Walt Disney World has been my primary focus for the first several months of “Tour Guide Tuesday.” It is now time to add some tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your time at Universal Studios. Most of my Universal tours are designed to help my guests enjoy a majority of the attractions at both parks in one day. However, there are many ways to make the most out of a day at that resort, and I’m going to discuss a different scenario in each Universal article that I write.
The first decision to make when planning a day at Universal Studios Florida is whether or not Harry Potter is going to be a priority. This will determine what type of plan that will work best. Today, I’m going to discuss a non-Potter day. When I say non-Potter for this scenario, I am specifically referring to the Escape from Gringotts attraction. You could certainly enjoy the atmosphere and details of Diagon Alley on any given day. However, much like Disney’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Gringotts can have a long wait right at park opening.
Universal Studios uses its own version of a line avoidance system called Express Pass. It is different from Disney’s FastPass system in several ways. First off, it isn’t free. In fact, in some cases it could nearly double the cost of a day’s admission. Secondly, it can be used for almost all attractions except the Potter headliners and a few others. This is good and bad. Since there are no limits to the number of guests per hour per attraction (like at Walt Disney World), the Express Pass lines aren’t always that quick. For example, Despicable Me may have a 90 minute standby wait, and the Express Pass only may bring it down to 30 minutes. It just depends on the number of Express Pass guests who are visiting an attraction at the time you are there.
Today, I am going to discuss keeping your wait times down without the need for Express Pass. First and foremost, it is important to get to Universal Studios Florida prior to opening time. Just like I’ve discussed in prior Disney articles, this will give you a huge advantage over the majority of guests who stroll in after 10:00. The first hour at this park is key.
After entering the park, a large number of guests head right over to Diagon Alley. Most of the other guests go to Despicable Me, since that attraction is so close to the entrance. Since it is slow loading and very popular, the wait time quickly climbs to an hour, right after opening. It is important to bypass Despicable Me, as you really aren’t gaining any advantage by trying to ride it early. On an average day, you can visit the other 6 most popular attractions in about 90 minutes.
Assuming you are brave enough, head to Rip Ride Rockit first. From there, you will go to Revenge of the Mummy followed by Transformers. Then, head up past the Potter mayhem and enjoy Men In Black, The Simpsons Ride, and E.T. Adventure. For the most part, the rest of the shows and attractions will have wait times of under 15 minutes for most of the day. The only one that will be an issue will be Despicable Me, but you would have saved so much time by doing the others early, that one long wait shouldn’t ruin your day. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even throw in Gringotts later in the afternoon. However, I will write more about the best ways to enjoy the Harry Potter experience in future articles.
I hope you enjoy “Tour Guide Tuesday.” If you want additional tips while you’re in the parks, WDW Guided Tours is happy to help!