Walt Disney World vacations have always gone more smoothly for those who were willing to plan well in advance. With the advent of Magic Bands, FastPass Plus, and My Disney Experience, careful planning that borders on obsessive is pretty much required for those who hope to make the most of a Disney vacation. Walk-up day visitors are at a decided disadvantage.
At Universal Orlando, however, everything is different. Over-planning a Universal Orlando vacation is silly at best and, at worst, could actually have a negative impact on your experience. Here are 5 reasons NOT to over-plan your next trip to Universal Orlando.
1. Express passes
If you are staying in an official Universal Orlando deluxe hotel (though not the moderately-priced Cabana Bay), you get Universal Express Unlimited passes for everyone in the room, valid for your entire length of stay. These passes allow you to experience virtually all the major attractions (though not the Harry Potter rides) as many times as you like each day using the Express entrance, which is similar to Disney’s FastPass queues.
If you are staying somewhere else, both regular Universal Express and Universal Express Unlimited are available for purchase. The difference is that regular Express is valid for only one trip through each attraction per day. You can buy either type of pass for one park or both parks on a daily basis.
Express passes are not always necessary, especially during slower times of the year. But if you are willing to pay to play, being able to visit whatever attractions you want, whenever you want, as many times as you want sure beats the heck out of the FastPass Plus fiasco!
2. Walking distances
If you have been to Walt Disney World, you are well aware of just how far it is from one place to the next. Park hopping, grabbing dinner at a resort other than your own, or heading to Downtown Disney for the evening requires a great deal of coordination, especially if you plan to use the Disney transportation system. Those in the know allow two hours to get to a prime dining reservation, just in case anything goes wrong.
At Universal Orlando, everything is literally within walking distance from everything else. Want to take a dinner break at Bubba Gump’s before spending the evening in Diagon Alley? Interested in an afternoon nap at your Hard Rock Hotel room? Taking in Islands of Adventure before Halloween Horror Nights? It’s incredibly easy to get around in just a few minutes using nothing but your own two feet. Free water taxis and shuttle buses are available if you get tired, but it’s much easier to head out without a plan when you risk losing only minutes rather than hours.