Universal Orlando Resort is among the best theme parks in the world. From thrills and fantasy to family-friendly lands, there’s seriously something for everyone at this renowned park dedicated to our favorite movies and TV characters.
However, due to the immense popularity of this theme park resort, a bit of planning can take your visit from good to great. Keep our Universal Orlando tips in mind when you’re ready to plan your trip!
Universal Orlando Tips: Advice Before You Go
Timing is Key
Deciding when to visit Universal Orlando is paramount. Certain seasons such as the summertime experience greater crowds, therefore leading to increased ride wait times. For the absolute best day ever (and minimal lines), consider planning to visit the park in the late winter or early spring, or weekdays throughout the fall and early winter.
If you must visit during the summer, do your best to adhere to the rest of our Universal Orlando tips to avoid long lines and immense crowds.
Know Where to Stay
Believe it or not, where you stay in Orlando has an effect on your day at the park. Luckily, you have a few options.
Universal Orlando Hotels
If the Universal Orlando theme parks are the centerpiece of your Orlando vacation, I highly recommend booking a hotel room at one of their resort hotels. Similar to other theme parks, resort hotel guests receive a multitude of perks, including early morning park access and FREE Universal Express Unlimited™ for each guest!
The resort is home to a variety of hotel options, from premier themed hotels to simple value rooms. There’s an option for all types of travel budgets.
Best of all, the parks are a quick walk away from the hotels. There’s no need to hop on a bus or other form of transportation to access the fun.
Orlando Hotels with Theme Park Shuttles
Several hotels in Orlando offer the awesome benefit of a free theme park shuttle. If you choose to do so, be sure to double-check the hotel’s shuttle schedule.
To maximize your day at the park, you’ll want to catch the earliest shuttle possible!
Of course, if neither of these hotel options are viable for your Orlando vacation, consider taking a ride-sharing service to the park to avoid those hefty parking fees.
Know What Ticket Type You Need
Universal Orlando Resort is home to two main theme parks and one water park:
- Universal Studios Florida
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Universal’s Volcano Bay
Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure are connected via Universal’s CityWalk entertainment district as well as the Hogwarts Express ride. Each theme park requires a ticket to enter.
If you have more than one day to spend at the resort, you can purchase single-day tickets. This grants you access to one theme park per day.
For those who only have a day to explore the parks, you can purchase a Park-to-Park ticket. In addition to park entry, you are also able to ride the Hogwarts Express between parks. Even if you have multiple days to spend at the theme park, this ticket type provides the ultimate flexibility for your trip.
When planning your Universal Orlando vacation, explore the various ticket types to determine which best fits your trip.
Consider the Universal Express Pass
If you’re visiting during a peak season or have limited time at the parks, one of the best Universal Orlando tips is to purchase the Universal Express pass.
Similar to Disney’s FastPass+ system, Universal Express allows you to skip the long ride lines. Two options are available to park-goers:
- Universal ExpressTM: Skip the lines once per participating ride.
- Universal ExpressTM Unlimited: Skip the lines an unlimited amount of times at all participating rides.
It’s important to note that not all rides accept this pass. However, the major rides such as Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™ and The Incredible Hulk Coaster® do.
Now, if you plan to spend more than one day at the park, you may not need to spend the extra money on this pass. Review your travel plans as well as the cost per pass and consider if this pass is worth spending your travel budget on. For many travelers, it is!
Universal Orlando Tips for Your Day in the Parks
Plan to Spend the Whole Day
No matter if you are only visiting one theme park or purchased a Park-to-Park ticket, each Universal Orlando theme park is filled with enough fun to encompass an entire day. This tip is especially key for those planning to experience both parks in a single day (which is totally possible with some advanced planning.)
With this in mind, plan to spend your whole day at the theme park resort. This means arriving prior to “rope drop” and staying until the park closes. This tactic enables you to:
- Make the most of your vacation budget
- Ride as many theme park attraction as possible (and as many times as possible)
- Explore Universal’s CityWalk
- Grab a bite to eat at any of the restaurants
- Schedule break times
Use the morning portion of your visit to conquer as many of the big rides as possible and take breaks in the afternoon. When scouting out a spot to take a break, consider finding a bench with shade or grabbing a bite to eat in any of Universal CityWalk’s restaurants.
Use your break time to recharge! Or, if you need a relief from the hot Orlando sun, hop on water rides like Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls.
Know What to Pack and Wear
One of the most imperative Universal Orlando tips is knowing what to bring for your day at the parks. What you pack has the ability to make or break your entire day!
For a day filled with adventure, fun, and absolutely no mishaps whatsoever, remember to pack:
- Small Snacks
- Small Sunscreen Bottle
- Extra Cash
- Printed Out Tickets
- Phone Charger
- Camera (If desired)
To carry all of these items, you’ll need a comfortable, lightweight backpack. Additionally, you are allowed to bring a soft-sided insulated bag-style cooler no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep into the park for snacks.
Of course, you’ll need to rent lockers to store these items when you go on rides. Keep this in mind when budgeting for the day, too.
Choose Your Adventure
Once you’re all packed and inside the park, it’s time to choose your adventure! Do you start with Universal’s Islands of Adventure, home to The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM – Hogsmeade, Marvel Super Hero Island and Jurassic park? Or do step into Springfield, USA and the best of Hollywood inside Universal Studios Florida?
No matter which path you choose, you’ll need to have a plan for your day. These quick Universal Orlando tips will help:
Start and End with Big Rides
Determine which rides are the most popular in your park of choice. Start and end your day with these rides. During the late morning and afternoon hours, these rides have astronomical wait times. At the beginning and end of the day, those times drastically reduce!
Two Parks? No Problem.
As mentioned before, it’s totally possible to explore both parks in a single day (with your Park-to-Park ticket, of course.) Take a mental note of all the rides you want to experience and divide them up by park. See which park has the most “must-ride” attractions and start your day there.
Of course, while you’ll be spending the whole day at the park, you won’t be able to experience every single attraction. Having a “must-ride” list also ensures you make the most of your day at Universal Orlando Resort!
Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines
Unless you’re riding with small children, Single Rider Lines are the key to a fantastic day in Universal Orlando. You’ll have the opportunity to skip the crazy wait times and get right onto the ride! I once skipped the entire 2+ hour wait time at Harry Potter and Forbidden Journey™ by going in the single riders line.
Sure, I missed the gorgeous Hogwarts Castle experience, but I saved so much time in my day!
Enjoy Your Trip to Universal Orlando Resort!
With these Universal Orlando tips up your sleeve, you’re well prepared for a memorable day in the parks.
Have you been to the parks before? What tips and tricks would you add to our guide?