Published: December 8, 2009 at 11:40 PMGreat job, but I have to disagree (yeah, I have a bias)
I would still consider Disney on the radar, especially since you are looking for something a bit more intersting than just a roller coaster. Call me a cynic, but I have never been much of a fan of the Mummy. Dueling Dragons, or whatever is going to be called is great and worth a ride!
And for the Disney not doing anything new for 2010, for a majority of the people out there who never get to go as much as we all do (I consider myself lucky)
I think Universal is great, but to me it will always be a day or two excursion from Disney. Curious to hear from the person. I think it matters when they will go due to the Harry Potter being open or not.
But yet again, great insight and article from the fantastic Robert Niles! I would agree with you more if I wasn't such a Disney fan :) Your "Real" FL mentions are spot on!
Published: December 9, 2009 at 12:03 AMI agree that a Uni & SeaWorld vacation is a great option, BUT if enjoying the finer accommodations is a consideration than you MUST, MUST, MUST look at the Portofino Bay Hotel.
I've stayed there three times now-- and its the only hotel on or near Universal I'd consider. The visuals, amenities, rooms, room service are all absolutely top notch.
One of my favorite things at a theme park ever is a drink during dusk at the Thirsty Fish (the hotel's wine bar) overlooking the water and watching the nightly singers perform on one of the hotel's balconys.
I was there this past October for Horror Nights and it reminded me just how wonderful this place is-- the Bellagio of Orlando.
Also, don't forget to get ressies for Mythos!
Published: December 9, 2009 at 12:34 AMLooking at the ages... I'd say the Universal parks are better for teens. I seriously consider Disney more for ages 10 and under... and adults 30 and older. On the other hand, if the visiting teens love the nostalgia of Disney surroundings-- then I'd place Disney first.
Universal definitely has more thrilling attractions, but it also offers enough things to do with Mom included.
Outside attractions-- call it corny, but if you want cheap, late-night, and fast munchies. Visit the McDonalds with the largest playplace! I've always ran into "interesting" people there.
And whether you're visiting Disney or not, definitely visit Downtown Disney. It's fun just walking around... and the Lego Store is a picture must... but also waltz inside the restaurants to see the awesome themes... and of course... lots of Disney gifts everywhere.
Published: December 9, 2009 at 8:19 AMIf you are spending a full week(7 days), then I would opt for a Disney Moderate Resort as the hotel. They don't feel like typical hotels and of course you get to take advantage of more time in the disney parks with their "Extra Magic Hours" benefit. You'd be saving money on a car rental because Disney offers their "Magical Express" to take you to and from Orlando International Airport to the resort you choose. Each of the disney parks has its own selection of both thrill rides, shows and gentler rides but the best thing about them all is that they're all unique. You don't really need more than 4 days max to experience all the disney theme parks and they also have 2 waterparks if thats in your interests. If not, then spend the other 3 days and take a 1 day trip to the Universal theme parks(only need 1 day really to do all the good rides in both Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure), the 2nd day to visit SeaWorld and for the 3rd day You could either take a trip to Busch Gardens Tampa(using the shuttle bus from SeaWorld to Busch instead of renting a car). Or Take a taxi over to International Dr. and either take a walk seeing the other unique attractions of Orlando(i.e. Ripley's Believe It Or Not Muesum, Wonderworks, or Wet'N Wild Waterpark. Finally, If you go at the right time of year(off season), then you will find the resorts are cheaper and the lines to the attractions are much shorter so you can do more and spend less.
Published: December 9, 2009 at 9:31 AMI personally think that they should go to Disney AND Universal. BTW, nobody is too old for Disney :)
If we are speaking of hotels to stay at, Whats wrong with staying at Disney? They got many choices.
Maybe, and this is just an idea, you can go to Universal and stay a night or two at Disney. Then you get two great hotels and two great parks' perks!
Published: December 9, 2009 at 10:08 AMI do like the the way Univesal lets you get first in line if you are staying at one of their hotels, however, something about the park will always feel second rate to Disney, the company just always seems like they are trying to stay in the race, not lead it. It reminds me of the movie water world which they had a show for. All of this money is spent, but in the end we just have a a more themed version of a six flags, with one or two expensive rides, which hurt the park financially.
Published: December 9, 2009 at 10:16 AMThe clear choice is Universal/Sea World. The age of the children and their interests tell me that Disney simply doesn't fit the bill. The choice becomes even more clear when you can buy the combo ticket for Universal and SeaWorld/Busch Gardens. If it's pure coaster riding you are after, I highly recommend going to Tampa for Busch Gardens. Universal has a few good ones, but Busch Gardens has them outgunned in the coaster department, and the wildlife park offers something extra when you are "coastered out". It's not that far of a drive, and as Robert said, you could go to the beach as well on the gulf side, albeit without the waves of the Atlantic.
My beach of choice when going from Orlando is Daytona. It's a little over a half hour away. It can be a little touristy in spots, but if you go a little north or south (Ormond Beach for example) you can get some quiet beach time. If someone likes NASCAR, a visit to the Daytona speedway is recommended, and there are obviously other things to do in the area.
To me, the lodging choices and decisions on upcharges (front of the line...etc) will depend on when you go and for how long. If you go during peak season (late June/July/early August), it may not be a bad idea to budget the money to be able to cut in line. You can avoid at least some of the crowds by going in early-mid June or mid-late August, and going to the parks during the middle of the week. Staying on site helps too, as the trip back and forth to the hotel is quick and doesn't require a car. My last trip to IOA was in mid August on a Tuesday a couple of years ago, and the lines were very manageable. I stayed off site, and the whole park was done very comfortably, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a day. That being said, you can stretch your money (and thus your vacation) by staying offsite and still have a fighting chance against the crowds.
Published: December 9, 2009 at 1:21 PMWith the budget, I opted for the Royal Pacific since it is the least expensive of the three Universal hotels. But as an earlier commenter pointed out, you can't beat the quality at the Portofino Bay, our winner this year for world's best theme park hotel.
Published: December 9, 2009 at 3:16 PMI dont mean to be rude but did you ever get a email about a senior trip to Cedar Point? Sorry to ask my hotmail account has had a history of not sending emails that iv sent. But on subject now you'll probly want to bring your own food into the park, not sure if they will let you or not but I did it a few years ago, because the park food in florida is very expensive.
Published: December 9, 2009 at 4:51 PMOkay, I will reveal it is me, but only because it sounds like I should add a bit more. Thank you for all of the great advice. This actually got my Mom to look and she absolutly loves all of the suggestions.
So we are most likely going to stay at the Portofino Bay, but how would mixing this idea and another idea we had, a coaster filled road trip, and driving up from Orlando along a place we have always desired to visit, the east coast? Our friend works for Southwest and can get us free Airline tickets, so all we would have to pay for is hotels, parks, and car. Plus if we do that, my Mom would higher the budget quite a bit. Good idea?
Published: December 11, 2009 at 4:52 PMI like the proposed plan overall, but "Mom" is causing some issues.
My mom is also not a big theme park person, and on our last trip enjoyed the canoe excursion you mentioned more than any attractions at any of the parks.
However, my mom especially didn't enjoy the Universal parks, as they had too many thrill rides for her liking and lacked her type of atmosphere. Don't get me wrong - I love Universal, and I highly enjoy their theming, but my mom prefers something along the lines of Epcot or Animal Kingdom, where the atmosphere is less intense, the music is nice, and the gardens and exhibits allow for casual strolling. She loves walking and stopping to smell the flowers. She also loved having a glass of wine in the France pavilion while sitting in the shade and watching the French acrobats. Epcot's World Showcase provides a distinctly different theme park experience. Additionally, my mom had no problem with Epcot's rides, and even enjoyed some of them (Mission: Space and, in particular, Soarin', which remains her favorite theme park attraction). She also loved Impressions de France. At Universal, though I love(d) it, we encountered constant breakdowns, delayed openings, and other problems that made the experience feel like a standard amusement park outing.
Maybe try one day at Epcot (or another venue of interest) as something different. If not, the vacation Robert planned sounds great, too.