Over the past two years, we have been lucky to be a part of the Family Forward retreat at the Universal Orlando Resort. If you’ve never been to Universal, I highly recommend a visit. It’s has attractions for the entire family to enjoy regardless of your age. The best way to enjoy a trip to Universal is to know some insider tips to get the most out of your visit. Here are the top tips we learned this year.
Insider Tips for Universal Orlando Resort
Understand the Parks
If you are new to Universal Orlando, you may not realize that there are two theme parks. One is Universal Studios and the second is Islands of Adventure. You can purchase tickets for each park alone or a park hopper pass where you can visit both in one day. If you are unsure of your plans, the experts at the Orlando Informer recommend you purchase the cheapest option and you upgrade on site. If it’s peak season, I recommend upgrading to at least Express Passes so you can skip the long lines at most rides and attractions.
Stay at an On Site Hotel
We highly recommend staying on site at Universal Orlando. So far, we have tried the Loews Portofino Bay and the Loews Royal Pacific Resorts. Both have great amenities. When you stay on site, you have easy access to walking paths and water taxis to the parks as well as access to the pools and restaurants at the four resort hotels (soon to be 5 in Summer 2016). For example, we spent a wonderful half day visit at the Cabana Bay Resort enjoying their 2 pools and lazy river. When you stay the three on site hotels (Royal Pacific, Portofino, or Hard Rock) you also get complimentary Express Passes, which allow you to skip the standard lines on nearly all rides.
Check out a VIP Tour
You can sign up for the basic VIP Experience, which gets you a guided tour and priority entrance into a minimum of 8 of the park’s major rides and attractions, behind-the-scenes experiences, etc. You’ll be treated almost like royalty with a personalized tour guide with access to rides without having to wait on any lines. Your tour guide will be able to answer any questions and provide you with some interesting facts and history of the park as well. The drawback is that these groups are no less than 12 people so you are likely to be combined with 1-2 other groups.
Getting Around the Lines
If you can’t afford a VIP Tour and don’t even want to spring for an Express Pass another way to skip the long lines on many rides is to wait in the single rider line. As long as your group does not mind being split up, this option can cut your wait times by 50% or more. Experts at BestofOrlando.com recommend using the single rider line for popular rides if the wait time is longer than 15 minutes. We recently used the single rider line on Escape from Gringotts. We were in and out in less than 20 minutes. The average wait time on the regular line was 40-45.
Secret Park Entrance
There is a little known “secret entrance” to the Universal Studios. It’s located near the Blue Man Group, right under the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. It is a very small booth and few people know that it exists. Compared to the main entrance, the line isn’t near as long, which means you’ll get into the park much quicker.
So, what’s coming for Universal Orlando? There’s a new on site hotel on the way as well as new park attractions and a brand new water park in the works. By 2017, Universal Orlando should be even more amazing than it is now. Here are the highlights:
- New Premiere Resort 2016: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- New Attraction 2016: Skull Island – Reign of Kong
- New Attraction 2017: Fast and Furious: Supercharged
- New Water Park: Volcano Bay
Consider yourself informed. Book your plans today!
My family attended Family Forward at Universal Orlando. With our paid conference fee, we received discounted park admission, hotel, and experiences like the VIP Tour. All opinions about all things Universal is our own.