Universal Studios Orlando Tips
Before moving to Tampa, I visited Universal Studios a handful of times, but decided to become an Annual Passholder since I was only about an hour away from the parks! I’m so glad I made the decision to become an AP, so I want to share some tips and facts for visiting Universal Studios Orlando!
Universal Studios Orlando is made up of three park: Islands of Adventures, Universal Studios, and Volcano Bay. Islands of Adventures includes Marvel, Cartoons, Dr Seuss, The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter – Hogwarts/Hogsmede. Universal Studios includes Harry Potter – Diagon Alley/London, Universal Movies (The Mummy, Men in Black, ET, Despicable Me, Fast and Furious), and another Cartoon section. Volcano Bay is a water park with lots of cool, fun water rides!
You can buy a one park ticket, BUT to see both Harry Potter worlds plus ride the Hogwarts Express, your ticket must be a park to park ticket. Going to two parks in one day is definitely doable!
Where To Stay
Universal Resorts – I have never stayed in one of the Universal Resorts, but I hear good things about the accommodations, and this means you’re closer to the parks AND you get express passes plus some other park perks. You will receive hotel discounts if you purchase an Annual Pass, too.
Hotels – There’s several hotels walking/short drive distance that could be more affordable.
Difference in Annual Passes
I chose the 2 Park Preferred Annual Pass – with the Preferred Pass, I get park admission every day of the year, free parking, discounts on certain food, gifts, concerts, etc. You can get an annual pass for 2 Park (Island of Adventures and Universal Studios) or 3 Park (Volcano Bay included), and they have four types of annual passes for each of these (Premier, Preferred, Power, and Seasonal).
With the last two passes (Power and Seasonal), there are more blockout dates, no free parking, and no early admission. The main difference between 2 Park Premier and Preferred Annual Pass is Premier gets Express Pass access starting at 4 PM and one free Halloween Horror ticket. It depends on your interest or needs, but I’m really happy to have chosen the Preferred Pass! I’ve been to Universal 7 times since becoming a passholder, and it’s been worth the price for me! Here is the Universal link to compare prices!
Fun Facts & Tips
Download the Universal App – you can check wait times (aka see where the crowd is and avoid), see show times, stay updated on park hours and order food!
Check the Undercover Tourist and Orlando Informer Crowd Calendars to plan the best times to go! The best time to go is September. I went with my entire family in September, and we waited at most 20 minutes. It was hot, but worth it.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will ALWAYS be busy, but best time is either at early admission or right before the park closes!
Use Single Rider lines if you want to wait less – there have been several times where I’ve been with friend(s) and sometimes we still get seated together.
Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is worth the wait. My favorite ride hands down, but I suggest hitting this ride first thing in the morning. If I don’t get a chance to do it first, I keep an eye on my app to see if the wait lowers.
Don’t be afraid to have a solo trip. I’ve gone to the parks alone and I enjoy it just as much! I get to do what I want and don’t have to worry about pleasing others.
If the Hogwarts Express is over 40 minutes, you can walk from park to park in 20 minutes or less. If you’ve ridden this before, I suggest walking out of the park because it will cut down at least half of time.
I’ve been to two Orlando Informer Meetups & I loved both (especially the December dates because the parks are decorated for Christmas). Orlando Informer provides ticketed events that take place after hours in the park. They typically begin around 5 PM and end around 12:30 AM. The park will close to the general public so you get little to no wait times AND unlimited food/drink. Tickets are usually around $200 for a single night and $350 for two nights. Head to their IG or website to learn more!