The Biggest Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting Universal Orlando

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Universal Orlando Islands of Adventure

Credit: Universal

Universal Orlando Resort is home to many iconic and thrilling attractions.

Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure house plenty of thrilling rides like Jurassic World VelociCoaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Revenge of the Mummy, E.T. Adventure, and of course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

If you’re making your first trip to Universal Orlando Resort, or even if you’re a veteran of navigating the theme parks, here are 10 rookie mistakes that people make when making their way to Universal.

Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal Orlando

1. Using Early Park Admission to hop on Hagrid’s

This is probably a controversial take considering there are so many people who do this, but that’s exactly why it’s a rookie mistake.

If you stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel or if you are a Universal Orlando Annual Passholder on a certain level, you have access to Early Park Admission, meaning you can enjoy attractions before the theme parks officially open to the public.

Early Park Admission at Universal’s Islands of Adventure typically includes access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as the Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

Credit: Universal
Credit: Universal

While it might seem like a good idea to go ahead and jump in the line for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure– which is consistently the ride with the longest line at the theme park– the problem is that everybody else is doing that already.

Many people who have used Early Park Admission for the attraction have reported waiting in line for more than two hours– sometimes much longer– and this doesn’t seem like a great tradeoff if you’re looking to maximize your time. Instead, we’d recommend using EPA for the VelociCoaster and then keeping an eye on Hagrid’s throughout the day. Perhaps you even go ahead and knock out all the other attractions and then hop in line for Hagrid’s right at the end of the evening.

Motorbike Adventure
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure/Credit: Universal Orlando

Keep in mind that the ride is also subject to breakdowns, and this can increase your wait time. These seem to be even more prevalent sometimes in the morning when the attraction is just starting up.

In case you’re wondering more about the coaster, here’s how Universal describes Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure:

Join Hagrid and Fly into the Forbidden Forest.

Now’s the time to join Hagrid™ as you fly deep into the wilds of the Forbidden Forest, beyond the grounds of Hogwarts™ castle, on a thrilling roller coaster ride that plunges into the paths of some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures. Experience Universal’s most highly themed, immersive coaster—only at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure
Credit: Universal Orlando

2. Attempting it all in one day

There are so many people who believe Universal Orlando can be done in one day. You may think that’s the case, but we’d definitely recommend budgeting multiple days to enjoy all that there is to experience.

One day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and one at Universal Studios Florida will get the job done, but even a longer stay could be utilized if you’re wanting to enjoy attractions multiple times and take your time to move through the theme parks, rather than just speeding through everything.

Hogwarts castle holiday at universal studios hollywood
Credit: Universal

3. Skipping the shows at Universal Studios Florida

You can’t go to Universal Orlando and not experience the three world-class shows that are available at Universal Studios Florida.

Many people skip the shows and it’s easy to understand why. Shows take up time that could be used to ride attractions, but we would say that’s a rookie mistake.

There are three shows, all of which your family will enjoy, and we’d recommend seeing all of them.

Universal Studios Florida at Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal Orlando

Here’s a quick overview of each one:

The Bourne Stuntacular 

“Forget what you know about stunt shows. Through a cutting-edge fusion of stagecraft and film, you follow Jason Bourne as he outruns sinister characters hoping to bring him in. He dangles from a helicopter in Dubai. He’s chased across rooftops in Tangier and by motorcycle through Virginia. There are fistfights, shootouts and danger at every turn.”

Universal Orlando’s Horror Makeup Show

“In this outrageous live show you’ll watch how top make-up and special effects artists craft some of the creepy characters you’ve seen on the big screen. Featuring movie clips, props, and interactive demonstrations, this experience offers fascinatingly funny insight into the moviemaking process.”

Animal Actors On Location!

“This wild showcase features some of the most talented animal actors from movies and television performing in a hilarious mix of video segments, live skits and audience interactions. With a menagerie of vibrant birds, mischievous pups, agile cats and more, it’s a hoot for the whole family.”

Each show is very different in what it offers, but they all are absolutely worth the time.

Universal Orlando
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4. Not using child swap

Universal Orlando has many thrill rides that aren’t necessarily for children. Some children might not be ready to experience the thrills of a coaster or motion simulator. Others may not be tall enough.

No matter what the case is, Universal has a Family Room at each attraction for Guests to utilize. You’ll wait in line together and then your group will split up. One portion of your party will ride, and then you can swap and go ride without having to wait in line again.

Here’s what Universal says about its Child Swap:

“If your children are too small or unwilling to go on a particular ride that you want to experience, take advantage of our “child swap” program. Each ride and attraction has a family room where one member of your party can wait with the little ones while the rest of your party rides. Once they are finished, switch places so whoever rode can stay with the kids, and the adult(s) who sat out can enjoy the ride.”

If you’re wanting to ride an attraction that the kiddos can’t, rest assured that they can still wait in line with you, and that there will be facilities available for your group to wait with them as you take turns riding.

Family Gru Meet and Greet
Credit: Universal Orlando

5. Not taking time to relax and enjoy it all at Universal Orlando

It’s easy to get in the mindset of wanting to get through everything as quickly as possible. If you do that, you’re going to miss out on a lot of the little things that make the theme parks special.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure is uniquely designed so that as you walk into each different island, there’s a different theme for everything, including the background music and even how the trashcans look.

The best way to enjoy your vacation is to remember: It’s a vacation.

Don’t be afraid to take it all in, take breaks when needed, stop for pictures, and enjoy the little things.

Universal Monsters Legends Collide at Halloween Horror Nights
Credit: Universal

6. Not experiencing Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando

There are plenty of fun Holiday events that come throughout the year at Universal Orlando, but none are bigger than Halloween Horror Nights.

Maybe Halloween Horror Nights isn’t your thing, but if you do enjoy haunted houses, you’re missing out by not visiting during the Halloween season.

The popular event typically starts in September and runs on select nights through Halloween at Universal Studios Florida.

Here’s how Universal describes Halloween Horror Nights:

“Summon your scream squad and never go alone to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, The World’s Premier Halloween Event#. Share the scares and stick together as you make your way through terrifying haunted houses, sinister scare zones, outrageous live shows and some of Universal Studios’ most exhilarating attractions. And. So. Many. Screams. “

Credit: Universal

7. Skipping the great food options at Universal’s CityWalk

Universal’s CityWalk has a variety of food options that you can enjoy after your day at the theme parks, or even in the middle of the day on a break.

If you’re looking for an option for lunch that includes possibly skipping some of the chaos that comes with finding food inside one of the theme parks, perhaps look at Universal’s CityWalk. There are several quick-service options that typically won’t have as long of waits, and the food is really good, as well.

You’ve got to stay around for dinner.

NBC Grill, Bigfire American Fare, HardRock Cafe, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, Vivo Italian Kitchen, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Margaritaville, and Antojitos are just some of the delicious options you can have for dinner. Make sure to book reservations ahead of time to avoid massive waits, and we promise you won’t be disappointed with taking time to enjoy a nice dinner at CityWalk after your day at the theme parks.

In addition, CityWalk is home to a movie theater, mini golf course, shops, and the all-new escape room experience called Universal’s Great Movie Escape.

Jurassic Park entrance gate at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Discover Universal Blog

8. Skipping Camp Jurassic

Whether you have kids or not, you need to take time to stop by Camp Jurassic at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Here’s how Universal describes Camp Jurassic:

“This mega recreation area is a multi-level prehistoric playground where kids can have mammoth-sized fun. Explore dark caves and amber mines, climb dinosaur-capture nets and negotiate swaying suspension bridges as the ground rumbles with the roar of dinosaurs.”

Most will skip Camp Jurassic, and this is a sad mistake. The playground is a ton of fun with something for everyone. You can explore caves, climb nets, and even get wet if it’s a hot day. Because most of the crowds will skip this attraction, this gives you a chance to get away from massive crowding during the day, and it’s always one of the best places to make memories with the whole family, no matter your age.

Popeye & Bluto's
Credit: Universal

9. Riding Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges without a change of clothes

You WILL get soaked.

We can’t stress this enough. If you ride Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, there are overwhelming odds that you’re going to get off of the ride completely soaked. It doesn’t matter if you ride it in the winter or summer, you’re going to get wet. There we’ve warned you.

While some might skip the water attraction, what we suggest is just coming prepared with a bag that includes an extra change of clothes. Perhaps you bring some flip flops to wear on the attraction– keep in mind you can’t go barefoot, take your shirt off, or wear only a bathing suit on the attraction– and then change into some dry clothes after enjoying the ride.

If you don’t mind being wet for the remainder of the day– or at least a good portion of it– we’d suggest at least bringing some extra footwear so that you’re not walking around in soggy shoes the rest of the day.

Credit: Universal

Popeye & Blutos Bilge-Rat Barges is one of the most fun attractions in the theme park, but you’ve now been warned on what you need before riding the attraction.

Here’s how Universal describes the water ride, located in Toon Lagoon.

“Get set for spectacular splashes and lots of silliness. That blowhard Bluto has made off with Popeye’s best gal, Olive Oyl, and the only way to save her involves an 18-foot octopus and a lot of water. Hold on tight as you brave your way through raging rapids. You’ll laugh. You’ll scream. You’ll be really wet and squooshy.”

Universal Orlando Annual Pass
Credit: Universal

10. Not being a Universal Orlando Annual Passholder if you’re visiting multiple times

If you’re visiting Universal Orlando multiple times, you should at least look into becoming a UOAP.

Universal Orlando Annual and Seasonal Passes are loaded with benefits and perks that let you experience the resort like a pro. Explore exclusive extras like discounts at some of your favorite dining and shopping locations throughout Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal’s Volcano Bay and Universal CityWalk. Plus, each Pass gives you access to special offers at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels so you can take your visits to the next level.

For more information and pricing for Universal Orlando Annual Passes, please visit the official website.

What rookie mistakes have you seen people make when visiting Universal Orlando Resort? Let us know in the comments!

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