We recently went to Universal Studios while in Florida. We were staying in Miami and decided to make the drive to Orlando, a 3-hour drive. As we arrived, traffic was just beginning to form and to make things easier, we opted for closer parking ($10 more per vehicle than regular entry price) – it’s not that much more. However, I don’t think it’s necessary. The closer parking is used primarily for handicap, elderly, or pregnant guests but is open to all.
1. PURCHASE THE PARK TO PARK PASS
If you are trying to spend the day in both parks (Universal and Island of Adventure), be sure to purchase the Park to Park pass. It enables you to access each park flawlessly. However, our recommendation is to spend one day in each park if you are able to spread the fun across two days.
2. PURCHASE THE UNLIMITED EXPRESS PASS
Just after entering the pearly yellow gates of Universal Studios Florida, we headed straight to Guest Services to pick up our park to park passes and express passes. The passes last all day, 9am-6pm (park hours). We highly recommend getting an express pass to save on time, which means more time for attractions!
Pro-tip: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter does not have any express pass line. If you plan on staying only in the Harry Potter region, purchasing the express pass can be skipped.
3. STAY ON LOCATION
If you stay at Universal Orlando Resort, you receive perks of entering the park an hour early and a free express pass! Not to mention, it is just a short walk, shuttle, or drive from the entrance.
4. GRAB A MAP AND PLAN OUT YOUR RIDES
If you missed receiving a map at Guest Services, be sure to pick up a map after you pass through the ticket attendant. You can grab a physical copy or download the Universal Orlando Resort mobile app to help you navigate for both parks. Having a map will help you plan for show times, character meet & greets, ride wait times, and more. .
5. PLAN OUT YOUR RIDES
Planning out what rides you want to ride, should be done well in advance before entering the park. Plan the night before. At the latest, plan on the drive there! Ride the ones without express lines first, to save time. If you followed tip 2 and purchased the express pass, coming back to the rides that honor the express will be easier to check off later in the day as the crowds add up.
6. MEET THE CHARACTERS!
Check out the show times for your favorite characters. Get their photos and autographs; your kids will love you! Fanboys/Fangirls will love meeting them as well.
7. WEAR SUNSCREEN AND STAY HYDRATED
It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, stay hydrated. While we were there (April 2017), the temperature rose quickly, and the first thing we did was purchase water at one of the gift shops. Water runs around $4, but there are water fountains, by the bathrooms.
Pro-tip: You can bring your essentials in a purse or backpack. There are free lockers for all the rides.
8. RIDE THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS TO BOTH PARKS
To get a full magical experience on the Hogwarts express, ride the train to both parks! This is free to ride if you have the park to park pass.
9. START YOUR DAY BY VISITING THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
As mentioned in tip 2, express passes are not accepted at any Harry Potter attractions, maybe because we are just muggles visiting, or maybe because everything is an inside experience (except the train). It’s best to do the rides at both parks for Harry Potter as the line gets longer throughout the day.
10. PARTICIPATE IN LIVE SHOWS
Ever wanted to be on a game show? If you are brave enough, Fear Factor Live is a great way to get an experience we’ve all seen on television. If it’s you’re calling to do so, arrive an hour early for the show time you want to see/perform. Up to 6 participants can face their fear against each other and at a minimum, a two person rivalry can start. It’s a great experience, win or lose!
I participated in Fear Factor Live, and it was such an incredible experience. It wasn’t anything I imagined it would be like, partly because I was unprepared for it. As we were leaving, a worker around the area, asked if I wanted to be a performer; without thought, “yes” blurted out of my mouth before I could process the situation. More competition would have been more challenging, but it made the long-line, sore-soles, hot-humid day, worth it in the end. If you get one thing out of this article, I hope it’s this: “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” – Elbert Hubbard.
Universal Orlando Resort
6000 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819