by Barb Nefer, Demand Media
The Universal Studios Orlando theme park is part of the Universal Orlando Resort, which also includes three hotels, the CityWalk entertainment district, and a second theme park, Islands of Adventure. You can easily spend two or more days exploring the parks and CityWalk, especially when special events are happening. You will get the most out of your visit if you plan thoroughly.
Choose the dates of your Universal Studios vacation. You may be locked into certain dates because of your personal schedule. Otherwise, you can choose based on factors like low crowds or special events. For example, Universal has several events each year such as Mardi Gras and Halloween Horror Nights. Both theme parks tend to be more crowded during those periods, but many people plan their dates to be able to attend them. If your plan is to avoid the crowds, you may wish to visit just before school starts or just before it lets out for the year, as the crowds are lowest at those times. January also tends to be slow.
Choose between an on-site or off-site hotel. Off-site accommodations are cheaper, but on-site properties have several advantages. You won’t have to drive to the theme parks and pay for parking or rely on a shuttle; the Universal hotels provide guests with boat transportation and walking paths. On-site hotel guests also have unlimited access to an express line for most rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, which can be very useful if you’re visiting in the summer or during a special event.
Compare package deals before purchasing your transportation, hotel and tickets separately. Universal offers a variety of package deals, some of which are centered around the resort’s special events. Work with a travel agent if you don’t want to do the research yourself. Using an agent will not cost any more than making the booking yourself because agents are paid through a commission provided by Universal.
Create a priority list for the attractions at Universal Studios. This will help you use your time efficiently. If you plan to ride the most popular thrill rides, like the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster, Revenge of the Mummy or the Simpsons ride, plan to hit them early in the day. This will not be as critical if you are staying at an on-site hotel and have unlimited express line access. Universal Studios also lets on-site guests enter early on certain days.
Plan to spend time at CityWalk after Universal Studio closes or to take a mid-day break. CityWalk offers a change of pace from rushing around the crowded theme park. You can browse in the shops, have a meal or see a movie.
Tips & Warnings
- Use the Universal Studios Meal Deal if your family members eat a lot and you want to plan your meal budget. The Meal Deal allows each person to eat all day at select locations in the theme park for a set price.