We have a passion for the Universal Orlando Parks! It all started when Tim was on the Project Team to build a brand new Universal Orlando Park called Islands of Adventure.
Our family has grown up visiting the Universal Orlando Parks. We have a lot of memories at the Universal Orlando Parks. It is one of our favorite destinations. With all of our experiences at Universal Orlando, we wanted to share some of our tips with you.
Scroll down for our list of Universal Orlando tips, tricks, and hacks or check out the full video below.
Universal Orlando Tips
Let’s dive right into our line up of Universal Orlando tips, tricks, and hacks.
Short Cut at CityWalk
The main entrance into Universal Orlando is CityWalk. This is a shopping, dining, and entertainment district. You walk through CityWalk to get to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
When visiting Universal Studios, we like taking the short cut through a store called Quiet Flight. It is a surf shop at CityWalk. You can avoid the crowds at Universal Orlando, plus it is air-conditioned. It is a nice break from the Florida heat. You may also find something fun to buy during your day at Universal Orlando.
Short Cut to Get to Universal Studios
Another timesaver tip is a short cut to get to Universal Studios. This park has two separate entrances. The main entrance with the ticket windows and a secret entrance by Blue Man Group. This entrance opens later in the morning and throughout the day.
We like to use this secret entrance to avoid the crowds or to cut through to get a quick bite to eat for lunch or dinner at CityWalk.
Pre-Order Your Universal Tickets
One of our biggest tips when visiting Universal Orlando is purchase your tickets, before you leave home. With Universal Park tickets you can save money and time ordering your tickets ahead of time.
Here is a link to our favorite place to order tickets. This is a local Orlando company that we have worked with for over 15 years. They have the best prices on Orlando Theme Park tickets!
If you cannot remember any other Universal Orlando tip, remember this one to help save you money and time for your day at the parks.
Know the Ride Height Requirements
If you have younger children, be sure you know the height requirements of the rides (before your visit). If you do not know them or know if your kids are tall enough, look for the measuring stick outside both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.
Your kids can stand next to the measuring stick to see what rides they can and cannot to. Plus, it is a fun photo opp!
Buy Harry Potter Merch Outside Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Our family loves the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. This are is smaller and can get very crowded. We recommend buying your Harry Potter souvenirs, outside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
You can buy the exact same HP merch at the Universal Orlando hotels, throughout the Universal Parks, and at CityWalk. It is the same merchandise, without the crowds.
Pack a Small Bag or Backpack
Many of the rides at both Universal Orlando Parks do not allow bags. This includes purses, wallets, and backpacks. Universal does provide free lockers, outside the rides. You can put your items in these lockers, before hopping on the ride.
However, the lockers are small. A full size backpack will not fit in these small lockers. I even have issue fitting my camera. For your days at the parks, bring a small bag or backpack if you are going to use the lockers.
A huge timesaver at both Universal Orlando Parks is the new Virtual Line. You can download the Universal Orlando app on your smart phone. Once you arrive to the parks, you can check your app for any Virtual Lines. You can select a reservation to ride your favorite rides.
You will go back to the ride during your reservation time. You will go to the line that says Virtual Line and go right to the front of the line. The best news . . . it is free!
Take advantage of the Virtual Line to save time during your days at the Universal Parks.
Order Food from Mobile Ordering
Another great timesaver hack is on the Universal Orlando app. This hack is called Mobile Ordering. When you are ready for lunch, dinner, or even a quick drink; pull out your smart phone and order from the Mobile Ordering.
You can order food from many of the quick service (fast food) spots throughout both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Once you arrive to the restaurant, you can pick up your food from the Mobile Ordering line. It is a huge timesaver!
Buy an Interactive Wand
One of our favorite experiences at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the interactive wands. You can buy an interactive wand at both parks. You will receive your wand and a map in your box. You can then wander throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade casting spells. There are even a few secret spells.
If you have an infant or younger children, take advantage of Child Swap. This is an amazing idea for younger families. If you want to ride a roller coaster (even though the younger ones cannot) you can use Child Swap.
You will wait in the regular line with the whole family. When you get to the front of the line, let the Team Member know you want to use Child Swap. Half of your party will go ride the coaster. The other half of your party will be escorted to a Child Swap area. Once you ride the coaster, you will switch places with your family waiting in Child Swap. That way everyone gets to ride without having to wait in line twice.
It is an amazing timesaver. Check the other parks in Orlando for Child Swap, too. Many of the attractions and parks offer this free service.
This next hack may seem crazy, but it works! When you get to the park or get to a ride line, use the left line vs the right line. Most people are right handed, so they feel more comfortable going right.
If you get the opportunity to go left or right, most of the time the right line is longer. So, you should go left!
Men in Black Immigration Tour
One of our favorite secrets at Universal Orlando is the Immigration Tour at Men in Black. This ride is located at Universal Studios. Inside Men in Black, they have a special section. You can be escorted into this section during the Immigration Tour. You can even sign the Immigration Book. It is a fun photo opportunity for the whole family.
Ask a Team Member at the front entrance to Men in Black about the Immigration Tour. If they have enough Team Members, they will take you on this free tour.
Eat at Universal CityWalk
The dining at Universal Orlando Parks is mostly quick service or fast food. Right outside both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is Universal CityWalk. There are some amazing sit down restaurants in Universal CityWalk. Many of them are just a little bit more expensive than the quick service/fast food you will find inside the parks.
When looking for a spot for lunch or dinner, we suggest going outside the parks to Universal CityWalk.
Stay at a Universal Orlando Hotel
One of the hidden gems of visiting Universal Orlando Resort is the value of staying at a Universal Hotel. There are so many benefits to staying at a Universal Orlando hotel during your vacation.
One of the biggest benefits is the Early Park Admission. You can stay at one of the Universal Orlando hotels or even a Universal Partner hotel to take advantage of this timesaver. You will get into Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando up to one hour, before the gates open to the general public. This means you get into Hogsmeade before everyone else!
Plus, you can hop on the Hogwarts Express and get over to Diagon Alley at opening. This will also give you a heads up on everyone else at Diagon Alley.
Another huge benefit is the free Universal Express. If you stay at Royal Pacific, Hard Rock Hotel, or Portofino Bay Hotel; you will get a free benefit called Universal Express.
You will show your room key to gain front of the line access on rides at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. This will save you hours and hours and hours of time at the parks.
We love the Universal Express!
Dine at Mythos
I know I mentioned earlier the tip to eat at Universal CityWalk during the time at the parks. The only exception to this rule is Mythos at Islands of Adventure. Mythos is a sit down restaurant in The Lost Continent. This restaurant is a hidden gem at Universal Orlando.
It is a nice break from the parks. Plus, you have a spectacular view of Islands of Adventure and great food!
Pack a Poncho
When packing for your Orlando vacation, be sure you pack a poncho. You will want to pack a poncho even if it says zero chance of rain! There are a lot of rides at Universal Orlando where you will get soaked. Most of these rides are at Islands of Adventure.
We recommend wearing a poncho on these water rides to stay dry. You cannot wear ponchos on all of the rides, but many of them you can. It is a great way to stay dry during you day of fun!
Buy Photo Connect
Universal Orlando has a photography package called Photo Connect. For one price, you can purchase Photo Connect and then take pictures of the whole family, throughout your vacation to the Universal Parks and Volcano Bay.
This is a fun way to remember your vacation and an amazing price.
Name a Dinosaur
At the Discovery Center in Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure, you have an amazing opportunity. At the bottom of the Discovery Center is a dinosaur nursery.
Your younger kids can check out the nursery to see dino eggs. If one of the dinosaur eggs hatches, your child may be able to name the dinosaur. After they name the dino, the scientist will give the child a Certificate of Birth for their dinosaur. It is really a cool experience!
You can even come back on a later vacation and ask the Team Member about your dino. They will ask the scientist to double check the status of your dinosaur. It is really fun!
Get to the Parks Early
One of our biggest tips for any of the Orlando Theme Parks is get to the parks early. You want to arrive to the Universal Orlando Parks before the gates even open. You will be amazed how much of the park you can complete, before the crowds start to hit around 11 AM.
I know this one is tough, because you are on vacation. However, get to the parks early!
If your kids are not tall enough to ride their favorite attraction, ask a Team Member about a Ride Certificate. A Ride Certificate is an actual certificate that they give the child. It allows the child to come back to the ride, when they are tall enough.
They will show the certificate to the Team Member and go right to the front of the line, with their family. It is a great souvenir and encouragement for the kids.
My daughter was not tall enough for her favorite ride, Hulk. She got a Ride Certificate from Hulk and posted it on her bulletin board. She was counting down the days until she was tall enough to ride.
Ride Hogwarts Express in Both Directions
Our final hack for a Universal Orlando vacation is the Hogwarts Express at Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Hogwarts Express connects both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Basically it connects Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
You do need to have a ticket called the Park to Park option, so keep that in mind when you are ordering your tickets. This ticket option allows you to visit both parks on the same day.
When visiting Wizarding World of Harry Potter, be sure you ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions. Each direction is a different show and is amazing. Don’t miss out on this experience. Ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions.
We hope you enjoyed these Universal Orlando tips for your next Universal Orlando vacation. If you have another tip, share it in the comments below.