It had been years since we had visited a Universal Resort. We had such great memories from all that fun, so when we decided Florida was going to be our next destination, we made sure to make time to go for a day. With three little kids in tow, we wondered how much there would be for them to do and how efficiently their rider swap would work. After all, the last time we visited Universal Studios (Hollywood), we were just young teenagers in love. Oh, how the time flies!
We had upgraded two-park (Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands Of Adventure), one day, “express tickets”, so we could beat the regular lines. Add in using the rider switch for the rides the kids could not go on, and you have the perfect combo for having a thrilling and efficient day at Universal Orlando Resort. It was such a treat that we have vowed that we will never do a regular ticket ever again. The convenience of walking past so many lineups, especially those for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and pretty much right onto each ride, was fantastic.
Having the express line also made it possible to see the best of both parks in one day. We felt like we only missed a couple of the rides we wanted to go on. Had we not been running around with three kids, we definitely could have hit every attraction and some more than once. The only other part of the experience we wished we had more time for was character photos. We managed to get a couple, but it would have been nice to get some more photos, especially for the kids. The ‘mistake’ we made to miss our favorite character photos is that we started at Islands Of Adventure because we thought there were more kid-friendly options to start the day and when we hopped over to Universal Studios Florida, we didn’t take note of the early ending time of character photos since we were excited to hop on a couple of the ‘adult’ rides before we noticed the time.
The details around every corner are so fun and breathtaking at the same time. From a fun comic book feel to the incredible mind-blowing detail with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, to the bright and vibrant Seuss Landing that will bring out the kid in you, Universal Orlando Resort has it all. Whatever you fancy, you’re sure to find amusement around every corner; even those of you who do prefer not to hop on the rides.
- Bring a change of clothes if you plan to ride the water rides on a cold day. Ripsaw Falls will leave SOAKED. Luckily it warmed up not long after our ride, so we didn’t end up shivering all day, but know that you WILL get soaked. The human dryer can only do so much. Also, include a pair of flip-flops for the water rides, so you do not soak your shoes and grab yourself a locker. Madison insisted we start our day with this ride and looking back now, it was pretty funny. At least we brought the kids a change of clothes that was used after one of the first rides of the day.
- Get an “express ticket” if you can fork out the extra money. You’ll be able to skip all the regular long lines and it will really maximize your time.
- If you are with small kids, make sure you use the child swap. It will save you a lot of time and frustration. The child swap allows families that are traveling with small children who do not meet the requirements to go on the ride to wait in the queue together. You will have access to a family room where one parent can stay with the children, while the other parent rides. The parents can switch roles and the second parent can walk to the front of the line. Also note that the second parent can take up to three guests with them, so if you’re with a group, some of you could ride twice.
- Both parks are doable in a day, to see the ‘best of’ each, but only if you have an express ticket to really make the most of your time and to get the best experience.
- Next time we will book a hotel near or on the property to save us the valuable travel time. We also noticed afterward that when you stay at a select resort hotel, they will include express tickets for you. That can be handy because it could make a more expensive hotel worth it if you are on a budget and the additional cost of the express tickets are covered for you.
- Take the Hogwarts Express train between the parks. It was a great way to get around and was such a neat experience. Also, if you take the train from both parks, you will have two different experiences.
- Even if you are not a Harry Potter fan, take in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter experiences. To be honest, we had not seen any Harry Potter movies until watching the very first one a few days before the trip, so we would not be totally dumbfounded of our surroundings. Everything Harry Potter was so neat, detailed and well done, that we have now added the rest of the movies onto our to-watch list. The Butterbeer was pretty tasty, too. We had it frozen and it really hit the spot.
- There is also a “single rider” option. If you do not care who you ride with, the attendants will ask for a single rider and you can skip ahead in the line. At some queues, there is even a special line reserved just for “single riders”. If you do not mind temporarily being split up from your companions, it will save you time if you do not have an express ticket.
- We were happy with the amount of entertainment we found for our kids. Madison could go on most of the rides and Sadie has just hit 40-inches tall. Jacob is only nineteen months, so he was limited. That is why we especially loved Seuss Landing for the kids. The Seuss decor was right on, so bright, happy and adorable, and the kids could have some experiences together. Other great areas included Shrek 4-D, Fievel’s Playground and the Curious George water area. The parade was a great way for the kids to see a lot of their favorite characters as well, especially since we missed most character interactions. Sadie was especially happy to see Dora appear in the parade. For myself, Spongebob will always have my heart.
- On a lot of the big rides (such as Gringotts and Forbidden Journey), you are not able to bring any loose items with you: backpacks, purses, phones. Universal does have free lockers before you queue up for the ride, but the locker rooms are so packed that it was madness. If you can use a locker nearby it may save you a headache. What we ended up doing when getting a locker in the locker room seemed impossible, was to just skip using the child swap and took turns holding each other’s loose items while the others used the express ticket line.
- Universal Citywalk has so many food options and was such a “happening” place. The first stop we made was at Voodoo Doughnuts. The doughnuts are super sweet but the locations are so few and far between for us that when we run into one, it sure is nice to indulge a little.
Take a look into our fun day at Universal Orlando Resort:
Universal Orlando was sure a day of laughter and fun. We now know that next time we will have a bit of a different plan: (1) Express Tickets are a MUST, (2) we will allow for more than one day to take it all in, and (3) we will stay nearby or at one of their select resorts.
Have you ever been to Universal Orlando Resort? Are there any suggestions we missed?
Disclaimer: We were guests of Universal Orlando, but as always, our opinions are our own.