To be quite honest, planning a trip to Universal Studios Florida is way more relaxed than planning a trip to Disney World. The same rules for all theme parks apply – you want to get there early and stay late – but you don’t have to strategize which Fast Passes to get or make advance dining reservations. Being a planner, of course, I still did a bit of planning and research and I’m here to share them with you!
Tip #1: Get the Express Pass
If you can afford it, I recommend getting the Express Pass. It’s expensive, but if you are comfortable with the cost, do it. This really helped us get on as many rides as possible during our one day at the parks. With some of the big name rides – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, Minion Mayhem, Hogwarts™ Express, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ – there is a bit of a wait, but most rides are pure walk-ons with the Express Pass.
Tip #2: Consider staying on Universal property
If you’re a larger group, consider staying at one of Universal’s Premier hotels – Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel®, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Each of these hotels comes with a free Express Unlimited Pass, for day of check-in and check-out, allowing you to skip the regular lines at participating rides and attractions. This could be a savings of about $129 per person! Staying on Universal property also gives you Early Park Entry on select days, meaning you can get on some rides before the park opens!
Tip #3: Riding the Hogwarts™ Express
Get a Park-to-Park ticket if you want to ride Hogwarts™ Express between Diagon Alley™ and Hogsmeade™. If you do not have a Park-to Park ticket, Annual Pass, or Season Pass, you cannot ride Hogwarts™ Express.
Tip #4: Use the Single Rider lines
Utilize the Single Rider line if the ride has one. If you and your party don’t mind riding separately from each other – volunteer to fill the empty spaces. Single Rider lines are often completely walk-on lines, as you’re being used to fill in any empty spaces left by parties of 2 or 3.
Tip #5: Get there early and have a rough plan
You should aim to arrive at the parks roughly an hour before the parks open. Regardless of your mode of transportation, you will have to walk through City Walk before making it to the front gates of each park. If you have the Express Pass, your priority should be Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™ or the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure, as neither of these accept the EP. If roller coasters aren’t your thing, head to Universal Studios instead and head straight to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, which has a pretty consistent line all day long.
Tip #6: Have a Butterbeer™!
Do not leave either parks without having a Butterbeer™. I personally prefer the frozen Butterbeer™, since it’s less sweet than the regular version. I’m going to be honest here and admit that we had 3 of them during our day at the parks.