Visiting a theme park for the first time is a wonderful experience but can also be totally overwhelming.
There's so much to do and see, and you just want to make sure that you get the most out of your time and money.
To help reduce your level of overwhelm, I'm going to walk you through 10 Uniserval Studios Orlando tips.
Visiting the parks should be fun not stressful!
These Universal Studios Orlando tips will help you get the most out of your time and money!
Ready to get started?
Money Saving Parking Tips
1. Take Advantage of Shuttles
If you stay at a Universal Studios Resort hotel you can skip paying for parking by just taking one of the shuttles.
These shuttles are great because they run frequently enough to where taking one is never inconvenient.
If you miss it, there'll be another in a few minutes.
Similarly, you can choose a hotel that isn't associated with Universal Studios but still offers a shuttle to and from the park.
These shuttles often only make a couple of trips per day, so you do need to plan your day around the departure times for these shuttles.
2. Uber to the Parks
If you're strategic about booking your hotel, you can Uber to and from the parks and spend less than you would on parking.
If you're hotel is close to Universal Studios, it will likely only cost about $5 per Uber ride. And, considering that it costs $23 to park (per day) at Universal, that's a huge savings.
These hotels are close enough to the park that you should be able to Uber there for about $5 per ride. (Please note that prices change based on supply and demand. The prices I mention only reflect my personal experience. To get exact pricing, please check Uber directly.)
If you want the closest hotel possible, look for ones on Major Blvd!
Take a look at the comparison table below to find a hotel that will save you money on Universal parking fees.
3. Walk to the Parks
If you stay at one of the hotels that are super close to the parks (located on Major Blvd and listed below), you can actually walk to and from the parks.
It's about a 20-30 minute walk depending on your pace.
I have done this before, and while it can be exhausting, the walk is pretty once you get onto Universal Studios property.
Plus, if you walk there and feel to tired to walk back, you can always Uber.
Walking one way cuts your Uber bill in half!
Best Hotels to Save on Parking Fees
The following hotels can save you money on parking fees at Universal. Some hotels in Orlando will charge nightly parking fees, so if you're trying to avoid those all together, make sure you check for details.
|Fairfield Inn & Suites||>1 mile||4.5||Check Pricing and Availability|
|DoubleTree||>1 mile||4||Check Pricing and Availability|
|La Quinta||>1 mile||4||Check Pricing and Availability|
|Holiday Inn & Suites||>1 mile||3.5||Check Pricing and Availability|
Find a Different Hotel
General Universal Studios Orlando Tips
4. Take Advantage of the American Express Lounge
One of the many perks of having an American Express card is that you can get access to the American Express Lounge, which is located inside Universal Studios.
If you purchase your tickets with your Amex card, you can gain entrance to the lounge for you and everyone you purchased ticket for.
The lounge is amazing.
Now, it's nothing special, but when you're hot, tired, and thirsty, you'll think it's pretty damn amazing, too.
The lounge offers clean bathrooms, free water, free snacks, A/C, and a TV.
While I don't recommend wasting your time in the lounge, it's a great place to stop for a quick break.
5. Make a Priority List
When visiting any theme park, it's important to walk in with a plan.
Otherwise, you'll just end up spinning your wheels and wasting your time.
You might also find that you didn't get around to doing all the things you really wanted to.
Having a plan is always important, but it becomes particularly helpful when you're short on time.
Before entering the park, you should definitely have a list of rides that you want to make your top priority.
This will help plan your day in the park and ensure that you get around to doing the most important stuff.
6. Be Selective About Where You Eat
Universal Studios has some wonderful restaurants. But, not all of their restaurants are great.
In fact, at many, you'll find nothing but generic theme park food (e.g. pizza, chicken fingers, fries, etc.)
In order to get something special, you need to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Springfield, or visit one of the finer dining restuarants, such as Mythos.
The restaurants in these areas of the park offer a unique dining experience that you'll love. It goes way beyond generic theme park food.
7. Check for Special Events
Before you book your tickets, make sure you check the park's schedule for special events. (E.g. Halloween Horror Nights, Mardi Gras, etc.)
Special events tend to start sometime between 5 pm and 6 pm, and unless you purchased the pass that includes the special event (yes, it costs more), you'll be forced to leave early.
So, to avoid the entire problem, and get the most out of your day at the theme park, choose days to visit that don't have special events happening at night.
On the other hand, if you're interested in accessing a special event, you'll definitely want to ensure that it's happening on the nights you plan on going.
For example, Halloween Horror Nights starts in September and end in November, but it doesn't happen every night.
8. Dress Appropriately for Water Rides
Islands of Adventure has a few water rides (3 to be exact), and it's important to dress appropriately if you plan on riding them.
If it would be comfortable, wearing a bathing suit underneath quick drying clothes is your best option.
However, active wear is another good choice because it usually dries quickly.
Also, don't forget about your shoes. Either pack a pair of flip flops in your backpack or take your shoes off before getting on the ride. (I have no idea if you're technically allowed to not wear shoes on the water rides, but I've seen shoeless people do it before, so who knows!)
If all of that seems like too much work, just wait to ride them until the end of the day.
At that point, you'll care a lot less about being soaked because you're on your way back to your hotel to change.
Express Pass Tips
9. Ask for Free Express Passes
Sometimes things don't go according to plan.
For instance, sometimes you might wait in a line for a ride that breaks down after you've already been waiting for half an hour.
If they don't think they can fix it quickly enough, they will make an announcement, and you will have the opportunity to leave.
If this happens, feel free to ask a team member for an Express Pass so that you can ride it without having to wait again. This works particularly well if you've been waiting a while.
Now, they may say no. But, a few years ago, this happened on the Mummy, and they were more than happy to hand out Express Passes to those who continued to wait after the ride had broken down.
So, you might as well ask.
10. If Express Passes Are Cheap, You Might Not Need Them
Universal Studios doesn't offer Express Passes for free like Disney does.
While this might suck if you aren't interested in spending more money, it is great if you do want to splurge on them you'll be glad to know that the Express lines tend to be super short! (Much shorter than Disney's.)
The price of the Express Passes vary depending on how busy Universal expects the parks to be.
So, on a busier day, the tickets will be expensive, and on a slower day, they will be cheaper.
The cheaper the Express Passes, the less likely you'll even need them.
Of course, it's totally up to you.
If you're not sure you'll need them, check out this crowd calendar to help you make up your mind.
Lastly, if you're still not sure if you'll need them, wait to purchase them.
I'm not aware of any advantage to purchasing the Express Passes ahead of time other than you're guaranteed to have them.
11. Get Complimentary Express Passes
If you want Express Passes, I would encourage you to look into prices for staying in Universal's Premier hotels because they provide you with complimentary Express Passes.
These hotels tend to be pricey.
However, add up all of your expenses for staying off property before you just assume it will be cheaper.
Add the cost per night, parking (or transport) costs, and Express Pass costs for each day you plan on visiting the park.
Once you do this, I think you'll find that the Premier hotels are actually pretty comparable in price.
You can stay at the following hotels and get free Express Pass Unlimited:
All of these hotels are amazing and offer incredible service and amenities.
In addition to Express Passes, you'll get access to free transportation, including Shuttles and Ferries.
Comparison of Hotels
|Hotel||On Property?||Available Transportation||Free Express Passes?||Price|
|Loews Royal Pacific||Yes||Shuttle||Yes||Click Here to Check Pricing and Availability|
|Hard Rock Cafe||Yes||Shuttle||Yes||Click Here to Check Pricing and Availability|
|Loews Portofino Bay||Yes||Shuttle||Yes||Check Pricing and Availability|
|Cabana Bay Beach Resort||Yes||Shuttle||No||Check Pricing and Availability|
|Fairfield Inn and Suites Near Universal Studio||No||Uber, Drive, Limited Shuttle||No||Check Pricing and Availability|
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips
12. Extensively Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is large, and there's a lot of details that will make you squeal with excitement, assuming you're a Harry Potter fan.
While I'm sure you'll be spending some time in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I encourage you to do your best to explore every nook and cranny.
I think you'll be surprised at all of the hidden gems you'll find.
Plus, there's a secretive section, which a lot of people seem to miss in Hogsmead.
It's super cool.
I won't tell you where it is or what it is though because stumbling upon it is the best part.
13. Ride the Hogwarts Express Both Ways
You'll want to ride the Hogwarts express twice: once going to Hogwarts and once going to Hogsmead.
Your destination determines what happens on the train ride, which makes for an awesome and tailored experience.
It really sets the tone for when you arrive at your destination.
So, don't miss out on a thing and make sure you ride it twice!
There are a ton of things you need to consider when planning your trip to Universal Studios.
These tips should help you avoid making rookie mistakes and prepare you for a great vacation.
Don't forget that the most important thing is to have fun!
So, don't get to meticulous with your planning.
Got questions? Leave them in the comments below, and I'll do my best to answer them!
⭐ Related: Universal Studios Ultimate Planning Guide
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