chairs to Main Street Electrical Parade. It was the perfect day.

It’s not front of the line access, but just someone who can get the entire group into the fast pass lane without having to plan it out in advance. The tour guides are also very knowledgeable in Disney trivia and fun facts and can also take the group backstage for easier access to certain areas like driving from one park to another in a private van and then walking you right on to Ratatouille

I will agree that the tours at Universal are a lot cheaper and that is pretty much front of the line for anything. We were literally taken to the front of the line for Velocicoaster multiple times in a row. The only wait we had was for Hagrid’s and that was when they were still throttling anything other than the regular line usage.

I would say it’s a bucket list item, except that it’s completely spoiled us for all “regular trips” after.

I’ll add that we’ve considered cutting a week-two week trip down to 2 days and use the money we saved for a tour. I’m pretty sure that’s how I’m going to do Disneyland this summer with a gaggle of teenage boys. We’ll fly down, do the tour, spend the night in the villas and fly home next day.

That price range is up to 10 people, btw. But we still pay full price for only having 3. Example, we were just quoted $850 for a tour on a holiday, but that $850 is a flat rate, per hour, up to 10 people in a group for 7 hours minimum. There are a lot of people that “share” tours to cut cost. We are still paying that same $850 an hour for just the 3 of us in our family because we don’t like people on our lawn.

Seriously, we like to be in control of where we go and how often we ride. Other people usually don’t like our touring style.

Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly explain! I’ll live vicariously through your experiences until i get there! Meanwhile, it’ll be filed under #parkgoals :rofl:
And, i totally agree, can’t imagine standing back in lines after the VIP tour.
However, i will seriously consider the Universal VIP tour.

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Love that!


yup - got it…

but there’s a lot of Genie posts floating around. Sill quite a bit to process even just reading the 1st post. I’ll start now & maybe i’ll finish them all by the time of our trip. :grin:

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