The Universal Orlando Resort is the place to be! With the brand new expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, new attractions such as Transformers and Despicable Me, and old favorites like ET, Jurassic Park, Spiderman, and the Mummy; there really is something for everyone at the Universal Orlando Resort. Not to mention some amazing entertainment and cuisine including 4 new restaurants at Universal’s City Walk.
Before you plan your visit, you will want to decide what kind of tickets and options you want for your Universal Orlando visit. Here is a quick overview of the ticket options.
“Single Park” vs. “Park to Park”
If you are planning on seeing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter go ahead and plan to get the Park to Park ticket. Actually, I recommend the Park 2 Park ticket to anyone heading to the Universal Orlando Resort here is why:
· Universal Orlando has 2 theme parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal Studios is primarily focused on movies (Transformers, the Mummy, ET, Despicable Me, Men in Black, Terminator and more!). Islands of Adventure focuses on adventures we have experienced through the written word (often resulting in moves) such as Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Comic Books (Spider Man, Hulk), Dr. Suess and more! You will definitely want to visit both as both parks have attractions for all ages.
· The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually in both parks. Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. The Hogwarts Express takes you back and forth between the two. A Park to Park ticket is required to ride the Hogwarts Express and if you are a Harry Potter fan at ALL; Hogwarts Express is a must-do! So go ahead and plan on the Park to Park ticket to get the full Wizarding World experience.
· Even if you are not interested in the Harry Potter attractions, the Park to Park ticket is a must- do. Unlike Walt Disney World, the theme parks at Universal are RIGHT next to each other. You could walk out of one park and be in the next in 3-5 minutes walking at a leisurely pace. So it really is a no-brainer to get the Park to Park ticket.
· If you plan ahead and go on days when the parks are less crowded (let your Travel Agent help you with that part of the planning!) you can really do a lot at Universal Orlando. So, go ahead and plan on the Park to Park ticket and enjoy! It really makes it feel like one really big park. No transportation required!
Express Pass and Unlimited Express Pass
Universal has a GREAT ticket add-on option for making the most of your time and avoiding long lines. The Express Pass allows you to enter the Express line on most rides and significantly reduce your wait time. With the regular Express Pass you get to use it once at each participating attraction. The Unlimited Express Pass is just as it sounds-use it as many times on each attraction as you want!
Even on less crowded days this option is worth it. On a recent trip I was there on a Tuesday afternoon in October when crowds were very low. Many attractions only had a 10 minute wait. I used my Express Pass and literally walked right onto the attraction. Those 10 minutes can really add up to save you quite a bit of time throughout the day. Not all attractions have Express Pass. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Hogwarts Express among other attractions do not have an Express Pass line. Still, it is a great option, especially if you are only visiting for a short time such as a one day Park to Park visit.
BONUS TIP: If you stay on-site at Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay Hotel, or Royal Pacific Resort, you get a FREE ticket upgrade to the Unlimited Express Pass!!! The upgrade from an off-site hotel or the Cabana Bay Beach Resort could pay for itself with this benefit!
Other Ticket Options and Add-ons
· Ground Transportation You can actually add the ground transportation to your ticket! Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort? You can include roundtrip Ground transportation from your Disney Resort to Universal on a one or two day ticket. Staying at Walt Disney World before or after your stay at Universal Orlando Resort? Ask your travel agent about other Ground Transportation options including the airport and Walt Disney World Resorts when you stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel!
· 3 Park Unlimited Ticket Three Parks at Universal? YES! This option also includes Wet n Wild Orlando which is a VERY short drive from the Universal Orlando Resort! This is the BEST VALUE for tickets as it includes unlimited park-to-park admission to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Wet ‘n Wild waterpark for 14 days! The tickets are good for 14 consecutive days and can be used every day during that time period. If you are planning to spend 4 or more days in Orlando, this is a great option as it is VERY similar in price to a 4 day Park to Park ticket!
· Orlando FlexTicket This is similar to the 3 Park Unlimited ticket but it includes FIVE parks! The 5-Park Orlando FlexTicket gives you unlimited admission (for up to 14 consecutive days) to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Wet ‘n Wild Orlando waterpark, SeaWorld Orlando, and Aquatica waterpark. The tickets are good for 14 consecutive days and can be used every day during that time period.
· Blue Man Group If you have never seen this amazing show before-do it here! The Blue Man Group has their own theatre at City Walk (conveniently located right outside of Universal Studios). No need to drive and park anywhere. Add Blue Man tickets to your ticket package or your Universal Orlando Resort Vacation Package. This is a great show and the theatre is small enough that every seat is a great view! Stick around after the show to meet the Blue Man crew and take some fun pictures.
· Mini-Golf City Walk has 2 mini golf options – these are unique and highly themed mini-golf courses. Great for evenings away from the parks.
· VIP Tours This is an amazing way to experience the Universal Parks! You are in a group of up to 12 people and your tour guide personalizes the experience to you. I got to experience the VIP tour on my last visit and it was incredible. The tour guides are so knowledgeable! You get to learn a lot about the parks as you go-plus you get to experience all your favorite rides with little to no wait. If you only have 1-2 days and really want to see what Universal is all about- consider a VIP tour.
As you can see there are TONS of options for Universal Tickets. Universal has so much to offer you should actually look into staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel. Resort benefits include the Express Pass (mentioned above and available at deluxe resorts), early entry into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios (all Universal on-site resorts offer this), City Walk discounts and benefits and so much more. The resorts are so close to the parks you can walk everywhere or take buses and/or water taxis to each resort. Transportation runs constantly throughout the day so you are never waiting long at all.
If you are interested in planning a vacation or a even a quick stop at Universal Orlando, I would LOVE to help you! I recently had a FANTASTIC stay that included time at Universal’s newest resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and the luxurious Portofino Bay Hotel and I can’t wait to help you plan your trip.
Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel Planner affiliated with Travel with the Magic
Specializing in Universal Resorts and Disney Vacations including Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Cruise Line