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Holidays

If you have been to Universal Orlando/ Harry Potter

15 replies

MummytoCSJH · 21/06/2020 01:19

My DS has just turned 6 and to my delight has discovered Harry Potter. I didn't have a particularly great childhood and my interests were never pursued or recognised, but I was obsessed with reading and I still look back on HP fondly. Provided he carries on enjoying it I'm thinking about taking him to Orlando for his 11th birthday. Now I know it's a long long way off (plenty of time to save!) but I'm fairly certain it will just be me and him. I'm wondering if anyone can give me info on roughly how much they paid and took as spending money, what time of year they went, where and how long they stayed for and what kind of extras they got eg meal plans or fast track, so that I can work out a decent amount to save. This will be a massive treat for me too, I've been thinking about us possibly going away as I've finally paid off the debt my ex left me with and am able to save but I'd like to do a really special one even if it means not going away until then. Thanks everyone!

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Weenurse · 21/06/2020 01:39

DD 20 and I went 2 years ago.
Part of a 4 week US holiday.
Shared room.
Spent only 1 day at Universal, did a lot of searching before we went on the best way to do Harry Potter in 1 day.
It was enough.
Stayed at a Disney resort and spent 3 days doing Disney world. That was the best.
Did not do food plans, did pay extra for fast passes that we did not use as did not realise needed to be booked way in advance ( think months).
Did get up early and be there before gates opened to rush to the long queue rides, always shorter queues early.

Best holiday ever.
Cost, we spent around $ 1500 each for the whole holiday so maybe $3-5 000 for Florida.
If I was doing it again, I would stay longer, spend extra days at Disney, but also do space centre and other things.

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Weenurse · 21/06/2020 01:40

$15000.00 each

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Ginfilledcats · 21/06/2020 01:40

Congratulations on having a Harry Potter fab haha.

I've been to Disney/universal several times and whilst eye watering my expensive it is 110% worth the money. It's incredible.

I'd reccomend you look at the website "The Dibb" it's a forum for all things Orlando parks. A really really useful source.

Most people tend to go for 10-14 days to get money's worth out of tickets/jet lag etc. And do both Disney and Orlando. However a family member went in April last year and just did universal for 10 days. She did get a bit bored though of just the universal parks.

Universal wise there are 3 parks: islands of adventure (which has Hogwarts/hogsmede) and is more the adventurous park, universal studios (which has diagon alley) is more simulators and character meets. And finally the amazing water park: volcano bay. Usually you get tickets to all 3 and can go between all three as many times as you like.

Spending money is really hard to advise on, but I'd look at the restaurant menus online to get an idea of how much food is. Then take more than you think for souvenirs- they ain't cheap.

I'd recommend staying at a universal hotel for a few nights if you can afford it to get extra hours in the parks and free front of the line passes

Honestly look at the DIbb for better advice though

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 21/06/2020 11:02

Save as much as you can. You'll probably need between £4-5K overall if you went for 2 weeks.

Do not fly indirect as it just adds hours to what is already a very long day.

People currently receive free express passes (these allow earlier access or an unlimited ride pass) if they stay on site at one of the Universal partnered hotels; these are NOT front of the line passes. Adult admission prices for children at these theme parks currently start at 10 years of age.

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MummytoCSJH · 21/06/2020 13:41

Thanks all, lots to look into and think about here!

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Mightymurphy · 22/06/2020 09:08

We did 5 nights as part of a 3 week holiday. Loved Universal and felt we didn’t have enough time. Looking forward to going back.

We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel to get express passes. When we go back we will do 3 nights there again and then move to a cheaper onsite hotel like Endless Summer Resort. When we stayed at Hard Rock, it was slightly more to stay in Rock Royalty which is their Club level. Worth it as you get food and drinks throughout the day. I’ve just looked back and it was £253 for the three of us extra for 5 nights.

It is an expensive holiday. Please factor in a wand from Olivanders. Around 80 dollars but it’s interactive. We ate in the Hard Rock Restaurant and also Bubba Gumps. You can look at menus online for an idea on prices.

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Lonecatwithkitten · 28/06/2020 09:28

DD and I went when she was 12. As a single parent holidays ordinarily depended on her meeting a friend and if she doesn't it is really tough as she was so dependent on me. Orlando and universal was great, we went for 10 days and got a ticket for universal all that time, we visited on about 6 days. We spent a day at NASA that was amazing - did the lunch with an astronaut package and with both enjoyed it so much.
We spent a couple of days visiting the Malls.
DD is a massive HP fan so we sat and watched the Shows in both Diagonal Alley and Hogsmead we rode the HP rides many times and enjoyed all the rest of the parks.
It was a truly memorable holiday and worth every penny of the 5K. After 12 the tend to spend less time with you and more with friends so it was nice to get that memory of her.
Next year 5 years later and with DD being 17 we are heading to the Far East for 2 weeks totally different as she will be on the cusp of adulthood.

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TheWayOfTheWorld · 28/06/2020 12:51

I rate Universal much higher than Disney - the queuing systems were better, the rides were better. Harry Potter is spread across 2 connected parks and is done incredibly well (and I'm not a Potterhead).

Disney I found the rides a bit naff, queue system was rubbish and the whole place was too cartoony (I know, lol) - all the adult visitors dressed up in Disney garb seemed a bit creepy.

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Bashfulinseduary · 30/06/2020 22:46

Remember to factor in how his interests might expand. Just HP now, but there will be a Star Wars park at Disney he might be interested in by then.
I also highly recommend Kennedy Space Station for 11 year olds.
I can't comment on price, as we live here.
Avoid the summer holidays, it is sooooooo hot! Easter tends to be lovely weather.
You will have a great time!

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HermioneWeasley · 02/07/2020 17:22

Assuming you’ll be tied to school holidays, Easter is your best bet, but very busy.

For universal, I’d advise staying in one of their premium on site hotels which includes early park access and universal express passes (universal have a fast queue system on most rides and you can pay extra for a pass that lets you in these queues. Disney you can pre book 3 “fast passes” a day for free)

For 2 weeks it usually costs about £12000 including spending money for 4 of us, but you can do cheaper as we tend to upgrade flights.

Park tickets are expensive. For food, I’d budget $50 per person per day which will include a snack. That will also allow you to have some more expensive table service meals in the parks (mythos is excellent) if you go cheaper on some days. In HP land our family favourites are the chocolate covered pretzel wands and the pumpkin pasties.

Disney is definitely worth doing - very little of it is princesses.

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treeeeemendous · 04/07/2020 12:41

We went in October and took the kids out of school for a week. Both of them were in primary and it's the only time we ever took them out. I would say we preferred universal over Disney. We stayed one week in a cheap hotel on universal drive and then a week at universal hotel so we could get in early and use express passes. Weather was lovely and we had all of the Halloween stuff going on. If we went again I would do October or February. Avoid Easter/US spring break as so busy. August will be quieter as US schools back but weather could be very hot. We actually booked it as a package. I did price up separately but found the package was cheaper as we got a car too.

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treeeeemendous · 04/07/2020 12:43

For 4 of us I would say we spent £10k total for 2 weeks but we are not shoppers so spending money was really only on food.

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clara10 · 04/07/2020 12:58

We’ve been twice with dc aged 6 and 8 and then 8 and 10. My DS aged 10, nearly 11, was over Harry Potter on our last visit. We stay in a villa with 3 nights in Hard Rock Hotel for the passes. Highly recommend Kennedy Space Centre and Gatorland outside the parks. Did Disney and universal the first time. Just universal the second time. Agree with pp about other universal rides. My DS (over Harry Potter) is massively into marvel, Godzilla, Jurassic park and the Simpson’s, so really enjoyed all of universal. Volcano Bay is awesome. If your DS turns out to be a lover of coasters head to Busch Gardens. My 2 went on every ride - I didn’t 😳

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burnoutbabe · 04/07/2020 13:23

I would advise not staying at universal as it's very expensive.

Stay on nearby I drive. Decent hotels or suites fro £50 per night often including breakfast and free shuttles to the parks.

We did spend one night at universal in the middle, to get the express passes (which do let you skip the line and just wait 10 mins or so)

Tickets cost a lot so I'd get the minimum-though a 7 day universal ticket is sane price as 2 days so may as well get that.
If Disney just get 1 day/1 park tickets.
Then other days doing malls or sea world or a water park or nasa. Much cheaper to eat on I drive Thsn at universal.

Get prices for say next year so you know the costs. Stay off site and it's far cheaper

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livingbyrules · 07/07/2020 19:31

I went with DS last October - same reasons as you OP, big fan of HP and love, love the magical atmosphere at Disney, and DS a good age to actually enjoy (and remember) the experience.

I spent about £2500 on the trip not considering shopping.
£350 each for flights
£80 per day hotel with kitchen
Parks were under £1000, considering it was just the two of us
Lunch inside the parks, or in a restaurant outside, but a simple dinner cooked back in the hotel

I spent $$$ in Target and Best Buy, but you don't have to do that!

We enjoyed Universal (both parks) and the waterparks the best. We plan to go to LA's bigger Universal next year. It's an amazing experience - go for it!

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