Are you ready for an epic vacation for the entire family? Then it might be the perfect time to immerse yourself into the world that is Universal Orlando Resort. Comprised of two large theme parks; Universal Studios Florida and the Islands of Adventure these two parks give you the opportunity to experience your favourite movies, superheroes, and television shows like never before. Here are the 15 things you need to know, before you go!
- See the movies before you go. Almost every ride at Universal Orlando Resort is based on either a movie or television show. Why not start a countdown to your trip with a couple of old fashioned movie marathons! Walking through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is all the sweeter when it feels like the movie you’ve just watched has come to life before your eyes.
- Buy the “park to park” ticket. The only way to truly enjoy, appreciate and see all that Universal has to offer is to see both the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. You will also need to have this ticket if you wish to take the magical journey on the Hogwarts Express between Kings Cross Station and Hogsmede.
- Splurge and purchase the The Universal Express Unlimited Pass -it’s AWESOME. It gets you into an “Express” line on almost every ride at Islands of Adventure and at Universal Studios. (making you feel very VIP and cutting down those wait times on rides) Note: This Express Pass does not cover all of the rides. i.e. some of the more popular rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The other option, stay at one of the premium resorts that offers the Express Pass with your stay.
- Staying On-Site: If you are staying at an on-site resort, be sure to take advantage of those Early Entry Hours. Staying on-site allows you into the parks a full hour early. That hour is gold! Once you walk through the gates of Universal, head straight to the most popular rides – those in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Rein of Kong and check them off your list!
- Download the Universal Orlando Resort App. The resort’s official app is free and will provide real time updates of wait times,, park maps, and show times.
- Smart Purchase: If you don’t already have one, your first purchase at the park should be a lanyard that will hold your tickets, Express Pass and possibly your room key and a little cash. Not only with this keep that Express Pass handy every time you jump to the front of the line, but it helps to keep all those valuables safe.
- Wear really good shoes. One thing that is guaranteed at Universal. You will walk. A lot.
- What should You Bring To The Parks? Universal does allow guests to bring in some snack item including; bottled water, small snacks that do not require heating, any food required for medical purposes and medically indicated nutritional supplements, any food required for special dietary needs, and baby food/baby formula.
- Get all wizardy with a wand! You can purchase interactive wands in the park that allow you to cast spells! Aim your wand plaques placed around the theme parks and feel like a real wizard. You can find these wands at both Ollivanders in either Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) or Diagon Alley (Universal Studios).
- Splash Alert. Know that on some of the very best rides….will get you wet! Really wet. Plan these for the mid-day (when it’s super hot) and you and the kids need a cool-down, just before you leave the park for the day, or pack a change of clothes. My favourite “water ride” Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. Pure fun.
- What are the Best Roller Coasters at Universal?Teens, tweens and teenagers at heart adore Universe for the chills and thrills. Universal packs in the fun with their roller coasters. The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios is the scariest rollercoaster we’ve ever encountered. Also to be found at Universal Studios is the ever popular Revenge of the Mummy – a crazed ride through a dark tomb. At Islands of Adventure the Hulk awaits to take you on a furiously fast coaster. It jettisons you out of the gate and has you upside down before you have time to catch your breath. Not done with coasters yet? Don’t miss The Dragon Challenge back in the Wizarding Wolrd of Harry Potter. I dare you not to scream as you tumble though the air with your feet dangling free on the floorless rollercoaster.
- Locker Rental. On some of those gut buster coasters and rides, you will be asked to put all of your personal items from smart phones to back backs and sunglasses into a locker. These lockers are located near the rides and are offered free of charge. The only issue, it gets crowded in those little locker spaces so pack your patience as you lock up your valuables.
- Single Riders. Don’t mind tackling a ride alone? You can experience the “walk through” of the rides together and then split up when you hit the ride to actually embark on the ride solo. This can save you valuable time and get you on the coaster of your dreams ever faster.
- Ouch! Which rides truly deserve the “Not suitable for those with back injury, neck injury” signs. It seems most of the thrill rides err on the side of caution and warn that those who have any kind of injury or are prone to dizziness, etc dare not ride. As someone with a nagging back injury, those signs freak me out! Here are the rides I know I CAN NOT DO! The Simpsons. That one throws and jutts you around but good. Those with back injury should not ride. Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Go ahead and enjoy the stationary seats offered at the front. Perhaps not as fun as the moving seats, but way less painful than the alternative.
- Don’t miss; the Butterbeer. Only available at Universal – the frozen Butterbeer is akin to a frozen Werthers candy with a touch of vanilla? Made into a scrumptious slushy! YUM. While you’re indulging, don’t forget to pick up a Lard Land Donut just like Homer Simpson would enjoy. It looks sickeningly sweet, but is actually quite delicious.
What ever you do, take your time, snap a few pictures and have a blast creating some memories that are sure to last a lifetime.