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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 make sure to pack a bag that will fit into the lockers on site. There are three locker sizes at Universal Orlando: mini $8 a day, regular $12 a day, and family $15 a day. You can access the locker all day as many times as needed.
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.
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!
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 | TripAdvisor Reviews
- Toothsome Chocolate Emporium – A themed restaurant with ridiculously good food that is heavy on the chocolate | TripAdvisor Reviews
- Antojitos – A top-notch Mexican place with out-of-this-world table-side prepared guacamole | TripAdvisor Reviews
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