So help out a beginner

I’ve only been to UO one time and it was so long ago I barely remember it at all. It was only 1 day and I don’t even think it was a whole day. Now, I don’t have any specific plans to go on a trip just yet, but am starting to try to educate myself. I am thinking about taking the family on a cruise out of Port Canaveral summer of 2021 and maybe spend a day or two at UO.

What’s the scoop on the rides? Are they more classic rides like at Disney? Is it more shows than rides? Is there enough to do to last 2 days? Should we get the “bypass the lines” add on? We aren’t Harry Potter fans if that helps.

Will you consider a one night stay at a deluxe resort to get the unlimited express for free? For me, four days is not enough! There are more “thrill” rides, and a lot of screen based rides but also attractions such as ET (reminds me of Peter Pan).


I would definitely consider staying at a deluxe resort to get the unlimited express, just wondering if there are many rides with longer lines like at Disney.

Regarding the rides…I think Universal has, overall, a larger mixture of ride types…and, actually, has very few pure Disney-esque rides. E.T., and Men in Black are very Disney like, but overall, I’d say a larger number of Universal rides are simulator rides of various types. The coasters they have are more amusement-park level experiences, which appeal to teens moreso than Disney offerings.

In fact, many of the more recent additions to Disney have been in response to the success of what Universal has done…particularly after the success of Harry Potter.

You don’t have to be a fan of Harry Potter to enjoy the rides in WWOHP areas, although if you are a fan, you will appreciate it all the more.

I think you really need a minimum of 2 days…and possibly more if you are going when it is busy. If crowds are low (CL 2/3), the Express Pass isn’t necessary. If crowds are heavier, then having the Express Pass would probably be worth it if you only plan a couple days. We did 4 days when CLs were 2-4, and found we were done each day by 3 pm. We probably didn’t need the fourth day, but we took advantage of it to have more relaxed touring.


Yes, there can be long lines, especially if you don’t have express pass. An express pass is like an unlimited fast pass (just about everything except for Hagrid’s ). You will find most stand by lines at 30-60 minutes but sometimes it can be more.


So if I only had 1 or 2 days, which park should I focus on? Are they all about the same in terms of rides, shows, etc? For reference, I have 2 girls that are age 9 and will be probably 11 when we go.

One day for each park.

Both parks have a fairly even mix of rides/shows.

If I had only 1 day, I’d get a park-to-park ticket and do highlights from each.


It’s definitely a two day park. As stated, if I had to go just one day I’d get a park hopper (“Park-to-Park” Pass). Even if you aren’t a HP fan, the train between the parks is such a unique experience – that’s different in each direction! All this being said… if you REALLY made me choose only one park for one day it would be IOA. (It was a super tough choice!)

I picked IOA because of a good mix of rides including Hagrid’s. (Even though USF has two of my favorite attractions and Springfield) UGGHHH – why do I have to choose! LOL…


Your trip idea sounds fantastic! I may copy it. :slight_smile: I remember you from the WDW posts. Your kids are the right ages to enjoy the rides, especially if another year passes. We just did WDW at the same time you did (I think–we were Thanksgiving week) but this time we added a 2 night stay at Portofino before heading to our 5 nights at WDW. I’m really glad we did b/c express pass and early entry were wonderful. We rode a large variety of rides and had a great time at all of it. We were there 1.5 days as a group and I went back by myself a few hrs the next day. We definitely did not see or do everything, not even close—but our goal was to see Simpsons and HP in depth so we spent more time at those areas and less going around doing rides. The resort was great and I regret not having real time at the pools. I didn’t even see the pools only my husband and 2 of our kids, late one night. If you want a better idea of Universal and don’t mind spoilers there is a ton of info on you tube with POV of rides and, my favorite, people who just walk through and tell you what they’re seeing. One really good channel for this is oyby. He describes what he’s seeing really well and visits all the parks in Orlando frequently.

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I think the general idea of what I’ve learned from this forum is that you need express pass during high crowd times but might be able to skip it during low crowds. My experience was start of Thanksgiving week with Sat and Sun and CL 6 and 8, I think. The day I went back it was predicted to be CL10 and I could see the difference even early in the AM b/c they had more staff around in the HP area to manage crowds. We definitely benefited from express and I’d be hesitant to go back without it. Favorite rides included Gringotts, Hogwarts express, men in black, Simpsons, and everything in the Dr. Seuss area. Dr. Seuss rides really reminded me of Disney. Things like Gringotts were much more intense than Disney. Overall Universal is more of a thrill ride place than Disney but I don’t do any true thrill rides and found plenty to do. Their water rides truly soak you; my husband and son went on the Jurassic Park and I think bilgerat barges (?) and were completely soaked despite wearing ponchos to prevent that. Overall I think my favorite thing there was buying the interactive wands and doing spells. I even got my own wand and did my own spells! I’m looking forward to going back and doing that again someday. We are already talking about doing a longer trip there, probably just for U and not WDW. We missed Volcano Bay and a large part of IOA.

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We were there the same time :slight_smile: Yes, I am a Disney fanatic, but it will be hard to go on vacation and NOT be at Disney. To be honest, I have never posted here because I never had much desire to go to Universal. It just can’t compare to Disney, right? But here I am, trying to do what research I can - to go to Universal.

Oh yeah, it doesn’t seem nearly as expensive as Disney either. :slight_smile:

That is good, because I have a daughter that freaked out on FoP. I mean, it was the most embarrassed I have ever been. After the ride was over, she yelled out “THANKS A LOT DADDY.” I apologized to everyone around us. I just wanted to get out of there, but I promised her we wouldn’t go on any other ride she didn’t want to.

I thought the same thing until I went there. Now, it’s like how can I go to WDW and not squeeze in a day or two at USF/IOA?!!?

It’s highly themed and so fun. I could walk around WWOHP and Springfield all day without riding anything. Plus, IMHO, so much more “streetmosphere” like back in the Disney MGM Studio days.


Good to know. Truth be told, I haven’t been so don’t really know what I’m missing, but I am not dying to go. I just know that our next trip won’t be to Disney, so I have to find some alternatives. And we haven’t been to Universal so that would be something new for us, which is always fun.

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Oh dear! We had almost the same experience! My DD7 completely freaked out in the line for Splash even though she’d done it at least 10 times when she was 4 (late at night–no line). She was screaming and crying but my husband really wanted a pic of our whole group so I stayed in line…until the last possible moment, when I took her hand and bailed. I was sure that everyone else on the boats would be very angry at us. Plus I’d done Splash before and didn’t love the big drop at the end so I was ok missing it. In the end DH was also ok with us missing it. I never got FOP FP but was only trying for 2 people in our group b/c I worried about it being too much for some of our younger group. Plus me…I don’t know if I could do it. Maybe next time.

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It’s somewhat the same as Disney and somewhat different. We really loved it. I think even if you weren’t into HP or the other movies / shows its based on you could still have fun.

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For sure. I have never seen Avatar and I loved Pandora. Plus FoP is the most amazing ride I’ve ever been on anywhere. If they do an area right, it doesn’t matter if you are into it or not, or have even seen it, which I haven’t. If done right, it will be fun.

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I think in order to give it a fair chance, you should go in not TRYING to compare it. I avoided Universal for a long time, but now that I’ve started going, I absolutely adore it. Sure, it doesn’t have the childhood favorites that Disney has, but it does have the TRULY fully immersive experiences that Disney is now trying to chase down.


It’ll be hard to NOT compare. There’s also the sentimental factor with Disney that isn’t there (at least for us) with Universal. But with all that being said, it looks like it could be a lot of fun. One of my daughters likes roller coaster and we could do those and there’s seems to still be a pretty decent amount of stuff for my other daughter to do as well.

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The nice thing about researching for a possible trip is that it’s free so you can enjoy the process all you want to. I think once you truly get into researching about Universal you’ll figure out what of it works for you. We found it to be a lot of fun in a different way than WDW. BTW one thing we definitely noticed was that there are far fewer strollers in Universal b/c the rides are geared for an older crowd. So that made it easier to get around. After having a stroller our first 2 times at WDW I definitely was looking at the stroller parking even though we didn’t have one now and it was almost nonexistent at U vs very prominent at WDW. Just one example of a major difference.

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