Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email Newsletter

Need advice for my Universal visit...

Universal Orlando: Calling all Universal experts- give a newbie some advice on making the most of a short visit...

From KJ Simpson
Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:16 PM
I've arranged for a two-day/one-night trip to Universal, thanks to a work conference that puts me in the vicinity. My main goal is WWOHP, but I want to see and experience as much as I can while I'm there, as this will likely be my one and only visit. I'm staying onsite for one night so I can take advantage of the early access to WWOHP, as well as the FOTL access. I'll be solo. My plan is to taxi over from the convention center super-early on Saturday 11/5- maybe 7:00am? I know my room won't be ready, but I've read that I can get my access card that early. I'll hit the parks early, stay late, wake early and hit the parks again the next day, then check out in the later afternoon and head to the airport for a 6:30pm flight home. So....what advice do you have for me? As I've said on some previous threads, I'm not a huge coaster person- not big on the drops. However, if the theming is awesome, I'll make exceptions ;) In general, though, age has caught up to me and makes me not quite as tolerant of certain rides as I used to be. Theming, interactivity, fun and "wow" factor weigh more heavily than extreme thrills for me.
Thanks for any tips and advice!!


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted October 1, 2011 at 6:26 AM
The first day you should go to ioa If you have kids of 52 inches or more you should go to The incredible Hulk coaster but if you have kids under 52 inches youre first stop should be spiderman and the whole family will lovet.Then you should go to toon lagoon and ride the popeye ride you will get soaked.Then go to Dudley do rip saw falls.The whole family will liket.Then go straight to Jurasic park and if you have little kids you should ride the pedraton flyers a flying ride that takes you to the Jurasic park area If you're family likes Dinosours you should go to jurasic park discovery center and there you will find dinosaurs games and a bunch of other stuff.Then go to Jurasic park river adventure that's a bote that takes you through Jurasic park and you see all class of Dinosours.Then you should go to wizarding world of Hary potter you have to go to HFJ is a super advance technology dark ride that takes you to an all new adventure but if you have little kids they might get scared during the ride.Then if you have littles you should go to the flight of the hippograph the littles will lovet you should buy a butter bear (no alcohol) Is really good.Then you should go to poseidons fury a special effects show.Then if have littles you should go to Seuss land were all the rides for kids take place and the littles will love Cat in the Hat.That should be you're day o and you should buy the the meal thing were you could eat all day for a low price and you can go to more then one food court.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:44 AM
Giovanny...look up "solo" in the dictionary.

Also, the "butter bear" sounds really interesting...

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted October 1, 2011 at 8:50 AM
I forgot to tell you about Usf.The first thing you should do is buy the meal deal and then go to Shrek 4D the whole family will like then if you have kids of 52 INCHES OR more you should ride the Hollywood rip ride rockit the most thrilling rollercoaster on Usf then if you like special effects show go to Twister. (Not recommended).Then you should go to the mummy the best indoor rollercoaster ever.If you like horror movies and live shows you should go to betlejuice is about when all favorited Universal monsters come toghether.Then you if you like acting you should to Disaster were you are the star.If you like sharks you should go to Jaws.You and you're family will love men in black alien attack.Then you should go to one of the best rides in Orlando the simpsoms ride you and you're family will lovet.If you like animals you have to see the animal actors where you see you're favorites movie pets.If you little Barney fans you should go to a day in the park with Barney.If you have little kids you should go to curious George goes to town a eater area(when you're in that area the time past like flash.If you have littles ride the Woody Woodpecker coaster.If you like Et you should ride Et adventure were you can see Et in his planet.If you are intrested of how horror movies are made go to Hollywood horror make up show for all ages.The last thing if you like 3D shows and live action you get both at Terminator 2 in 3D and that should be you're day.

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted October 1, 2011 at 9:21 AM
I didn't see the solo part sorry.

From Kelly Bean
Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:21 AM
First of all, you will have plenty of time to do everything that you want to do. An Express pass in November is almost unnecessary. Since your plan is to conquer WWoHP, you will most likely be there all morning. Enjoy yourself and don't feel like you need to rush. Of course you will try the butterbeer (get it from the Hog's Head) but I also recommend the pear cider. For lunch, I will recommend the Three Broomsticks. It isn't on the Meal Deal, so skip the Meal Deal this day.

After lunch you will have seen every inch on WWoHP and then you should make your way back to Seuss Landing - stopping at Poseidon's Fury. Hit the Seuss Trolley for some good photo ops of the whole park. Check out Cat in the Hat and then cross over to Marvel. The Hulk will be fun, even though it is a coaster. Do not miss Spiderman. Play it by ear through Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park. I would then stop back into WWoHP for shopping. Since you are staying onsite, there is the ship to your room option but because you are checking out the next day, you should just carry your purchases back at the end of day 1. Go back to your hotel and relax and then maybe head over to CityWalk (you will get in the clubs for free) and enjoy Rising Star (live band karaoke) and Pat O'Brien's (dueling piano's). Being solo, you will feel comfortable in both of these places.

From Kelly Bean
Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:13 AM
For day 2, get the Meal Deal for UO. Don't bother pre-purchasing it - you can get it at the first participating restaurant you decide to eat at. Enjoy the day at leisure. The only major attraction that doesn't accept your Express Pass is the Rockit. It shouldn't be missed and you can use the single rider line. (Note: Do not do single rider the first time you go on Forbidden Journey on day 1 - you will miss a few cool things.)

The park map is the same for both parks so you will be able to take a look at it the day before to decide what you want to see. Again, if you get an early start, you WILL be able to see everything you want to this time of year. In addition to the most popular rides, the Horror Make-up Show should not be missed. Enjoy yourself!

From Bob Liebe
Posted October 1, 2011 at 10:26 PM
I just came back from a trip to Universal and I must say that the early admission is nice! So if you can utilize it for both days, DO IT!!!

DAY 1:
Get there early and head directly to WWOHP. Take your time and just take in the experience. Walk through the shops first before they get busy.(Honeydukes, Zonkos, Olivander's, ect.) Then go and ride the Forbidden Journey. Don't take the single rider's line first because you will miss a lot! When you exit the ride you come out through another shop so take a look around there as well. Then since you aren't big on roller coasters, you should head to Marvel Island and ride Spider Man. I've heard that the Hulk is a great coaster but I've never been on it so you would have to make the choice yourself based on what you see. From there go to Seuss Landing and ride The Cat in The Hat and the Seuss Trolley. Then check the show times for the 8th Voyage of Sinbad and Poseidon's Fury and depending on what time it is, either go to the Lost Continent and try those out or head to Toon Lagoon. At Toon Lagoon you must ride Popeye's Bilge Rat Barges: Caution you will get SOAKED!!! If you are up for one big drop head to Ripsaw Falls (you will get wet there too so don't worry about drying off after Popeye). If not head to Jurassic Park River Adventure. This is another big drop but it's less intense than Ripsaw Falls and the theme is better too so I recommend this for sure. You will also get wet but after this ride you can dry off for the day! Then depending on if you did it before or not, check out the Lost Continent and the 2 shows there. After that hit any of you favorite rides again and then end the day at WWOHP. In the 2 visits I've made this year, WWOHP seemed to be the least busy in the morning and in the last 2 hours or so before park close. Also in Day 1 if you can, eat dinner at Mythos Restaurant. It was really good!

Day 2:
If you have a Park-to-Park ticket, start the day early again at WWOHP. (The early admission is only good for IOA) This will be your last time at WWOHP so enjoy it! Then a little after 9am, walk to the Studios side. You will have to make another decision whether or not to ride Rip Ride Rockit. Again I was to chicken to go on that as well. After that try Shrek 4-D and Twister if the lines aren't very long. The Revenge of the Mummy is a must do coaster! The theme on this is well worth the drops! After Mummy, just keep following the park to the right and hit Disaster, Jaws, MIB, Simpsons, and ET. Check the show times for Terminator 2 3D and make sure you catch that. Then you should have hit all of the major rides. So depending on time, either go back on some of your favorites or head to the airport. The food tip for Studios is to stop at Richter's Burger Co. (it's by Disaster) for a soda. They have 100+ flavors!

You should be able to do quite a bit with the early admission and the Express Pass and where that doesn't work take advantage of the single rider's line! Sorry about the short novel but I hope this helps!

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted October 5, 2011 at 4:37 AM
Hey! There's already a lot of good advice on here, but I've just come home from Florida so thought I'd chuck in my penny's worth!

I was surprised athow good the Jaws ride was. I remember riding it a long time ago, and it was out-dated etc. I didn't even want to bother with it this time, but was really glad I did! It was more exciting than I remembered and the technology seemed revamped, there were a lot of suspensful moments too! I recommend sitting on the left of the boat towards the back.

Eating in Amityville was also fun as there were a few affordable choices and a nice place to sit in the shade by the water. There was a good buzz about the place.

If you are going to do any coaster at all I would second the Mummy recommendation. The coaster part is quite short and along with the ofther effects you'll experience it's well worth braving it! It's a one-of-a-kind attraction, very impressive.

If you were going to miss anything in the Studios I would miss the Simpsons, unless there's no queue. Also I wouldn't worry about hitting the Graveyard Revue as it's a long show and a bit tedious.

If you have time, it's definiately worth getting a shake in Mels Diner...they are delicious and it's nice to browse the gorgeous classic cars outside.

As for IofA, HP world is amazing, and like eveyone says, get there early to explore the shops and ride Forbidden Journey. You'll have to store any bags in the locker, but make sure to keep you camera in your pocket as there's lots of good photos ops in the castle.

Dragon Challenge never seems to have a queue, but if you're not a big fan of coasters, this might be one to miss (the themeing isn't that amazing and it's quite an intense ride. For the same reasons I would give the Hulk and the Fearfall a miss.)

I recommend stopping to chat to the train driver who hangs around the Hogwarts Express, and also exploring the rear area of the shops on the left as you approach the castle from Lost Continent. If you go through Honeydukes and exit the other side (by the checkouts) you will find a back lane. If you stop to listen by the opposite shop front you will hear the crockery washing itself!

Jurrasic Park is one not to miss, as it's only one drop and the themeing is superb! (we rode it twice on the trot and on the second time got the operator to increase the speed of the drop so we got even wetter! we were the only ones riding it!) Must do Spidey also as this is a classic!

Enjoy your time there! Let us know what you decided to do!

From S L
Posted October 7, 2011 at 5:30 AM
If you enjoy Halloween/haunted attractions, I would go to USF on Saturday and buy a StayNScream ticket for Halloween Horror Nights. Even if you don't do the haunted houses, to see the scare zones and atmosphere at HHN is an experience. I'd recommend the Mummy as a kind of mini-coaster with good theme-ing and riding it during HHN makes it even better. Also, ride E.T. for nostalgia, Twister for flying cows, and Shrek 4D for fun.

At IoA, I would ride Forbidden Journey as early as possible to avoid waiting later. The queue line detail/theming is absurd (in a good way). Yes, the shops may get busier then but that's the trade off. Definitely check out Poseidon's Fury, Sinbad's show, Spider-Man, and Jurassic River Adventure as well.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:01 AM
Go to Harry Potter ASAP.

From Robert Tucker
Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:15 AM
The Forbidden journey queue is never as long as advertised. I really think waiting is a non issue. Olivanders is the place to line up first of you are interested. That line can take hours...

Walk through the queue of dragon challenge if it seems abandoned. There are great artifacts fro. The fourth movie.

Jurassic Park River adventure: you'll be disappointed if you are expecting to be scared, but the theming on this ride takes you right back to sets from the movie. I think it is worth the ride. PS midday crowd on this ride is HUGE.

The gem of Jurassic Park is the interactive area inside the compound area,may be worth peeking into if you have the time.

Dudley Do-Right: look at the wait time, then add an hour to it (really) if it's a hot day. The express passers will tie this ride up big time. Caution! This could eat a lot of time off of your
day, but the ride is cute, and the jokes are groaners.

Popeye and Bluto's river tours: it's a raft ride, not much more. Up to you.

There are lots of nice trails around comics land that are filled with little hidden prizes if you look for them, like Plymouth rock, which is a giant car shaped rock.

Spiderman: A must do.
Dr. Doom: skip it
Storm Force: tea cup ride: probably skip it
Hulk: it's a coaster

Seuss land has great theming all around. All of the ride instructions are in verse. I would say do cat in the hat for the theming. Nothing else is really worth the wait.

Poseidon Adventure is a very unique attraction, I would do it.

Sindbad is a stunt show

Shreck 3-D: theming is good, would still skip it.

Twister: I spent the whole time wondering what happened to BillPaxton and Helen Hunt. This is a robotic SFX show, but it is a bit drawn out.

The Mummy: Definitely!

Disaster: I want to say it is worth it for the holographic projections alone, but it takes a while to get through the whole thing: toss up. Judge the line length.

Skip monster review

Take some time to scrutinize the environments in New York and San Francisco.

Amityville is a good place to eat. Jaws is the luck of the draw with your skipper.

Men In Black: good ride, great theming. Bit of a wait.

Simpsons: Time eater, although you won't notice until the video loops while you are In the queue. Skip it.

ET: A classic. Must do!

Terminator: skip it

Lucile Ball museum: I love Lucy, but the artifacts seem randomly placed in this two room museum.

From KJ Simpson
Posted October 11, 2011 at 4:47 AM
Hey, thanks so much for all this info- there are some great ideas and tips here! I think I have a pretty good plan of what I'll do (and what I'll skip) in a few weeks. The only thing I'm on the fence about is Revenge of the Mummy- I find the theming & general description extremely interesting, but I'm a bit nervous about the coaster aspect. I may have to wait until I'm there and just go with my instincts at the moment...

From KJ Simpson
Posted November 2, 2011 at 7:02 PM
Leaving tomorrow! Ack! I feel completely unprepared- I don't even know which way to head when I enter the park! I did, however, purchase tix in advance- I've picked up a few things on TPI ;) I'm so used to doing WDW visits, where I know it all like the back of my hand- this makes me feel a little anxious! I'm sure I'll be fine, using your advice. I won't actually hit Universal until Saturday (two days of a work conference first), so if you have any last minute tips, fire away. Thanks!

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:57 PM
Really the Simpsons is no that good only the show by the way kj ride the Harry potter rides ride on all the marvel rides exept storm force do not ride that and ride all the water rides if it is not cold in orlando and then head to universal stuidios and ride rio ride jaws Simpsons ride not that good bit still fun terminator men in black or mib and watch the horror make up show. And that should be your trip from the eyes of a Floridian this is the ultra super guide to uo and ioa

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:57 PM
Really the Simpsons is no that good only the show by the way kj ride the Harry potter rides ride on all the marvel rides exept storm force do not ride that and ride all the water rides if it is not cold in orlando and then head to universal stuidios and ride rio ride jaws Simpsons ride not that good bit still fun terminator men in black or mib and watch the horror make up show. And that should be your trip from the eyes of a Floridian this is the ultra super guide to uo and ioa
This would be about a two hour trip If you get your food fast and.eat it quick if not enough time just follow the ioa list k

From Alan Hiscutt
Posted November 3, 2011 at 12:09 AM
KJ, An initial trip to USO and IOA can be daunting. My advice is when going to IOA, go through the gate, Turn left. Start with The Marvel Stuff, Hulk, Spidey, Dr Doom et al, up twards the Bilge Barges, Ripsaw Falls, (Do not Miss this. Ever.) then towards Jurassic Park and then into WWOHP. Youll probbably be hungry about here so stop, eat and take your time looking around. Try and catch the Triwizard rally, its not on the show times so best ask a cast member. If you feel so inclined you can do the tour thats in Lost Continent, then a quick wander through Dr Seuss and your back where you started. Enjoy IOA dude! :)

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:52 PM
Agree with Dominick cant miss the simpsons and please dont start with the spelling thing again

From Giovanny Cruz
Posted November 3, 2011 at 4:54 PM
Rides you cant miss.Ioa.FJ,Spiderman,you say you dont like rollercoaster but trust me you will love the IncreĆ­ble Hulk coaster its goin to be cold in Orlando so dont get on the toon lagoon rides
USF.The simpsons ride,Men in black,Mummy and ET.

From Manny Rodriguez
Posted November 3, 2011 at 6:56 PM
Dude get out of my face Dom
So grammar is not my stronghold and? Does really matter Jar jar you are r2d2 geez and thank You mr Cruz I also hope this grammar madness stops as well

From N B
Posted November 4, 2011 at 1:28 AM
So, how did the trip go?

The grammar police need to relax a bit in here. You guys hijacked an entire thread going back and forth with this nonsense. Not very nice...

The poor guy comes here to offer advice and you make him feel inferior? What is that all about?

Why didn't you slam KJ for not using paragraphs in the initial thread? I know why I didn't. It is because I have more important things to do......

From Alan Hiscutt
Posted November 5, 2011 at 3:08 AM
I fink dat dis hole fing iz getin out of hadn wiv teh spellign polise and all dat i dont c how it can b hepfil to newun wen u do fings liek dis so pleese just be nice an stopp tring 2 b overly krittycal.

See what I did there? :p

From KJ Simpson
Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:29 AM
Wow, grammar madness breaks out while I'm at Universal! Must...start...new...paragraph...

Thank you all for the great tips- they helped make my short trip the best it could be! Forbidden Journey- simply amazing. Better than I could have imagined.

The extra cost to stay overnight onsite was worth its weight in gold. Having early entry to WWoHP was perfect- by the time the time the land started filling up, I was just about ready to move on.

One thing I did not like- and maybe this was just because it was low season- was how the whole park didn't open up at opening time. I had early entry, so spent 8 to 9 in WWoHP. At 9, I was ready to move on, but as I walked, I quickly discovered that most of the rest of the park wasn't actually open until 10. Even though gates opened at 9, most areas stayed shuttered- leaving me to basically waste an hour, walking through empty, closed up lands.

It was very, very cold during my visit (the kind of cold that makes people buy $55 sweatshirts at the gift shop!), so I was reluctant to go on rides that would soak me. I saw too many people dripping wet and shivering, lips turning blue...

I loved the walkability- it reminded me of Disneyland and DCA, and emphasized just how much time we waste at WDW, shuttling between parks. I loved being able to just hop over back and forth whenever I wanted, and also be a quick walk back to the hotel.

I never realized just how simulator-heavy these parks are. I felt like practically every ride was some kind of motion simulator. Oh, and Dominick- sorry buddy, as much as I love The Simpsons, their ride made me a bit TOO queasy. I missed quite a bit of detail because I had to keep closing my eyes, something I usually don't do.

I couldn't help comparing the TMs to their CM counterparts at Disney. For me, there was really no comparison. I did not encounter any TMs who who stood out in any way, or who made any effort to make me feel like I was their guest. Only very few even acted in a friendly way. One or two TMs throughout my visit may have given an extra smile or friendly comment, but that's it. A few even seemed a bit rude. The only ones who seemed into their jobs were a few that I interacted with in WWoHP. The TMs I encountered at The Simpsons and at Disaster actually seemed not to have a system down- too many people were let into the ride at both places, with not enough seats or places to put them. The TMs seemed all confused and couldn't get their acts together to make things go more smoothly for the guests. I know sometimes mistakes happen, but I couldn't help saying to myself, "This would never be happening at WDW...", on more than one occassion. I tried to be unbiased, but I couldn't help it after a while.

Overall- lots of fun, great parks, and I'd like to return with the rest of the family (but only after I get my next dose of WDW!).

Thanks again for all of your advice!

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:16 AM
I agree with the simulator feeling. Not many rides don't have a movie screen, and if they don't, the ride is usually mediocre. I was always sad to see how much FJ used screen time instead of bothering with real effects-to me a cheap filler.

From N B
Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:14 PM
I can't imagine going to Orlando in anything lower than 90 degrees..... it has always been close to 100 on every trip as we go in late June / mid July.

Cheap filler, Skipper? You are reaching for any reason to dislike anything USF / IOA.... I am also wondering how a person who works at Disney would make a statement that they have stayed on-site at both Disney and Universal...

Did you just say "screw going home tonight... I think I'll stay on-site at a competing park"?

It just doesn't sound right to me....

From Skipper Adam
Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM
I took vacations before getting a job there. I've also stayed after my job there with family who visits...it's not uncommon.

I don't stretch to find things I don't like. I love a lot about Universal, but I seriously think that the screen sections are cheap filler between sparse scenes featuring the far more impressive, and expensive physical effects. It would be like using a screen in between parts of PoTC, or better, between scenes in Dinsosaur, or the Indy ride at DLR. I do like integrated scenes such as Spiderman uses, mixing both screen and visual effects is cool.

And yes, I stay at Disney hotels often too.

This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.

Stories from a Theme Park Insider

Stories from a Theme Park Insider

What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)