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The Four Hour Tour: Universal Studios Florida

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Published: April 21, 2008 at 9:35 PM

Universal Studios Florida, Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida [Map]

Theme Park Insider's "Four-Hour Tours" are designed to get you and your family to the very best attractions in the world's top theme parks... before anyone can get tired and cranky. That leaves you free to enjoy the rest of your day... with a swim, a nap, or with pressure-free time to wander the park.

Please visit our Four-Hour Tours page for an explanation of the concept, as well as links to additional Four-Hour Tours. The attractions and restaurants selected for this tour are those at Universal Studios Florida most highly rated by Theme Park Insider readers. You may click on the attraction links below to see complete attraction descriptions and reviews.

Universal Studios Florida

Before you go: Avoid the wait at the park's ticket booths by buying your tickets online at Universal Orlando's website. If you will be visiting both Universal Studios Florida and its sister park, Universal's Islands of Adventure in the same week, your best value would be with the two-park unlimited ticket. If not, choose the one-park, one-day ticket. Choose the print-at-home option, no matter which ticket you select.

You'll also want to make your lunch reservation before you go. On this tour, we are suggesting lunch at Emeril's in CityWalk, located between the Universal Orlando parking garage and the Universal Studios Florida theme park. Call 1-407-224-2424 a week or two in advance for 1pm reservations on the day of your visit.

Please note that The Simpsons Ride opens to the press on May 15, with a public opening expected the next day. If you are visiting before then, you probably not be able to ride that attraction. If you are visiting within one month of the ride's debut, however, we suggest reversing the order of this tour, starting with The Simpsons Ride, then moving to Men in Black and continuing counter-clockwise around the park. That's due to what is expected to be huge crowds for the new ride.

Also, if you stay on-site at one of the three official Universal Orlando hotels, you get free front-of-the-line access to all rides... which means you should be able to blow through this plan in just a couple of hours.

When you get there: Visitors to both Universal Orlando theme parks park in the same parking garage, then walk through CityWalk on their way into the parks. Give yourself at least half an hour (an hour in the summer) to park and make the walk. Bear right toward Universal Studios Florida front gate. On some mornings, the park might be open early to allow early visitors to ride Jimmy Neutron and Shrek 4-D. If you can on and through one of these before the park's scheduled opening time, go ahead.

1. When the park opens, proceed up the street toward the indoor roller coaster/dark ride, Revenge of the Mummy. Make your way quickly through the queue, but do pay attention to the filmed clips. They help set up the attraction, and a first-time visitor shouldn't rush past and miss them.

2. After leaving the Mummy building, bear left and walk toward Disaster!, an updated and renovated version of the park's "Earthquake" attraction.

3. Keep heading to your left, into the village of Amity, where you'll ride Jaws next.

4. After Jaws, head across the bridge toward the shoot-'em-up dark ride, Men in Black: Alien Attack. (If you are visiting alone, or in a small group, this ride features a single-rider line that can cut your wait time on busy days.)

5. Now its time for Universal's newest attraction, The Simpsons Ride, which opens in mid-May, 2008. If you are familiar with the park, The Simpsons Ride sits in the old "Back to the Future" building.

6. Finally, if you have at least 45 minutes remaining before your lunch reservation, check to see if you have time to catch the next showing of Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time.

7. Head out of the park, getting your hand stamped, and back into CityWalk, for lunch at Emeril's.

After lunch, the rest of the day is yours. Enjoy it by either returning back to your hotel for a swim or a nap, or by returning the park and wandering around, discovering the rest that the park has to offer (or just trying to "win the suit" on Men in Black.)

That evening: It's an extra ticket, but if you're up for it, check out Blue Man Group in their own theater at CityWalk. Or, head back into the park for the light- and fireworks show Universal 360 – A Cinesphere Spectacular.

[Tomorrow: Islands of Adventure.]

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on April 21, 2008 at 9:51 PM
With the lagoon blocking the middle of the park, your choices are, essentially, clockwise or counter-clockwise, unless you want to be doubling-back all day.

I've got no clue at this point how the wait times will go for Simpsons, but I'm guessing that it will have a higher hourly capacity than Mummy, which is why I lead off there and chose the clockwise route.

From Bradley Robertson on April 21, 2008 at 10:34 PM
I know it's not the most thrilling ride, but to me not visit is complete without a ride on E.T. While the flying over the city is kind of a rip-off of the Peter Pan ride, I think the effects are a little better.
From James Rao on April 22, 2008 at 4:22 AM
I think with Universal Studios, Citywalk, and Islands of Adventure, you owe it to yourself to go ahead and stay on property for a few days at one of the Universal resorts (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, or Portfino Bay). The proximity of the entertainment (walking distance for the most part), combined with the included Universal Express perk that comes with your room key, makes touring the parks an absolute breeze. Go when you want for a long as you want, and then head back to swim and relax when things get hectic.

We stayed at Universal for four days at the Royal Pacific and could not have been happier.

However, if you are only going for the day, your touring plan works fine. I would probably just go Mummy -> MIB -> Simpsons -> ET -> Jimmy Neutron -> Shrek 4D, then done. The Terminator attraction is always less busy after about 3:00 in the afternoon, so it is a good one to hit if you come back to the park later to watch Universal 360 (keep in mind, this night time extravaganza only shows during peak touring times like summer, spring break, Halloween).

However, your plan is just as good, it all depends on what attractions you feel are the most important.

From Dan Rosenberg on April 22, 2008 at 11:48 AM
I agree with James. When I went I spent 2 days at the resort. I stayed at Royal Pacific as well. Then I went to USF the first half of the day then I went to Citywalk. The Next day we spent in IOA but we went back to USF in the evening.
From Domenik Jost on April 22, 2008 at 1:03 PM
A good friend of mine got to ride the Simpsons Ride last night as an employee and said, "It's really well done, they did a good job." I had asked him if all they hype was worth it and he just agreed that it was.
I can't wait to go on it.
Hey Mr. Niles, are you going to cover the press event for the opening of The Simpsons Ride?
From Jordan Siegert on April 22, 2008 at 2:49 PM
I agree staying on property is a better idea with the unlimited express pass included in which i am going to be at the hard rock on the 19th thru 22nd of may but i hate the whole 14$ a day for parking, its a rip off

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