October Universal Trip is a go!

Hello planners!
First thank you for all your advice in the past and thank you for the advice you’re about to give.
Second, we are planning a long weekend Universal trip, mostly to see Harry Potter, but we’ll be enjoying as much of the rest of the parks as possible. I’ve been to US, but I think so long ago that Islands or Adventure didn’t even exist. Questions as follows-

  1. are we crazy to go during the Halloween season even though we won’t be partaking in the haunted houses (DD is 12 and not into horror or being scared…also, will it even be going on due to COVID? Who knows?)? We will be going to the parks on a Friday/Saturday. Looks like there is a 4days for the price of 2, so maybe we’ll go on our arrival day as well.
  2. why should we stay on property? My husband is not convinced the extra cost is worth it.
  3. if we do stay on property, is the Harry Potter package “worth” it? We normally do breakfast in the room when going to Disney. Seems like the breakfasts might not be our thing exactly.
  4. if we stay off property, any recommendations? Can we buy the “fast pass”?

I think that is it for now. Thanks in advance! You are all the best!

3 Likes
  1. The only problem with going in October is that they close the parks early to do the HHN ticketed events. If you are Disney people, you are used to that happening. There was a Halloween event last year, so unless the sky falls, there will be one this year.

  2. Staying on-property, you will get all sorts of answers. The perks are early admission at all onsite hotels, and express passes for those staying at the premium hotels.

  3. What the Harry Potter package gets you is a breakfast reservation at one of the HP restaurants. Pre-covid that wasn’t really a perk, since anyone could walk up and order. At the moment, it is a perk since they are the ONLY ones allowed breakfast. But, since you guys aren’t breakfast people … Also, by October things will have to loosen up.

  4. Universal handles their ride reservations completely differently. Everyone has equal access to virtual lines and that is only on certain rides, and even then not all the time. It is used on rides that don’t have enough queue real estate to hold the social distanced lines for it. It runs similar the Boarding Groups at Disney. You get the virtual line reservation the day of.

People compare Express Passes to Fast Passes. Think of an Express Pass as having a fast pass for EVERY ride and EVERY time period. So, there is nothing to reserve ahead of time. You can buy express passes. The price varies by day but probably $200 per day per person. They don’t want lots of people to have them because otherwise the express pass line will be like standby.

Or you can stay in one of the three premier hotels and get express passes included for every person in the room starting from when you check-in to the end of checkout day.

Since you will only be there for two+ days, I’d stay at least one night at a premier. It will be crowded. Even in low crowd times, weekends are crowded. I would book the premier room NOW and then watch for specials, in which case you can change to the new rate. I don’t normally use TA’s. But I’d get one for this reservation. But, during this Spring Break prices went up and up and up. I am really cheap, so I’d stay one night offsite at someplace place cheap on your arrival night. Go to the parks and just explore on arrival day. Then check into you premier hotel before early entry, get your keys and enjoy the parks.

The reason for using a Liner TA is that they can watch for passholder rates for your hotel room. For example, a premier can be 260-ish after the passholder rate. You will need to churn your numbers but it is often worthwhile to upgrade one person to a pass in order to get the passholder rate. You can upgrade a ticket while you are there as long as it isn’t used up.

2 Likes

#1 - No, but be aware that the parks close much earlier than normal with no “discount” -

#2 - This is, IMHO, totally up to you. If you I have stayed at “partner” hotels that still give early entry perks that are cheaper. (if you have your own car as off-site shuttles aren’t reliable) If you have 4+ people in your group then staying at one of the “deluxe” hotels will off set the price of Express Pass (UXP) as it is included. (I’m a family of 3 so it never made financial sense to do so)

#3 - If you don’t care about breakfast then it might not be. I’d just recommend any hotel that allows for Early Entry (EE)

#4 - https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/vacation-packages/partner-hotel-packages

After a bit of research, I’m not sure if Universal is doing any of these due to COVID (since some hotels are not operating, but it’s worth checking out)

You can buy UXP at most retail stores & kiosks. The price is “demand dependant”, so they adjust the price based on availability. Personally, I’ve never bought it. It’s a bit pricey, but if you can afford it it will usually save you about 60% in waiting times.

2 Likes

First and foremost, Express Pass is their paid line skipping option. It is costly so I always advise one stays on site at one of the Premier hotels which includes complementary Express Pass.

In addition to those three hotels offering express, all hotels offer early park admission to the Wizarding World, complementary transportation, room key charging, and more. Price it out with comparable hotels and you’ll find Universal’s are very reasonably priced for the amenities and room quality.

I firmly believe NO package is ever worth it. You can pick up all the a la carte items for the same, if not less.

Finally, about Halloween Horror Nights. HHN is a hard ticketed event so unless you buy a HHN ticket you won’t even run into the HHN crowds or need to worry about the scary stuff. USF closes at 5pm on HHN days and reopens around 6:30pm. IOA will closed 7pm or later on HHN nights, but I suggest skipping the Hogwarts Express and just spending all afternoon there.

7 Likes

And we got priced out of this trip. But don’t feel too sorry for us, we’re going to California instead. All we really want to see is Harry Potter, so we will add a day onto our Disney Spring Break trip coming up to do just that.

1 Like