5 MUST DOs for an awesome Universal Orlando Resort experience

Planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort? I’ve got some tips for making it an awesome and completely memorable trip.

Of course, if you don’t do these things, you’ll have fun too. But these five things will make a HUGE difference in your family vacation.

tips for universal orlando resort

1. Get the Express Unlimited Passes.
The Express Passes allow you to cut your time waiting in line HALF, which is a huge deal. There’s really nothing worse than waiting in line for an hour for a two minute ride. Throw kids in the mix and it’s pretty miserable. Universal does a great job of having cool stuff to look at while in line, but if you can make the line shorter, wouldn’t you? Plus, less time waiting = more rides to go on!

What’s the difference between the Universal Express pass and the Universal Express Unlimited pass? The Universal Express pass allows you to bypass the regular lines one time per participating attraction. The Universal Express Unlimited pass allows you to bypass the regular lines an unlimited number of times per participating attraction.

You know you’re going to want to ride things more than once so I recommend Unlimited. The difference in price isn’t that much but your experience will be so much better. It costs around $84 (in addition to your regular park admission ticket) for a 2-park Unlimited Pass.

2. Stay on property.
Universal offers five resort properties to choose from and staying on-site has major benefits. First off, you get Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™ one hour before the theme park opens (valid theme park admission required).

Three properties offer Express Passes as part of your hotel stay: Loews Portofino Bay, Loews Royal Pacific, and Hard Rock Hotel. That alone would make me stay at one of these resorts.

You also get complimentary transportation to the parks and CityWalk. Buses are available at all hotels and water taxis are available at all but Cabana Bay.

And one of the coolest amenities? Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel. What? You mean I don’t have to carry all my souvenirs around all day. Please and thank you.

The five properties are Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the Hard Rock Hotel Orlando.

Loews Sapphire Falls

3. Bring ponchos.
It’s Florida. It rains. But don’t let that ruin your vacation. Unless it’s lightning, most indoor rides will continue to run. And even if they hault for awhile, you can use that time to grab a bite to eat or peruse some shops. A lot of folks will leave the park when it rains so when rides reopen it means more fun for you and your family with LESS LINES!

My recommended ponchos are here – What to Pack for Universal Studios Orlando!
Bring ponchos to Universal Orlando Resort

4. Buy the interactive wands.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you have to buy the interactive wands…at least one anyway. I will admit to balking a bit when the cashier said “$50″ but the look on my kid’s faces when they cast a spell in Diagon Alley made it worth EVERY. PENNY. There are medallions on the floor throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that mark where spells can be cast. Each marker will show you the wand movement you need to make for the spell to work.

The best place to buy a wand is at Ollivander’s in Diagon Alley but they are also at other gift shops across the resort.
Casting spells in Hogsmeade

5. Utilize the child swap areas.
Unless you have teens, you will likely have a child with you who either isn’t tall enough for a certain ride or just doesn’t want to go on it. Luckily, Universal offers child swap/family areas where parents can either wait with young ones while their party rides, or switch out with the other adult so you both get to ride. Very, very smart! (Plus, it’s air conditioned so no one will complain.)

If you have the money to splurge, I highly recommend the VIP tour. It is the most amazing way to see the parks. It’s not cheap at around $189 per person (in addition to regular park admission), but very, very cool.

Are you a Universal Studios Florida veteran? What are your tips?

Heading to Volcano Bay during your trip? Here are a few things to know before you go!

Photo credits: Erin Lane and ©2013 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved.”

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