Are you planning a trip to Universal Studios Orlando with the family this summer? These are some of our top tips to know before you go.
First Things First
Buy your tickets before you go. It will save you time in line and will give you time to decide which tickets work best for you and how much you will spend. When you get to the park and pick up your tickets, put them in a lanyard. If you have an express pass ( which I highly recommend) and/or a park-to-park ticket you will have to show your ticket at every ride you plan to use your express pass and when you ride the train. You can buy lanyards at the park or buy the lanyards before the trip and save a few bucks ( I wish we had done this). Lanyards are great because the tickets will get wet, you will worry about losing it and it can be a pain to dig out your tickets at each ride. These lanyards from Amazon are inexpensive and are waterproof.
When you park, take a picture of the parking deck/number, you think you will remember, but after a long day at Universal you may not.
What to Wear and What to Bring
As the Mom, I am the holder of all things. 🙂 I bought this Travelon Purse 5 years ago and have used it on every trip we have taken. I love a cross body purse while on vacation so my hands are always free. This purse, in particular, is great because it has RFID blocking, locking straps, several compartments and it holds a TON of stuff. Plenty of room for my wallet, hand wipes for us and the kiddos, an interior pouch for my phone, zipper expansion on both sides (that will hold a water bottle) and cut-proof shoulder strap. This purse comes in an array of colors and you won’t be disappointed if you get it.
When it comes to going to Universal Studios, comfort is king. I like wearing my favorite workout pants and a t-shirt. These high waisted yoga pants are great because they are Quick dry and they have side & inner pockets. You will get wet on rides, and if you go in the summer you will sweat, so breathable pants like these are key to being comfortable all day.
Bringing sunscreen and a hat is never a bad idea! If you plan to go in the summer, DO NOT FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!
Plan for those in your group who are prone to motion sickness and know that Dramamine will be their best friend. I don’t get motion sickness, but our oldest does. Many of the rides are 3D or have a lot of motion and it would’ve affected him badly had he not had Dramamine before we got to the park. Dramamine has never made our son drowsy, but if it makes you or your kiddo drowsy, get the non-drowsy kind. No one wants a tired or sick child at Universal! 🙂
Bringing a refillable water bottle is a good idea. There are fountains all over the park and you can save money by not having to buy bottles of water throughout the day. These are available from 9oz to 32 oz.
Lastly, wear comfortable shoes and socks. I would even put a couple of band-aids in my purse just in case you or your kiddos feet develop a blister. Better to have it and not need than need it and not have it.
I bought the Adidas Cloud Foam shoe a couple of months ago and I LOVE THEM! I typically wear a size 7.5, but in these, I wear a 7. Definitely check out the sizing chart before buying them, but they are the most comfortable tennis shoe I have bought in years and they would be great for walking all day since they are not a heavy, bulky shoe.
Plan to Get a Park to Park Ticket
You must ride the Hogwarts Express train that takes you from Universal Studios ( Daigon Alley) to Universal Islands of Adventure ( Hogsmeade). It is such an unbelievable experience. Each train cabin seats approx. 6 people and when the door to your compartment closes, get ready for a surprise!
Know about Child Swap
The child swap program is fantastic for families, especially if you have little ones. When you enter the cue, tell the attendant you’ll be using the child swap. One adult can ride while the other adult and child wait in an air-conditioned room (that usually has a TV). When the ride is over, swap and the other adult can ride. Now, no one has to miss out on a ride. This is also helpful if you aren’t sure your child will find a particular ride too scary. One adult can ride it to check it out and then you’ll know if you think your child can handle it.
Get an App for your Phone and Bring a Portable Charger
We used the Magic Guide: Universal Orlando app. Being able to access current wait times, park map and menus for the many restaurants was great! Also, with all the pictures and video you’ll be taking, your battery power will take a hit. Definitely bring a portable charger so you won’t have a dead phone. I like the lipstick size portable chargers since they are not bulky and easily fit in my purse.
Where to Stay
Since we have family in the Orlando area, we never stay at the park. With that being said, there are a lot of benefits to staying on property: You won’t have to drive to the park, guests receive an Express Pass and entry to the park 1 hour early. These things are real benefits and something to consider when deciding where to stay.
Don’t Overlook the City Walk
The City Walk is basically Universal Studio’s entertainment area. It’s full of restaurants, shops and bars. It’s also free to access and it seems to really come alive at night. We ate at Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium. It is a little on the pricey side, but the food was DELICIOUS! If you don’t want to have a sit down dinner at the Emporium there is a counter to buy some of the many chocolate confections or to order their famous and large milkshakes. Hard Rock Cafe Orlando, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, NBC Sports Grill & Brew and Cold Stone Creamery are just some of the options at City Walk.
Looks at the restaurants ahead of time online since you can decide what will work best for your family and where that restaurant is located within the park. Also, your handy dandy app will help in this arena if you don’t look ahead of time because the app has the menus and prices points. We ate at Three Broomsticks and it was actually pretty good. Our oldest had the spare ribs platter ( $16.99), my Dad had the fish & chips ( $15.99). There’s a children’s menu with all of the expected offerings for $6.99. While there, you must have the Butterbeer it comes hot or frozen.
We also ate at Richter’s Burger Company, I wish I could say good things about it, but I can’t. We didn’t enjoy Richter’s at all, so I would not recommend for you or your family. There are a ton of other great options though. For the coffee lover in your family, there is a Starbucks.
Make a Plan
It’s fun to go online and show your kiddos the different rides and things to do at Universal. Make a list of priorities so you won’t miss anything. Know that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to be the busiest. It’s furthest back in the park and you may want to head their first thing in the morning and work your way out from there. Also, if you go there, stop first at Ollivander’s so your Harry Potter fan can pick out his/her own wand. The cool thing is the wand actually works throughout the park and your child can do magic spells. Their wand will come with a map of where it will work wonders.
We saw TONS of people young and old wearing Harry Potter clothing. If you have someone in your group that will want some Harry Potter gear and you don’t think you will be able to say no, buy it before you go and they can wear it to the park. We saw people in robes, ties, Harry Potter glasses, socks, t-shirts, etc… Amazon has a lot of options and it will save you money since Harry Potter clothing is pretty expensive in the park.
My favorite ride and my youngest’s favorite was Forbidden Journey! We loved it so much we rode it three times. Revenge of the Mummy was great and the Transformer ride was a really pleasant surprise. Another favorite was Despicable Me Minion Mayhem which was really fun and all ages will enjoy this one. If your child isn’t afraid of heights, the Pteranodon Flyer was a big hit with our boys.
Our youngest loves all things Jurassic Park/World and that ride did not disappoint. But, be prepared to get wet on this one. When we rode Escape from Gringotts, it broke down, but the upside was that we received a Golden Ticket for the trouble ( a Golden Ticket allows you to go the front of the line on any ride). We were able to go back and ride after the issue was fixed. It was fun, but not my personal favorite. Several children got scared ( not in the fun way) so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re are going with little ones.
I think everyone walks away with a favorite experience/ride and I hope you come back to comment and share your experience.
Final Thoughts: Have a great time! Universal Studios has so much to offer everyone in your family. After reading this, I hope you feel prepared and excited to go!!
P.S. Be sure to pack a few snacks in your purse or backpack since it will save you money while in the park!