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!
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!