Let’s face it. Orlando, Florida is a theme park lover’s DREAM! In fact, it’s been called the “Theme Park Capital of the World”. You could spend weeks exploring everything Orlando has to offer! So what do you do when you want to see it all but don’t have the time (or the money)? Spend your time wisely and you just might get to see and do it all!
Universal Studios in Orlando currently has two parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. They both have different draws but if you want to see all of Harry Potter World, you’re going to need a park hopper. They are opening a water park this summer but as of now (April 2017) it’s not open yet. Believe it or not, it is possible to see everything in one day. Yes, you heard me, ONE DAY!
Universal Studios offers two Express Pass options to add to your ticket. Think of it like a permanent fastpass! Buying a one day park hopper and adding an express pass will cost you a bit less than a two day park hopper. You’ll spend less time waiting in line, more time on rides and you can leave the other days in your vacation for other parks! I think it’s a win-win. If you travel during low times you might be able to see it all without an express pass but we found it to be a worthwhile investment. We definitely would not have been able to do it all in one day without the pass!
The express pass is usable on most of the rides. However, you cannot use it on most of the Harry Potter rides so go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and save your express pass for when it really counts!
Arrive to the park just before opening. Whichever park you choose, beeline it for the Harry Potter area. I recommend going for Universal Studios first and heading for Diagon Alley. Head straight toward the dragon and the Escape from Gringotts ride as it is one of the most popular and will get busy quickly. This is a great time to snap pictures as it will be the least crowded during this time. But, don’t spend too much time shopping as you’ll have time for that later. Do check out Ollivander’s wand shop if the line is low. But, know there is an Ollivander’s in both parks so you can always check out the other one too.
When you’ve finished the Diagon Alley area of Harry Potter, head for the Hogwarts Express and take the train over to the other park. It might feel weird to leave a park so soon but trust me, the Harry Potter area in both parks is a huge draw and you’ll want to get those rides out of the way early. Once you arrive in Hogsmeade, head for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is the only other “big” ride where you can’t use your Express pass. From here, check out the Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dragon Challenge (my personal favorite).
After finishing up the rides in Hogsmeade, head over to Jurassic Park and work your way counter clockwise around the park. You’ll see Skull Island: Reign of Kong, two water rides in Toon Lagoon and then you’ll reach Marvel Super Hero Island. Spiderman and the Hulk will generally have longer lines than Doctor Doom and Storm Force.
After you’ve finished Marvel Super Hero Island you’ll probably be ready for lunch! We had lunch at a kebab restaurant in The Lost Continent and it was delicious! By now you’ve done most or all of Islands of Adventure. You’ll be thinking about heading back to Universal Studios! Finish up everything you’d like to see and do in Seuss Landing and head back to Hogsmeade. Take the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley (because the experience is different each way).
Once you’re back in Diagon Alley, head towards the Men in Black ride and then the Simpsons area! Take a minute to explore Moe’s Tavern and get a Duff beer. Feeling nostalgic? You might want to take a few minutes to go into Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone and check out E.T. Adventure. Otherwise, head towards Production Central and check out Shrek 4-D, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Transformers and my absolute favorite, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
I like to save my evening time for shopping! By now you’ve done all the rides you wanted to do. You can relax, shop and take in all the little details that make Universal Studios amazing. You probably passed by a few store fronts that you’ll want to wander back to. If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, wander ALL of the shops. They spent thousands of hours making all of the shops accurate and you will feel completely submersed in it! The merchandise also varies greatly from store to store so if you’re looking for a unique souvenir, this is where you’ll find it.
Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or you’re just here for the rollercoasters, you’re bound to find a sweet spot in this park that just speaks to you! For help with planning your next trip, take a look at the current park maps.
For Universal Studios: Click Here
For Islands of Adventure: Click Here
Have you been to Universal Studios Orlando? Which area of the park would you spend more time in?
Pin it HERE!