Planning a family visit to Universal Studios Orlando FL soon? If not, you should! Here are 7 things you should know before you go!
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. This post may contain affiliate links. 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!
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.
— Park Tickets
Lines to buy tickets at both Universal Studios parks is long, especially at opening time. Save yourself precious time by buying your tickets ahead of time. Plus you’ll save money too like this current deal on UndercoverTourist.com…
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.
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?