Happy Monday everyone! I hope wherever you are that you are warm. Personally, I’m sitting down with a nice cup of earl grey & almond milk because it’s time to tell you about my most recent adventure! Universal Orlando. If you can, just imagine how excited I was when I found out I was going. We had a blast. I went a few years ago pre-HP World and I honestly didn’t remember a ton. However, this time there are lots of photos and tons of tips to share. Let’s begin!
My disclaimer: we went the week after Christmas. It has been classified as one of the busiest times of the year. Because of that, my tips are based on how we survived and made the most of our trip.
Tip 1: Go Early! But really, we had two day park hopper passes. Both days, we made it a point to be there when they opened or at least walking through the gate at that time. The first day, I didn’t notice it so much because I don’t think the holiday crowd had quite traveled in yet. But when we went back Thursday, boy oh boy were there tons of people! The window between 8am-10am is when everyone without a small child seems to be moving around. Wait times were shorter. Less people to press through. It’s ideal if you want to do more of the popular rides.
Tip 2: Download the app*. We were hard core planners with our navigation through the park. Yes, we kept a paper map on us but the Universal app helped us see wait times and saved us lots of extra walking. Plus, you can have it notify you when you wait times are shorter. It was such a time saver!
Tip 3: Split your day. This tip was learned simply from trial & error. Our first day, we powered through the park. We lasted the lunch crowd and smashed our way through Hogsmeade. We waited in crazy lines. But our second day, we learned. Our group was built with some roller coaster fanatics and some that preferred the 3d and other style rides. For day 2, we decided to split and tackle the coasters in the morning. We left around lunch to go home and eat. Then we returned around 4:30pm to finish off the day and catch the night shows plus any rides we missed.
Splitting the day was a time, energy and money saver. Instead of being as wiped as we were the first day, we could rest and return. Plus, the groups with smaller children seemed to leave around when we returned or at least thinned out. We also got to eat at the condo and save money on lunch. It worked out great. Also, there is a water show at 9 in Universal. By sitting out the hottest hours of the day, we had energy to enjoy it that night.
Tip 4: Single rider lines. Do it. When I asked K for her advice before my trip, she suggested the single rider line method. It was a tip we took to heart. When we could, we split into the single rider line. Our group varied from 4-6 people at any point for rides, and more often than not, we ended up somewhat together. For Men In Black, we got to battle each other which made it even more fun.
My one disclaimer with this tip is that it worked for us on every ride but The Mummy. For some reason, we found that the main line moved even quicker. So, maybe just stick together for that ride. Also, there is a single rider line for Spider Man but you have to ask. They don’t advertise it and we waited way longer than necessary because we didn’t know until they started telling us over speaker. We had been in line for 45 minutes at this point. Not fun.
Harry Potter specific tips:
Tip 5: Get your wand in Diagon Alley. If you’re going to buy a wand, I’d recommend doing it there. Firstly, it seems to be less crowded than Hogsmeade. But also, the wand shop just seems nicer. And if you’re going to get a wand, do the interactive version. There are tons of places both in Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade to play.
Tip 6: Start with the rides. Another tip from K that was great! Both Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts & Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey are always busy. To be honest, the line for the Forbidden Journey was always crazy. Also, the option for single rider doesn’t open up until you get into the castle. Be prepared to wait a minute for this one.
Tip 7: Ride the train both ways. Truthfully, if I hadn’t gone with such hardcore HP fans, I would have missed this. However, the train experience is different each way. If you want to disappear into Platform 9 3/4, you ‘ll get to do that on the ride from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. Extra Tip: Get a friend to video it because it’s really neat.
Tip 8: The dragon breathes fire every 10 minutes. Random but useful? If you want to get a photo, it’s something to know. You’ll find said dragon in Diagon Alley.
There are also a few things I noticed that don’t quite fall into the tip category but are more so tips. There are quite a few 3D glasses rides. Way more than I thought there would be in the park. If you get motion sick, as I do, I’d recommend you be prepared ahead of time. I made sure I took a non-drowsy medicine for day 2 and I was super glad. If you’re looking for one, this is what I took* and it worked well.
Also, if you are a coaster fan, ride The Hollywood Rip Rider. Just do it. Oh my gosh, we had the best time. And we were super pumped in line about riding it. I picked Sabotage by Beastie Boys as my ride song and it was perfection!
But there you have it for my tips for Universal: the ride & park edition. I’m going to do a separate post on eating in the park and tips for food. You’ll find that here Wednesday!
Have you been to Universal? What are some of your tips for navigating the park? Do you have a favorite ride? Leave me a note below and let me know.
PS. Props to my friend CJ for being the photographer of this trip. You can find him on instagram here.
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