Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How We Did Universal Orlando In One Day

I almost felt like I was doing something dirty when I asked Natalie if we really had to go into the Harry Potter area at Universal Orlando.

Her jaw dropped open, offended. "YES!"

Look, I love JK Rowling. She's wonderful. She's giving. She's witty. I just simply could never get into the books or movies. I tried. Many times.

My daughter isn't obsessed with Harry Potter or anything. But her teacher is obsessed with Harry Potter, and her entire room is decorated with it. She even organized the class into different houses. Natalie is HufflePuff. She reads the books to the students when there is free time. So Natalie knows about it.

"It's just, we can't get an express pass for any of the Harry Potter rides," I explained.

Natalie shrugged. "Well, I want to see everything!"

So I came up with a plan. Natalie could pick ONE Harry Potter ride and we'd go there right when the park opened.

"Hmmm," she said, tapping her chin. "Hmm. Which ride do I want?"

Traveling with kids can be frustrating.

In the end, she picked the Gringott's ride. So true to my word, as soon as the park opened, we rushed back there. We only got lost twice.






TIP #1: Go to Harry Potter right when the park opens. It's less chaotic. If you only have one day, pick one ride. If you want to do multiple rides, do them all in the morning. You cannot get express passes for any of them. The rides are in different areas. Gringott's is in the Universal Studios section. The others are in the Islands Of Adventure.


I won't lie, I didn't know what anything was in the ride.


I didn't know what was going on in the ride either. Who were all those wizards? I recognized Harry at least. But there was a redhead who didn't look like Ron--I think his name is? Maybe it was Ron? There was some redhead wizard helping us.

But it was fun! And we got to ride up front.


We explored the Harry Potter area. I was glad Natalie didn't care about Ollivander's because the line was long. Get there early if you want to do it. The line was like 50 people deep when I saw it.






TIP#2 Get Express Passes! There are two options: one where you can go on a ride one time, or one where you can go on a ride unlimited times. We just did the single ride since we only had one day.





Most of the express lines were fairly quick. The longest one was the Despicable Me line. I think we were there for 30 minutes, but it beat the 80 minute wait others were doing. Skull Island: Reign of Kong was also about 30 minutes, but was an hour for everyone else.



TIP #3: Eat lunch early and beat the crowds. We walked over to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at 11 and there was NO wait! It's located on the Citywalk and was between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I'll have more a review on this soon!





TIP#4 If you want to watch the parade, sit where it first comes out. Seriously, ten minutes before it started, the was still sitting space, because not a lot of people were there. And then when it ended, we could easily walk off to another ride since it wasn't super crowded.







TIP#5: It helps if you're a wimp. We only went on the 4D rides, the 3D rides, the ET ride, the Kong ride, plus the one Harry Potter ride. Oh, and the Jurassic Park ride. You WILL get wet. We also didn't bother with any shows. We would have done the Beetlejuice one, but they got rid of it. Boo.


TIP#6: Like lunch, eat dinner early. We ate at 5. There were still lines, but it wasn't as crazy. We ate at Mel's diner. It was basic, but good enough. Burgers and fries! Located in the Universal Studios side.


TIP#7: Do the raptor encounter but bring your patience! We waited for like an hour, because the raptor has to switch out. They only let so many people in. If we did this again, I'd go earlier and hope that the line was shorter. It's amusing though, the raptor acts like she's going to eat you. She'll sniff your hair and all that and sometimes will snap right near your ear. She wanted to eat my daughter.







TIP#8: Wear a fanny pack. I know, I know, people think they are uncool, but there are rides at Universal where you aren't allowed backpacks or purses. The Gringott's ride, for one. You had to put everything into a locker first. I found this fashionable fanny pack at least!






TIP#9: Leave an hour before the park closes. You'll beat the insane crowds. We took an Uber back, and it was still chaotic. Text your Uber driver and tell him or her what you are wearing. Trust me, the pick up area moves quickly, and security moves vehicles along. If you miss your ride, you're out of luck.



I felt like we did everything we wanted to do. If we went back, we'd probably follow the same plan, only there are some rides we'd skip. The Shrek ride, for starters. Next time we go, we might stay two days, only because we're curious about the hotels there. We were staying at Disney property.






So have you gone to Universal Orlando? What hotel should we stay at?




52 comments:

  1. I did it all in a day the last time, too. I was motivated to see as much as possible that day :)

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  2. Great review and good tips. I love detailed tips like where to stand and what time to be some place. Bravo! When the little one is at least five or six we will visit here.

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  3. It's such a cool place and I definitely agree going to Harry Potter World first thing in the morning, it got so busy quick.

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  4. Great tips! I would love to take my family there one day, my daughter would love the parade and my husband would love the raptor encounter. Beautiful pictures!

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  5. I love taking my kids to Universal Studios as a matter of fact I love going even if it's just my husband and I. We could definitely do universal one day

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  6. I have never been but have been wanting to plan a trip this coming year. Thank you so much for your tips and tricks, I will definitely be referencing this when I go to start digging into the details of my vacation!

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  7. I thought I was the only one who didn't like Harry Potter. I tried...and it was just a no for me.
    I do like the raptors from Jurassic Park so I would like that part!!

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  8. Oh my goodness. I can't believe you got through so much in one day, WITH KIDS! I'm impressed. I'm glad you had a great time (with the exception of the Harry Potter part).

    Christie's Take on Life. xx

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  9. You must've been so tired by the end of the day!

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  10. Wow you are a Super Mom that you guys have finished the whole place in one day! And it looks so much fun :)

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  11. My mother in law and I did one day when we were there too! But we didn't have to pay for the locker by the Harry Potter ride. They gave you an hour for free while you went on. And after an hour; if you didn't get your stuff out you paid. You went like a week and a half after me. I wonder why it changed! And I loved the despicable me thing! And the parade. We got photos with the characters right after since not many people watched the parade.

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    1. You're probably right, I briefly saw a cost and assumed it immediately cost money. I fixed it in my post :)

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  12. We are going in July, and have 4 day passes, with early admission to Harry Potter. Thanks for the tips!!

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  13. Sounds like you got the day to a fine art. We would love to go to Orlando full stop but loved it at Disneyland Paris - we are limited where we can stay too as there is 6 of us - so not sure if it is the same out there. Great tips very kind of you to share but hope too many people don't read it and all go for lunch and dinner early now!

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  14. If I was to go to universal, I would only want to do the Harry Potter stuff and maybe the ET ride which I remember from when I was a kid. But I hate that the Harry Potter things are in 2 separate parts - they really want you to pay for both! Ugh!

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  15. I've been to universal Orlando several time and always stay on property for the express pass & the short walks to the parks! We love Loews royal pacific, it's Hawaiian themed and just absolutely gorgeous and lush. I agree with you about Shrek, once is enough!

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  16. These are wonderful tips! We just came back from Orlando, and skipped Universal this trip. I am going to have to remember these tricks for next year when we go.

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  17. These are awesome tips, I grew up in South Florida and went to Orlando often, spent many weekends with my family. This was a cool post.

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  18. Having done the Orlando theme park scene a few times over, this is valuable info! I don't want to be a fun snatched, but the parks can be s bit overwhelming. This definitely helps!

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  19. Ollivander's is nuts. They pick just one kid out of like 25 to get a wand. We got there first and Scarlet was the only one there. It was SO special. I have chills. Then again, I'm a Harry Potter nerd.
    And the E.T. ride is still my favorite of all time. Scarlet LOVES it.
    We go every year. My aunt worked there for two decades so I never had to pay or worry about where to stay.
    I miss that!

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  20. Wow, what a great post! I guess I will heed to your advise and visit the rides immediately they open. You all sure had so much fun there.

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  21. I have never been to Universal Orlando. What you did is actually impressive. Doing several things in a day is really cool.

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  22. I really want to go to the Harry Potter exhibit

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  23. Wow lovely tips. I have been to Universal studio in LA but not this one. We used front in line pass to cover it in one day.

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  24. i will be going to universal studios in Singapore in two weeks, I will hopefully be able to channel some of these tips. And I hope the have that milkshake!

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  25. I can't believe you fit it all in in one day! Kudos! I'm a HP fanatic so I really enjoyed those pics. The one out here in Cali isn't nearly as big as the one in FL so I'm hoping to visit that one soon!

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  26. this place looks magical! I can't wait to go there!

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  27. Wow, I'm totally heartbroken that you don't love Harry Potter! It's such a great story!

    That last picture of Natalie cracked me up though. She's such a cutie.

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  28. I've never been to Universal before! We're planning to go to the one in Japan since it's nearer. I think it's awesome, I love HP and I would love to see everything in it.

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  29. I'm glad you had an amazing time there. It looks like one whole day isn't enough to explore the whole park. I really appreciate your tips!

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  30. Wow, I can't wait to take my own kids there one day! Is it bad that I didn't even realize they had a Harry Potter Theme park there?! I'm so out of the loop! But thank you for your great insights and your images are so wonderful. Props to your son's awesome T-shirt!

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  31. Great tips Amber! You all clearly had a fantastic time. I was excited to hear about the King Kong Ride. The new King Kong movie was filmed at places near where we live in Vietnam.

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  32. Haha, this sounds intense, but you did it! And it looks like lots of smiles ensued :)

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  33. Looks like your family had a great time. Universal is so much fun and so much to do. Great photos.

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  34. Wow, talk about mom of the year! Great tips indeed. Travelling to Florida was always on our bucket list, and now so is visiting Universal!

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  35. omg these are some really great pictures. it reminded me of mu universal studio days. I hope you and your kids had a blast

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  36. It is so smart to hit the park with a plan. Looks like you had a great time!
    xo
    jen
    effortlesseverydaystyle.com

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  37. Oh wow, I'll have to try this in one day next time. We always end up spending a lot of time at the Harry Potter area.

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  38. It looks like a fun trip! I like your detailed tips, it is really usefulfor people planning to go there :)

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  39. Good tip on where to sit for the parade. I'd love to visit Universal. That's one place we have not yet been.

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  40. I agree. Getting there before the park opens is a good shout, it is what I do with the theme parks here and I normally pick a big ride first because it always get busier later on x

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  41. Amazing experience! And its so cool that Natalie is in Hogwarts uniform! What a cutie!

    www.pengandpaper.com

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  42. The whole family will surely have a great time in Universal Orlando. How I wished to have a local theme park as amazing as this.

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  43. Great tips! I'm sure you had so much fun :) Kids are so adorable. Spell FUN :)!

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  44. The building looks like something off a story book. I'm a sucker for milkshake. I bet the chocolate X5 tasted delish! Nice review.

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  45. Great tips!!! Universal is so much fun! I haven't been to toothsomes yet so I'm super jealous y'all went!

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  46. Wow that is amazing as I have heard people say they need at least 3 days to do Disney in Orlando! And looks like you guys still did a lot in a day.

    xx, Kusum | www.sveeteskapes.com

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  47. I haven't done Universal Orlando, just the one here in Sing. But express pass all the way!!!

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  48. I too have never had the urge to read or watch Harry Potter. It's just not my thing. I did however visit Warner Bros Studios Harry Potter tour a few years ago and enjoyed it. I have a love of film and love the behind the scenes stuff.

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  49. Am not a huge fan of attraction, however that Harry Potter theme attraction is definitely i want to see and visit :)

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Thanks for the comment!

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