Excitement fills the air as you step foot into Universal Orlando - the ultimate family vacation destination. While the theme park is filled with fun and thrills, it can be overwhelming, especially when traveling with kids. Worry not! I have prepared 12 tips and tricks to help you navigate Universal Orlando and create lasting memories with your family. Follow my guide to make the most out of your vacation at Universal Orlando.
1- Stay on property. This one will actually take care of multiples of my tips. If you stay on property, you automatically get Early Park Admittance, letting you into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour early (on select parks on select days - see the calendar/placard in the lobby for which park or parks during your visit). If you stay on-property, you can easily take a swim break in the middle of the day! A short five-minute walk can get you to your room (or a short five-minute water taxi or bus ride) for a nap. With some resorts, a stay on-property can also get you the unlimited Express Pass! Want to know how that can actually save you money? Contact me, and I will show you in dollars and cents!
2-Arrive Early/Take advantage of the Early Park Admittance - If you stay on property (or another secret way that I reserve for ONLY my guests), you can get Early Park Admittance that gets you into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Rides for an hour early. The park that gets this extra perk varies, and the best way to know is to check the Universal app or check in your lobby. They will have either a calendar posted or signage in the lobby to show you. Actually, they will have it on the TV in your room as well!
This perk allows you to show your room key to access early entrance into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, since it is only the Harry Potter rides, how is this a benefit? If you aren’t interested in riding those rides - you still will be inside the parks, not at the entrance of the parks or close to the entrance of the parks, and be close by where the rides are that you do want to ride, and have a good chance at riding those rides as soon as the park opens.
Everyone knows the early bird gets the worm. Well, the early parkgoer gets multiple rides in before the majority of the guests get in!
3-Plan Your Day: Plan your activities in advance to make the most of your day. You can use the Universal Orlando app to see wait times, show schedules, and park maps to ensure you hit all the attractions you want to see.
Plan your day, but not like Disney-Plan-Your-Day! A general plan is all you really need to enjoy Universal. Use the app, check out the shows you want to see, and keep those times in mind as you stroll along, hitting the rides the kids MUST do.
Be flexible, especially if this is your first trip. If you have a Harry Potter fan in your group, plan on EXTRA time to explore both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade! (even if you don’t have a Harry Potter fan in your group, there are a ton of don’t-miss sights in the areas!)
The scenery in the parks can be as important as the rides, shows, and attractions. They can keep you enthralled for hours.
4-Take Breaks: It's essential to take breaks during your visit. Kids can get tired and hungry, so make sure to take a break and grab some snacks or drinks.
There is no shortage of snacks inside Universal Orlando! In fact, there are so many options, you could have problems deciding on the best one. For littles, it may be best to bring some small individual-sized favorite snacks from home.
When mine were smaller, they had a particular type of Gummi snacks and would only eat those, so we always grabbed some extras when we traveled! Having a few in the parks as a backup always was a winner for those times when they either didn’t like what everyone else had (even when they insisted they wanted it) or when the bad moods started, and they needed something NOW!
And let’s talk about naps for a minute. Some kids NEED those naps, while others do fine without them. And then there are those that change on a day-by-day basis on a single trip! You moms know what I mean! This is where staying on-sight comes in handy. In just five minutes, you can be back in the room, and little ones (and not-so-little ones) can be having that much-needed nap while other family members can be enjoying the pool for a quick cool-off from the Florida heat
5- Shows -
Bourne Spectacular- Features high-Speed chases, thrilling stunts, and special effects that will keep your family in awe.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Several live shows are performed throughout the day, including the Tales of Beetle the Bard, and Celstina Warbeck and the Banshees.
Marilyn and the Diamond Bellas - A musical show that takes you back to the golden age of Hollywood that will leave you tapping your toes and singing along
Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear- Daily shows in Seuss Landing with musical ‘tellings’ of some of Dr Seuss most loved stories.
Raptor Encounter - You will learn some interesting facts about the intelligent dinosaur and maybe get to snap a selfie with one!
6-Use Activities at City Walk-
If you are staying for more than a day, (and I definitely suggest you do!)there are tons of things to do while not actually IN the theme parks. City Walk is not only a great place to Shop and eat, but it also has a Universal Cinemark Theater, and Hollywood Drive-In Golf, a unique mini-golf experience full of movie theming. Don’t forget about the Universal’s Great Movie Escape-Jurassic World: Escape! And Back to the Future:OUTATIME!
7-Character Meet and Greets - Nothing is more magical for kids than meeting their favorite Universal characters. Schedule some meet and greets for the little ones.
Hollywood Character Zone- You may meet Marilyn, Beety Boop Hello Kitty and more.
Marvel Alternivers Store - You may catch a glimpse of Spiderman or other Marvel characters.
Dr Seuss Character Zone - Here is the place to see Dr Seuss characters including Cat in the Hat, Sam I am, Thing One, Thing Two, and maybe even The Grinch!
Classic Comic Book Characters - Be on the Look out for such Classics as Popeye , Olive, and Betty Boop!
8-Child Swap - Offering Child Swap allows adults to alternate riding with their little ones without having to wait in line twice.
This is the Official language from Universal’s website :
"Have a little one too young to ride your favorite attraction? Take advantage of our child swap program, which allows one member of your party to wait in a designated area along with any children who are unable or unwilling to participate. Once the rest of your group is off the ride, just trade places and take your seat on the ride while those who rode previously stay with the child(ren). For more information or instructions, please ask a ride attendant upon arrival to the theme park."
9-Use Single-Rider Lines: Universal Orlando has single-rider lines that have shorter wait times. It's a great way to skip the lines and enjoy more attractions. One important thing to remember, in order to ride UNACCOMPANIED by a supervisiong adult, the child must not only meet the ride height requirement for that specific ride, but must also meet the 48-inch ride-alone requirement. So if little Johnny is tall enough to ride the ride at 42 inches, he can’t go alone on the Single-rider line unless he has someone walk through the queue with him.
10-Water Attractions - There are many opportunities to cool down from the sun with refreshing water attractions; I encourage families to pack extra towels and clothing for the little ones. There are all day lockers at both dry parks right near the entrances . Remember to take a plastic bag to put the wet clothing inside afterwards.
11-Stay for the Night Show: Hogwarts Castle Show - I urge families to watch the Hogwarts Castle Show if it is currently available. It’s a nightly projection/light show that is pretty amazing. This is a seasonal show, and changes frequently. Check the app to see if it is showing during your stay!
12-Express Pass! This is a MUST if you are visiting during the summer or any other busy time! No two ways about it! However, there ARE two ways to get this. One is to pay for it, either when you buy your ticket or package, or at the gate or inside the park (once you actually realize how important it is!) If you are wondering which way is cheaper - it's NOT inside the park! (IF it is even available!)
The other way is Free! If you are staying on-site in one of the three premier resorts, the Express pass is included in the price of your room! Not only is it free, but sometimes it saves you money if four people are in your party!
Your family's adventure at Universal Orlando awaits! From staying on-property to taking advantage of early entry, our top 12 tips are sure to help make your trip seamless, enjoyable, and memorable for all. Ready to plan your trip to Universal? Contact me and let's begin planning your family's next magical experience! Click on my calendar link and we can discuss your next Universal Orlando vacation today
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!