Tips for Going to Universal Studios in Orlando

I was recently at Universal Studios for the first time and loved it.  But I also wished I had planned my visit better.

Here’s what you need to know before going to Universal Studios:

Advance Planning:  Visit Universal Studio’s website before you go and decide which are your “can’t miss” attractions – then do these first. It’s a big park, so it also helps to plan your visit by strategically visiting attractions that are near each other, rather than tramping back and forth across the park.

Harry Potter Ride at Universal Studios in Orlando

Harry Potter Ride at Universal Studios

Go First Thing in the Morning:  Universal Studios opens at 9:00 am (sometimes 8:00 so check their website) and it’s less busy first thing, so get there early and hit the most popular rides first.  It will save you hours waiting in lines that will inevitably be there later in the day.  Speaking of lines…

Avoid Long Lines: With a Universal Express Plus Pass you are granted faster access than people in the regular line.  The pass is good for almost all rides with only a couple of exceptions.  If you don’t want to buy an Express Plus Pass, then consider the “single rider” line.  While you likely won’t be riding with your friends, you also won’t be standing in lines for hours either.

Roller coaster at Universal Studios in Orlando, USA

One of the rides that I willingly did not go on at Universal Studios.

Time Your Visit:  If you don’t have children and have a flexible schedule plan to go at off-peak times.  Universal Studios can be crazy busy.  I waited 90 minutes for the Harry Potter ride off-peak.  I can only imagine how long the line would be between Christmas and New Years or over the Easter long weekend or during summer.

Buy Your Ticket and Print it in Advance:  We had purchased our tickets in advance, but then waited 45 minutes to pick them up.  I highly recommend buying and printing your entrance ticket in advance.  There’s nothing worse than being all excited and then having to wait just to get into the park.

Go More Than Once:  Universal Studios is huge and I found it impossible to do all the rides I wanted to do.  I would recommend going first thing in the morning, then when it’s at its busiest from 11:00 to mid afternoon, going to do something else.  Then return in late afternoon when it’s not as busy and then do the same thing the next day. Due to the long lines it’s very difficult if not impossible to fit in everything in one day.  Orlando Theme Park Tickets are a great way to leverage this, while saving you money.

Rides Not to Miss:  
I loved the  Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.  Feet dangling, I literally felt like I was flying through a Harry Potter movie.  Had it not been for the 90 minute line, I could have quite happily returned again and again.  I also enjoyed the The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride.  With my Express Pass I waited less than 20 minutes for this ride.  I was sad that I missed Universal Studio’s newest ride Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.  A few of my friends went on this ride though and loved it.  Revenge of the Mummy also came highly recommended  but was unfortunately closed for maintenance when I was there.
Epcot Theme Park at Disney World

Go to Disney as well:  Disney is so close and has a very different feel to it than Universal Studios does.  I like them both and many of the same tips listed above for Universal Studios apply to Disney.  Make the most of your trip with the Disney Ultimate Ticket.

Going to Universal Studios can be an overwhelming experience, but these tips will help make your visit more enjoyable and help you get the most out of your time there.



Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.

One Comment

  1. Jennifer October 22, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Sadly I have only been to Orlando for conferences. And despite being right at Walt Disney World, I have only seen Downtown Disney. I definitely didn’t have time to make it to Universal Studios. Great tips for whenever I do make it there though!

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