2023 Universal Orlando Planning Guide (2023)

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Universal Orlando Resort and its sister properties around the world are bringing the worlds of movies, TV shows, comics and literature to life, with the much-loved Super Mario World expected to arrive sometime in the next few years (kick it up! ). From thrilling roller coasters and immersive 3D adventures, to refreshing water attractions and rides made for kids, Universal Orlando, Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal's Volcano Bay offer endless fun for the whole family.

In this Universal Orlando planning guide, we hope to provide you with some helpful tips and easy-to-follow advice to help you make the most of your vacationcentral florida. So whether you are a first time visitor or an annual pass holder, whether you want to save some money and valuable time, avoid the crowds and heat, or just want to find out the best attractions, restaurants or places to stay, this is for you .

Come back anytime - we update this article regularly, so make sure you have the latest information (Updated September 30, 2021). Now, without further ado, here is the ultimate guide to Universal Orlando to make the most of your next vacation.

COVID-19 and Universal Orlando

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As you can imagine, things are looking a little different right now at Universal Orlando Resort due to COVID-19. The resort actually closed for a few months at the beginning of the pandemic, but has since remained open despite some health guidelines.

Overall, one of the most noticeable changes is due to social distancingis to reduce the capacity limit. However, unlike Disney World, visitors to Universal Orlando do not need to reserve the park in advance. While this is great for allowing some flexibility in your schedule, it can also cause parks to reach capacity from time to time, stranding people in long lines at the parking lot or outside the turnstile. Therefore, you must reserve your arrival time as early as possible.

Some other changes you may experience include:

  • Empty rows and seats above rides
  • Hand sanitizer is provided before you board the tour
  • improved cleaning
  • Virtual line and mobile ordering of food and drink on mobile apps
  • new parking procedure

All of this aside (and it certainly seems like a lot), a trip to the Universal Orlando resort feels pretty normal, all things considered. In fact, things are closer to normal at Universal Studios than at Disney World. This, we guess, is both a good and a bad thing. Either way, we're glad the park is open in any form, and we're sure you'll still enjoy your time there.

When to visit Universal Studios Orlando

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If you're reading here, we can only assume you're wondering what is the busiest month to go to Universal Studios and when are the least busy days for Universal Orlando. While crowds are certainly one thing to keep in mind (that's another post for another day), there are a few things to consider when choosing the best time to visit Universal Orlando.

First onepromotionIt may be the one thing that determines the date of your vacation. If you're paying for your round-the-world holiday at a discount or a free day special (if you come on certain dates), the only leeway you have when traveling is within that specific range. It's a great way to save money that we all love, but it can also be difficult depending on the date and schedule.

But if you have some flexibility with your travel dates, there are other things to keep in mind when choosing your time for an around-the-world vacation, including holidays, special events, school closings and, of course, the weather. The best months to travel to Universal Orlando are:

Januaryandthe beginning of Februaryare good choices. It's low season, so the park is quieter and the kids are mostly back at school in the first week of January. In addition, temperatures tend to be mild and pleasant with relatively little rainfall.

The only pitfalls here are three-day holiday weekends like Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK​) and Presidents' Day. Holidays and long weekends attract locals, season ticket holders and tourists, so the park can be packed. Rock Universe, Florida's largest Christian music festival, also usually takes place in late January, and while the concerts are only held in the evenings, the parks are packed with festival-goers during the day. So depending on your interests (and aversion to crowds), now is either a good time to plan a visit or a pass.

single timemid-FebruaryThings start to get busier as the Brits go on holiday and Universal Studios' Mardi Gras celebrations kick off. Of course, with all the festive food and entertainment, it's a fun time to visit as long as you don't mind the crowds.

This busy state lasted until the endto marchUntil the beginning of April, due to the influx of Mardi Gras, Easter and Spring Break crowds. In the Orlando area, spring break typically begins around mid-March and lasts until around early April, often coinciding with the Easter break. This makes it one of the busiest times to visit an Orlando theme park. However, March also means that spring is just around the corner, so if you're fighting for spring break, at least you can do it in warm temperatures.

if you want the weather to be pleasantandfewer people,AprilandpossibleProbably the best month to visit Universal Orlando. It's low season, so you should still be able to enjoy some cheaper prices. The last week of April is a good time to travel before the weather starts to get too hot, however late May can be crowded due to Memorial Day and the start of summer vacation.

There is no doubt that summer is the worst time to visit Universal Orlando.June,July, andaugustIt was scorching hot outside and the park was full of vacationing families. Unless it's the only time you have, or you happen to find walking through the crowds an enjoyable challenge, we recommend sticking with it when schools reopen at the end of August. If you need to travel during the summer, remember that it rains every day in the summer in Central Florida. Generally, the rain is light and fleeting, but afternoon showers are almost certain.

Out-of-season return starts atseptemberand move onOctoberand enter startnovember. Definitely another sweet time between Labor Day and the start of the Halloween Horror Nights festivities. the temperature isslightlyThe weather is starting to calm down (maybe it's just wishful thinking on our part), schools are back in session, and the crowds aren't too bad. If you're visiting in autumn, unless you're going to Halloween Horror Nights, avoid the UK's second half, Halloween, Thanksgiving and any school holidays to avoid crowds.

From mid-November to the end of the monthdecember, it's time for a vacation to Universal Orlando Resort. Holiday decorations begin to appear, festive events begin, and while it can be very busy, this is an especially magical (and beautiful!) time to visit. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are naturally crowded, while early November and early December are relatively slow. In addition, temperatures are milder and there is little chance of rain.

If you decide to brave the crowds and visit during the winter holidays, we highly recommend taking the time to enjoy all that Universal Orlando has to offer. From Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Grinch to the Macy's Holiday Parade and New Year's Eve at Universal CityWalk, it's an unforgettable celebration of joy.

How long does it take to visit Universal Studios Orlando?

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Ok, you've chosen your dates - now you're wondering how many days should I spend at Universal Orlando? In fact, the answer to this question varies widely. Firstly, unfortunately, how much time you have and how much time you want to spend are two very different things. There are also other things to consider, such as whether you are going to other theme parks in Orlando.

Can you visit Universal Orlando in one day? In general, both Universal Studios Orlando and Universal's Islands of Adventure are best visited in two to three days. Or one day if you get to an open park right away, simplify your to-do list and really push it through the day. Two or three days is the best option, especially for those who have never been before. For first-time visitors, an interpark pass gives you plenty of time to do all the activities in both parks over three days, while still returning to your favorite park. Of course, if you want to do itvolcano bayIf you want another day, we recommend setting aside at least one night or one day to enjoy Universal CityWalk.

Here you can spend the night near Universal Studios Orlando

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While theme parks will obviously be the highlight of your trip, you'll also spend some time in hotel rooms. Therefore, where you choose to stay can make or break your experience. Fortunately, this is OrlandoandYou visit two of the most visited theme parks in the world and you have plenty of options.

Universal Orlando hotels

The benefits of staying in a hotel don't stop there: you're close to the parkandYou can check in early, transportation is free, and you can charge to your roomandHave your purchases delivered to your room so you can explore a whole new world during your vacation (sorry Universal Studios!). Plus, if you decide to stay at one of Universal Studios' top resorts, you get free unlimited rides on the Universal Studios Express. Those are some sweet perks.

imagedisney world hotel, in terms of price and facilities, you can choose from four different resort categories: Value, Premium, Preferred and Premier. Budget hotels and budget hotels are more relaxed and more affordable than preferred and luxury hotels, making them good choices for families or those looking to save money. Meanwhile, preferred and premium hotels offer a sophisticated atmosphere and exclusive facilities.

Best Budget Hotels | From $88 per night

Universal's Endless Summer Resort - The Pier Suites

Quiet and coastal; 2 queens and 2 bedroom suites

Universal Studios Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites

Colorful, beach inspired; suites with 2 queen beds and 2 bedrooms

Best Budget Hotels | From $132 per night

Universal Studios Adventure Hotel

Modern and stylish; 1 king room, 2 queen rooms, children's suite

Universal Studios Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Vibrant and retro; two queen rooms, two bedroom suites and family suites

Preferred Hotels | From $181 per night

Love Sapphire Falls Resort

Caribbean Paradise; 1 King Bed, 2 Queen Beds, Children's Suite, Sapphire Suite, 2 Bedroom Suite

Premium hotels | From $252 per night

hard rock hotel

Sleep Like a Rock (Star); 1 King Bed, 2 Queen Beds, King Suite, 2 Bedroom Suite, 3 Bedroom Suite

Loew Royal Pacific Resort

South Seas Resort; 1 King Bed, 2 Queen Beds, King Suite, Children's Suite, 1 Bedroom Suite, 2 Bedroom Suite, 3 Bedroom Suite, Presidential Suite

Love the Portofino Bay Hotel

Italian seaside resort; 1 King Bed, 2 Queen Beds, 1 Bedroom Suites and Villas, 2 Bedroom Suites and Villas

We know staying in a hotel isn't for everyone – some need a break from the madness, while others are looking for an atmosphere that theme park resorts can't provide. It does not matter. Fortunately, there are plenty of hotel options in the area. However, they will not enjoy the same benefits as staying at a Universal Studios hotel.

Universal Orlando Vacation Packages

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Holiday Packages - They are a convenient one-stop shop for all your travel needs. Of course, they can be more expensive than if you decide to order everything individually. But do they make life easier? You are so shit. With that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind when booking a Universal Orlando vacation package.

Resist temptation and order directly from the Universal Studios website. Even if you get promoted, you will most likely still pay the same as everyone else. But with a little creative thinking and research, you can find even better deals by booking through authorized ticket resellers such as our preferred travel partners,undercover turist.

By buying Universal Orlando tickets from an authorized dealer, you're working with someone who really knows what they're doing and who can give you the best deal on actual theme park tickets. Tickets are bought in bulk and you can take advantagesavings. Plus, you never have to worry about hidden fees.

Having said that, "package" presupposes that you combine many things: park access, hotel room, possible plane ticket or other transport, possiblyto eat. It all adds up quickly. Plus, theme parks are notoriously expensive, and that includes room rates. So if price is an issue, it may be worth booking tickets and room separately and staying outside the hotel,

Universal Orlando tickets

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Overall, guests can choose between: A one day park ticket which allows you to visitanyoneUniversal StudiosorUniversal Studios Islands of Adventure or an inter-park ticket (ie 2 parks - 1 day) entitles you to visitbothUniversal StudiosandIslands of Adventure eller Volcano Bay Day Pass.

If you only plan to go to the park for one day, the cost difference is about $50, which is no small amount considering that one-day tickets are already over $100. For a two-day card, however, the difference is down to about $20 per day. day. We think the park-to-park option is great, especially if you only plan to visit for one day, as it allows you to hop between parks at will.

Similar to Disney, Universal Orlando Resort tickets are priced dynamically, meaning ticket prices increase or decrease depending on when you visit and how busy the park is expected to be. For example, weekdays are cheaper than weekends, and tickets are more expensive in high season (summer, long school holidays and major holidays) than in low season (such as after-school starts in January).

So depending on when you choose to stay, you can save quite a bit of money. We recommend you keep these things in a safe place in your brain – your future self and your bank account will thank you. As we mentioned earlier, of course you can also accessAuthorized sellers such as Undercover Tourism.

Universal Studios also has something called an Express Pass, which is similar to Disney's previous FastPasses and the new FastPasses.Elf+and the Lightning Pass, allowing you to skip the lines at certain attractions. In fact, Disney has now joined Universal in charging for the skip-the-line privilege. Um, we know.Guests can choose to upgrade to include one of two different Express Pass options. The Universal Express Unlimited Pass is $99 per ticket, while the Basic Universal Express is $69 per ticket. With the basic option, you can only skip the line once per participating ride. For a $30 difference, choosing the Unlimited version seems like a no-brainer.

And if you're wondering "Is a Universal Studios Fastpass worth it?", we say it depends. Being able to skip the line certainly has its advantages. Plus, even with the pandemic, lines at Universal Studios are still incredibly long, so upgrading to an Express Pass can save you valuable time. If you're staying a few days or longer or plan to arrive later in the day, unless your mission is to do everything in the park, you may be able to purchase a pass.

Dining at Universal Orlando

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Ah, food. It's not a roller coaster or a waterslide, but that still doesn't mean it wasn't one of the best parts of our vacation. Catering at Universal Orlando ranges from food trucks to Marvel characters and even "horror actors" for Halloween Horror Nights. So depending on what type of Universal Orlando restaurant you choose to enjoy, dining can be not only something you have to do to ensure you don't get sucked into a hot, sour mess, but it can be an experience of a lifetime. trip.

Dining options abound at Universal Orlando Resort, whether you're relaxing at Volcano Bay, refueling between Islands of Adventure tours, orUniversal Studios Walk, or come back to the Universal Orlando hotel to unwind after a long day.

In the park, most food options are fast food. Although some, such asThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with themed dishes (such as fish and chips or shepherd's pie at Three Broomsticks in Diagon Alley), most offer basics such as burgers, sandwiches, salads and pizza. These are safe options if you have picky eaters in your family or are short on time. There are also some fast food restaurants at the resort and on the Universal Studios Walk.

Your next option is full-service catering, which is exactly what it sounds like. You have a waiter and your food is freshly prepared to your order and delivered to your table - a great option for dinner after a long day in the park. Full-service restaurants, including fine dining, are found primarily at the Universal Studios hotels and throughout Orlando's urban strip, but each theme park has a few. Advance reservations are generally recommended, especially during high season or for restaurants you really want to try.

Would you like a special meal? Try character food! Kids can enjoy breakfast with the Minions at the Despicable Me Character Breakfast or dinner with Captain America and other Marvel favorites at the Marvel Character Dinner. Depending on the season, you can even mingle with the monsters at Halloween Horror Nights or grab some food with the Grinch during Grinch Christmas. Definitely need to book in advance here. Remember that somespecial mealCurrently on hiatus due to COVID-19.

Need something to drink after battling that crowd? We don't blame you! Fortunately, Universal Orlando has plenty of options. Although there are no actual bars in the parks, alcoholic beverages can be found at certain restaurants and bars in all three parks. Of course, you'll also find bars and lounges on Universal Walk and at the resort.

That said, you don't really need to eat at a Universal Orlando restaurant. In fact, Universal Studios allows visitors to bring outside food and drinks into the park (as long as they're in soft-sided containers, coolers are not allowed), which is a great way to save money. So feel free to take some snacks with you into the park. You can even have groceries delivered directly to your hotel, making your life extra easy. Who doesn't need that on vacation?

Enjoy Universal Orlando Resort

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With two different theme parks, a water park and an entertainment area, Universal Orlando Resort has no shortage of fun things to do. That's why you need a plan. Of course, that doesn't mean your trip has to be overtime, so put down your laptop.

Especially for first-time tourists, approaching your globetrotting with reluctance can lead to disaster. You will waste a lot of time waiting in long lines and you may even be forced to skip an attraction if you wait too long. This can be avoided with just a little advance planning.

Your planning should begin before you arrive at the park. You'll want to check park hours, must-see attractions and entertainment, and any special events that may be happening. Also note the latest parks to open. This will allow you to prioritize things accordingly. Once you arrive at the park, the key to success is to arrive early. We talk about opening the park if possible because it will make you stand out from the crowd. Remember, if you stay at Universal Orlando Resort, you also get early access to the parks, so be sure to take advantage of that.

For guests traveling with small children, also be aware of the height restrictions at each attraction. If your kids are too young, don't worry—Universal Studios offers a service called "kid swap," which allows an adult to stay with the child while everyone else rides. Then, once the first set of rides is over, the remaining parents can skip the line and continue riding. Here are our favorite park tips because they save everyone time, hassle and fun.

special event

Depending on when you visit, there may be special events happening that you want to attend. While Universal Orlando Resort hosts numerous events throughout the year, some of which are even held at the resort, the important events to remember are:

  • carnival– This lively party usually runs from the beginning of February to the end of March and features food inspired by carnival celebrations around the world, colorful floats, buskers, music and, of course, pearls.
  • halloween horror nights– Typically running from early September to early November, this spooky extravaganza offers a variety of spooky activities such as an immersive haunted house inspired by movie horror and cult classics.
  • Universal Orlando Resort vacations- Typically from mid-November to early January, Universal Studios Orlando transforms into a winter wonderland, with Christmas decorations adorning the wizarding world of Harry Potter and the Grinch, bringing his own signature Christmas cheer.

Tips for getting the most out of Universal Studios Orlando

  1. Stay at Universal Orlando Resort.Staying at one of the Universal Orlando hotels not only puts you close to the action and saves time commuting to and from the theme parks, but it also gives all resort guests early access to the parks. In addition, guests staying at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Universal Orlando Hard Rock Hotel receive a Universal Express Passfree. At $69 to $99 per ticket, it's an incredible deal.
  2. Get to the theme park early and check in late.Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure tend to get busy around Therefore, we recommend that you arrive at the park as close to opening hours as possible and stay later in the evening to take advantage of the shorter lines.
  3. Take a moment to enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.There are so many incredible details in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. If you're a big Harry Potter fan, you haven't really enjoyed the thrill of a theme park if you don't take the time to wander around, check out the storefronts, and maybe try out your interactive wand. Unbelievable.
  4. Find out in advance what you want to do and see.We've said it before and we'll say it again, don't go into Universal Orlando without a plan. Make a list of the sights you absolutely must visit so you can complete them first and then take other trips along the way depending on how much time you have.
  5. Invest in a Universal Studios Fastpass, if you can.Since Universal Studios Orlando has to pay to skip the line, not many people choose to buy the Universal Studios Express Pass. In other words, if you decide to buy them, you will be able to bypass a lot of people and save a lot of time in the process.

How to get to Universal Orlando and the surrounding areas

While Universal Orlando isn't as big as Walt Disney World, it's by no means small, which means getting around can be a challenge at times. Luckily, Universal Studios offers a few different options to help guests get where they need to go, including free shuttles and water taxis.

Also, if you live off-site, need to get to and from the airport, or just don't want to take a bus or boat, other ground transportation is always an option. Services such as Uber, LYFT or Mills Taxi are readily available and there is ample parking. General parking is $26 per day, RV/bus parking is $32, and premium parking is $36 per vehicle. Valet parking is also available when COVID-19 is not taking place. For those who need to park overnight at Universal Orlando hotels, you will also have to pay for parking. Self parking is $28 per night at Premium Hotels, $26 at Sapphire Falls, $18 at Premium Hotels and $15 at Value Hotels.

If the idea of ​​going on holiday without a car tickles your heart, renting a car is always an option. Daily rates range from $12 to $30 depending on the size of vehicle you want. Car rental partners are located at Orlando International Airport as well as in the Universal Orlando area. Universal Resorts guests can also enjoy up to 25% off base rent with the promo code. You should be aware that rental prices tend to be slightly higher if you pick up your car at the airport.

liquidity needs

Universal Studios Orlando is huge. While the whole place is more packed than Disney World, getting around can be exhausting. For some, a stroller or electric scooter makes getting around easier. But lugging them around can be a pain considering their size. Remedy? Rent instead!

By having your rental vehicle delivered and picked up, you'll be able to spend less time arguing about your choice of tank and more time relaxing and enjoying yourself. If you rent a stroller or pushchair for your Universal Orlando vacation,rental of amusement parksis our company of choice for unmatched reliability, customer service and quality.

final thoughts

Well, that concludes our guide to Universal Studios Orlando. Over the past few years, Universal Orlando has become a time investment. It used to be about Harry Potter, now it's only 70% about wizards and 30% about other attractions. Normally we would only recommend 1 day at the resort, but now we strongly recommend that you use the park to park ticket to visit in 2 days. Although Universal Studios is getting better at themed parking, they still lack kid-friendly areas, so keep that in mind when planning your vacation. Overall, if you are in Orlando, you should definitely visit the Universal Orlando theme parks.

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