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Hey all! So as many of you know we were planning a trip to California, but that's not going to be able to work... So instead we have the ability to spend a week in Orlando... and I'm looking for some advice. I haven't been to Orlando in well over a decade, and was only there for a few days. So I know things have changed, and there are a LOT of new things to experience. Not to mention my partner and our 2 good friends we are taking have NEVER been!! So this is going to be a great trip for all of us! We have a *rough* itinerary of what we are wanting to do... But thought I would ask for some advice from you all so we can maximize our visit! We are looking at a trip down there mid to late July... I know the worst time we could probably plan on going... But since one of our friends is a teacher that's about the only time we can go!

 

I recently came across this "Orlando Flex Ticket" thing. I don't know anything about it... But it seems like a good deal!! Maybe too good to be true?? It includes: Flex Ticket Option 1, (1) Ticket for each of the following: Universal 2 Park Multi Day Park to Park for 3 Days ~ Access into Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in the same day, for 3 Days! All days must be used within 7 days of the first day of use. SeaWorld 3 Park Unlimited Ticket~ Access to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and/or Aquatica, in the same day or separate days! Unlimited visits and free general parking to Seaworld, Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Adventure Island for 13 days from the first use. Anyone have any experience with this ticket??? For $410 per person it seems like you REALLY get a LOT for your money!! I just don't want to have any issues at the parks with the tickets or anything given that it seems like they are coming from some random website... Advice? Experiences?

 

So, that being said the current trip looks like this:

 

Day 1: Arrive at Six Flags Over Georgia, and spend the day! Stay the night in Atlanta and then drive to Orlando early the next day!

Day 2: Arrive in Orlando. First day at USO/IOA

Day 3: Second Day at USO/IOA

Day 4: Day at Busch Gardens

Day 5: Day at SeaWorld

Day 6: Day at Aquatica - Evening at FunSpot, and hitting up the Kissimmee Skycoaster (Oh god.)

Day 7: Check out and head home

 

Does that sound practical? Doable? Anything I should take into consideration? We are budgeting and planning on getting each parks unlimited line skip pass... So hopefully lines will be manageable?? And before anyone ask... No, we aren't looking at doing any Disney when we are down there on this trip. (Just not what the majority of the group wanted to do!)

 

I'm sure I'll have about 2.8 million more questions between now and when we leave... Just wanted to start trying to plan, and wrap my head around this "massive" of a trip. Usually our trips are a few days... And a park or 2.. Not a week+ with 6+ parks! So any feedback/advice you all have is greatly appreciated! Thank you all in advance!

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Here's my trip report from Central Florida when we went in 2016 (also in July).

 

we didn't do Disney either (or Universal), but we DID do BGT (multiple days), SWO, Weeki Wachi mermaids, and other fun stuff by base camping out of Tampa.

 

maybe some of this will help

 

http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1720899#p1720899

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I think you’re selling Universal short personally...the drive from Atlanta to Orlando, in my experience, takes roughly eight hours at least. I’d choose my half day at Sea World or Aquatica, and use two full days at Universal. Also some of the hotels in the area offer shuttles to Busch Gardens Tampa, so if I were you (as someone who likes to minimize driving on vacation) I would seriously take that into consideration when looking for lodging.

 

Depending on where you stay and what you like, I know I and a lot of other posters here have good information on nightlife and non-theme park activities as well.

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I think you’re selling Universal short personally...the drive from Atlanta to Orlando, in my experience, takes roughly eight hours at least. I’d choose my half day at Sea World or Aquatica, and use two full days at Universal. Also some of the hotels in the area offer shuttles to Busch Gardens Tampa, so if I were you (as someone who likes to minimize driving on vacation) I would seriously take that into consideration when looking for lodging.

One of these things I agree with, one of them I don't. You probably should consider more time at Universal because in July, unless you are getting Express Passes, it will be hard to do both parks in a day and a half. I admit that I feel like Universal has a lot of "one and done" attractions, and some of the metal detector/locker policies may discourage you from riding some attractions multiple times, but if you are at all into the properties that Universal has based their rides around, you may need some more time to see it all comfortably.

 

I would not recommend the shuttles. If you have your own car, use it. It is far more annoying to have to work your schedule around a bus departure schedule when you could have the freedom to come and go as you please. And it's a very easy drive from Orlando to Busch Gardens Tampa.

 

I may also suggest looking into the Quick Queue options at both SeaWorld and Busch. They are fairly inexpensive and can save you a lot of time!

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I recently came across this "Orlando Flex Ticket" thing. I don't know anything about it... But it seems like a good deal!! Maybe too good to be true??

 

I wouldn't say it's "too good to be true" but it's a decent deal if you factor in parking. Are you going to Aquatica because it's included in your ticket or because you really want to go to Aquatica? To me it seems insane to pay for 3 days at Universal and only use 1 1/2 of them so you can go to Aquatica. It seems even more insane to cut your first day at Universal so ridiculously short.

 

If you buy the tickets you need individually you'll end up with a $254.99 Universal ticket and a $119.99 3 park ticket to SeaWorld / Busch / Aquatica so it's about $375. With parking at the Busch parks it's about the same as the Flex ticket. If you buy the 3 day SeaWorld thing that includes parking it's saving you $15. I don't know what they charge for parking since we have Platinum Passes anyway and I don't care, but I feel like you break even if you get the more expensive ticket and visit for 3 days as opposed to getting the cheaper one and paying for parking. Double check that though.

 

What the Flex ticket is really selling you is the $169.99 SeaWorld ticket which is essentially a "Season Pass" that lasts for 14 days that includes parking and a $274.99 Universal ticket for 3 days. It saves you about $35 if you use it to it's full potential but you're not.

 

Personally I'd skip Aquatica for another day at Universal but everyone likes different things.

 

Also, the forecast will likely be the same every day (oppressively miserable with afternoon thunderstorms) but pick the least oppressively miserable day to go to Busch Gardens since they don't have a single indoor ride. Buy the Quick Queue as a Congo Rapids and Stanley Falls pass. It's also guaranteed to help you on Cheetah Hunt and probably Cobra's Curse so that's nice too. The Stanley Falls queue is the seventh layer of hell (cramped, hot and awful) but you'll want to ride it approximately 800 times on a July Florida day. Don't forget about the Sheikra splash. I never thought I'd catch myself standing under that but then I went to Florida in the summer .

 

The other parks offer plenty of opportunities to duck into air conditioning for awhile, but Busch Tampa really doesn't.

 

Aside from that, I defer to Robb and the Orlando locals.

 

Edit: Fun Spot sells a 2 park ticket if you're interested but you need to buy it at the park. You can't buy it online.

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Yeah I would absolutely give the Universal parks 2 or 2.5 or 3 full days and use the half day when you arrive for something else, SeaWorld, Aquatica, FunSpot etc.

 

The Orlando water parks in the summer time get absolutely slammed so be aware of that. If you're really interested in Aquatica (and hey it's included in the ticket so why not) I'd recommend hitting it first thing in the morning and knocking out the major slides before it gets crowded or later in the afternoon/evening before close. There is a shuttle that runs from the main gate of SeaWorld to Aquatica and back all day that I've used a few times and it's pretty easy to spend a few hours at Aquatica then hop over to SeaWorld for the coasters or vice versa. Might be worth considering teaming those two parks up on the same day instead of Aquatica/Fun Spot, on on the arrival day depending on park hours arrival time etc.

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Yeah I would absolutely give the Universal parks 2 or 2.5 or 3 full days and use the half day when you arrive for something else, SeaWorld, Aquatica, FunSpot etc.

 

He won't arrive until around 4pm and (let's be real), everything at Aquatica will be closed for lightning at that point. It's July.

 

If you get the 14 day pass, SeaWorld isn't a bad option that afternoon. SeaWorld is never a bad option. Ever...

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Yeah I would absolutely give the Universal parks 2 or 2.5 or 3 full days and use the half day when you arrive for something else, SeaWorld, Aquatica, FunSpot etc.

 

He won't arrive until around 4pm and (let's be real), everything at Aquatica will be closed for lightning at that point. It's July.

 

If you get the 14 day pass, SeaWorld isn't a bad option that afternoon. SeaWorld is never a bad option. Ever...

 

Yeah, arrive at 4, slide into Aquatica during the lightning storm when everyone else is leaving, then when it passes 15 minutes later have the park to your self until close

 

 

I didn't see arrival times mentioned anywhere but if it were my trip the first day I'd just check in and relax, maybe hit Fun Spot for a few hours in the evening cause that's about all you need anyways.

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Like others have mentioned, I wouldn't recommend a full day at Aquatica. It's a beautiful water park, but outside of the drop pod slides I didn't find anything particularly noteworthy.

 

When I clicked on the link for the flex ticket, I noticed this line:

 

Flexible Ticket Package combines Universal Studios Florida®, Islands of Adventure®, Sea World of Orlando®, Sea World Aquatica®, Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and even 1 Day Visit to Magic Kingdom.

 

I'd strongly recommend going to the Magic Kingdom over Aquatica if it is in fact included.

 

Edit: Fun Spot sells a 2 park ticket if you're interested but you need to buy it at the park. You can't buy it online.

 

When I was there right before Thanksgiving, I tried purchasing a 2 park ticket at the Orlando location and was told they no longer offered it.

 

I ended up going with a season pass, which worked well so I could return multiple days. Fun Spot is open until midnight, is small, and has free parking, so it's the perfect place to stop into at the end of a day.

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Flexible Ticket Package combines Universal Studios Florida®, Islands of Adventure®, Sea World of Orlando®, Sea World Aquatica®, Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and even 1 Day Visit to Magic Kingdom.

 

I'd strongly recommend going to the Magic Kingdom over Aquatica if it is in fact included.

 

It's included in Option 2 which is $455, but not in the $410 one he was looking at.

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I think it's worth mentioning that if you stay at one of the premium tier Universal Resorts (Royal Pacific, Portofino Bay, or Hard Rock) that you get free Universal Express Passes. The room rates will probably be very expensive that time of year but you are getting roughly $200 a day in perks included with that rate for the two express passes. Plus they offer free boat shuttles to the park and the resorts are just really really nice in general.

 

Oh and you also get an hour early entry into Harry Potter or Volcano Bay if you are considering that at all. But this perk is included for Universal Resort hotels of all tiers.

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Here's my trip report from Central Florida when we went in 2016 (also in July).

 

we didn't do Disney either (or Universal), but we DID do BGT (multiple days), SWO, Weeki Wachi mermaids, and other fun stuff by base camping out of Tampa.

 

maybe some of this will help

 

I did take a look at it, and found some good tips in it!! Thanks!

 

I think you’re selling Universal short personally...the drive from Atlanta to Orlando, in my experience, takes roughly eight hours at least. I’d choose my half day at Sea World or Aquatica, and use two full days at Universal. Also some of the hotels in the area offer shuttles to Busch Gardens Tampa, so if I were you (as someone who likes to minimize driving on vacation) I would seriously take that into consideration when looking for lodging.

 

Depending on where you stay and what you like, I know I and a lot of other posters here have good information on nightlife and non-theme park activities as well.

 

Thanks for the feedback. I think we will move Sea World to the first half day that way we have more time at Universal/IOA! None of us are big "nightlife" people so none of that will probably come into play much.

 

One of these things I agree with, one of them I don't. You probably should consider more time at Universal because in July, unless you are getting Express Passes, it will be hard to do both parks in a day and a half. I admit that I feel like Universal has a lot of "one and done" attractions, and some of the metal detector/fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo policies may discourage you from riding some attractions multiple times, but if you are at all into the properties that Universal has based their rides around, you may need some more time to see it all comfortably.

 

I would not recommend the shuttles. If you have your own car, use it. It is far more annoying to have to work your schedule around a bus departure schedule when you could have the freedom to come and go as you please. And it's a very easy drive from Orlando to Busch Gardens Tampa.

 

I may also suggest looking into the Quick Queue options at both SeaWorld and Busch. They are fairly inexpensive and can save you a lot of time!

 

Thanks for the advice Robb! I think having two full days at USO/IOA will be great for us, so we will just do half day at Sea World. We will have Express Passes to offset the lines, but I'd rather have too much time than not enough. . .

 

Metal Detector policies??

 

We will have our own car, so we won't be using shuttles. I too find it frustrating when you have to try to schedule your vacation and time around shuttles. I'd rather have my own car and have the ability to come and go as I please!

 

We will be getting Quick Queue at both SeaWorld and Busch. Like you said they are fairly inexpensive and can save a lot of time! I know they will be well worth it!

 

Are you going to Aquatica because it's included in your ticket or because you really want to go to Aquatica? To me it seems insane to pay for 3 days at Universal and only use 1 1/2 of them so you can go to Aquatica. It seems even more insane to cut your first day at Universal so ridiculously short.

 

Pretty much, yes we were only going to Aquatica because it was included in the ticket. We do all enjoy water parks, but if we are going to take the time to go to a water park maybe Volcano Bay would be worth looking into instead of Aquatica?

 

Personally I'd skip Aquatica for another day at Universal but everyone likes different things.

 

I have a feeling the people that are going with us will be wanting to move on to something new after 2 days at Universal. Personally I'd be happy doing 3... But they have already shown disinterest in more than 2 days. Maybe Volcano Bay instead?

 

Also, the forecast will likely be the same every day (oppressively miserable with afternoon thunderstorms) but pick the least oppressively miserable day to go to Busch Gardens since they don't have a single indoor ride. Buy the Quick Queue as a Congo Rapids and Stanley Falls pass. It's also guaranteed to help you on Cheetah Hunt and probably Cobra's Curse so that's nice too. The Stanley Falls queue is the seventh layer of hell (cramped, hot and awful) but you'll want to ride it approximately 800 times on a July Florida day. Don't forget about the Sheikra splash. I never thought I'd catch myself standing under that but then I went to Florida in the summer.

 

Thanks for the tips! I'll have to keep those in mind. I too didn't foresee us standing there to get soaked by SheiKra, but hey... If it's hot we gotta do what we gotta do!

 

If you get the 14 day pass, SeaWorld isn't a bad option that afternoon. SeaWorld is never a bad option. Ever...

 

I'm really stating to like the idea of doing SeaWorld as the afternoon park instead of a full day park. Given that we aren't really going for the shows I'm sure we can do the majority of the coasters we want to do in the afternoon especially with a quick queue!

 

I didn't see arrival times mentioned anywhere but if it were my trip the first day I'd just check in and relax, maybe hit Fun Spot for a few hours in the evening cause that's about all you need anyways.

 

Still trying to figure out what night we are going to squeeze in Fun Spot. I was pretty sure it wouldn't take very long to do... But still need to find time.

 

When I clicked on the link for the flex ticket, I noticed this line:

 

Flexible Ticket Package combines Universal Studios Florida®, Islands of Adventure®, Sea World of Orlando®, Sea World Aquatica®, Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and even 1 Day Visit to Magic Kingdom.

 

I'd strongly recommend going to the Magic Kingdom over Aquatica if it is in fact included.

 

I thought about that ticket option... But everyone I'm going with is like "If we are doing Disney... that is ALL we are doing so we can do ALL of Disney..." So I figured the 1 day at Magic Kingdom wouldn't even be worth bringing up to them. 2019 is looking to be our Disney trip (assuming this trip goes well.)

 

I think it's worth mentioning that if you stay at one of the premium tier Universal Resorts (Royal Pacific, Portofino Bay, or Hard Rock) that you get free Universal Express Passes. The room rates will probably be very expensive that time of year but you are getting roughly $200 a day in perks included with that rate for the two express passes. Plus they offer free boat shuttles to the park and the resorts are just really really nice in general.

 

Oh and you also get an hour early entry into Harry Potter or Volcano Bay if you are considering that at all. But this perk is included for Universal Resort hotels of all tiers.

 

That will for SURE be worth looking in to! I mean the Express Passes we were looking at were MORE than the park tickets... So their hotel may be the way to go. If it's just slightly more than the hotel we were looking at staying at then it will be worth it!!

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

Thank you all so much for the feedback so far!! Looks like I need to make a few changes to the plans... I'm sure I'll be posting in here again soon for advice.

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Pretty much, yes we were only going to Aquatica because it was included in the ticket. We do all enjoy water parks, but if we are going to take the time to go to a water park maybe Volcano Bay would be worth looking into instead of Aquatica?

Volcano Bay was kind of a cluster fuck last summer. I think it's been doing "better" but then again, they haven't had summer crowds. Unless you feel you HAVE to go to the "brand new water *cough* theme *cough* park" I'd say Aquatica is perfectly fine to fill that "water park quota" for your trip. It's actually a really nice water park!

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Metal Detector policies??

 

For their outdoor coasters (Hulk, Rockit), they make you put everything in a locker. And I mean everything. Phones, keys, wallets, etc. Prior to entering the queue, you have to pass through a metal detector and if you set it off (which you will if you wear a belt), you are also wanded down.

 

When I clicked on the link for the flex ticket, I noticed this line:

 

Flexible Ticket Package combines Universal Studios Florida®, Islands of Adventure®, Sea World of Orlando®, Sea World Aquatica®, Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay and even 1 Day Visit to Magic Kingdom.

 

I'd strongly recommend going to the Magic Kingdom over Aquatica if it is in fact included.

 

I thought about that ticket option... But everyone I'm going with is like "If we are doing Disney... that is ALL we are doing so we can do ALL of Disney..." So I figured the 1 day at Magic Kingdom wouldn't even be worth bringing up to them. 2019 is looking to be our Disney trip (assuming this trip goes well.)

 

As long as you have plans to come back to visit Disney World someday. I can see wanting to do all of Disney World at once.

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... or instead of Aquatica, do Discovery Cove (you can still do fun spot in the evening) and upgrade ($25) to get the package that includes SeaWorld/Busch+parking at both. So DAY RESORT + Ultimate Package. Protip: You don't need the upgraded drink package for free alcohol (though the upgraded package gets you: Sangria, Rum Punch, Mojito, Cuba Libre, Margarita and a selection of local craft beers and upgraded wines) and the ray feeding and other pay activities are not necessary IMO. No need to do the dolphin swim (unless you are dead set on it), the rest of the stuff in the base package is awesome and you'll save $$$

 

$200+$25 might sound crazy, but you get SeaWorld/Aquatica/Busch plus parking included, and Discovery Cove is so unique and awesome. You get fed unlimited breakfast, lunch, and snacks. You get to drink alcoholic beverages all you want. You get to swim with giant stingrays. You get to relax. You get up close encounters with animals you can't get at Seaworld or Busch. They have a cool aviary. You don't have to deal with huge hoards of people since even in sold out days there is plenty of room to breath. You'll want to "relax" by the time day 6 rolls around. And you don't have to spend another penny while at Discovery Cove since EVERYTHING is included.

 

Consider it!

 

You are able to visit Busch and SeaWorld before you actually visit Discovery Cove, so doing it on Day 6 wouldn't be a problem. You have a 7 or 14 (?) day window to visit all the parks you want to visit.

 

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