Trip Planning Advice

Fallow

Veteran Member
May 26, 2010
3,015
Hi all,

Can't believe I'm writing this, as I'm usually the perennial expert when it comes to theme parks in my neck of the woods... sadly, I haven't been to Universal Orlando since 2015 for the HHN anniversary. It's been a minute.

There's an opportunity for me to do a short trip at the beginning of December, piggybacking off my Thanksgiving travel. I have two fundamental questions:

1) Aventura or Cabana Bay,

and

2) How crowded is it really going to be?

We're planning on arriving Sunday the 1st and flying out the morning of the 5th, so we'd have half of Sunday, then 3 full days at the parks. Typically, I know pre-Grinchmas December is light, but with Disneyland dead in summer I don't know which way is up anymore.

As far as the hotels go, I've stayed in Cabana twice now in the past and enjoyed it both times. We'd love access to the water park (though is Volcano Bay going to be regularly closed for weather in December?), which means Aventura is also an option. I'm enticed by the modern feel & the rooftop bar. I'm packaging a vacation through a corporate seller, so the prices for the two hotels are identical.

Would love any advice. Thanks guys.
 

Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
11,140
Pittsburgh, PA
First of all, that is the LEAST crowded time of year. Great time to visit.

Second, if you aren’t going to use the amenities of Cabana Bay then pick the cheaper option. Otherwise it’s a toss up. You can quickly walk from Cabana Bay to Adventura using the VB walkway or pedestrian bridge.
 

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
17,123
Pittsburgh area
I like CBBR 'much' more than Adventura, and lately their prices have been about the same. You can still go over to the Adventura top floor bar if you stay in CBBR, but it gets really windy and chilly up there in December. Last year we went first week of December for the first time. Best Universal vacation we ever had. Seuss Landing transforms into an immersive Christmas area with tons of really great Streetmosphere characters from Grinchmas. And we went to 4 showings of the new Grinchmas, it's that good. Hogsmeade has a nice holiday feel, and like it's sister show in Hollywood, the Christmas projector show is breathtaking. The Turkey dinner holiday special at Leaky Cauldron was 'by far' the best quickservice meal I've had at any park. Delicious, large portions, and a decent price. USF is constantly filled with Christmas music and is really holiday immersive now. The new Macy's Parade is 'excellent'. Watched that three times. And don't miss the new Cinemagic Lagoon show. It's Disney night show level. The Celistina Christmas show in Diagon is OK, but I think the regular show is better. And don't miss the Blues Brothers' show that has a partial Christmas theme. It's a hoot. Take clothes for warm & cold. It was always sunny, but days ranged from high 60's to mid 80's, so we were able to get some pool time in. And....all the resorts are decorated really well. We took one evening just to resort bar hop and check out the trees and decorations. Our fav resort bar/restaurant is StrongWater Tavern in Sapphire, which is just a 4 or 5 minute walk from CBBR. I strongly recommend it. Mannheim Steamroller should be playing the night you arrive. We loved it. Saw that twice. Parks aren't dead, but they're not overly crowded. You can get by without Express, especially if you do the single rider lines. Gringotts was 30-45 minutes and FJ 20 to 30 minutes most of the time last Dec. SpiderMan 20-30 minutes usually. Also, do the Seuss Trolley in the darkness. It's ten times better, and really fun. Do Kong it in the dark if you can. ...All in all, we loved early December at Universal.
 
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Fallow

Veteran Member
May 26, 2010
3,015
Great advice from all, thank you.

What are the odds of Volcano Bay being closed? We really would love to do a day of that.
 

Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
11,140
Pittsburgh, PA
Great advice from all, thank you.

What are the odds of Volcano Bay being closed? We really would love to do a day of that.
It’s possible but unlikely. You should be fine. You’re only in trouble late December through March.