We thought we would kickoff our blog with our most recent trip to Orlando, Florida. We just got back on the 4th of July from a wonderful week with family friends at both Disney and Universal. Leading up to this trip I (Kathryn) did tons of research on how to make the theme parks go smoothly since it apparently was one of the busier weeks to go. All of the research paid off and we had a blast at all the parks and hardly waited in line. Here are some of my main tips to conquer Universal Studios, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Have a good game plan of the rides/attractions you want to do.
The night before we went to Universal, we all got together in our condo and planned out our itinerary for the day. We essentially made a map of where we wanted to go and in what order. This helped out a ton! We were able to knock out both parks in one day (thank you Express passes!) and ride every single thrill ride there. If you want to go to Harry Potter, my single biggest piece of advice is to book it straight to Hogsmeade right when the park opens. It’s towards the back of the park and by walking fast to get there first, you’ll beat the people who casually work their way back there. We were able to get on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey pretty fast (which is an awesome ride!) and then go through the rest of Hogsmeade easily. We then worked our way through the rest of Universal’s Island of Adventure and then went to Universal Studios/Diagon Alley later in the day. Having a plan helped us not waste time wondering what to do next.
Get Express Passes and ride Single Rider when you can.
Since we were going during a busy week (it didn’t seem that busy, though) and we wanted to do both parks in one day, we splurged and got Express Passes. The best part of these passes is that almost every ride takes them. We saved so much time waiting in line by having them. However, for the few rides that don’t (mostly Harry Potter rides), we rode Single Rider. It is a little less fun riding a ride with strangers, but we always ended up having one other person from our group with us on the ride and we saved 30+ minutes per ride by riding single rider.
Not a huge Harry Potter fan? Go anyways!
I will admit that I am not some die hard Harry Potter fan. Despite this, I was super excited to see the Harry Potter part of Universal. We even watched the first movie the night before our trip to get excited. Although I am not a huge fan and didn’t understand half the references in the park, I am so glad we went to it! It was one of the coolest parts of the trip by far. The whole part of the park was super well done and it was fun to see all the employees in character. I definitely want to go back and watch all of the movies now!
Try Butterbeer…maybe more than once.
The thing I was most excited about for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was trying the butterbeer. It did not disappoint. I had read a lot about which one was better: Frozen or Regular butterbeer. The consensus seemed to be that the Frozen was better, but we tried both anyway. After trying both, we both agreed that the Frozen was the best, especially in the Florida heat. We ended up going back for more before we took the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley…oops.
We saved probably $20 a day by packing lunches for all of the parks. Disney seems to be more open about bringing a packed lunch, but we had no issues bringing in sandwiches and snacks to Universal. Since we are on a budget, it really made a difference to save that money! It also gave us more money to buy Butterbeer 🙂