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A trip planned for September with my family

NocturneFexy

Newcomer
Dec 27, 2020
33
Pittsburgh
I plan on going to the parks in September after Labor Day. I am thinking of staying for two days, one for Islands of Adventure and one for Studios. From what I've heard is that this is one of the times where crowds aren't so heavy, but with HHN (which I don't plan on attending), I'm not sure about going to on-site hotels.

I'm thinking of getting Express Pass Unlimited for all who's going. So even if it's crowded, I shouldn't be too worried about waiting in line (except for probably Hagrid's and Velocicoaster which my brother is very interested in riding) regardless of how crowded it is.

This is the first time since I've been to the parks since 2014 (before Diagon Alley opened, so sorry if I seem not very knowledgeable about some of this), so I'm very curious to see what the parks are like nowadays, I know what the new attractions are in these parks, but regardless.

EDIT: I forgot to bring up that we probably would be staying for four nights because we'll throw a day at SeaWorld in there as well.

Any tips, suggestions, or things I need to know for this trip?
 
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JawsVictim

Veteran Member
Nov 3, 2015
2,198
Hello, and welcome to the forum!

I did this exact trip the week after Labor Day in 2021. I typically attend HHN around the second or third weekend of Sept. and had to bump up my trip last year to coincide with a wedding.

Surprisingly the parks weren’t crazy packed like I anticipated but the important thing to remember is the early bird catches the worm.

If you can, always get to the front gates at least 45 minutes before opening. This will allow you to immediately hit the attractions with the longest waits. For example, we were able to get all of IOA done by 1 PM on a Friday by rope dropping (starting with Velicio > Hagrids > Water rides > Hulk > Doom > Spidey> Kong > FJ > Cat).

Crowds always pick up later in the morning/early afternoon. By then, you can have most of the heavy hitters done and can relax at Mythos with a Long Island ice tea.

Another alternative is to stay on property and get complimentary express + early admission to USF in Sept. I’ve done this before and it’s well worth it if you are traveling with a large family. Early entry is especially nice as there are fewer people in the park, so Diagon will feel more intimate.

So, if you can swing the cost I suggest staying at Royal Pacific. If that’s too expensive and you’re willing to drop the complimentary express, I suggest Cabana Bay. Also, will you be going to HHN? If so, that’s a whole other beast where extra planning and an express pass goes a long way.
 
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NocturneFexy

Newcomer
Dec 27, 2020
33
Pittsburgh
Also, will you be going to HHN? If so, that’s a whole other beast where extra planning and an express pass goes a long way.
I don't intend on going to HHN. I wasn't really interested in doing that because I know I wouldn't enjoy myself.

Also, I forgot to add that I was planning on doing Monday and Tuesday if that makes anything better or worse.

But regardless, thank you for the tips!
 

JawsVictim

Veteran Member
Nov 3, 2015
2,198
I don't intend on going to HHN. I wasn't really interested in doing that because I know I wouldn't enjoy myself.

Also, I forgot to add that I was planning on doing Monday and Tuesday if that makes anything better or worse.

But regardless, thank you for the tips!
Are you going on Labor Day, which would be the Monday? If so, I would anticipate heavy crowds. The Tuesday after Labor Day wasn’t bad at all in 2021.

Also, I forgot to mention that all of Universal’s hotels offer early entry, which would be for USF during HHN season. Only Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, and Royal Pacific have the complimentary express. If you don’t think you need express, Cabana Bay offers the best onsite experience and value IMO.
 

Disneyhead

Legendary Member
Jul 24, 2008
11,476
Orlando, FL
If you plan on buying Unlimited Express passes and there are at least 3 in your party, it is usually cheaper to just get a room at one of the Deluxe hotels. The Deluxe hotels have complimentary Unlimited Express Passes every day of your stay including your check in and check out days. So if you stay one night, you get 2 days of Express Passes for everyone in your room.
 

NocturneFexy

Newcomer
Dec 27, 2020
33
Pittsburgh
Are you going on Labor Day, which would be the Monday? If so, I would anticipate heavy crowds. The Tuesday after Labor Day wasn’t bad at all in 2021.

Also, I forgot to mention that all of Universal’s hotels offer early entry, which would be for USF during HHN season. Only Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, and Royal Pacific have the complimentary express. If you don’t think you need express, Cabana Bay offers the best onsite experience and value IMO.
I'm thinking about mid-September, so after Labor Day.

I'm not sure if this changes anything but I was planning on throwing a day at SeaWorld in there too (after we get done with Universal).
 
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JawsVictim

Veteran Member
Nov 3, 2015
2,198
I'm thinking about mid-September, so after Labor Day.

I'm not sure if this changes anything but I was planning on throwing a day at SeaWorld in there too (after we get done with Universal).
You can easily catch a ride share to SeaWorld or drive and pay for parking if you have a car. I haven’t been to SeaWorld since ‘17 so I don’t have much insight on that park right now.

One more personal planning tip I’ll share…there’s a Whole Foods close to UO. On my way in, I like to stop there and buy groceries for my stay. Specifically breakfast items that can go in the mini fridge and some cold brew coffee. Makes it easier getting up early in the morning plus saves time and money.
 
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Yabbadabba Doh

Contributing Member
Jan 31, 2013
792
One more personal planning tip I’ll share…there’s a Whole Foods close to UO. On my way in, I like to stop there and buy groceries for my stay. Specifically breakfast items that can go in the mini fridge and some cold brew coffee. Makes it easier getting up early in the morning plus saves time and money.
If you’re not driving, I would recommend Amazon Fresh since they will deliver right to the resort on your arrival day. I’ve done this my last two trips and saved a bunch on water and snacks.
 

belloq87

Veteran Member
Dec 7, 2009
5,878
Universal Exports
This is the first time since I've been to the parks since 2014 (before Diagon Alley opened, so sorry if I seem not very knowledgeable about some of this), so I'm very curious to see what the parks are like nowadays, I know what the new attractions are in these parks, but regardless.
Definitely make time for The Bourne Stuntacular. It's one of the more impressive stage shows I've seen in any theme park, and a very worthy replacement for T2-3D: Battle Across Time.