For all the Super Planners, like myself, out there, Universal trips may not require as much detailed planning as say, Disney. But worry not, there are still tons of details we can peg to keep us joyfully busy! Let me walk you through how I plan - from the bare necessities to the intricate nuances allowing us not to just 'wing it'.
Securing our Travel Dates
First, we start with the essentials - deciding when we're going and where we're staying. Our paid in full date was yesterday and if you’re anything like me, you know that’s cause for celebration, because it means it’s REAL!
Charting out the Fun Stuff
Now, comes the fun stuff - planning where we're eating and what we're going to focus on during this trip. While most might bask in spontaneity, I confess - I hate to waste time. I relish moments spent observing people and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere. But loathe to find ourselves in a ‘Where to next?’ loop. I believe in a sensible ‘plan of attack’.
There’s no ‘turn-by-turn’ itinerary, but an itinerary nonetheless. One that lists potential pit-stops for much-needed break times and nifty markers noting essential spots in each park area. As a Super Planner catering specially to Special Needs families, these spots serve as oasis within the desert of endless excitement.
Tackling Universal’s Enigma: Variable Park Hours
But there's a hiccup. Universal still hasn't listed park hours for our dates! It might seem minor to some, but for us Super Planners, it's an integral piece of the puzzle. This becomes even more crucial considering Universal Studios closes early five nights a week for Halloween Horror Nights, and without knowing which park has early admission, our planning gets doubly tripped up!
Briefing about the Essentials
As our trip materializes, we would be sharing basics on the working of the Express Pass, which I highly recommend. We also schedule our timings to be in line for Early Park Admissions, including time to leave the resort, which varies based on your preferred arrival method - Water Taxi, Garden Walk or bus.
Adding a Twist: Our Trip Themes
Every trip has its ‘theme’. Sometimes it’s a fun challenge – like seeing how many times we can ride VelociCoaster in a day. Sometimes, it's a day-long immersion into a magical world - visiting The Wizarding World in the same sequence as Harry in the first book. This just adds an extra dash of fun tailored to our unique likings.
Planning for Variety
This trip is a potpourri of different ages and first-timers, which makes it a fresh adventure. Our itinerary ensures everyone gets a taste of their favorites, with plenty of 'break times' and flagged areas for all the 'must-have' Universal snacks.
For the Harry Potter fans in our group, I make sure to highlight the intriguing and lesser-known details within the Wizarding World. It’s always a treat watching them engage, learn and use their wands!
Each evening promises a different culinary delight. I save reminders about departure times from the park to ensure minimal waiting times for our dinner reservations. Plus, there's always the hope that we might squeeze in an extra ride after!
A Few Last Tidbits
As Super Planners, it's important to remember to avail the option of sending your packages back to the resort to lighten your load. And definitely, do not forget to grab your last-minute souvenirs!
Lastly, the unseen planning also matters - how are you travelling to Universal? Are there any special needs to cater? Pets to be cared for? Already sorted time away from work? These are all elements to consider.
So, fellow Super Planners, that's how I break down the chaos of planning a Universal trip into a neat plan. Leave no stone unturned and experience Universal in its full glory!
How do YOU plan? Are you a 'wing-it' type? A super-planner? Or maybe somewhere in between? I find most people are super planners on their first trip, then a bit more relaxed on subsequent trips. Of course, some think that Universal is soo much smaller than Disney so it has to be much easier to plan and do no planning at all, and only see a small portion of what they could have seen, so they spend much more time planning their next trip.
Either way, having a knowledgable Travel Professional on your side can be a very helpful thing when you have that silly question pop up and have no idea that it was a 'thing', much less something you needed to know! (Maybe this would be a good subject for a blog...hmm). If you are ready to have a Travel Professional on your side to help you plan that next (or maybe your first) visit to Universal Orlando, contact me via my calendly and we can get started!
Although fall hasn't quite arrived here in Georgia, school is back in session and we're already feeling the heat of over a hundred degrees. It's the perfect time to start thinking about winter break trips! In fact, many people have already taken advantage of early discounts and secured their trips to popular destinations like Disney and Universal for Fall break.
Winter break trips are going fast, with resorts still trying to make up for lost revenue due to the pandemic. While there are still some affordable options, hidden costs can quickly add up and take away from your vacation experience.
Universal Part 2
Here is the 2nd installment from my blog from my first trip to Universal back in February of 2016! Enjoy!
Diagon Alley was awesome! Small walkway (and the fact that nothing else was open) made the area feel very crowded and claustrophobic. Even the shops were wall to wall people. We quickly made our way to Gringott’s Escape to what was a fair wait-about 30 minutes, even though the posted wait time was 10 minutes.
Of course, first we put our bags into the free lockers, and then proceeded to inside Gringott’s. Since I left both my camera and phone I got zero pictures of the areas that we were allowed to. We actually went through this area pretty quickly. Even my husband was impressed and he has not seen a single Harry Potter movie…ever! I loved the way you were immersed into the story. Once you get past this part, the waiting was not so nice. Both in length and atmosphere!
Several things to talk about here (without giving away too much of the magic). Let’s start with the hokey elevator. I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I will warn you to hold on! And, let’s not forget the mandatory pictures! I never even saw what they looked like…bummer.
Stairs, stairs, and more stairs! ‘Seems’ like we went back up all those flights the elevator took us down! Finally we reach the point of loading into the ride. One note here, not for people with long legs! It holds you in place by getting you in the shins! The bar clamps down on your shins as much as your waist. My 6 foot husband had major problems with this part, and it hurt me at only 5 foot 10 inches…
But, (at least to me) it was worth it! The ride is not smooth. The jerky motion was something my husband was not fond of (and it may have been the bar cutting into his shins). But the motion did not bother me and my vertigo. Remember, my husband has never seen a Harry Potter movie so it was completely nonsense to him! Me and the kids LOVED it!
Universal Orlando is a destination that never fails to captivate visitors with its thrilling attractions and immersive experiences. As the seasons change, so too does the park, offering a variety of seasonal events that cater to different interests and preferences. From heart-racing scares during Halloween Horror Nights to the vibrant festivities of Mardi Gras, Universal Orlando knows how to keep the excitement level high year-round. In this blog, we'll explore the seasonal offerings you can expect at Universal Orlando, highlighting the pros and cons of each event. Get ready to embark on a journey filled with chills, cheers, and holiday magic as we dive into the world of Universal's seasonal delights
Excitement fills the air as you step foot into Universal Orlando - the ultimate family vacation destination. While the theme park is filled with fun and thrills, it can be overwhelming, especially when traveling with kids. Worry not! I have prepared 12 tips and tricks to help you navigate Universal Orlando and create lasting memories with your family. Follow my guide to make the most out of your vacation at Universal Orlando.
Who Doesn't Love a Good Thrill Ride?
Today we will take a look at five top fan-picked thrill rides. It will include three of my favorites as well as two that I have never ridden and, unfortunately, will never be able to ride. (I have a bad back, and yes, I still ride the other three!)
Hold on to your hats and glasses, folks, 'cause we're about to go on a wild ride through Universal's top 5 thrill attractions! But first, let's start with the less spine-chilling ones and work our way up to the ultimate heart-stopping experience!" 😲🎢
When it comes to snacking at Universal Orlando Resort, there are countless sweet and savory treats to choose from. If you love snacking as much as my family does, you’ll want to indulge in these delicious goodies during your visit. Just be warned: the stakes are high, and you'll need a serious strategy to try them all!
I know, I know! Every blogger always seems to have a list of Hidden Gems at Universal Orlando. I decided it was time for me to add my two cents on this subject. Some might not be so hidden, and some might not be so obvious, but all are our family's favorites. Are you ready? In no particular order, here we go!
Did you Know Walt Disney World has OVER 30 Hotels? How Do You Choose?
That’s right ! over 30 hotels!
And those are just the ones owned and operated by Disney.
They range from simple, budget-friendly rooms to elegant, luxurious 4-Diamond accommodations. With so many excellent options, it is no wonder that busy moms have a hard time deciding on the best one for their family.
Wondering When to Book your Walt Disney World vacation?
The answer is always NOW.
If you are even remotely considering a 2024 Disney vacation you should always start planning as early as possible.
Do NOT wait for deals/discounts to be released.
Disney, like most of the travel industry, has dynamic pricing. As hotel rooms fill up the price increases. When Disney releases discounts they are on the rates at the higher end of the range, so the promotional rate is often higher than the introductory rate.
Disney requires one of the smallest deposits in the industry… only $200 reserves your room and ticket package. That is FULLY REFUNDABLE up to 30 days prior to check-in. So if you are considering a Walt Disney World trip it is always better to lock in your vacation to ensure availability and the best pricing.
The BEST time to book Disney packages is when Disney releases their packages for the following year.
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!