(Topic ID: 292795)

Universal Studios Florida - Recommendations


By 67cutlass

10 days ago

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  • Latest reply 9 days ago by jedimastermatt
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    #1 10 days ago

    Taking my son to Universal Studios Florida for his High School Graduation present. We are driving from WI to FL. Heading down on June 5th. Booked a hotel/ticket already, staying onsite.

    Any recommendations for the park? Any tips / tricks? I haven't been to this park in around 25 years.

    #2 10 days ago

    Just returned from park today,
    Harry Potter was the LONGEST lines, waited 1;15 for train to other park.
    Potter rides where great.
    And i never watched the films , the wife is a BIG fan.

    Got to park at 7:30am was empty till 10:30 am and then CROWDS even at 30%

    Simpsons ride and Harry Potter rides are awesome
    Bring one water bottle per person and refill

    Bummble Bee food truck was great

    Be Safe and enjoy

    #3 10 days ago

    Thanks for the info.

    I'm a heavy guy. Are there rides that a bigger person won't be able to fit on? I'm guessing all roller coasters?

    #4 10 days ago

    Mythos is an absolute must, really great food. There are sample ride cars out front of most rides to try out before entering. Cast members are really helpful just ask for assistance if needed. Lots to do besides rides, catch the Blues Brothers in NY area great show!

    #5 10 days ago

    We are thinking of Universal as well, since Disney has become rather unpalatable in recent years. Haven’t been to Univeral in 30 years or so.

    My friend at work said he stayed at one of their premium hotels and got an express pass, and said it was well worth it. Apparently it’s like Disney fast pass before they ruined it.

    https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/universal-express-pass/

    #6 10 days ago

    The Harry Potter areas get absolutely packed, so you may want to hit them early on or later in the evening. The ambiance of Diagon Alley (Universal side, whereas Hogsmeade is on the Islands of Adventure side) is gorgeous when it gets dark, so if you can stay late enough, visit that section at night.

    The Hogwarts Express that goes between the parks (presuming you have 2-park passes) is nice, but the line can get VERY long for this. Even though it can be a long walk, you can sometimes just exit the one park and walk all the way over to the other park, faster than it would take to wait for the Hogwarts Express.

    I love these parks dearly (spent many a day there with my kids back when we had annual passes for a few years, ~2015-2017 or so), as they have great little kids areas too); now that things are close to returning to normal I'm looking forward to grabbing passes for the family again!

    They've been making a lot of updates to the Jurassic Park area in Islands of Adventure and I believe their new roller coaster is opening in early June.

    rwmech5 mentioned Mythos, that's on the Islands of Adventure side and it is indeed very good. In Islands, we also enjoy eating at Confisco Grille, very good food there too. (We typically spend more time on the Islands side.)

    One more tip: naturally, you'll want to try an (overpriced) butterbeer in the Harry Potter areas, they're delicious. If you're in Hogsmeade and the lines at the butterbeer carts are too long, you can slip into the Hog's Head pub and order them at the bar too, this is sometimes shorter than waiting at the cart. You can get them frozen (like a slushy -- great for summertime), regular (standard soda consistency), or if it's cold out you can get them made hot like a hot cocoa.

    #7 10 days ago
    Quoted from 67cutlass:

    Thanks for the info.
    I'm a heavy guy. Are there rides that a bigger person won't be able to fit on? I'm guessing all roller coasters?

    The Gringotts ride used to be awful for larger people, but I think they’ve modified it to be more accommodating. The Harry Potter laser show is really cool at night. It will be crowded, especially The Harry Potter stuff.

    #8 10 days ago

    Went to Universal Studios this past fall. If you can go for more than one day, that'll certainly help take some of the stress away.

    Wait times
    As others have said the highest wait times are going to be the Harry Potter rides, with Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure probably being the longest of the Harry Potter attractions. Other rides with a longer wait time include Revenge of The Mummy The Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Skull Island: Reign of Kong

    Jurassic Park Velocicoaster
    This is opening June 10th, annual pass holders got an early preview this week. I know you are going down on June 6th but I'm not sure how long your stay if you are there when this opens, you may luck out on shorter wait lines for other attractions because everybody will be going to this ride to check it out. It hasn't been announced yet how they'll handle lines, some think they may do a virtual queue. If this opens and you can ride it, I'd recommend it. Everything I've seen looks amazing. Either way, just be mindful that a highly anticipated ride is opening on June 10th and that could impact your experience.

    Food/Drink
    There are a lot of great food options inside the parks. I'm a big fan of both Harry Potter restaurants (Three Boomsticks and Leaky Cauldron). Other good food and drink spots include Duff Brewery/Beer Garden, and Wimpy's. There are also a ton of restaurants on the boardwalk right outside of both parks, so you don't have to limit yourself to just what is in the park.

    Non-Ride Activities
    The magic wand experience with Harry Potter is cool if you are a fan. If it's not your thing, it's still fun to people watch and look at other people participating in the wand experience. There are also several entertainment shows throughout the park that happen at various times. I usually stop when I see them because it's a nice break from the hustle of being in the parks and you can just enjoy the moment.

    As far as your question about rides you may not be willing to ride, the best thing you can do is ask. The staff are incredibly helpful, some rides have adjustments they can make to accommodate just about anybody. But I'd definitely ask because I wouldn't want you to miss out on any experiences that you could have been able to take part in.

    Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

    #9 10 days ago

    Stating some obvious stuff that may be less obvious if you haven't been there in 25 years.

    Islands of Adventure is a separate park that opened in 1999 and feels more immersive (like magic kingdom) than the original Universal Studios park (think MGM/Hollywood studios). The previously mentioned harry potter train (ride) can take you from one to the other, or you can walk - takes ~10 min from entrance gate to entrance gate (but can be quite a bit longer if you're going from the back of one park to the back of the other). As such, you probably want to do a whole day in one park or 1/2 day in one and 1/2 in the other. These parks are MUCH MUCH closer to each other than any Disney park is to another.

    Even after 20 years, Spiderman (Islands of Adventure) is probably still my favorite. Transformers (Universal Studios) is like Spiderman 2.0 (but not as good, IMO).

    Staying on-site is the key bit. You get an express pass which gets you access to a much shorter line for each ride (but there definitely can still be a line! can be 30 minutes+ vs hours without the express pas).

    Enjoy! It is a really great experience.

    #10 10 days ago

    My main recommendation is to stay at one of the top 3 universal hotels if you can. Those hotels come with an express pass that lets you skip the line all fing day. So buy a package from one if the more expense hotels like the lowes right next to park.

    We actually go early and wait on all the lines at hogwartz first as the line is an experience in itself. But after that its skip the line all day time.

    Best thing is really just walking around diagon alley and hogsmeade if you are a HP fan. As far as rides the Hulk is the best coaster there

    #11 10 days ago

    Last time we were there, about 3 years ago you could buy a fast pass that let you skip most lines.
    Park probably has limited attendance now, so not sure if they still have it, but it was really worth it.

    #12 10 days ago
    Quoted from radium:

    We are thinking of Universal as well, since Disney has become rather unpalatable in recent years. Haven’t been to Univeral in 30 years or so.
    My friend at work said he stayed at one of their premium hotels and got an express pass, and said it was well worth it. Apparently it’s like Disney fast pass before they ruined it.
    https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/universal-express-pass/

    There is no power in the theme park universe like the Universal Unlimited Express Pass. It allows you unlimited use of Uni’s express lines which can translate hour waits into walk-ons. It is included with a nights stay at Portofino, Hard Rock, or Royal Pacific. Here’s the thing about it though - it’s valid on your check in day AND your check out day. So, you can if you want to save some cash stay at a deluxe hotel and then swap to another hotel on your next day and then repeat if you desire. The only catch is that Hadgid and Velocicoaster won’t have Express for a few years.

    Time is the most valuable commodity on vacation and nothing maximizes it like Uni’s Unlimited Express. Even if a line is “short” with a normal queue, that means it will be none existent with Express. You can easily triple the amount of things you can do with it than without it. On a hot June day, ride Popeye or River Adventure over and over instead of a 45 min wait. Walk on Forbidden Journey or Spider-man instead of 60 min waits.

    It’s even more powerful and far more cost effective than a Disney VIP plaid tour, except those can help with dining and shows.

    #13 10 days ago

    Im actually a team member(employee) of Universal Studios, Florida! So of course, I have lots of great insight! Pretty much everyone here has given you good information. Just plan to be at the park early and first thing I would get out of the way is Hagrids to avoid the line later. Make sure you swing by Jurassic Park to see if they are having previews for the new Velocicoaster ride. We just had our team member previews and it was an amazing ride, and usually the rides have previews for lucky selected guest after ours are all done. The ride releases to the public on June 10th so it puts you in a good spot for a potential preview 5 days before.

    Addition: if you or anyone else has any other questions, tips, or just want to know some cool things they were wondering about the park, don't hesitate to ask!

    #14 10 days ago

    Went to Universal in October 2019 by myself. I was attending a conference and crash studying for a test and waited in line holding a study book so I was indifferent to lines. With that said, my number one recommendation to you would be… the single riders line. I understand you are going with your son, but if you guys get in the single riders line, you will be able to ride twice as much stuff. You can still wait in line together, but you may be in car 1 while your son is in car 7 when the rollercoaster starts.

    Example: The line for rocking Roller Coaster was about 40 minutes while I was there, but was almost walk on for single riders. I rode it about 5 times and it literally took me longer to get from the exit to the line than the wait itself. Just ask if there is a single rider line at most rides. The only rides that didn’t have this when I was there was the Hagrid Motorcycle ride and the train between parks.

    On that note, I’m 6’4” and 220 pounds. They would only let me ride on the motorcycle, not the side car (awesome ride!). I did the parkhopper pass and got to ride every single ride in both parks (excepting the Dr. Seuss rides). The train ride between parks is neat and worth the wait. I have been looking hard at taking a weekend trip down there with my wife minus kids. When I went, I walked to the park from the Waffle House. Walked right by the Hard Rock which is right next to the park. Looking online, you can get in the park early and get skip the line equivalent prices. If its in your budget I’d stay there. Good luck and have fun with the kiddo!

    #15 10 days ago
    Quoted from Wilberto757:

    Im actually a team member(employee) of Universal Studios, Florida! So of course, I have lots of great insight! Pretty much everyone here has given you good information. Just plan to be at the park early and first thing I would get out of the way is Hagrids to avoid the line later. Make sure you swing by Jurassic Park to see if they are having previews for the new Velocicoaster ride. We just had our team member previews and it was an amazing ride, and usually the rides have previews for lucky selected guest after ours are all done. The ride releases to the public on June 10th so it puts you in a good spot for a potential preview 5 days before.
    Addition: if you or anyone else has any other questions, tips, or just want to know some cool things they were wondering about the park, don't hesitate to ask!

    Question for you. What’s the best time to go off season? We homeschool our kids so we can go any time of the year. We hate the heat, so cold months are fine too.

    #16 10 days ago
    Quoted from radium:

    Question for you. What’s the best time to go off season? We homeschool our kids so we can go any time of the year. We hate the heat, so cold months are fine too.

    January/February and August/September are pretty good months. If you go on a Tuesday-Thursday even better!

    #17 10 days ago

    I use to take the kids on roller coaster vacations for two weeks at a time for years. All up and down the east side of the Mississippi to the coast. I became a pro at making the most of it (i.e. avoiding crowds).

    1) First and foremost: Get there early, when they first open the gates!! The easiest way to avoid crowds is when they aren't there yet! Can't be any easier than that. Even with the onsite hotels getting in early, it's still pretty sparse compared to later in the day.

    2) Go to the back of the park first. Most people enter a park and start to hop on rides right away, the back of the park will stay empty for a little while.

    3) As the day progresses, work your way to the front of the park since the crowds will be working their way further back.

    4) During the middle of the day when it's really busy, go hit the movie theater at City Walk and chill out.

    5) Stay late, crowds will thin out.

    6) There's some nice hotels easily within walking distance. I know you purchased a hotel on site, just tossing my comment out for others.

    7) Tickets: I usually would get the park hopper (able to go between Islands of Adventure and Universal anytime). It's been a number of years since I went, but 3 days usually covers it. We usually did 2 full days, then maybe a 1/2 day for the final day. They run specials at times.

    We never did the water park stuff, so can't comment on that. Never needed a fast pass or whatever it's called, we just learned to manage the crowds effectively.

    #18 10 days ago
    Quoted from radium:

    Question for you. What’s the best time to go off season? We homeschool our kids so we can go any time of the year. We hate the heat, so cold months are fine too.

    This question wasn't directed to me, but I will toss out my 2 cents.

    One of the tricks I would use is to look at airfare prices to Orlando for the rock bottom prices. We'd fly direct from Indiana on Allegiant Air to Orlando. Looking at the airfare, some are dirt cheap. That tells me that it is a time of the year that travel to Orlando isn't as desired as opposed to a busier time (i.e. spring break, Christmas, etc.) and the airline is trying to fill up the seats.

    Usually between close Holidays works well. Especially right between Thanksgiving and Xmas. We've done that numerous times, crowds were extremely thin, wait times minimal to walk on at some times of the day. Some families must go for Thanksgiving and others go for Xmas - leaving a nice void in-between.

    #19 10 days ago
    Quoted from Wilberto757:

    January/February and August/September are pretty good months. If you go on a Tuesday-Thursday even better!

    We went January/February and one day was calling for showers. What a great day that was! Very little rain and the park was sparse. We literally jumped on and off rides. My kids LOVED The Simpsons and went on it over 5 times. That ride is awesome. Really all the rides are great. Kong was fantastic, the line up was long even on that day, but worth it. As others have said, Harry Potter rides are incredible. The line up for those are brutal. Get them out of the way early like others have pointed out. I'm envious. We have gone twice and would love to go again.

    #20 10 days ago
    Quoted from radium:

    We are thinking of Universal as well, since Disney has become rather unpalatable in recent years. Haven’t been to Univeral in 30 years or so.
    My friend at work said he stayed at one of their premium hotels and got an express pass, and said it was well worth it. Apparently it’s like Disney fast pass before they ruined it.
    https://www.undercovertourist.com/blog/universal-express-pass/

    I've booked at their budget hotel. I think Dockside or something like that. I'll look at a premium hotel and see what's included. I figured stay cheap at the hotel since I won't be there except for sleep, but if they offer some good park books, might be work a look.

    #21 10 days ago

    I love Universal, but I must say last time I went there and ate a Shamu ice cream sandwich, it was kind of tasteless .. waste of 10 bucks!

    #22 10 days ago

    This is a good site for theme park tips and discount info...

    Mousesavers.com

    #23 10 days ago

    THANK YOU for all the great information. We are planning 4 full days at both parks. It sounds like I really need to look at getting an express pass and maybe upgrading to a better hotel.

    #24 10 days ago
    Quoted from mcluvin:

    This is a good site for theme park tips and discount info...
    Mousesavers.com

    Never thought of Mousesavers. I used them when my wife/daughter went to Disney.

    #25 10 days ago
    Quoted from 67cutlass:

    THANK YOU for all the great information. We are planning 4 full days at both parks. It sounds like I really need to look at getting an express pass and maybe upgrading to a better hotel.

    You may or may not need the express pass if you have 4 full days at the parks. The express pass would obviously be nice! But with 4 days, it takes away a lot of the stress of feeling like you have to do everything in one day. Sounds like you should get a chance to experience the Velocicoaster as well!

    #26 10 days ago
    Quoted from 67cutlass:

    THANK YOU for all the great information. We are planning 4 full days at both parks. It sounds like I really need to look at getting an express pass and maybe upgrading to a better hotel.

    I prefer the Royal Pacific, but we would stay pre-Harry Potter. They have really cranked the prices up over the last few years. I would personally try and do the Express Pass. My impression, after owning annual passes for a number of years, is that the Harry Potter stuff made all the Universal parks busier in general.

    #27 10 days ago

    Some people Grab 1 night at a hotel to use the Passes

    Another aspect is parking. Valet can be worth it for drop off, but forever if the park is crowded and you leave at closing.
    Another method is to check Hotel Parking being free, if you eat at the Hotel.
    Grab Breakfast, or dinner on the way out, but check the rules. You get to park close and walk or hitch a ride to the park.

    Lastly is the heat. Its freaking hot today, and our summer starts. If possible, as others shared, get there at opening.
    But before you come, look into Water retention/cooling Hats, with gel, bandanas, for around the neck, Fans with mist.
    Anything to make the heat more comfortable, and your feet.

    Visit the Pinball Lounge!

    #28 10 days ago
    Quoted from mkecasey:

    You may or may not need the express pass if you have 4 full days at the parks. The express pass would obviously be nice...

    Your comments about 4 full days is a good point, plenty of time to everything. 4 days is probably even a stretch. If I only had one day at a park, then I'd definitely get the express pass.

    #29 9 days ago
    Quoted from mbwalker:

    Your comments about 4 full days is a good point, plenty of time to everything. 4 days is probably even a stretch. If I only had one day at a park, then I'd definitely get the express pass.

    If you have the patience to wait in very long lines. It is such a detractor for me, especially considering Covid. I'd take a couple days of Fastpass vs 4 days waiting in those lines.

    Busch Gardens and Sea World are free for Veterans for the next few months too BTW...

    #30 9 days ago

    If you are doing 4 days, check into one of the deluxe hotels on day 1, switch to Cabana Bay on day 2, back to a deluxe on day 3, and then you can stay anywhere on the final night (even offsite) and you would have 4 days of unlimited Express.

    Unless you are only concerned about riding things only once and don’t care about standing in lines, there is no reason other then finances to not use Express. It’s powerful enough that you can can do easily as much in just 2 days that you would do in 4 or 5 without it.

    Even if you don’t want to ride all the rides or see the shows, you can use all the extra time you save hanging at the pool.

    My number one vacation tip is that time is the most important variable and the most precious. You are spending all of your time, energy, resources, and effort to get to “x” on vacation. Use every possible option to maximize the most out of every second you are there. For theme parks, the lines are the thing that drains and consumes that resource. Universal gives you a way to get the most out of your time.

    If you take advantage of the unlimited Express on check in and check out days - you can’t go wrong.

    #31 9 days ago
    Quoted from jedimastermatt:

    If you take advantage of the unlimited Express on check in and check out days - you can’t go wrong.

    Check in and check out days, we won't be going to the park. I think we will probably get a pass at least once per park.

    What days of week would be the busiest in June? We'll be at the park on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

    #32 9 days ago
    Quoted from 67cutlass:

    Check in and check out days, we won't be going to the park. I think we will probably get a pass at least once per park.
    What days of week would be the busiest in June? We'll be at the park on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

    All the same.....Fri-Sunday are busiest.

    #33 9 days ago
    Quoted from mcluvin:

    If you have the patience to wait in very long lines. It is such a detractor for me, especially considering Covid. I'd take a couple days of Fastpass vs 4 days waiting in those lines.
    Busch Gardens and Sea World are free for Veterans for the next few months too BTW...

    Honesty, the lines have never been bad. I can't stand waiting in lines either. We time the trip during less busy times of the year and stand in line for the gates to open, then head to the back of the park first thing. Granted, some lines are longer than others (i.e. when HP just opened up), so we always wait until the crowd settles down. Don't mean to sound like there's no lines ever, but we definitely don't wait in long lines. Just guessing, maybe 30 minutes for us would be about the typical max. Surprisingly, one of the longest lines we waited in a number of years ago was for MIB, no clue why.

    I think places like Disney are likely busy all the time, but we seem to make it work at Universal and the other amusement parks. There's been times I've commented to the better half while at Universal "We're the only ones walking down this path."

    Now that my son is older and has kids, he's carrying on the tradition...kinda neat to see him make those memories with his kids.

    Good comment about Sea World, not that far of a drive for the OP. Nice park too.

    Some ticket 'trophies' below. I always save them.

    pasted_image (resized).png

    #34 9 days ago
    Quoted from 67cutlass:

    Check in and check out days, we won't be going to the park. I think we will probably get a pass at least once per park.
    What days of week would be the busiest in June? We'll be at the park on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

    So if you wanted to maximize the advantage of Express and don’t mind switching hotels do something like this:

    Hotel night 1: any hotel
    Hotel night 2/park day 1: Uni Deluxe hotel give give you express on park day 1 and day 2
    Hotel night 3/park day 2: any hotel
    Hotel night 4/park day 3: Uni Deluxe hotel gives you Express on park day 3 and day 4.
    Hotel night 5/park day 4: any hotel

    That way you only need to pay for 2 deluxe nights and cover your entire 4 days in the parks.

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