Lots of fun times are to be had in Orlando, especially if it’s your first visit.
Universal Studios Orlando is home to three theme parks, Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and the water park, Universal’s Volcano Bay. This really is a place for the entire family, from the littlest kid that’s content with shows to thrill ride seekers.
If you haven’t been in awhile, or you’ve never been, it’s important that you check out 10 tips from the experts who can save you time and money.
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10 Things you Need to Know about your next trip to Universal Studios Orlando
1. Ticket options
If you plan on taking the Hogwarts Express Train, you will need a Park-to-Park ticket.
This ticket allows you admission to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure or you can choose the Park-to-Park pass that allows you in all three parks.
The train connects Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley and back. You will want to ride it both ways, as it changes depending on where you are riding!
2. The Universal Express Unlimited Pass
Staying at an eligible Universal hotel entitles you to the Universal Express Unlimited pass.
This pass allows you to bypass regular lines to a shorter line with much less wait times for select rides and attractions.
The Express Unlimited Pass has a tag price of $89.99 each! If you were planning to stay on property anyway, this pass is the perfect reason why!
3. Best times to visit
When is the best time to visit?
USO tends to be busier when kids are on break from school. That means that historically, one of the best times to visit is in September.
By then, summer break is over and kids have returned to school, which means smaller park crowds!
It’s also a good idea to visit in January and February. Not only are the crowds lower, but the weather is better too!
However, if you do visit in the warmer months (since this is when most people go on vacation!) just remember to go prepared.
I’ve got my portable fan, my portable charger for my fan, my kids have their own stroller fans (and NOT the ones from disney because they break easily #askmehowIknow) and a cooling towel… but it’s TOO MUCH. The Florida Heat is here 10 months outa the year
4. Drink plenty of water!
The number one thing people forget is… underwear?
NO, (lol) it’s staying hydrated.
People get seriously sick at Universal when they don’t drink enough. You will get a headache, your whole body will hurt, and you might even pass out.
This weather and running around all day is no joke. Take it from a native, DRINK UP!
I’m also a fan of bringing some snacks and food in (die hard foodies, don’t @ me) and I love using this cooler. It collapses and it’s so easy to tote around and clean!
It’ll also keep your water bottles (remember: plenty of them!) nice and cool!
5. Imma tell you a secret…
Are you ready?
Get on the rides during typical meal times.
BOOM. This trick saves you soooo much time!
If you are open to eating a little earlier or a little later than usual, you can hit lots of rides while most people are heading for lunch and dinner.
Lines will be shorter and once you are ready to eat, the crowds will be returning to get on rides, which means less wait time in the restaurants as well!
6. You can catch me on my cell phone…
Know what you should be doing on your cell phone?
Buying tickets! 😜
If you are purchasing multi-day tickets, you can save up to $20 by purchasing them online.
Not only is there a savings, but you can skip the lines by bringing your printed tickets and going straight to the entrance gate.
A perk of purchasing the multi-day tickets online is that you receive a coupon book with $150 savings value for select on site shops, restaurants and free admission to select places in Universal Citywalk, which is their version of Disney Springs, shops, restaurants and some activities.
7. Bring the kids!
You don’t need to wait till the kids are older to take them to Universal (my toddlers love it there BTW!)
Universal has you covered with child swap!
Child swap is something you definitely want to take advantage of if you are visiting the parks with children that aren’t able to get on the rides.
At the ride entrance, tell the ride attendant that you would like to utilize the child swap. One member of your party will get on the ride and the other will wait.
There is a waiting area or room with seating. Once the first adult is off the ride, he or she will come to waiting area and switch spots with the other.
That person then goes to the front of the child swap line when directed. This is a great way for everyone to get to ride and participate in the fun without standing in long lines separately.
Geniusssssss. It makes the trip so much more fun!
8. Whatcha gonna eat?
There are two dining options. The first is the Full Universal Dining Plan. This plan is only available to guests that pre-purchase a vacation package or on-site guests that purchase it from the Universal Ticket Center at the hotel.
The first plan includes: 1 full service meal, 1 quick service meal, 1 non-alcoholic drink and 1 snack per guest, per day. The cost is about $63 for adults and $25 for kids (3-9 years).
The second plan is the Universal Quick Service Dining Plan, and this can be purchased by anyone. For about $25 for adults and $17 for kids per day, you get 1 quick service meal, 1 snack and 1 non-alcoholic drink.
The catch with the plans is that none of the on-site, resort restaurants accept the plan, so if you don’t have park tickets for every day of your stay, you can’t eat at your resort unless it is out of pocket.
CityWalk’s most popular restaurants don’t accept the plan either. So, no Hard Rock Cafe Orlando, The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Character dining is also a “no go” with the dining plans and gratuity is not included either.
The quick service plan can save you a few bucks if you choose to get the higher priced meal items, but having a dining plan to save so little just doesn’t seem worth the hassle.
Basically, I don’t recommend the dining plan. I do recommend this list of great restaurants at Universal tho!
9. Get down with the sickness
While the rides are thrilling, if you’re like me, you can get motion sick easily. Or a raging headache (refer back to number 4).
Take along some Dramamine or Bonine pills to keep the queasiness at bay. Sea Bands work wonders as well. Wear the bands on your wrists and the plastic studs attached will put pressure on your P6 acupressure points to help relieve nausea and vomiting.
These worked wonders during my pregnancies, so a ride should be no problem for them! (Yes, I went to universal pregnant, but I didn’t ride anything 😜)
Speaking of, whether you’re pregnant or not, you may run into a different problem: chafing.
And a little TMI- this could save you on your visit if you’ve got the thunder thighs like I do. The solution to chub rub and hating your thighs- I always bring this with me when I go to Disney World.
10. Download the Universal Orlando Resort app
Get this before you go!
It’s a free app and easy to use. You can use it to:
- Buy Express passes
- Make mobile food orders (YASSS save yourself some time!)
- Check park calendars and hours
- Check ride and show wait times
- Locate restrooms (Double YASSS, some lines are crazy long!)
- Get park maps
- Set parking spot reminders with your section, level and row
- Make a park “to-do” list
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your phone is charged up all day. You don’t want to miss out on all the perks of the app because of a low battery!
Portable Phone chargers are great to bring with you to a full day at the parks. I really like this one from amazon because theme parks don’t have the best wifi and it sucks your battery (even with the new iphones and galaxy’s because we have both and it theme parks kill my phone!)
Basically, just enjoy your trip!
Listen, you can read everything you can about Universal and still see something new or learn something to make your life easier. It’s a big place!
Just make sure you pack accordingly and you make the most of your trip by having fun! You WILL LOVE it there!