Need UP staying off site tips for Jul 2023

There are 14 of us 6-66 doing an annual trip and Central Florida was picked. The kids 7 of them want to visit Universal. I’m the Grandma and do the planning and most of the paying.

We are from the Midwest. DH and I have done HHN frequently since about 1991 so we know how crowded and hot it can be. We usually stay at CBBR.

So I’m thinking 4 day 2 park passes with 1 day express passes is what we can afford. We are staying offsite in a 7 bedroom home with pool.

I need tips and more advice for how to survive Universal offsite in July.

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With four days between parks, you likely only need UEP if you want to have a day to hit a ton of rides. If you get to the park at rope drop and can stay late (even if you take afternoon breaks), you’ll be able to do it all in 4 days so I’m not sure you need the passes.
Instead, would you rather save the money and hit up Volcano Bay? I know you have a pool but my fam is so excited to go there as we love water parks and many think it’s the best water park in Orlando.

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July can be crazy busy. Have you looked into renting a two or three Premier hotel rooms for one night. Even assuming you pay rack rate of $600. Every person listed on the room gets EP for check-in and check-out day. I forget whether 5 or 6 people max in a room. Assuming 5, that would be $125/pp for two days of EP’s.

I’d have check-in be the second day.


Keep your eyes open for Buy 2 or 3 days and get 2 free! It’s a pretty common promotion

If you really are set on getting Express, do it as early as possible. The rate goes up as the date gets closer. It is priced on a “on demand” scale

The shuttles from most off-site hotels suck. They typically only go to the parks 3 - 4 times in the morning and pick-up 3 - 4 times in the evening. (Often by 8pm)

Plus, you have to sign-up the day before, or very early that morning, to get a space on the shuttle.

Renting a car / van means you have to pay for hotel & Universal parking, but with that many people it’s probably the most logical option.

I would genuinely consider staying on-site at CBBR. You can find rates for $109 - $144 / night if you book far in advance. Off-site hotels are not much higher. The price for a rental car with trying to go back-and-forth makes on-site worth it.

I often book my nights to make sure I get my availability then keep checking habitually to see if I can get a better rate. You are allowed to change your booking if the rate goes down.

I’m going this weekend and staying at CBBR and Dockside. When I started booking the rate at CBBR was over $200 / night and Dockside was $114. I’ve booked it for $144 for 3 night at CBBR then Dockside for $95 / night for the rest of the trip. By checking every day for weeks I knocked a couple hundred dollars off my total!

The best tips you probably already know… break up into smaller groups, take rest breaks, prioritize Hagrid’s and VelociCoaster and WWOHP. (You can spend a whole day just doing WWOHP with 7 kids and not get it all done if they want to play with the interactive wands!)

July is the busiest month. Go slow, prepare for the heat, be patient and don’t make it a forced “march”.

You’ve got plenty of time, so watch YouTube for ideas and keep asking questions!!


For parking, I’d run the numbers to see if upgrading one ticket for each car to the pass that includes free parking is worthwhile. When I’d run the numbers (pre-lockdown) 4 day tickets plus paying for parking was the same price as the second most expensive pass which included free parking and free EA even when staying offsite. My original thought was to just upgrade one pass for my family of three. But, then I decided that the upgrade was worthwhile for us to get EA since we are early birds while on vacation. ETA: We drive for vacation so a car is a given. So, for us, the pass made offsite cheaper parking since onsite there is no way to avoid paying for hotel parking.

I am assuming your rented house has parking in the driveway.

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I didn’t even see this part! Everyone can ignore my hotel advice… :rofl: :crazy_face:


Totally understandable. You come from the perspective of someone that flies in and prefers on-site. We all have our biases. Me, even if the price were the same (which it isn’t) I’d rather stay with my large family in a 7-bedroom house, than in 5 different hotel rooms in even one of the premier hotels. For some people, the easy transport back to the hotel room willy-nilly is more important. For me, I prefer being able to have ice cream snacks in a freezer in my rental.

But, DJM1959, you got two fans of USF giving you advice from different perspectives.


By checking every day for weeks I knocked a couple hundred dollars off my total!

I like those results!


I love Volcano Bay, I didn’t think we would have time but may reconsider.
I had hoped 4 days would give us plenty of time. If we can’t use Early entry and do rope drop what rout do we take? Is this tour plan somewhere on the TP site? I couldn’t find it.


Are you talking upgrading to an annual pass or is there another pass I can get early entry on ?
I would love to get early entry for the group.

Yes, we’ll have parking at a home rental in Formosa Gardens.

I’m a huge fan as well but like going with DH for 2 weeks at CBBR enjoying VB and HHN leisurely.

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You knocked dollars off Express pass or 4 day tickets?

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They are referring to checking for lower hotel rates even after booking and then modifying




The Universal touring plan is a separate purchase from the Disney touring plan. Not sure where on the website but the app is available and it’s cheap. Something like $8 for a year. The touring plan for Universal isn’t as well designed as Disney, but it’s still worth it.
Lots of people will give some good tips on what to do, where to go. I think you’ll be fine missing early entry!


My group of 10 (11 one day) went for a UOR-centered trip in May. We rented a house off-property, and drove daily to the parks. We had Undercover Tourist tickets for 5 days at the price of 3. We had park hopping and all three parks.

We had a wonderful touring plan, helped significantly by a number of posters here on TP.

Life, uh, finds a way ••• QWERTY’s Universal (mis)Adventures? - Universal Orlando Resort / Trip Reports - TouringPlans Discussion Forums

if you filter this to just my posts, you can get a run down as to how we organized our days.
(You can, of course, read the whole thread as so many people helped a great deal.)


Yes, upgrading to/getting an annual pass that includes free parking.
Then in addition upgrading everyone to the same pass that also includes EA might be worthwhile if the group is trying to maximize their 4 days.

Note, some people are the type that are fine doing everything once and then calling themselves done. Me, I think the start of a perfect day at UOR is 4+ back-to-back rides during EA on Gringhott’s. If you talk to the one-and-done people, 2 days is more than enough at UOR. I mention that so you can judge how hard it will be for your group to fit everything in.


I believe you can (or could) get early entry on regular tickets purchased through travel agencies, like touring plans or the park prodigy.

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Really? I’m going to look for those.