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7 Things You Need to Know About Universal Studios Orlando FL Before You Go

Planning a family visit to Universal Studios Orlando FL soon? If not, you should! Here are 7 things you should know before you go!

Update to this post: Our family visited Universal Studios in July 2020. Here are some of the TOP things you need to know about visiting Universal Studios Orlando right now.

3 girls standing in front of Universal Studios sign

Our family had plans to visit Universal Studios Orlando on Spring Break of 2020. Of course, those plans got cancelled because of COVID-19.

Things had slowed somewhat and we made the decision to travel to Florida, from Tennessee, in July of 2020. We were prepared with lots of hand sanitizer, masks, and information on how to stay safe. Thankfully we did make the trip and stayed happy and healthy the entire time.

If you’re planning to visit Universal Studios Orlando in 2021, here are some tips that I learned during our visit that can help you prepare as well!

7 Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Orlando in 2021

Take advantage of low lines and fab deals from Universal.

If you’re thinking about going to Universal, go. It was the BEST trip we ever had. Sure, there are mask and temperature requirements, but lines are low and deals are fantastic right now.

Check the Universal Studios website to get the best deals.

Take a few masks per family member.

Unlike what I have heard about Disney, Universal allowed loose masks like the ones you see in our pictures. I made those with a tshirt type material that dried fast and was super comfy.

But, I enjoyed wearing the Gryffindor mask I purchased from Universal the most. Others say that they felt like the disposable medical masks were the coolest. I would definitely recommend taking a few per family member, even a couple extra in your bag to the park.

Buy masks as souvenirs!

Which leads me to this tip – I felt like there was no better souvenir than a Universal Studios face mask! They are actually very comfortable, as well!

Stay on resort.

Our original plans had us staying at a hotel near the theme park, but since rates were low, we changed to staying at the Cabana Bay Resort. It was the BEST DECISION of our entire trip!

When I checked in, I learned that Cabana Bay was only at 27% capacity. Y’all! There was hardly anyone there!

The advantages to staying on resort for us were – bus transportation. We never waited more than 10 minutes on a bus and usually had it all to ourselves. Plus, we loved being picked up and dropped off right outside the theme park and our hotel.

Also, guests staying on resort were able to get into Universal Studios an hour early each morning. This made my next tip even easier!

Take advantage of the Virtual Line!

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure had just been open for a few months when we visited in July so it was definitely the most popular ride in the park.

That’s why I was thankful for the Virtual Line! Instead of wasting hours by standing in line, you had to reserve your spot within the Universal Orlando app.

Expert Tip: The Virtual Line opens 15 minutes prior to the park opening. So, since we stayed on resort, we were able to open the app and reserve our spot in line at 8:45. Plus, it saves everyone in your party, not just you. So, if you have more than 1 person with a smartphone, do it on both to be able to ride it more than once a day!

Plan for lunch at Mythos!

This is a tip that we did both full days we spent at Universal because – 1. It’s so cool inside and a place to sit down and take your masks off [once you’re at your table] and 2. The food is AMAZING!

This is definitely a place to make sure you eat at while you’re on park!

Drink lots of water…. or butterbeer.

Lastly, it’s hot. It’s Florida. It’s hot no matter when you go and the mask mandate makes it seem even hotter.

While you are required to wear your masks at all times, you can take a break for a moment to drink. So we made sure we had plenty of free ice water AND, you know, essentials like butterbeer, often.

There are also “mask resting points” so you can take a break from your mask while you social distance. When we were far away from people, we also took a mask break. Just be smart and safe!

While traveling during a pandemic isn’t for everyone, if you plan accordingly, it can be a success!

Ready for my other Universal Studios tips? Check them out below!


A special thanks to Universal Studios Orlando FL for providing my family with passes to visit both parks for a day. All opinions expressed are my own. Some pictures provided by Universal Orlando.

We recently returned home from a long weekend in Orlando, Florida. I planned this Fall Trip for months and it all began because of the girls’ newfound obsession with Harry Potter.

I started reading The Sorcerer’s Stone to them back in the Spring and since they’ve watched all of the movies except for Deathly Hallows 1 & 2… we’re saving those for a couple of years.


While our trip definitely revolved around the underage wizard and our visit to Harry Potter World, we had an amazing time in the rest of the Universal Studios Orlando FL parks too!

While reflecting on our adventures, I decided to share with YOU some of the things that you’ll want to be sure to see and do while you’re there.

I didn’t plan much for this trip – I wanted us to really just be in the moment and experience everything the theme park had to offer, but if you are the planning type, I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful in your planning process!

Before we get into what you’ll want to know about Universal Studios, let’s go over what you should always buy before you go!

— Universal Studios Park Essentials

Poncho – These pieces of plastic are SO overpriced inside any theme park. You can grab one at your local Walmart for a couple of dollars or an even nicer reusable one like this one on Amazon.

Waterproof Phone Case – No, I’m not talking $40 phone cases. These are lanyard type cases that are perfect at keeping your phone, cards, and cash close to you without getting wet on those water rides. These are perfect for theme park visits!

Portable Raincoat with Hood and SleevesPortable Raincoat with Hood and Sleeves2 Pack Clear Universal Waterproof Case2 Pack Clear Universal Waterproof CaseAutograph Book (BLACK WITH STAR)Autograph Book (BLACK WITH STAR)Harry Potter Illuminating WandHarry Potter Illuminating Wand

Autograph Books – The mouse ears park isn’t the only place you’ll find beloved characters. At Universal Studios you’ll have a ton of opportunities to meet your favorites. Pack an autograph book and Sharpie in your bag to avoid paying a lot for them once you’re already in the park.

Specialty Souvenirs – I’m a sucker for theme park souvenirs [especially inside Honeyduke’s!] but they can add up fast. If you know your child [or yourself] will definitely want a specific souvenir, check to see if you can find it on Amazon first. We saved a TON of $$$ by buying Harry Potter robes before our trip.

1. Universal Studios Orlando FL is all about the DETAILS.


Seriously, once you walk into the park, you feel like you’re literally stepping onto a movie set. Whether you’re in Hogsmeade with the amazing snow covered buildings or walking in the New York area, you’ll feel like you’ve literally been transported out of Florida.

The landscape isn’t the only place where detail reigns king. The rides are simply amazing and outdo all the other theme parks in Florida.

While Revenge of the Mummy and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were two of my favorites during our last visit, there’s a new ride that completely won me over to say it’s the BEST ride at Universal Studios Orlando FL.

2. Skull Island: Reign of Kong

This is not a ride for the whole family, unless your kids are older – be warned! But it’s one that even if you have young kids, you HAVE to do. This is the perfect place to take advantage of Universal’s Child Swap feature. Stand in line with your kiddos and when you get to the front of the line, one parent takes the kiddos into a Child Swap room while the other rides. Then you simply swap – no need to wait in line again!


This ride had a 90 minute wait the day we were visiting, so I admit that I didn’t plan on riding it. Don’t be like me! Make this one of your first stops during your visit because it’s not to be missed.

The ride is one of the first of it’s kind. It’s Universal’s first trackless ride, which makes it seem even more realistic. When you look in front of the bus, you see a dirt road. And remember those details I talked about before?

There’s tons of stone around Skull Island, which I later found out was hand carved and took 70,000 hours hand to complete! They take their details very seriously.


I won’t go into great detail about the ride, but I will say that when I got off the bus all I could say was “That was intense!” There’s not a bad seat because the action of the ride happens on both sides making you feel like you’re right in the scene. It’s simply amazing.

3. Consider Express Passes

You’ll want to consider purchasing Express Passes, especially if you’re planning a short trip like we did. While they can seem like an extra expense, you want to experience as much of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure as possible.

When you talk about a 90 minute wait for Skull Island: Reign of Kong, you’ll see that time is definitely precious! We had Express Passes our first day and rode the rides that have the longest wait on that day and didn’t get them the second day. That worked well for us.

4. It IS a great kid-friendly park.

While some people might see Universal as a better option for families with older kids, don’t discount them for the little ones! In fact, I wrote a post all about how my girls LOVED Universal as toddlers and this trip went the same way.


Seuss Landing is, of course, filled with things for little ones to do, but don’t overlook the rest of the park with your kiddos. There is one family-friendly ride and/or show in almost every part of both parks!

5. Download the Universal Studios Orlando FL App

This is the biggest tip I have for you because I used the app multiple times while we were in both parks both days. You can use it as a map, know how long ride wait times are, where dining options are, and more! Download the free app now so you’ll be ready when you get there!

6. Stay on Site at an Universal Studios Resort

Although we didn’t stay on resort, it’s a great way to get early access to the parks. In addition to early access, there are a ton of benefits to staying on site, including… shuttles! We paid $20 to park both days, plus it’s a pretty long walk to get into the parks, so this is a HUGE benefit in my eyes.

7. Harry Potter is in BOTH parks.

When we visited a few years ago, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was only inside Islands of Adventure. Now you can visit Diagon Alley inside the Universal Studios theme park too!

That’s why I would definitely recommend purchasing Park-to-Park tickets. Now you can ride The Hogwarts Express [which is an amazing ride of it’s own] to travel between both parks any time of the day!


Want to see even more of Harry Potter World? Here are 7 things you should know about the wizarding parts of the theme park before you go!

While it’s completely possible to spend an entire week at Universal Studios Orlando FL, a long weekend trip worked ideal for my family! It was a great time to take a break from school and work and enjoy milder weather [but still plenty warm!] and lower crowds in Florida.

Have you visited Universal Studios Orlando FL recently?
What would YOU share with those planning a trip?


Thursday 7th of December 2017

How much does one need to stay for a week?


Thursday 26th of April 2018

If you would like to email me - I would be happy to get you a quote. It is FREE!

melanie lewis

Friday 23rd of June 2017

My tip is keep in mind that your hotel will not honor your Dining Plan. Only the Universal Parks will honor them, so If you plan to eat any meals at the will pay out of pocket for it. Learned that the hard way.

Lindsey G.

Friday 23rd of June 2017

Oh interesting! I didn't know this as I haven't stayed in a Universal Resort yet. Thank you for sharing that - sorry you had to learn the hard way though! :(


Sunday 16th of April 2017

Instead of buying waterproof cases/lanyards i just bring some ziplock bags ! Also be aware that the food that is sold in city walk (bk, moe's, panda express, etc) is way cheaper and better than the food in the parks. You can either buy food from there and then bring it into the park to have later, or you can bring snacks to have throughout the day and then have some late dinner in citywalk. Also bring your own water !

Lindsey G.

Monday 17th of April 2017

Oh those are great tips! I love the lanyards because we use them when we go on a Disney Cruise too so we definitely use them more than just at Universal. I LOVE the tip about the food at City Walk - they have some great restaurants there!

Deborah D\

Tuesday 28th of February 2017

Wish I could afford to go. Suess landing looks fun.