As the world slowly emerges from one of the toughest years in memory, people are eager to travel! The combination of pent-up wanderlust, canceled 2020 trips, too much time at home, a surplus of unused vacation time, and a stimulus check or two has a lot of our clients ready to book something ASAP!
If you’ve always been a Walt Disney World family, you might be frustrated right now as their hotels, parks and dining reach capacity months out. We’d like to present, for your consideration, some reasons to think about trying Universal Orlando this spring or summer!
The Disney Parks Reservation Calendar is very YELLOW right now. That means there is limited availability for park passes (particularly at Hollywood Studios, and to a lesser degree at Magic Kingdom) through June. Some days, shown here in grey, have zero availability at any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks.
Universal Resort guests staying at onsite hotels are given priority entrance at their parks, so in addition to proximity, early park admission, and transportation to the parks, your resort stay comes with some peace of mind about park capacity.
Tip: if you do want to visit Walt Disney World this summer (if you even think you MIGHT want to visit), we recommend booking your package immediately. You only need to put down your $200 deposit to reserve your package, which allows you to make your park reservations for the days you want.
2. Express Pass
Folks who miss the fun of breezing through a FastPass+ line at Walt Disney World might be bummed to know that Fastpass+ is suspended until further notice.
Universal Orlando's front-of-the line pass, Express Pass, is still very much an option. Prices vary (A LOT!) based on dates, demand, and whether you choose Universal Express or Universal Express Unlimited, but we are firm believers that the BEST price for an Unlimited Express Pass is FREE.
That's right, you get free Unlimited Express included when you stay at one of Universal’s three Premier resorts: Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Resort, or Hard Rock Orlando Resort. These three gorgeous hotels aren’t only incredible places to stay and relax, they come with the incredible benefit of Unlimited Express Pass for everyone in your resort room the length of your stay!
And, unlike the three-per-person rules of the Fastpass+ days of yore, those Unlimited Express Passes are, well, UNLIMITED. Just get right back into that Express line and sail by the standby line as many times as you like!
*Note: newer rides typically do not accept Express at first. Right now that includes Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which utilizes a combo of standby and virtual lines. We expect that the upcoming Jurassic Park Velocicoaster will also have a grace period before it accepts Express. So use that Express Pass to knock out almost every other attraction in the parks! We'll give you a touring plan to help you navigate the attractions important to you.
3. Last-minute Trips
Walt Disney World might require a little bit less advance planning in some respects (for example, duking it out for dining reservations at 60 days before instead of 180; no Fastpasses to snag at the 60-day mark); however, the waning capacity means that if you suddenly had some funds and vacation time burning a hole in your pocket, you couldn’t necessarily book the Disney vacation of your dreams (you might be able to, though--give us a holler and we will do the research!).
At Universal, it’s just a little easier to plan those last-minute getaways, relying on the aforementioned onsite resorts for priority entrance, Express Pass, Early Park Admission, and overall ease of getting around. The entire resort is more compact and just easier overall than it's rival down the road.
4. Mardi Gras and Halloween Horror Nights
After cutting them short or canceling them altogether in 2020, we have the return of Universal festivals like their modified Mardi Gras celebration, now extended to May 2, and the just-announced return of Halloween Horror Nights! Mardi Gras has evolved into somewhat of an international food festival this year, with the parade transformed into stationary floats that you can visit and interact with.
Halloween Horror Nights will be making its triumphant return this fall, and we’re so excited to hear what houses, characters and scare zones will be announced in the coming months.
5. New Attractions and Experiences
Have you been to Universal Orlando before? We have to ask, because sometimes we're a little surprised at the misconceptions folks have about it. Maybe you think your kids are too young for Universal’s thrilling coasters or action-packed simulators, but did you know that their parks also feature attractions and friends from Despicable Me, Spongebob Squarepants, Marvel comics, DreamWorks films, Jurassic Park, and the works of Dr. Seuss? Not two mention two entire lands (with rides, dining, shops and shows) dedicated to the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Or maybe your kids (and you!) ARE ready for a bit of a thrill, in which case, get ready: the new Jurassic Park Velocicoaster opens June 10!
What's more, have you visted since they introduced Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, or the Bourne Stuntacular? Get ready to be stunned, in the best possible way!
Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort are doing an incredible job adjusting their protocols to balance safety and fun for guests right now. Let us know where you’d like to spend your next vacation, and we’ll do our best to make sure it’s your Happiest Adventure yet!