WDW/Universal: Strategy during February vacation week?

Edited: September 23, 2015, 10:12 AM

My family and I have been to Orlando many times, but next year we will be going during part of February school vacation week. This is the first time we are planning an extended WDW vacation during a busy time of year; our other trips have always been during moderate or value seasons, and because of that we have mostly been able to avoid long wait times and big crowds.

Are there any special tips and tricks to use in order to avoid the big crowds and long wait times during that time of year?

Is there any reason that Universal parks would be better/worse than WDW in terms of wait times, particularly for the biggest attractions (i.e. Harry Potter stuff)?

Are the water parks enjoyable at that time of year, when the weather may not be all that warm ? And are they less crowded relatively speaking than the other parks?

All info appreciated, and thanks!

Replies (8)

September 22, 2015, 2:01 PM

My only beef with universal is the express pass (their version of fast pass). You have to pay for the pass for the day instead of getting it no extra charge, like at Disney world. That being said, you should have no problem hitting the big Disney attractions if you use fast pass, but if you really want to ride popular universal attractions (HPFJ, Gringotts, Transformers) express pass may be your only way

September 23, 2015, 8:34 AM

My families last trip to Orlando was in February of 2013, there were no problems with lines. I checked with my wife and sons as to what they could remember of wait times and the longest we could think of was 25 - 30 minutes at Test Track. The same was true for Universal, lines weren't very long and seemed to be moving nicely. We traveled from Regina, Saskatchewan to Orlando so even the coldest day there was still water park temps for us so I can't really help much there. The one thing we did notice is that because it was a slower time of year there were rides down for maintenance, which makes sense close when least number of guests to cause the least disruption. So you may want to do some checking on what rides that are closed for refurb.

September 23, 2015, 9:03 AM

Have you not heard of FastPass+ offered at Disney? Have you not heard of Express Pass offered at Universal? The difference is Disney has no extra charge for their service. This would be the tip. Use them to avoid the long lines.

In terms of Universal being better or worse than Disney in wait times, Disney will certainly have more big attractions than Universal so plan accordingly.

I wouldn't know anything about the weather. Bring your swim suits and go when the weather is good.

September 23, 2015, 9:40 AM

I will be in the same boat in March but going to SoCal. We always go in September right after school when it isn't busy but March will be a different story. I think the key is a little more planning of your day than usual.

September 23, 2015, 12:09 PM

Thanks all!!

Of course we will use FastPass+, but the issue is once the Fastpasses run out. Also we will have to be careful to book them as soon as we can.

September 23, 2015, 4:13 PM

I would say spend 5 days at Disney World and 3 days at Universal. For Universal go to USF first, then IOA, then spend the last day first at Hogsmeade then Diagon Alley

Edited: September 24, 2015, 1:13 PM

We only have 3.5 days in Orlando this time around. And we're trying to save money on tickets, at least as much as it makes sense.

We have a few non-expired days for Disney on both kids' old tickets, so the plan would probably be at least 2 days of Disney Parks. We also have a ton of non-expired Water Park passes.

So the remaining debates include whether to get a high-priced one-day Universal park-to-park ticket vs. another day at Disney, and whether to spend a day at the water parks vs. just adding another park day.

Any opinions on whether the water park day will be worth it during February when the weather may not be that warm ?

And is there anything else still available (DisneyQuest, miniatuire golf, etc.) that we can use the Water Park passes for ??

September 25, 2015, 2:10 PM

Sorry, but Joe is wrong in his information. You cannot use express passes at escape from Gringotts or any other Harry Potter attractions at Universal or Islands. It's okay to actually go to Universal and Islands, but it sounds like you don't really want to go there. If you would like some hints go to Universal and Islands in February, here they are:
1. Get the express passes so you can ride all of the non-Harry Potter attractions during the busiest times of the day.
2. Hit up Islands the second the park opens (if you stayed at an onsite hotel you'd get into the parks an hour early) and head straight to Gringotts. You'll probably only ride it once unless you run back and do it a second time, but you're wait time will be longer the second time.
3. Hit up Ollivanders next because the lines won't be long.
4. Do any shopping, grab a Florean Fortescue ice cream and some gilly water (with a flavor of course)
5. Leave Diagon Alley and hit up the Knight Bus then go into King's Cross and catch the train to Hogsmeade
6. Hit up Forbidden Journey first then Flight of the Hippogriff (this takes the express pass!)
7. Ride the dragon challenge next
8. Get a table at the Three Broomsticks and have some food
9. Hit up the other attractions at Islands (where your fast pass comes in handy) I'd go through Jurrasic and ride that and then (if you have ponchos) hit up the water rides in Toon Lagoon
10. Spider-Man and The Hulk ride should be next (use fast passes). And the Tower of Doom
11. Seuss landing (if you have little ones)
12. Back to Hogsmeade for a ride on Forbidden Journey, if it's not too packed
13. Catch the train back to King's Cross
14. At universal hit up everything but Diagon Alley (everything else uses fast passes).
15. Once you're done with everything else at universal (depending on how long that takes) head back to Diagon alley. Try single rider for Gringotts at that point, or just wait the hour for the ride. More shopping, dinner at Leaky and hit up some rides in your way out of the park at night.
It'll be busy, but Universl and Islands have a better fast pass system than Disney. Have fun!

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