Universal Orlando is open and welcoming guests. You may have noticed that there are a lot fewer vacation tips online for visiting Universal Orlando in comparison to Walt Disney World. While many of your strategies for visiting any Orlando park are the same, there are some specific things to note when visiting Universal Orlando. If you avoid these common Universal Orlando Mistakes, you will have a great vacation.
We created our latest update to our 20 Mistakes to Avoid at Universal Orlando in September 2021. This advice takes account of the latest changes to the resort during tourism’s reopening period.
Not reading the latest safety information
Most things are back to normal at Universal Orlando, and temperature checks before entry to the resort are distant memories. Currently, Universal Orlando recommends the following:-
- Face coverings when indoors. However, unlike Walt Disney World this isn’t mandatory.
- Maintain social distancing between other parties.
- Regualr washing of hands.
Safety advice is subject to change, and we recommend you check the Universal Orlando website for the latest information.
Attempt it all in 1 day.
Pace yourself Universal Orlando is not small. While it might be smaller than Walt Disney World, there is still a lot to see.
Once upon a time, you could do Universal in one day. However, in recent times the parks have expanded rapidly. You will now struggle to complete either park in 1 day, even with an Express Pass.
We think three days minimum is now required to enjoy Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure fully. Plus, if you plan to visit Volcano Bay, make it 4.
Not getting tickets in advance or only getting vouchers.
Ticket lines are often very long at Universal, often over 1 hour, and if you don’t buy in advance, be ready to wait in line.
Tickets are always cheaper in advance for everyone. Exclusive tickets are available for specific countries if you buy them before you travel. These often work out a lot less expensive than you can buy in the US. We live in the UK, and tickets purchased in the UK offer considerable savings.
Whatever tickets you decide to purchase, get a hard ticket, not a voucher. Vouchers have to be exchanged at Universal, which can mean joining a very long line at the ticket booths.
Read our Guide to Universal Orlando Tickets for further information.
Not getting a Park to Park Ticket
To ride the Hogwarts Express, you must have a Park to Park Ticket. Missing this fantastic attraction, in our opinion, is a big mistake. Only consider buying a Single Park ticket if you have previously ridden the Hogwarts Express.
Not Riding the Hogwarts Express to get between the parks
The Hogwarts Express is a great attraction, but also it saves your legs. While you can walk easily between Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, it does take time. Take a break from the heat and ride the Hogwarts Express.
Not recording your ticket numbers
What do you do if you lose your ticket? It is easy if you have recorded your ticket number; Guest Services will reissue you a ticket.
We learned the hard way and had to phone the UK to get our ticket numbers.
Not Getting an Express Pass if the Parks are going to be busy
If you want to avoid the queues at Universal, an Express Pass is essential. Universal Express Pass allows you priority boarding at the majority of attractions at Universal Orlando Resort. Just present your pass at participating attractions to bypass the regular lines. You will join a shorter Express Pass line and have a shorter wait compared to the regular line.
In quiet periods an Express Pass is probably not required, but during summer and holidays, it is a necessity. However, it does add a lot to the cost of your vacation.
Visit our Guide to learn more about Express Pass and the other ways to obtain a pass.
Not downloading the Universal Orlando Resort App
Make the Universal Orlando Resort App your best friend when visiting the parks.
The Universal Orlando Resort App allows you to store tickets, access wait times, join Virtual Line Experiences, access showtimes, and more. There are handy interactive maps, and the app will even save where your car is parked. You can now preorder food from select restaurants using the Universal Orlando Resort App.
Universal Pay is a new feature that allows you to add a debit or credit card to the App. This feature then allows you to use the App throughout the park for contactless payments.
Free Wifi is available throughout Universal Orlando so that you can access the App anywhere! The Universal Orlando Resort App is available at both the Apple App Store & The Google Play Store.
You forget the sunscreen.
Many of the attractions at Universal Orlando are inside, but you will spend considerable time under the Orlando sun. Also, due to social distancing, lines might not always be under shelter.
In summer, many of us will find our skin will burn & the Orlando Sun can be unforgiving. Plenty of sunscreens and a good hat are required when visiting the parks.
Our Guide to Orlando Weather has plenty of tips and tricks.
Wearing new shoes.
Make sure your shoes are worn in and comfortable you will be doing a lot of walking. Did you know the British Queen hires someone to wear in her shoes?
Not having a break.
Many people will take a break during the mid-afternoon when the parks are at their busiest and hottest. Consider returning to your hotel for a few hours. If you decide to stay in the parks, make sure you take plenty of time out & don’t skip meal breaks.
Not bringing park essentials
Make a list of what you need, e.g., camera, autograph book, poncho. Pack your bag the night before and recheck it in the morning. Don’t bring too much into the park as you will have to carry it all day, also make sure your bag isn’t too big.
Don’t bring a large bag into the park!
Many of the attractions at Universal Orlando make you use free lockers to store your belongings before you ride.
However, the lockers are not very big, and recently they became even smaller at many attractions. If your bag is too big, there are larger “expensive” lockers available. Avoid using 1 bag for the whole family and split your belongings into several smaller bags, and use several lockers if necessary.
Due to social distancing, it will also take longer to access lockers.
Not arriving early
Parks are quieter in the morning, and waiting times will be less. Also, mornings are cooler & you can avoid those daily summer afternoon storms.
If you are staying at a Universal Resort, make sure you take advantage of Early Park Entry.
Not using Child Swap
Most attractions have height restrictions at Universal Orlando. However, this does not mean you can’t ride!
All rides at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have a Child Swap facility. Child Swap allows the rest of a family to ride an attraction when a child is either too small or young to experience the ride.
The young child sits, usually in an air-conditioned waiting room, with a parent while the rest of the family ride. Once the first group is off the ride, parents swap supervision, and the rest of the family ride without waiting.
To use Child Swap at Universal Orlando, speak to the cast member at the entrance to the ride.
Not using Virtual Line Experience
Universal has been using Virtual Lines for several years. The concept is simple, reserve your place using the Universal Resort App and then join a much shorter line later in the day.
Since the parks reopened, the number of attractions offering Virtual Lines has increased, but the attractions offering it can change throughout the day.
Not using Early Park Admission
Universal Orlando Hotels are fantastic, and one of the best perks is early park admission. Each day either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure opens one hour before the scheduled opening for Hotel Guests and Select Groups.
Early admission is a fantastic opportunity to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with fewer guests. The park opening early does vary, and so do the attractions which open. Click the link to get the latest information.
Not using the Single Rider Line
Don’t want to pay for an Express Pass?
Assuming you are happy to ride on your own, the Single Rider Line can be another way to skip the regular lines. Although it isn’t guaranteed, you will usually experience a shorter wait.
Plus, if you want to ride Universals’ most popular attraction Jurassic World VelociCoaster, a Single Rider Line is available, but Express Pass and Virtual Lines currently are not.
Buying more than one Butter Beer
Have you tasted Butter Beer? They are an acquired taste!
There is usually plenty to share. Buy one before deciding whether to make additional purchases.
Not relaxing and enjoying yourself
The whole world is a little odd at the moment. Universal Orlando is certainly a little different, but it is still a great place to be. Remember to relax and have fun; you’re on vacation!
Read More about Universal Orlando
Our Guide to Universal Orlando is a great place to start planning any vacation.