I LOVE theme parks! I had the privilege of experiencing Universal Studios Resort in Orlando for the first time since they’ve opened up Harry Potter World. It was surprising to see how much had changed since I last visited and there were a few things I wish I had known before we went! So, without more commentary, here is my top 5 list of things to know before you go!
1. Express Pass
Universal Studios has a form of fastpasses that are very different from Disney (if you’re used to Disney). You can add an express pass on to any park ticket and they have two different kinds of express passes. The basic pass is the cheaper of the two and allows you one “fastpass” on every express pass ride in the park. The unlimited pass is a bit more but allows you unlimited rides on every express pass ride in the park.
Most of the rides have an express pass but the Harry Potter rides do not. Of the rides that don’t have an express pass line, most of them have a single rider line. As long as you don’t mind being separated from the rest of your group, it is a great way to go!
2. Getting In The Park
Before you reach Universal’s City Walk you will encounter metal detectors and x-ray machines. Try to pick a line without strollers, empty your pockets and drop your bags! When you get to the actual park entrance you’ll fine they’re currently using a fingerprint system to make sure park passes aren’t being used by anyone but you. It is a seriously flawed system that is super slow, the scanner didn’t ever take my fingerprint on the first try. I’ve never seen it take so long to get into a theme park, it was really frustrating. Choose your line wisely and be patient!
3. Thrill Ride Lockers
A good number of the more exciting thrill rides will require you to put all of your things into a locker. No, your zippered pocket is not good enough! Don’t argue and don’t try to pretend you don’t have anything when you do. Watches and sunglasses are fine, your purse/backpack and anything metal is not. They do this to prevent injuries and to keep you from losing your stuff!
As much as it is a pain, they have metal detectors waiting in the line to double check you. Do it right the first time and save yourself the time it takes to walk all the way back to the lockers. The lockers are free for 1-2 hours depending on the ride and it’s plenty of time for you to get through the line.
All of the water rides also have lockers but you’re not required to use them. Currently, the ride inside of the Hogwarts castle (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) is the only dry ride that offers lockers but doesn’t require that you use them. We bypassed the lockers and I wish I had used them. I didn’t realize the ride went upside down and the second it did, my phone came right out of my pocket. I caught it at the last second, thank goodness!
Rides that require you to use their lockers:
The Incredible Hulk
Revenge of the Mummy
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Know ahead of time when to head straight for the lockers and save yourself a little bit of time!
4. Bring a Backpack
Feel free to bring a backpack! I typically avoid taking a backpack into theme parks because of the logistics of where to put it on a ride. But, Universal is very bag friendly! Since so many of the rides require you to use a locker anyway, you might as well have the convenience of a bag! They also have quite a few simulator rides where they’ll have a convenient spot for your bag.
5. Park to Park Pass
You will not see all of Harry Potter without a park to park pass! Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios while Hogsmeade is in Islands of Adventure. BUT! The Hogwarts express train goes from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and you will miss out on riding the train if you don’t have a park to park pass. Also, make sure you ride it both ways as it is different depending on where you’re headed!
Now that you know everything you need to know, check out how we spent 1 day at the parks and saw EVERYTHING!
Have you ever visited Universal Studios in Orlando? What would you add to the list?
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