We recently had a fun, whirlwind few days at Universal Orlando and it was absolutely incredible for the whole family, even with all ages in tow! Today I am sharing those tips and secrets with YOU that made it such a happy trip! Read on to learn our best Universal Orlando Tips and Tricks!
Did you know more than half of Americans (55%) leave vacation days unused? That’s paid time off. It’s crazy when all of the scientific evidence shows taking well-planned vacations can increase your lifespan, productivity at work, and your happiness at home.
A poorly planned trip can have the opposite effect. And if you have a large family like ours then you know planning ahead is key to keeping the littles happy and you sane. Read on for our insider tips to make your next Universal Orlando trip a happy one.
Side note: Universal Orlando Resort now consists of THREE parks:
- Universal Studios Florida
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Universal’s Volcano Bay
Keep reading for our top 10 Secrets and Tips for Universal Orlando for the Whole Family!
Stay on Property
You might be thinking that you could get a cheaper stay somewhere else, but let me tell you now that staying on property is worth EVERY penny. We stayed at the 1950s and 60s retro styled Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The roomy family suite was perfect for our large crew of six, soon to be eight ;), and amazing pool areas included a water slide and lazy river.
Other marvelous benefits of staying at a Universal Orlando hotel include early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™, complimentary shuttle buses, resort-wide charging privileges using your room key card, and free delivery of your purchases from the theme parks or CityWalk™ directly to your hotel. And if you stay at one of their premier Universal Orlando hotels you get the added benefits of using the water taxi, priority seating at select restaurants, and free Universal Express Unlimited™.
Pro Tip: There are six Universal Orlando Resort Hotels (soon to be seven!) to choose from, and they all offer benefits for getting more out of your time at Universal. If you’re a Florida local, check out the resident rates!
Arrive Early and Leave Late
Take advantage of that early park entrance in the morning offered only to guests staying on property. One hour before the park opens you can make a beeline to the most popular attractions and beat the impending crowd.
But shhh, this is a super secret tip… if you are not staying on property for your Universal Orlando trip get their early anyway. At their discretion, they will allow guests to enter somewhat early to also enjoy some super short wait times.
Both early and late is actually a perfect time visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is located in both Universal Studios (Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade). I’ve heard it shared both ways… but in our personal experience, we had a much better time with smaller crowds when we went straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter upon early admission. It was
Pro Tip: If you have a Park-to-Park admission ticket, make sure to ride the Hogwarts™ Express from either King’s Cross Station in London at Universal Studios Florida™ and travel to Hogsmeade™ Station in Universal’s Islands of Adventure™, or ride the other way around for a different experience (you’ll see different characters and creatures featured in the films in each direction).
Take a Midday Break
If you made it to the park early then your littles will likely be tired by midday. We like to beat the Florida heat by taking advantage of the free shuttle service back to our hotel. Our youngest children can recharge with a nap while our big kids have fun at the pool.
Another reason the Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort was such an awesome place to stay is the walking paths that connect the hotel to Universal’s Volcano Bay™. This water park has some of the best water attractions & slides we have ever experienced. It may be worth adding a day to your Universal Orlando trip to make sure you can take full advantage.
Pro Tip: Bring towels with you, since you do have to rent or purchase towels at Universal’s Volcano Bay™.
Child Swap is the perfect way for a family with little ones to enjoy big rides. One adult stays off the ride and waits in the designated “child swap room” with the child who is not tall enough to ride. When the rest of the family returns the adult gets to ride without waiting in line. Another added benefit of using the “child swap” is the second adult can take up to 3 guests with. So, you get to be the hero when your family members get to ride twice!
Food and Drinks
All of the hotels offer full-service, quick-service, and grab-and-go eateries. The food is pretty great.
One of our favorite features is to purchase the refillable cup. These Tervis style cups may be refilled at virtually any permanent beverage counter, quick-service, or full-service restaurant inside the parks and
Meal times are also a good opportunity to get on more rides during your Universal Orlando trip with shorter wait times. This approach works for the popular parade and show times as well.
PS. Don’t miss this post sharing our FAVORITE places to eat at Universal Orlando!
While going on a majority of the rides you will need to place your bags, purses, and cups in a locker. The only exceptions are the simulation rides such as Spider-Man, Kong, Minions, Fast & Furious, Jimmy Fallon, and Transformers. In fact, the outdoor rollercoasters even have metal detectors to make sure you don’t have your cellphone or keys in your pocket.
Our advice is to be prepared before you go up to the lockers. Some locker areas are dark and busy, so it is best to have the kids stay with one adult, if you are able to, while the other places your items in.
Single Rider Line
Going on rides is a big part of the Universal Orlando vacation experience. So when you have several little children and one older child it can become frustrating if she can’t experience the rides she was hoping for.
Save time by allowing your children (with our without an adult) who are 10 years and up go in the single rider line and bypass the long wait. Since there will often be one extra seat available while other guests wait to sit together, attendants will call for a single rider, which means this line is a short one!
How to Enjoy When Pregnant
Just because you’re expecting doesn’t mean you want to sit out on EVERY ride or experience. One way we were able to enjoy a few of the interactive experiences as a family was for my youngest and I to let an attendant know we’d need a stationary seat. This way we could all take part in Shrek 4-D and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™ together.
Tips for the Tinier Tots
Rides at Universal Orlando all have height requirements, with many of them at 40-inches. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of options for your tiny tots – between shows, some rides available for smaller toddlers and so many play areas.
Our whole family LOVED Seuss Landing with multiple rides at a lower height requirement AND the best cotton candy! Plus, Camp Jurassic, Curious George Goes to Town℠ Playground, Fievel’s Playland™ and Barney’s Backyard
There’s An App for more Tips for Universal Orlando!
Yep, instead of carrying around a large,
With the Official Universal Orlando Resort™
Have a Happy Universal Orlando Trip
These are our 10 amazing tips for Universal Orlando, but we have a bonus idea for you. Although there is a thorough bag check they won’t take your snacks. Bring your own healthy snack to keep your littles happy in between food service stops.
Try this great recipe for healthy homemade granola on your Universal Orlando trip…. and have a happy one!
Plus, we’re sharing the best things to eat at Universal Orlando, so check that out and add it to your list too!
*A special thanks to the Universal Resort Orlando for hosting our family for a recent visit. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, 100% my own.
Such good tips! I have never been before, but would love to go.
It looks like you guys had great time. Lovely photos xo
Becca Wilson says
I have only been to Orlando one time and it was a really long time ago. I totally want to go back and this was very helpful!
This is awesome. I want to visit Universal Orlando. I will definitely bookmark this page for reference when we finally get to plan a trip!!
This looks so fun! I am headed to Orlando in June – we should head here instead of Disney to do something different. <3
Rob Alter says
We just went in April and the bracelet system was fantastic! They must have gotten all the hiccups worked out because it was flawless. We rented chairs too. Our attendant brought us our food and refilled our water bottles all day long. It was a great experience.