How many of y’all are Disney Diehards? You’re at the Disney Parks every day of your Orlando vacation and you still don’t think it’s enough. You would never dream of visiting that “other” theme park, Universal Studios Orlando. Then, “that person” invites you to go to Orlando with them. You know the one (it could be a family member or just a friend), but they just don’t “get” the magic of Disney. They may even ask you to spend a day at EPCOT and a day at Disney World. Then, the dreaded questions and they’re bound to happen, ”Can we use our Park tickets at Universal?” and “Where do we catch the Universal Studios bus?” As soon as you pick your jaw up off the floor and shake off the shocked feeling, take a trip with me to Universal Orlando for a different type of magic.
Planning a visit to the Universal Orlando Theme Parks is much different than a visit to Walt Disney World, but if you follow these helpful tips you will have a very Magical time! Even if it’s just for the day.
- First off don’t be afraid to be a kid again and HAVE FUN!
- Arrive Early: Depending on the time of year you visit the Universal Orlando Theme parks may close much earlier than expected. However, Universal City Walk stays open until around 2 AM where you can enjoy a wonderful meal at one of the many restaurants or have a cocktail at one of the fun dance clubs or bars. They also have an AMC Cineplex with IMAX, Hollywood Drive-In Mini-Golf, and the Blue Man Group.
- Purchase a Park-to-Park Ticket: You must have this type of ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express!
- Purchase one of the refillable mugs/cups: Universal has 2 options to choose from too. My family always buys the 1 day Coca-Cola freestyle souvenir cup for $11.99 per person plus tax. This cup allows you unlimited refills at any of the select Coca-Cola freestyle locations. You can also add a day for an additional $5.99 at participating locations.
- Bring your own poncho: It’s Florida therefore it will rain, and you really don’t want to buy a $10 poncho as your souvenir.
- Purchase Universal’s Photo Connect Star Card: With this card you will be able to download all of the ride photo’s as well as any other photo’s that the Amazing Pictures employee’s take during your visit. They have several package options to choose from too. It’s a must. Here’s one of the pictures from my recent trip to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. When you download your pictures they include all the themed boarders too.
- If you drive be prepared to pay for parking: Regular parking cost $17, Preferred parking cost $25, and RV/Bus parking cost $22. Florida Residents park for free after 6:00 p.m. with proof of residency. Also don’t forget to take a picture of where you park. There’s nothing like spending all day in the parks only to get lost in the parking deck.
- Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley first thing when you arrive to get the true feeling that Harry Potter got in the movies. Plus it’s less crowded in the morning.
- Don’t Miss the shows: From the Superstar Parade to the many others throughout both theme parks. They are not to be missed. One of my favorites is the Frog Choir in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade
- Don’t Miss the Character Interactions: My favorites include Scooby Doo, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Simpsons, and Curious George.
I would love to hear your favorite rides or shows that you like to do while visiting Universal Orlando, and I am always looking for more tips to share. Please feel free to comment below.
My name is Leigh Saleh. I am a Universal Orlando, Seaworld,and Disney Specialist for Chip and Company. I am also a Travel Agent with World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency used by Chip and the Disney Addicts. Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your next “Magical” family vacation to your favorite destination.