Universal Orlando: 20 Things to Know Before You Go

Today I am going to share 20 tips that you absolutely need to know before you head to Universal Orlando Resort. Whether you have been multiple times or if are planning your first trip, I am sure there are some things here that you may have never considered.

1. Get the universal app and load your credit card onto it. This way you can take advantage of mobile ordering as well as virtual lines.

2. Be sure to bring a portable charger so you can use your phone as much as needed throughout your day.

3. Traveling multiple times a year? Get an Annual Pass for discounts on merchandise, food, parking, and get access to the Annual Passholder private lounge. You will also get perks like free buttons and magnets.


4. Pay with your American Express card if you have one. American Express allows access to the Amex lounge in Universal where you can enjoy free snacks and drinks.

5. On your way to the parks you will enter through CityWalk. This can be confusing for some, because you think you are going right into the parks but you are not. You need to walk the strip through CityWalk and then to the left you will find Islands of Adventure and to the right Universal Studios.

6. If you stay at a Universal hotel or are an Annual Passholder, you gain early entry to the parks. Some vacation packages also offer early entry.

7. Stay at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel to avoid the nightmare of parking in the Universal parking garage which currently costs $26 per day. If you’re staying at a Universal Resort Hotel, you will have transportation through walking trails, buses or water taxis. Sometimes getting from the parking lot into the park itself can take over an hour. On our trip it took us 45 min to get through the traffic just to park in the lot and then an additional two hours to get from the lot into the park!


8. Want even more perks? Stay in one of Universal’s Premier Resorts which includes Portofino Bay, Loews Royal Pacific, and the Hard Rock Hotel. The Express Pass is included with your stay which allows you to get right to the front of the line on many of the more popular rides. This will save you hours in your day!

9. You can add the Express Pass option onto your park ticket, but the regular Express Passes cost $70 per person per day and only allows you to go on an Express Pass ride each one time only. Otherwise you can get the Unlimited Express Pass which is $90 per person per day and this allows you to go on Express Pass rides multiple times a day. Either way it’s a huge up-charge, and I would highly recommend staying at a premier resort, as it is worth its value.

10. There are dining plans available with vacation packages. Even if you are not staying in a Universal hotel, you can get a dining package and can choose the amount of days that you would like to use it as well. The packages come with a refillable mug so if you are a soda drinker, this might be worth the value for you. Also if you just wanted to get a refillable mug you can purchase those as well by the day. There are discounts for families so the more you buy, the more you save.

11. Universal also has a photo option that you can purchase. It’s called “My Universal Photos.” For $69 per day, you can enjoy photos throughout Universal Studios and Universal Islands Adventure. If you purchase this upon arrival, it’s $99 per day. It’s definitely worth it to purchase the photo package in advance. There are photographers around the parks as well as areas where you can scan a card and pose for a picture.


12. If you are a Harry Potter fan and would like to ride the Hogwarts Express, you need a park-to-park pass! You cannot ride the train if you only have a pass to one of the parks. Also to truly enjoy the entire Wizarding World, you need a pass to both Universal Studios and Islands of adventure as all of the Harry Potter attractions are split up (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley).

13. Get to park early! Regardless of if you have early entry or not, get there before rope drop!

14. Start your day at Islands of Adventure and go straight to Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure first. Try for a virtual line if possible. You can get it as soon as you are on property either from a resort or in the park. On days where crowds are smaller, the ride doesn’t open the virtual queue. Although Velocicoaster is a popular ride, Hagrid’s tends to break down from time to time and close often. Get it in while you can!

15. Travel during the off-season for lower crowds. A great rule of thumb is any time that schools are closed, the crowd capacity will be at its highest. This includes summer break, holiday weekends, spring break, and winter break. I know it can be challenging taking kids out of school, but in my experience it’s well worth it to avoid the large crowds.


16. Three pronged fanny packs are allowed on most rides, otherwise you need to store everything in a locker. Try to keep a small backpack because larger ones may not fit in the lockers, and then you will have to pay to upgrade to a larger locker. Also keep this in mind when you are shopping for a wand in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Those large wand boxes may not fit in the free lockers.

17. Lots of the rides in Universal tend to cause motion sickness. If you are sensitive to that, make sure that you bring or take Dramamine or wear sea bands. If you have forgotten it, head over to the Fast and the Furious ride in Universal Studios, and there is a first aid center that will provide free Dramamine for you. Islands of Adventure has a first aid center at the front of the park.

18. If you have a wheelchair or are unable to walk up flights of stairs, keep in mind that many of the queues have stairs. Check the Universal app, as the ride description will let you know if it is wheelchair accessible. Oftentimes they will be able to transfer you to an elevator.


19. If you are shopping, go ahead and have your items sent to “It’s A Wrap,” which is a place that will hold your souvenirs. You can pick your packages up on your way out of the parks. If you are staying at a Universal Resort, you can have anything that you purchased sent directly to your room which is another great added perk for staying on site.

20. Make dining reservations by calling 407-224-FOOD, especially if traveling during busier times. Restaurants such as Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., NBC Sports Grill & Brew, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, VIVO Italian Kitchen, Bigfire, and more all take reservations in advance.

I hope that these 20 tips were helpful for you. To hear more, check out the coordinating vlog here:

Looking to go to Universal Orlando? Contact our friends at Mickey World Travel! They can start planning your Universal Studios vacation today!

Email: JenBrennan@MickeyWorldTravel.com

Jen Brennan

Jen Brennan

Jen Brennan has specialized in planning magical Disney vacations for Mickey World Travel since 2018. She loves traveling to Disney with her husband and three children as often as possible. When she is not busy with vacation planning, Jen is sharing all of her Disney tips and tricks on her YouTube channel, jenshappyhome. It is not hard to believe that Belle is her favorite princess, as she likes to read and dream of exploring the world just as much. If you are interested in going on an adventure in the great wide somewhere, Jen can certainly plan the perfect vacation for you.

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