Universal Orlando Tips

10 fantastic tips for first-timers

Universal Orlando is an absolutely amazing spot to enjoy as a family or with friends.  Allow these 10 Univeral Orlando Tips to help guide you to your ultimate Universal adventure!

a photo of the universal globe on a cloudy summer day

1. Stay on-site

Are you staying on-site? Enjoy the parks an hour early if you are. Arrive an hour prior to opening time and enjoy some peace and quiet before the park gets busy. Ride Escape from Gringotts and a enjoy a Wand Choosing Ceremony at Olivanders during that hour of pre-opening! 

2. Universal Express Unlimited.

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! 

The Drop of Dudley Doo Right Rip Saw  Falls and four screaming riders

3. Photo Pass

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.

4. Lanyard.

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. 

5. comfort and functionality.

Wear comfortable shoes and carry a small backpack with your essentials. I suggest 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 (yes, HP nerd) 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. 

6. Save it all for harry potter.

Save your money for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter ya’ll. 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 beforehand. We ordered matching Harry Potter shirts off of Amazon so that we’d be decked out in our HP gear for a little bit cheaper 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!

7. filter rides and attractions

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’; if they’re scared right away that could really put a damper on their courage for the rest of the trip!  

8. child swap

HELLO CHILD SWAP. If applicable, use the child swap to your advantage! Here’s the strategy: Choose one person in your party to wait with the kiddo who is too scared or too small to ride. Once the rest of the part has completed their ride, you can usually bring 3 people back onto the ride with you so that you don’t have to ride alone. We actually did this on a ride because we had beverages we didn’t want to throw away so our ‘coffees’ were our children HAH.

9. package pick-up

Use Universal Orlando’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.  

10. Universal 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!


bonus Universal Orlando tips.

Take advantage of the single rider lanes on most rides! If you’ve ridden once with your group but are looking to ride again, hop on a single rider lane and breeze right through the line to enjoy your favorite attraction over and over again!

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 in both directions for a magical experience. These Universal Orlando Tips apply to both theme parks and should really maximize your joy on your next trip!

in conclusion.

These parks are amazing, and magical in their own way. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, along with Seuss Landing are the most fascinating to me! I hope you take these Universal Orlando Tips and have the most spectacular vacation!

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