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Universal Studios in October

Universal Orlando: Suggestions on what to do/what not to do in one day at Universal Orlando :)

From Sue Harve
Posted July 8, 2012 at 8:39 AM
Hey guys...

My husband and I are headed to Orlando in October. (Definitely looking forward to the shorter lines/smaller crowds!!)

I've posted something about suggestions on the Disney World section but thought I'd post it here as well for suggestions at Universal.

From what I've read, everyone says that you need more than one day at Universal, but I just don't see that being possible right now. I think we will only have enough time for one full day at Universal.

SO with that being said, any suggested iteneraries for a day at Universal? Where to start/go first/can do without seeing/where to eat/etc. Just anything will help! :)

Also - what is your opinion on the Halloween stuff at night? Definitely go or miss it? Just how SCARY does it get?!?! :)

FYI - I've been to Universal and Disney multiple times, but haven't been in the past 6 or 7 years.... so obviously, a LOT has changed!

Thanks in advance...


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

From Orrin Carstarphen
Posted July 8, 2012 at 2:08 PM
As a season pass holder my kids and I go to Universal 3 or 4 times a year and I really do not see the need for more than 1 day. All of the rides at IOA can be done in 1/2 a day easily during the week. The same usually holds true for the Studios side as well. Also everyone heads straight to Harry Potter when the park opens so if you head towards Marvel Super Hero Island the lines should be extremely short at opening. Just work the park counter clockwise. Also we usually hit the HP section later in the evening and have found the lines to be very manegable. As for HHN it really depends on whether or not you like horror movies. The scare zones are not too bad (bunch of people with chain saws usually) but the effects in the Houses themselves can be very scary. Either way have a great time.

From Sue Harve
Posted July 8, 2012 at 2:40 PM
Orrin - Thanks for the input!...

I am such a baby when it comes to 'scary things' lately! ha ha! I am 30 years old but just 4 minutes of a scary movie and I'm having nightmares for weeks! ha!

SOOO -- that may not be the best thing for me to do! Ha! Either way I know we'll have fun!

You made me feel a lot better by saying you think we can do the park in one day... I've been really worried about that lately b/c I knew there was a great chance we'd only have one day... just won't be able to squeeze things around enough for 2 days at Universal.

Thanks for the tips on starting elsewhere from the long lines. That is definintely the information that I need to know/am looking for from this site! So thatnks again! :)

Orrin - Do you have favorite places to eat while at the park?

From Kelly Christiansen
Posted July 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM
If HHN will not be on your agenda, I would recommend paying attention to park hours. You will often find the park closing at 5 or 6 that time of year.

For dining, we never really care about lunch so we grab something quick to make the most of our time in the park. We always eat dinner at the Latin Quarter in CityWalk. It is simply the best!

From Orrin Carstarphen
Posted July 9, 2012 at 4:24 PM
Mythos is very good for sit down meals.(If spending 1 day time may be an issue) The counter service places are generally standard (subpar) fare such as chicken strips, burgers and pizza. I usually eat at Dino Digs or Cafe 4 if I eat in the park. I enjoy going to Margaritaville for the atmosphere and the burgers are great when dining in CityWalk. The Studios side will close at 5 pm if you go on a night that has HHN (Th-Sun). Usually 6pm on the other nights. IOA usually 7pm during the week and 8pm on Fri/Sat/Sun. Make sure you get there when gates open at 9am and get the park hopper if only doing the 1 day.

From JoAnne Gagne
Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:00 AM
We went twice in october and that's a GREAAAT time to go. In islands of adventure, your longest wait would be Harry Potter forbidden journey (a must!!!). What we did 2 nights in a row is get there 5 minutes before closing, they let you wait anyway at that time and the line is short!!!Works like a charm and will allow you to spend more time elsewhere. Don't miss Spiderman! In my opinion, you could skip dragon challenge in HP and all in 'lost continent'. Also, eating at Mythos will take up a lot of your time. Over at Universal studios, don't miss 'The mummy!' (best ride ever!!!) and if you can, catch the 'horror make-up show' (not scary and very funny). If you have motion sickness, skip the Simpsons (wait is usually long there anyway). Have fun!!!!

From Russell Meyer
Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:51 AM
It really depends if you're huge Harry Potter fans or not. If you are, you need to block out 3 hours or more for the Wizarding World. The land only has one new ride (Forbidden Journey), but is a HP fan's dream come true with shops and scenery that's right our of the book. The only other MUST do outside of the ride for non-HP fans is Olivanders, which is a short show, but because of the 20-person capacity in the shop, lines form quickly, and typically exceed 30 minutes even in low periods. If you need to expedite your time through this part of the park, you can use the single rider queue on Forbidden Journey. I highly recommend going through the standard queue at least once (it's probably 30% of the charm of the ride), but if you want repeat rides on this unique attraction, the single rider queue is the way to go, assuming you don't mind being separated from your party. Dragon Challenge/Dueling Dragons doesn't "duel" anymore, so these inverted coaters really aren't the same anymore. They also frequently run just one train on each track, so even with a short line (just inside the station), it can take 15 minutes or more to ride each side---Again, if you're on a time crunch, I would probably just skip these (pretty sad, because together, these were two of the best inverts on the planet---thanks teenagers!!). Flight of the Hippogriff is the old Flight of the Unicorn coaster with a HP overlay, so again, if you're not a huge HP fan, you can skip it.

HP should be your first stop, and then you can work your way counter-clockwise around the lagoon. If you're on a time crunch, I would probably suggest skipping JP and Comic Strip lands, and just make your way around to Spiderman. Again, take advantage of the single rider queue if the line is over 20 minutes. The Spiderman queue is not as critical as the HP queue, so you're not really missing too much by using the single rider line. Once completed with that, make your way around to Hulk, and ride as much as you'd like. The lines will probably be around 20-30 minutes by the time you make it around. The single rider line is a bit inconsistant (sometimes open sometime not), but can definitely speed things up if the wait is more than 20 minutes.

By the time you've made it back around to the entrance of IOA, it will probably be around lunch time. If you wanted to eat a sit down lunch, you could walk over to Mythos or just pick one of the CityWalk restaurants before heading to USF. If you just need a bite to eat, grab something on your way out of IOA or when you first get into USF. You probably should be in USF by at least 2 PM (park is typically only open until 5 PM in October because of HHN). Once in USF, I'd start at the back at MIB, and make your way to the front. Again, the single rider line on MIB can really speed things up, unless of course you've never been on before, which means you should probably go through the regular line at least once to get a feel for the story. I would probably ride MIB for an hour or until I hit 1,000,000 (but that's just me because I LOVE the ride), but you can ride until you're satisfied. If you're a Simpson's fan, you should take a ride on that, but if not, I'd probably skip it. Then make your way along the back side of the park to The Mummy. Again, the single rider line can really speed things up here, so take advantage of it if lines are over 20 minutes (no too much necessary story in the regular queue). You will probably only have enough time for one of the story-shows, so it will be up to you. Shrek 4-D, Twister, Terminator 3-D are all about the same to me, and all take about the same amount of time. Despicable Me is brand new, so I can't really vouch for it in comparison to the other 3. Finally, there's Rip Ride Rocket, which is an unremarkable coaster that you should probably save until last. That will probably put you at around 5 PM. At that point, if you bought a Stay and Scream pass for HHN, you just stay in the park leading up until 6 PM when HHN starts, or head over to IOA and enjoy another 2 hours over there.

Doing both parks in a day is possible, but you have to make a lot of sacrifices by using single rider lines and skipping attractions and shows.

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted July 19, 2012 at 3:53 AM
Just a note (apologies if repeated I have only scanned through other responses).
Last September (also very quiet) we did both parks in one day and did everything we wanted to do. Potter was a primary thing for us - did that first and then went over to Studios.
But, we have been many times before, are adults and totally skipped Suess, Toon Lagoon rides in IOA.
Studios I think we did everything, apart from ET and Woody Woodpecker. Although we could have done them if we wished - we had time.
We just made sure the parks would be open late on our chosen day, if we needed the time.

From robert morris
Posted July 19, 2012 at 7:47 AM
Do not go to Harry Potter first for two reasons.

First everyone else does and the lines are longer earlier in the day, second alot of people find the rest of the day anti-climatic

Do Spiderman Hulk first and the Toon Lagoon & Jurassic Park, and bring a change of clothes (you will be soaked) then go see Mr Potter and then lunch at Three Broomsticks and do you shopping

If you have the youngsters enjoy Seuss Landing and head to the Studios

MIB,Simpsons,Rip Rockit, Horror Make Up Show, Mummy, ET, Desp Me, and Shrek would be the priorities

From Russell Meyer
Posted July 19, 2012 at 1:39 PM
It is true that everyone goes to Forbidden Journey first, but that's because if you don't go there first, the line is a solid 45-60 minute minimum for the rest of the day (until just before closing). The same goes for Olivander's. The whole point of getting to the park at opening is to get on one or two of the park's biggest rides before the lines start forming. The entire Wizarding World certainly qualifies, especially if you're trying to do both Universal parks in the same day. You're risking not being able to fully experience the newest part of IOA by not going there first.

I can certainly see the contrarian side of the argument here, but in reality, holding off the most popular attraction in Orlando until "lunchtime" is just a recipe for disaster, particularly for someone on a time crunch.

From robert morris
Posted July 19, 2012 at 5:25 PM
@Russel

If IOA and Harry Potter were handled the same way any other park, that would be true

But as the Wizarding World is the only part open for over 2000 hotel rooms so figure 5000 guest before anyone not staying onsite arrives

Therefore FJ will be and is always on a 60 minute plus wait when the park opens

While you total wait for Spiderman, Hulk, Dudley Do Right, Jurassic Park and Popeye will be less than one hour if you follow starting in marvel superhero island first.

And arrive in Hogsmeade still on the same hour wait as the hotel guest move on and note Spiderman , Dudley Do Right can often exceed FJ's wait. While Hulk and Jurrasic Park will be close, only Popeye will stay under 30 minutes.

Not to mention that FJ is a better line to be stuck in with AC and better viewing.

Other thing to check is go on a Wednesday as UOR will normally be open later to balance out HHN schedule

From Kelly Muggleton
Posted July 20, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Harry Potter first at park opening last September, I did not stay onsite - a walk on. I actually let people go in front of me so I could see a bit of Hogwarts. Still walked straight on it though. Then about 10 minutes after I got off the line was approaching 20mins - still absolutely not world shattering! Leaving IoA it was 50 minutes. Think I had the best deal of the morning then!

From Russell Meyer
Posted July 20, 2012 at 6:26 AM
Robert, that has not been my experience at IOA. While on-site guests do have early access to the park, I have not found that the FJ lines are more than 10 minutes for off-site rope-droppers. That may have been the case when the Wizarding World first opened, when guests were literally queued around the park and prohibited from even entering the land until guests left, but since the initial excitement has worn off, you don't see too many hotel guests mobbing the land in off-peak times of the year (summer and holidays, perhaps).

I can certainly see your point about the lines for the other attractions increasing throughout the day, but that's going to happen for every attraction as the day progresses, including FJ. My experience has been that if you arrive at rope drop and walk straight to FJ, you will not wait more than 10 minutes to ride, but when you come out, the line will typically be about 30 minutes, and by the time lunch rolls around, the wait will be close to 60 minutes. I think holding off on Hulk and Spiderman until after HP is definitely wise, espicially since the single rider lines (if they are needed and open) do not bypass critical parts of the queue and can save a person trying to see 2 theme parks in one day (in October when USF is only open until 5 PM because of HHN) a LOT of time. The FJ line is certainly not a bad line to get "stuck" in, but if you're trying to see both parks in about 10 hours, you cannot afford to get stuck in any lines longer than about 30 minutes.

From Laura Melville
Posted July 23, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Also, things have really quietened down in harry potter. Was there last week and went on forbidden journey twice in forty mins, which was really just a walk through of the castle. Universal seemed to have really upped their game with faster, more efficient staff and rides running close to capacity. Ollivanders was just a 5 minute wait, although saying that, flight of the hippogriff was posted 90 mins!!

From robert morris
Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM
As me and my family visit UOR more than anyone else save maybe the employees.

Any doubt check foursquare for every park, land, playground of note, bar plus the mini golf.

Go to the left and visit the five E ticket rides then harry potter, we do it multiple times a week with no fast passes and do almost all major rides in one day every time.

Also bring a change of clothes for after the water rides and wear sandals.

And on MIB aim for Aliens on the second floor and once you are hitting an alien keep hitting him for more points, also good viewing area for the night show is on the rocks in east green park

From robert morris
Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM
As me and my family visit UOR more than anyone else save maybe the employees.

Any doubt check foursquare for every park, land, playground of note, bar plus the mini golf.

Go to the left and visit the five E ticket rides then harry potter, we do it multiple times a week with no fast passes and do almost all major rides in one day every time.

Also bring a change of clothes for after the water rides and wear sandals.

And on MIB aim for Aliens on the second floor and once you are hitting an alien keep hitting him for more points, also good viewing area for the night show is on the rocks in east green park

From robert morris
Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:21 AM
As me and my family visit UOR more than anyone else save maybe the employees.

Any doubt check foursquare for every park, land, playground of note, bar plus the mini golf.

Go to the left and visit the five E ticket rides then harry potter, we do it multiple times a week with no fast passes and do almost all major rides in one day every time.

Also bring a change of clothes for after the water rides and wear sandals.

And on MIB aim for Aliens on the second floor and once you are hitting an alien keep hitting him for more points, also good viewing area for the night show is on the rocks in east green park

From Dominick D
Posted July 25, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Robert, bloggers probably go more often then you. And I still highly recommend going to Ollivander's first.

From robert morris
Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM
I'm sure a few bloggers might? But just checked it was 228 times in the last year for the studios and 220 at IOA so I think that's a good baseline for knowing how to navigate the parks

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