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lolfn Dec 30th, 2011 04:32 PM

Universal Orlando--Worth Staying at a Property Hotel During Slow Time?
 
We will be at Universal Orlando the last week in January which is a very slow time. The crowd calendars have it at a 1 out of 10 for crowd levels. I know if you stay at one of the 3 on property hotels you get early entry to HP and you get the express pass. The hotel rates are about double what you could spend at a decent off property hotel. Is the extra money really worth it if we aren't expecting big crowds?

If not, any recommendations for good off property hotels?

Thanks!

starrs Dec 30th, 2011 04:39 PM

I would if the WWHP was my major goal and take advantage of the early entrance. The express pass won't help you in that section - except for a repostitioned roller coaster. My favorite is the Portofino.

There are lots of options on International Drive. I used to stay at the Homewood Suites a lot. Really liked it.

schmerl Dec 30th, 2011 04:51 PM

I think staying on site is worth it just for the convenience if nothing else. It's so easy to walk to the parks from the on site hotels and then go back for a rest and enjoy the pool if you want a break.
WWHP crowds have been crazy. The other day Island of Adventure closed its gates due to being at capacity. So...even if crowds are lower than usual for that time period, they are still heavy. Especially for WWHP.
Staying on site you will not only get the early entry for WWHP, but will then have all day express access to most other attractions. Express is not used on Forbidden Journey which is why the early entrance for on site guests is such a great perk

lolfn Dec 31st, 2011 09:24 AM

Thanks for your thoughts. It is helpful. WWHP is the main reason we are spending a couple days at Universal before Disney. I think I'm more excited than the kids. So the early entry is a major consideration.

Do you have to pay for parking at the property hotels? My husband thinks he read that somewhere.

schmerl Dec 31st, 2011 01:06 PM

Yes...there is a fee for parking at the on site hotels. I think it maybe $14 a night now??? You should be able to find some info on their website.

321go Dec 31st, 2011 01:58 PM

They raised it - it's $15 for self-parking now. I don't know what it is for valet parking.

MomDDTravel Jan 2nd, 2012 06:08 AM

I am at the porifono and highly recommend it if it is in your budget - I generally am not one to spend extra money on a hotel but it is lovely here and the early entrance is huge to hp - you are in for a treat - I loved it and so did my 14 year old who is a big hp fan - we stayed at the Hilton by downtown Disney for the first three days to get the extra magic hours and highly recommend it too - it was 1/2 than a moderate dw property and had good transportation

starrs Jan 2nd, 2012 07:22 AM

MomDD, am I right in that the early entrance to HP allowed your DD to go through the big ride twice? If so, that alone is a HUGE savings over waiting in line for an hour or two to do it once.

MomDDTravel Jan 2nd, 2012 07:34 AM

Yes yes yes!!!! It was awesome!! Even my dh went on 2x :) I believe the hard rock and the other Loews property are less expensive than the portifino - the water taxis are great I would stay even one night here to get the early admission

schmerl Jan 2nd, 2012 07:41 AM

We love all the on site resorts. Our favorite is the Royal Pacific and it is usually the least expensive also. I love the atmosphere there and the very easy walk to the parks!!

globalgirl6324 Jan 2nd, 2012 09:19 AM

Going to the theme parks in January is typically pretty crowd free. You may have a small wait for some of the rides at WWHP, but that sure as heck wouldn't justify paying double the hotel price for an Express pass to avoid a 20 minute wait. I've been to many of the theme parks in Orlando in January and have never had a problem with long wait times for the rides. Many of the hotels on International drive have free shuttles to the park as well. I travel frequently and I'm a huge Embassy Suites fan. Their hotel on International drive has a free shuttle to Universal, free cooked to order breakfast, and a nightly 2 hour manager's reception with free drinks and munchies. http://www.embassysuitesorlando.com/
Have fun and enjoy your time in Florida!

starrs Jan 2nd, 2012 10:21 AM

"Going to the theme parks in January is typically pretty crowd free"

That may be true in general for SOME of the parks. I don't know. But I DO know it is not true of the WW of HP when we were there a year ago in January.

I think the WWHP IS the OP's goal.

schmerl Jan 2nd, 2012 11:29 AM

I'm with you starrs. WWHP seems to stay extremely crowded all year long.

starrs Jan 2nd, 2012 11:39 AM

Thanks scmerl!

WWHHP is very small. WONDERFULLY done, but very small. I think the whole place would fit on a football field. It certainly seems like it. They know the capacity and they close the park off when it reaches capacity. There are only 3 attractions in the park and everyone is waiting in that contained area. Lines of 1-2 hours and only a couple of shops to visit - and one restaurant? Early entry is worth a mint. Especially if MomDD's family was able to do the ride 2x during early entry.

lolfn Jan 3rd, 2012 06:20 AM

My husband is of the same thoughts as globalgirl, that the crowds are going to be too thin to justify and extra $100+/night. But, the reason we go in the off season is to avoid the crowds and I'd hate to be crammed into WWHP because we were too cheap to pay to stay at the property hotels.

I appreciate everyone's opinions! It does help with the decision.

MomDDTravel Jan 3rd, 2012 06:39 AM

I am with Starr's - I was jet there and honestly the hp is maxing but very crowded - and the rest of the parks were not that bad...

starrs Jan 3rd, 2012 09:11 AM

I was there last January and was SURE that the park would not be crowded. I've visited Disney World for years and know that you can go in October mid-week and walk right up to the rides and get on. I KNOW the joys of slow season in the parks.

I don't think there's a slow season (yet) in WWHP. It's too new. It's too wonderful. It's too small.

Schools had started back and we were there mid-week. The park was packed with Europeans. We walked into Universal, walked directly to HP, were told it was closed and told to go to Jurassic Park to "get a ticket". We walked to the appointed place, got the ticket and joined the line. The line snaked all the way through Jurassic Park. Imagine a long line at a ride in Disney. We were in the compilation of many of those lines. It snaked back and forth in zig zags as park lines do, and when it looked like there was going to be a straight-away we shortly found ourselves in another zig zag section. The line moved continually on a very slow basis. I don't know how many hundreds (thousands?) were in that line but they had timed it perfectly. When we zig-zagged our way back to the WWHP entrance we were allowed in. When we got in, it was packed. We thought we were being smart by choosing the "single" line for Forbidden Journey, but we learned we missed all of the neat things to see as you waited in that line. I wanted to see what happened in Ollivander's wand shop so I volunteered to stand in that line while my friend checked out the shops. I played on my phone and sent a text when I got close to the entrance. We went to the restaurant at an off time and there wasn't a wait there. Other than the butterbeer kiosks, that was it for food/drink options. We navigated the crowds in a shop for me to see what my friend had found and then I waited by the train and people-watched while my friend stood in line to pay for the candy for her kids. She exited empty-handed - simply got tired of waiting in line and decided not to buy those gifts for her kids. WWHP is amazing and I loved it. It is small and it gets very crowded even though they limit the admission to that section of the park. This was in January. Weekday. When US kids were in school.

A friend went during a private event when the park was open just to their organization. That experience was more like MomDD's early admission experience. Talked to my nephew who went last fall and they loved it, but didn't go to Ollivander's because of the line. I honestly don't know anyone who has gone on the roller coaster that is the only attraction that the Early Pass works for.

The rest of the park = not busy. A typical midweek school year day in an Orlando theme park.

gmoney Jan 3rd, 2012 09:21 AM

in a word, Yes!

schmerl Jan 3rd, 2012 09:25 AM

If you spend just ONE night in an on site hotel you get TWO full days of early entry and express access. Just go and check in VERY early. Your room may not be ready, but you will get a room key which is what gives you all the access. So...you can go early that day and the next day. You can check out and leave your bags with the bellmen, but still keep your room key. Talk your husband into the one night and you will not be sorry.

MomDDTravel Jan 3rd, 2012 10:20 AM

I agree I agree and I agree stay at a hotel - it is worth it.

There were lines to go IN shops - yes, SHOPS. We had a breakfast in Harry Potter world and it was wonderful (good food) and the entire experience was just great. My dd got her favorite characters wand (it was hard to pick!) - really it was worth going to Orlando for and I am not a huge HP fan - if you are - it would be amazing.

If we get to go back next year - the only park I would go to (we get to go for a business function at times) would be Adventure Island JUST to go back to HP.

lolfn Jan 3rd, 2012 01:00 PM

Y'all have convinced me that it is well worth it.

Schmerl--Great idea! I think we'll do that and everyone will be happy even with the hassle of moving to different hotels. What kid doesn't love exploring new hotels, so they'll love it. Thanks!


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