Well that escalated quickly.... (a narrative on my attempt to balance a good deal and things I want)

When we started planning our original Orlando vacation for May 2020, we only planned one day to check Universal Studios out. That’s it, one day tickets. Then it got cancelled like everyone else’s trip. We used some of our Disney tickets in December, so I said when we go to use the rest of our tickets, we can probably have two days at Universal. Then someone here mentioned that the higher tier resorts could use rollaways to fit all five of us and we could get unlimited express pass for less than half the cost! Okay, that sounds like a deal, yes let’s do THAT. Then a friend mentioned that they have a four day promo ticket that costs a couple dollars less than park to park two day tickets. Okay, SOLD. Luckily our credit card was declined (someone flipping stole our number!!! That wasn’t the lucky part… but it’s sorted out now…) and someone HERE said: But wait, there’s more! An annual pass is just about the same cost as the promo four day ticket!!! AND you save HUNDREDS on the hotel room!!! And I spent hours doing the math, and doing it again, because I just couldn’t believe it, but yes we are saving about $300 for all five of us and my mom to go to Universal using the annual passes. So we are annual pass holders now. For a theme park 15 hours away from us. That is just wild :crazy_face:

The cost of the value resorts with the AP are really reasonable too. I can 100% imagine myself making a roadtrip with each of the kids just one on one and spend a couple days down there for some bonding time. They are good for 15 months after we activate them, so that’ quite a time frame to have a cheaper vacation option. I’m excited! And I never thought I’d be a Universal person :rofl:


Ha! Doing the same thing-and we live in Oregon. Was going to do two days at the end of our May trip, but then wanted Hard Rock so should get at least one AP and then the seasonal APs are just a bit more than buy two/get two-and here we are. Now I’m thinking of taking my older two to HHN in the fall cause you know our day tickets are free…0


LOL… I preach that 4 days = an AP often so that may have been my fault! I hope you love it! Universal is sooooo underrated. Too many people won’t even give it a chance due to some odd “loyalty” to Disney. (Confession… I was that way for decades!)


Got to tell you that at first I though Universal was huge with two parks and all. Not true they are small and the rides are one or two and done with that ride. Now I am not a roller coaster fan so that really limits the rides for us. The food place in Universal itself is almost non existant with few high priced selections. Citywalk of coarse has a few more that are good. As of now with most of WDW shut down including many shows and restaurants, Universal is probably just as good or better. Once WDW is up to it’s old self though, Universal can’t compare. Universal can be done in two days while WDW takes at least 4 and maybe 6 to see and do everything. That said we are going back to Universal in July and I will have to check out the annual pass thing there as we have them for WDW.


In my family’s case, our weird loyalty to disney stemmed from two places- our kids’ ages, and my own nostalgia. Until last year, my kids really did not care about any of the themes at Universal, and it really seemed similar to parks closer to our home. Now they are really into Harry Potter and The Simpsons, MIB, Jimmy Fallon and so on. They are also big enough to ride coasters now, but I don’t know that they will. My husband and I love coasters, but for a long time we had to choose parks that had more family rides because that was our season in life. I never went to Universal with my family as a kid. I had family that lived in Orlando, so we did a lot but for whatever reasons never Universal. We were supposed to go once, and my brother got sick and we couldn’t go. I was crushed- I wanted to ride ET!!! No further attempts were ever made. So this means I have a lot of nostalgia for Disney, Seaworld, Kennedy Space Center and even Busch Gardens, but not Universal.

It might be! I don’t remember exactly who stated it that caught my attention. But I did remember the tip when I went to sort out the booking!!!

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Could have been me too.

We had a similar progression. We also a long drive (Texas) away

  • Started with “I WANNA DISNEY!”
  • Then, “While we are in Orlando, Harry Potter!”
  • Then I looked at the prices. Original thought was to add in Universal during Disney ‘rest days’. How restful would that have been?
  • Then I saw the 4-days = Seasonal Pass price
  • Then I thought “Hey we don’t need to wait for the Disney trip to do Universal.” (DH wanted to wait Star Wars was finished for a year before going)
  • Then I noticed that one preferred pass gets us free parking.
  • Then I noticed that all preferred passes gets everyone Early Entry even staying offsite.
  • Then on our second trip we added VB to get some mask-free frolic in.
  • Our upcoming third trip we are staying onsite including some premier nights.

The solo time with each kid sounds amazing. I think that solo time is important.


Drive from Texas!??! Wow! Not trying to be invasive, but what’s the “break even” point, in money / time / fatigue, for you to consider flying.

For me it would be 12 hours non-stop to drive + time to eat / pee / stretch. Then there’s the gas and car maintenance / oil change / parking…

We can get on Southwest for less than $150 / person. That works for me.

We drive from Cleveland to almost every vacation destination. We once drove straight through from the grand canyon (about 30 hours) because we couldn’t find an open campsite. DH and I just took turns sleeping/driving. So I’m not sure we have a “break even” point. I guess if I can get all five of us plane tickets for under $100, which isn’t super often. We have flown to California before, but were able to use points so it was very very cheap. We take a “getting there is part of the vacation” outlook, but it does eat into the time at our destination. When I travel alone or when it is just DH and me, we fly. When we only had our oldest child, and also when our middle child was still an infant, we flew then too. Both are fine ways to go, I just prefer driving when it is all of us. I don’t really understand why, myself :grin: Now that the kids are becoming teenagers that might change soon too

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There is an ocean to cross, or I was going without the family like for a business trip.

Flying sucks.

DD used to want to fly somewhere, until she did. Summer of 2019 we flew DFW to Vegas then home from Phoenix. We decided to fly since the scenery is … unscenic. It was miserable! I used to travel all the time for work about 50 round trips a year, and 180-ish days in hotel rooms. Even in the 10 years since I stopped, flying got even more miserable. DD’s first flight, she was about the same age as I was. The contrast in experiences between Braniff in 1978 and American in 2019 was seriously depressing.

A car drive is so much better. I have a touring Cadillac which has to be the most comfortable vehicle without a bed. We drive overnight. We leave Friday early afternoon and arrive early Sat. morning. DH doesn’t mind driving. I usually start and end the drive and DH does the large chunk in the middle. We stop to pee and stretch our legs often. If we had free flights, I would still prefer to drive to Orlando. Unless we were talking at least business class and I didn’t need to rent a car at the destination. .

I think it also helps that I get plenty of vacation time. 3 weeks but really 4 weeks of PTO since sick time is included. When we get the sniffles we can work from home. So don’t need to take sick time, and get sick less often since people don’t come to work sick.


I also hate flying honestly. I have gotten swollen feet and calves on a flight from LA to AUS and I wear compression sleeves. I really get bad swelling when I fly across the world but I’m not taking a 2 week cruise to visit my brother in NZ soooo… But I’d rather fly to FL or CA then drive (we are in Austin so they’re about equally distant) but I have made the drive and did during Covid. But spending the night versus there in one day I’ll choose flying. And I only choose direct flights to places in house. Obviously not always possible when flying overseas. @melcort10 asked me when I was going to rebook my DLP missed from last year…We had direct flights from AUS --> Da Gaulle. Norwegian said they are no longer going to offer them cuz covid so that really hurts. That was actually the reason I had bumped the trip up the list to next last year because I got $400 round trip tickets pp and they were direct. I really do hate flying.

@MagicFinder my DH says all my trips escalate like this…thanks enablers! :wink:


Just pulled the trigger-5 seasonal passes, under the wire For the 3 months free. Whew!


I just bought passes for us, too. Have one visit planned for now, and now expect to go down for a long weekend at Halloween time, too. Now to plot and plan…


Sounds like my upcoming trip!

Circa early 2019:

  • Let’s go on a Disney Cruise!
  • You know since we don’t fit in one cabin anyway, we might as well invite DSIL to help with the kids …
  • While we’re in Florida, we HAVE to go to Disney World for a few days
  • If we rent DVC at BCV, it’s only TWICE AS MUCH as the equivalent offsite, but 40% off the rack rates!
  • Let’s make it a solid week at Disney!
  • We have to go to UOR for just half a day to see WWoHP again!
  • Better get park-to-park tickets for Hogwarts Express
  • With the money we’ve saved pushing our trip back a year, let’s tack on a night at BLT at the end!
  • Why stay at the airport hotel our first night if we can rent points at AKL and take the bus to Port Canaveral?
  • Cruises aren’t going to resume? Oh well, we’ll just stay in Orlando for those days.
  • It sure is a shame we only get one night in AKL and can’t hang around to see the animals … why not two nights?!
  • Premiere on-site hotels get Express Passes included?! Sign us up for HRH!
  • If we’re going to be on site at UOR for 3 days, we might as well get 3-day tickets …
  • If we get 3-day 3-park tickets, we can go to Volcano Bay!
  • You know, it’s only a little bit more for a season pass and you get huge savings at HRH …
  • We’re still under budget vs. our cruise … might as well make more TS ADRs …
  • DSIL has never been to BOG. We HAVE to take her on our last night!

Only 53 days left … by the time we go I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a VIP tour somewhere. :joy:


I’m glad I’m in good company and not the only one who does these things. I did this in Oct. oh we have to leave early since we’re driving and there’s a hurricane coming. Well we’ll need more park days and we can’t go without express (to universal) and I really would like to walk to DHS and MK to rope drop guess I’ll switch hotels four times so we can walk to USO parks and take the back entrance to VB and walk to MK and DHS and EPC. Sorry hubby this short six night trip at a value resort turned into 10 days with a couple of DVC rentals thrown in (one of which I got for $190/night at BWV last min which is value prices).


Sounds familiar, ours started as a weekend trip for last year. That got dropped, now this year has us staying 8 nights in June because it’s cheaper than short flights. Upgrade to a Season pass. Then HHN finally for a decent price, and still be able to make another trip next year. Thank God for my vacation days lol

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@shawthorne44 Gotcha!

I was a “road warrior”, for work for a number of years. I was driving every day, usually 3 out of 4 weeks per month. It burned me out on the road trip experience. It’s also why I don’t like to stay / enjoy hotels & resorts. After, basically, living in them they are little cages that all look the same to me… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If I ever won the lottery a personal driver would be on my wish list!


Holy moly I would NEVER pass these up! For this year (that is unlikely to happen) we’re looking at close to 3x that from the US.

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Maybe that is why you prefer to fly and I prefer to drive. My trips were always flights, except when I went DFW to Austin. My company was fine with me flying there too, but door-to-door it was quicker to drive.