Tricks & Tips for Universal Studios Orlando

in Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

three young Guests visiting Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal's Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort

Credit: Universal

Universal Orlando Resort is a multi-park theme park located in Orlando, Florida. With two theme parks and a third on the way, there’s quite a lot to know before planning a Universal vacation.

Whether you’ve never been and have no idea what to expect, or you’re planning a return trip and need a refresher, here are some things to keep in mind when planning a trip.

E.T. holdings a clear globe and looks at a green plant.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando is currently comprised of two theme parks and one water park, with eight on-property hotels and Universal CityWalk, a dining, shopping, and entertainment district. While offering more high-thrill rides and roller coasters, Universal offers something for the entire family.

Universal Orlando Resort
Image Credit:

What theme parks are at Universal Orlando Resort?

The two theme parks at Universal Orlando are Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Universal Studios is classic Universal, with areas themed to New York and Beverly Hills, “The Simpsons,” the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and more. Universal Studios offers the following rides:

  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • E.T. Adventure
  • Fast and Furious – Supercharged
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3-D
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Universal Orlando minions
Credit: Universal

Connected via CityWalk as well as the Hogwarts Express, Islands of Adventure (IoA) is the other Universal theme park. An adventurous and whimsically themed Park, IoA features several Universal IP based areas and attractions, such as Marvel, Jurassic Park, and Dr. Seuss. See the Hogwarts castle in person as you stroll around Hogsmeade or try one of the other rides available:

  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure*
  • Pteranodon Flyers
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls*
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges*
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

*You will get wet!

The Incredible Hulk Coaster glowing green at sunset.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Keep in mind that some of the rides do require Guests to put their belongings into a locker before boarding for safety reasons. You may be asked to go through a metal detector after this process to ensure everything has been stored. You can access your locker with your Park ticket, so be sure to hang on to the ticket you used to open the locker to access it after the ride.

Are there any water parks at Universal Orlando Resort?

Volcano Bay is Universal’s water park, a tropical themed destination featuring several watery attractions. To get to this Park, you will need to take a trolley, as it does not connect to the Universal Parks. Grab your swimsuit and sunblock and get ready to get wet with:

  • Honu ika Moana
  • Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides
  • Ko’okiri Body Plunge
  • Kopiko Wai Winding River
  • Krakatau Aqua Coaster
  • Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides
  • Puka Uli Lagoon
  • Punga Racers
  • Raki of Taniwha Tubes
  • Runamukka Reef
  • TeAwa The Fearless River
  • The Reef
  • Tonga of Taniwha Tubes
  • Tot Tiki Reef
  • Waturi Beach
Credit: Orlando Informer

Where can I stay at Universal Orlando Resort?

Universal Orlando has several hotels on their property. While a handful of them are located near enough to the Parks to walk to them, the others do offer transportation options to and from the Parks.

  • Universal’s Endless Summer Resort
    • Dockside Inn and Suites
    • Surfside Inn and Suites
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • Hard Rock Hotel
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
a red boat sails through the water at Sapphire Falls hotel.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

What to Know Before You Go About Universal Orlando Resort

Now that you know what’s at Universal Orlando and where you can stay, let’s look at everything else you may need to know as you plan your trip.

Do I need to make a theme park reservation?

Unlike Orlando’s other major theme park, Walt Disney World, your Universal Orlando ticket does not require a reservation. All you need is a ticket purchased for the specified date you plan on attending, and you’re good to go. This means no rush to make a reservation, no extra step when planning your day, and no confusion.

A picture of a raft completing the drop on Jurassic Park Diver Adventure.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Does Universal Orlando Resort use virtual queues or sign ups?

Again, unlike Disney World, Universal does not utilize a system like Genie+ or Lightning Lane. No waking up at 7am to frantically try and make a FastPass for a popular ride. Universal does offer the Universal Express Pass for an additional cost to help Guests skip the standby lines and make their way onto rides more quickly.

Guests ride bicycle-like vehicles through a trippy field of space flowers.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Can I Park Hop?

Yes! Guests can Park Hop with a valid 2-Park ticket. Again, you do not need a reservation to get into the Park, and it doesn’t matter what Park you start at or what time you Hop. Guests can get from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure by one of two ways. They can either walk across CityWalk and scan back in, or take the Hogwarts Express from one Park to the other. Unfortunately, the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express is to have a Park Hopper ticket.

wizarding world of harry potter guests on bikes
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

What restaurants are at Universal Orlando Resort?

There are a variety of restaurants between Universal’s two Parks and CityWalk, including basic staples like Burger King and Panda Express at CityWalk to the Mythos Restaurant at Islands of Adventure. Two really unique restaurants at CityWalk are the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, which is a chocolate and dessert lover’s dream, and the Hard Rock Cafe. However, guests can also enjoy Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Cowfish, along with several other quick service to high end options.

Universal CityWalk
Credit: Universal

Universal Studios offers pretty basic theme park food, with standard American fare, including iconic staples in the park like Mel’s Drive-In in the middle of Universal Studios, themed after the famous diners in California and featured in American Graffiti. The other one is the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley, which provides an assortment of English food, such as bangers and mash and a Fisherman’s Pie. Other notable restaurants are Moe’s Tavern in the Simpsons area and Richter’s Burger Co. Islands of Adventure features the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, serving similar fish and chips, turkey legs, and other British cuisine. They also have the Mythos Restaurant, which offers a mixture of Mediterranean, Asian, and American dishes. Each Park also has a variety of quick service restaurants, offering quick and easy meals and a mobile order option.

Are any rides closed down?

Rides at Universal Orlando are constantly being closed for refurbishment for days at a time. Some popular rides like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure are often temporarily down due to various issues. The Universal Experience app keeps track of wait times and what rides are down, so be sure to utilize it throughout your trip so you know what’s happening in real time.

hogwarts express at universal studios florida
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

When should I plan to go?

There are certain times of the year when the Parks are busier than others, spring break, summer, and the holidays being the busiest. Mardi Gras, Grad Bash, Halloween Horror Nights, and the Christmas celebrations bring in large crowds and long wait times. The summer is hot, with temperatures climbing to 90 degrees and hurricane season bringing rain and lightning storms in the middle of every day.

Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella and poncho or rain jacket, and be sure to keep an eye on wait times through the Universal app. January through mid-March are probably the better months to go if you’re able, with lower wait times and nicer weather.

A dinosaur in front of a palm tree
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Is everything family friendly?

Yes and no. The bigger rides and roller coasters have strict and specific height requirements and may not be enticing for younger kids. For families with smaller kids and babies, most rides do offer a ride swap option with a waiting room for the other party members to sit and wait.

There are also a handful of rides that require a child in order to be ridden, such as Pteranodon Flyers.

Diagon Alley Universal Orlando
Credit: Universal

Some of the rides throughout do also have a weight requirement to them, with a ride car available out front for riders to ensure they fit before waiting in line. A few of the rides also have extreme light or sound effects, and can be an issue for sensitive riders.

Universal Orlando Resort offers a variety of high-thrill rides and immersive theming throughout its two theme parks and water park. With Epic Universe scheduled to open in 2025, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the slightly smaller crowds and lower ticket prices. From knowing what rides are where and what you need to do in order go, with these tips in mind, you’re sure to have an Epic time!


in Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

View Comment (1)