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Check out these great Universal Studios Vacation tips for your next trip to Orlando!
Getting ready for a vacation can be a little stressful especially when planning one where there are so many things to do. You’re trying to predetermine where to stay, what and when to eat and how to make the most of each day of your trip.
During our 10 year anniversary trip, my husband and I learned so many valuable lessons for the next time we visit. Some things went fantastic while others were a little rocky (see tip number 5). Overall our vacation was so much fun and we look forward to doing again someday!
Universal Studios Vacation Tips
1. Make Reservations As Early As Possible
This tip sounds obvious but is easily overlooked by some. Reservations includes everything from hotel and park tickets to rental car, flights and restaurant reservations. I’ve heard from a lot of people that when they tried to book their choice hotel there were no more rooms available. I also know personally that booking restaurant reservations last minute is daring as most restaurants fill up in advance.
Take the time to sit down and figure out all of these details and check off reservations as you make them.
2. Stay At A Hotel That Gives You Express Passes
This tip only matters if you are going on your Universal Studios Vacation for the rides. We stayed at Hard Rock which was definitely a pricier hotel BUT it was so worth it. Staying at the Hard Rock ensured we got express passes that worked for all but 2 rides at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.
I cannot emphasize enough how amazing the express passes are. Rather than spending majority of your day waiting around to try out rides you get to actually enjoy the rides and spend the rest of your time exploring!
*Note – The two rides not included with express passes, VelociCoaster and Hagrids Motorbike, should be the first thing you do at early entry.
3. Grab A Beer In City Walk And Enjoy The View
Or a margarita or a soda or a water. My point here is City Walk is such a cool place! There is enough to see and do here to soak up a couple hours which makes it a great place to hang out on the day you arrive.
When we first walked into City Walk we did an entire loop to check out all the restaurants and shops since it was our first time. We then stopped into Margaritaville to grab a drink and took a beer to go. We sat on some benches by the water and then headed off to some shops to explore.
Plan to do a lot of nothing in City Walk except spend money and have fun!
4. Get In Line 45 Minutes Before Early Entry Hours
Okay, so Disney seems to have all this extra information available about early entry but I didn’t see this for Universal. Early park entry applied to Islands of Adventure only during our trip (check this as you get closer to your trip because it can change) and began at 8am giving us a full hour in the park before it opened.
We arrived to stand in line at 7:15am each day and ended up being about 15-20 people back. The line forms fast and stretches into City Walk so if you want to speed walk to your first destination, get there early. The park actually ended up opening for us around 7:45am so it pays to be the first in line. On one of the days we were able to ride VelociCoaster twice by 8:30am! On another day we were able to ride Hagrids Motorbike before it was even scheduled to start operating!
Worried about waiting that long? Don’t be! We used this time to drink our coffee, eat our breakfast bars and look at the Universal Studios app on our phones to check out the layout of the park. It helped us get better associated and plan our moves for the day. It’s also worth noting there are trashcans and bathrooms right at the entry location.
5. Motion Sickness Medicine Is A Must
If you even get *slightly* motion sick you need to prepare. I brought Dramamine but I didn’t take it on my first day there and it was a HUGE mistake. The second ride we went on was the Forbidden Journey and I literally thought I was going to throw up. Instead of walking back to our hotel room to take medicine I decided it would be smart to ride Hulk. IT WAS NOT SMART.
We ended up spending almost 2 hours in our hotel room our first day in the parks because I was so nauseous. The next days I was sure to take my medicine and it worked like a charm. Be sure you plan for this because it was such a pain to waste so much time not feeling well.
6. Make A List Of Foods To Try & Where To Find Them
Such a fun part of a Universal Studios Vacation! Before your trip, check out must try foods. We found these via YouTube and blog posts just like this! Be sure to note where to find them so you aren’t searching last minute. We kept a mental note of what we wanted to try but you can easily create a list on your phone!
Some of our must-try foods are below.
City Walk – Cowfish Crab Ragoon Dip
Islands Of Adventure – Green Eggs & Ham Who Hash
Islands Of Adventure – Diagon Alley Warm & Frozen Butter Beer
7. Bring Snacks, Waters & Beverages To Your Hotel
This is a tip for convenience & saving money. We drove to Orlando so we brought a case of water, snacks from our stop at Bucees (OBSESSED), quick breakfast items and alcohol. Bringing these items with us made the trip so much more enjoyable. We do tend to watch how much money we spend so it was nice not parting ways with $15 just for 2 breakfast bars. Also, we were able to enjoy cocktails at the pool and in our hotel room without spending $12 for one drink.
8. Go With The Flow
If you are a planner, this sounds like a nightmare. You probably want to plan out every aspect of your trip and have every day pre-determined. I 100% advise against this. We started the trip that way and ended up having the best time when we just went with the day.
Two of the nights we didn’t even have dinner reservations so we ended up waiting in line at Pandra Express on City Walk for 20 minutes and taking dinner back to our room. We had so much fun those days because we had nowhere to be but in the moment.
9. Rest When You Need To
While staying in the park all day can be a ton of fun, it can also be exhausting. By day 2 we started carving out time in the afternoon to go hang by the pool. We grabbed lunch (the absolute best ever chicken tenders and fries at the Hard Rock pool restaurant) and took short naps in the sun to recharge for the rest of the day.
The parks can stay open until 9pm so be sure to keep that in mind.
10. Two Days With Park Hopper & Express Passes Is Enough
We purchased tickets for 3 days in the parks and had express passes through our hotel. By the end of day 2 we both agreed 2 days would have been enough with a 3rd day dedicated to City Walk and pool time!
The express passes truly make your days so much better. We easily did everything we wanted to do in 2 days so the third day was a repeat. That was fine because it was a lot of fun but I’d say we would have preferred to save our money on that 3rd day and spend it on restaurants and souvenirs.
11. Be Kind & Have Fun
This is so important. Everyone is trying to have a great time and get the most out of spending their hard earned money on this trip. We talked to strangers in lines for rides, we stopped and took photos for families with their kids and we gave advice to people who were just starting their vacation as we were ending ours.
Meeting new people in the moment was such a fun part of this trip and made it even better.
Have the best time at your Universal Studios Vacation!
I hope you have the best time ever on your Universal Studios Vacation. If you have any questions leave them in the comments section below!
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