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12 Tips for the Best Day at Universal Orlando Theme Parks

12 Tips for the Best Day at Universal Orlando Theme Parks

Heading to Universal Studios Orlando? We’ve visited the parks five times over the past year, and we’ve written this guide on how to do Universal Orlando right. There’s no wrong way to do it, but there are some things that can make your trip to the theme parks just that much better.

Make the most of your visit with these 12 money and time-saving Universal Orlando tips.

Water ride at UOR - Universal Hacks and Tips

1. Buy The Express Pass

Don’t spend your day in line. If you want to get the most out of your visit to Universal Orlando, buy the express passes. They are a good deal at only $79.99 per day for a 2-park express pass. They will literally save you hours in line.

If you plan your day right, you can ride just about every major attraction in a single park during one day with an express pass, which would be impossible without.

Express Passes are FREE if you are at one of these three onsite hotels: Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, or Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Portofino Hotel at night at Universal Orlando - Stay on site - top tips

2. Stay On-Site

One of the best tips for Universal Orlando we always tell people is to stay on site. Universal Orlando Resort has several hotels located right on the grounds connected to the parks. This has a ton of perks that come with your stay.

One of the best perks of staying on-site is early admission to the parks. You can get in one hour earlier than guests staying offsite. Another plus is you can ride the water taxi right to the park gates and skip parking every day. If you stay at Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, or Loews Royal Pacific Resort Express, passes are included, valued up to $129 per person per day.

On our last trip, we stayed at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, read our review here

Plus, priority seating at select restaurants. There are a ton of reasons to stay onsite at Universal Orlando hotels. The perks alone are worth the price.

The hulk roller coster in Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando resort - Single rider lines

3. Use The Single Rider Lines

Save even more time in line with single rider lines. If you don’t mind riding alone, then jump in the single rider lines when you get close to the front of the line and have more time to ride all of the rides at Universal Orlando. A bonus is that your friends won’t hear you scream this way either!

Sunset over Universal Orlando - View from hotel at UOR

4. Explore One Park Per Day

One of the best ways to divide your time at Universal Orlando is to tackle just one park per day. Spend one day at Universal Studios Orlando exploring Diagon alley, the Simpsons attractions, riding the Rip Ride Rocket. The next day take on all the great rides in Islands Of Adventure.

Save your last day for the brand-new Volcano Bay water theme park. You’ll have more time to spend on rides and enjoying the park if you avoid bouncing between parks during the day. Map out your plan of attack before picking up tickets in the morning.

woman using the Universal Orlando Resorts App in diagon Alley

5. Download The Universal Orlando Resort App

Of course, there’s an app for that! Before you hit the park, download the Universal Orlando Resort app. From the app, you’ll have park maps, current wait times for rides, show schedules, dining options, and you can even buy tickets right from your phone.

6. Don’t Bring Too Much Stuff Into The Park

Most rides at Universal Orlando do not allow you to bring bags or backpacks on with you to minimize what you bring into the park. We suggest keeping it simple and bringing in just your phone, camera, and wallet into the park. Everything else you could need is in the park.

7. Pack A Bag That Will Fit In The On-Site Lockers

If you can’t get by with just your pockets for everything you need while in the parks, then pack a bag that will fit into the lockers on site. There are three locker sizes at Universal Orlando: mini, regular, and family. You can access the locker all day as many times as needed.

Ride the Hogsworts Express - UOR Tips

8. Ride the Hogwarts Express Between the Parks

Don’t just walk between the theme parks; have an experience while being transported between Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. The Hogwarts Express will bring you between the two parks all while entertaining you.

woman using the free wifi at the Universal Orlando Theme Parks

9. Login To The Free Wifi

Stay connected while in the park with the free wifi that actually works just about everywhere in the park. Save your data while traveling and use the wifi while posting to social or face-timing with your friends and family who stayed at home.

10. Parents Should Use The Child Swap Rooms

If you are visiting Universal Orlando with young children who might not be able to ride all the rides, it doesn’t mean you can’t either. Parents can use the child swap rooms at Universal Orlando to take turns riding the rides while the other waits with the kids who can’t ride. You might have visited because of the kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too!

Universal Citywalk at night - Theme Park Tips

11. Eat at CityWalk

The days of food at theme parks being overpriced and not that great are over with. Good food can be found throughout the parks, but our favorite restaurants are found in Universal’s CityWalk, located at the gates in front of both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando.

CityWalk is open to the public, so no ticket is needed. We haven’t had a bad meal at CityWalk yet, but our top three picks would be:

  • Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar– A burger & sushi spot with funky toppings and awesome fresh rolls |
  • Toothsome Chocolate Emporium – A themed restaurant with ridiculously good food that is heavy on the chocolate
  • Antojitos – A top-notch Mexican place with out-of-this-world table-side prepared guacamole |

12. Maximize The Fun With Discounts

Save more money for your next trip to Universal Orlando by looking for discounts to the parks. There are always offers to make your trip to the parks a little bit cheaper.

  • Buy two, get two
  • Florida resident discounts

Don’t Forget to Pin Me for Later!

Hogwarts castle with a starburst for the pinterest pin of Universal Orlando Resorts Tips and Hacks

Explore More Universal Orlando Travel Tips

What are your Universal Orlando tips?

eleanor dugan

Saturday 5th of October 2019

Read through your tip and thought it was great. Been to Universal before and found information helpful. Thanks


Friday 4th of October 2019

Could you add what size the lockers are...a mini would fit a purse? a regular a backpack? and a large....? Thanks!

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Monday 6th of April 2020

There are different size lockers at different prices. There is something that would fit a large bag/backpack. You'll def have somewhere to leave your bags safely.


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

Read your tips. It really gives me some ideas on what to look out for when im there with my wife in dec 2018 this year.

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Tuesday 9th of October 2018

Glad you found us and we could help plan the most epic day at Universal Orlando!