Universal Orlando – What To Know Before You Go

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Wear really good shoes.  One thing that is guaranteed at Universal.  You will walk.  A lot.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

Happy Travels!

Disclosure: I was provided passes to Universal Studios in order to facilitate this review.  As always, all opinions reflected on this blog are my own.


  1. Can’t wait to head back to Orlando! We didn’t get to Universal last time but definitely won’t miss the next time! Thanks for all the great tips!

  2. kathy downey says:

    Thanks for all the great tips,it sure looks and sounds wonderful.I will have to add this place to my bucket list !

  3. Cheryl H says:

    Sounds like so much fun, I love reading these blog posts with the hope of one day going there

  4. Lynda Cook says:

    Thanks for the great post and all the helpful tips!!

  5. Awesome! It’s on my bucket list – can’t wait to visit someday!!

  6. Judy Cowan says:

    It has been years since we were last there, so many changes. Really hope we can get back one of these years. Would love to stay on site next time.

  7. Great tips!

  8. Have sent many Make a Wish kids to Disneyworld, now its time to send me! Thanks for the lovely post.

  9. I don’t know that we need to go to disney. I always thought once the boys were old enough to remember, it would be 1 trip ,but really we’ve stuck to Canadian sites. I will probably stay away from USA for a while.

  10. Everything to do with Harry potter is on my bucket list. I’ve seen the movies and read the books tons of times.

  11. What a rollercoaster! We have never been to Universal but it looks incredible. I wouldn’t have thought to make sure we saw all the movies before going so thaks for that tip. How many days would you say a family needs to really experience these two parks?

  12. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    When we went about 15 yrs ago, we didn’t do enough research or the passes weren’t available in those days. I rather like the idea of the interactive wands, I’m sure kids would love those.

  13. heidi c. says:

    I visited Universal in LA a number of years ago and had a blast. I would love to take my kids to visit it or the one in Orlando, I will definitely be bookmarking your tips.

  14. We haven’t been to Universal in a long time but these are awesome tips. The Universal Orlando Resort App sounds really helpful – a must download for the trip!

  15. Elizabeth Vlug says:

    I can’t believe we haven’t been. Thanks for the tips and you just never know when we might need them. 😉

  16. Laurie P says:

    I hope one day I will get here with my girl. And splurge is a must, it’s not like ya get here often right?!

  17. Melinda says:

    I will definitely buy the park to park tickets based on your recommendation!

  18. JaimeeM says:

    So much to do there! I would most want to try the butterbeer. At home isnt the same as on site! Thanks for the great post

  19. Carole D says:

    Thank you for all these great tips! I hope that I will be able to go one day! It’s a dream of mine!

  20. Lynda Cook says:

    Sounds amazing and a riders dream come true, park to park sounds like a great thing to do as well!!

  21. This sounds like amazing fun and especially when you know about these helpful tips that you shared.

  22. Laurie P says:

    great photos! That castle tho…

    and butter beer!

  23. Catheirne Robichaud says:

    Wow, thanks for tha the wonderful tips. We went to Universal years ago but I cannot wait to go back as so many new things have been built.

  24. Shirley P says:

    Thanks for the fabulous tips I would love to go here

  25. Butterbeer is for sure on my list, sounds awesome!

  26. Alison Braidwood says:

    I’ve been to DisneyWorld, but not the Universal Resorts. This really makes me want to go, if only for the Butterbeer :0

  27. kristen says:

    We want to go here SO bad! Can’t believe that our family hasn’t been yet!

  28. Thank you for sharing your article. I love the express pass as well. I want to go to Disney again 🙂

  29. With a pool like that I would have no problem staying on site!

  30. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    I really enjoyed Orlando when we were there, we’ve been a couple of times. The kids (all adults) still complain that we didn’t spend enough time at Universal! Talk about holding a grudge for donkey years!!

  31. Stephanie says:

    This guide is very handy!

  32. September Dee says:

    I appreciate all this information! I’ve never bee. To Orlando so this may come in handy in the future.

  33. kathy downey says:

    I love reading these blog posts about Orlando,i would love to visit someday!

  34. Janet M says:

    Universal is a great experience for the whole family.

  35. I cannot do the wild rides but perhaps the rides that get you wet. It sure looks like a lot of fun going there.

  36. Alison Braidwood says:

    I like the idea of the interactive wands. For children of all ages.

  37. ivy pluchinsky says:

    I have always wanted to go here! Really great post!

  38. Lushka Smith says:

    Lots of great tips. Thanks

  39. Elizabeth G says:

    I’ve never been as of yet, but I really want to see the Hogwarts area. Thanks for all the amazing tips! Saving them for the future!

  40. Dorothy H says:

    Nice place to visit.

  41. This is a great holiday if you have a child with autism

  42. Been to Harry Potter in Watford England, and have been to Universal in California, but it was a good many years ago. would love to go here!

  43. Melissa Dupuis says:

    Always dreamed of going there. Maybe I’ll need to take my kids one day!

  44. Judy Cowan says:

    It has changed so much since the last time we were there (which was 14 years ago). Really need to start planning another trip.

  45. Laurie P says:

    Buy the “park to park” ticket!! I’ve heard about how great this is!

  46. Kim Tanti says:

    We took our older 2 children and we all loved it. Our last child was a beautiful blessing 16yrs. later. She would love to go. So hopefully one day we will.

  47. Ameirah Taha says:

    Looks so beautiful & great fun!! Most excellent!!

  48. Jared Denison says:

    This is on my bucket list of places to go. I love amusement parks. My friend Amanda lovesx in Florida and I want to visit her one day.

  49. Alicia H says:

    What an experience! Glad you enjoyed it!

  50. Melinda Jana says:

    I so want to go there one day. great tips!

  51. Tania B says:

    Great post – I know so many people who traveled to Universal Studios without doing proper research and ended up scattered and frazzled.

  52. Treen Goodwin says:

    I would love to travel to Orlando , it looks like a great place and lots of amazing things to do 🙂

  53. Leslie Crosbie says:

    My dream vacation is to take my kids there!

  54. Thanks for sharing this amazing feature and all the great tips. I am hoping to get there someday too.It all sounds wonderful.

  55. Jennifer P. says:

    This is such a great list of tips, thank you so much!! I am bookmarking this for when we go for our oldest daughter’s 13th birthday! We are so excited!!

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