If you’re heading to Orlando on a family trip, there’s a good chance you’ll be heading to the parks. Despite it being there for years, one that I don’t hear about as often is Universal Orlando. This is actually a shame since the parks are amazing and visiting could take you the better part of a week alone. Universal Studios Orlando consists of now 3 parks with Universal Studios, Islands of Adventures and the recently opened Volcano Bay. There are rides, experiences, water parks and of course your favorite characters.
As a kid we visited the Orlando area and several of the parks, but Universal Studios wasn’t open yet. So I was excited when we went earlier this summer and got to explore everything the parks have to offer. Before our visit, I should have done a bit of research on the rides and what the parks had to offer – but instead we went in blind and walked out exhausted from all of the fun we had. We knew of some of the features in the parks like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and the newly opened Jimmy Fallon ride – but not much else. So here are a few tips from our trip to help you prepare for your upcoming trip to Universal Studios Orlando!
1 – The Unlimited Express is Totally Worth It!
So at other parks you can get a limited number of line hops for the day. But the Unlimited Express on your ticket at Universal Studios means you can hop the lines as many times as you want on almost any ride. This doesn’t mean you wont wait in line, but your maximum wait will only be around 15-20 minutes, versus a much longer wait of up to an hour or more. The Unlimited Express will cut your wait time by more than half, and if you love a ride, you can do it over and over again! The Unlimited Express (at this current point) only wont work on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the Hogwarts Express, Pteranodon Flyers, Fievel’s Playland and Kang and Kudo’s Twirl ‘N’ Hurl. That means everything else is on the table from Minions to Transformers and everything else throughout the parks.
2 – Research Your Rides and What You Actually Want To Do
No one warned us that a lot of the rides were 3D experiences and while fun, might be a bit hard on you if you get motion sickness. We walked into Universal Studios and instantly went to Springfield. The park had just opened and and we didn’t know what we were getting into when we saw no line at the Krusty the Clown ride… a little research would have gave us a heads up that we were both going to walk off a little nauseous. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fun ride – but definitely not what we expected!
3 – Get the 2 (or 3) Park Pass!
There are really several reasons for this, but I’ll just give you my best two. The first – this is the only way you get to ride the Hogwarts Express, and who doesn’t want to do that? But the more important reason is the Multi Park Pass allows you access to Islands of Adventure. While the name sounds like a water park (that’s actually what Volcano Bay is), Islands of Adventure is what you would normally expect a theme park to be. Universal Studios reminded me of an older theme park style, but Islands was more vibrant, filled with more experiences and more physical rides. Walk into The World of Harry Potter, The Cat in the Hat, a section dedicated to old cartoons and of course comic book heroes!
4 – Interacted With Your Surroundings
See that phone that says to pick it up? Do it! You wont be disappointed. Universal Studios is more than just rides, instead it is filled with experiences. You can listen as Bart Simpson makes prank phone calls, make it rain or birds disappear with the wave of your wand and more. Take a moment to stop and listen to the construction workers in New York play music just using their tools, or sit in the restaurant as a roller coaster goes by with waving guests! Probably one of the best is where you can actually shoot water at people on Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-rat Barges. Don’t worry if you get soaked on rides, you can always hop in the People Dryer for a few minutes to be air dried.
5 – Try the Food – it’s Unlike Anywhere Else!
Where else can you get a Lard Lad Donut? Or Get fresh baked goods on the pier? You can get a Wimpy Burger or at Circus Mcgurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous, stop in for pizza or a burger. Don’t worry if you’re gluten free, you can get a gluten free chicken sandwich, salads and other options throughout both parks. Can’t find what you want inside the parks? Go out to City Walk and you can get a variety of chain restaurants and even a visit to Toothsome, a chocolate emporium that will make you dream of it for years to come.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned Universal Studios visitor or a first timer – but be sure to plan ahead. Feel free to share your favorite tips below!