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  • Which Universal Orlando theme park is better?

It’s an age-old question, and one that we get asked here at Orlando Informer constantly: which of the two Universal Orlando theme parks is better?

It’s not an inconsequential question. Many families only have so much time to devote to theme parks, generally, or to Universal, specifically, while on their Orlando vacations, and one day may be all they have to spend (and they may not want to have to worry about the extra expense or hassle of jumping from park to park). Other vacation-planners, meanwhile, may want to visit the “lesser” park first, saving the “best” for last for their group.

Here’s our answer: it genuinely depends on what you want out of your themed experiences. Both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure , of course, have their strengths and weaknesses, which makes one better suited to particular vacationers than the other.

Now, obviously, visiting both is the ideal way to go, and being able to spend at least one full day at each is even more sublime – particularly given the answer we just gave above. But circling back to our observation that some individuals may have either a limited schedule or budget, we’re going to dive deeply into why certain elements make one theme park or the other better.

(Hey, wait – what about Universal’s third park, Volcano Bay ? We’re not going to include it here, as this is a water park and, as such, has a different set of requirements and expectations to tour it. This also reflects the simple reality that guests rarely, if ever, visit the water parks as much as the theme parks, no matter where in the world they may be located. Don’t worry, though – we definitely think Volcano Bay is a must-visit stop on your vacation, and we wholeheartedly encourage you to splash and play there at least once.)

Skip to: Why USF is better  | Why IOA is better  | Other considerations | Final thoughts

Why Universal Studios Florida is better

There are many different lenses that we can look at this which-is-better question through: selection of intellectual properties, food, character meet-‘n-greets, park layout, even music, if we really wanted to. But, inarguably, the biggest and most important one is attractions, the array of experiences that one can have at either location.

The themed area that is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is quite simply a marvel to behold and could honestly take up half a day (at least) all on its own, particularly if you’re interested in spotting every Easter egg and soaking up every last corner of its immaculate theming. It is impressive on a scale like none other. Potter fans will be thrilled, and if you weren’t a fan of the series before you went into Diagon Alley, you almost certainly will be a fan by the time you leave. Springfield, USA is a boat-load of fun and similarly not to be missed. And then there are the individual attractions of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem , Transformers: The Ride – 3D , Universal’s Horror Make-Up Show , Men in Black: Alien Attack , Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit , and, our personal favorite, Revenge of the Mummy . It’s hard to go wrong here.

Still need more? The second-string rides of Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon , Fast & Furious – Supercharged , and the classic E.T. Adventure will all provide entertainment to various parts of your family, even if they don’t quite land the same punch as, say, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts . And then there’s Universal’s annual events , which contain some of the best in the themed world and almost universally (no pun intended) take place at Universal Studios instead of Islands of Adventure: the recently-revamped holidays celebration now features Harry Potter , making it all the more magical; Mardi Gras is a family-friendly riot of color, food, music, and, of course, beads; A Celebration of Harry Potter is the ultimate Potter fan’s dream come true; and, finally, Halloween Horror Nights isn’t called the nation’s premiere Halloween event for nothing. (Okay, okay – in the interest of accuracy, Celebration of Harry Potter has slid over to include IOA in the last few years, but most of the action still takes place at USF.) Depending upon the time of year you arrive, you may hardly see Universal Orlando’s second theme park at all.

(Read more about Universal Studios Florida in our complete guide .)

Why Islands of Adventure is better

Designed from the ground up to essentially be Universal’s version of Disneyland (whereas Universal Studios Florida was originally intended to imitate a working film back lot, a premise which took nearly half of its three-decade-long lifespan to grow out of), Islands is overflowing with thematic touches, both big and small. Guests are almost completely transported from one reality to another as they cross a bridge or round a bend, with one of the most effective transition pieces being the shifts in the world-class (and -famous) soundtrack. If you end up spending untold hours hovering in one particular corner of the park or another, finding the hidden quiet area to soak in the atmosphere or taking pictures of yet another well-placed Easter egg, we could hardly blame you.

Let’s take Jurassic Park as a good for-instance. The largest “islands” in the park consists of some pretty impressive touches – beyond the towering, iconic entrance that’s flanked by torches, guests will encounter 65,000 different plants and 2,000 trees that are all descendants from the Cretaceous period. (What they won’t find is grass, since it had yet to evolve at the point in the Earth’s lifespan.) Seuss Landing , meanwhile, doesn’t contain a single straight line, helping to bring the children author’s whimsical designs to life (even the area’s trees were imported from Hurricane Andrew-ravaged portions of Florida in order to ensure their zigzag nature). The next-door Lost Continent essentially acts as a giant time machine, sending visitors back two thousand years in the past in order to visit ancient Western civilizations. And The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade , of course, set the gold standard for theme-park land design (before its sibling, Diagon Alley, showed up four years later over at Universal Studios Florida).

But arguably the best-designed section of the entire park is actually the one tourists encounter first, the one that doesn’t contain any rides or attractions at all – Port of Entry , which houses a different little vignette almost literally around every corner. Many veteran Universal Orlando visitors have made a game out of exploring Port of Entry, devising long lists of Easter eggs to discover and photos to snap – and it’s not hard at all to see how or why.

If you are asking which of Universal’s two parks has the better thrill rides, the answer has to be Islands of Adventure. The newest instillations at the park are Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster , but the park already boasts such rides as The Incredible Hulk Coaster , Jurassic Park River Adventure , and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (you might note that, yes, two of those are water rides). But the park also contains such breathtakingly original adventures as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man . If you come to theme parks first and foremost for the rides, you’ll easily find yourself spending more of your time at Islands of Adventure.

(Read more about Islands of Adventure in our complete guide .)

A few other considerations

Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, it’s time to address some of the more specific considerations that you or your family might be most interested in during your time at Universal Orlando. (Yes, that’s right – deciding which park is superior isn’t quite as cut-and-dry as we’ve made it out to be so far.)

What about water rides?

Is your travelling party more interested in getting soaked? Then Islands of Adventure is, without question, the place for you – with Jurassic Park: River Adventure , Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls , Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rate Barges , and the children’s play area of Me Ship, the Olive all available, you will not only get dripping wet, you’ll also have a blast doing it, being exposed to a surprising variety of watery experiences along the way. Universal Studios Florida, on the other hand, essentially has nothing at all to compete against these, making the choice a complete no-brainer (which works equally well in reverse, actually, as those who don’t want to get waterlogged may find there’s more to do at USF next door).

There’s a drawback to this aquatic dimension, though, and it’s worth keeping in mind: while having a small-but-still-sizable selection of water rides means that it’s easy for guests to get their splashy fill, it also means that a decently-sized swath of the park will close when weather is inclement, potentially greatly impacting your touring plans. This is absolutely something to keep in mind, one way or the other.

What about thrill rides?

If the particular thrill subset of attractions is what you’re most after, Islands would probably be your first choice once again. Some of the theme park’s massive attractions, The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster and Dr. Doom’s Fearfall , are imposing (have you seen the way they dominate the Universal skyline?) and, also, a great deal of fun, which will go a long way to satiating the adrenaline junkies in your family. And then there’s the aforementioned Jurassic Park: River Adventure, which caps off its mostly-docile ride experience with a 40-foot drop that’s every bit as memorable as it sounds.

(Depending upon who you ask, you might get a few more attractions thrown into the “thrill ride” category, such as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. While there are some elements in these dark rides that could, indeed, be considered thrilling – especially in the latter, which seems to go a mile a minute in every direction – we don’t think they’re anywhere near prevalent enough to make them anything other than extremely exciting, immersive, dark rides.)

Let’s not completely discount Universal Studios here, however. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is even more intimidating than Hulk to many guests, thanks to the fact that its first hill is a straight 90-degree incline, and the indoor-coaster Revenge of the Mummy has many twists and turns in the dark that’ll leave you breathless. (And, once more, many are tempted to add many more rides in their company, including Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Transformers: The Ride – 3D, and The Simpsons Ride , though, for our money, our previous rationale once again applies here).

What about children’s attractions?

The children who have tagged along to Orlando with you will simply be happiest when at Islands of Adventure – there’s just no two ways around it. Two entire sections of the park – Jurassic Park and, more especially, Seuss Landing – are built almost exclusively with kids in mind, and the sheer amount of attractions available at them can easily be stretched out to fill an entire day. Seuss contains a veritable explosion of kids’ activities, ranging from play areas ( If I Ran the Zoo ) to merry-go-rounds ( Caro-Seuss-el ) to shows ( Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear ) to, even, dark rides ( The Cat in the Hat ). And what Jurassic might not have in breadth it makes up for in depth, as the Discovery Center and the combo Camp Jurassic – Pteranodon Flyers  contain several mini-experiences in them (seriously, prepare to lose a couple hours, at least, once your kids enter the giant themed play area that is Camp Jurassic). Children never usually willingly leave this island behind.

Universal Studios Florida is, unfortunately, the polar opposite of this panoply of kiddie fun. While, yes, there is Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone , it is (a) the only section of the park strictly dedicated to little ones, (b) smaller in scale and scope than its counterparts over at Islands of Adventure, and (c) extremely dated, having changed very little, if at all, since its grand debut in 1999. Kids will still have a ball here (especially at the water playground of Curious George Goes to Town ), don’t get us wrong, but, all things considered, KidZone is significantly constrained.

What about food?

Universal Studios packs a formidable punch in the culinary department – it boasts the full-service Finnegan’s Bar & Grill and Lombard’s Seafood Grille , neither of which is to be discounted, and it also features some quick-service highlights in the form of The Leaky Cauldron and, perhaps more notably, Springfield, USA. In short, when you and your traveling party get famished, there will be no shortage of good places to get a good bite to eat, no matter what it may be.

Even with all that said, however, we still have to give the edge to Islands, even if it’s a slight one. It’s a quantity or quality issue – and Islands hosts the best dining, in our opinion. Both Confisco Grille and (particularly) Mythos offer delicious dishes, and when combined with their theming, in the case of Mythos (this beautiful restaurant brandishes some of the most impressively-themed interiors around anywhere), and their attached bar, in the case of Confisco (Backwater Bay is the watering hole of choice among many locals and passholders for very good reason), you simply cannot go wrong.

And the park is no slouch when it comes to quick-service stops, either. For our money, The Three Broomsticks is preferable to The Leaky Cauldron any day of the week, whether it be in regards to its menu, theming, or overall layout, and considering that Thunder Falls Terrace carries much of the same gastronomical lineup (without any of the attendant crowds), it serves as a powerful – and close – runner-up. Need a quicker meal? No problem – the rather unique Green Eggs & Ham Cafe has ridiculously good bowls of tater tots, topped with, well, take a guess!

Final thoughts

It’s probably incumbent upon us, at this point, to reiterate that there’s really no wrong answer to the question of which theme park is better, particularly considering that there are plenty of beautiful-themed corners to sneak off to and enjoy at Universal Studios Florida, as well ( Knockturn and Sting Alleys, we’re looking at you), and Islands of Adventure offers more than its fair share of memorable ride experiences (as we’ve already demonstrated).

And that, really, is the best answer of them all: when you have two theme parks that are more than able to pull their weight, only fun, excitement, and immersion can result in those who are fortunate enough to visit them.

And that, our friends, is what will make the difference between the vacation of a lifetime and one you may regret, regardless of what day of the week you go.

OI Universal Center »  The Script: Tickets, packages, and planning

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Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando: The Best Park-to-Park Guide

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

@wannabephotographer33

This article was originally published in February of 2022 and then underwent extensive updates and editing in September of 2023 to remain current and relevant.

As a loyal Hufflepuff , a front-row sitter at those mid-90’s afternoon acapella performances at Mel’s Drive-In , and as a child who would always think she had a fever from all the crying she did at the end of E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial , Universal and I go way back. And over the past three decades, I’ve had many opportunities to perfect my guest experience.

Normally, I would dedicate an entire day to each theme park (I am very meticulous). But recently I took on a one-day, park-to-park venture. It was my wedding anniversary and the first time away from my now 2-year-old son. So, I went all in. Turns out I had the time of my life and, trust me, as a new mom I do not take this feeling lightly.

So, whether you are in town for a couple of days, have a lot on your itinerary, managed a quick escape from real life for some real fun, or are just looking to feel like your old self again, here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your park-to-park experience at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure .

1. Purchase Tickets in Advance — and Get There Early

The Universal CItyWalk entrance

When you’re on a two-park mission, every line counts — but save the waiting time for after the turnstiles. Arrive a little before the gates open and factor in 30 minutes for parking and security screening. With The Official Universal Orlando Resort App you get the Parking Reminder feature, so you can find your way back to your car after a long day (you’ll thank me for this one later). Since most days the crowds start picking up an hour or so after opening time, take advantage of these quieter morning hours. By mid-morning, you could probably have ridden Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit twice (if you dare, cause I certainly don’t).

PRO TIP: If you really want to get a great head start on your day, book a stay at one of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels and get Early Park Admission , which allows you to access the theme parks prior to the scheduled opening time.

Either way, buying tickets online and redeeming them from your phone is convenient as it gets you right through the gates quicker. You can purchase them on the Universal website as well as on the mobile app. Speaking of…

2. Download The Official Universal Orlando Resort App

The Universal Orlando Resort Mobile App

Make sure you download the app before heading to the park. The perks come in handy; aside from saving you time at the entrance since you can buy and manage your tickets with the Wallet feature, it also helps you organize your day with the Interactive Park Map that gives you the attractions’ wait time and showtimes (so important). It also allows you to join Universal’s Virtual Line Experience to reserve ride times for you and your party at certain attractions. By the way…

3. Join the Virtual Line Experience ASAP

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

At Universal you can be in two places at once. OK, it’s not exactly magic, but it’s technology at its best. So, while you’re catching a show or catching your breath, you can also be in the queue for other attractions, such as the unmissable Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade . Keep in mind that this feature is available for select rides at select times, and you can only make same-day reservations, one at a time, and only while you’re on Universal Orlando property. Guaranteeing your place in line as soon as you hit Universal CityWalk in the AM is not too soon!

4. Don’t Wing It

VelociCoaster

I love a good to-do list — although at the theme parks it’s more like a must-do list. It helps me walk through the gates ready to hit the ground running. So, consider picking out your must-do’s in advance as it helps you prioritize your experiences and ensures you cover all your non-negotiables. With the app you’ve got that at your fingertips since you can also research and favorite the rides, shows, and restaurants you’ve had your eye on, so you don’t waste time wandering around. Or DO wander around! Especially if you…

5. Consider Adding Universal’s Express Pass Unlimited to Your Budget

A woman scanning her express pass

You’ve got a full day ahead, so skipping lines helps you experience more (with repeats!). If your goal is to hit as many rides as possible, this tip is for you. Don’t worry if you haven’t purchased your pass yet, you can change your mind at any time and get them at either park — but keep in mind that on busier days they may sell out.

PRO TIP: When you stay at a Universal Premier Category Hotel , Express Pass Unlimited is included free.

6. Eat on the Go

Pastries from the Today Cafe

Who has the time to eat when they’re having fun? I do. Even if it’s a quick stop at TODAY Cafe for a chocolate croissant (or any of their pastries, really). But if you’re looking to dine in and are afraid of missing out on all the fun, you can use Mobile Food and Drink Ordering in the app. Set up an account ahead of time, so that at any point during the day you can choose a restaurant and place your order. Then just hit “Prepare My Order” when you’re at the venue and, voila, a hot and tasty meal in no time. An invaluable time-saver when you’re on a two-park mission.

7. Travel on the Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express Train

If you’re also a Harry Potter fan, you’ll most definitely want to explore both lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during your visit to Universal Orlando Resort. And sure, with the lands being located in separate parks, you could exit one land and walk to the other, but why would you do that if you can stay in the magic and board the Hogwarts Express to travel between the lands? With a 2-park ticket, you can board the train at Platform 9¾ (after running through the brick platform in King’s Cross Station, of course). Or, board at Hogsmeade Station and back travel to London for a completely different adventure. As I love trying to relive my favorite moments from the film series, I usually board the Hogwarts Express in London, by Diagon Alley, for that iconic and familiar journey to Hogwarts.

8. Save the Best for Last

The dragon on top of Gringotts breathing fire

Whether your all-time fave is in Seuss Landing , Jurassic Park , or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter , keep your cool and get more done before the grand finale. Chances are your favorite spots are most people’s favorite spots, which means you could be waiting in queues for hours while you could have covered A LOT of ground. I chose to start my day at Universal Studios and although my impulse was to rush over to Diagon Alley as soon as I went through the park gates, I decided to save my ultimate Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts for last. That way, I was able to hit all the great attractions in Universal Studios by early afternoon and then enjoy my favorite ride with a shorter line. A great way to end the first half of my park-to-park day before heading to Islands of Adventure.

9. Don’t Dismiss the Classics

A man recreating an iconic scene from E.T.

Sure, we can’t wait to ride the breath-taking Jurassic World VelociCoaster . But don’t go skipping treasures like The Revenge of The Mummy , E.T. Adventure (sobs), and Men in Black: Alien Attack . Aside from being unmissable classics, I can tell you I always have an exceptionally good time, especially at Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges (note to self: bring an extra pair of socks next time). 

10. Time to Go

The CityWalk entrance at night

Well, not quite yet. Although you might be feeling somewhat tired from your 12-hour fun, CityWalk is just starting to come alive. Sit back and relax while you enjoy some good food and cold drinks before you call it a night. And whenever you feel ready to leave (if you ever do!), you’ll be glad you used the Parking Reminder feature on the app — told you you’d thank me later.

Got more tips on how to enjoy a park-to-park day like a pro? Please share your wisdom with us in the comments below.

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Headshot of Woman wearing yellow shirt and Hufflepuff headband

Andrezza Duarte

Andrezza is the Senior Manager of Universal Orlando's Internal Communications team. She's a Brazilian storyteller, occasional roller-coaster rider, mom in progress. You can spot her walking around Diagon Alley, ordering french fries somewhere or standing in line for another picture with SpongeBob SquarePants.

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11 comments.

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#7 needs to be updated to reflect that you need a 2 park park-to-park ticket in order to ride Hogwarts Express. You can have a two park ticket with only one park per day!

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Looking to spend my 61 birthday this year after we couldn’t travel last year What different experience can I book on please

Avatar photo

Hi Steve! We recommend exploring our website https://bit.ly/3gRlexT or contacting our Guest Services Team at (407) 224-4233 for more information about our parks!

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i love Universal!!!!! such a great park and always feels like home! just make sure to try and keep the great features we love and keep the prices lower than the Mouse so y’all can beat them!

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We’re two sixty somethings that have been visiting Universal from the UK for the past 17 years. Desperate to get back after missing the last two years due to Covid. We usually stay at the Royal Pacific to get those express passes and are hoping to return this September. My favourites are Escape from Gringotts and Bluto’s bilge barges.

We hope to see you soon, Dorothy!

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My husband Tom and I chose to spend our 50 th Wedding Anniversary at Universal . We are so excited to come back, and September can’t get here soon enough!

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I still don’t understand how the park to park means if I’m booking a vacation package that includes a 3 park 5 day ticket and stay? I had a chat with customer service and they seemed like machines, unable to say yes or no.

Hi Lis! We have two options when it comes to how many parks you can visit per day. One is a Base Ticket, which is one park per day, and the other is our Park-to-Park Ticket, which means you can go between the parks in one day. For assistance with purchasing, we recommend calling 800-711-0080!

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Hello, Is it possible to park with an rv?

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Hi Hans! You are welcome to park an RV at Universal CityWalk. The price of RV Parking would be $32 per vehicle.

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Global Munchkins

Travel + Global Inspired Lifestyle

April 4, 2024

29 Incredible Universal Orlando Tips [Save Money & Time]

Read on to learn our best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks for 2020. We love these parks as much as Disney World, if not more. This is truly a world class resort. #Universal #universalorlando #harrypotter #themeparks #familyvacation #traveltips #travelonabudget

We just returned from a jam-packed whirlwind trip to Universal Orlando and it was absolutely incredible!!! One of the reasons the trip went so smoothly is because we have visited Orlando more times than I can count and over the years we have collected a lot of Unversal Orlando tips & tricks to help us avoid crowds, save money and have fun.

So, today I am sharing those secrets with YOU!

Read on to learn our best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks for 2024. We love these parks as much as Disney World , if not more. This is truly a world-class resort.

Universal Orlando Tips

universal orlando tips

1. Stay on Property at one of these 3 Resorts! My Favorite Universal Secret

This is one of the best tips for visiting Universal Orlando (in fact, I have a whole post about it ) I have because staying on property makes all the difference in the world and is worth EVERY penny.

Let me explain. At first glance, you might notice that you can find cheaper hotels near the Universal Resort in Orlando. But, if you want Express passes, stay at these three resorts, because they come for FREE!

The three resorts on property ( Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Royal Pacific Resort and the Hard Rock Hotel specifically) include FREE Universal Express Passes for each hotel guest (which gives you front of the line access to the most popular rides in the parks), early park admission, priority seating at many restaurants in City Walk and FREE transportation around the resort.

The Universal Express Passes alone would cost you a minimum of $89.99 per person and can go up to $379. With 4 guests in a room you can save $360 – $1200 per day in express passes

So, the $100 you are saving a night on your room is NOT worth it!

Staying on property at Universal Studios Florida also means you can take advantage of the beautiful walkways and boat rides available to hotel guests. It’s a convenient way to get around!

****Pro Tip**** Book your Universal Vacation with a Travel Agent Like Best Day Ever Vacations! They offer the same prices as booking direct but have extra incentives to make your trip even better!

2. Use a Travel Agent knowledgeable about Universal Orlando

When I first used to travel, we always booked everything ourselves, than I found out that a lot of travel agents work don’t charge a thing.

There is a lot to figure out when it comes to planning a Universal trip:

  • How to get to the parks from the airport
  • What are Express Passes
  • How to travel from Park to Park
  • Which hotels to stay at
  • Where should you have dinner?
  • Is the dining plan worth it?
  • What about character breakfasts?

It’s honestly endless.

We reached out to Best Day Ever Vacations (they are seriously the best!) for our Disney Vacation and they did such an amazing job we asked if they handled Universal Orlando. Sure enough, they have Universal Orlando specialists who know everything about the parks, hotels, city walk and more. It made planning a vacation so much more fun! Pretty much 90% of the tips I have are from them.

typology trio

3. Arrive Early & Leave Late

Another great tip for Universal Orlando is to take advantage of the early park entrance in the morning offered solely to guests staying on property.

But, even if you are not staying on property you will want to plan on arriving prior to the park opening hours and that is because they begin to allow guests to enter the parks early (up to a certain point) before the park officially opens.

universal orlando tips - 4 kids riding on boat arriving at universal

If you are one of the folks who enter early you will be able to breeze through several wait times on the most popular attractions before the crowds arrive.

That said you will also want to stay late. Both Universal Orlando Parks tend to die down around 4pm.

Guests who stay later enjoy much shorter wait times which is why we like to get in early, then take a midday pool break at the hotel and return to the parks around 3-4pm. An easy schedule when you are staying on property.

Take a Peek Inside the Parks by watching our YouTube Video below.

Give us a thumbs up & subscribe for more great family travel videos!

4. Book the Concierge Level as it may save you money

I have a lot of kiddos, so when we stay in a concierge room, it is worth it. This means complimentary breakfast for the entire crew, snacks to take in the park, and some appetizers when we get back, so a large dinner isn’t quite needed. It is so worth it!

5. Plan for 4 Days Minimum

Now that  Volcano Bay  has opened we decided to up our recommended minimum number of days to 4 instead of 3.

You will definitly want an added full day to check out Universal Orlando’s amazing new water park. Volcano Bay has some of the BEST water attractions & slides we have EVER experienced.

The park itself is immaculate, the food is wonderful, they have two lazy rivers (one is a thrilling experience), and the kids splash areas are the best we’ve ever seen!!

toddler on a pool lounge chair at Volcano Bay

I believe that 4 days is enough to conquer Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, AND the NEW Volcano Bay Water Park. That is ‘IF’ you have the Universal Express Passes for the dry parks.

If you do not have the express passes then you will want at least 5 days at the parks to be able to hit all of the popular attractions.

But, again notice that you need one less night at a hotel when you have the Express Passes which are included in the price of your stay at the on-site properties that I mentioned above. Another reason why it is actually cheaper and much better to stay at one of the hotels on the property!

6. If you are going to buy Express Passes Consider the VIP TOUR because it might be cheaper and includes A LOT MORE!!!!

People don’t know this but the Universal Orlando VIP Tour is the best deal in town. You get to the front of the line on every ride (including the ones Express pass does not cover) + it includes breakfast, lunch and valet parking and even more! Check out the details here!

7. Dates to Visit to Avoid Crowds

Avoiding the crowds is one of my favorite Universal Orlando Tips. There are three times a year where I feel like you can count on avoiding large crowds at the Universal Orland Resort.

One is the entire month of September as everyone is back in school and either just visited over summer or is planning to visit over the holidays.

The second is visiting between Dec 3rd- 15th. The closer it gets to the school winter breaks the more the traffic picks up.

The 3rd Date is the one week after January through the first week of February. Everyone has visited from the holidays and the next holiday is not til Presidents day weekend.

But, visiting Universal during the holidays is extra spectacular! In Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you can see The Grinch musical show which is a wonderful performance.

And, in Universal Studios you can witness authentic balloons and floats from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Plus, both parks are decked out with holiday lights too. It’s my favorite time of year to visit!

8. Use Child Swap

One way to breeze through the crowds when traveling with infants and toddlers is by utilizing the “child swap” program at Universal. The “child swap” allows families traveling with little ones to wait in the queue together once while allowing both adults a turn to ride.

How this Universal Orlando Tip works is one parent stays off the ride and waits in the designated “child swap room” with the child who is not tall enough to ride. While the rest of the family hops on the ride.

When they are finished the parents swap roles and the parent who initially stayed back is given a chance to ride without having to wait in line again. Instead, they simply walk to the front of the line in the “child swap” designated area.

*Pro-Tip-Another added benefit of using the “child swap” is the second parent can take up to 3 guests with them. So, several people in the family get to ride twice!

family standing outside of Skull Island ride at Universal Orlando

9. Single Rider

Guests 10 years or older, also have the option of a shorter wait by being a “single rider”. Since most people ride in groups of two or more, if there is an extra spot available the attendants will ask for a single rider and you’ll be able to skip ahead in the line.

At some queues, there is even a special line reserved just for “single riders”.

Hogwarts at Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal

10. How to Make the Most of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

Tip #1 : Avoid the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the AM!

I know this sounds contradictory to every other thing you might read BUT trust me. The first place every person heads to is the Harry Potter area in each of the parks making both of these lands complete madhouses in the morning… even for guests with early entry.

Unless you are going to be one of the first people in the park and you are going to run straight to one of the Harry Potter rides forget it.

You will have much better luck heading into these lands around 4 pm when everyone else in the park has already ‘been there, done that’.

How to avoid crowds at Universal Orlando's Hogsmeade. Tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Check out the photo above. That is my kids walking into Hogsmeade during early park entry on a non-holiday visit. Can you see the crowds in there- INSANE!!! I mean for good reason of course.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (both Hogsmeade & Diagon Alley) are the MOST INCREDIBLE themed lands I have ever visited.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Absolutely, spectacular in so many ways. However, if you can be smart and avoid the crowds I promise the experience will be even that much better.

11. Take Time to Really Explore the Harry Potter Lands

As I just mentioned, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is absolutely amazing. And, I am not just talking about the main attractions. I urge you to really explore these lands as there are magical elements hidden all around you.

If you buy an interactive wand at Ollivander’s you can actually cast spells around Diagon Alley and make magic happen right before your eyes!

On our recent visit to Universal Orlando we waited in line at Ollivander’s for the Wand Chooses the Wizard  experience and Shea got picked!!! Check out his face in our YouTube video here .

Gringott's at Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando

*Pro Tip-   You can also ask the goblin in the Money Exchange any question and he will respond. Ask him about the dragon in Gringotts next time you visit 😉

Head inside the stores in Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade !

Our kids got a kick out of the crazy jelly bean flavors (some are actually really gross) and the chocolate frogs.

exploring Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in Wizarding World of Harry Potter

*Pro Tip- grab your Harry Potter costume supplies before leaving home. Capes at the park are really pricey. Find ones much cheaper on Amazon here.

12. Try a Butter Beer + Secret Menu

You can’t visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without getting your kids a Butter Beer. Who can blame them with that tasty marshmallow topping?

2 kids drinking butterbeer in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

But, if you really want to impress your kids, head to The Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Pub and order a Pumpkin Fizz.

*Pro Tip- It won’t be on the menu because it is a secret item.

And, knowing that will make you the coolest parent alive!!

Don’t miss the Butter Beer Flavored Ice Cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, Fountain of Fair Fortune, and at select street vendors throughout Diagon Alley.

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13. Take the train in between the parks

Don’t miss riding the Hogwarts Express between the parks. Not only is it a super convenient way to get around, but it is also one of my favorite Harry Potter experiences too!

I am not telling you why because I don’t want to spoil any surprises. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Hogwarts Express Train at Universal Studios

*Pro Tip- make sure to take the train from BOTH parks. The experiences are totally different.

14. Get a Coffin Full of Donuts to Start the Day

As I mentioned in our best things to do in Orlando Voodoo Doughnuts offers up one of the best fried creations in all of Orlando, at least that’s my opinion.

One of their six locations in all of the world is at Universal Citywalk in Orlando, meaning you won’t have many other opportunities to try one of these tasty and colorful pastries.

Trust me, these are not your average doughnuts. They are both extravagant in looks and in taste. You will find their shelves filled with raised yeast donuts, cake donuts, and specialty donuts of all kinds.

If you like peanut butter, you cannot miss out on the Old Dirty Bastard. Name aside, this doughnut is what dreams are made of. You can check out the full menu here!

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And yes, like we said this involves a coffin. You can purchase a 3-foot wooden coffin filled with three We Pick ‘Em Voodoo Dozens.

It is a fun way to celebrate a special occasion or just do something unique while on vacation. Plus, you can never have too many doughnuts! 

All my BEST Universal Orlando Tips for 2017 all in one place. Click to learn all my secrets as a Travel Writer who has visited (with my 5 kids) dozens of times. This is the ONLY Universal Orlando guide you need. Click through to the website to view my best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks.

15. Tips for Toddlers (height requirements)

We did notice that many of the rides had a 40-inch height requirement as our youngest is not quite that tall yet. But, that doesn’t mean there is not a ton of rides and shows available for smaller toddlers.

I recommend checking out Seuss Landing where multiple rides have lower height requirements, Shrek 4-D, Fievel’s Playground, Camp Jurassic, the Curious George Water area and a day in the Park with Barney- a live show and playground area. And, don’t forget to take your littles to hang out with the characters too!

Youngsters 34-inches tall can ride E.T. the ride which happens to be a favorite in our family. I was so sad when our CA park got rid of it and so I make sure we hop on it every time we visit the Orlando parks.

How to avoid crowds at Universal Orlando. Tips for visiting Universal Orlando

Once kids reach 36 inches tall they can test their thrill-seeking skills on Woody the Woodpecker’s Rollercoaster (above), Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Flight of Hippogriff & more.

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Little ones who hit the 40-inch height requirement can ride the Seuss Trolley Train, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, the Simpson’s Ride (although it is a little frightening), Transformers, Spiderman, and more. And, once youngsters reach 42 inches tall they can also ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Men in Black, Popeye and Bluto’s water ride, and Jurassic Park… The Ride just to name a few. Check out our experience on Jurassic Park below:

16. Buying souvenirs

It’s unavoidable your kids are going to want to take home a treasure to remind them of their incredible vacation at Universal. Be smart and use Universal Orlando’s package pick-up & free package delivery to on-site hotels.

Package pick-up sends your souvenir to the front of the park so you can pick it up on your way out versus lugging it around all day. If you are staying on-site they take it a step further and deliver it right to your hotel. Just one more reason staying on property is such a smart idea!

17. How to Save on Food… Dining Plans!

Universal offers several different dining plans that can help you save money and make life a little easier too. Choose from full service or quick service plans. With up to 100 dining locations to choose from inside both parks and in City Walk your family will have plenty of options to choose from.

The full-service plan includes two of our favorite restaurants at the Universal Resort- Mythos Restaurant and The Cowfish (yes sushi + burger fusion is a thing).

But, we do find the quick service plan a little easier on the pocketbook. View the plans, list of participating restaurants and pricing here .

Family Style- Louie’s Italian Restaurant

One of the munchkins’ favorite Universal Orlando tips is heading to the back of the park at Universal Studios for the BEST theme park pizza we’ve ever had. Feeding a large family at a theme park can cost an arm and a leg.

One way we save at Universal is by ordering a whole pizza pie from Louie’s Italian Restaurant. While a single slice will run you about $7 bucks, a whole pie so roughly $30 and comes with 8 slices.

*Pro Tip- Don’t forget ice water is always complimentary so drink up.

Save time and money at Universal Orlando. We will show you where to eat if you have a big family.

Cheap Shareable Treat- Lad Lard’s Pink Donut

Growing up The Simpson’s was one of those shows I would watch with my dad. Most jokes went right over my head but that didn’t stop me from laughing. Walking through the Simpson’s area brought back so many memories.

So, I was a complete sucker when my kids requested an enormous pink sprinkled donut from Lad Lard’s. Luckily, it was under $5 bucks and easily shareable! Don’t take our word for it check out this article from USA Today’s 10Best.

Best value in the park. Tips on visiting the Universal Resort in Orlando including where to eat

The Tacos at BumbleBee Man’s Taco Truck is a delicious, quick, and easy on-the-go lunch or snack too!

Just for fun… Moe’s Tavern

Not really a savings tip BUT something fun to do while in the Simpson’s area is to while in the Simpson’s area is to head to Moe’s tavern to try a Duff Beer. While you are there order the kids an alcohol-free, orange-flavored Flaming Moe. The dry ice makes it smoke and the kids will get a kick out of it!

18. If You are an annual passholder, turn your soda into a delicious slush.

If you are an annual passholder, there is a wonderful lounge to relax and cool off. The best part, you can buy a soda and turn it into a delicious slush.

19. Head to City Walk

Another Universal Orlando tip I have found that works well is to leave the parks and head into City Walk for lunch. Here you will find better tasting options in my opinion and a wider variety of eateries.

It may not save a lot of cash but at least you get better quality food for your money and at lunch its a ghost town so very little wait times too! 

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I personally loved the Bread Box which serves delicious sandwiches, soups, and salads. It was a healthier option and the kids loved the bench swings  located at some of the booths.

The NBC Sports Grill & Brew is a favorite amongst the kiddos in our family. Who doesn’t love a working foosball dining table 😉

All my BEST Universal Orlando Tips for 2017 all in one place. Click to learn all my secrets as a Travel Writer who has visited (with my 5 kids) dozens of times. This is the ONLY Universal Orlando guide you need. Click through to the website to view my best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks.

City Walk also has some fun photo opportunities and great shops and because it is so quiet during the afternoon you can get a bunch of fun shots.

*Pro Tip- if you stay at one of the hotels I mentioned previously your room key will also help you get priority seating at many of the restaurants in City Walk.

All my BEST Universal Orlando Tips for 2017 all in one place. Click to learn all my secrets as a Travel Writer who has visited (with my 5 kids) dozens of times. This is the ONLY Universal Orlando guide you need. Click through to the website to view my best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks.

20. Skip dinner at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

Wait what?? You read that right. Dinner here includes a ridiculous wait time and your room key does not grant you priority seating at this hot spot.

However, the specialty here is clearly dessert and you can skip the long wait and head right inside and order your tasty treats at the counter.

Make sure you try at least one of their INCREDIBLE Artisanal Milk Shakes. Hands down the BEST flavor is Salted Caramel Pretzel but Chocolate Peanut Butter comes in close for second.

* Check out my top 10 foods you have to try at Universal

21. Don’t Miss These Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions

You most likely know about all of the most popular attractions. But, there are a few things that most people are unaware of that we think are absolutely worth your time.

Live Raptor Photo Opportunity- I mean where else can you get a photo with a live raptor- ha! What makes this so incredibly fun is the employees are steadfast in the delivery of their character.

The kids were actually starting to question if the dino was going to be real. Check out the video:

Jurassic Play Area-  After you ride the Jurassic Park River Adventure, you can go to the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. Here you can relax in the air-conditioned room while kids check out all the cool dinosaurs. Make sure to wander over to the eggs. If you’re there when a baby dino breaks out of its shell, your kiddo might be lucky enough to name the newborn and get an official birth certificate!

Character Meet & Greet with Shrek & Donkey- who wouldn’t want to spend time with this hilarious duo. Make sure to check the guide for times so that you can hang out with these totally awesome and funny characters. Check out our experience below:

Fievel Playground- stop by this awesome play area to give the kids a chance to run wild. There is plenty for both little and big kids to do and it’s also a nice break for mom & dad. Liv loved playing in the ball pit and the older ones enjoyed the water slide and swinging from the giant rope.

How to avoid crowds at Universal Orlando. Tips for visiting Universal Orlando

Hello Kitty Shop – if you have young girls (or teens) they will LOVE the adorable Hello Kitty Shop located inside Universal Studios. They have every type of Hello Kitty product imaginable PLUS an adorable bakery/ candy shop too!

Hello Kitty store in Universal Studios Orlando

Free Coloring Station in Seuss Landing- little ones will love cooling down in the air conditioned stores in Seuss Landing. We found a coloring station in the store near the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!

All my BEST Universal Orlando Tips for 2017 all in one place. Click to learn all my secrets as a Travel Writer who has visited (with my 5 kids) dozens of times. This is the ONLY Universal Orlando guide you need. Click through to the website to view my best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks.

22. Take a photo of your park passes

If you lose your park passes it can be a pain, but if you take a picture they can easily reprint them 

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23. Pack some Ponchos

It’s Central Florida, which means there is a good chance of rain. Also, there are some very wet rides. So, pack some ponchos and save yourself the exorbitant costs of paying for a poncho at the parks.

24. GET A BIRTHDAY BUTTON (READER SUGGESTION!)

Here is one of the comments that I thought was a great idea.

“If it’s someone’s birthday, get a birthday button. When I went with my sister, we got backdoor access to a couple of rides and they sang Happy Birthday to her over the intercom at Men in Black!” -Crystal

25. There are 2 Lazy Rivers at Volcano Bay and one is absolutely not Lazy!

If you decide to hit up Volcano Bay you will for sure find yourself in the Lazy River, however some people do not realize there are actually two rivers.

One nice and mellow river and one that is more of a fast paced rapid ride. Everyone in the fast paced river is required to wear a life vest as the water does move quite fast, but it is super fun!

26. Download the Universal app beforehand

You can then link your tickets and credit card to the app. When you are in the water park you can use their special Tapu Tapu Tapu to pay for items. The app also gives wait times for the 2 main parks.

27. Save Hundreds of Dollars by renting a Stroller from an offsite vendor!

The strollers at Universal are expensive and not very comfortable. Kingdom Strollers has been around for over 20 years and they will save you a ton of money plus they deliver the stroller to your hotel or Airbnb!

You simply place your order and then meet them at your hotel at one of their 5 daily meetup times and grab your stroller.

It couldn’t be any easier Check em out here! In fact now you can pick up your stroller at the Orlando Airport. It is pretty convenient

28. Universal Tips for Adults – Visit During Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is one of the best times to visit the parks with or without kids, but especially without kids since Universal’s Mardi Gras events are going on.

You will enjoy, live concerts from top artists, amazing food, and plenty of celebratory drinks and parades. You can check out all the Mardi Gras details here.

29. Take the Hogwarts Express from Universal Studios and Disappear into the Wall!

Ever wanted to disappear into a brick wall like they do in Harry Potter. If you take the Hogwarts Express from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure you will enjoy all the whimsy of Hogsmeade station including an illusion which makes it seem like you disappear into a brick wall (check it out in the video above). 

Map of Islands of Adventures

Universal Orlando Tips FAQ’s

How do i get the most out of universal studios.

Stay in an onsite hotel for FREE Express Passes Arrive Early Go to Harry Potter’s World later in the day Allow 45 Minutes for Parking & Security Use Rider Switch Pass if you have kids that are too small

How can I save money at Universal Studios Orlando?

Pre-Purchase Tickets from Discount Ticket Sites Like Undercover Tourist Bring your own water Get Free Express Passes by staying at an onsite hotel Get a whole Pizza for the Family at Louise’s Visit during the off season for the best deals

What rides to go on first at Universal Studios?

Hollywood Rip Rock it Transformers Mummy the Ride Harry Potter Escape from Gringots

Is Express Pass worth it at Universal?

It depends on how much time you have to spend at the parks. If you are short on time, yes! The cheapest way to get Express passes is staying at an onsite hotel. You get 5 for 2 days for 1 night at a hotel.

Pin for later- 29 Amazing Universal Orlando Tips

Save time and money with these amazing insider tips for Universal Orlando. Tons of tips, tricks and secrets for both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Plus, where to stay and how to save money on dining too.

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Reader Interactions

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November 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

You definitely need inside tips when you visit places like this! It can make all the difference for a trip! Great share!

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November 30, 2016 at 4:03 pm

The concierge level sounds like a game changer! Will try next time!

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November 30, 2016 at 9:27 pm

I love posts like these! I have never spent time in Orlando but it’s on my list. Pinning this for when I get to cross it off because it will come in handy with planning. Thank you!

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December 13, 2016 at 1:10 pm

So many awesome tips! We stayed on site on our last visit and it was totally worth it! I’ll definitely pay with my AMEX next time to get access to the lounge.

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February 19, 2022 at 6:25 am

I must have missed the benefit of using AMEX. Can you please fill me in?

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December 13, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Man! You really are an expert! Great tips lady.

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December 14, 2016 at 6:22 pm

I had NO IDEA about these great tips. I especially like the Child Swap scheme and analyzing hotels for whether they include passes! Brilliant.

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March 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm

This helped me out a lot! We plan on going to City Walk for lunch, because I *need* to try that shake at that Chocolate place. I don’t even care if the food is crap. I told my kids we’re going because Mommy needs a gigantic shake.

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March 10, 2017 at 10:22 am

I love that about you. You totally deserve the milkshake taking the kids by yourself. You won’t need to worry about the food at all. That shake is a meal on it’s own anyways.

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April 20, 2017 at 5:13 am

I love the am ex tip & staying on property perks! Had no idea! Also love the moes tavern!

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July 14, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Very detailed post! I didn’t realize that you get express passes staying at the resort, great idea!

July 15, 2017 at 7:11 pm

Yes, and those express passes are EVERYTHING! Makes the park experience SOOO much more enjoyable.

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July 15, 2017 at 4:56 am

We always stay at the resorts in Orlando. Even though it can be a little more expensive at times, it’s worth it to maximize on time. A lot of the resorts we’ve stayed at come with snacks twice a day and you can grab an apple or orange to take into the park to make it stretch even longer! I can’t wait to get back to Disney and Universal! I haven’t seen any of the newer part of Wizarding World of HP.

July 15, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Exactly! And, yes you have to go back. Diagon Alley is SOO cool. The dragon is amazing.

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July 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Great tips! My parents love Disney World and Orlando Studios. They go every couple of years and have a trip planned in the Fall. I will pass on these tips!

July 15, 2017 at 7:09 pm

Awesome, thank you!!

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August 7, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Great tips for a first timer. One question, and maybe I missed it, did you mention anything about a pass that lets you park hope? I am using almost every one of your tips, thanks again!

August 8, 2017 at 6:50 am

There are multi-park tickets that allow you to go between parks in the same day. And, there are express passes that allow you to get to the front of the lines. Express passes are included when you stay on property at most of their resorts too.

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September 29, 2017 at 11:04 am

Volcano Bay is a no-no as far as I could see from endless horrible reviews. Too crowded and bracelet system doesn’t work. Better off going to Disney’s or Sea World’s aqua parks.

September 29, 2017 at 11:30 am

Thank you for the comment. I definitely agree that Universal needs to limit the amount of people they allow in and work on their bands. But, now that it’s a quieter season (as opposed to a brand new park in the summer) I’m guessing things are slowing down. And, if that’s the case I don’t think the park itself with the rides it has can be beat by any of the other Orlando water parks. In fact I can confidently say that Volcano Bay had the best rides, slides, play areas and was the cleanest water park I had ever visited. They also had the best food. So when they get all the tweaks worked out I think it will be unstoppable ?

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May 7, 2018 at 5:44 pm

We just went in April and the bracelet system was fantastic! They must have gotten all the hiccups worked out because it was flawless. We rented chairs too. Our attendant brought us our food and refilled our water bottles all day long. It was a great experience.

May 8, 2018 at 6:16 am

That is wonderful news!!! I absolutely LOVED the park and was only concerned with the lines. I figured they would learn and improve. Great news!!

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July 9, 2018 at 6:11 pm

We have never been to universal, but would you say it’s a full day in each park? And how may parks are there?

July 9, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Hey Mandy, There are three parks. If you don’t have the express pass, it is definitely a full day in each park. If you do have the express pass you can possibly hit up two parks in one day. The parks are a good size and a ton of fun.

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December 12, 2019 at 8:17 am

Also a fun tip: outside of Diagon Alley at Universal studios, if you knock on the door of 12 Grimmauld Place, you can see Kreacher peak out through the curtains.

August 20, 2019 at 6:41 am

Thanks Lucy for the sweet comments. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about your trip.

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December 11, 2019 at 8:34 am

The BEST Universal Orlando Tips from a Pro [Over 20 Amazing Tips] – Great site. A lot of useful info here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you to your effort!- calator.tel

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February 9, 2020 at 5:57 am

If it’s someone’s birthday, get a birthday button. When I went with my sister, we got backdoor access to a couple of rides and they sang Happy Birthday to her over the intercom at Men in Black!

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February 13, 2020 at 8:36 am

The pictures of your children in the park really made this list special. Thanks for sharing.

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September 11, 2020 at 3:19 pm

I was surprised by the difference in the daily rates of a common hotel to a hotel in the Universal complex. Actually, even though it is a little more expensive, the advantages far outweigh the difference. Thank you for all this information.

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June 6, 2021 at 5:45 am

We just visited the end of may and the parks we’re super crowded,that being said we purchased the unlimited express pass and it may be pricy but my family never had so much fun,we had no wait times and that makes a high difference compared to the other people I saw waiting over an hour on some rides. Also they do have a medical assistant pass for people with conditions that make waiting in line difficult , very helpful with two children with conditions that make it hard to wait in the heat. Can’t wait to go back ,I think we will definitely stay at one of the big three hotels to get express pass

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June 6, 2021 at 6:23 am

Glad you had a great time. Yes, when it is crowded, those express passes are a game changer.

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February 15, 2023 at 11:19 am

ANYONE HAVE A STRATEGY FOR ONE PERSON, AGE 20, WHO ONLY HAS ONE DAY, WANTS TO DO BOTH PARKS IN EARLY MARCH 2023 ? I SEE SINGLE RIDERS OPTIONS, SHOULD I STILL GET EXPRESS PASS? PLAN TO BE THERE WHEN PARK OPENS AND STAY UNTIL IT CLOSES! THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR INPUT!

February 24, 2023 at 5:44 am

With Single Rider you should be able to get on almost all the major rides in one day.

[…] Great tips from Global Munchkins on visiting Universal: The Best Universal Orlando Tips From A Pro […]

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2024 Universal Orlando Planning Guide

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Our 2024 Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure planning guide offers park & ride strategy. It features tips & tricks to help you save money & time, avoid crowds, and have the best vacation or side-visit from Walt Disney World as possible. ( Updated January 7, 2024. )

We’re Universal Orlando Annual Passholders and huge fans of those parks in addition to Walt Disney World. Universal has improved a ton and upped its game in the last decade. This began with the Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade lands of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which were further enhanced by Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

That has been taken to the next level with the debut of Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and to a lesser extent, with the new Minions mini-land last year. This is once again going to be another big year thanks to the DreamWorks Animation Land Opening in 2024 at Universal Studios Florida. These recent and upcoming additions, not to mention an all-new theme park in 2025, are among the reasons why some Walt Disney World fans are openly asking:  Is Universal Beating Disney?

Suffice to say, we highly recommend spending a couple of days at Universal when vacationing at Walt Disney World. This is guide to Universal Orlando Resort contains everything you’ll need to know. Whether you’re doing both parks in a single day or making a trip of it with an on-site hotel stay and multiple days at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, we have you covered with info and advice about attractions, dining, resorts, strategy, crowds, and more.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to make the most of a visit to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. We’re going to take a counterintuitive organizational approach to this guide, as we’ve found that many readers consult it while visiting Universal rather than during the planning stages of a trip. Accordingly, we’re going to front load with info you need to know if you’ve already touched down in Central Florida.

If you’re a Disney fan simply trying to determine whether a trip to Universal Orlando Resort is right for you in the first place, you might start by reading our Universal vs. Walt Disney World post, which covers some of the pros and cons of each, plus the differences between the two vacation destinations. Although they’re all theme parks located in Central Florida, each have strengths and weaknesses that will make them better or worse for certain types of families–ages, demographics, etc.

Similarly, if you’re debating between resorts at the two main theme park complexes, see our comprehensive breakdown: Universal Orlando vs. Walt Disney World Hotels . That should help you determine which is the better option for your vacation–or if a split stay might be best!

For what it’s worth, neither of these versus posts nor the one about whether Universal is “beating” Disney are pointless fan cheerleading or theme parks as polarizing team sports. The two versus posts are practical planning that objectively weigh pros and cons, whereas the “beating” one is an editorial (not useful for planning, but potentially interesting).

Anyway, here’s everything else you need to know about visiting Universal Orlando Resort…

What’s New & Next at Universal

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

If you have not been to Universal Orlando in a while (or ever), a lot has changed in the last several years. This includes a few attractions that have been added in the last several years: Bourne Stuntacular, Fast and the Furious: Supercharged, Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon, and Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

In terms of what’s new, there are two hugely popular coasters in Islands of Adventure: Jurassic World VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in the Hogsmeade side of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Without question, VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s are two of the very best roller coasters in Orlando. (I’d personally put both above TRON Lightcycle Run at Walt Disney World, but to each their own on that.)

As noted above, there’s also the new Minion Land at Universal Studios Florida . As the name suggests, this is an area based on the  Despicable Me  film franchise, and builds on the popularity of the existing Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction. This is now an expanded avenue with the new Villain-Con Minion Blast ride and Minion Cafe restaurant, plus more retail, snack spots, meet & greets, placemaking, and more.

Next on the horizon is the aforementioned DreamWorks Animation Land that will feature characters like Gabby from Gabby’s Dollhouse  and explore themed, interactive play spaces and attractions that bring popular franchises like  Shrek ,  Trolls  and  Kung Fu Panda to life.

Although unconfirmed, this is expected to feature a “Trollercoaster” (a Trolls-themed roller coaster, hence the name) and a Shrek’s swamp area. Construction permits put the end of work in March 2024, which makes sense–have the DreamWorks land open by Spring Break. (That opening timeframe is also unconfirmed, though–permits can be extended, but construction appears to be progressing quickly.)

These new additions are appetizers to the main course, which comes in Summer 2025. Universal is building a third theme park in Central Florida and construction is progressing fast . It’s full steam ahead on this project, and Universal’s Epic Universe Park is Opening by Summer 2025! This will bring Super Nintendo World plus more Harry Potter, Universal Monsters, How to Train Your Dragon, and much more to Universal Orlando in the coming years.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

In the here and now, another thing worth addressing in terms of what’s new is a return to normal in terms of attendance and crowds. After nearly two full years of pent-up demand driving wait times and prices higher, both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have seen a slowdown.

With this, both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando have gotten more aggressive with discounts in an attempt to entice more people to visit their parks and stay in on-site hotels. We’ve mentioned repeatedly that  Walt Disney World already  has released a dozen different discounts for 2024 .

Universal has followed suit, shifting from discounts aimed almost exclusively at Annual Passholders and Florida residents to general public offers. There’s currently a “buy 2 days, get 3 free” ticket deal, resort discounts offering 20-35% off, and package deals offering up to $650 off.

These are worth pricing out for yourself, but we should warn that many have length of stay requirements of 5 days. That’s longer than most people will spend at Universal Orlando (which is part of why it’s being offered–to increase visit durations). In any case, we recommend using a travel agent– such as Be Our Guest Vacations –to price out different packages and deals, and help you figure out the best way to save, plan your trip, etc.

Now let’s turn to Universal Orlando’s advanced planning topics…

Where to Stay

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

There are a number of questions you have to ask yourself when planning a trip, and many of them will dictate where you stay. Do you want Unlimited Express Pass by staying at an eligible Universal Orlando hotel? Do you want to stay at a Walt Disney World hotel for the duration of your trip, or change hotels? Do you want to stay an an off-site hotel in the general vicinity of both Universal and Disney to save money?

We’ve recently stayed at every single on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort–here are our reviews:

  • Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Review (recommended)
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Review (highly recommended)
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Review (good Express Pass eligible “budget” pick)
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando Review (highly recommended)
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel Review
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Review (highly recommended)
  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites Review (good budget pick)
  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn & Suites (2-Bedroom) Review (good for larger families)

For insight into all of these hotels, their pros & cons, and how they compare and contrast with one another, see our Universal Orlando Hotel Rankings & Reviews .

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

We are big fans of Universal’s hotels, and are particularly partial to the two “bay” resorts: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Both of those are in our top 10 hotels in Orlando, rivaling some of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World.

Universal’s hotels provide great bang for buck, and even those that don’t include free Express Pass do offer Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay one hour before those parks open. That can be absolutely huge!

As for staying off-site, you generally will get the most bang for your buck when staying in an off-site hotel, as there are a lot of non-Disney and non-Universal hotels competing with one another. We have an Off-Site v. On-Site Walt Disney World Hotels article that goes into greater depth about the pros and cons of staying off-site, and it’s marginally applicable to Universal, as well.

As for simply staying at a Walt Disney World hotel for the duration of your trip regardless of where you go, we have written comprehensive reviews with our opinions and photos of the rooms. Check out our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page , for links to each of these reviews.

Ride Strategy for Universal Orlando

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Next, what to know while you’re at Universal Orlando. For starters, we strongly recommend that you do not “wing it” for your daily itinerary due to the aforementioned crowd issues. You don’t need to plan every movement so that there’s no spontaneity in your trip, just make sure you have at least a loose plan of what you’re going to do.

We have the following plans for each park that cover our perfect days:

  • 1-Day Universal Studios Florida Park Itinerary
  • 1-Day Islands of Adventure Park Itinerary
  • 1-Day Universal Park Hopping Itinerary ( both Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios Florida )

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Those offer step by step touring plans for both theme parks at Universal Orlando, prioritizing the most popular rides and skipping what isn’t worth your time. Those will help you do Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and other must-do rides.

If you’d prefer to create your own itineraries and want an overview and review of every attraction at each of the parks, consult our Islands of Adventure Ride Guide and Universal Studios Florida Ride Guide . If you’re a fan spinners, you might want to check those out, as we don’t waste your time with that nonsense in the itineraries.

When to Visit

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

If you’re adding on a Universal Orlando visit to your Walt Disney World vacation, the answer to this is easy…whenever you’re visiting Walt Disney World. Crowd patterns at Walt Disney World translate pretty similarly to Universal Orlando.

The reasons are two-fold: first, because crowds tend to be predicated upon school schedules, which are the same for both; second, because Walt Disney World is the ‘whale’ in the Orlando market, so crowds for all theme parks are dictated by when guests plan their Disney vacations. In other words, you can refer to our 2024 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars post to determine when to visit, as that’s roughly applicable to Universal Orlando as well.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

There are only some exceptions to this, and they’re largely predicated upon special events that are unique to each of the parks. For example, Walt Disney World sees its crowds spike due to runDisney events, when its hotels are hosting conventions or youth sporting events, or during EPCOT festivals. By contrast, Universal sees its own spikes around Mardi Gras, Halloween Horror Nights, and early December when it plays host to the Pop Warner youth football event.

In general, though, the big driver of attendance at both is school breaks. In particular, those of Orange County and other counties throughout Florida and the South. Of course, both are vacation destinations, so breaks for school districts in the Midwest and Northeast also have a significant impact. The obvious times like Spring Break, Easter, Summer, Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are all busy.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

More under the radar timeframes like MLK Day, Presidents’ Day, Mardi Gras, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and more also see pronounced spikes in crowds. Again, reference the aforementioned crowd calendars if you’re looking to choose the best times to visit Universal Orlando.

Due to a surge of locals on weekends, we strongly recommend avoiding Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on Saturdays and Sundays. Mondays through Thursdays are the best days to visit, with much lower crowds then. However, that goes out the window during holiday weeks or anytime school is out of session, when it’s disproportionately tourists and every single day of the week is busy.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

The one exception to this is if you want to see or avoid Halloween season at Universal, namely Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). This is a hard ticket event that has a huge following among locals and fans of haunt season, in general.

During HHN, you step onto the set of some of your favorite horror movies, and walking through those sets as actors attempt to scare you. This event is not for children under the age of 13, and has absolutely nothing in common with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World. See our Guide to Halloween Horror Nights for more .

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Aside from this, the only noteworthy events are Mardi Gras and Christmas. See our Guide to Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval at Universal Studios Florida . At this fun event, guests can experience a food festival with cuisine and entertainment inspired by international Carnaval celebrations.

Food booths serve up the flavors of Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, Spain and other regions including, of course, New Orleans. Plus enjoy spectacular floats on display, street entertainment, music, beads and more throughout Universal Studios Florida.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Although HHN gets all the attention from the fan community, an equally popular seasonal event is Christmas at Universal Orlando . During this, Grinchmas and Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s are the main entertainment draws. There’s also the Christmas Tribute Store, which is essentially a walk-through exhibit, plus Universal Studios Florida’s iconic Christmas Tree.

Perhaps the biggest draw is Winter in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which features unique decor and projections on Hogwarts Castle. There are also decorations around both parks in Seuss Landing, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, Hollywood, New York, and San Francisco.

How Many Days?

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

This one is going to vary widely based on a few variables. The biggest one is how receptive your party is to the type of attractions that are prominent at Universal Orlando Resort, namely, roller coasters and screen-based simulators. That’s reductionist, and there are many more things at Universal than those types of rides, but if your party is averse to either, doing more than 2 days at Universal is going to be tough.

If you love coasters or have teens, you can easily spend 3 days or more at Universal Orlando. Heck, I’m not huge on roller coasters or simulators, and I can easily do 2 days (or even 3) at Universal. Likewise, if you love Harry Potter, several days at Universal will be easy. The two Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter alone can fill a good chunk of the day. I mean, Diagon Alley has a fire-breathing dragon …not liking dragons is distinctly unpatriotic.

Islands of Adventure also has a Jurassic Park area, which is basically a tribute to our greatest national treasure: dinosaurs. It’s not as good as a real Jurassic Park (that would be like the San Diego Zoo meets the Lincoln Memorial meets Tokyo DisneySea), but it’s an enjoyable area to explore. In other words, there’s plenty to do if you’re an “ambiance person” at the Universal parks.

Then, there’s also the question of how much “extra” vacation time you have. Assuming you’ve already allocated your time at Walt Disney World and are looking at “other stuff” to round out your trip to Florida, I’d probably look to spending more time at Universal than other parks like SeaWorld or Busch Gardens. That’s personal preference and all of these parks definitely aren’t trying to accomplish the same thing, but I find the Disney and Universal parks to be in a different league than all of the rest.

Universal Orlando Park Tickets

DSC_6440 as Smart Object-1 copy

If you’re looking for a deal on park tickets, Get Away Today will save you the most money on Universal Orlando tickets . This is especially true if you’re doing a longer trip, as Get Away Today has a ‘Buy 2 days, get 3 days free’ special. With more and more to do at Universal Orlando, spending several days in the parks is highly recommended–especially if you’re staying in a nearby hotel and want to do some partial days (also recommended).

I am a fan of the Park-to-Park tickets if you can swing spending extra. This is because Universal did something really ingenious when it built Diagon Alley, and that was connecting the two Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter via the Hogwarts Express.

You can only ride this train from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley (or vice-a-versa) if you have the Park-to-Park ticket. I’m no Harry Potter fan, but the experience of entering a train station in London, walking through a wall, and then taking a train to Hogsmeade is pretty awesome.

If you’re going for just one day and don’t want the park-to-park tickets, the best way to save money on Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida tickets is simply going to be buying tickets online on Universal Orlando’s website. The Universal tickets purchased online can be printed at home and used at the turnstiles–meaning no waiting in line to purchase tickets or exchange vouchers.

Express Pass

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Express Pass is Universal Orlando’s version of Genie+ or Lightning Lanes (a way to skip the lines) and is available as a ticket add-on or with select hotel stays. You can purchase two varieties of Express Pass, regular or unlimited. Almost all of the most popular attractions in each park offer Express Pass.

The regular version allows you to skip the line once per eligible attraction in either park, and costs $90 to $350 per person depending on the date. Universal Express Unlimited offers line-skipping privileges, as the name suggests, an unlimited number of times per attraction, and costs between $100 and $380 per person. Even at its most expensive, Genie+ at Walt Disney World costs under $40 per person. So, what’s the difference? Well,  a lot. 

Unlike Genie+ or Lightning Lanes, there is no tech component to Express Pass. While it’s significantly more expensive, it’s also frictionless. You simply go up to the attraction and use your Express Pass entitlement. There’s nothing to reserve or hassle with in an app. Express Pass involves zero screen time and headaches–but you’ll pay a lot more for it!

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Whether Express Pass is worth the money largely depends upon what day of the week and season you’re visiting, and how you value your time versus your money. Personally, we would not pay for Express Pass most days. However, we also avoid weekends and holidays, arrive for park opening, and utilize an efficient park itinerary.

If you really want Express Pass, staying at an on-site hotel that offers Express Pass with your stay is absolutely the way to go. Unlimited Express Pass is available at the Universal Premier category resorts–meaning Royal Pacific, Hard Rock Hotel, and Portofino Bay–which are Universal’s most expensive hotels. Honestly, this is the only way we’ve ever “bought” Express Pass–we couldn’t justify the cost any other way.

All three of these hotels are nice, on par with Walt Disney World’s Deluxe Resorts, and generally cost less. They’re still pricey, but they’re cheaper than Disney’s higher-end hotels, and absolutely worth the money–especially if you want the Unlimited Express Pass perk or a good location within walking or boat distance of Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. If you’d be staying at a nice hotel anyway, this trio is definitely worthy of your consideration.

If you want to learn more about this line-skipping option and how it compares to Walt Disney World’s counterpart, see our guide:  Universal’s Express Pass v. Lightning Lanes & Genie+ at Walt Disney World .

Transportation

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

By far the most common questions we get concerning Universal Orlando Resort is: “what’s the best way to get from Walt Disney World Universal.” The answer is that there are a lot of options, but by far the best is Uber. We covered this in depth in our Uber vs. Rental Cars at Walt Disney World article. Here’s the pertinent portion of that post:

In the past, the best option we’ve found for those who don’t have rental cars the duration of their trips is either renting a car on-site for the day, or taking a pricey shuttle. Neither is cost-effective or all that appealing, especially when you add on that parking fee.

For those who aren’t renting a car for the duration of their trip, Uber or Lyft are the unquestionable best options for getting from Walt Disney World to Universal. The one-way cost of an Uber or Lyft from Walt Disney World will vary depending upon your exact location, typically costing under $25 each way and taking 20-25 minutes.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

There are some good restaurants in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, but as a whole, I do not think the culinary experience is on par with Walt Disney World’s. The unquestionable highlights, in my mind, are the counter service restaurants in Diagon Alley (Leaky Cauldron) and Hogsmeade (Three Broomsticks) and the table service restaurant, Mythos, which is a great value.

Other in-park restaurants at Universal Orlando that we like include the Today Show Cafe (for lighter options) and Krusty Burger (for the exact opposite). Actually, there’s something for everyone in the Springfield area, which has a variety of dining options drawn from The Simpsons.

On the snacking front, you’re obviously going to want to try Butterbeer–perhaps all three varieties (frozen, hot, and regular). Most of the other snacks we enjoy are also in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour and Honeydukes.

Another thing you might want to consider is purchasing a refillable Coke Freestyle mug. I’ve done this, but I can really put down the Cokes to make it worth the money. I’m sure some day I will be toothless, but hopefully that’s at least 5 years away. These Coke Freestyle machines located throughout the parks are also a convenient way to get free water that’s cold and tastes great.

Other Things to Do

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando’s water park. It’s themed to the South Seas and features a giant volcano (hence the name) in the middle with water slides in it. For Walt Disney World fans, it’s a bit like Typhoon Lagoon water park mixed with Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Adventureland.

All the rides at Volcano Bay feature a Virtual Line instead of traditional standby queues. You tap in with your TapuTapu wearable (think MagicBand) to grab a ride time. Then go float, swim, splash, eat, shop or relax around Volcano Bay. Your TapuTapu will tell you when it’s your time to ride.

You will either  love  or  hate  the virtual queue system at Volcano Bay. That pretty much comes down to whether you beat the crowds or not. That can be accomplished by arriving and/or staying late, buying Express Pass, or visiting during the off-season. If you don’t do any of those things, you’ll likely think the virtual queue system sucks, and you won’t accomplish much. It’s definitely a system that creates winners and losers–they key is (obviously) to be in the former group and not the latter.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

In addition to the two theme parks and Volcano Bay water park, there’s CityWalk. This is Universal Orlando’s shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, which is a lot like Disney Springs. The big difference is that you walk through CityWalk to access Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure, and it’s incredibly easy to exit the parks and eat lunch or dinner at CityWalk. No bus necessary!

There’s also a lot of relatively new dining at CityWalk, such as Red Coconut Club, Bigfire, Voodoo Doughnut, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, and VIVO Italian Kitchen–among other things. Toothsome is a fan-favorite for its over the top milkshakes and dessert concoctions (as well as the fun steampunk theme), and Voodoo Doughnut is a fun spot. With that said, we think both are slightly overrated.

For our money, the sleeper hits of the list are Bigfire and Cowfish, both of which offer great food at reasonable (by theme park standards) prices. We’d also give honorable mentions to Vivo and Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food. While the latter is not our personal favorite, it’s better than the “blockbuster” touristy restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe, Margaritaville, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Nothing against any of those–but they’re essentially Applebee’s with more wow-factor. Good enough for predictably-prepared comfort food, but absolutely nothing special.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

One final note on attractions is that there are numerous attractions that don’t allow bags, but provide free lockers nearby for storing backpacks, cameras, small children, and whatever other random junk you might have on you. These are pretty convenient and there are larger lockers you can pay for at the front of the park, but the point here is for those of you who are used to bringing a small U-Haul worth of stuff into the Walt Disney World parks: you can’t do that at Universal. Pack for the parks a little lighter.

I think this is probably a good starting point if you’re planning on visiting Universal Orlando Resort as an add-on to your Walt Disney World vacation. If you would like to see some of these topics covered in greater depth, please let me know in the comments. We’re planning to tackle more on dining, special events, and Universal Orlando news in the coming months, so stay tuned for more of that!

Need trip planning tips and comprehensive advice for your visit to Central Florida? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide for everything about those parks, resorts, restaurants, and so much more. For regular updates, news & rumors, a heads up when discounts are released, and much more, sign up for our FREE email newsletter !

Your Thoughts

Are you visiting Universal Orlando Resort in 2024? Excited for Epic Universe or other rumored additions in the next few years? What about Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s, or the new rides that have recently opened? Have a favorite on-site hotel at Universal? Do you prefer staying on-site at Universal, or commuting from Walt Disney World? If you’re a first-timer, is there anything else you’d like to know? Chances are if you have questions still, so does someone else! Please share your thoughts in the comments

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Written by Tom Bricker

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Do you have an itinerary for 1 day, 2 parks at Universal, with an express pass? That would be appreciated.

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Have loved your site for years. We use it as a major planning tool for all of our trips to Disney, Universal and Disney Cruise locations. It seems like the ride guides, 1 day itineraries and Mardi Gras guide are all from a couple of years ago. Are there any updates we should be aware of that you do not reference in this article?

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Thanks for sharing, would love to visit Universal.

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Stuck on the Go

21 Top Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Orlando [2024]

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After a week in Orlando, Florida and three days spent at Universal Studios Orlando I am already planning a return trip. This was an absolutely magical place and perfect for all ages.

Universal seems to be a mixture of Walt Disney World which is perfect for children and Busch Gardens which is great for thrill-seekers. It’s for sure one of the best theme parks in the US !

I didn’t do quite enough research before my trip so I feel like my time wasn’t used as efficiently as it could have been. And I don’t want that happening to you!

So here are my top Universal Studios tips for 2023.

13. Buy Tickets in Advance

21. how much money do you need in universal studios.

Disclaimer: This post ma y contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for keeping Stuck On The Go going!

What to Know Before Going to Universal Orlando in 2023

There’s no way you’ll have it all figured out before your trip, but it’s great to have a head start! These Universal Orlando tips and tricks will hopefully help you create a plan and know what to expect on your trip.

Globe with Universal written across the front over a fountain

1. Get to the Parking Garage by 8:30

We got there at multiple times during our stay and by far the easiest time to get in the park was at 8:30.

Since the park opens at 9 it seems like everyone wants to get there right then and there is a bottleneck effect.

When we arrived just after 9, it took us 40 minutes from the time we drove into the park to when we scanned our ticket since the morning rush hadn’t cleared out.

When we got there at 8:30 we were scanning our tickets into the park at 8:50. We were some of the first people in the park and first in line at the rides.

2. Make a Game Plan

Look at the park maps before you get there and figure out which rides you want to get on. Once you figure out your top rides, figure out which ones are close together.

You can group the rides together that you’d like to visit and then make a plan of which you’ll visit first.

You can also make a plan based on the region of the park you want to visit. Maybe you want to visit Harry Potter World first (like we did). I highly recommend this if you’re a big Harry Potter fan.

If you are spending one day in each park then this won’t be as big of an issue. A day gives you plenty of time to see everything in one park depending on how long the lines are and what all you want to ride.

3. Buy the Express Pass

Universal Orlando Resort express pass in front of a girl's face. Buying the express pass is one of my top tips for visiting Universal Studios.

Okay the Universal Express Passes are EXPENSIVE. In the app it kept saying starting at $99 for the Express Unlimited Pass well that’s on a weekday in the off-season.

On Friday April 23, 2021 they were $262 including tax. (That’s for only one.)

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Well, the Express Pass was, but maybe not the Unlimited. They have one pass that lets you skip the line at each ride only once and if I had it to do over again I would get that one instead of the Unlimited.

We didn’t have time to ride many things more than once. Try buying your pass ahead of time to see if you can get a cheaper price instead of buying it on the day of.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but if I had it to do over again I think I would buy the Express Pass on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Those were the cheaper days. There will still be crowds so it’s worth it but it’s cheaper.

We did not have the Express Pass on Thursday and only rode four rides… Yes, four rides because we were standing in line so long. On Friday we got the Express Pass and rode eleven different rides and two of those twice.

So compare getting to ride four things to riding thirteen and you’ll see why it’s worth it to me.

I absolutely hate waiting in line – I’m really not patient at all – and yes, I know that’s a terrible trait. So the Express Pass made my day infinitely better and purchasing it is one of my biggest Universal Studios tips for 2023.

Only you can decide if the price is worth it to you though.

You can buy the Express Pass cheaper on Undercover Tourist sometimes so be sure to check them out!

Just a note – I don’t always recommend buying the Express Pass for theme parks. Especially when you visit places like Dollywood or Busch Gardens .

4. Bring a Fanny Pack (Small Backpacks Work)

You may be thinking “Anna there is no way in heck I am wearing a fanny pack, you are insane.” Well when you see how functional they are at Universal you might just change your tune.

Fanny packs are allowed on almost all the rides at Universal which means you don’t have to waste time with the lockers before the ride and you can keep your phone or anything else with you.

The lockers can get very congested and it takes up valuable time trying to stuff your backpacks or anything else in them. More on lockers in a minute.

If you don’t have a fanny pack and are absolutely boycotting them then a small backpack (like this Kavu bag ) is the next best thing. Just note that these will have to be stored in the lockers.

5. There are Lockers for Most Roller Coasters

Circular barge on a water ride with bridge over the top

The locker situation is awesome for groups that don’t have a person who isn’t riding the coasters. There are standard-sized lockers available for free at many of the roller coasters that measure 5.5” tall, 14” wide, and 16.9” deep. This fits a small backpack or miscellaneous items.

They have larger lockers available for $2 if your things don’t fit in a standard size. These would be regular size backpacks or large souvenirs. These single-time use lockers are only good for a certain time frame – maybe an hour but don’t hold me to that.

If you are bringing items in that you won’t need all day then Universal also offers all-day locker rentals. There are lockers for $10 at Islands of Adventure and $15 at Universal Studios Florida. You’ll have unlimited access to these lockers during the day.

At the Popeye water ride you must pay for the lockers because they offer a covered place on the “barge” for you to place your things. However, they will definitely still get wet so if you have anything that can’t get wet definitely buy the $2 locker.

On Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and the Hulk Coaster you have to pass through a metal detector before you can go on the ride so you are required to put everything you have in a locker or with someone not riding.

6. Download the Universal Studios App

You can do so much with the Universal Studios App. You can get in the virtual lines for any attraction with that capability. You can order food and drinks on the app. The app holds your tickets, maps, show times, wait times for attractions, and general park info.

At many of the sit-down restaurants, you can mobile order – at least the ones in Harry Potter World. Then at restaurants with walk-up windows you can mobile-order and pick it up at a specific mobile-order pickup spot. It’s actually super efficient and you don’t have to wait in the long line.

Some rides go to virtual line only when the parks are at capacity. The Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure had a virtual line the first two days we were there and the third it was virtual until the afternoon.

On our third day there the Revenge of the Mummy was virtual and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was virtual all three days.

Honestly, this is one of the top tips for visiting Universal Studios. The app is so helpful.

7. Virtual Lines Open Before the Park

You can get a spot in virtual lines through the Universal App. It gives you the option to get a spot in line within a certain timeframe so all you have to do is show up at the ride and show the attendant your phone.

The Race Through New York ride opened by 8:30 everyday so you could get a spot. On the day we finally got there early enough to get a spot on Hagrid’s ride the virtual line for it opened at 8:45.

Hagrid’s ride always ran out of virtual spots so we were so excited to get in. By 9 all the spots were always gone and we never could find an opening throughout the day. Until the third day when they opened the line so you could physically wait in it instead of having to use the app.

Moral of the story is that if you want to ride something really bad, make sure to get there early and check the virtual line.

8. The Crosswalk Isn’t Always Open

There are three ways to get between the two parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. This is only if you have a Park-to-Park ticket for the day.

First – You can walk out the exit of either park and through CityWalk by the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Hard Rock Cafe and into the other park. The walk is about 15 – 20 minutes depending on where you’re at in the park.

Second – There is a crosswalk between the two parks, but it is not always open so not an option all the time. It wasn’t open during any of the three days that we were there.

Third and my personal favorite – Take the Hogwarts Express! This is definitely the most fun way to get between the parks. However, the line gets incredibly long as the day goes on. If you’ve already been on this ride then I wouldn’t recommend waiting over 30 minutes on the train.

9. Many Restaurants on Universal CityWalk Require Reservations

Two restaurants across the river on CityWalk. Making reservations is one of the top tips for visiting Universal Studios.

 We made the mistake of not making a dinner reservation on a Friday night and were out of luck when it came to eating on CityWalk.

Every restaurant either had an hour and a half wait or was reservation only. I’ve already told you how impatient I am so you know I’m not waiting that long to eat.

For those of you who exercise your patience daily, you can grab drinks and appetizers at little kiosks around the CityWalk while you wait.

10. Express Passes Get You In Regardless of Virtual Lines

If you couldn’t get in the Virtual Line, but still want to ride something you can use your Express Pass if the attraction has an Express Line.

Not everything has an Express Line, but most do. One very popular ride that doesn’t is Hagrid’s.

11. Wear the Right Clothing and Shoes

One of the most important Universal Studios tips for 2023 by far. I wore a dri-fit t-shirt and shorts that dried quickly because I knew that we would be getting on the water rides.

I also wore my Chacos ZX3 sandals . They’re comfortable and do so well with water.

Comfortable shoes are a must. If you don’t plan on riding the water rides then I would go with sneakers. I’ve actually put together a whole list of the best shoes for theme parks if you need some new ones!

My Chacos are super comfy and did well when we walked 6 miles. Our last day we walked 12 miles though and my feet were hurting pretty good at the end of the day.

12. You Can Bring in Some Food

shrimp, corn, potatoes, and sausage in a paper tray

Here is one of the ultimate budget tips for visiting Universal Studios. You can bring in snacks and food that you don’t have to heat. What you cannot do is bring in a picnic lunch with a main course and sides.

I would highly recommend bringing some snacks and if you really want to watch your budget then take sandwiches for lunch. A good ol PB&J will always do the trick.

You are also allowed to bring up to two liters of water into the park. We brought in two water bottles each and that was plenty for us.

If you buy tickets in advance you’ll save a bit from what you would pay at the gate. It won’t be huge savings but everything adds up. Again, check with Undercover Tourist to buy your Universal Studios park tickets .

You can also see if Express Passes are discounted if you buy them when you purchase admission tickets.

I loved having my tickets on my phone in the Universal App. It was super convenient and I didn’t have to keep up with any extra pieces of paper.

More Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks 2023

14. you must have the 2-park ticket to ride the hogwarts express.

If you want to ride this then be sure you purchase the 2-park ticket! Honestly, if you want to save money you can purchase the 2-park ticket for one day only and do individual parks for the rest of your stay.

The Hogwarts Express is a must for any Harry Potter fan. Be sure to take the train both ways as the video is different depending on which station you come from.

15. Choose the Right Accommodations

Staying on the resort property would be nice, but it’s very expensive. Sometimes the included perks are worth it though. Undercover Tourist also sells hotel packages where you can sometimes find a deal!

For example, I’ve heard that one of the hotels within Universal Orlando Resort will include Express Passes for your whole family if you stay on their property. Depending on the size of your family this might be worth it.

We stayed at Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort which is on the Walt Disney World Campus. It isn’t part of the Disney Resorts though so the weekly price is much cheaper.

I’ve also written a complete Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek Review if you want to know what to expect. This is sometimes an overlooked Universal Orlando tip!

16. Universal has Free WiFi

This will save your data plan if you connect to the free WiFi. It doesn’t require a password but if you don’t have an Xfinity account you’ll have to enter your email and zip code.

There is good coverage throughout both parks and most of CityWalk.

17. Buy Souvenirs Before You Arrive

Hogwarts Castle in Harry Potter World.

This is mainly for Harry Potter World but can apply to other sections of Universal.

Many people love wearing Harry Potter shirts and cloaks. You can buy these on Amazon before your trip for much cheaper.

There are also necklaces, scarves, and so much more sold in the park. The prices really are outrageous so if you can buy them ahead of time I would do that.

The one thing I would buy in the park is the interactive wand if you want that. It is really cool to do the magic in the park.

My sister got Snape’s wand for $58 but I didn’t want to pay that much.

18. You Don’t Have to Buy Your Wand at Ollivanders

Everyone wants to visit Ollivanders to buy their wand which can make the line incredibly long. There are so many other places to buy a wand though.

In Diagon Alley you can visit Wands by Gregorovitch when they are open. You can also go to Knockturn Alley into Borgin & Burke’s if you want a dark wizard’s wand.

In Hogsmeade you’ll find a cart between Hogwarts and the shops where you can buy wands. You’ll also find wands at Dervish and Banges.

19. How Many Days Should You Spend at Universal Studios Florida?

People walking under a bridge with the message "The Adventure Lives On."

I would say three at the very least. It takes a day or two just to get your bearings – especially if you haven’t made a plan. We didn’t make a good plan and we spent most of the first two days walking around figuring stuff out.

If you can make it on Tuesdays or Wednesdays those are the best days to visit too. Weekends are absolutely horrendous for crowds. I would hate to see the place when they weren’t limiting access.

Hopefully these Universal Orlando tips and tricks will help you take advantage of all your time there!

20. Visit During Shoulder Season

Unless you have to visit during the school breaks, I would make it a point to avoid those. You’ll spend your whole vacation waiting in line.

According to the Undercover Tourist, the best times to visit Universal over the next couple years will be weekdays during September through December with September being the best.

Our visit was in April and I’m sure the crowds weren’t bad compared to the summer months when school is out.

This is totally dependent on your preference. Do you plan on bringing a picnic and re-entering the park? Do you plan on buying souvenirs? Playing arcade games? Alcohol?

Another thing to think about is the CityWalk. Will you eat or shop here? The main extra expenses that you’ll have inside the park are food and souvenirs.

I would budget $60 per person per day especially if you’re doing two meals in the park. That will likely get you a snack too.

For souvenirs, I recommend setting a budget before you go. For example, I knew the only thing that I wanted was a refrigerator magnet and possibly a Christmas Tree ornament so my budget was around $25 for souvenirs.

Best Things to Do at Universal Studios Orlando for 2023

Okay here are some new things to do at Universal Studios plus some oldie but goodie memorable experiences that we had.

Number one – the Jurrasic World Velocicoaster is open! This looked like an absolutely epic ride so if you are a big coaster fan then check it out.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure TM , Escape from Gringotts TM , Revenge of the Mummy, Rip Ride Rockit TM , and the Hulk Coaster were our favorite rides. Again, these are for the big roller coaster fans!

Check out at least one of the shows while you’re here – they do a great job! Universal keeps a list of all the current shows.

Make sure to allow some time to explore city walk. It really is an attraction to itself. Grab some doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts where you can skip the line if you order on the Universal Studios app.

Do you love seasonal events? Then plan a trip to Universal around Halloween, the Holidays, or Mardi Gras! Check out their event list for other things throughout the year.

For Harry Potter fans, make sure you visit Hogsmeade at night if they are doing the light show at Hogwarts TM . They don’t do this every night though so ask an employee when you visit.

Oh and make sure you check out the Knight Bus TM right outside of Diagon Alley. Across from the bus, you’ll see 12 Grimmauld Place and if you hang out a bit you can catch Kreacher peeking out the window.

Make sure you eat all the Butterbeer in as many different ways as you can. Check out the Three Broomsticks for the atmosphere and Mythos is an award-winning restaurant in the park.

How to Get to Universal Studios Orlando

If you live in the southeast then you may consider a road trip to Orlando so you can drive to the park. Depending on where you live, Orlando is also a cheap place to fly into.

You can either fly into Orlando and rent a car or contact your hotel to see if they have a shuttle service from the airport. This will save you money, especially if you are staying at a Universal hotel.

Ubers are plentiful around Orlando in case you need to go somewhere other than the park. If you aren’t staying on property, many local hotels have a shuttle service that will take you to the park.

This just means you are at the mercy of the shuttle schedule or you’ll have to take an Uber depending on when you want to arrive and leave the park.

Other Things to Do Near Orlando

Here are a few fun things to do in Orlando or for day trips!

Museum of Illusions Ticket

Kennedy Space Center & Everglades Safari

Helicopter Night Tour Over Orlando Theme Parks

Crystal River Manatee Swim

Wekiva River Guided Kayak Tour

Things to Do in Everglades National Park

Where to Stay in Orlando

If Club Wyndham Bonnet Creek isn’t what you are looking for then check out the other Orlando hotels at the link below!

✅ Orlando Hotels on Booking.com ✅

WRap Up: Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando

I know that was a lot of info but I hope even one of these tips will help you! The most important tips for Universal Orlando are to figure out how to skip the crowds whether that is planning your vacation in the off-season or getting the Universal Express Passes and make sure you remember these budget tips!

I hope you’ll have a fantastic trip in Orlando and you’ve found these Universal Orlando tips for 2023 helpful.

Do you love theme parks? Here is a list of the best theme parks in the US !

Pin for later!

Looking for Universal Studios Orlando planning resources? These are my top tips for Universal Orlando in 2021!

Anna is a North Carolina native who grew up traveling the southern US with her family. Now she is a full-time travel blogger who road trips the US and shares about outdoor adventures and epic things to do. Want to know more? Read her full story here.

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There are some really handy tips here! I visited a few years ago and we had tickets that lasted for 2 weeks as part of our holiday package and I really enjoyed the park.

Oh wow! That is really nice. It is such a fun park to visit.

Great tips! I heard they’re doing awesome deals on season passes too! I really want to go to Volcano Bay!

Thank you! Yes, they have some really good deals going right now. We didn’t make it to Volcano Bay but I’m sure it’s great!

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The Best 3-Day Itinerary for Universal Orlando

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

You know how in  Wicked, Galinda and Elphaba sing about “One short day in the Emerald City?” (Just us? Are we the only Broadway geeks around here?) Well, take our word for it, they do… but that’s NOT you!

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

You have three glorious days in Universal Orlando! With so much to see and do, it can feel like a mystery on how to prioritize it all, and still fit in some much needed relaxation and luxuriating. Leave it to us (and we’ll keep the showtunes to a minimum…maybe….) because we’re going to help you plan your BEST three days in Universal!

You’ve got three days in Universal Studios, and this might just be the most perfect allotment of time to experience all of the thrills, but also have that luxury of not feeling too rushed and even have a chance to revisit some of your favorite attractions and shows.

Discounted Universal Tickets

Let’s get a lay of the land.  Universal Orlando Resort comprises the following:

  • Universal Studios Florida
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Coming Soon — Epic Universe opening in 2025
  • One water park— Universal’s Volcano Bay
  • Eight official hotels
  • A shopping & dining district — CityWalk Orlando

The other big focus you must plan for is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Wizarding World is not its own park, nor is it entirely inside a single theme park. Each park, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, has its section of the Wizarding World. Hogsmeade  (in Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley (in Universal Studios) — and you’ll need to visit BOTH parks to see it all!

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Since this is going to be your BEST 3-day itinerary, we’re going to assume a few things (which may require a bit of a splurge, but we’ll toss in some budget-friendly options, too).

First, we’re going to plan for you to have the Park-to-Park access ticket, so you can easily transition between Studios and Islands of Adventure. To get the maximum freedom and flexibility, we recommend the 3-Park, 3-Day Ticket, which allows you to visit any (or ALL) three Universal parks (Studios, Islands, and Volcano Bay) all three days. These tickets start at $341.99 per person.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Second, we’re going to plan for you to have an Express Pass for the duration of your three days. If you’re staying at Universal Studios Premier Resort, the Unlimited Express Pass is included with your stay and lets you skip the standby line at any of the participating attractions throughout the day. If you’re not staying at a Premier Resort, you’ll have to pay for the Express Pass (or Unlimited Express Pass) separately. For this situation, we’re just gonna focus on the Express Pass, which lets you skip the standby queue at participating attractions once per day. The price of the Express Pass varies based on the day and the park, but starts at $89.99.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

And finally, we’re going to assume that you’re staying at a Universal Resort because even guests staying at the lowest tier, Endless Summer , get Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Ok, you’ve got your hotel stay, you’ve got your park tickets, you’ve got your Express Pass, you’ve got your ruby slippers or flying broom…. ok, maybe not those last two… but you’re ready for your best three days in Universal!

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

To minimize backtracking and rushing all around the theme parks, we’re gonna focus on staying in primarily one park each day — but we have that Park-to-Park access, so you have that freedom to bounce between parks to catch some shows or revisit favorite attractions. It will especially be useful for riding the Magical Express between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and back again. So, let’s get started!

Day One: Universal Studios

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Your morning should focus on completing these attractions:

  • Despicable Me  (if you have Early Park Entry)
  • Rip Ride Rockit
  • Transformers
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • Villain-Con Minion Blast
  • Men In Black
  • E.T. Adventure

Kang and Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

Catch your breath, take a breath, and grab a quick bite for lunch at the  Leaky Cauldron . Or, if you want a longer break, head over to  Finnegan’s Bar and Grill .

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Once you’ve fortified yourself, head back out for an afternoon filled with some great shows and entertainment, and that magical wizarding world!

  • Blues Brothers  / Sing It! / Marilyn / Beat Builders
  • Bourne Stuntacular
  • Animal Actors on Location
  • Explore Diagon Alley & indulge in a Butter Beer
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  • Escape from Gringotts 
  • Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem  (unless you completed during Early Park Entry)
  • Race Through New York  (Virtual Queue)
  • Fast & Furious  (Virtual Queue)

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

By this time, you might be hankering for dinner. Whichever dining location you didn’t visit for lunch is what we recommend for dinner. Or you can wander out to  CityWalk  for additional options that suit your fancy.

  • Continue exploring the details of Diagon Alley & Knockturn Alley
  • Ice cream at  Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
  • Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts or Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

This may seem like you’re racing through Universal Studios at a ragged pace, but remember — you’ve got Express Pass! So, many of those lines you can bypass to free up some time for a leisurely stroll to your next experience. You can take your time to enjoy the shows and entertainment throughout the park. And if those dining options inside Studios don’t feel particularly appealing, you can always wander out to CityWalk for something else that tickles your fancy. With Express Pass and Early Entry, you’ve got a bit of extra time to seek out some personal preferences.

Day Two: Islands of Adventure

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • VelociCoaster 
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Ripsaw Falls
  • Bilge-Rat Barges
  • Cat in the Hat
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • Mystic Fountain
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

While you’re in Hogsmeade, grab lunch at the Three Broomsticks, and by grabbing it at an off-time, you’ll avoid the bulk of the crowds. Be sure to check out the Mobile Order option to reduce your wait even more. You can let your meal digest while you watch one of the Hogsmeade shows.

  • Triwizard Spirit Rally  /  Frog Choir
  • Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • Watch the other Hogsmeade show  Triwizard Spirit Rally  /  Frog Choir
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • Sky Seuss Trolley Train
  • Explore Hogsmeade or Meet some favorite Universal Characters

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

By now, you must be ready for dinner! We suggest a quick meal at  Hog’s Head , or for a more relaxed experience, head over to  Mythos .

After dinner, you can continue exploring the details of Hogsmeade.

  • Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
  • Queue for  Hogwarts Express

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

It’s never a bad time to ride the Hogwarts Express, so if there is a certain attraction at either park that deserves a re-ride, then Hogwarts Express is a fun way to traverse between the two parks. And the experience is different either you board from Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, so be sure to ride it both ways for the full experience.

Day Three: Volcano Bay & Revisit

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Pull on the bathing suit, you’re in for a day of thrills of the water park variety! Visiting Volcano Bay is not like visiting the other Universal Parks — the water slides, giant wave pool, and lazy river may have given a hint about that. Universal Resort guests get Early Entry to Volcano Bay, too, so set your alarms because that means you can actually get into Volcano Bay as early at 8AM some days.

For optimum luxuriating, we recommend reserving a cabana or premium seating (just call 877-489-8068). This gives you a base camp to set your towels and things while you experience those water rides (lockers are available for your valuables). The cabanas can hold from six to sixteen(!) people, and come stocked with padded lounge chairs, a small refrigerator stocked with bottled water, complimentary fruit and snack basket, towel and locker service, plus concierge service with an exclusive menu of food and drink delivered directly to the cabana. There’s a premium price for this based on the size of cabana and the season, but it’s a great way to find that ultimate relaxation.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

You’ll also need to snag a Tapu Tapu when you enter the park. This is how you join the lines at Volcano Bay. Just scan the wristband at the water attraction you want to experience, and then return when your ride time is ready. This saves you (and your poor tootsies) from standing on hot pavement in a line getting that classic Florida sunkissed looked while you wait to ride.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

  • Krakatau Aqua Coaster
  • Ko’okiri Body Plunge
  • Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides
  • Punga Racers
  • Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides
  • Taniwha Tubes
  • Honu Ika Moana

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

After you’ve done all of the waterslides, you’re brave enough to conquer; it’s time for lunch. Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club is a guest favorite, or The Feasting Frog. No matter where you choose to eat, be sure to use the Mobile Order option to save yourself some time. Now it’s time for a nice mellow afternoon. Spend some time on your lounge chair, flowing with the current in TeAwa The Fearless River, or wading into the waves at Waturi Beach.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Plan to pack up around 3PM to head back to your resort to shower, cool down and spend your last evening in Universal’s parks. After all that sun and fun in the water, your crew is probably starving and ready for an early dinner. Head to CityWalk and dine at one of the many restaurants there. Antiojios Authentic Mexican Food is highly rated among our readers, or Hard Rock Cafe is popular for those looking for a solid burger or ribs. Both require reservations, though, so plan ahead!

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Now that you’re relaxed, cleaned up, and fed, you can head back into Universal to revisit any of your favorite attractions! You still have a few hours and that Express Pass, so you can squeeze in a few more rides, or just enjoy wandering through your favorite areas like Jurassic Park or the Wizarding World and soaking in the details.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Don’t forget to stay for the nighttime shows, and you can even time it right and ride the Magical Express between the two parks to see them BOTH!

What a jam-packed three days! We fit in thrills, shows, food, magic, and also managed to have time to relax and re-ride some of our favorites! We did it all, and managed to keep the showtunes to a minimum!

How to Do a Universal Day If You’re Staying at Walt Disney World

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What do you think of our 3-Day Itinerary? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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One Reply to “The Best 3-Day Itinerary for Universal Orlando”

it’s just me and my husband with no littles (we’re empty nesters!) so I think we will skip the Dr. Suess rides but other than that this seems like a good itinerary!

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Which Park to Visit – Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure

Have only one day to tour Universal Orlando yet undecided which of the two parks to visit? In this article, I will cover the pros and cons of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure to help you chose the best park for your interests.

Universal single-day tickets for their theme parks start at $109 plus tax per adult and $104 plus tax per child. Tickets purchased through Touring Plans Travel include free early entry to select theme parks.

Universal Studios Florida

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Universal’s first park in Orlando, Universal Studios Florida (USF) brings movies and television shows to life in a film studio setting. The park is an expansion of the ideas and attractions from Universal Studios Hollywood. USF has largely eschewed its original filmmaking-based attractions in lieu of immersive attractions based on popular IP. Most attractions are indoors and rely on projected video content, head over to Islands of Adventure for more types of rides.

USF is the king of entertainment in Orlando with parades, a nighttime show, three stage shows, over a dozen street acts, and rotating seasonal events. Every winter and spring is Marid Gras, a combination food festival and street party that includes big-name concerts. Late summer to early fall is haunted with Halloween Horror Nights, the nation’s premier Halloween event. And the holidays are celebrated from the end of November through early January with parades, concerts, and more.

For Disney fans, USF is comparable to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in size and offerings.

Universal Studios Florida features the following properties in the park:

  • Despicable Me and Minions
  • The Tonight Show
  • Universal Classic Monsters
  • Transformers
  • Fast & Furious
  • Harry Potter
  • Men in Black
  • The Simpsons
  • Dreamworks and Illumination characters
  • The Bourne movies

Pick Universal Studios Florida for rainy days, the seated theater shows, and if the properties featured pique your interest. Skip USF and go to IOA if you enjoy outdoor attractions, water rides, or prefer a more traditional theme park like the Magic Kingdom.

Islands of Adventure

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Islands of Adventure (IOA) opened in 1999 featuring six highly-themed “islands” (aka lands) based on famous properties and legends. Developers addressed the critiques and flaws of USF as they built this new park, offering a larger selection of rides, outdoor attractions, and water rides. Because of these changes, the attraction line-up is more in line with the Magic Kingdom than any other Orlando park. Among these attractions are three of the best rollercoasters in Florida – Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

While the content might lean towards Magic Kingdom, the park most mimics Disney’s Animal Kingdom in its intricately themed lands full of hidden details. Hidden details abound in the parks, including the world’s first park to receive a full musical score from scratch. Two lands include large children’s playgrounds, such as Camp Jurassic in Jurassic Park.

Unfortunately, entertainment has fallen to the wayside in the park. Two theaters stand empty, their old shows long gone and the park never had a proper parade or nighttime show. There are some entertainment bright spots such as the Raptor Encounter and Poseidon’s Fury experiences.

The following properties are featured in Islands of Adventures

  • Classic comic strips and cartoon characters (Popeye, Rocky & Bullwinkle, etc)
  • Jurassic Park and Jurassic World
  • Dreamworks characters

We suggest picking Islands of Adventure if you love rollercoasters, water rides, outdoor attractions, or the properties featured in the park. Skip IoA and go to USF on days of poor weather (when the park will shut down its outdoor attractions) or if you enjoy parades, shows, and fireworks.

Why Not Both?

citywalk map

¿Por que no los dos?

Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are the conjoined twins of theme parks – they share backstage areas and the Hogwarts Express travels between the two. So why not skip making a decision and just purchase a 1-day, 2-park ticket? This ticket includes admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for one day. In fact, the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express is to spring for a 2-park ticket.

This flexibility will cost you. A 1-day, 2-park ticket starts at $164 per adult plus tax, $55 more than a 1-park ticket. While pricey, it is worth the price if you plan on not visiting again for a while or are a mega Harry Potter fan.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Which Universal park do you prefer? Do you have any recommendations for others? Think of something we missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! 

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Joe covers theme parks through the lens of his quality engineering day job. He has over five years of writing experience at Touring Plans and has gone on dozens of trips to Orlando over his life. When not at amusement parks you can find Joe at breweries, enjoying live theater, playing video games, and cooking.

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A First Timer’s Guide to Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando; Courtesy of Kamira/Shutterstock.com

Jun 15, 2015

See recent posts by Gina Vercesi

Planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort is exciting, but daunting, even for the savviest of travelers. This guide will streamline the process by answering a first-time visitor’s most common questions about accommodations, ticket options, timing and more.

Nighttime at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

What’s the Difference Between Each Park?

Universal Orlando Resort is comprised of three theme parks — Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay water park. Another component of the resort is CityWalk, an expansive entertainment, shopping and dining promenade.

Universal Studios Florida Movies and television come to life at this action-packed theme park. Universal Studios Orlando features seven distinct areas, and each one feels like a film set with rich detailing. Diagon Alley, part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is the most popular area here — obviously.

Islands of Adventure Islands of Adventure caters to the young bunch with attractions featuring favorite super heroes and cartoon characters. Little ones will especially love Seussland, while Potter fans will delight in the snowcapped village of Hogsmeade. Make no mistake, though — Islands of Adventure still caters to teens and tweens with iconic thrill rides. The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Doctor Doom’s Fearfall are at the top of the list.

Volcano Bay Opened in 2016, Volcano Bay might as well be an island in French Polynesia. The water park features rides and attractions for all ages — including the now-famous Krakatau Water Coaster, a waterslide inside the park’s centerpiece “volcano.”

When Should We Go to Universal Orlando?

School vacation times dictate the crowd levels at Universal Orlando Resort. The resort’s location in Florida means many looking to escape the cold will flock to the parks during the winter and early spring, with mid-February through April seeing higher crowds and pricing. The summer months see similar crowd levels and rates, with the addition of heat and humidity. Visit September through January for the fewest crowds and best prices.

Where Should We Stay at Universal Orlando?

Offsite Accommodations Several Orlando hotels are considered Universal Partner Hotels and many of these are located just a mile from the parks. Some of these offer complimentary shuttle service to the parks, but will probably not get you to the parks as early as you’d like. Booking a stay at a Universal Partner Hotel directly through Universal as part of a package that includes park tickets entitles you to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour early on select days.

However, the complimentary transportation to the parks will not begin running early enough to allow you to take advantage of that benefit, requiring you to drive to the parks or take an Uber or taxi. Also, booking a package via Universal may not always be the most cost-effective option, and staying at an offsite hotel may not actually save you money in the end.

Guestrooms at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Moderate/Value)

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Moderate/Value)

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando (Deluxe)

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Deluxe)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Deluxe)

Without question, the biggest perk of staying at one of the onsite hotels is early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which allows guests to enter Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Village an hour earlier than the general public.

For guests of Universal Resort’s Deluxe Hotels, Universal Express Unlimited Passes are included in the price of the stay; guests of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort do not receive this benefit. If you are considering a stay at an offsite hotel at a similar price point, this perk alone can make it worthwhile to opt for one of these hotels instead. The proximity of the onsite hotels to CityWalk and the theme parks is another benefit of choosing to stay at one of these properties. All five hotels provide easy access to the CityWalk promenade.

Shuttle Service at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

What’s the Best Way to Get Around Universal Orlando?

Everything at Universal Orlando Resort feels centrally located, and getting from the parks to the hotels and everywhere in between is a breeze. From the entry point of CityWalk, both theme parks are only about a 5- to 10-minute walk. A water taxi transports guests from the Deluxe Hotels and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort to a dock in CityWalk. Cabana Bay provides its own shuttle bus to CityWalk’s main entrance. Shuttles are also available to transport guests between the Universal Orlando Resort hotels.

How Much Time Do We Need at Universal Orlando?

The answer to this question largely depends on how much you want to see during your visit. Ideally, three-day park-to-park tickets will allow you to experience most of what the parks have to offer while leaving room for much needed down-time to relax by the pool or enjoy a leisurely meal. Of course, you can also visit the parks in one day — just know that you’ll need a play-by-play strategy, particularly for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. See 24 Hours in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for our best tactics.

If you are staying in an onsite hotel and have the privilege of early entry, start your day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — either Hogsmeade Village or Diagon Alley. After riding the Forbidden Journey (in Islands of Adventure) and/or Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios), head to the parks’ other headlining attractions — substantial waits tend to build early and quickly at Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Transformers the Ride: 3D, Revenge of the Mummy, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit in Universal Studios Florida, and at the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk Coaster, and the Toon Lagoon water rides (Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges in Islands of Adventure.

Tapu Tapu Bracelet at Universal's Volcano Bay

Which Ticket Options Are Best at Universal Orlando?

Tickets are available for one to four days of admission and come in three forms:

  • Multi-Day: These tickets allow guests entry into one park, two parks, or all three parks over the course of four days (or less), depending on your preference.
  • Single-Park: These tickets allow guests entry into one park or all three parks for one day; they can be upgraded at any time.
  • Volcano Bay: This ticket provides one-day access to the water park.

The price difference for a park-to-park ticket over a single-park ticket is about $50 regardless of how many days of tickets you have. It is highly recommended that you purchase your park tickets in advance. Doing so through Universal’s website offers you a savings over the gate price, as well as time savings. Tickets purchased online can be printed at kiosks located at all of the Universal Orlando resorts and theme parks.

Note: A ride aboard the Hogwarts Express requires that guests purchase park-to-park tickets. Multi-day park-to-park tickets are available, too.

Is Universal Express Pass Worth It?

Unlike lines at Disney World, front-of-the-line access at Universal is a perk that typically comes at a price. There are two types of passes available — the Universal Express Pass, which entitles guests one express queue entry per participating attraction, and the Universal Express Pass Unlimited, which entitles guests unlimited access to the Express queues at participating attractions. Guests staying at Universal’s Deluxe Hotels receive Unlimited Passes as an added benefit. Guests at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort other area hotels may purchase the passes a la carte.

If you are staying at either of the park’s Moderate hotels, have access to early park entry and are willing to arrive at the park’s turnstiles prior to park opening, you will stay ahead of the masses and the Express Pass will only be of minimal benefit, even during peak periods. If you are staying at an offsite hotel or would prefer to sleep later in the mornings, Express Passes will reduce your wait times significantly.

Volcano Bay offers Tapu Tapu bands that automatically help families avoid waits with technology that notifies them how long lines are so they can plan their next move accordingly. Anyone with tickets to the water park receives a Tapu Tapu (to be returned upon departure).

Volcano Bay

More Hacks for Universal Orlando

Don’t Prolong Breakfast To save time, plan on eating breakfast in your room before heading to the parks. If this is too early for your stomachs, plan a breakfast break after your first attraction.

Rent a Stroller To lighten your load, strollers can be rented in both parks immediately after you pass through the turnstiles. Family Services areas are centrally located and provide everything caregivers need for diaper changing and bottle warming. Rocking chairs are available for nursing moms or for resting quietly with a tired toddler.

Take Advantage of Rider Swap If you’re traveling with young children who don’t meet the height requirement for an attraction, or someone in your party isn’t interested in coming along for the ride, Universal’s Rider Swap program is for you. Rider Swap allows the whole family to go through the attraction’s queue together. At the loading area, one parent takes the non-riding kids to a special waiting area while the other parent boards the attraction with the other kids. After the ride, the family is reunited and the other adult may ride without having to wait in line. Any member of the family may ride again so the second adult doesn’t have to ride alone.

Download the Universal Orlando Resort App Be sure to download the resort’s official app, which is free. The app provides wait times, which are very accurate, lists of attractions with detailed descriptions, park maps, dining and hotel information and show times.

Know Which Foods You Can Bring The parks allow the following items: bottled water; small snacks; any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements; any food for special dietary needs; baby food/baby formula; and soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5 inches wide, 6 inches high and 6 inches deep. Full picnic lunches and food that requires heating or refrigeration are not permitted.

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.

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Big Theme Parks

Universal Studios

Deciding which universal park is best – your ultimate guide.

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Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Determining which Universal Park to visit can be challenging.
  • Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are the two main parks in the US.
  • Each park offers a unique set of attractions, experiences and ambiance.
  • Consider your interests, preferences and priorities to make an informed choice.
  • With this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to make the right decision.

Understanding the Universal Parks

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Universal Studios – Best Universal Park for Film Enthusiasts and Laid-Back Experiences

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Islands of Adventure

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade: This area of the park is a must-see for any Harry Potter fan. From riding the Hogwarts Express to experiencing the thrilling Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, you’ll feel like you’re part of the wizarding world.
  • Marvel Super Hero Island: If you’re a fan of superheroes, you won’t want to miss this area of the park. From the Incredible Hulk Coaster to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride, you’ll feel like you’re part of the action.
  • Jurassic Park: This area of the park is perfect for dinosaur lovers. You can take a river adventure through a prehistoric jungle and experience the thrill of the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride.
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster: This coaster is one of the most popular rides in the park and is a must-ride for adrenaline junkies. It’s a high-speed coaster that offers plenty of thrills and excitement.

Comparing Attractions

Comparing attractions table, comparing entertainment and shows, dining and shopping, themed areas and atmosphere.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Accessibility and Crowd Levels

Ticket prices and packages, recommendations and rankings.

  • If you’re a fan of movies and behind-the-scenes experiences, Universal Studios is the park for you.
  • If you’re seeking thrilling rides and interactive experiences, visit Islands of Adventure.
  • If you’re a Harry Potter fan, both parks offer The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but Islands of Adventure’s version is more immersive.

Our Recommendations and Rankings

  • If you want a more relaxed experience and are a fan of movies, Universal Studios is the park for you.
  • If you’re looking for thrilling rides and crave adventure, Islands of Adventure is the best choice.
  • If you have the time and budget, we recommend visiting both parks to get the ultimate Universal experience.

Q: Which Universal Park is best for me?

Q: what are the main universal parks in the united states, q: what makes universal studios special, q: what can i expect at islands of adventure, q: how do the attractions at universal studios and islands of adventure differ, q: what entertainment and shows are available at universal parks, q: what dining and shopping options are available at universal parks, q: how do the themed areas and atmosphere differ between universal studios and islands of adventure, q: what accessibility and crowd management measures are in place at universal parks, q: how do ticket prices and packages compare between universal parks, q: can you provide recommendations and rankings for universal parks, q: how do i decide which universal park is best for me, discover how many roller coasters at universal studios await.

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Theme Park Rides

how many roller coasters at universal studios

Are you ready for an adrenaline-pumping adventure? Universal Studios Orlando is the place to be! With its thrilling collection of roller coasters, Universal Studios offers an unforgettable experience for thrill-seekers of all ages. But just how many roller coasters await you at this renowned theme park?

Well, you’ll be delighted to know that Universal Studios is home to a total of seven distinct roller coasters spread across Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. From high-speed thrill coasters to family-friendly adventures, there’s something for everyone at Universal Studios!

  • Universal Studios Orlando has seven thrilling roller coasters.
  • The roller coasters cater to all levels of thrill-seekers.
  • Universal Studios offers a diverse lineup of roller coasters.
  • From high-speed coasters to family-friendly adventures, there’s something for everyone.

Roller Coasters at Universal Studios 2023

Universal Studios has established itself as a premier destination for roller coaster enthusiasts, offering an impressive lineup of thrilling rides. In 2023, Universal Studios Orlando is home to seven exhilarating roller coasters that provide an unforgettable theme park experience. Each coaster is uniquely designed to offer a different level of intensity and excitement, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Among the standout roller coasters at Universal Studios is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, known for its vertical ascent and customizable ride soundtrack. Revenge of the Mummy takes riders on a dark and thrilling adventure through ancient Egyptian tombs. Harry Potter fans can immerse themselves in the wizarding world with Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a 3D roller coaster that combines storytelling with thrilling twists and turns.

For those seeking a family-friendly coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff offers a whimsical journey through Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class. The recently opened Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure takes riders on a thrilling motorbike ride through the Forbidden Forest. Jurassic World VelociCoaster, the newest addition to the Universal Studios coaster lineup, offers high-speed launches and heart-pounding inversions that simulate a ride alongside velociraptors. And let’s not forget The Incredible Hulk Coaster, a fan-favorite with its intense speed and inversions that will leave riders breathless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnIsN0mHZ0g Video can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Ranking All The Roller Coasters At Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnIsN0mHZ0g) Advertisement

Ranking Universal Studios Orlando Roller Coasters 2023

As roller coaster enthusiasts, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing all of the roller coasters at Universal Studios Orlando. After careful consideration, we’ve ranked the roller coasters from worst to best:

After taking into account factors such as thrill level, excitement, theming, and overall experience, we found that the Jurassic World VelociCoaster takes the top spot. With its thrilling launches, inversions, and immersive theming, it provides a heart-pounding adventure that is hard to beat. The Incredible Hulk Coaster comes in close second, offering intense speeds and inversions that will leave you breathless. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, with its unique music customization feature, takes the third spot, providing a memorable ride experience for all music lovers.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, and Flight of the Hippogriff round out the list, each offering their own unique elements of fun and excitement. Whether you’re a fan of high-speed launches, thrilling inversions, or family-friendly adventures, Universal Studios Orlando has a roller coaster to suit every taste.

What is the Most Intense Roller Coaster at Universal Orlando 2023?

When it comes to seeking the ultimate thrill at Universal Orlando, look no further than the Jurassic World VelociCoaster. With its heart-pounding speed and exhilarating inversions, this coaster offers an intense experience that will leave even the most daring riders breathless. Reaching speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, the VelociCoaster takes you on a thrilling journey through the world of Jurassic Park, where you’ll encounter towering dinosaurs and experience the rush of adrenaline like never before.

The VelociCoaster’s intense features include four inversions, including a 360-degree barrel roll and a zero-gravity inverted stall. These elements, combined with the high-speed launches and steep drops, create an adrenaline-fueled adventure that guarantees an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a seasoned coaster enthusiast or a thrill-seeker looking for an adrenaline rush, the Jurassic World VelociCoaster is sure to deliver.

“The Jurassic World VelociCoaster is by far the most intense roller coaster at Universal Orlando. The combination of its high speeds, inversions, and intense maneuvers makes it a thrilling and exhilarating ride that will leave you wanting more.”

universal studios roller coasters

Table: Comparison of Intensity Levels

As seen in the table above, the Jurassic World VelociCoaster stands out as the most intense roller coaster at Universal Orlando, offering unparalleled speed, inversions, and thrilling elements. However, coaster enthusiasts can also enjoy other intense rides such as The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, each providing their own unique elements of excitement and adventure.

What is the Best Universal Studios Roller Coaster for Kids 2023?

When it comes to finding the best roller coaster for kids at Universal Studios in 2023, Flight of the Hippogriff is the top choice. Designed with young riders in mind, this family-friendly coaster provides a fun and exciting experience without being too intense. With gentle dips, tight corners, and speeds reaching just under 30 miles per hour, Flight of the Hippogriff offers a thrilling adventure that is suitable for riders of all ages.

This enchanting roller coaster takes riders on a magical journey through the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As you soar above Hagrid’s Hut and encounter magical creatures, the whimsical theming adds an extra layer of excitement for young riders. The enchanting storyline and immersive theming make Flight of the Hippogriff a favorite among families visiting Universal Studios.

With a relatively mild thrill level compared to some of the more intense coasters at Universal Studios, Flight of the Hippogriff allows kids to experience the excitement of a roller coaster while still feeling safe and comfortable. It’s the perfect introduction to the world of roller coasters and a great opportunity for families to enjoy a thrilling ride together.

Experience the Magic of Flight of the Hippogriff:

  • Step into the magical world of Harry Potter and board your enchanted Hippogriff.
  • Hold on tight as you take flight and soar through the enchanting grounds of Hogwarts.
  • Experience the thrill of gentle dips and exciting turns as you navigate the course.
  • Marvel at the incredible theming and attention to detail that brings the Harry Potter world to life.
  • Create lasting memories as you share this unforgettable roller coaster experience with your family.

Whether it’s your child’s first roller coaster or they’re already a fan of theme park thrills, Flight of the Hippogriff at Universal Studios is a must-ride attraction for kids of all ages. Don’t miss out on the opportunity for a magical adventure that combines the excitement of a roller coaster with the enchantment of the Harry Potter universe.

Which Universal Roller Coaster is Better? The Hulk vs. VelociCoaster

The debate between The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Jurassic World VelociCoaster is a common one among roller coaster enthusiasts. Both coasters offer thrilling experiences, but they have distinct differences. The Incredible Hulk Coaster is known for its seven inversions and intense g-forces, providing a fast-paced and thrilling ride for adrenaline junkies. On the other hand, VelociCoaster is newer and boasts top speeds of 70 miles per hour along with four inversions, making it one of the most exhilarating coasters at Universal Orlando. Ultimately, the best coaster choice comes down to personal preference and the level of intensity one is seeking.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster

The Incredible Hulk Coaster is a high-intensity roller coaster that leaves riders breathless with its intense inversions and fast-paced maneuvers. With a total of seven inversions, including a zero-gravity roll and a cobra roll, this coaster offers a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping experience. The launch at the beginning, reaching speeds of 67 miles per hour in just a few seconds, sets the tone for the rest of the ride. The combination of intense g-forces, inversions, and smooth track transitions makes The Incredible Hulk Coaster a fan-favorite among thrill-seekers.

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

VelociCoaster, on the other hand, takes riders on a wild journey through the world of Jurassic Park. This coaster combines intense speed with thrilling inversions, making it a must-ride for any coaster enthusiast. With a top speed of 70 miles per hour and four inversions, including a barrel roll and a zero-gravity stall, VelociCoaster provides a heart-pounding experience from start to finish. The theming and immersive elements, such as encounters with life-sized velociraptors, enhance the overall ride experience and make it a favorite among fans of the Jurassic Park franchise.

Universal Studios Roller Coasters

What is the Fastest Roller Coaster in Universal Studios 2023?

When it comes to speed, Jurassic World VelociCoaster takes the title for the fastest roller coaster at Universal Studios in 2023. With top speeds reaching up to 70 miles per hour, this high-thrill coaster offers an adrenaline-pumping experience like no other. The combination of speed, inversions, and intense maneuvers makes VelociCoaster a must-ride for any roller coaster enthusiast looking for an exhilarating experience.

But what sets VelociCoaster apart from the other roller coasters in Universal Studios? Let’s take a closer look at its key features:

  • Top Speed: As mentioned earlier, VelociCoaster reaches speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest roller coasters in the park.
  • Inversions: This coaster features four inversions, including a 360-degree barrel roll and a zero-gravity inverted stall. These elements add an extra level of excitement and thrill.
  • Launches: VelociCoaster utilizes two powerful launches, propelling riders from 0 to 70 miles per hour in just a matter of seconds. These launches create an intense and thrilling acceleration.
  • Theme: Inspired by the Jurassic World franchise, the ride immerses visitors in the world of dinosaurs with themed elements and encounters with lifelike animatronic creatures.

Overall, Jurassic World VelociCoaster is the epitome of speed and excitement at Universal Studios. It combines thrilling elements, high speeds, and an immersive theme to provide a one-of-a-kind roller coaster experience. Whether you’re a fan of the Jurassic World movies or simply seeking an adrenaline rush, VelociCoaster is not to be missed.

Table: Comparison of Universal Studios Roller Coasters

Universal studios roller coasters: the ultimate thrill ride experience.

When it comes to seeking the ultimate thrill ride experience, Universal Studios roller coasters deliver exhilaration in every twist and turn. From heart-pounding drops to high-speed launches, these coasters are designed to push the limits of excitement. Whether you’re a seasoned coaster enthusiast or new to the world of thrill rides, Universal Studios offers a collection of roller coasters that are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

One of the standout roller coasters at Universal Studios is the Jurassic World VelociCoaster. With top speeds reaching up to 70 miles per hour, this high-thrill coaster takes you on a wild journey through the world of dinosaurs. The combination of speed, inversions, and intense maneuvers makes VelociCoaster a must-ride for any adrenaline junkie.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly coaster that still packs a punch, Flight of the Hippogriff is the perfect choice. This coaster offers a fun and exciting experience without being too intense. With gentle dips and tight corners, it provides just the right amount of thrill for riders of all ages.

With a diverse lineup of roller coasters, Universal Studios ensures there’s something for everyone seeking an exhilarating experience. So, strap in and get ready for the ultimate thrill ride adventure at Universal Studios!

The Roller Coasters at Universal Studios Orlando

Universal studios roller coasters: a memorable theme park experience.

The roller coasters at Universal Studios are more than just thrilling rides; they are an essential part of the overall theme park experience. Each coaster is expertly themed to immerse riders in the worlds of beloved franchises such as Harry Potter and Jurassic World. From the detailed queue lines to the impressive ride elements, Universal Studios roller coasters offer a memorable and immersive adventure like no other. Whether you’re living out your wizarding dreams on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure or feeling the rush of the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, these rides elevate the theme park experience to new heights.

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“The roller coasters at Universal Studios offer a perfect blend of thrills and theming. Each ride takes you on a journey through iconic movie worlds, adding an extra layer of excitement to the overall experience. It’s like being a part of your favorite films, with heart-pounding twists, turns, and drops as an added bonus.”

One of the standout features of Universal Studios roller coasters is their attention to detail. From the moment you step into the queue line, you’re transported to a different world. Whether it’s the dark and mysterious atmosphere of Revenge of the Mummy or the enchanting landscapes of Hogsmeade in Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the theming is second to none. Each coaster tells a story, enhancing the overall immersion and creating a truly memorable experience for guests.

Universal Studios roller coasters also cater to a wide range of age groups and thrill levels. From intense launches and inversions to more family-friendly adventures, there’s a coaster for everyone. Whether you’re a thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie or prefer a more laid-back ride, Universal Studios offers a diverse lineup that caters to all. So, strap in, hold on tight, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the world of cinema on Universal Studios roller coasters.

Are You Ready to Plan Your Next Universal Orlando Trip?

After exploring the thrilling roller coasters at Universal Studios, it’s time to start planning your next trip to Universal Orlando. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for high-speed adventures or a family in search of fun rides for everyone, Universal Studios has a wide range of roller coasters and attractions to suit every taste and level of adventure.

To make the most of your visit, be sure to check out discounted multi-day Universal Orlando tickets and vacation package deals. These options often include early park admission, allowing you to maximize your time and experience more of the park’s offerings. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a week-long adventure, there are options available to suit your needs.

Before your trip, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the roller coaster lineup and plan your must-rides. Whether you’re seeking the intense thrills of the Jurassic World VelociCoaster or the immersive experience of the Harry Potter-themed rides, having a game plan will ensure you don’t miss out on any of the park’s highlights.

Table: Universal Orlando Roller Coasters

Once you arrive at Universal Orlando, be sure to take advantage of the park’s mobile app, which can provide real-time wait times, show schedules, and interactive maps to help you navigate the park. This will allow you to make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss out on any of the exciting roller coasters and attractions.

So, start planning your next Universal Orlando trip today and get ready for an unforgettable adventure filled with thrilling roller coasters, immersive experiences, and memories that will last a lifetime!

Universal Studios Orlando is the ultimate destination for roller coaster enthusiasts. With a total of seven thrilling roller coasters spread across both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, there’s no shortage of excitement and adrenaline-fueled fun. Each roller coaster offers a unique experience, from the heart-pounding drops of Revenge of the Mummy to the high-speed launches and inversions of Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

Whether you’re seeking intense thrills or family-friendly fun, Universal Studios has a roller coaster for everyone. The park’s diverse lineup caters to all levels of thrill-seekers, ensuring that no one is left without a memorable and exhilarating experience. So, strap in and get ready to embark on an adventure-filled ride at Universal Studios!

With its impressive roller coaster count, Universal Studios Orlando is the perfect destination for roller coaster lovers. The park’s collection of thrilling and immersive roller coasters provides unforgettable moments of excitement and adrenaline. From the number one ranking Jurassic World VelociCoaster to the family-friendly Flight of the Hippogriff, Universal Studios offers a diverse range of roller coasters that will leave you wanting more. Plan your next trip and get ready to experience the thrills and excitement that Universal Studios roller coasters have to offer!

How many roller coasters are there at Universal Studios?

Universal Studios Orlando is home to seven roller coasters in 2023.

What are the roller coasters at Universal Studios in 2023?

The roller coasters at Universal Studios in 2023 are Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Flight of the Hippogriff, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Which is the most intense roller coaster at Universal Orlando in 2023?

The most intense roller coaster at Universal Orlando in 2023 is Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

What is the best Universal Studios roller coaster for kids in 2023?

Flight of the Hippogriff is the best Universal Studios roller coaster for kids in 2023.

Which is better, The Incredible Hulk Coaster or Jurassic World VelociCoaster?

The debate between The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Jurassic World VelociCoaster comes down to personal preference and the level of intensity one is seeking.

What is the fastest roller coaster at Universal Studios in 2023?

Jurassic World VelociCoaster is the fastest roller coaster at Universal Studios in 2023.

What makes Universal Studios roller coasters the ultimate thrill ride experience?

Universal Studios roller coasters are designed to push the limits of excitement and provide unforgettable moments of adrenaline-fueled fun.

How do Universal Studios roller coasters enhance the theme park experience?

Universal Studios roller coasters are expertly themed to immerse riders in the worlds of beloved franchises and offer a memorable and immersive adventure.

How can I plan my next trip to Universal Orlando?

You can plan your next trip to Universal Orlando by checking out discounted multi-day Universal Orlando tickets and vacation package deals that include early park admission.

Source Links

  • https://www.explore.com/1341963/every-roller-coaster-universal-orlando-ranked/
  • https://themeparkcenter.com/blogs/mice-magic-the-official-theme-park-center-blog/universal-studios-roller-coasters
  • https://theparkprodigy.com/universal-studios-roller-coasters/

Travel Guide

Your ultimate universal studios theme park guide.

picture of a random theme park that is beautiful

  • Get the most out of your Universal Studios adventure with insider tips and tricks.
  • Discover the top must-see attractions that will leave you in awe.
  • Explore the thrilling rides, from heart-pounding roller coasters to immersive simulators.
  • Get familiar with the park’s layout, areas, and history before you go.
  • Plan accordingly with practical tips for vacation planning, tickets, and transportation.

Understanding Universal Studios Theme Park

Universal Studios entry way

Universal Studios Park Information

Must-see attractions at universal studios.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmead

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Spiderman Ride

Transformers: The Ride-3D

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

The Simpsons Ride

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Universal’s Horror Make-Up Show

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  • Single-day tickets give you access to the park for one day only.
  • Multi-day tickets allow you to visit the park for multiple days at a discounted price.
  • Universal Express Passes give you priority access to certain attractions, reducing wait times significantly.
  • Park-to-Park tickets allow you to visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day.

Dining and Refreshment Options

Q: what are the top attractions at universal studios theme park, q: how can i make the most of my visit to universal studios, q: what should i consider when planning a vacation to universal studios, q: are there dining options available within universal studios, q: how can i best navigate the park and avoid long wait times, q: what are the transportation and parking options available at universal studios, q: can i purchase universal studios tickets online, q: are there any height restrictions for the rides at universal studios, q: what are the must-see shows at universal studios, busch gardens, a comprehensive list of theme parks in the united states.

scenic view of a theme park background with people in the midway

Theme Parks by State

Alabama to indiana.

  • Alabama: Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure, Birmingham
  • Alaska: Santa Claus House, North Pole
  • Arizona: Castles N’ Coasters, Phoenix; Enchanted Island Amusement Park, Phoenix
  • Arkansas: Magic Springs Theme & Water Park, Hot Springs; Wild River Country, North Little Rock
  • California: California’s Great America, Santa Clara; Disneyland Park, Anaheim; Disney California Adventure Park, Anaheim; Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park; Legoland California Resort, Carlsbad; Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo; Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia; Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City
  • Colorado: Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, Denver
  • Connecticut: Lake Compounce, Bristol
  • Delaware: Funland, Rehoboth Beach
  • Florida: Adventure Island, Tampa; Aquatica Orlando, Orlando; Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa; Discovery Cove, Orlando; Fun Spot America, Kissimmee; Gatorland, Orlando; Islands of Adventure, Orlando; SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando; Universal Studios Florida, Orlando; Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando
  • Georgia: Six Flags Over Georgia, Austell; Six Flags White Water, Marietta
  • Hawaii: Wet’n’Wild Hawaii, Kapolei
  • Idaho: Silverwood Theme Park, Athol
  • Illinois: Six Flags Great America, Gurnee
  • Indiana: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Iowa to New Mexico

  • Iowa: Adventureland Park, Altoona
  • Kansas: Schlitterbahn Island Waterpark, Kansas City
  • Kentucky: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana (also has a park in Kentucky)
  • Louisiana: Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson
  • Maine: Old Orchard Beach Pier, Old Orchard Beach; Palace Playland, Old Orchard Beach
  • Maryland: Adventure Park USA, Monrovia; Six Flags America, Upper Marlboro
  • Massachusetts: Canobie Lake Park, Salem; Six Flags New England, Agawam
  • Michigan: Michigan’s Adventure, Muskegon; Wild Adventures, Muskegon
  • Minnesota: Nickelodeon Universe, Bloomington; Valleyfair, Shakopee
  • Mississippi: Buccaneer Bay, Biloxi
  • Missouri: Frontier Town, Branson; Silver Dollar City, Branson; Worlds of Fun, Kansas City
  • Montana: Funplex, Billings; Playmill Theatre, Billings
  • Nebraska: Fun-Plex, Omaha
  • Nevada: Adventuredome, Las Vegas; Circus Circus, Las Vegas; High Roller, Las Vegas; New York-New York Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas; Stratosphere Las Vegas
  • New Hampshire: Canobie Lake Park, Salem, Massachusetts (also has a park in New Hampshire)
  • New Jersey: Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson
  • New Mexico: Cliff’s Amusement Park, Gallup; Santa’s Village, Jemez Springs

New York to South Dakota

  • New York: Coney Island, Brooklyn; Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn; Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn; Splish Splash, Riverhead, Long Island
  • North Carolina: Carowinds, Charlotte.
  • North Dakota: Roosevelt Park Zoo, Minot
  • Ohio: Cedar Point, Sandusky; Kings Island, Mason
  • Oklahoma: Frontier City, Oklahoma City; Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, California (also has a park in Oklahoma City)
  • Oregon: Enchanted Forest, Salem
  • Pennsylvania: Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg; Hersheypark, Hershey; Kennywood, West Mifflin
  • Rhode Island: Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence
  • South Carolina: Myrtle Beach State Park, Myrtle Beach; Family Kingdom Amusement Park, Myrtle Beach
  • South Dakota: Storybook Island, Rapid City

Tennessee to Wyoming

  • Tennessee: Dollywood Parks & Resorts, Pigeon Forge; Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri (also has a park in Tennessee)
  • Texas: Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio; Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington; Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, Galveston; Schlitterbahn New Braunfels Waterpark & Resort, New Braunfels; Schlitterbahn River Country, New Braunfels
  • Utah: Lagoon Amusement Park, Farmington
  • Virginia: Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg; Kings Dominion, Doswell
  • Washington: Wild Waves Theme Park, Federal Way
  • West Virginia: Camden Park, Huntington
  • Wisconsin: Bay Beach Amusement Park, Green Bay; Mount Olympus Water & Theme Park, Wisconsin Dells; Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Wisconsin Dells
  • Wyoming: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village

Notable Theme Parks with Roller Coasters

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Highlighted Parks

  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Located in sunny Florida, this park combines thrilling rides with an African-themed animal park. Their roller coasters, such as SheiKra and Cheetah Hunt, offer unique experiences that blend speed, height, and immersive theming.
  • California’s Great America: Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, this park boasts a range of roller coasters, from the wooden Gold Striker to the steel Flight Deck, ensuring there’s something for every thrill-seeker.
  • Carowinds: Straddling the border between North and South Carolina, Carowinds offers a mix of roller coasters, including the record-breaking Fury 325.
  • Cedar Point: Often dubbed the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” this Ohio-based park is home to some of the world’s most iconic coasters, like Steel Vengeance and Millennium Force.
  • Coney Island: A historic amusement area in Brooklyn, New York, Coney Island is home to the legendary Cyclone roller coaster, a wooden classic that has thrilled riders for decades.
  • Dollywood Parks & Resorts: Located in the scenic Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Dollywood combines Southern charm with thrilling rides like the Wild Eagle and Lightning Rod.
  • Disneyland Park: While known for its enchanting attractions and characters, Disneyland in California also offers roller coasters like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • Disney California Adventure Park: Right next to Disneyland, this park boasts the Incredicoaster, a high-speed ride themed after Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”
  • Hersheypark: Located in the sweetest place on earth, Hershey, Pennsylvania, this park offers a chocolatey twist on roller coasters with rides like Skyrush and Candymonium.
  • Knott’s Berry Farm: America’s first theme park, located in California, offers a mix of classic and modern roller coasters, including GhostRider and HangTime.
  • Kings Dominion: This Virginia-based park is home to the Intimidator 305, one of the tallest and fastest coasters on the East Coast.
  • Kings Island: Located in Ohio, this park boasts the Beast, a legendary wooden coaster, and the new giga coaster, Orion.
  • Legoland California Resort: While primarily catering to younger audiences, this park in Carlsbad, California, also offers roller coasters like the Dragon and Technic Coaster.
  • Six Flags America, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and more: The Six Flags chain is known for its thrilling roller coasters, with each park offering a unique set of rides. From the Joker at Discovery Kingdom to the Iron Rattler at Fiesta Texas, there’s no shortage of thrills.
  • Universal Studios Florida: Beyond its immersive movie-themed attractions, this Orlando park offers roller coasters like the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and the Revenge of the Mummy.
  • Valleyfair: Located in Minnesota, this park offers a range of roller coasters, including the Renegade and Wild Thing.
  • Worlds of Fun: Based in Kansas City, Missouri, this park boasts the Mamba, one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

A Table of Theme Parks in the United States

  • California and Florida are among the states with the most theme parks, thanks to their favorable climates and tourist attractions.
  • Not all. Some parks, especially in colder states, operate seasonally.
  • Lake Compounce in Connecticut is often considered the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the US.
  • No, while many do, some smaller or specialized parks might not have roller coasters.
  • Yes, parks like Legoland and certain sections of larger parks like Disneyland are specifically designed for younger visitors.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

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Privacy Overview

ThemeParkHipster

23 Amazing Universal Studios Orlando Tips to Save Time and Money

Are you looking for the BEST Universal Studios Orlando tips to make the most of your time on your trip?

Well, look no further!

Planning a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort doesn’t have to be a hard task, but I do know that sometimes the details in the planning can get stressful.

First off, the resort has 3 theme parks with another one opening in the future , plus multiple hotels to choose from and the famous CityWalk.

With all those experiences to participate in, you’ll want to know these pro tips for going to Universal Studios Florida.

Whether you choose to go to Universal Studios in Orlando solo or with family and friends, each tip will guide you to having the best theme park vacation ever!

Arches HHN 31 Halloween Horror Nights Universal Orlando. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY  DISCLOSURE  FOR MORE INFO.  Which means if you click on certain links, I may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

1. Buy Tickets in Advance Online

This one Universal Studios Orlando tip will save you both money and time!

2024 Universal Orlando Resort Ticket at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

It’s best to buy your tickets ahead of time. This prevents waiting in a line once you arrive at Universal Studios.

Hipster Power Tip: The line to buy tickets in the morning is long at Universal Studios so make sure you get yours ahead of time so that you can skip this line and go straight to the gates.

2. Get Your Universal Orlando Tickets from a Trustworthy Website

Be sure to buy your Universal Studios Orlando ticket directly from Universal’s website or from a reputable source such as  Groupon or The Park Prodigy .

2024 Universal Orlando Resort Starbucks Coffee and Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

These places are always having special rates for the Orlando theme parks.

Universal Orlando Tickets: How to Get a Free Day at Universal Studios in 2024?

3. Know the Universal Orlando Ticket Options

There are a few options to choose from for Florida residents when buying a ticket for any of the Universal Orlando theme parks.

Transformers the ride entrance. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers 2024.

Below are just a few of the Universal Orlando ticket options that you can choose from:

  • 2 Park, 1 Day Universal Orlando Ticket: This option allows you to visit both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on the same day.
  • 1 Park, 1 Day Universal Orlando Ticket: This option allows you to visit only one park for one day.
  • 1 Day Volcano Bay Ticket: This option allows you to visit only Volcano Bay for one day.

Keep in mind that this is just the foundation of how you choose your Universal Studios tickets.

2024 Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy Ride at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

You can add multiple days to your vacation with the option to visit the two main parks on the same day for each day you choose.

2024 Bourne Stuntacular Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

It’s all about how you choose to spend your time at Universal Orlando Resort.

Get the whole list of the Universal Orlando ticket options here and save money too!

4. Know the Best Time to Visit Universal Studios Florida

This is one of my top Universal Studios Orlando tips for you!

Universal Orlando Resort Latin Dance Group at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Holiday peaks , crowd sizes , weather, and a few other factors have a lot to do with your Universal Orlando experience.

Universal Studios Florida Minion Land Bello

This includes just how long you’ll be waiting in line for your favorite rides.

What are the best times to visit Universal Studios Orlando?

Below are the best times to visit Universal Orlando Resort:

These months are closely followed by May, September, and October as the best time to visit Orlando.

Check out my latest theme park adventures on Instagram TODAY!

5. Get aUniversal Orlando Express Pass

Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll may want to think about getting an Express Pass.

2024 Universal Orlando Resort Hogwarts Express Train at Universal Studios Florida Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Universal Studios has some of the most innovative rides with wait times to prove it.

Are the Universal Express Passes worth it?

It depends on a few factors. For instance, if you’re only going to be at Universal Studios for a day and you came on a crowded day , then I’d say definitely get the Express Pass.

Universal Studios Express Pass Prices for 2023 and 2024. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

On those peak days, it gets extremely hard to do and see each attraction available at the park.

Plus, if it’s a hot and humid day, it only adds to the frustration.

Diagon Alley with Dragon on Top of Gringotts. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

I know the prices can be out of your budget, but if you can squeeze a little bit more then definitely grab an Express Pass.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ and Globe in front of Universal Studios Arches and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

If you’re not into the whole thrill ride thing and you’re fine doing rides casually, then pass on the Express Pass and spend that money on some theme park food and merchandise.

Express Passes to Choose From:

  • Universal Express Pass : You can skip the regular line ONE TIME per ride at participating attractions each day that your pass is valid.
  • The Universal Unlimited Express Pass : You can skip the regular lines an UNLIMITED number of times at participating attractions.
  • Volcano Bay Express: You can skip the Virtual Line one time at participating attractions.

Express Pass Rides and Attractions at Universal Studios Florida

  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™
  • E.T. Adventure™
  • Fast & Furious – Supercharged™
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™
  • Hogwarts™ Express
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™
  • Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack™
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon™
  • Revenge of the Mummy™
  • The Simpsons Ride™
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D

Hipster Power Tip: There are three resorts on Universal Orlando property that include FREE Universal Express Passes for each hotel guest. They are: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort and the Hard Rock Hotel.

6. Be Sure to Use the Child Swap Program

A true ThemeParkHipster, like yourself, will most likely have a time where the little ones will be join you on one of your trips.

Universal Orlando Resort Child Swap Area in Cat in the Hat Ride at Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Don’t worry! You don’t have to miss out on all the fun Universal Studios attractions.

Universal Orlando Resort Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

You and your theme park partner can take advantage of the Child Swap Program, where you’ll both be able to scream on Hollywood Rip Rockit , as the little ones wait to the side.

How does the Child Swap Program work at Universal Studios?

The Child Swap Program works by allowing one member of your party to wait in a designated area along with any children who are unable or unwilling to participate.

Universal Orlando Resort Universal Studios Florida The Revenge of the Mummy Ride. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Once the rest of your group is off the ride, you trade places and take your seat on the ride while those who rode previously stay with the child(ren).

Recommended: 1 Day in Orlando Itinerary: What Should I Do That’s NOT Theme Parks?

7. Have a Game Plan and Download the Official Universal Orlando App

Route your path around the park in advance by  retrieving the Universal Studios park map on the app.

Universal Studios Mobile Order App. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

This is one of the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for your visit!

The Universal Orlando Resort app allows you to find ride wait times, show times, mobile ordering and dining venue hours.

Universal Orlando Resort La Bamba Cafe Restaurant at Universal Studios Florida Chicken Bowl with Rice Corn Black Beans and Guacamole with NikkyJ. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

The app also allows you to do so many other things such as, placing food and drink orders from select restaurants when you’re in the parks.

View the 2024 Universal Studios Map Below

Universal Studios Florida 2024 Map

You can also get your perfect Universal Studios Florida one-day itinerary here!

8. Explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley

If your smile is as wide as mine, then you probably want to skip the other rides and head straight back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley section of the park.

Diagon Alley: Knightbus Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers. Photo copyright ThemeParkHipster.

You’ll want to explore all the crevices of Diagon Alley and discover the dark streets of Nocturne Alley.

Become a true wizard and get your wand!

Diagon Alley: Ollivander's Wand Shop in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers. Photo copyright ThemeParkHipster.

I recommend partaking in the interactive wand experience at Ollivander’s ; it’s always pretty fun and you’ll love it!

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ in front of Globin in Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida Harry Potter World. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Don’t forget to ride Escape from Gringotts and chat with goblins while you’re in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!

9. Try EVERY type of Butterbeer at Harry Potter World

In case you’re a Muggle, Butterbeer is a drink mentioned several times in the Harry Potter books .

Butterbeer Ice Cream at Diagon Alley Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

It is the drink of choice for many of the adolescents through out the famous Wizarding story.

Hot cold and ice cream butter beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report with Rebecca. ThemeParkHipster Photo. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Plus, it’s a staple drink and a must have beverage whenever you visit Universal Studios.

How is Butterbeer served?

  • Cold Butterbeer
  • Frozen Butterbeer
  • Hot Butterbeer (seasonal)
  • Butterbeer Potted Cream
  • Fudge Butterbeer
  • Butterbeer Soft Serve Ice-Cream
  • Vegan Butterbeer

As you can see, there are sooooo many Butterbeer options to chose from!!!

Where to find Butterbeer?

You can find a Butterbeer offering of some sort inside the Diagon Alley section of Universal Studios at:

  • The Leaky Cauldron
  • The Hopping Pot
  • Sugarplum’s Sweetshop
  • Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour

Recommended: Ultimate Florida Packing List: What to Pack for Your EPIC Trip!

10. Ride Hogwarts Express From Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade

Hopping on the Hogwarts Express train is the best way of recreating the footsteps of the famous wizard, Harry Potter.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ next to Hogwarts Express and Hedwig the white owl in Harry Potter World Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

The Hogwarts Express is located inside King’s Cross Station next to the secret entrance to Diagon Alley.

Universal Orlando Resort Red Telephone Booth in front of Kings Cross Station at Harry Potter World Diagon Alley. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

In order for you to experience this attraction, you’ll need to have a park-to-park admission ticket for the same day.

Universal Orlando Resort Hogwarts Express Train at Universal Studios Florida Hedwid white owl on luggage in King's Cross Station. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Your Park-to-Park tickets (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) will allow you to visit both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade via the Hogwarts Express.

7 BEST Photo Spots in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that are Instagram-worthy!

11. Have a Universal Studios Packing List

It’s important for you to know what to pack for Universal Studios Florida.

My clothes laid out on the bed for my Universal Studios packing list. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Below are some of the things I MUST HAVE for my days at the park.

  • Comfy Shoes
  • Breathable Clothing
  • Sun Protection
  • Wizard’s robe and wand
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Phone Charger
  • Portable Fan

Get the full Universal Orlando packing checklist here!

12. Know What You Can and Cannot Bring inside Universal Studios

To prevent any embarrassment at the security checkpoints, I’ve listed the items you are able to take with you inside of the Universal Orlando parks.

Universal Orlando Resort Boat and Globe in front of Universal Studios Arches and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Please keep in mind that Universal is very strict on what it allows you to bring.

Acceptable items at Universal Studios:

  • Bottled water
  • Small snacks that do not require heating
  • Any food required for medical purposes and medically indicated nutritional supplements
  • Food required for special dietary needs
  • Baby food/baby formula
  • Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep

Prohibited items at Universal Studios:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Picnic lunches
  • Food that requires heating or refrigeration
  • Glass containers
  • Hard-sided coolers
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep
  • Suitcases and bags with wheels
  • Folding chairs
  • Clothing with offensive language or content
  • Clothing that represents someone as emergency personnel
  • Weapons of any kind

WATCH NEXT: Top 5 BEST Food at Universal Studios UNDER $10!!! 🍟🍦🍻🍕

13. Enjoy the Must-Do Rides and Food at Universal Studios Florida

Make sure you make a list of the things you must-do on your trip to Universal Studios.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ with Flaming Moe orange drink in Simpsons Land at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Below are some of my favorite things to do on my solo days at Universal Orlando.

  • Escape from Gringotts
  • Discover the Mysteries of Revenge of the Mummy
  • Horror Make Up Show
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack
  • Chicken and Waffles at Cletus’ Chicken Shack
  • Eat at the Leaky Cauldron
  • Get a Loaded Baked Potato outside of Diagon Alley
  • Ride Hollywood Rip Rockit
  • Explore the NEW Minion Land
  • Watch the Bourne Stuntacular
  • Save the World in Transformers the Ride
7 Best Universal Orlando Restaurants for Solo Travelers

14. Take Advantage of the Single Rider Line

This line can cut your wait time in half and that’s always a benefit of going to a theme park alone .

Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy Ride Roller Coaster at Universal Studios Single Rider Sign. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

It allows you to get around to most of the attractions quickly, because you don’t have to wait in the normal ride line.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ using Single Rider Line on Transformers the Ride 3d on a solo trip at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

This is especially important if you are traveling to Universal Studios solo.

Single Rider Lines at Universal Studios Florida:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Fast and Furious Supercharged
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3-D

Hipster Power Tip: The Single Rider Line will split up your party so keep that in mind on your visit. Universal Team Members use Single Riders to fill in extra spot available on the rides.

15. Go to Universal Studios Solo!

At ThemeParkHipster, I’m ALL about  going to theme parks solo!

Almost  everything on this list you can also do alone,  and if you want to, you absolutely should!

Universal Orlando Resort HHN 30 merchandise with Universal Monsters at Universal Studios Florida for Halloween with NikkyJ. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Going to Universal Studios alone allows you to plan your day the way you want it without having to compromise with others.

It’s my favorite way to go to Universal Orlando Resort!

16. Use the Lockers at Universal Studios

There are lockers next to certain attractions that require you to store your loose items.

Universal Orlando Resort Wiseacres Store in Diagon Alley next to the Gringotts Lockers in Harry Potter World. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

They are free for up to a certain time period. The time period will depend on the wait time of the attraction.

Universal Orlando Resort Revenge of the Mummy Ride at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

If you go beyond the time frame for holding your items, you will be required to pay a small fee.

Just make sure to take a photo of your locker number.

Universal Orlando Resort Family Sized Lockers at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Trust me when I say that it will save you the headache of trying to remember your locker number when you’ve just got done screaming your head off on Revenge of the Mummy!

Cheat Sheet: Universal Orlando Resort Height Requirements (2024 Guide)

17. Get a Birthday Button

You can grab a free birthday button from Guest Services at Universal Studios Florida.

Professing your birthday to the world may increase your chances of being chosen by Ollivander in the wand presentation show.

Ollivanders Wizarding World of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Getting a Universal Orlando Birthday button is just one of the free things you can get on your Universal trip.

Universal Orlando Resort Free Birthday Pin

Hipster Power Tip: It’s not required for you to buy the want; however, tou do have to pay for the wand if you want to keep it even if you’re selected to be a part of the show at Ollivander’s.

18. Enjoy Free Wi-Fi at Universal Orlando

There’s free Wi-Fi throughout all of Universal Studios.

WiFi at Universal Orlando Resort Featured Image with Dragon over Gringotts. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

All you have to do is connect to the Wi-Fi on your mobile device as you would normally do and follow the instructions.

Recommended: Where to Stay in Orlando: Top 10 Hotels and Resorts for ALL Budgets

19. Visit CityWalk Orlando

Universal Orlando CityWalk is an entertainment hot spot between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Universal Orlando Resort CityWalk. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

It’s filled with lots of shops, restaurants, clubs, and more!

If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, then it similar to Disney Springs.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ enjoying Margaritaville Perfect Margarita in CityWalk. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

You do not need a ticket for Universal Studios in order to experience CityWalk.

Universal Orlando Resort Citywalk's Rising Star Karaoke. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

You’re also able to leave Universal Studios (or Islands of Adventure) and enjoy all the CityWalk action , then return back to the parks without needing another ticket.

Universal Orlando Resort Bob Marley Restaurant in CityWalk

Ready to start planning your next Universal Orlando vacation? Listen to the  latest podcast episode on Apple  or on your  non-Apple  device now!

20. Get a Milkshake at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

On your trip to Universal Studios you must stop in CityWalk on your way out and have one of the famous Toothsome Chocolate Emporium milkshakes!

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium Milkshake with multi-color confetti cake on top. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Its’ not only an Instagram worthy photo spot , it’s also a must have treat because it’s absolutely delicious.

Voodoo Doughnut Orlando Will Put a Spell on You!

21. Don’t Forget About Free Water

Tap water is free at any restaurant inside Universal Studios and some quick service locations. So, be sure to bring your own water bottle to fill it up during the day.

Universal Orlando Resort Today Cafe at Universal Studios Florida Interior. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Get more ways to beat the Florida theme park heat!

22. Grab the Best Souvenirs at Universal Studios Orlando

No trip to Universal Studios is complete without the best souvenirs to remember your day.

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

One of my best Universal Studios Orlando tips is to check Amazon for souvenirs at a cheaper price.

Universal Orlando Resort Legacy Store in Citywalk Back to the Future. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Let’s go through some of the top items you must get on your trip.

  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter wand
  • Giant Simpsons doughnut
  • Wizard Robe
  • Universal Studios T-shirts
  • Universal Orlando Trading Pins

Read NEXT: 7 AMAZING Things I Can’t Wait to Do at Universal Epic Universe in 2025!

23. Have Fun!

Whether you’re on your own adult solo Universal Orlando vacation or if you’re with friends, you will have fun!

Simpsons Springfield universal studios cop and doughnut with NikkyJ on a solo Universal Orlando Trip. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Save up to 50% on over 25 Things to Do in Orlando: Kennedy Space Center, LEGOLAND Florida, kids activities, airboat ride, WonderWorks & more TODAY!

What to Know Before You Go to Universal Studios Florida

Now that we have the beginner tips for Universal Studios Florida covered, let’s go through some of the top questions I’m frequently asked for your next trip to this incredible theme park!

Men in Black Alien Attack Immigration Tour Universal Studios. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

What’s the best itinerary for Universal Studios Orlando?

You’ll want to save time on your Universal Orlando trip , so you must have a game-plan to save time and see the most popular attractions.

Universal Studios guide and tips

You can grab your FREE Universal Orlando Resort Guidebook here!

What time does Universal Studios open?

Universal Studios Florida is  open 365 days a year from 9 a.m to 6 p.m.  in the regular season and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the peak season.

Universal Orlando Resort Men in Black Alien Attack Ride at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Hours may change based on the busyness of the park.

Recommended: The Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Guide

How much does it cost to go to Universal Studios in Florida?

The  cost of admission starts at $119, but I like discounts so I use  Groupon or The Park Prodigy  to find cheap Universal Studios tickets.

Universal Orlando Resort Groupon Ticket next to Transformers the Ride 3D at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

What should I do first at Universal Studios Orlando?

One of the best Universal Studios Orlando tips that I can give you is to start at Diagon Alley first.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ in Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Dragon on top of Gringotts Banks. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

This Harry Potter-inspired area will fill up quickly making the line for the main attraction, Escape from Gringotts, extremely long.

Join the Conversation on the  Solo Theme Park Traveler’s Community on Facebook!

My Final Thoughts on the Best Universal Studios Orlando Tips

Universal Studios Florida is one of the best theme parks in the world! You are bound to have an amazing time if you plan the right way and follow these tips.

Universal Orlando Resort NikkyJ in front of globe

Now go out there and start your Universal Orlando theme park adventure today!

Easy tips for universal studios florida with yellow Men in Black Spacecraft. Keep reading to get the best Universal Studios Orlando tips for beginners and first timers.

Let me know your best Universal Studios Orlando tips in the comment section below?

If you enjoyed the Universal Studios Orlando Tips, then you’ll love these:

  • Universal Studios One-Day Itinerary
  • Islands of Adventure One-Day Itinerary
  • Best Photo Spots at Islands of Adventure
  • Diagon Alley Complete Guide
  • Best Photo Spots at Universal Studios
  • A Celebration of Harry Potter Tips and Tricks
  • 7 Ways to Enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade
  • What You Need to Pack for Universal Orlando
  • Top Money Saving Websites for Theme Parks

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Hoop Dee Doo Revue NikkyJ Dinner Show Disney World. Author bio of theme park expert Nikida Metellus.

About the Author

My name is Nikky. I’m a wife, a mother, a pharmacist turned theme park blogger, USA Today 10Best Contributor , and a writer who loves ALL things amusement park related!

Traveling alone to the parks has changed my life and I want to show how you can create your own solo theme park memories.

Connect with me on Instagram!

(Original Article Date: June 1, 2019/Updated February 17, 2024)

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Plan Your Visit to Universal Orlando

Florida Theme Park Resort

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

With two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and  Islands of Adventure , the Volcano Bay water park, a bunch of hotels, the CityWalk complex, and other diversions, Universal Orlando may not be as large or diverse as its mousy neighbor up the street, but it's pretty darn huge and packed with fun in its own right.

Less cohesive and lacking the warm and fuzzy Disney touch, the Universal Orlando parks nevertheless feature some of the very best attractions of their kind on the planet, including the groundbreaking  Spider-Man ride , Transformers: The Ride 3D , and Revenge of the Mummy . And its Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands have proven wildly popular and transformed the theme park industry with their deep immersion and mind-blowing rides.

Universal has a brash, in-your-face attitude. If the sweet "it's a small world" defines Disney World, the ominous, enormous Transformers set the tone at Universal. Things are always blowing up and out of control on its attractions. The CityWalk complex always pulsates with energy. Underwater speakers at the Hard Rock Hotel's pool ensure that guests never miss a lick of a searing guitar solo. If it's solace you seek, head to the Bahamas. If you want to pump up the action, head to Universal.

Universal Orlando Tickets

Note that the type of ticket you buy can have an impact on the attractions you will be able to experience. For example, if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express train that connects the two Harry Potter lands, you will need a park-to-park ticket .

The resort offers reduced prices for children, ages 3 to 9; 2 and under are free. Universal Orlando offers one- and two-park (with park hopping allowed) for the two theme parks as well as a-la-carte and 3-park passes to visit the Volcano Bay water park. For additional fees (which are quite high), Universal Orlando offers guided V.I.P. tours (reservations recommended).

The resort also offers Universal Express passes , which grant quick access to most attractions. (Unlike Disney's Fastpass program, Universal does not offer complimentary line bypass tickets.) Prices vary for Express Plus according to the time of year.

To purchase tickets in advance and learn more about the resort's passes, info is available at the resort's official site .

The Best of the Resort

If you are planning to visit, check out the best of Universal Orlando . Discover the best rides at the two parks, the best restaurants throughout the resort, the best hotels, and more. 

  • The 12 Best Rides at Universal Orlando - If you have limited time to spend at the resort, these are the rides you should try to experience.
  • The 11 Most Thrilling Rides at Universal Orlando - There are plenty of thrilling attractions at the two parks. These are the most intense rides.
  • 9 Best Universal Orlando Rides for Kids - Universal may have especially thrilling, in-your-face rides and attractions, but its parks do offer fun things to do for younger kids that won’t terrorize them.

There are plenty of places to eat throughout the resort, including inside the parks, at the on-property hotels, and at the CityWalk dining/shopping/entertainment district. Find out where you  should  be eating by discovering the  best Universal Orlando dining .

  • The Top 10 Best Universal Orlando Table-Service Restaurants
  • The Top 10 Best Quick-Service Restaurants at Universal Orlando
  • Universal Orlando's 10 Best Snacks and Desserts

Universal Studios

What's New at Universal Orlando?

In 2021, Islands of Adventure will be welcoming its fifth coaster, Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Located in the Jurassic Park section and themed to the Jurassic World sequels, the themed ride will be the most thrilling coaster at the resort. Featuring two magnetic launches, it will hit a potent 70 mph and scale a 155-foot tophat tower. Among its four inversions will be a zero-G stall that will send passengers barreling along a 100-foot section of track upside down, yet somehow floating in the air. As if those stats aren’t frightening enough, agile dinosaurs will be on the prowl during the ride.

In June 2019, the Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure welcomed Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure . The highly themed roller coaster replaced the Dragon Challenge (which was known as “Dueling Dragons” before it was given a cursory Potter overlay). Universal tore down the old coaster and built the Hagrid ride with a completely new layout. The family coaster (with a relatively low 48-inch height requirement) winds through the Forbidden Forest and delivers backwards as well as forwards track sections as passengers encounter Fluffy, the three-headed dog, Cornish Pixies, and other characters.

In July 2019, Universal Orlando opened a new hotel, Surfside Inn and Suites. It's located at the Endless Summer Resort, which used to be the site for the Wet 'n Wild water park. The seventh Universal hotel, the beach-themed Surfside is modestly priced.

Arthur Levine.

When to Go and How to Deal with Lines

The general rule is to zag when everyone else is zigging. Avoid crowds, save money, and have a better, value-filled time by choosing  the best time of year to visit Universal Orlando.  If you want to eliminate, or at least minimize the wait times for attractions, you can  learn how to skip the lines at Universal Orlando .

On-Property Hotels

Operated in conjunction with Loews, the resort offers some great hotels. Learn more about them and determine which Universal Orlando hotel might be best for you . If you are wondering whether you should consider booking a room on the property, there are some great reasons to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel . Loews Universal hotels include the value-priced  Universal's Cabana Bay Resort , the luxury-level Portofino Bay, and the mid-range  Royal Pacific  and Sapphire Falls.

These Are the Least Scary Rides at Universal Studios Orlando

10 Best Reasons to Stay at a Universal Orlando Hotel

The 11 Best Rides at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal's Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts: How Scary Is It?

Your Trip to Universal Orlando: The Complete Guide

Your Guide to Visiting Universal Orlando During the Pandemic

Islands of Adventure: The Complete Guide

Universal Orlando Tickets: Prices, Discounts, and Where to Buy

What Kind of Ticket Would I Need to Ride the Hogwarts Express?

Disney World Vs. Universal Orlando

Visiting Universal Orlando in January

November at Universal Orlando: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Ways to Skip the Lines at Universal Orlando

Why the Hogwarts Express Changed Everything at Florida's Theme Parks

December at Universal Orlando: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

The Best Time of Year to Visit Universal Orlando

The Park Prodigy

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change or modify my reservation?

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

What is the Best Day of the Week to Visit to Universal Orlando 2024?

Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts Ride

One of the most common questions when planning their Orlando vacation is what are the best days to visit Universal Studios Orlando in 2024?  Typically Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be the best days to visit Universal Orlando. Our guide is going to cover why that’s true, and what days to visit each park for your epic vacation.

We hope you find this post helpful! Our goal at The Park Prodigy has always been to help you save time and money on your next Universal Orlando vacation!  If you are planning a trip to Universal Orlando be sure to check out our discounted multi-day Universal Orlando tickets and Universal Orlando vacation package deals which include EARLY PARK ADMISSION to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

So if you’re ready to learn about the best day of the week to visit Universal Orlando in 2024  read on!

SPECIAL NOTE: If you need help picking the best time to visit Universal Orlando for your next vacation be sure to check out our Universal Crowd calendar!

 Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar

What is the Best Day to go to Universal Studios Orlando Florida 2024?

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Generally, Tuesday and Wednesday are considered the optimal days to explore the three parks at Universal Orlando, as they typically experience lower crowd levels. The time of year you plan to visit is crucial, as peak seasons and holidays can significantly affect crowd sizes. Additionally, special events at the parks, like the popular Halloween Horror Nights , can influence the number of visitors at specific parks, such as Universal Studios Florida versus Islands of Adventure.

It’s important to note that if you prefer to use a free tool to plan your Universal vacation then check out our Universal Orlando Crowd calendar. We break down estimated crowds based on the month, week, and even day. We even easily outline exactly which parks we recommend to visit each day, including the average temperatures and daily ticket prices. Not only will this save you a ton of time in the theme park but it can also save you money! How you might ask? Well just like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando theme park tickets now fluctuate based on the time of year you visit. So one of the easiest ways to pick the best day to visit Universal is to compare the cheapest Universal Orlando ticket prices.   The cheaper the tickets the more likely it is that the parks won’t be as crowded during that time of year.

Best Days to Visit Universal Orlando in 2024 By Ticket Pricing

What are the least busy days at universal orlando.

As a general rule of thumb,  the least busy days at the three Universal Orlando parks will typically be Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Mondays, in that order. By visiting the park on these quieter weekdays, you can expect shorter wait times for the most popular Universal Orlando rides and also have a better chance of grabbing those hard-to-get Universal Orlando dining reservations. For Florida locals or guests visiting Universal Orlando on the weekend, we always recommend visiting on Sunday as that tends to be the least busy weekend day. It’s important to keep in mind that factors such as holidays, special events, and seasonal fluctuations may impact crowd levels, so it’s essential to consider these when planning your visit, and we always recommend reaching out to one of our Universal Orlando travel experts at The Park Prodigy if you need additional help planning your vacation.

Related Page: Is the Universal Orlando Express Pass Worth it? 

Best Day of the W eek to Visit Universal Studios Florida 2024

things-to-do-at-universal-studios

So, when is the best day to visit Universal Studios Orlando? As you can guess if Saturday and Monday tend to be the busiest, Tuesday tends to be the best day to visit Universal Studios Orlando. We also find Thursday to be one of the least busy days of the week at Universal Studios, with Sunday being a great weekend option.

Best Days to Visit Universal Studios Florida in Order:

  • Tuesday (best day to go to Universal Studios)
  • Saturday (busiest day at Universal Studios)

As discussed above one of the easiest ways to pick the best day to visit Universal is to compare the cheapest Universal Orlando ticket prices.   The cheaper the tickets the more likely it is that the parks won’t be as crowded during that time of year.

What are Universal Studios Florida’s least busy days?

From our experience visiting Universal Studios Florida, we typically see the least busy days to be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Monday in that order. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind the time of year that you will be visiting because a Tuesday during a holiday week will bring larger crowds than a Saturday during a slower time of year. We always recommend checking our Universal Orlando crowd calendar when trying to decide on the least busy days at Universal Studios!

Related Page: Harry Potter Early Park Admission Tickets

Best Time to Go to Universal Islands of Adventure 2024

best-day-to-visit-Islands-of-adventure

There are a few reasons you’ll want to make sure you have a game plan going into your day at Islands of Adventure. For starters, it’s the original Universal Park to have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade.  It’s also now home to one of the most exciting rides in Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, as well as so many other amazing Universal thrill rides!  So when exactly is the best day to visit the Universal Islands of Adventure? 

Best Day of the Week to Visit Islands of Adventure 2024?

Universal Islands of Adventure Least Busy Days in Order:

  • Wednesday ( best day to go to Islands of Adventure )
  • Saturday ( busiest day at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure )

Related post:  What are the Top 10 Universal’s Islands of Adventure Rides?

What are the Busiest Days in Universal Orlando 2024? 

leas-busy-days-universal-orlando

Sometimes I find it easier to back into an answer, and that’s why I have decided to cover the 2024 busiest days at Universal Orlando first. Many factors determine which Universal Orlando theme park is busier than the others on any given day.

Below is a quick overview of the peak periods and the busiest times at Universal Orlando. 

  • Winter Break: Typically the first two weeks in February
  • Spring Break: The first week of March through the third week of April
  • Memorial Day Weekend: The entire week leading up to Memorial Day
  • Summer Vacation: Specifically the third week of June through July
  • Thanksgiving Break: The entire week before and after
  • Christmas Break: The third full week of December until after January 1st

Related Page: Comparing Universal Orlando Ticket Prices

What are the Busiest Days of the Week at Universal Studios in 2024?

busiest-days-to-visit-universal-studios

The busiest days of the week at Universal Studios in 2024 tend to be Saturday. This is mostly because the Universal Studios parks are so popular among Florida locals that the weekends in general tend to draw a larger crowd. This is especially true during the fall when Halloween Horror Nights is held. We also see Monday to be a very busy day at Universal. This is because many families typically start their vacation to Universal Orlando on Sunday so Monday is usually the first full day in the parks. Universal Studios is also the original park and it’s still what most people think of when you talk about Universal Orlando.

It’s important to note that Universal Studios also hosts a ton of holiday events and is one of the most popular parks during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. However on the flip side, Universal will typically give access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure to everyone who has Universal Early Park Admission tickets! 

What are the Busiest Days at Islands of Adventure 2024?

Well just like with Universal Studios let’s start with the busiest days to avoid at Islands of Adventure. And if Monday is typically the day when most people start their vacation at Universal Studios, we find the crowds to travel over to Islands of Adventure on Tuesdays. Just like almost all of the Universal theme parks we also find Islands of Adventure crowd levels to be higher on the weekends.

Related Page: Islands of Adventure Early Park Admission Tickets

When is the Best Time to Go to Volcano Bay 2024?

best-day-to-go-to-volcano-bay

Volcano Bay is such an interesting park to plan around the crowds because you can truly get so much done even when the parks are a bit busier. One of the main reasons is the Volcano Bay TapuTapu system which is essentially a virtual line. However, even with this amazing system, it is important to try to pick the best day to go to Volcano Bay during your next trip. This is also especially true if you plan to rent one of the Universal Orlando cabanas. 

What are the Busiest Days at Volcano Bay 2024?

Very simply the busiest days at Volcano Bay tend to be the weekends as this water theme park is extremely popular among the Florida locals.

What is the Best Day of the Week to Visit Volcano Bay 2024

  • Wednesday ( best day to go to Volcano Bay )
  • Saturday ( busiest day at Volcano Bay )

Related post:  A Guide to Volcano Bay: The 15 Best Volcano Bay Rides

When is the Best Time of Day to Visit Universal Orlando?

best-time-of-day-to-visit-universal

Now that you have an idea of the best days to visit Universal Orlando, let’s take a look at the best time of day to visit Universal Studios. So, when exactly should you visit Universal Orlando Florida during the day? And very simply, the best time of day to visit Universal is early in the morning for early park admission!  One of the main reasons is most families will sleep in, and you’ll be able to ride some of the most popular rides on Universal property with very little to no wait!

When is the best time of day to visit Universal Orlando?

  • Early in the morning for early park admission
  • Late at night right before the park closing

Related Page: Discount Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Tickets

Tips And Tricks For Picking The Least Busy Day at Universal Studios Orlando

one-of-the-best-days-to-visit-universal-orlando

We typically recommend using the tips below to avoid  large crowds at Universal Orlando. 

Ticket prices indicate the best days to visit Universal Studios Orlando

One of the easiest ways to figure out the best day of the week to visit Universal Orlando is to pay attention to one-day Universal ticket pricing. One of the ways Universal tries to entice people to visit during the least crowded days at Universal Studios Orlando is to lower ticket prices. We typically see the cheapest Universal Orlando tickets during the weekdays in September and between the middle of January and early February.

Be sure to check out our Universal Orlando crowd calendar as we highlight all one-day ticket prices and Universal Studios Orlando’s least busy days. 

Use Universal Orlando early park admission

One of the easiest ways to make sure you get the most out of your day no matter which Universal Orlando park you plan to visit is to take advantage of early park admission . This is one of the most popular benefits of purchasing your Universal Orlando tickets from The Park Prodigy. This is also a huge time saver for anyone looking to make the most out of their trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! 

Taking advantage of early park admission will also allow you an afternoon break at your hotel if need be. It’s important to note that early park admission can switch between parks during the slower times at Universal. 

Avoid the weekends when possible

Weekend foot traffic at Universal Orlando can be unpredictable for sure. Another important tip when figuring out the best days to go to Universal Orlando is to pay attention to the special events.  Universal is home to some of the most popular events in Florida such as Halloween Horror Nights , Mardi Gras , and holiday celebrations.  These events have become extremely popular among the Florida locals and as you could have guessed many people visit on the weekends.

Avoid major holidays

This might seem like it’s obvious but Holidays tend to attract the largest crowds at Universal Orlando. In many cases such as the Fourth of July and Christmas, the parks will reach capacity. You can still plan a great family trip around holidays such as Labor Day, memorial day, and Halloween however we still recommend following the tips outlined above.

Pay attention to the weather when deciding the best day of the week to visit Universal Orlando

This tip is really for guests who might be booking a last-minute trip to Universal Orlando. However, always pay attention to the weather when picking the best days of the week to visit Universal Studios Orlando . This is especially true if you plan to go on some of the thrill rides which are almost all outdoors.

Best Day to Go to Universal Studios Vs Halloween Horror Nights

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is one of the most popular events in the world. For that reason, it can be difficult to pick the best day to go to Universal Studios during September and October. However one of the best tips we have learned is to visit Universal Studios the day of one of these Halloween Horror Nights events. The reason is park hours tend to be shorter and most people will visit Islands of Adventure instead. However, crowds will be lower at Universal Studios and you will be able to get so much more done in your day.

Related post:  What to Bring to Universal Studios Orlando; Ultimate Packing Guide

Best Days to Go To Universal Studios Florida 2024 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Universal as crowded as Disney?

A: Another popular question that we receive is, is Disney or Universal more crowded? As a general rule of thumb, the least crowded days at Universal Studios and Disney can vary, but overall we tend to see Walt Disney World Resort theme parks with larger crowds throughout the year. The slowest days at Universal Orlando and Disney World can change based on the season and special events happening, especially over at Universal Orlando with Halloween Horror nights in September and October.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Universal Orlando?

Our   Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar   is the best tool to help you get the most out of your time in the parks. We break down the park crowds, park hours of operation, ticket prices by day, and average temperature.

Are You Ready to Plan Your Next Universal Orlando Trip?

If you’re ready to plan your trip to  Universal Studios,  be sure to check out  Universal Orlando Tickets!   Not only will you save money vs buying direct, but all of our Universal Orlando tickets come with some amazing benefits that can help save you up to three hours in the parks!

And to stay up to date on everything going on inside the theme parks be sure to check out our partners at  Themeparktoday.com!

Who We Recommend

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

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best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Michael Belmont

Michael Belmont is the owner at Theparkprodigy.com, an authorized Disney and Universal travel agent. He specializes in Disney and Universal theme park tickets and vacation packages, as well as daily park plans to help optimize vacation time. Michael and The Park Prodigy have been featured on ABC’s Florida affiliate, WTFV, as well as over 10 Disney focused blogs. As owner, Michael manages The Park Prodigy blog and social media, a Disney themed podcast, and a Disney and Universal focused YouTube channel. Prior to starting The Park Prodigy, Michael was a long time Disney and Universal enthusiast, frequent visitor of the parks, and even served as a Walt Disney World Cast Member in Orlando, Florida!

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best park to visit in universal studios orlando

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Save up to three hours at Universal Orlando with free vacation planning tools and added benefits. With our Universal tickets guests can choose from the following parks!

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best park to visit in universal studios orlando

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30 Universal Orlando Rides, Ranked from Best to Worst

These are the best rides at Universal Orlando — and the worst.

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

best park to visit in universal studios orlando

Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida

  • Best Rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Step into your favorite movies at Universal Orlando's theme parks — Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure — for an unforgettable experience. As Travel + Leisure' s on-staff theme park expert, I have spent countless hours on the ground researching and experiencing these attractions firsthand to find the best rides at Universal Orlando and help you plan your next trip to this theme park resort.

Universal Orlando, founded in 1990, is the second-largest theme park resort in the Orlando area after Walt Disney World . Throughout its history, Universal Orlando has evolved to include new rides and attractions based on successful movie and TV franchises like Jurassic Park, The Simpsons , and most recently, Harry Potter. The addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter introduced a number of rides to the park, bringing massive success and a new surge of popularity for Universal Orlando. And soon, there will be even more incredible rides to experience as Universal opens a third theme park — Universal Epic Universe — in 2025.

Booking Tip

Book a stay at one of Universal Orlando's Premier resorts to receive free Universal Express Unlimited, which allows you to skip the line for almost every attraction.

Before your next visit to these theme parks, you'll want to plan out what you want to experience, picking from thrill rides , family-friendly attractions kids will love, and everything in between. To help, we've rounded up the best rides at Universal Orlando, so you know what should be at the top of your list.

1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Elizabeth Rhodes/Travel + Leisure

The highlight of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley, this attraction is truly the best ride at Universal Studios Florida. The queue itself is wildly impressive, with goblins that look like they're straight from the movies. The ride is also very unique, combining dark ride and coaster elements with 3-D projections to create a truly immersive and exciting experience. After riding, I love to hang out in front of the attraction (Butterbeer ice cream in hand, of course) to see the dragon breathe fire.

2. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

This is, by far, the most thrilling ride at Universal Studios Florida. The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster allows riders to choose their own soundtrack (with five song options including "Waterloo" by Abba — my personal choice — and "Humble" by Kendrick Lamar) before taking off on a vertical ascent for an exciting ride that gets up to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour.

3. Revenge of the Mummy

A welcome break from other screen-based attractions at Universal Studios Florida, this indoor coaster based on The Mummy is thrilling without being too scary (that said, the spooky mummy theming may be a bit intimidating to younger riders). The immersive design and exciting practical effects make it a personal favorite that I love to ride again and again.

4. Men in Black Alien Attack

Enter the Men in Black training facility and zap aliens in this interactive dark ride. With 120 animatronic aliens, this ride is fun, engaging, and worth enjoying more than once to see if you can beat your high score.

5. E.T. Adventure

There's a good reason that E.T. Adventure is the only opening-day attraction left at Universal Orlando. Sure, it's a little dated, but this ride is just as charming as it was in 1990 with its bicycle ride vehicles, and now, it offers an added dose of nostalgia. Even the tree-lined queue is impressive, and I love its forest scent (if you know, you know).

6. The Simpsons Ride

Follow the Simpsons on their crazy antics during this funny motion simulator ride. Fans of the show will love all the references and details, and the movement is smooth and realistic (although it might be intense for those prone to motion sickness).

7. Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station

Climb aboard the famed Hogwarts Express and experience the magic of the Harry Potter movies in this attraction. King's Cross station looks just like it does in London, and this is a quick and delightful way to get to Islands of Adventure. You can really imagine yourself boarding the train to Hogwarts, and arriving in Hogsmeade makes it even more magical.

8. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Fans of The Tonight Show will like this Jimmy Fallon-led 3-D motion simulator ride that takes guests on a trip around New York City. The well-themed queue that's made to look just like 30 Rockefeller Plaza is equally impressive.

9. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

As one of the first attractions guests reach when entering the park, this simulator ride can have long wait times. It's great for families, so fans of the Despicable Me movies should check it out. And good news for little ones: More Minions -themed fun opened last year, including the Minion Cafe, which I think is one of the best restaurants at Universal Orlando .

10. Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl

This Simpsons -themed spinner ride is a solid option for kids, but it's not the most exciting ride in this park. That said, it's worth riding (if the line is short) to take in the views of the park while flying in circles.

11. Transformers: The Ride 3-D

Several recently debuted rides at this park rely heavily on screens and motion simulators, and while it works for some attractions, this one is a little jerky, although fans of the Transformers films are sure to enjoy it.

12. Fast & Furious – Supercharged

As one of the newest rides at the park, Fast & Furious — Supercharged was highly anticipated, but many argue that it didn't live up to the hype. Fans of the film franchise may want to check it out, but there are better rides to experience at this park if you're short on time.

Best Rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure

1. harry potter and the forbidden journey.

This incredible dark ride combines innovative technologies and a unique ride system to fully immerse guests in the Harry Potter story. Plus, it's housed in the Hogwarts Castle, and the queue is absolutely amazing, with classroom replicas, a message from the Sorting Hat, and more. It's worth riding again and again — you're almost guaranteed to notice something new each time. That said, while I have never personally experienced motion sickness on this ride, I have heard from fellow guests that it can be intense if you do deal with that.

2. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Many laud this well-themed coaster as the best ride in the park, and it's easy to see why once you experience it. Take a seat on Hagrid's motorbike and soar through beautiful scenery while encountering some magical creatures and delightful surprises along the way. I was absolutely amazed the first time I experienced this attraction; it's definitely worth the long lines.

3. Jurassic World VelociCoaster

This newer addition to Islands of Adventure might just be the most thrilling ride in all of Orlando's theme parks. The Jurassic World -themed roller coaster isn't for the faint of heart — it's tall, fast, and has multiple inversions — and that makes it all the more exciting for thrill-seekers visiting the park. For coaster lovers, this may even be the best ride at Universal Orlando. Though I love coasters, I was nervous to ride the VelociCoaster the first time, but I totally recommend it — if you're up for the adrenaline rush.

4. Jurassic Park River Adventure

What starts as a calming boat ride through Jurassic Park quickly turns into a thrilling escape ending with an 85-foot drop. Whether or not you're a fan of the classic dino movie, this ride is worth experiencing at least once — the splash-down never disappoints.

5. The Incredible Hulk Coaster

One of the most intense rides at Islands of Adventure, The Incredible Hulk Coaster — complete with seven inversions and a 67-mph launch start — is a must for all thrill-seekers. Sure, there are bigger, newer coasters in this park, but this one remains an always-popular classic.

6. Flight of the Hippogriff

This family-friendly coaster is another delightful addition to the Harry Potter -themed land. The ride is short, but it offers great views of Hogwarts from the train (which was made to look like a wicker Hippogriff). Be sure to wave to Buckbeak as you coast along.

7. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Step inside your favorite comic books in Marvel Super Hero Island. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a 3-D simulator dark ride that immerses you in the superhero action. When the attraction debuted in 1999, it was praised for its groundbreaking use of new ride technology, and it's still a fun time today.

8. Hogwarts Express: Hogsmeade Station

The Hogwarts Express allows visitors to travel between Universal Orlando's two parks without leaving the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which makes it a must-do experience if you plan to visit both parks in one day. The Hogsmeade side of the Hogwarts Express is just as fun as its King's Cross counterpart.

9. The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride

Go for a scenic tour above Seuss Landing on this ride. The train ride actually has two tracks, so you can enjoy a different story during your second time around. This is a fun, gentle ride that's great for families — or adults in need of a mid-day break.

10. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls

A classic log flume ride with a cartoon twist, this ride is great for cooling off on hot Florida days. Bright colors, retro cartoon vignettes, and multiple drops make it fun even for guests who have never heard of Dudley Do-Right — as long as they don't mind getting wet. I thoroughly enjoyed this ride during my recent trip to Universal Orlando, but I went in knowing that I would tackle the park's three water rides before returning to my hotel to change out of my wet clothes.

11. The Cat in the Hat

This dark ride takes you straight into one of Dr. Seuss's most beloved stories, and it's fun for kids and nostalgic for adults who remember this story from childhood — just keep an eye out for mischievous Thing 1 and Thing 2.

12. Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

Sail through the rapids on this bumpy water ride, but be warned: You will get very wet. Although it's perfect for a warm Florida day, you might want to skip it if the sun isn't out or if you don't want to walk around in soaked shoes all day (speaking from a very soggy personal experience).

13. Caro-Seuss-el

The entire Seuss-themed land is whimsical, and this ride offers a fun twist on the classic amusement park attraction, with Seuss-inspired characters replacing traditional carousel horses. Plus, you can walk right over to the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe for some Green Eggs and Ham tater tots after.

14. Pteranodon Flyers

This gentle dino ride was created for kids, so adults can't ride without a child between 36 to 56 inches tall. If you do have the chance to hop on, you'll get great views of the park while soaring along.

15. Storm Force Accelatron

This hero-themed spinning teacup ride isn't the most exciting option in the park, but it's fun and worth checking out if there isn't a long line.

16. Doctor Doom's Fearfall

This exciting space shot-style ride isn't for the faint of heart — expect thrilling drops. The villain-themed attraction is fun for thrill-seekers, but it's not all that different than the drop rides you'd find at your local amusement park.

17. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Climb aboard an adorable flying fish on this Dr. Seuss-themed spinning ride. It's ideal for younger children who can't yet go on the more intense rides in the park —  they'll love the ability to control the ride vehicle, but keep an eye out for the fountains.

18. Skull Island: Reign of Kong

This trackless dark ride based on King Kong is a fairly polarizing attraction — the animatronics are incredible and the queue is well-themed, but the screen-based portion is a little lackluster, similar to Fast & Furious — Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida. Note that the queue is spooky, so younger riders might want to sit this one out.

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When will Epic Universe open?

Universal Epic Universe started as a doodle on a napkin nearly a decade ago. Inspired by the heavens, stars and constellations, the theme park offers an entirely new level of experience by immersing guests into five fully themed worlds. A whole new universe, scheduled to open in 2025.

Are reservations required to visit Universal Orlando Resort?

Reservations are not required to attend Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks or Universal CityWalk. However, reservations are strongly recommended for hotel stays and select dining experiences.

How does Universal Express Pass work?

Universal Express Pass access is available as an optional add-on that empowers you to skip the regular lines at many of your favorite rides and attractions at Universal Orlando Resort theme parks. Participating attractions and rides are subject to change without notice.

What is the best source for discount tickets to Universal Orlando Resort?

Visit Orlando powered by BestofOrlando.com is your trusted source for authorized discount tickets to Universal Orlando Resort and other Orlando experiences.

How far is Universal Orlando Resort from International Drive and downtown Orlando?

Universal Orlando Resort is on the north end of Orlando’s International Drive Entertainment District. It is about 15 minutes south of downtown Orlando.

Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida: Our Top Ten

From Revenge of the Mummy to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Universal Studios Orlando has some of the best theme park rides in the country. To round out our top 10 lists of the best rides in the parks throughout Universal Orlando Resort, we will now cover the top 10 rides in Universal Studios Florida, to make sure that when you visit the resort you know exactly what rides to try first across all the parks.

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Universal Studios Florida is one of Universal Orlando Resort’s three parks.

Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida -- theme park entrance archway

Two of these parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios , are theme parks, while the third, Volcano Bay, is a water park. Universal Studios is renowned for its theme park rides, shows, and entertainment, so this list will only cover one aspect of what is so enjoyable about the park. Let’s get into it!

1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Coming in at the number one spot we have Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts . I promise that this ride is not just taking the top spot on the list because I’m a Harry Potter fan, but on top of its fantastic theme, the ride is a crazy journey and is one of the best rides in the whole resort.

Despite the massive popularity of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure , the Escape from Gringotts is considered to be the flagship ride of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter .

The ride combines a immersive line experience, a mind-blowing roller coaster , and top-of-the-line visual effects to make you feel like you are really trying to escape Gringotts alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Like all the best rides in Universal Orlando, the beginning of the experience starts in the line. Fittingly, the ride takes place in Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley . Every time I walk into the bank I’m hit with Deja Vu from the movie. The layout of Gringotts is identical to what it looks like in the Harry Potter films.

Remember when Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to Gringotts with Griphook to break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault? This ride is essentially an exact replica of that scene. As you walk through Gringotts, a high ceiling towers above you with a chandelier, and the hall is lined with long desks on either side occupied by Goblins hard at work for the bank. They will peer at you suspiciously as you move toward the teller at the end of the long hall.

Once you begin the ride itself, you will get into a cart just like in the movies and prepare yourself to be launched into the vaults of Gringotts deep below. The Escape from Gringotts ride utilizes the dark throughout the roller coaster to increase the thrill factor and bring the 3D projections to life. As you twist, drop, and speed through the vaults you will run from dragons and maybe even Voldemort, all with Harry, Ron, and Hermione by your side.

Even if you aren’t a Harry Potter fan this ride is a must-try. But, if you have seen the movies, Escape From Gringotts will bring you directly into the world we all know and love in a once-in-a-lifetime immersive experience.

Category: Roller Coaster

Theme: Harry Potter, Gringotts Bank

Location: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter , Diagon Alley

Opening Date: July 8, 2014

Height Requirement: Must be at least 42” (107 cm). Children between 42” -48” (107 cm – 122 cm) must ride with a supervising companion.

Duration: 5:00

2. Revenge of the Mummy

Revenge of the Mummy comes in at number two in our list of the best rides at Universal Studios. This psychological thrill ride uses a combination of darkness, special effects, and animatronics to keep you on the edge of your seat and looking over your shoulder the whole time.

The ride is themed after The Mummy film series, and it works really hard to bring the horror of the mummy Imhotep to life. I’ve tried this ride several times before and I love it. Even though I technically know where all of the scares are, they still get me every single time.

The ride uses some props from the real Mummy film to help bring the series to life in the ride. The ride starts in a dark tomb surrounded by fluorescent lights. Just as tension really starts to build a mummy will spring out and hiss at the riders, letting you see just a hint of what you have in store over the next few minutes.

Revenge of the Mummy uses linear induction motors (LIMs) in its roller coaster that give it the ability to launch your car from 0-45 mph in a matter of seconds.

Throughout the rest of the ride, you will be expecting to see mummies around every turn, as you are shot into the darkness, dropped, and launched in every direction.

While the movement of the roller coaster itself might not have the fear factor of Island of Adventure’s VelociCoaster , the psychological intensity of the ride arguably makes it even scarier.

Category: Steel Launched Roller Coaster / Enclosed Dark Ride

Theme: The Mummy

Location: New York City

Opening Date: May 21, 2004

Height Requirement: Must be at least 48” (122 cm)

Duration: 3:00

3. MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack is an interactive dark ride based on the 1997 Men in Black film. When the ride opened in 2000 it was the largest in the resort and spans 70,000 square feet.

The ride includes more than 125 animatronic aliens that you will fight throughout your journey in the darkness. As long as you meet the height requirement, this is a good ride for people of all ages, and the interactive aspect makes it unique compared to many of Universal’s other rides.

Entering into the ride you will walk into the MIB training facility and wind your way through the themed line and pre-show.

Once it’s your turn, you will get into your seat and prepare to battle the aliens! The movement of the ride is primarily spinning, so if you have a weak stomach this might not be for you. As you spin and turn through the dark you will be tasked with shooting down aliens with a laser gun. You can accumulate points along the way and keep track of who is killing the most aliens!

Even though this is one of the older rides in the resort, it’s still one of the most fun, and is a nice break from the crazy thrill rides the resort has to offer!

Category: Shooting, Interactive Dark Ride

Theme: Men in Black

Location: Universal Studios, World Expo

Opening Date: April 14, 2000

Height Requirement: Must be at least 42” (107 cm)

Duration: 4 minutes

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You’ll be assigned a single, dedicated agent who will take the time to learn about your family , offering ride recommendations for your kids while also making sure the rest of the group gets all the thrills they’re looking for.

Can’t decide between Universal and Disney World ? They can help with that, too. They’ll help you compare prices between the two and answer all of your questions.

Whichever you choose (why not both?), your Vacationeer handles all the details for you . They’ll book hotel reservations, theme park tickets, dining reservations, even ground transportation from the airport or between Universal and Disney .

Best of all, they provide all of these planning services at no additional cost to you ! You pay the same price as if you’d booked it all yourself ( maybe even a little less , given their extensive knowledge of discounts and money-saving hacks).

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4. E.T. Adventure

Truly one of the most nostalgic rides in the park, E.T. Adventure will bring you back to the 90s on a fun and enjoyable dark ride.

Built as a 1990 opening day attraction at Universal Studios (the only one still operating), this is the oldest large-scale ride in Universal Orlando.

While this is probably obvious, the ride is based on Steven Spielberg’s E.T.

This ride is certainly not where you should go if you are looking for crazy thrills or drops, but for those seeking a nostalgic, relaxing, enjoyable ride, then this is for you!

Just like E.T. in the movie, you will be flying on a bicycle through the sky. Right at the start of the ride you are zooming past NASA and the police are hot on your tail, but just as they get close you will float up into the sky and begin to fly away.

You will fly over some beautiful views and even go through a portal. Then, you will arrive at the Green Planet, where Botanicus will ask you to rescue E.T.’s friends.

The ride truly tells a story and takes you on a journey. The start of the ride is dark and intense, and the end is joyous and bright. This ride is great for all ages and is a great way to relive your love for the movie!

Some thrill seekers might quibble with this ranking so highly on our list (even outranking the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster). But E.T. Adventure is one of the rides which made Universal Orlando what is today, and this ranking reflects the respect we have for it as the true essence of Universal theme parks.

Category: Suspended Dark Ride

Theme: E.T.

Location: Universal Studios, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone

Opening Date: June 7, 1990

Height Requirement: 34” (86 cm)

Duration: 4.5 min

5. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is the most thrilling ride at Universal Studios. Reaching 65 mph, the Rockit will have you holding on for dear life as you shoot around the park.

The ride has a max peak of 167 ft and a total length of 3,800 ft, which goes quickly with the speed you’re traveling!

This is definitely a ride for thrill seekers. The ride doesn’t have much to offer in terms of theme, so I think we can agree that the main idea is the thrill.

One special aspect of this ride is that the guests can choose a song to rock out to throughout the roller coaster. Universal Orlando trimmed its available song selection in 2023, but you still have five songs to choose from for this wild ride.

The ride starts with a slow climb up to one of the ride’s many peaks and it briefly pauses at the top so you can take in the views of Orlando before you are launched nearly straight down to the ground.

The next few minutes you will have your hands in the air screaming as you speed through inversions, turns, loops, and more.

This is the best place if you are looking for a thrill in Universal Studios!

Theme: Hollywood

Location: Universal Studios, Production Central/New York

Opening Date: August 19, 2009

Height Requirement: Must be at least 51” (130cm), and no more than 79” (201 cm)

Duration: 1:40

6. Hogwarts Express: King’s Cross Station

The Hogwarts Express is one of my family’s favorite rides in the resort. We are all Harry Potter fans, which definitely contributes to our love of the ride, but even if you aren’t a fan this is a must-try experience.

The Hogwarts Express travels both directions in between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure and in Universal Studios. The Islands of Adventure Wizarding World is themed to Hogsmeade and in Universal Studios it’s Diagon Alley.

The Express is an exact replica of the train that Harry, Ron, and Hermione take to Hogwarts, and the railcar that you will sit in will give you deja vu from the movie.

The ride uses impressive CGI, scenery, and sounds to make you feel like you are really traveling Hogwarts like a first year wizard.

If it’s not already obvious, this isn’t a thrill ride. The slow-moving Hogwarts Express mimics the experience of a Hogwarts student traveling to school, with a few special twists.

You might hear some Hogwarts voices you recognize out in the hall or out your window, see some crazy views, and you might even see a Dementor!

This is a must try immersive experience for anyone, and especially those who are Harry Potter fans.

Category: Train

Theme: Harry Potter, The Hogwarts Express

Location: Universal Studios, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley

Height Requirement: N/A

7. The Simpsons Ride

Located in Springfield, U.S.A.: Home of The Simpsons, The Simpsons Ride is great for adults and kids of all ages. The indoor simulated roller coaster will take you on a journey to Krustyland with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie.

This is a visual roller coaster, meaning it’s a motion simulator. Much of the action is shown on a huge screen and you will wear glasses to enhance the experience. Your vehicle bounces and tilts to help “sell” what you’re seeing on-screen, but otherwise remains firmly bolted in place so you don’t actually go anywhere. Whether you are a fan of the Simpsons, or you’re craving a roller coaster without the physical stress, this is perfect for you!

The pre-ride experience for the Simpsons includes some cool, custom animations as you make your way to your seat. And somewhat jaded Theme Park lovers will appreciate the self-deprecating humor throughout (“Foolish Earthlings, don’t you know all rides must end near the gift shop?”).

Experiencing the roller coaster on a huge 80-ft diameter domed surface is a crazy experience and still provides some thrill even though you aren’t actually on a roller coaster.

This ride is as simple as sitting back and enjoying the show!

Category: Motion Simulator Roller Coaster

Theme: The Simpsons

Location: Universal Studios, Springfield U.S.A.: Home of the Simpsons

Opening Date: May 15, 2008

Height Requirement: N/A, but Under 48” (122cm) requires a supervising companion

Duration: 5 minutes

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8. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Just as it sounds, on the Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon , you will race the Late Night Show host through the streets of New York in a simulated experience.

The ride takes place on a huge screen with 3D capabilities and immersive POV technology that makes you feel like you are zooming through the city’s streets next to Jimmy Fallon.

The experience begins in the line, where racers will pass by Manhattan’s 30 Rock building, and make their way into a classic NBC studio.

One bonus about this ride is that in some cases you may not have to actually wait in line. The ride has been known to sometimes use a virtual reservation system through Universal’s app, allowing you to do something else and then return when it’s your turn to ride. This isn’t always offered, but it’s a nice bonus when it is.

At the start of the ride itself, you enter into an NBC theater. After buckling up and putting on your 3D glasses, the race begins!

The screen has 16k resolution, and Universal used all the technology at their disposal to make sure it felt as life-like as possible.

This is worth the experience for the technology alone! But the experience of racing along the streets of NYC (and a few other far-out locales) makes it a must try.

Category: Simulated Ride

Theme: Jimmy Fallon/ New York City

Location: Universal Studios, New York area of the park

Opening Date: April 6, 2017

9. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Coming in at number 9, we have Despicable Me Minion Mayhem . Get excited to go on a ride through Gru’s laboratory on a journey that is great for families and kids.

This is another simulated ride, so make sure that if you get nauseous you think twice about trying it! My wife sometimes gets motion sickness and she had no problems on this one, but if you are extra sensitive it might be best to avoid it!

The screen displays the show at a high 60 frames per second and uses a 4k screen, bringing you right into the action of the ride.

Once you get into your seat you will be taken on a roller coaster-like journey alongside Gru and many minions around his lab! Without giving too much away, you will fly around, go on a slide, and might even fall into a cactus!

The ride has some great humor and is more of a good laugh than a thrilling roller coaster experience.

My kids love this one, and they are just as happy to see the Minions in the line as they are to actually experience the ride itself.

Theme: Despicable Me

Location: Universal Studios, Production Central

Opening Date: July 9, 2012

Height Requirement: Minimum height required 40” (102cm)

Duration: 8 Minutes

10. Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

Rounding out our top ten, Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl is a great ride for kids in Universal Studios. Located in Springfield, U.S.A.: Home of The Simpsons, the ride features drooling aliens, flying saucers, lasers, and some of your favorite Simpsons characters!

The ride reminds me of a more extreme version of a merry-go-round (if you’re familiar with rides at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom , it’s a similar ride system to Dumbo the Flying Elephant). Only reaching a top speed of 13 mph, or 1/51,595,995 the speed of light as Universal puts it, it’s perfect for young kids. You will embark on the ride in a flying saucer that is under your control!

The flying saucers reach a max height of about 10 ft as you soar around the alien at its center. Throughout the ride, you will be able to maneuver your flying saucer up and down to activate targets featuring some of Springfield’s citizens, trying to zap them as you go!

Category: Kid Friendly Spinning Ride

Theme: The Simpsons/ Aliens

Location: Springfield, U.S.A.: Home of The Simpsons

Opening Date: August 11, 2013

Duration: 2 minutes

Final Thoughts on the Best Rides at Universal Studios

While Islands of Adventure is filled with more thrill rides, Universal Studios has a variety of thrill rides, family rides, and simulated experiences that make it great for groups of all ages. Make sure to check the height requirements and other important notices before you ride, and enjoy the thrills!

We hope this list has helped you plan your day at Universal Studios. Of course, this list doesn’t cover every single ride in the park. When you’re making a top ten list you have to leave out some great rides to make a list that represents all of the types of attractions the park has to offer. To see what we left off, check out our complete list of every ride at Universal Orlando Resort .

For more guidance on the best rides around Universal Orlando, check out our lists for every Universal Orlando park:

  • Best rides in all of Universal Orlando Resort
  • Best rides at Universal Studios Florida (this article)
  • Best rides at Islands of Adventure
  • Best rides at Volcano Bay water park

Ready to Experience the Top Rides at Universal Studios Florida and the Rest of Universal Orlando Resort?

Planning a trip to Universal Orlando can be complicated, and if you are looking to get the most out of your trip for the best value I recommend using a travel agent.

Our favorite travel agency is The Vacationeer . As a trusted Universal Preferred Travel Agency , The Vacationeer is well-versed in everything Universal has to offer.

Their agents provide completely free Universal Orlando vacation planning services at the exact same price you’d pay if you booked it yourself. You might even save a little, thanks to their extensive knowledge of discounts and promotions. They’ll even watch for new specials to be released after you’ve booked, and apply them automatically if your reservation qualifies!

Your dedicated agent (no waiting on hold with a giant call center) will help you find the best Universal hotel for your family, whether you need one that’s pet friendly , within walking distance of the park , has suites for larger families , or whatever your need is. They can also clue you in on which hotels offer a free Express Pass as part of the booking, helping you enjoy some of the best rides at Universal Studios with less time standing in line!

Your Vacationeer can answer all of your park ticket questions , too — and they’ll even make your dining reservations and arrange ground transportation as needed.

There’s never any obligation to book and they always offer free consultations and free price quotes , so connect with The Vacationeer today to start planning your Universal Orlando adventure!

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It's alive! Universal Classic Monsters-themed land announced for Epic Universe

Summer Hull

It's been almost five years since the world learned that Universal Orlando Resort would open a fourth theme park in 2025: Universal Epic Universe.

During the construction process, Universal has been fairly tight-lipped about what many believe will be one of the most immersive and exciting theme parks ever built ... until very recently. On Jan. 30, Universal finally gave fans a peek inside Epic Universe.

It revealed the park's five themed areas, three hotels and an entertainment center decked out with restaurants and shops. The company also announced plans for Celestial Park, which will offer visitors even more storefronts and places to eat.

Since then, Universal has periodically revealed what's to come within the park's other highly anticipated areas, including a "How to Train Your Dragon"-themed land and Super Nintendo World. Most recently, Epic Universe announced that it will also be home to Universal Dark Universe, which will be entirely dedicated to Universal Classic Monsters such as Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein.

Here's everything we know so far about Universal Epic Universe.

Epic Universe lands and rides

In a press release , Universal said Epic Universe will be home to five worlds "filled with extraordinary … adventures that go beyond [guests'] wildest imaginations." Inside those lands, Epic Universe will feature more than 50 attractions, entertainment, dining and shopping experiences that come together to create an "epic" theme park experience.

Dark Universe

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Attending Universal's annual Halloween Horror Nights is a rite of passage for horror fans. Now, guests won't have to wait for fall to get their fill of all things spooky. Dark Universe will be a place where guests can visit Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, the Bride of Frankenstein and other classic monsters all year long.

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Guests will enter Dark Universe through an electrified portal that harnesses the land's dark energy. The portal will transport visitors to Darkmoor Village, a place where all of the Universal Classic Monsters films are real. Here, guests will be able to experience two attractions, several dining options and the chance to be made into a monster themselves.

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Universal says Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment is guaranteed to be the park's most terrifying attraction yet. The ride will take guests inside Frankenstein Manor, where Dr. Frankenstein's great-great-granddaughter, Dr. Victoria Frankenstein, is conducting a few experiments of her own.

Guests can enter the castle — if they dare — and witness Dr. Frankenstein's attempts to control the monsters. Dracula, however, isn't quite on board with her plan and unleashes them. Guests will then have to ride through the castle's catacombs to avoid the angry monsters. In a behind-the-scenes video , Universal said Monsters Unchained: The Frankenstein Experiment will use some of the most technologically advanced animatronic figures ever created, to make the ride even more realistic and scary.

This ride has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

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Curse of the Werewolf is a spinning, family-friendly coaster inspired by "The Wolf Man" (1941). After learning they bear the mark of the werewolf, riders must board a wagon in an attempt to escape the werewolves who inhabit the forest, and to avoid becoming one themselves.

This ride has a minimum height requirement of 40 inches.

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At Dark Universe, you have the chance to become a monster yourself. At the Darkmoor Monster Makeup Experience, guests of all ages can get a monster makeover using face paint and temporary tattoos. You can complete your look with merchandise and memorabilia from Pretorius' Scientific Oddities gift shop.

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There will also be several meet and greet opportunities throughout Dark Universe. As you explore Darkmoor Vilage, you may run into characters such as Dr. Victoria Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, monster hunters and more.

However, all that screaming, terror and running around can make you hungry — thankfully, there are several dining options in Dark Universe. Das Stakehaus is a sit-down restaurant run by vampire "familiars," with a menu featuring kebabs, burgers, sandwiches and more.

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The Burning Blade Tavern is a quick-service restaurant modeled after the iconic burning windmill seen in "Frankenstein." In universe, the town's monster hunters have since taken over the mill and transformed it into a hangout where they can display the "trophies" of the monsters they've bested. Guests can dine on German-inspired bar bites like burgers, bratwurst, pretzels and specialty beverages.

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Guests also have the option to swing by De Lacey's Cottage food stand with grab-and-go treats like ice cream and cinnamon bread.

Super Nintendo World

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Super Nintendo World will immerse guests in the colorful adventures of favorite Nintendo heroes like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Donkey Kong, as well as not-so-favorite villains like Bowser and his minions.

Related: Complete guide to Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood

Guests will enter the land through a green warp pipe. Inside Super Nintendo World, guests will encounter two separate lands: Super Mario Land and Donkey Kong Country. Both areas immerse visitors into the vibrant, animated worlds of these beloved video games with interactive elements, character meet-and-greet attractions and more.

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Super Mario Land will house two attractions — Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge and Yoshi's Adventure. Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge is an interactive, multisensory ride that utilizes physical set pieces and projection mapping technology to put you behind the wheel in a high-stakes Mario Kart race.

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Just as in the Mario Kart games you play at home, you can race through courses, collect coins and throw turtle shells to beat Team Bowser. Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge is located inside Bowser's Castle, and the queue experience is almost as exciting as the ride itself.

You must be 42 inches tall to ride Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge and 48 inches tall to ride without a supervising adult.

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Yoshi's Adventure is a slow-moving, family-friendly ride where guests ride with Yoshis, searching for colorful, glowing eggs hidden throughout the Mushroom Kingdom. Along the way, you'll get breathtaking views of the land, and you may even spot a few familiar characters. Yoshi's Adventure has a minimum height requirement of 36 inches; you can ride without a supervising companion if you're at least 48 inches tall.

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During your time in Super Mario Land, you can also dine on Nintendo-themed dishes at Toadstool Cafe, get an energy boost with snacks and treats from Yoshi's Snack Island and Turbo Boost Treats, or shop for souvenirs at the 1-UP Factory or Mario Motors. You can also meet Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad in various places throughout Super Nintendo World

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Towards the back of the park, you'll encounter the entrance to Donkey Kong Country. This area is designed to resemble the tropical jungle landscape that's depicted in Donkey Kong video games. Donkey Kong Country will also have its own dining and merchandise inspired by the video game franchise.

In Donkey Kong Country, visitors can ride the family-friendly attraction, Mine-Cart Madness. This coaster sends guests careening through the jungle on a mission to help Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong protect the prized golden banana. Mine-Cart Madness will utilize innovative technology and a one-of-a-kind ride system to mimic the maneuvers in the video game, and simulate experiences like getting blasted out of a barrel, jumping over gaps in the track and more.

You must be 36 inches tall to ride Mine-Cart Madness or 48 inches tall to ride without a supervising companion.

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Super Nintendo World is more than just a place to see characters and ride attractions based on classic Nintendo games. It actually functions like a real-life video game, and you are the main character.

In Super Mario Land and Donkey Kong Country, guests can collect digital coins, stamps and keys by riding the attractions, punching question blocks and playing interactive games called "key challenges." Earn enough keys, and you can face off against Bowser Jr. in an ultimate boss battle.

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To earn coins and stamps, compete in key challenges and keep track of your score within the land, you'll need to purchase a Power-Up Band. You don't need a Power-Up Band to enjoy Super Nintendo World, but it is well worth the money to fully experience it. Also, it's fun to compete with your friends and family to see who can get the highest score.

How to Train Your Dragon — Isle of Berk

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Like the "How to Train Your Dragon" films, area of Epic Universe will allow you to fly with, befriend and live among dragons. From the lush landscaping to the towering architecture with hand-carved details, this land is meant to serve as an authentic recreation of Berk.

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There are four attractions in How to Train Your Dragon — Isle of Berk.

Hiccup's Wing Gliders is a family-friendly roller coaster where you can fly on the back of his latest invention, a winged flying machine that looks like a friendly dragon. The coaster will take you soaring through and around Berk, reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

This attraction will have a minimum height requirement of 40 inches.

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On Fyre Drill, Vikings of all ages must compete to out-soak each other during a fun-filled boat battle.

Here, guests can shoot water cannons at flamelike targets, and master the skill of putting out the fires that tend to pop up when you cohabitate with dragons. A word of warning: Be prepared to get wet on this one.

The plan is to make this attraction appropriate for guests of all ages, and it won't have a minimum height requirement.

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Think of Dragon Racer's Rally as a training ground for your next dragon race. On this high-flying attraction, you will swoop and soar up to 67 feet in the air. The ride can be as gentle or intense as you prefer; each rider will have the ability to control how often you spin upside down as you fly. This attraction will have a minimum height requirement of 48 inches.

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Viking Training Camp is meant to be a boot camp for even the youngest of Vikings, with opportunities to climb, slide and explore as they hone their skills. Inside, kids will find things like a Viking agility course and a Toothless-themed teeter-totter.

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Guests will also have plenty of opportunities to interact with dragons, and there will be meet-and-greets opportunities with Hiccup and Toothless. (Universal has also teased that you may see other dragons and Vikings roaming the land, too.) You can also see Toothless and his dragon friends at "The Untrainable Dragon" stage show.

The show will feature music, storytelling and life-size dragons soaring through the sky.

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Dragon training can be hunger-provoking work, so Berk will have several dining establishments. Mead Hall is set to be the primary restaurant, and was built to look like the franchise's main gathering hall. Dishes will feature a variety of meats, fish, sandwiches and more. Viking-beloved meads and ciders will be on offer as well.

Guests can also pick up quick bites and drinks at Spit Fyre Grill and Hooligan's Grog & Gruel.

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For a sneak peek at the Viking adventures that await you inside this land, Universal shared an animated fly-through of How to Train Your Dragon — Isle of Berk on YouTube.

Celestial Park

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Celestial Park will be the first world guests encounter as they enter Universal Epic Universe. This astronomy-themed area will have ample green spaces and fountains for guests who want to relax as well as day-to-night entertainment. Such entertainment includes mystical fountain shows and three attractions ranging from family-friendly to faster-than-fast.

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Starfall Racers is being touted as Epic Universe's most thrilling coaster. This dual-launch coaster can reach speeds of up to 62 mph and heights of up to 133 feet along 5,000 feet of track.

Guests who prefer to go at a slower pace can hop aboard the Constellation Carousel, a constellation-themed ride with vehicles that gently glide back and forth and make 360-degree rotations.

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Celestial Park will also have an interactive water play area called Astronomica and multiple dining outlets.

Options include Atlantic, a full-service "surf and turf" restaurant set inside a large Victorian-style aquarium and The Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant serving Chinese, Japanese and Thai fare.

At the Oak & Star Tavern, guests can find barbecue; meanwhile, Pizza Moon serves, as you may have guessed, pizza.

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You'll also be able to shop for snacks and desserts at Moonship Chocolates & Celestial Sweets, and for merchandise — including items themed to the park's other lands — at shops like the Nintendo Super Star Store.

Celestial Park will also serve as a gateway to the park's other four worlds, which guests will enter through majestic themed portals.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Ministry of Magic

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When Universal set out to build a fourth park, it searched for ways to bring more "Harry Potter" stories to life. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Ministry of Magic will highlight the wizarding era of the 1920s featured in the "Fantastic Beasts" films.

Related: From Butterbeer to magic wands: Everything you need to know about Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You can expect to see iconic destinations from the films, including Paris and the British Ministry of Magic. Universal hasn't revealed any details other than that the land will feature one ride.

Epic Universe hotels

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Late last year, we got a look at two of the three hotels coming to Universal Epic Universe.

Adjacent to the new park, Universal Stella Nova Resort and Universal Terra Luna Resort will each have 750 guest rooms, outdoor pools and quick-service dining options similar to Universal's other Prime Value category hotels, like Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

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Universal has also released information and artwork for a third hotel called Universal Helios Grand Hotel. This hotel will be inside Epic Universe, at the end of Celestial Park and will have its own dedicated entrance.

Universal Helios Grand Hotel will have 500 guest rooms and "one-of-a-kind" views "designed to transport guests to a world where the heavens and earth unite," according to a Universal press release.

Epic Universe map

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If you want to get an idea of the park's layout, Universal also released a map of Epic Universe with each land labeled accordingly.

Celestial Park will be at the main entrance of the park, and from there, you can enter portals to the other four lands. Universal Helios Grand Hotel will be at the back of the theme park.

When does Epic Universe open?

Epic Universe is scheduled to open in 2025.

Where is Epic Universe?

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Epic Universe will be on a 750-acre tract of land near Universal's current parks.

Epic Universe will be about 3 miles down the road from the rest of Universal Orlando. The resort will provide complimentary shuttle service between Epic Universe (and its hotels) and the rest of Universal Orlando Resort.

Bottom line

It's hard to describe Universal Epic Universe without saying it will be … epic. While many theme parks have immersive lands and attractions, we have yet to see a theme park of this scale with this groundbreaking level of detail and immersion.

Related: How Universal is stepping out of the mouse's shadow to become the hottest theme park

Universal Epic Universe will cement Universal Orlando as a week-long theme park vacation destination. From the resort's recent additions like Minion Land and the upcoming Dreamworks-themed land to the new experiences coming to Epic Universe, Universal Orlando will truly have something for everyone.

If next year feels like a lifetime to wait, Universal plans to open an interactive Epic Universe preview center later this year at the CityWalk area just outside the parks.

Related reading:

  • The best credit cards for Universal vacations
  • Universal Orlando guide: Tips from frequent visitors
  • These are the best Universal Orlando hotels for 2024
  • Universal's new credit cards reward you with free theme park tickets and more

Step into a DreamWorks Animation film at Universal Orlando. Here's what's inside

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Ready your best ogre yell! Get set to board the Caterbus! Summon your inner Dragon Warrior! DreamWorks Land is officially open at Universal Orlando Resort.

Boasting new interactive attractions and shows for the entire family, the area offers a themed environment that transports guest to the worlds of DreamWorks Animation’s franchises, such as Shrek, Trolls and Kung Fu Panda.

Universal Orlando invited members of the media to tour DreamWorks Land and talk to park officials about what it took to bring the newest attraction at the Florida park to life. Here's what to expect from the brand-new section:

What is Universal Orlando's DreamWorks Land?

DreamWorks Land is an immersive new area, seeking to expand on the theming from the DreamWorks Animation Studios movies. It hosts tons of new attractions for the entire family including a family friendly coaster, multiple interactive play areas, live entertainment, and character meet and greets.

Creative director of Universal Creative at Universal Orlando Resort Dean Orion shared his excitement watching guest enjoy the new land, saying it took a "big team and long hours" to get to where they were today. He also shed light on why it was important to construct attractions geared toward younger parkgoers.

"I think it was really important for us to have a place like this, where it's specifically designed for families with young kids. Universal is known for thrill rides and roller coasters and lots of stuff, it's kind of skewed to an older demographic," Orion said. "What's great about this is there's fun for little kids, there's fun for families. It brings out the kid in everyone."

Where is DreamWorks Land? What did it replace in the park?

DreamWorks Land is located in the former spot of Woody Woodpecker's KidZone, near the Animal Actors show and E.T. Adventure ride.

The park closed down the themed play area back in January 2023, along with Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster, Curious George Goes to Town, Fievel's Playland, DreamWorks Destination, and Donkey's Meet & Greet to make room for the new area.

But don't fret, not only does DreamWorks Land bring back dedicated play spaces for the littlest of parkgoers, there are some hidden odes to the former character's area.

"There is a Woody Easter egg in the land, but I'm not going to say where it is. You'll have to find it for yourself," Orion teased.

Would I need to see the movies first to understand and have fun in the park?

Not at all. While the amount of worldbuilding and details within the new section might seem intimidating to someone not familiar with any of the particular franchises, Universal officials and attraction creators assure that everyone will enjoy DreamWorks Land regardless of their knowledge of the movies.

If you are a major fan of the movies, you'll will appreciate the attention to detail within each section. From Shrek's outhouse (which connects to a slide that plays farts while you go down) to colorful greenery seen throughout the Trolls universe, you'll spot some well-known imagery while making your way through the three sections.

"These three movie franchises have been hugely successful. Kung Fu Panda 4 just came out. We had Trolls 3 come out in the fall and then a year ago, on Christmas, we had Puss-N-Boots, so these are very popular characters and stories that people are loving when they go to the movies," Orion said. "It was kind of a no brainer to pick these characters."

Meet iconic DreamWorks characters in person, such as Shrek, Po and Polly

Speaking of DreamWorks movies, guest have the chance to "walk into a movie screen" and interact with character one-on-one.

Just outside of his 35-foot-tall cottage, you can meet Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey within his swamp. Fans especially shared their excited for the character interaction to return to the parks.

"It's been amazing to watch and see every day people lining up to meet Shrek and Donkey and Fiona," Orion said about the fan reaction to the characters. "Really, there's characters all over."

Guests can also meet other characters from the various DreamWorks Movies, such as Puss-N-Boots, King Julien and Gabby at the “DreamWorks Character Zone.”

What are all the new interactive play areas in DreamWorks Land?

Orion said interactivity is so important for theme parks, particularly for younger kids when engaging with the attractions. Want to scope of the best play areas before you got? Here's a breakdown:

  • Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres: This ogre-sized play area features four fun slides, wet play areas and aplayground where guests can climb, bounce and splash around as well as venture into Shrek’s outhouse.
  • Mama Luna Feline Fiesta: Inspired by the film, "Puss in Boots 2: The Last Wish," this newinteractive experience that takes place in Mama Luna’s retirement home for cats. Here, guests get to play with Mama Luna’s many cats on vivid interactive screens activated by buttons, bells, maracas and levers.
  • King Harold’s Swamp Symphony: Guests can create their own melodious masterpiece as they trigger a choir ofever-changing frog ribbits by continually stomping on an array of interactive lily pads.
  • Poppy’s Playground: Nestled under a giant, 20-foot mushroom is Poppy’s Playground – a shaded play area featuring colorful flowers and bugs with a bountiful array of fun bouncing and climbing structures for the youngest of trolls.
  • Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp: Inspired by the hit Kung Fu Panda films, this all-new play has both wet and dry play areas. Guests have the opportunity to help the pandas wash and dry their laundry with enormous water cannons, dump buckets, giant fans and more.

'It's bright, it's colorful:' DreamWorks Land's new rollercoaster, Trolls Trollercoaster

There is one new ride in the new land, a Trolls-inspired coaster called the "Trolls Trollercoaster." Senior Manager of Ride & Show Engineering Kristen Steimer shared how they came up for the idea for the new coaster, adding it's fun for the entire family.

"We wanted to make sure (the ride) was fun for the whole family but we also wanted to make sure we were following the lines of our DreamWorks partners, so we picked Trolls because it's bright, it's colorful. Kids love it," Steimer said. "We thought you can hang out with your friends, Poppy Chenille, Branch and all those those fun Trolls characters. We really wanted the guests to be able to experience it like they're in the movie."

The coaster follows the beloved characters after they stroll through a dazzling marquee, having to take a ride on the iconic Caterbus to "escape evil spiders as they speed along a bright orange and yellow track."

Head's up: Riders must be 36 inches to ride the roller coaster, with those between 36 and 48 inches needing an adult to accompany them.

What are the shows in DreamWorks Land?

As for shows, there will be two shows — "Po Live" and DreamWorks "Imagination Celebration."

"Po Live" is a digital, interactive meet and greet experience that gives guests a chance to meet the legendary dragon warrior, portrayed by Jack Black in all four films, having the character depicted on a large screen and answering live questions thanks to a voice actor behind-the-scenes.

DreamWorks "Imagination Celebration" brings together characters from the different franchises, singing and dancing to iconic songs from their movies. Referred to as a multisensory adventure, it combines hit pop songs, high-energy dancing, and advanced technology.

"It's a great way to see all three of those IPs (intellectual property) and just have a really immersive show experience," Steimer said.

What treats can you get in DreamWorks Land?

If you need refuel after wreaking havoc in Shrek's Swamp and getting drenched in Po's Training Camp, there are two quick-service stands in DreamWorks Land — Swamp Snacks and Troll Treats.

If you've ever wondered what ogres like to nibble on throughout the day, Universal's Culinary Operations team decided to answer that question. And it looks like this would be Shrek's favorite snack spread:

  • Far Far A Waffle , $11.49 - Pepperoni or Ham & Cheese
  • Shrekzel , $12.29- Pretzel served with cheese
  • Swamp Dog , $9.49 - Hot dog "Oozing green cheese hot dog wrapped in pizza tree bark"
  • Mud Puddle Pudding , $5.99 -Chocolate pudding, cookie crumbs, cookie cake, and gummy bugs
  • Frozen Ogre Sour Apple Ice Pop  – $6.99
  • Chonkey Donkey Chocolate Ice Pop  – $6.99

Director of Culinary Operations and Executive Chef of Universal Orlando Ron Cope shared his team watched the movies "over and over again," looking for any details they could relate back to their menu. When it came down to coming up with ideas for the new treats, Cope said they nailed it pretty quickly.

"We do a lot of different tastings with different groups, different executives, but I think with this one, we got really close to it in the beginning," Cope said. " … You can just see it on people's faces when they're eating (the snacks), you know when somebody likes their food or not just by the way they're doing it."

If marshland morsels aren't your thing? Understood but everyone screams (usually positively) for ice cream! Right by the entrance of Trollercoaster, there's a beatbox-shaped stand selling treats inspired by the Trolls characters:

  • Poppy-licious Pink , $7.49 - Pink Lemonade Soft Serve with Flower Sprinkles
  • BroZone Berry , $7.49 - Huckleberry Soft Serve

What does the shopping look like in DreamWorks Land?

After exploring all the shows and play sets in DreamWorks Land, guests can snag a memento of their time in the different universes at the outdoor gift shop, conveniently located in the middle of the land. From several character plushies to cheeky shirts that reference jokes within the movies, you'll find something to commemorate your trip.

How much are tickets to Universal Orlando theme parks?

Single-day, single-park  tickets start at $114 for children and $119 for adults .

Universal also offers Florida resident ticket specials and different multiple-day park passes to its theme parks, including Volcano Bay.

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Check Out Universal Studios Orlando's New DreamWorks Land and Its Summer Events

  • DreamWorks Land brings Shrek, Trolls, and Kung Fu Panda to life with new shows, food, and play areas for kids.
  • Universal Mega Movie Parade features nostalgic floats from E.T. , Back to the Future , Ghostbusters , and more.
  • CineSational nighttime spectacular at Universal combines water fountains, 4K projections, and drones for an immersive show.

This year, Universal Orlando has done an excellent job of teasing what is coming to their parks in the future, from their consistent reveals for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights to showcasing the exciting new lands headed to their new park, Epic Universe , in 2025. But with so many intriguing new additions coming soon, Universal hasn’t forgotten to fill this summer full of surprises at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure. Collider had the opportunity to check out everything new coming to Universal this summer, including nighttime spectaculars, foods, a parade, and even a new land within the park. Universal's new offerings make the parks definitely worth a visit this summer, and we should all be excited about the future of these theme parks.

DreamWorks Land Takes You to the Worlds of Shrek, Trolls, and Kung Fu Panda

Universal Studios has been upping the amount of quality entertainment for kids recently, having opened Illumination Ave last year, complete with Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast and the Minion’s Cafe. But for years, the dedicated kid’s area at Universal Studios, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, has needed a revamp. Having closed in early 2023, this area has now been reopened as DreamWorks Land, and the change is a great evolution for the park.

DreamWorks Land is primarily split between three of the animation studio’s big properties: Shrek, Trolls, and Kung Fu Panda . Firstly, there’s Shrek’s Swamp Meet, which includes a meet and greet at Shrek’s cottage with the title character, Fiona and Donkey, as well as Shrek’s Swamp for Little Ogres, a play area that includes a lying Pinocchio animatronic, and a slide that goes through Shrek’s outhouse — complete with appropriate noises. This section also includes other play areas based on characters in the Shrek-iverse , such as King Harold’s Swamp Symphony, where kids can jump on musical lilypads that make a choir of frogs sing, and the Mama Luna Feline Fiesta, which takes guests into the location from Puss in Boots: The Last Wish for an interactive play area full of cats on a digital screen that can be interacted with through various buttons and levers.

The focal point of the Trolls-themed area is the Trollercoaster, a revitalized version of Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster. Riders get into the caterpillar Caterbus, as they try to escape from a group of spiders. With new vibrant lights and theming, Trollercoaster is an ideal first roller coaster for kids that makes the old Nuthouse Coaster into something far more appealing and charming. Next to the coaster is also Poppy’s Playground, another play area for kids, where they can also run into some of their favorite characters from the Trolls franchise.

Finally, the former Curious George Goes to Town play area has been turned into the most impressively themed area in this new land: Po’s Kung Fu Training Camp. This section has a giant area for water play, including a giant bucket that will dump absurd amounts of water on those unsuspecting people below, and squirt guns where kids can shoot some of the hanging laundry. But the centerpiece of this area comes in Po Live!, in which guests can talk and play with Po and his cousin via a digital animated screen (akin to Disney’s Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor or Turtle Talk with Crush). Po is fantastic at making the entire group feel like part of the show while getting the group to practice their karate skills.

But, of course, a new land also has new food, and DreamWorks Land has some charming new options. At Trolls Treats, one can choose from two different types of soft serve — Poppy-licious Pink (pink lemonade-flavored) or BroZone Berry (huckleberry-flavored) — served in a Trolls cone. Yet the star for food in this area comes at Swamp Snacks, complete with Shrek-themed snacks. Here, you can get treats like the Shrekzel, an extremely soft pretzel shaped like Shrek’s face and with a surprisingly delicious green cream cheese; the Far Far A Waffle, a waffle stuffed with pepperoni; and the Swamp Dog, a hot dog wrapped in pizza dough, in addition to various flavors of ice pops and a Mud Puddle Pudding. The star on the menu is absolutely the Shrekzel, which is fluffier than one might expect from a theme park pretzel. Plus, you can put it on your face and scare those nearby!

Yet the most lovely surprise in DreamWorks Land comes from DreamWorks Imagination Celebration, a live musical show featuring characters from DreamWorks films . The show is performed in the round, with a story that manages to integrate characters from Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and Madagascar into it quite nicely. The show's set is also pretty delightful, as it looks like guests are in the woods, but with massive screens that change from cloudy skies to bombastic sing-a-long moments and animations. The performers themselves are equally as compelling as the DreamWorks characters, and it’s a great place to start in this new land, as it will certainly get viewers excited about this area immediately. DreamWorks Imagination Celebration fills in another gap that Universal needed to fill, as the park doesn’t have too much in the way of shows for kids (with the exception of a few pop-up shows in the Diagon Alley section). But this Imagination Celebration is a perfect inclusion to this already enjoyable new segment.

DreamWorks Land could’ve easily been just a quick retheme of Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, but Universal has excelled at making this into a genuinely entertaining section that takes kids into worlds they’ll actually want to go to. The Trollercoaster is solid, the food is good, the show is wonderful, and there are plenty of activities all around that guests could easily get lost in for a few hours. As play areas for kids become less and less common in theme parks, DreamWorks Land shows the right way to create a land dedicated to kids.

Universal Mega Movie Parade and the Summer Tribute Store Are Full of Nostalgic Fun

Opening on July 3rd is Universal’s biggest daytime parade yet with the Universal Mega Movie Parade . This parade will feature 13 new floats, and while some of them focus on current franchises like Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, Minions, and Jurassic World, Universal is also going to be leaning into some nostalgia favorites. Some of the floats will be themed around E.T. , Back to the Future , Jaws (with a marching drum line performing John Williams ’ score), and Ghostbusters , complete with a 16-foot Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

But for even more nostalgia, Universal has also opened the Tribute Store Plaza, which includes stores called Mega Video Rental, Mega Castle Arcade, and the Tribute Theatre, which pay homage to the '80s and '90s. First, you walk through a video store complete with wood paneling on the walls, beaded curtains, and the angry VHS tape mascot, Mr. Tape. This leads into the Mega Castle Arcade, a brilliant recreation of arcades of the period, including a glow-in-the-dark carpet and the mysterious Polybius machine. Also in the back is an entire bakery display with all sorts of themed treats, like a Shrek-styled onion cheesecake (don’t worry, it’s actually key lime), a Jaws cake roll, and several fudges and sugar cookies, just to name a few. Finally, the Tribute Theatre ends the Tribute Store Plaza with some fantastic displays celebrating E.T. , Back to the Future , Jaws , and Ghostbusters . Considering how much of Universal’s summer offerings celebrate the studio’s past, it's great to see the Tribute Store gather all of those nostalgic favorites in one place.

CineSational: A Symphonic Spectacular Is Universals Most Impressive Show Yet

It's actually sort of a shock that Universal hasn't had a nighttime show, but the parks make up for it big time with CineSational, a truly ambitious show that must be seen to be believed. This new show blends 228 water fountains, 4K projections, a soundtrack that combines over 20 minutes of iconic Universal scores, fireworks, and over 600 drones. All of this combines for a remarkable presentation that works together beautifully, shifting from the past to the present of Universal movies seamlessly.

Like the Mega Movie Parade and the Summer Tribute Store, CineSational creates an excellent presentation of Universal’s tremendous history in film. Spanning nearly a century of film history, CineSational jumps from everything like the classic Universal Monsters and King Kong to recent films like the Fast and Furious franchise and The Super Mario Bros. Movie . But to watch all these various technologies coalesce to celebrate these films is truly awe-inspiring. For example, the Trolls segment turns into a gigantic dance party, complete with a disco ball created out of drones. The Back to the Future segment turns a nearby building into the clock tower, while projections across the fountains make it look like the Delorean is speeding across the water. There are so many moving parts to CineSational that it's almost unbelievable how much is happening at once in this loving tribute to these films.

Universal Studios has always made sure to put the movies first at their theme parks, and CineSational is the latest great example of that. It’s the kind of nighttime spectacular that makes you wish Universal had been doing presentations like this for years. There are so many incredible details to this show that it almost needs to be seen twice to catch everything. It’s hard to leave CineSational and not have an appreciation for the impact Universal has had on movie history, and get excited about the future of what Universal can do at the parks —especially with a new park on the way.

Hogwarts Always Castle Projection Show Brings the Wizarding World to Life

But not to be outdone is Hogwarts Always, a projection show that transforms the Hogwarts Castle at Universal Islands of Adventure in extraordinary ways. The show takes guests through an entire year at Hogwarts , from arriving on the Hogwarts Express, watching a game of Quidditch, and presenting the year’s House Cup winner (complete with four different endings for each house).

Having been to the Hogsmeade section of Universal Islands of Adventure countless times, I’ve never seen the Hogwarts Castle look as breathtaking as it does here — even before the show starts. Watching the castle transform and shift to tell an entire story in a matter of minutes reminds viewers of everything they love about the Wizarding World, all in one succinct show. At the event, we were able to watch this show twice, and it remained just as stunning on a second viewing. With a narration full of classic Harry Potter characters and some of the most splendid projection work I’ve ever seen, Hogwarts Always is yet another marvelous nighttime show from Universal this summer that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Epic Universe Preview Center Gives an Exciting Look at the Future

And while all of this can be experienced at Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure this summer, it can’t help but get us even more excited about the upcoming Epic Universe in 2025 . Thankfully, Universal CityWalk has also just opened the Epic Universe Preview Center, presenting an in-depth look at what we can expect from Universal’s newest theme park.

Central to the preview center is a massive, detailed model of what Epic Universe will look like, with the impressive Universal Helios Grand Hotel overlooking the new land. While visitors can get a closer look at sections that have been detailed in Universal’s videos, like How to Train Your Dragon - Isle of Berk, Super Nintendo World , and Celestial Park, we can also get a glimpse at other segments as well. For example, this is the first extensive look one can get at the latest Harry Potter-themed land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Ministry of Magic, and the Universal Monsters-focused area, Dark Universe. For those pumped about this new park, one could easily spend a long time picking over each land, trying to unravel its secrets. There’s even an app specifically for the preview center, which will add AR effects to the entire land. Using the app, one can see coasters ride on their tracks, or even little versions of Donkey Kong and Mario in their new world. And, of course, there’s already plenty of merch available for each land.

Over the last few years, it’s been truly awe-inspiring to look at all the developments Universal is making at their theme parks, from pushing the boundaries at Halloween Horror Nights, to unveiling land-after-land of Epic Universe. But seeing what Universal is doing this summer makes us even more excited about what this company is doing in pushing theme parks forward, from innovative areas for kids to magnificent nighttime shows. This summer at Universal isn’t just a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the characters and movies we love, it’s also an exhilarating look at the incredible things that Universal is doing now and working on for the future.

Check Out Universal Studios Orlando's New DreamWorks Land and Its Summer Events

COMMENTS

  1. Which Universal Park is Best?

    Winner: Islands of Adventure. It's a close call, but Islands of Adventure comes out on top. 7. Family Attractions: Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando theme parks are generally geared toward older kids and adults.

  2. Universal Orlando Guide: Which of the Three Parks is Best to Visit?

    RELATED: 10 Things to Do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Note that in 2024, a brand new "DreamWorks Land" is set to open at Universal Studios. This new section of the park will include a new ride (the Trollercoaster); chances to meet with characters like Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey; a kids play area called Po's Kung Fu Training Camp; and some new dining options.

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    Let's take Jurassic Park as a good for-instance. The largest "islands" in the park consists of some pretty impressive touches - beyond the towering, iconic entrance that's flanked by torches, guests will encounter 65,000 different plants and 2,000 trees that are all descendants from the Cretaceous period.

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    1. Purchase Tickets in Advance — and Get There Early. Photo Credit: @see.uo. When you're on a two-park mission, every line counts — but save the waiting time for after the turnstiles. Arrive a little before the gates open and factor in 30 minutes for parking and security screening. With The Official Universal Orlando Resort App you get ...

  5. Universal Orlando Trip Planning Guide (2024)

    We have a separate post going in-depth on how much a trip to Universal Orlando costs. While you can spend more or less (again, read the post), our "baseline" estimates for families of different sizes are: Family of Three— $3,850. Family of Four Trip — $4,797. Family of Five — $5,946.

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    Hyatt Place Across From Universal Orlando Resort (Category 2, from 6,500 World of Hyatt points per night). Hyatt House Across From Universal Resort (Category 3, from 9,000 World of Hyatt points per night). DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando (Around 30,0000 Hilton Honors points per night).

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    Universal Orlando Tips. 1. Stay on Property at one of these 3 Resorts! My Favorite Universal Secret. This is one of the best tips for visiting Universal Orlando (in fact, I have a whole post about it ) I have because staying on property makes all the difference in the world and is worth EVERY penny. Let me explain.

  8. 2024 Universal Orlando Planning Guide

    2024 Universal Orlando Planning Guide. Our 2024 Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure planning guide offers park & ride strategy. It features tips & tricks to help you save money & time, avoid crowds, and have the best vacation or side-visit from Walt Disney World as possible. ( Updated January 7, 2024.)

  9. 21 Top Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Orlando [2024]

    6. Download the Universal Studios App. You can do so much with the Universal Studios App. You can get in the virtual lines for any attraction with that capability. You can order food and drinks on the app. The app holds your tickets, maps, show times, wait times for attractions, and general park info.

  10. The Best 3-Day Itinerary for Universal Orlando

    First, we're going to plan for you to have the Park-to-Park access ticket, so you can easily transition between Studios and Islands of Adventure. To get the maximum freedom and flexibility, we recommend the 3-Park, 3-Day Ticket, which allows you to visit any (or ALL) three Universal parks (Studios, Islands, and Volcano Bay) all three days.

  11. Universal's Islands of Adventure: The Complete Guide

    Check out other must-see attractions in our picks for the 12 best rides at Universal Orlando. If you're really into screaming, check out the resort's 11 most thrilling rides. If you will have young children visiting the park with you, then you'll want to target Universal's best rides for kids. Seuss Landing, which is themed to the books ...

  12. Which Park to Visit

    This ticket includes admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for one day. In fact, the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express is to spring for a 2-park ticket. This flexibility will cost you. A 1-day, 2-park ticket starts at $164 per adult plus tax, $55 more than a 1-park ticket. While pricey, it is worth the price if you plan on ...

  13. A First Timer's Guide to Universal Orlando

    Jun 15, 2015. Planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort is exciting, but daunting, even for the savviest of travelers. This guide will streamline the process by answering a first-time visitor's most common questions about accommodations, ticket options, timing and more.

  14. Deciding Which Universal Park is Best

    Universal Studios - Best Universal Park for Film Enthusiasts and Laid-Back Experiences. If you're a movie buff or seeking a more relaxed vibe, Universal Studios may be the best Universal park for you. Nestled in the heart of Orlando, Florida, Universal Studios is an immersive park that caters to film enthusiasts and those seeking a more ...

  15. The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Universal Orlando Resort

    Last updated on July 15, 2023. With three fun-filled parks, eight hotels, and dozens of shopping and dining options, Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla., has blockbuster fun for everyone. While planning your visit, this guide will help you choose where to stay, what to eat, and which attractions to add to your "must-ride" list.

  16. The 7 Best Things to Do at Universal Orlando

    Visit during the holidays. Truly one of the most magical things to do at Universal Studios Orlando is to visit during the holiday season. Both Universal Orlando parks undergo transformations with special offerings and attractions for Christmas which even include a special celebration called Grinchmas in Islands of Adventure park with popular meet and greets as well as a Grinch character breakfast.

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    What are the best times to visit Universal Studios Orlando? Below are the best times to visit Universal Orlando Resort: January; February; April; November; These months are closely followed by May, September, and October as the best time to visit Orlando. Check out my latest theme park adventures on Instagram TODAY! 5. Get aUniversal Orlando ...

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    There's a lot more to Universal Orlando than wizards and wands. Yes, Potter stans should 100% visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It's so fantastic, in fact, we have an entire deep-dive ...

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    Universal Orlando offers one- and two-park (with park hopping allowed) for the two theme parks as well as a-la-carte and 3-park passes to visit the Volcano Bay water park. For additional fees (which are quite high), Universal Orlando offers guided V.I.P. tours (reservations recommended). The resort also offers Universal Express passes, which ...

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    One of the most common questions when planning their Orlando vacation is what are the best days to visit Universal Studios Orlando in 2024? Typically Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be the best days to visit Universal Orlando.Our guide is going to cover why that's true, and what days to visit each park for your epic vacation.

  21. 30 Best Rides at Universal Orlando That You Can't Miss in 2024

    Universal Orlando, founded in 1990, is the second-largest theme park resort in the Orlando area after Walt Disney World.Throughout its history, Universal Orlando has evolved to include new rides ...

  22. Universal Orlando Resort: Guide & Tickets Info

    Universal Orlando Resort: Guide & Tickets Info. Play, scream and laugh with some of the biggest characters in movies, TV and pop culture across three theme parks - including a water theme park - and enjoy awesome shopping, dining, hotels and more, all at Universal Orlando Resort. Buy Tickets.

  23. Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida: Our Top Ten

    10. Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl. Rounding out our top ten, Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl is a great ride for kids in Universal Studios. Located in Springfield, U.S.A.: Home of The Simpsons, the ride features drooling aliens, flying saucers, lasers, and some of your favorite Simpsons characters!

  24. Epic Universe and More Exciting Attractions Coming to Universal Orlando

    1. Celestial Park: This beautifully landscaped area, complete with fountains and waterfalls, serves as the entranceway to the park, with portals to the four other lands of Universal Epic Universe. Highlights include: Stardust Racers: This dual-track racing coaster, reaching speeds of 62 mph and heights of 133 feet, will crisscross while speeding through the air.

  25. Here's How You Can Secure Your Universal Studios Orlando Tickets

    The best way to cap off your visit to Universal Studios Orlando is by shopping for souvenirs or just anything to commemorate the experience. Inside the theme park are several shops that you can choose from — Borgin and Burkes, Ollivanders, Magical Menagerie, Quality Quidditch™ Supplies, Gringotts Money Exchange, and Madam Malkin's Robes for ...

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    History. On August 1, 2019, NBCUniversal announced that it was building a fourth theme park at Universal Orlando named "Universal's Epic Universe". Without releasing details, Tom Williams, then chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Parks and Resorts, said Epic Universe would be the company's "most immersive and innovative theme park." Comcast and NBCUniversal officials said it ...

  28. DreamWorks Land is open: Guide to Universal's newest attraction

    Ready your best ogre yell! Get set to board the Caterbus! Summon your inner Dragon Warrior! DreamWorks Land is officially open at Universal Orlando Resort.. Boasting new interactive attractions ...

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    Universal Orlando has plenty of great food, but Islands of Adventure is home to Mythos, a restaurant that has been called the Best Theme Park Restaurant in the World for several years.

  30. Check Out Universal Studios Orlando's New DreamWorks Land and Its

    And while all of this can be experienced at Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure this summer, it can't help but get us even more excited about the upcoming Epic Universe in 2025.