How to Get the Most from your Universal Experience
Let’s face it; booking any holiday can be a bit of a nightmare if you’re organising a lot of stuff such as theme park tickets, flights, transport, accommodation and everything else in between. One subject the community members seem to talk about a lot and ask about more than most other destinations is Universal Resort Orlando and how to get the best possible experience from your time there.
Arranging theme park visits and tickets can be a daunting and confusing task to even the savviest of holidaymakers, so we want to share some of the top tips and recommendations from tripsologists to help you get the best from your Universal adventure.
Top Tips and Recommendations for Universal
Buy Your Entrance Tickets in Advance
Universal Orlando resort comprises of two theme parks; Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the recently added Volcano Bay water park. The strongest message we are hearing from the community about Universal Studios is buy your entrance tickets in advance to get the best deal on price as you will save money on the gate price if you buy them on the day.
Book an on-site Official Universal Hotel
They also recommend that you book an on-site official Universal hotel! According to tripsologists, by doing this, not only do you get to stay in top notch accommodation but you automatically receive free Universal Express Passes for participating rides AND get into the park an hour before the general public. How cool is that? Basically, what they’re saying is that you pay a little more to stay at either The Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay or Loews Royal Pacific you get to beat the crowds as well as enjoying free transportation to the parks. Many members have said they wished they had done this as they tried to cut costs by staying in cheaper accommodation in Orlando but by the time they added car hire and express passes, it wasn’t much of a difference but had more hassle and stress and that is something you want to avoid on holiday at all costs. They also said it was worth doing this simply to get early access to the park’s most popular attraction – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Happy wizards all round.
*We recommend you check at the time of booking if express passes/park tickets are definitely included to avoid any confusion or disappointment.
Book Park-to-Park Tickets
Another top tip from tripsologists is to book Park-to-Park tickets. Universal’s attractions are spread over two parks; Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure and these tickets allow you to flit between both, even on the same day. Besides, apparently, you’ll need this type of ticket if you plan on riding the Hogwarts Express which transports guests between Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) and Kings Cross (Universal Studios) but is also a fantastic, fun ride in its own right.
tripsologists have recommended taking advantage of the Single Rider system whereby you can cut down waiting time by taking single seats on the ride. Ok, you won’t be sitting beside your party but it’s a good way to save time and still get on the ride.
According to some members, peak lunch time breaks are from noon – 1pm so why not cash in on this by visiting your chosen rides at this time when they are likely to be a little quieter as everyone else has stopped to refuel. They have also shared the advice of leaving the Harry Potter attractions until later in the day when again, these tend to be less crowded.
Parking is shared between the two parks and they are busy. One member suggested taking a picture of the section you’re in or sending yourself a text with the row number details so you don’t forget where your car is at the end of the day when you just want to flop into the car and head for your bed.
Another top tip from tripsologists is to take advantage of this, especially if you have small children who won’t meet the height requirements or who doesn’t want to go on that particular ride. How it works is, one adult/parent stays with that child while another adult/parent boards the ride with the other kids and party members. After the ride, the waiting adult/parent can go on the ride without waiting in line.
Download the Universal App
Apparently, this is really useful and gives you instant details of current waiting times, park maps, dining and hotel info and toilet locations right at your fingertips.
Walking around the parks can be thirsty work and can also prove costly if you’re constantly stopping to buy sodas or water from the kiosks. tripsology members have suggested buying the Coke Freestyle cups which allows you unlimited refills throughout the day, saving you $$$ in soft drinks.
Amex Card Holders
Apparently if you’re an American Express card holder and you book your park tickets with that credit card you can enjoy special privileges such as use of the Amex lounge on site which offers complimentary light snacks and drinks as well as a concierge service.
Plan your time
According to tripsologists, you should plan for a minimum of three days to properly get around the resort attractions and rides, allowing time to soak up the atmosphere and surroundings instead of making it a sprint, rushing round ticking the rides off your ‘to-do’ list. However, if you do find you only have one day to spare here, they have recommended the Park to Park tickets with Express Unlimited added. These might be pricey but in the long run, you will avoid lengthy queues and grumpy kids, enhancing your overall experience. You know the drill…happy kids, happy parents. If budget doesn’t allow for these tickets, keep calm and keep smiling!
Harry Potter Merchandise
tripsologists have told us that the Diagon Alley gift shops are quite small and can get really crowded so consider buying Harry Potter souvenirs at the kiosk stands to avoid in-store congestion and frayed tempers.
Chances are you’ll be on some of the rides where you will get wet but according to some members there’s always the chance of a heavy shower burst in Orlando, even in the height of summer. Don’t get caught short and then have to join the stampede to the on-site shops to buy them. Get them at Walmart before you go – massive price difference too.
So, now you’ve got all the tripsologist recommendations at your fingertips, you might want to know what their favourite rides and top things to do at Universal are.
Favourite Rides and Top Things to do at Universal:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man
- Rising the Hogwarts Express
- Buying Wands at Ollivanders
Have you been to Universal? What was your favourite ride and have you got any secret tips to share with the community? Every recommendation helps other members plan their trips better and helps them have the best possible experience based on previous guests’ experiences. Tell us yours today.
**These subjective recommendations are based on the opinions and information shared by trisplogy members and not to be treated as official guides. Please check with your hotel or tour operator as to the exact inclusions on your booking**