Spur of the moment trip doable?

We came across $20-30 flights to Orlando for March 21-25 or April 1-5. Looks like crowd calendar for March dates are around a 6 and the April dates 7-9 crowd levels. I imagine it’s because April 4th is Easter, but April might be the only dates we can go. We went to Disney a couple years ago and CRUSHED IT using touring plans even during the busy summer…it was amazing!!! I don’t have the time to plan like that for this spur trip. I have some concerns/questions:

  1. With crowd limits in place, what level of risk do we face that the limit would be reached early and we couldn’t get in? Is this happening a lot?
  2. Do we need express passes for both the March and April dates with those crowd levels?
  3. Is it possible to do Universal fairly well with express passes without tons of touring plans?
  4. Is the water park warm enough to enjoy during these dates?
  5. Disney parks have crowd levels 2-3 these dates. I wonder why Universal is expected to be so much higher than Disney? We haven’t been to Universal before but I suppose if it was a bad idea, we could do Disney (we haven’t seen star wars stuff yet!) and with crowds that low it would be ok to book so close to our trip dates and not be too stressed about fast passes…can just do our best with that is available now? There were only a few rides when we last went that we couldn’t get a day of fast pass for!

#1 - It happened over Labor Day and the Christmas season. It’s going to depend on various school / university Spring Breaks calendars. If you are staying on-site you will be allowed entry. They “set aside” capacity space for their hotel guests.

#2 - If you have at least 4 people in your group consider staying at on of their “deluxe” hotels that includes the Express Pass (UXP). When you get to 4 ppl it “pays for itself”. However, you don’t have to buy UXP in advance. They sell it at most of the gift shops. So, if you want you can get into the parks and get a “feel” if you think you’ll need it.

#3 - DEFINITELY! I only used a TP for Universal the very first time I went. I love UO, but it is much smaller that WDW and not as crowded. (Even when it’s crowded by “Universal” standards)

#4 - It should be, but of course that’s going to depend on your comfort level and winds :laughing: (I would go at that time of year)

#5 - Remember: CLs are not based on the number of ppl in the parks, but on the average queue times for rides & attractions. A CL 2 might have low waits in line, but the streets might feel packed and a CL 7 might have long queues and the streets are fairly easy to get around.

Also, remember WDW isn’t offering FastPass currently and everyone is reporting very long lines by mid-morning / lunchtime. However, Universal is still operating fairly “normally”.


oh wow, I hadn’t seen some of this info when I was looking through the forums. No FP at WOW at all…wowwwwww! Thanks so much, so helpful!

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It happened TODAY. It also happened Feb 13 and 14. Prior to that, it has happened as well from time to time, and when it has, typically it is early to mid-afternoon when they stop letting people in. So if you are there in the morning hours, even if they hit capacity, you still have a good chance of getting in.

Also keep in mind that if you stay at a Universal hotel, you are allowed in, regardless of capacity (or at least, that’s how it was). So there is that advantage to staying on-site if you are going when it is busier, even for the budget hotels like the Endless Summer resorts that don’t offer Express Pass. (We stayed in Endless Summer Surfside in August, and it was actually a decent hotel for the price…and using the buses to get to/from the parks was actually super easy and nice.)


I religiously used touring plans at WDW (pre covid), but found the EP at Universal made them unnecessary.

We were there in December when it was at capacity every day. No one would say we were guaranteed entry by staying on property (CB). They would only say we were given priority. What they did guarantee at the time is if you enter the park and leave and want to come back, you can get back in. They also said hotel guests would be given priority over non-hotel guests for entry if park was at capacity. I contacted them several times try to pin this down and the “official response” was no guarantee, just priority. The earliest we saw them turn people away was 8:37 am while we were there.


Since you mentioned express passes, I assume you are thinking of staying in a premier hotel. In that case, you won’t have any problem. You will be able to get early entry, so just plan on going then. They don’t turn people away at early entry because there isn’t enough people eligible for that to reach capacity.
It will be busy since you will be in prime Spring Break/Easter.

With express passes, you have much less need for a touring plan. Think of those as fast passes for every ride, every time period. You will just want to plan for the non-EP things like Hagrid’s.

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I will say that we priced out the deluxe hotels for that time frame - April 4-7 - and the lowest deluxe is $550/night. It’s just me and DD18 so definitely not worth the price tag. We’re not even staying on site as the values are $200/night and not sure just early entry is worth it either, since we have a comparable hotel for less than half of that. So we’ll see how it goes. Have reserved the option to buy EP for one day while we’re there which will cost $300.

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For offsite, have you looked in the Drury Inn? Free hot breakfast and dinner. Also two free alcohol drinks per person each evening. Easy, quick drive. Also a self-serve soda fountain.

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I haven’t, but I will now. Thank you for the tip!

Have you considered booking a throwaway room at a deluxe hotel for one of the middle nights of your stay at the APH rate? If you are going in April, you will need one Preferred Annual Pass to get into the parks on those dates, which costs about 400$ before tax. A 5 day, 2 park, park to park ticket for those dates costs about 360$ before tax. With the throwaway room you would get express pass on check in and check out day. Also, the preferred pass will get you food and merchandise discounts.

If you are doing the march dates, you can get a way with a power or the seasonal pass. A two park power pass costs ~355, and 2 park seasonal pass costs 305. Park tickets are about the same amount of money. A room at RPR with the APH rate can be as low as 279 a night.

Also, universal is currently running a promotion on Annual Passes on any annual passes purchased by the end of march.


I will look into it. We already have tickets. I purchased the buy two days, get three days free ticket for myself last October and have used one day. Purchased another one of those in late December for my daughter. Do you know if they allow you to trade in a ticket towards an AP if you’ve used a day already?

Are you sure your ticket isn’t expired? I don’t know how Universal is handling things in the pandemic, but usually tickets expire 7 or so day days after you first use it.

However, if the ticket is still valid, they should allow you to upgrade your tickets to an Annual Pass. The value of your tickets will only be the 2 day ticket, not a 5 day ticket. When we upgraded a 2 day park to park ticket to a seasonal pass it only cost 25$.

You don’t the AP to book the rate, only before checking out. So if you don’t spend the first night at the deluxe hotel, you can upgrade the park ticket to a pass, and have it before check in.

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Yes, the ticket is good until the end of the summer. Can’t remember if it’s August 31st or September 30th. Didn’t matter since we plan to use it this spring.

You have given me a lot to think about! Even at the AP rate, one night at the Portofino is way more than the three nights at the off-site hotel. But less than buying the EP for one day (in addition to off site hotel). Hmmmm. I think my ticket is almost the cost of the AP if they credit the full value. It wouldn’t be much to upgrade.

:grimacing: Stay tuned! How bad do we expect crowds and wait times to be the week following Easter?


Just to be on the safe side, I would double check the fine print on the ticket. While it may say that it’s good until summer, I have never seen a ticket that didn’t have a clause that said all the days had to be used within a certain number of days from activation. Usually I see it as 14 days. You may have a unique ticket, or they may have a different policy, but I would definitely double check that just to be sure!

I would contact Universal on your ticket. They did do different things after they opened up, so it is possible that your ticket is still valid. But, I’m with Rebeecky and suspect that your ticket expired some number of days after you used it.

In general, though, if a ticket is used you can upgrade up to your last park day.

I would also look into the pass holder rates for the premier hotels. Since you will be going during a busy time and they’ve been out for a few weeks, they are probably all gone. But it can’t hurt to check.

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In addition to the Crowd Calendar here, you can look at the blackout dates for the various passes, and the express pass prices for different days. So, the seasonal pass Spring Break blackout days are March 27th to April 10th.

If you don’t mind changing hotels and are on a budget, I’d check out of the other hotel and into the premier. For our upcoming trip, I looked at it as being paid $XXX to change hotels. You could leave the majority of your luggage checked at the offsite hotel, and just bring a day bag to the premier hotel.

@shawthorne44 and @rebeecky You are both right and my ticket did expire. Not sure how I misunderstood the terms and conditions so badly! I suspect it was because I was just purchasing a 2 day ticket originally and right before I bought it, they added the special offer. I didn’t really look into it that closely because I didn’t expect to use it more than two days. Then my daughter started making noises like she would be interested in visiting for the HP lands, and I thought … well, I have these extra days! The only part that makes me really kick myself is that I didn’t go back for my planned second day. Partly because I thought I could save that day, but mostly because I was pretty much done with UOR after one day and ready to go to WDW.

This does, however, give me some clarity for our trip in April. I had mentally set aside the money to buy EP for us for one day, but now that will be used for my ticket. So we definitely will be staying off-site and not using EP. The two lower levels of AP’s are blocked out for that week, so I’m hoping it isn’t too bad. Regardless, we will have plenty of time to do the important stuff (Harry Potter) and most other things are not deal breakers.

I’ve made some personalized touring plans, and everything we want to do we can do within the time I’ve allotted (with some built-in cushion). Do you think the plans are generally accurate? I’m particularly suspicious of the times they are giving me for the Hogwarts Express.


Are the train times long? Then yes, they are accurate. The problem is that only one group can be put into each car. So, instead of 6 in each, they are getting 2-3. There isn’t anything that they can do to extend that.

No, they’re not long enough. They’re telling me about 30 minutes each way, I think. I’d have to go back and look.

That seems long and right to me. People also use the train to change parks and not necessarily for the fun part of it. So, when lines get long, they’ll walk. During busy days they have been opening a ‘secret’ walkway between the two parks. Also, at some wait time, almost everyone would rather use the exit/entrance to change parks even if it is a longer walk.