It doesn't matter if it's your first or third visit to Universal Orlando, you can never be too prepared! With such an exciting adventure ahead, a little bit of planning can ensure your trip runs smoothly and you get the most out of it.
So before you head off with your Universal Studios tickets in hand, read on to find the top 12 things to know before your adventure begins.
1. Consider renting a car
If you’re not staying at the park’s accommodation, blogger Megan from Mapping Megan recommends renting a car – it’ll be a lifesaver when you’re hopping from park to park with tired kids in tow.
2. Time your meals
Megan also gives a great tip for avoiding restaurant queues. “First-time visitors should think about the timing of your meals, especially if you’re visiting the theme parks. You can avoid huge crowds and long waits if you avoid the mealtime rush. Eating can be incredibly time consuming, the lines for food often doubling the lines for rides.
“Consider eating an easy breakfast in your hotel room and combining a late lunch with an early dinner. Or eat breakfast around 10am or later, and lunch around 2.30pm.”
You may also find that while everyone else is having lunch or dinner, the queues go down quite significantly – it’s a win-win!
3. Dress appropriately
Making Lemonade blogger Carrie says you can’t go wrong with a good pair of shoes. “I have two words for you: COMFY SHOES. We walked 7 miles each day, so comfortable shoes were a must.”
She also recommends dressing for the seasons. “Unless you’re going in the heat of summer, layers are nice to have. We went on a somewhat chilly day, so we packed hoodies in our backpacks. Speaking of, it was nice to have just one large backpack since you need to check bags for some rides and this made it less complicated.”
4. Download the Universal App
“The app includes an interactive map, wait times listed in real-time, park hours, a virtual line for the Race Through New York ride at Universal Studios, and a parking reminder so you won’t forget where your car is. You can also purchase dining plans, photo packages and more through the app, plus explore the theme parks, CityWalk, and on-property hotels.”
5. Use the secret entrance
Beat the queues and use Universal’s ‘secret’ entrance. “Enter Universal Studios by the Blue Man Group auditorium, under the Rip, Ride, Rocket rollercoaster. This entrance isn’t really a secret, just not many people know about it,” says Taylor.
6. Consider buying an Express Pass
Laurel felt that buying an Express Pass was definitely worth investing in. “We CONSISTENTLY found the express lines to be about 75% shorter wait time than the regular line.
“If the park is busy (summertime or holidays), then the Express Pass is totally worth the extra cost. If it's not busy, then it depends on how much convenience is worth to you.”
7. Wear a lanyard
Carrie also highly recommends purchasing a lanyard. “Lanyard necklaces with a plastic badge were dorky but SO helpful because you need to carry all your tickets and Express Passes and pull them out often.”
8. Give young children an ID bracelet
Laurel highly suggests ID bracelets for young children. “When travelling with three small children and touring big theme parks, one of the things I worried about was losing track of one of my children in the crowds. I recommend outfitting each child with an ID bracelet. Even if you think your child can remember your phone number, don't take a chance!”
9. Schedule character dining reservations before your trip
We3Travel blogger Tamara recommends booking in advance if you’re hoping to dine with your favourite characters. “Unfortunately not all restaurants take reservations but some do, like Emeril’s for example. It is so nice after a long day walking around to NOT have to wait to eat.
“The restaurants within the parks that accept reservations online are Mythos, Finnegan’s Bar & Grill and Lombard’s Seafood Grill.”
10. Have lunch at Universal CityWalk
And while we’re on the subject of food, Taylor recommends dining at Universal CityWalk. “It's right outside of the theme park gates and the restaurants are fantastic!”
11. Time your souvenir shopping
“Ordinarily I would recommend doing souvenir shopping late in the day to avoid having to carry around your goodies.” Says Laurel. “This is especially true if you buy candy or chocolate that you don't want to melt if you carry it around in the heat."
“Depending on when you get there, you may actually have to wait in a line outside the shops which are incredibly small in my opinion. So, because it's so popular, get your shopping done early in the day. Or return to the shop an hour before the park closes.”
12. Don't over or under stay
"For me, the ideal Universal Orlando vacation would be three days, four nights.” Says Carrie.
“I would spend one day at Volcano Bay and two days at the other parks. If you are not really into rides, you can do Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure in one day, especially if you have an Express Pass and park-to-park tickets.”
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