New Father Daughter trip is a go - need help

Our daddy daughter trip to WDW went so well I’ve decided to take my daughter to Universal for Spring break in March. This will be a complete surprise for her 13th birthday. Emily will be turning 13 on the 11th and we will be leaving on the 12th. My plan is to tell her one of her gifts did not arrive in time so we are going to pick it up at airport. I’ll tell her at the airport. Emily has always wanted to be surprised with a trip. We’ve been to Disney many times this will be our first to Universal. Lots of questions starting with where to stay. I am thinking deluxe resort to get express pass. If we stay at the Mod hotel and pay for express pass it would only save about 150.00 while a good savings I,m not sure about staying there (its big 2000 rooms vs 1000 at deluxe). Does anyone do dining plan at Universal ? Plan is to fly in on the 12th relax go to blue man group that night and spend two full days in the parks on Friday and Saturday. spend half day on Sunday doing repeats then fly home. Should we skip blue man ? do 2 half and 2 full days in parks ? Emily is thrill ride lover - going for rides more then just to see Potter. I would love to hear any and all suggestions and opinions. photo package / worth it ? dining plan ? transportation from airport ? rental car ? any thing I’ve forgotten ? o[pinions on hotels ? HELP ???
Airfare is paid for trip is a go just need a little help figuring out the details. Thanks John


I don’t have any answers, because I haven’t been to Universal, but I think this surprise trip sounds amazing!

When comparing the cost of a Moderate plus Express Pass to a Deluxe at UOR, make sure that you are looking at the cost of the Unlimited Express Pass, which is what is built into the Deluxe package. The other Express Pass you can buy is a single use per ride - if that is all you need it is a good deal. If the package that is giving you a $150 savings meets your needs, I would be tempted to do it - $150 is a lot of Butterbeers!

The UOR Dining Plan is generally felt to NOT be a good deal - see for more info on it.

I would skip Blue Man and go for more park time, but I live near Boston and can see it whenever I like.

If you are not planning on going off-site for anything, just get a taxi at the airport instead of renting a car as you have to pay for parking at UOR as well as the car rental.

Also, I really like the surprise element of this, but have an additional thought on it. Don’t tell her that there is one more present that you have to pick up. Instead, tell her that you need her help picking up something really boring for the house, like a new table. Then when you arrive at the airport it will be a complete surprise as she is not expecting anything!

Hi there you are going to have a fab time. Go for a deluxe hotel over cabana bay, we are planning on Royal Pacific or Hard Rock the next time so we can walk to the parks. Universal dining plan is rubbish, so avoid that. Adrs are not needed just book on open table a few days before. 3 broomstick and Leaky Couldren are both Cs and very good. Havent used the photo pass its relatively new but if you post on UO lines app you might get some feedback ( Lack of photographers in park I believe) If you can afford it 4 days tickets (p2p} instead of blue man group is what I would do depending on arrival time and park closing times ( they close earlier than WDW) but others might disagree. You won’t need a car but there is no uni transport from airport. @Skubersky should be able to give you advice on transport from airport and answer you other q’s . Mx

Hi John! Check out our all new Universal transportation page:

Based on the time you are going, in my experience you can have a great time without the express pass. More rides at universal have single rider, like rip ride rockit, mummy, spiderman, transformers, both harry potters. Additionally I have been during the busiest time of the year and its still less crowded than Disney. I have also been to universal during march, and it wasn’t incredibly crowded. I cant guarantee that it wont be, but based on experience there’s a good chance that it wont be. I personally have stayed at a deluxe and loved having the boat transportation, but the room was about average. The hotel was quite beautiful so that’s a major plus.Ive never stayed at the moderate so I cant give much advice on that.
since you aren’t staying for an extended trip it might be better to go to a deluxe, but if you decide not to I would avoid buying the express pass, and use the money to buy souvenirs.

I have seen the blue man group at universal twice, and both times it was the highlight of the trip. Especially as a teenager, I think your daughter would love it. One tip is to try to get the closest seats you can afford, but they still pick and interact with audience members in the back too, so I wouldn’t worry.