I had been to Disney World three times, but never to Universal Studios Orlando, Florida. 

After just one day, I realized I was missing out. 

But to make the most of the often very crowded theme park you have to plan your visit. Here are a few of my top tips when visiting Universal Studios in Orlando.

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida
Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Tips When Visiting Universal Studios Orlando, Florida 

Purchase a Universal Express Plus Pass

I highly recommend the Universal Express Plus Pass which gives you faster access to most of the rides with just a couple of exceptions, especially if you are visiting the park at peak times. It will cut down your wait time considerably.

Plan Your Visit in Advance

Find out which rides are the most important for you and then see if the Express Pass is valid on these rides. 

When I was there it was valid for most of the rides with the exception of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride so I headed to the Harry Potter ride first. 

The park is less busy earlier in the day and on popular rides this can cut your wait time considerably.

The best time to visit Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando is often very busy and very crowded, so try and go earlier in the day.  The park normally opens at 9:00 am, but check the website since sometimes it opens at 8:00.  The park will be much less crowded at 8:00 am than it will be at 11:00 am. 

Go Off-Season if Possible

Universal Studios Orlando is very busy during the holidays and vacation time – summer, Easter, between Christmas and New Years, so try and go off season during the week to avoid some of the crowds if your schedule permits.

Buy Your Tickets Online

Not only will you save $20, a significant savings, but if you print your tickets at home you will also avoid waiting in line to purchase your tickets. We had pre-ordered tickets, but still waited for over 30 minutes. There’s nothing worse than arriving all excited and then having to wait to get in, let alone for a ride. 

You can book tickets here.

Best Rides at Universal Studios Orlando

This is subjective and will depend on the person, but my favorite by far was the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. It was a 90 minute wait and I contemplated waiting for so long, but I did.  Fortunately the wait time was less than 90 minutes and the ride was well worth it – by far the coolest ride I’ve ever been on!  I would have ridden it all day had the line not been so long. 

Note:  If you’re wearing flipflops, take them off and hold them since your feet will be dangling in mid air during this ride.

I also loved The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

It came a close second for me next to the Harry Potter ride and I could use my Express Pass, so I didn’t wait all that long.  I was sorry I had missed the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride. I thought the line was too long and the Express Pass wasn’t valid for it so I skipped it. I regretted this decision when my travel companions informed me they had waited less than 30 minutes and loved the ride.

I also heard good things about  The Revenge of the Mummy, but it was being worked on while I was there, so I missed that too.  A good excuse to come back.

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida
Harry Potter experience at Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Go for More Than 1 Day

I was only there about 6 hours, which was not nearly long enough.  There were so many more rides that I wanted to go on, but ran out of time.  Surprisingly, going for 2 days instead of 1, just costs an extra $17 – a great value in my opinion.

I really enjoyed my time at Universal Studios Orlando but would have enjoyed it a lot more, had I planned it better in advance. Happy thrill seeking!

Visiting Universal Studios Orlando is a great day trip from Los Angeles.

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  • Travel Dudes

    I'm sure you've had similar experiences I had whilst traveling. You're in a certain place and a fellow traveler, or a local, tip you off on a little-known beach, bar or accommodation. Great travel tips from other travelers or locals always add something special to our travels. That was the inspiration for Travel Dudes.