10 Tips To Make the Most Of Your Universal Studios Vacation

10 Tips To Make the Most Of Your Universal Studios Vacation

My boyfriend and I are theme park fanatics to say the least. We try to visit Orlando as often as humanly possible. We just returned home from visiting Universal Studios a few weeks ago, and we’re already itching to go back. You might be thinking, doesn’t it get repetitive visiting the same place year after year? Never. Aside from the fact that the Universal Orlando Resort has a million and one things to do, they’re constantly expanding and adding new attractions. And the attractions are so good, that you want to go on them over and over again. We may or may not have gone on Men in Black four times while we were there. Don’t judge us!

Visiting a theme park like Universal Studios can be overwhelming for some. Usually you only have a couple of days to cover everything, and want to make sure you soak it all in. Since we’ve visited Universal Studios quite a few times in recent years, I thought I would round-up my top ten tips for making the most of your Universal Studios vacation. This past time, we visited both parks in ONE day. Yes, it is possible. However, I do recommend visiting for at least two days if you can. If you follow my tips, you’re sure to make the most out of your trip, no matter how long or short it is.

Universal Studios Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Tips and Tricks

1. Opt for the park-to-park ticket.

If you want the full experience, you have to visit both parks. Even if you only have one day, it’s absolutely possible to visit most attractions in both parks. Depending on who you’re visiting with, whether you’re traveling with small children, or visiting as a couple like Matt and I do, there are going to be rides that you skip simply because they don’t appeal to your age group. So don’t be completely overwhelmed when you see that list of attractions! Even if you’re staying for an extended period of time, I still suggest purchasing the park-to-park ticket. You never know if you’re going to want to head back to a particular park at night, even if it’s to ride your favorite attraction just one more time!

Universal-Studios-Orlando-Resort

2. Buy the Universal Express Unlimited Pass.

I cannot stress this enough. Buying the Universal Express Unlimited Pass has proven to be worth it every single time we have ever visited. Depending on the time of year, starting at an additional $84.99 per day, you can add a Universal Express Unlimited Pass to your park ticket. I know what you’re thinking; that’s a bit of an investment, especially if you’re in a larger group. However, you’re able to accomplish SO much more if you have the pass.

The Unlimited Express pass can be used an unlimited number of times at participating rides and attractions. There are a few exclusions (which I can list below), but you don’t mind waiting in line for the excluded rides, because you’re able to get on every other ride with virtually no line. That’s how Matt and I were able to go on Men in Black four times in one day! For a little bit less per day, you can purchase the Universal Express Pass, which allows you to use the pass one time per ride only. It’s still an awesome option, but if you’re going to buy the pass at all, I say go for the unlimited version. When you’re visiting theme parks, time can be more valuable than money, and the Universal Express Unlimited Pass will save you a TON of time.

Universal-Studios-Orlando-Resort-10

3. Before you leave for your trip, create a must-see list.

Whether you plan on purchasing an express pass or not, it’s always a good idea to plan out which attractions you absolutely must see. Make it a priority to visit the attractions at the top of your list first. For Matt and I, a visit to Universal Studios would be incomplete without riding Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, as well as Jurassic Park River Adventure and Revenge of the Mummy. It’s also a great idea to look up the attractions and rides ahead of time, because it makes you extra excited for your trip!

4. Stay on-site.

While we didn’t stay on-site during our last trip, I highly recommend staying at one of the Universal Orlando Resorts if you’re planning on visiting the theme parks. About two years ago we stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and not only did we enjoy it because it is an absolutely breathtaking resort, but the perks of staying on-site are totally worth it.

Hotel guests of the on-site hotels get exclusive theme park benefits! By staying at an on-site hotel, you receive the Universal Express Unlimited pass for both theme parks absolutely FREE (per person, per day). That is an incredible savings, especially if you’re visiting with your family. You also get early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens. Since most of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides are excluded from the Express Pass, this is a priceless perk. When we stayed on-site we took full advantage and arrived at the theme park exactly one hour before the theme park opened, and were able to ride all of our Harry Potter favorites before 9 a.m. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is extremely popular, so being able to experience it before the general public can, is incredible!

{Image courtesy: Universal Orlando Resort}

Another benefit of staying on-site is that our resort was in walking distance of the theme parks. We didn’t have to worry about taking a taxi or bus, we simply strolled down a pretty path and were at the front gates within minutes. Our resort also had a boat that went straight to City Walk which was also very convenient.

5. Pack a backpack with all of the essentials.

Whenever we visit Universal Studios, we make sure to pack a backpack with everything we could possibly need throughout the day. There are plenty of stores incase you forget anything, but it saves time to have everything you need with you. Universal Studios provides free lockers for attractions that don’t allow bags, and you can rent a locker for a small fee throughout the park if you get tired of carrying it. (Next week, in a separate post, I will be sharing exactly what we pack for a day at the parks.) Especially if you purchase a park-to-park ticket, it’s going to be a long day, so you definitely want to pack accordingly.

6. Buy a Coca-Cola Freestyle mug.

This was our first time buying the Coca-Cola Freestyle mug, but as soon as I saw the deal on one of the menus, my exact words were “Matt, I’m buying that”. I am an avid soda drinker to begin with, but when you mix that with the Florida heat, literally all you want is a constant flow of an icy cold beverage. Basically, you purchase the mug, and you can refill it at any Coca-Cola Freestyle machine located all throughout the park, all day long. I think you have to wait 10 minutes in between refills, but that wasn’t a problem at all. The Coca-Cola Freestyle machines are cool because you can add fun flavors to existing Coke products. It was seriously the BEST investment, and we more than got our money’s worth.

Universal Studios Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort

7. Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the morning.

As I mentioned, most of the Harry Potter attractions are excluded from the Express Pass, so the earlier you get to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the better. What Matt and I typically do is head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the morning, ride all of the attractions there, and then move on to the other rides. Even if we spend hours there, we know we have the Express Pass to easily get on most of the other attractions outside of The Wizarding World. And don’t forget, if you stay on-site, you get to visit The Wizarding World an entire hour earlier than everyone else. Obviously if you’re not a fan of Harry Potter, it won’t be a priority. However, I think the Wizarding World is an unbelievable sight even for those who don’t follow the movies or books.

Universal-Studios-Orlando-Resort-04

8. Use the single rider lane.

If you decide not to opt for the Express Pass, a great option for surpassing longer lines, is to use the single rider lane. On a few attractions throughout the park, you can ride as a single-rider and cut your wait time down tremendously.

9. Bring a portable phone charger.

Whether you’re using the Universal Studio Resort app to check on wait times, or playing games to pass the time while you’re waiting in line, you will be using your phone a ton. You don’t want to risk having your phone die. Trust me, trying to find other people in your party with no way to contact them is no fun. Portable chargers are becoming a lot more affordable, so be sure to invest in one before your trip.

10. Wear sunscreen.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but seriously do not forget to wear or pack sunscreen. Matt forgot on our last trip, and he was in some serious pain. If you do forget, you can buy it at one of the stores in the park like we did. Florida can be seriously hot, especially if you visit in the summertime.

Universal-Studios-Orlando-Resort-11

Using all of these tips, minus our little sunscreen incident, we truly were able to accomplish and see so much in one day. Visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is so exciting and fun, but you do need to be a little strategic about it. You don’t want the day to pass you by, and realize you’ve only been on a couple of attractions.

Even though we just visited, we’re already dreaming of our next trip to Universal Studios. There are so many exciting new attractions in the works. While we were there last month, we actually were able to ride their newest attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong. One word, wow! I still can’t get over how realistic Kong looked. You actually felt like you were in a different world. Aside from being absolutely impressed with the entire design of the ride, we actually learned that it operates on a trackless ride system. It’s seriously mind-boggling what Universal Studios can do.

Universal-Studios-Orlando-Resort-13

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m actually a huge fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, so I am pretty excited about the Fast & Furious ride coming soon to the parks. I also found out that next year Universal Orlando Resort will be opening a water park, Universal’s Volcano Bay. Exciting, much?

In my eyes, the only thing better than visiting Universal Orlando Resort, would be living there. Someday! Stay tuned for more of my Universal Studios tips and tricks!

Universal-Studios-Orlando-Resort-12

Have you ever visited Universal Orlando Resort?

Follow this blog: Bloglovin | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Thank you to Universal Orlando Resort for providing us with complimentary theme park tickets and express passes for one day! All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

  • JeeYoung

    These tips are amazing!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Lorrin Sell

    i’m dying to visit universal! these are great tips!

  • Great tips… we always stay on property bc that express pass is fantastic!!

  • What great tips! I can’t wait to go to universal.

  • Kimberly Stroh

    I can’t believe I haven’t been since HP World opened! I really want to visit and just check that out. It looks fantastic.

  • Karen Yannacio Morse

    Portable phone chargers are KEY for almost anything nowadays! You have a great resource of ideas for Universal Studios…especially that great reminder about sunscreen! 🙂 How fun…

  • Becca Wilson

    These are such great tips for those that have never been. It has been a long time since I have been to Universal and so much has changed.

  • Rebecca Bryant

    Universal rocks. We love hanging out here and enjoying the day. So much to do.

  • I have heard the park-to-park tickets are the best. I am planning a trip close by in December. I might have to consider going there.

  • Kimberly Ann

    I haven’t been to Universal Orlando since it was new and well, that was before you were born haha! I’d love to send my grandsons there soon. I’m working on a tighter budget and good trip planning, this will help lots with the planning. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • I want to visit Universal Studios so bad! The Harry Potter attractions are amazing, I’m sure. Thanks for these tips. I know how to make the most of our trip there now!

  • Debra Hawkins

    We are headed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in a couple weeks and I am so exited! So much fun!

  • Amanda Love

    There’s so much to see but if you really have just a day to visit then this is the perfect guide! I really appreciate this because I’m thinking of taking the kids next summer. Thanks for the tips!

  • I think that buying a park to park ticket is a solid idea and so is the additional unlimited pass. It might be an investment but it is worth it!

  • Heather McMechan

    Great tips! I have not been to Universal in years and the kids are almost ready for some of those rides.

  • I haven’t been to Universal is such a long time. It’s amazing how much it has changed. When I was in college, we used to go to Halloween Horror nights and it was so much fun.

  • Wendy Polisi

    I haven’t been to Universal in 10 years and am looking forward to taking my boys there next year. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Universal and Islands of Adventure are by far my favorite theme parks. My kids are not quite old enough, but I cannot wait!

  • tiarastantrums

    Universal is one o fmy family’s favorite places to vacation. We have been there for the past three years in a row. My son started high school this year, and didn’t want to take any days off (plus, vacations are unexcused), so no trip this year. We are super sad.

  • OnceUponADollhouse

    We actually have never been to Universal Studios together. Imagine we would have more fun than the kids, haha! What are your favorite adult activities? We love how Disney World has the bar crawl around Epcot!

  • Rachel Zampanti Langer

    For family vacations we always go to Disney World. We really need to try Universal one of these times. It really does look amazing and my boys really want to see all the Harry Potter stuff.

  • Rachel Catherine

    I’ve only been to Universal one time but these tips are great if we decide to go again in the future. I’m pining this for later!

  • TheNewClassy

    The next time I head to Orlando, you can bet I will be visiting Universal Studios. Oh yes, I will be visiting.

  • How fun and exciting! I haven’t visited Orlando studios yet, but I’d love to someday. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips! – HilLesha

  • Koninika

    Orlando is my favorite place on earth!! Love these tips. We used to go there so often but never documented something like this. Must try!

  • I’ve visited Universal Studios in Hollywood but never Orlando. These tips could be helpful for any amusement park. I’ll have to save them for next time we head somewhere!

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    What great tips!!! The universal express pass is a life saver!!! I always tell people to just bite there tongues and pay for it! They won’t regret it

  • Cassandra B. @PoweredbyBLING

    We always make a beeline for the Harry Potter section as soon as we enter the park. It’s also best to get on the Hogwarts Express first thing in the morning before the lines get too long.

  • I’ll have to remember these tips if I ever go to Universal Studios. I’ve never been! I’m not much on amusement parks though! :-

  • jillconyers

    We’ve had a great time every time we’ve gone to Universal Studios and staying on-site is highly recommended.

  • Love Universal Studios! We went there last year and I’m ready to go back – so fun!

  • i just went to universal for the first time last year and had a BLAST! it’s fun to be a grown up ‘kid’ again! always important!

  • Mardene Carr

    This makes perfect sense. These are great suggestions that anyone who is planning should consider

  • nicole

    I get you! I try to go almost every year with family or friends. And it just never gets tired! It feels like my body forgets it has already been in the rides and I get scared like it was the first time I was riding it! I’ve had not seen the new Reign of Kong because I went this year on April but, I am very excited to see what is new!

  • Kevin Payne

    You mentioned you were going to create a separate post on what you pack in your backpack for a day at the parks. I don’t see that post. Did you write that?

  • Ashley

    Awesome! Looking forward to my weekend at Universal will def be visiting HP first thing and hopefully splurging and buying the unlimited pass. http://www.ashjustgoes.com

  • Karen Presley Dawkins

    If you stay onsite at Cabana Bay, express passes are not included. This is considered a value resort — so they don’t have all the same perks. But, Cabana Bay is closest to the new Volcano Bay waterpark, so that IS a perk!!!