Are you heading to Universal Orlando and hoping to make the most of your time and money? Universal Orlando can be an expensive vacation. When I planned my trip, I made the most of every minute and every dollar. Today, I’m helping you do the same by sharing 15 Universal Orlando Tips for Vacation Planning in 2022.
Universal Orlando Tips to Guide your Vacation
1. Early Park Admission
Are you staying on-site at a Universal Studios Orlando resort? If the answer is yes, you’ll have access to the parks 30 – 60 minutes before the crowds. Take advantage of this time to gain perfect positioning for when your favorite ride opens, or take a few spins on your favorite early-access rides prior to the parks opening.
Not only are Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and the Hard Rock Hotel walking distance from the parks, they provide you with early access to the theme parks.
2. Travel During Shoulder Season
The best months to visit Universal are April and May. “Shoulder season” is when you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Peak season and low season collide in the Spring. Avoid school breaks and experience great weather and no crowds for the ultimate Universal experience.
3. Purchase the Right Universal Studios Orlando Tickets
Make sure you’re spending your ticket money wisely! First and foremost, you save up to $20 by purchasing your tickets online as opposed to at the gate. Know what you’re doing and have a plan; do you want single-day tickets to the park? Do you need park hoppers? If you’re staying for more than a day, multi-day passes will save you money.
4. Universal Orlando Express Unlimited Pass
The Universal Orlando Express Unlimited pass is worth it. Guests of Loews Portofino Day Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort enjoy Universal Express Unlimited Passes free with their stay.
The Unlimited Express Pass allows you to bipass the regular lines at Universal Studios Florida and Island’s of Adventure. Additionally, you’ll receive priority seating at Universal Orlando restaurants.
If you’re staying on-site at one of the three participating hotels, you have Universal Express Unlimited; if you aren’t, I suggest investing in this during your stay. You will simply be allowed more time to enjoy the park how you choose with the extra time this pass will provide. Ride more rides, make it to character meet-ups, or taste all of the goodies the park has to offer!
5. Utilize the Single Rider Line
Utilize the single rider line! This is a good option if you’re the only one in your party who wants to ride. It’s also great for individuals looking to hop on for a second time!
It’s also a great option for a group of 2 or 3 who doesn’t care if they sit together or not. If you’re simply looking to ride again, hope in the single ride line with friends and/or family and give it a go.
The single rider line will cut your wait time in half. It’s a great way to ride an attraction more than once without wasting precious time in the parks.
It’s important to note that your party can travel through the line with you if they please. On rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the staging areas are too amazing to miss. For example, the Forbidden Journey takes you on amazing journey through Hogwarts Castle. Bring your family along for the trip and have them wait at the end for you to ride.
6. Maximize the Benefits of Child Swap
This is a Universal Studios Orlando Tip that will get families with small children a lot of extra riding time. It’s a great way to snag multiple rides at an attraction with one wait time.
If you’re in a group and have a child who doesn’t want to or can’t ride the attraction, utilize the Child Swap option. Have one adult wait with the child while the others ride. Afterward, have a different adult wait while the others ride a second time.
It would be unfair to make the solo adult ride by themselves, so take a family member with you! Alternate throughout the day to make the most of Child Swap and riding epic attractions.
7. Universal Orlando Photo Pass
If you listen to any of the Universal Studios Orlando Tips on this list, let it be this one. Purchase a Universal Orlando Photo Pass! Some of my favorite memories were captured through park and ride photographers.
My Universal Photo Pass is worth it! If you’re someone who appreciates making memories and reliving them through photos, you’re going to want them all. Character photos and ride photos will help make your day and allow you to relive that day over and over again. This family photo, for example, is priceless.
8. Universal Orlando Lanyards With ID Holder
Just wear a lanyard. It might feel kind of lame but they have a ton of styles so you’re bound to find one you like.
Hold your park ticket, express pass, my universal photos pass, and some cash in one convenient spot.
When riding certain attractions, you’ll be required to use a free locker for any bags you may have. These lockers are reserved with your park ticket, then you’ll have to get in line using your express pass, and add the ride photo to your package at the end of the ride. Having that ticket around your neck makes life pretty easy.
9. Dress for Comfort and Functionality
Wear comfortable shoes and carry a small backpack with your essentials. I suggest you carry your phone/camera, wallet, sunglasses, portable charging battery, Dramamine (with all of the 3D and 4D rides, you never know how you might feel after a few), hand sanitizer, some snacks, an umbrella/poncho, and a reusable water bottle.
I tried to keep a bag that my wand would fit into and I wore or brought a hat to keep the sun off of my face every day. This might sound crazy since it’s Florida – but a long sleeve T-Shirt or light sweater would be great if it fits as well. Almost all of the attractions are inside and air-conditioned so it’s common to get a little chilly.
10. Save it All for Universal Orlando Harry Potter World
Save everything you have for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter ya’ll. Harry Potter fans and newbies fall in love with how Universal brought the Harry Potter books to life. Between the merchandise, the butterbeer, and the treats you won’t regret it in the slightest!
With that being said, purchase some Harry Potter gear before your trip. We ordered matching Harry Potter shirts off of Amazon so that we’d be decked out in our HP gear for a lot less than what we’d pay in the park.
Purchasing an interactive wand at Ollivanders is a must for all Harry Potter fans. Even non-super-fans tend to find this space so magical that they get sucked in!
11. Filter Rides and Attractions on the App or Website
Traveling in a large group? Or with children? Filter rides and attractions for exactly what you’re looking for to create the ultimate itinerary. You can filter based on height requirements, type of attraction, and more.
Know what you can and can’t ride before you go to save some time and heartache. Don’t forget to work the little ones up to their ‘big ride’; you don’t want to put a damper on their courage for the rest of the trip by scaring them on ride number one!
12. Go During Halloween Horror Nights
If at all possible, make your way to Universal theme parks for Halloween Horror nights. Travel here during the month of October for terrifying haunted houses, sinister scare zones, outrageous live entertainment and some of the park’s most exhilarating attractions.
Purchase a separate ticket from day time activities to watch the park transform into the world’s premier Halloween event. Added bonus? The temperature in Florida is perfect in the fall.
13. Package Pick-up Service
Use Universal Orlando Resort’s package pick-up & free package delivery to on-site hotels for the souvenirs you buy in the parks.
If you’re not saying at a Universal Property, package pick-up sends your souvenir to the front of the park so you can pick it up on your way out instead of lugging it around all day.
14. The Official Universal Orlando Mobile App.
My final tip is to download the app and go into it with a plan! Have an idea of where you’re starting, what you want to do, and when (and where) you want to eat but be willing to stray from that plan if the right opportunities arise.
The app will let you know ride wait times, show times and dining venue hours. You can use the filters to find and sort by park, ride type, shows, dining, and shopping.
Get the latest updates on attractions and schedule changes and order food on the go. Using the Favorites List as your own personal itinerary!
15. Spend an Evening at Universal CityWalk
CityWalk is home to delicious restaurants and amazing entertainment. It’s a great place to retire to after a long day in the parks! It’s also a great option for avoiding long lines in the park at lunch time.
CityWalk is in walking distance from many site hotels. You can also take the water taxi from your Universal Orlando resort hotel to and from the parks, via CityWalk. The best part is that the water taxi is free to every guest that visits Universal Studios Orlando.
Universal Orlando Pro Tip
For my final, bonus you might call it, tip: I think it goes without saying that a park-to-park ticket is the best way to explore Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
If you’re going to be here for multiple days and just can’t swing the park to park for all three, spend an entire day in each and then take a day to splurge on the park to park to hit your favorites in each! Be sure to ride the Hogwarts Express train in both directions for a truly magical experience. These Universal Orlando Tips apply to both theme parks and should really maximize your joy on your next trip!
Tips for Using your Interactive Wand
The Universal Orlando parks are amazing, and magical in a way completely different from Disney. I’m a bit of a Harry Potter fangirl, so I purchased an interactive wand while visiting. Casting spells as I meandered around the parks was a highlight of my trip! If you’re looking for a guide to spell casting and using your interactive wand while at Universal Orlando I will link it below.