Saratoga Springs and Universal Studios

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crazycatperson's picture
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Saratoga Springs and Universal Studios

And I'm going back!

Hubby, who obsessively checks the RCI website for great deals on DVC exchanges, found a week in a one-bedroom unit at Saratoga Springs in April for just 15 exchange points as opposed to the usual 40-ish (RCI exchange points don't correspond to DVC points). He erroneously thought my annual pass would still be valid, so he put the week on hold. However, I told him not to cancel the hold just yet so I could fantasize about another trip. Then I realized that this would be the perfect time to visit Universal's Diagon Alley if I could make the numbers crunch right.

I checked airfare and found reasonable rates out of Harrisburg. We decided on a rental car so we could go to Universal when the weather was best, and hubby found a good deal through our warehouse store's travel agency. Universal has two-day tickets with a third day free at the same rate as the normal two-day tickets. We have old WDW no-expiration passes with minor-park days left, which we can use at the Disney water parks and Disney Quest. We'll be staying just a short walk from Downtown Disney and a boat ride from Old Key West and the Port Orleans resorts, so we'll plan on dining at both resorts and pick up some beignets while we're at it. And all the other Disney resorts will be just a bus ride away, no transferring, thanks to the DTD bus stop - or if we're in a rush we can just take the rental car.

We'll do the three days at Universal when the weather is nicest, visit one or both Disney water parks (they'll both be open) on the hottest days, and do DisneyQuest or resort-hop if it rains. For meals, we'll eat wherever we can get a last-minute ADR so we can keep the schedule flexible in addition to visiting our favorite DTD counter-service places and trying the food trucks for the first time.

27 days and counting!

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Omg! That is so freaking awesome!!

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Sounds like you have an awesome plan~~~!!! Enjoy yay

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That's so awesome yay yay

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awesome

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What a great plan!! I forget...Have you done the water parks already? We just tried them for the first time in October and we thought they were so much fun!!

I keep promising Benn that we're going to do a DVC Universal trip, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to book it yet. I'm having trouble being THAT close to Disney and going to some other park laugh . I think next February when our real estate conference is in Orlando might be the perfect time to suck it up and go check out Universal.

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Nice catch! I have a ton of RCI points and I can never find anything in the World.

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Ahh Mazing!!

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clapping Yay, CCP! clapping

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alicemouse wrote:
Have you done the water parks already?

Yes, we've done them both. Blizzard Beach is our favorite, but if it's hot we'll visit them both again.

alicemouse wrote:
I keep promising Benn that we're going to do a DVC Universal trip, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to book it yet. I'm having trouble being THAT close to Disney and going to some other park laugh . I think next February when our real estate conference is in Orlando might be the perfect time to suck it up and go check out Universal.

We've done it before, and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Eating at Disney restaurants, visiting the waterparks, and time at DTD helped. Of course, this time will be even easier because we both were there so recently.

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The Colonel wrote:
Nice catch! I have a ton of RCI points and I can never find anything in the World.

Hubby checks RCI almost daily and has found quite a few available weeks. If you don't mind going in early to mid-September, check in July and August. Last year they had SSR and OKW weeks for just 9 exchange points.

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Oh happy day!!! Now that is awesome!!!! Though I am insanely jealous that your countdown is now shorter than mine!! laugh

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awesome

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yay As my dds are both HP fans, I'm planning a trip over to WWoHP. Looking forward to your TR so I can pick up some tips.
awesome

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Good for you! Pictures please of Harry Potter and the DTD updates.

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I'm so jealous of all the last minute trips you've been able to squeeze in! Have an absolutely awesome time! clapping

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Great news!
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I'm totally jealous! That trip sounds awesome.
We're staying 3 days at AKL and not going to Disney parks. My friends and I are doing Uni Stu and eating at Cowfish Orlando. We've been to the original CF in Charlotte, NC and it was awesome. I love that we Disney fans don't mind staying on property even if we aren't going to the parks.
mickey

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Dee, I agree, there's nothing like staying on Disney property!

May I solicit a little advice? Since we'll have a car and will be heading out of the World on at least three days (the Universal days), can any of you off-property experts suggest places to go? Interesting restaurants along the I-Drive corridor, for example? The best Disney outlets stores so we can hunt for less expensive souvenirs and other merchandise? Anything else? Thanks in advance.

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Both of the premium outlets near I drive have a great disney outlet, they sell the same stuff and are about the same size.

There's a one off place called Teak that we went to which was near universal. I'm a huge Tony Roma's fan too, there's one of them along Idrive. I also love Kobe and benihanna. I dunno what places you can get near home or not.

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Our Very Merry 24 nighter Nov/Dec 15
Watson's go West May 15
The one with all the birthdays Oct 14 4 Big Birthdays and a Vow Renewal thrown in
The OMG trip June 14 30th Birthday present from the hubs
Girly trip March 14 A last min cheapy week
September 13 our first all DVC stay
TR May 2013 the last min bargain trip offsite
Oct 2012 TR with a cruise!big family trip featuring the beach club, AKL, the dream and a villa offsite
TR on a budget May - June 2011offsite condo
TR Sept - Oct 2010 big family trip in an offsite villa

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I will send you a message on facebook about places to eat, I have a ton of favorites in Orlando!

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fmknightuk wrote:
yay As my dds are both HP fans, I'm planning a trip over to WWoHP. Looking forward to your TR so I can pick up some tips.
awesome

DH & I were there in January and WWoHP was amazing! The rest of Universal is just OK. Make sure you get there at park opening because that part will get very crowded, especially the time of year that you are going. In order to ride the Hogwarts Express (which is very cool) you will need a park to park ticket. Butter beer is a must! I invested in an interactive wand (Professor McGonagall's) and it was great fun. I think I was the only adult there with no kids waving the silly wand, but it was a blast! I felt like a kid again. We won't go to Universal every time we go to WDW, but at some point we will return.

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oHIo wrote:
fmknightuk wrote:
yay As my dds are both HP fans, I'm planning a trip over to WWoHP. Looking forward to your TR so I can pick up some tips.
awesome

DH & I were there in January and WWoHP was amazing! The rest of Universal is just OK. Make sure you get there at park opening because that part will get very crowded, especially the time of year that you are going. In order to ride the Hogwarts Express (which is very cool) you will need a park to park ticket. Butter beer is a must! I invested in an interactive wand (Professor McGonagall's) and it was great fun. I think I was the only adult there with no kids waving the silly wand, but it was a blast! I felt like a kid again. We won't go to Universal every time we go to WDW, but at some point we will return.

Thanks for the tips. I'm not a big HP fan myself, but I must admit I'm looking forward to riding Hogwarts Express. I've got a feeling I will be investing in 2 of those interactive wands for my dds!

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Hubby and I spent the weekend at Universal Studios. It was our first time seeing Diagon Alley and it is stunning!!! I thought Hogsmeade was amazing but they outdid themselves with Diagon Alley and the other new HP additions. If you are a HP fan, you will easily, and happily spend a whole day in Diagon Alley. It's much bigger and wider than Hogsmeade, so we enjoyed walking around DA more than Hogsmeade.

I could have ridden the Hogwarts Express over and over again, it was so cool. Be sure to ride it both ways. If you want a wand, I recommend an interactive one. There are many spots in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade where you can use your wand to cast a "spell." I lost all track of time just standing in front of Gringotts looking at the Dragon. laugh

I hope you have a wonderful time!

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I'm not a thrill ride fan, and most of Universal's interesting rides would aggravate my motion sickness issues, so I'll probably be spending quite a bit of time hanging out in Potterville and riding the Hogwarts Express. Might even get a wand so I can do the interactive stuff while hubby wanders off to ride roller coasters.

I've been to the original Potterville twice, but both times were before I'd read any of the Harry Potter books or saw more than the first movie, so I'm sure I missed many details that will jump out at me this time around. It will be like seeing Hogsmeade and Hogwarts for the first time, and I'm quite excited. And this time, I will probably actually want some of the overpriced Potter merchandise. At least a Ravenclaw T-shirt, I think.

We now have two Disney ADRs. I booked Kona Cafe for dinner on arrival day; I don't usually care to commit to an ADR on arrival day in case our flight is delayed, but we'll arrive early in the afternoon so there's plenty of time to get to the ADR. We also have Whispering Canyon for breakfast on our last full day; we had to cancel that breakfast during our January/February trip, so we're happy to have the chance this time. Other ADRs will have to wait till we get there and know when we're going to Universal, so they'll involve restaurants where you can usually get a last-minute reservation or even walk right in. Olivia's at Old Key West, The Wave at the Contemporary, and the table service place at Port Orleans Riverside are on the possible ADR list, and Sanaa at AKL Kidani Village is a must. We'll also be visiting many restaurants and bars in Downtown Disney - especially the bars since we'll have most of our evenings free.

Meals at Universal will involve visits to both Potterville restaurants, and probably more than once. If we want a table-service meal, we'll go to IoA's Mythos, which we liked better than the other TS places.

Our actual schedule is still flexible and dependent on the weather, but we hope to hit the Universal parks on weekdays to avoid the larger weekend crowds.

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Just throwing out the possibility of meet-ups...

We'll be in WDW from Sunday, April 19 through the end of the day Saturday, April 25 (we check out Sunday morning before dawn to catch a 7:30 am flight home). We will NOT have Disney major park passes. Sunday evening we're planning Kona Cafe and Top of the World Lounge. Three weekdays will be devoted to the Universal parks, but we're not sure which days, it will depend on the weather. One or two other days (daytime only) will be spent at one or both Disney waterparks. This gives us one full day and several evenings free, so if anyone would like to meet up at Downtown Disney or somewhere else outside the major parks, let me know. If we're not at Universal or a water park, we can get to DTD at almost a moment's notice since we're staying at Saratoga Springs.

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CCC, we're there the exact same week as you! We're at DTD on Sunday the 19th and have a free evening on Wednesday. A meet up would be great if we could manage it!

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Will you be at DTD in the afternoon Sunday? Not sure when we'll arrive from the airport, but if we're not late we should have a few hours to kill before we leave for our Kona ADR.

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We will. We get there that day (we're driving down from Georgia) and we'll be in DTD that afternoon into the evening (we have an ADR at Planet Hollywood).

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crazycatperson wrote:
Dee, I agree, there's nothing like staying on Disney property!

May I solicit a little advice? Since we'll have a car and will be heading out of the World on at least three days (the Universal days), can any of you off-property experts suggest places to go? Interesting restaurants along the I-Drive corridor, for example? The best Disney outlets stores so we can hunt for less expensive souvenirs and other merchandise? Anything else? Thanks in advance.

The only significant place that I remember eating off property is Bahama Breeze just off of I-4 on...535? It's a quick drive from DTD. It's a chain, but I don't think it has a chain sort of vibe at this location. The food is great and they have a beautiful deck if the weather is nice.

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Magic Bands arrived today, and we got DVC sliders to go with them.

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