Tricks When Visiting Universal Studios Orlando

Updated on April 8, 2018
Hogwarts
Hogwarts

I have always wanted to visit the much talked about Universal Studios in Orlando! Haven't we been hearing about it since we were kids? The Jaws experience, E.T., King Kong! Every trip I had to Orlando, however, was centered around the very magical Disney World. I'm convinced that if it weren't for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter I probably would have never gone. So whip out your horrendous sweaters, striped scarves, tease that hair, and get ready to rub elbows with the largest group of post pubescent virgins south of a Justin Bieber concert.

The day that we were visiting the park we were shocked to find it slammed with tourists. Assuming that because public schools were back in session from the New Year's holiday it would be fairly docile, we were quite taken off guard. The reason being that there were numerous bowl games in Florida, therefore bringing traveling sports fans and their families. Who would have thought to look into the College Football schedule when planning our trip?

As far as I can tell, you should stay away from Orlando in general the week of Christmas. From Thanksgiving to the week after New Years things are pretty untouchable. This year they actually had to close down all of the parks (Sea World, Disney, Universal) the week after Christmas. Imagine road-tripping the family down to see Harry Potter and being turned away! The other busier times include Presidents weekend, Spring Break, and of course Summer.

Aside from the most crowded times in the park, I have a few other tips that we came across while we were visiting the park. Things I wish someone would have told us before we went!

Entrance to Hogsmead
Entrance to Hogsmead

Tricks when at Universal Studios Orlando

1. Parking: Driving into the park you encounter many hurtles. Parking in the regular lots runs you $22 a day and requires a great deal of patience. The garages are a fair distance from the gates to the park, unless you want to pay $35 for preferred parking. The traffic getting in and out of the garages can be stressful and take time.

Depending on where you and your group are staying I would recommend uber. But because traffic can be so bad, we had our uber drop us off at the Walgreens outside the park and we walked from there. This also afforded us the opportunity to stock up on last minute snacks (way less expensive than inside) and sunscreen. Check out the cost of this ride beforehand, it may not be less than the parking garage... but I know I would always rather ride than drive, and walk than sit in traffic. Plus, this allows you to grab a few drinks in Margaritaville at the end of the day and get a car safely back to your hotel.

Once you make it to the entrance of the park you walk about .15 miles and you will see the parking garages. Overall you may be walking a mile to the gates, however, there is sidewalk the entire way, pretty views, and sunshine (most of the time.)

Check out Uber in your app store on your phone and make sure you download it before you go (also keep an eye out for discounts, often your first ride will be free!) Here is the address to the Walgreens we used as home base: 5501 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819


2. Cheat the Lines:

Universal Studios does offer an Express Pass that can help you get on those rides as fast as possible. The price of these passes depends on how busy the park is that day. If money is no object, than by all means, do it! I have done parks both ways, but unfortunately don't always have the extra $50 laying around. Universal has two different levels of this pass, on the day we were at the park there was a limited express, which, allowed you to skip the line on each ride once only for the cost of a ticket with an additional $50. The unlimited express pass is just that, unlimited and I don't recall exactly but know it was more than $60 in addition to your ticket cost.

This Express pass is great if you can afford it. You do still have to wait in a line of course. Unless you are fortunate enough to be the only person in the park that day who shelled out the extra cash. But it does take an hour and a half line and turn it into 15 minutes.

My thrifty revolution while at the park was that some of the lines have a well kept secret line for "single riders". This is amazing! We were in line for the Hulk Roller Coaster that was projected to take over 2 hours when we learned about the single riders line. Just ask the park employee at each ride if there is a single rider line and they will direct you to it. Obviously you have to be comfortable with riding next to a stranger. My fiancé and I were still on the same ride together, just not holding hands and it only took us 10 minutes!!!

Not every ride has this option, but make sure you check first!

3. Beat the Crowd:

This last piece of advice may be common sense to you and your group, however, it was not for us. We arrived at the park in plenty of time to wait for the gates to be opened (9AM.) The plan was to head straight to the Hogwarts castle ride before it got too crowded. We had a hold up at customer service and were no more than 10 minutes behind the crowd, but by the time we arrived at the castle the wait was already 150 minutes.

Harry Potter World stayed crazy throughout the day until the sun went down.

My advice would be, when you arrive at the park head straight to the other big attractions of the park. I would suggest Spider Man and then The Hulk (using the Single Rider rule). Then depending on your crowd you can spend time doing Seuss or Cartoons.

The best time, according to the employees, and our experience, to visit the Harry Potter World is around dinner time. I would recommend eating an early fish and chips, or pasties at the Three Broomsticks around 4 or 4:30pm. Then walk down to Poseidon's Fury (just outside the Harry Potter World). It is a well kept secret, air conditioned/heated, a good time killer and rest for everyone to digest, and SUPER fun! When that is finished head over to the castle and the wait will easily be half of what it was earlier in the day. Apparently Harry Potter fans go home around 6 pm.!


Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        kelly 

        20 months ago

        thank you so much for the advice. we are headed to universal in about a month

      • profile image

        Ashley 

        3 years ago

        Can you confirm which hotels near Universal have free parking (without worrying about getting towed). I did look into the Double Tree and they charge for parking.

        Thanks.

      • profile image

        Juan 

        3 years ago

        Thanks a lot for your advice. :)

      • profile image

        Heather 

        3 years ago

        I'm concerned about the parking in other lots. Aren't you risking getting towed?

      • profile image

        Lisiane 

        4 years ago

        Hello, Sarah!

        I'm going to Orlando next April and I was a little bit concerned about how crowded parks will be. But I'm sure your tips will be worthwhile! Thanks for your tips!

      • Travel Blogs profile image

        Travel Blogs 

        6 years ago from The world

        Love all your tips especially the info about the single rider line!!!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)