I had been to Disney World three times, but never to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
After just one day, I realized I was missing out.
But to make the most of the often very crowded theme park you have to plan your visit.
Purchase a Universal Express Plus Pass:
I highly recommend the Universal Express Plus Pass which gives you faster access to most of the rides with just a couple of exceptions, especially if you are visiting the park at peak times. It will cut down your wait time considerably.
Plan Your Visit in Advance:
Find out which rides are the most important for you and then see if the Express Pass is valid on these rides. When I was there it was valid for most of the rides with the exception of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and the Dispicable Me Minion Mayhem ride so I headed to the Harry Potter ride first. The park is less busy earlier in the day and on popular rides this can cut your wait time considerably.
Universal Studios is often very busy and very crowded, so try and go earlier in the day. The park normally opens at 9:00 am, but check the website since sometimes it opens at 8:00. The park will be much less crowded at 8:00 am than it will be at 11:00 am.
Go Off-Season if Possible:
Universal Studios is very busy during the holidays and vacation time - summer, Easter, between Christmas and New Years, so try and go off season during the week to avoid some of the crowds if your schedule permits.
Buy Your Tickets Online:
Not only will you save $20, a signifiicant savings, but if you print your tickets at home you will also avoid waiting in line to purchase your tickets. We had pre-ordered tickets, but still waited for over 30 minutes. There's nothing worse than arriving all excited and then having to wait to get in, let alone for a ride.
This is subjective and will depend on the person, but my favorite by far was the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. It was a 90 minute wait and I contemplated waiting for so long, but I did. Fortunately the wait time was less than 90 minutes and the ride was well worth it - by far the coolest ride I've ever been on! I would have ridden it all day had the line not been so long.
Note: If you're wearing flipflops, take them off and hold them since your feet will be dangling in mid air during this ride.
I also loved The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
It came a close second for me next to the Harry Potter ride and I could use my Express Pass, so I didn't wait all that long. I was sorry I had missed the Dispicable Me Minion Mayhem ride. I thought the line was too long and the Express Pass wasn't valid for it so I skipped it. I regretted this decision when my travel companions informed me they had waited less than 30 mnutes and loved the ride.
I also heard good things about The Revenge of the Mummy, but it was being worked on while I was there, so I missed that too. A good excuse to come back.
Go for More Than 1 Day:
I was only there about 6 hours, which was not nearly long enough. There were so many more rides that I wanted to go on, but ran out of time. Surprisingly, going for 2 days instead of 1, just costs an extra $17 - a great value in my opinion.
I really enjoyed my time at Universal Studios but would have enjoyed it a lot more, had I planned it better in advance. Happy thrill seeking!
Travel tip shared by Laurel Robbins for Travel Dudes
Thank you to Visit Florida for inviting Travel Dudes and for making this visit possible. All views are of course our own.