One word: Butterbeer.
Nah, there’s plenty more reasons! But Butterbeer (and all of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) is certainly one of them. For a long time Universal sort of flew under the radar when compared to Disney World. You might venture over there for day to try out some other rides, but most families were staying in Disney World for their vacation.
In the past ten years Universal has really stepped up its game. Everything started to change when they built the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is a truly incredible land. Once they got the momentum from that rolling, Universal has continued to do great things.
I think a trip to Universal is certainly a good idea, especially for families – not as a one day side trip, but as a split stay or even potentially as your main destination. Even this Disney loving girl is starting to plan a Universal vacation staying on their property!
If you’re thinking about it too but don’t know much about Universal, or just need help booking and planning your trip, I can help you with all of that at no extra cost to you. As a travel agent I work with my clients for free to plan the perfect vacation – just email me at [email protected] today to get started!
Here are just some of the reasons why a Universal trip is worth your while, especially for families and those traveling with all ages:
As a travel agent I work with lots of families, and I know cost is one of the biggest factors when planning a vacation. A theme park trip certainly isn’t cheap, and Disney is the priciest of them all. Let’s take a look at comparing the costs for a Disney World trip and a Universal Orlando trip.
These prices are for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children ages 8 and 12). They want to vacation for a week in the summer so I looked at prices for August 4th-10th, 2019. They’d like a little more space for their family than a standard hotel room so they’re interested in a family suite. They’d like to be in the parks for the majority of their trip and not have to worry about food so they also want to go on the dining plan.
For this family to stay at Disney in a family suite at Art of Animation, with 7 day park hopper tickets and the Disney dining plan the costs would be a total of $6,728. For the same dates they could stay at a family suite at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort with a 3 park unlimited ticket (access to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano bay for 14 consecutive days) and be on the Universal dining plan for a total of $4,201. That’s a huge price difference and could be the difference for many between going on vacation and not going.
For a few other comparisons: A stay at Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites (their new equivalent of a Disney value resort) with the 3 park unlimited ticket but without the dining plan would be $2,717 vs. All-Star Music with 7 day park hoppers at $3,194. Change that to the moderate level hotel and you’ve got a price of $3,124 at Universal’s Sapphire Falls vs. $3,972 at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.
If you’re on a budget, I’d consider taking a strong look at Universal. Especially if you’ve been to Disney before – Universal has a ton of other things to offer.
Family Friendly Resorts and Rooms
There are many more affordable, larger sized rooms for families who want more space or have more than 4 people in a room. At Disney you have very few affordable rooms which are bigger – if you have a family of 5 or more you’re looking at paying an awful lot. In contrast, every resort no matter the level has larger suites available. The themeing is fun too, with some hotels even having character themed rooms.
Surfside Inn and Suites – A bright and fun beach themed hotel. Standard rooms and 2 bedroom suites. Opening June 27, 2019.
Aventura Hotel – A sleek, modern hotel with standard rooms and a kids’ suite.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort – A fun beach vibe of the 1950’s and 60’s, they have standard rooms and family suites which sleep up to 6.
Sapphire Falls Resort – a moderate level hotel themed like the Caribbean, with standard rooms and a variety of different sized suites.
Royal Pacific Resort – deluxe level with the Polynesian theme, they have standard rooms, club level, and suites – including Jurassic park themed suites.
Hard Rock Hotel – Music themed hotel at the deluxe level with standard rooms, club level rooms, and suites.
Portofino Bay Resort – A deluxe hotel set in Italy with standard rooms, club level, and suites. Kids will love the Despicable Me themed family suites!
Family Room/Child Swap
If you have kids, you may be familiar with Disney’s child swap procedure. While Universal also offers this, they have something unique for families at almost every attraction called a Family Room. This allows the adult and child to go in a separate room while others are riding – a room that is air conditioned, has seating, televisions, and so forth. Then the adults can switch spots while the child stays in the room. The family rooms can also be used for other situations, such as a grandparent who doesn’t want to ride a bigger thrill ride or someone afraid of heights.
There are tons of attractions at Universal good for all ages. It used to be known more as a “thrill ride park,” and while you can certainly find some good coasters there are also lots of family friendly and kid friendly attractions. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
Kid-friendly: Seuss Landing, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Woody Woodpecker, ET, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Shrek-4D
Thrill Seekers: Revenge of the Mummy, Incredible Hulk Coaster, Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts, Rip Ride Rockit, Skull Island, Fast and the Furious, Men in Black
This new water park looks incredible. There’s a ton of unique water rides, including a lot of group/family ones, and a huge wave pool. Definitely something for everyone, whether you’re on all the rides, swimming, or just relaxing. Volcano Bay has also introduced Tapu Tapu, which is similar to Disney’s fastpass system (or at least the way it used to work). If you go up to a ride that has a long wait you can tap your band and get a return time for it. Then in the meantime you can ride something with a shorter wait, go for a swim, grab a drink, etc. This place is really high on my list of places I need to visit.
Everything at Universal is much closer together than at Disney. If you want to park hop between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure they are literally right next to each other. The three deluxe hotels are walking distance to the parks. Cabana Bay has a private entrance right into Volcano Bay. The other hotels are a short bus ride away (or boat ride). This makes it much easier to take afternoon breaks, or to make multiple members of your party happy by being able to visit both parks in one day.
Want to take a Universal Orlando vacation? Email me today and I’ll be happy to help you plan and book your trip, totally free to you!
Have you been to Universal Orlando?