There is nothing worse than being disappointed at the end of the night, after spending all day inside Universal! But it happens more than you would think, as some people aren’t aware of all the ups and downs of theme park vacation.
Could you just walk right into Universal and do whatever you wanted? Yes!
Should you walk in with zero plans, zero bucket lists, and just wing in? No, unless you have the opportunity to come back monthly and won’t be upset if you miss some items.
Part of making a Stress Free Vacation is knowing what expect and having those tricks up your sleeve to make the most of your trip.
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Eat during slower hours
At Disney World we call this, “Avoiding Cinderella Time”, because when the clock strikes noon people flood the restaurants!
This is understandable as you forget what time it is, come from different time zones, and jump on the bandwagon effect of seeing all those other people eating yummy food!
But if you can resist the urge and go during the ‘dining off times’ you will save a significant amount of time waiting in both lines. Yes friends, you’ll save time in the dining line, and then while everyone is eating, you’ll also save time in the regular ride lines! We use this hack because we have food allergies and want to get our order in before the Chef is overwhelmed with requests, but it works so well I had to share it with you for your upcoming trip!
Typically, 10:-11:15 and 3:30-4:30 or 6:30+ to beat crowds and use the lower wait times to your advantage.
Consider a small bag or fanny pack for rides- but it must have a clip!
While the big rides have options for lockers, it’s easier to just have the right style bag so you don’t have to stop and get a locker! These are small soft shelled bags that go around your waist and have a clip to secure. No solid straps are allowed for safety reasons.
You can pair that with a collapsible water bottle, and (if everything fits in your tiny bag) you won’t have to stop to store or collect your items on all but three rides. Velocicoaster, The Incredible Hulk and Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket do require everything stored in a locker!
Buy your Tickets ahead of time
Everywhere is short staffed right now, and that includes the ticket windows! It is not uncommon to have a 30-60 minute wait in the mornings to redeem tickets.
This means you’ll be ‘eating’ into your park time by waiting to get inside.
-Buy your tickets ahead of time and redeem at the hotel (does not include annual passes)
-Arrive around 7 am to redeem the passes. If you want to arrive early, give yourself plenty of leeway for transportation and parking!
-Come the day before ( a no park day) and explore City Walk and get your tickets for the next day.
This is especially important if you only have One Day to do everything you want in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Download the Universal Orlando App
While Universal has done away with most mobile ordering (maybe for good? But I hope they bring it back!) You can use the app for a number of things! The app is handy for knowing wait times, for finding places to eat, and for checking the status on rides (some are closed unexpectedly!)
*you do not have to have the app* as they have brought out paper maps and there are plenty of Team Members available to assist you, but it is SO handy for virtual lines and developing a game plan!
Grab the Refillable Freestyle Cup
We are obsessed with Freestyle Refillable Drink Cups when we head to the Parks! Why? Because Dehydration is a very real threat in the florida sun! So not only do we always bring refillable water bottles, but we also grab the Refillable Freestyle Cup (and do the same at Seaworld and Legoland!). We typically use ours for seltzer water and ICEE’s, but you can choose from so many drinks and flavors!
There are some limitations though. Per the Rules you are supposed to get one cup per person, and you’ll need to renew the cup each day (yes, you can purchase it all at once. Keep your receipts just in case!) And you’ll also need to wait 10 minutes between refills plus leave the cup in a locker on some of the bigger rides. The bonus is that it can help you stay hydrated and cool, plus there are SO many refill stations all over the parks!
Stay Onsite so you can use the early morning hours to beat the crowds
I will forever stay onsite at Universal Orlando, especially with the addition of the Surfside and Dockside Inn Rooms (my favorite is Sapphire Falls though!).
Not only is staying on site affordable, convenient and fun… but you also get early entry!
This early entry is so essential to a successful park strategy if you are only here for a few days.
There are a number of hacks we’ve learned taking our kids to the Universal Orlando parks, but here are the top hacks we’d recommend.
Plan Virtual Lines for the Top Rides
Here’s a dirty secret, I’ve never actually waited in the long queues for Hagrid’s MotorBike Adventures. The handful of times I’ve ridden it I’ve use the virtual line option and it’s been less than 30 minutes every time.
While I still recommend you ride Hagrid’s even if the line is longer (because it is THAT GOOD YALL!), if you have the option to snag a virtual line, please do!
Virtual Lines can be accessed through the app at several times each day, but I’ve found the most success in the early mornings. You’ll need to be on property for this to work, have the Universal App, and make sure the app is updated and you are connected to Universal WIFI.
FWIW, the virtual line system at Universal works way better for me than Disney Worlds Ride of the Resistance Boarding Group System. I still haven’t road ROTR at Disney, but I’ve been able to use the Virtual Line app multiple times this year at Universal with great success!
Virtual Lines will Change Depending on Availability
Stress free Universal is only a trip away
While you want to make the most of your vacation, also remember that it takes time to ride rides, get where you want to go, and enjoy the sites and sounds of Universal Orlando.