Given the choice between Orlando’s Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure and Disney, I had to go with Universal.
For a start, there’s all that Harry Potter Wizarding World stuff going on. And trust me, for any HP fan, it’s totally worth seeing. But there’s a lot more to Universal than just the boy wizard, and I had a great time checking out the other rides too, from Jurassic Park to Men in Black.
Despite only being there for a day, Universal was an awesome experience. If you’re only in Florida for a day or two, here’s how to max out your theme park time!
Go when it’s quiet
Like any theme park, avoiding high summertime, weekends and school holidays means a less busy park to explore, less queues and generally less stress.
Buy a ticket for multiple parks
Universal is actually made up of two theme parks and a water park. You’ll probably want to buy tickets for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure, as they’ve split the Harry Potter attractions across both parks (obvious money-making ploy there!). BUT it means you can ride the Hogwarts Express between the two! It’s also advisable to get your theme park tickets online beforehand for the best savings.
Get an Express Pass
Okay, they ain’t cheap. We’re talking $79+ per day for an Express Pass, on top of the ticket price. But I DIDN’T get one on my Universal visit, and I had to queue a fair while for the big ticket rides. If I went again, I’d 100% invest in one.
Work out your must-dos
If you decide not to get an Express Pass, this one’s even more vital!
There’s loads to see and do in Universal Studios, so working out your key attractions and working out how to see them first is important. For me, it was anything Harry Potter – so I hotfooted it straight to Diagon Alley, which was a lot quieter in the morning than later in the day.
Join the single rider queue
Some of the rides at Universal Studios have a ‘single rider queue’, to fill up gaps in groups. I basically ended up walking to the front of the Men In Black ride queue, twice, because of this!
Budget for food and drink
Annoyingly, you can’t bring a picnic lunch into the park – so eat a big breakfast and budget accordingly for lunch. You can bring in a bottle of water (or a refillable bottle), and some small snacks – so if you choose food wisely, you might not need two sit down meals. I was so busy rushing around the park I barely remembered to eat, anyway!
What to take in with you
Lockers are provided for when you go on the rides, but it’s advisable to keep your bags as small as possible for convenience. Small backpacks are great for using both hands as you rifle through the Diagon Alley shops. Make sure you pack a jumper (in case it gets cold) and possibly a poncho (for water rides). You don’t wanna buy souvenirs because you HAVE to, rather than want to…
*post written in collaboration with Attraction Tickets Direct