Orlando is the theme-park capital of the world, and you could almost argue that there really is no off season here, though the busiest seasons are whenever kids are out of school. Always on the lookout for the biggest and best? You’ve come to the right place. Not only is Universal Orlando Resort the ultimate destination for your next-level vacation, but we’re about to tell you how to maximize your time here.
Stay on property to get free Universal Express Access
The biggest reason to stay on property: three of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels offer free Universal Express access for everyone in your party. That means you’ll get to skip the regular lines at all participating rides and attractions. It’s an amazing value; you’re going to want to take advantage of this one.
Don’t ride the first thing you see
Most guests will enter through the front gates and head to the nearest attraction. Zig when they zag – head to the back, then work your way forward.
Eat outside of the 11 am – 1 pm lunch window
Most people head to the in-park eateries during this window of time. Because it’s lunch! Plan to snack before or eat a late lunch and you’ll have a bit more of the place to yourself.
Enter Universal Studios Florida through the “secret entrance”
Did you know there’s a second park entrance to Universal Studios Florida near the Blue Man Group theatre? Head in that direction and get to the rides that much faster.
Use child swap
Those with kids who can’t or don’t want to go on specific rides can use child swap to keep from waiting in line twice. One parent stays with the child while the other rides, and then you switch. Ask the greeter at the front of the attraction to get you set up.
Try the week after Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, when the kids have just returned to school; the week after Thanksgiving until mid-December; and the 6 weeks before and after school spring vacations (which generally occur around Easter).
The absolute worst time of year to visit is during spring break — usually the 2 weeks prior to and after Easter. The crowds are unbelievable, the lines are unbearable, waiting times at local restaurants can lead to starvation, and traffic — particularly on International Drive — will give you a headache. The December holidays and summer, when out-of-state visitors take advantage of school breaks and many locals bring their families to the parks (the latter also flock to the parks during Florida resident discount months, which usually fall in May and Nov), can also prove a challenge. Packed parking lots are the norm during the week before and after Christmas, and the summer brings with it oppressive heat and humidity.
The park is open 365 days a year, usually at least from 9am to 6pm, though it’s open as late as 8 or 9pm, sometimes later, in summer and around holidays. The best bet is to call before you go so that you’re not caught by surprise.