Planning a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando Florida? Then you're in luck because I've got 24 insider tips on Universal Studios ride, how to avoid the lines, where to eat without a wait, where to cool down, and much more. This is the best Universal Studios Guide you'll find online! It also includes five printables on how best to plan for your trip, what to bring, and printable park maps. I've already revealed 22 insiders tips and tricks to Universal Islands of Adventure and  Top 5 Perks of a Hotel Key at Universal Orlando Resort. You might want to check those out as well while you're preparing for your trip. Universal Studios Orlando Florida

Universal Studios Guide

You know I LOVE free printables!  So to start you off, here are several planning guides and fact sheets to get the most out of your trip.  These printables have some really cool insight to the resort and will make planning your trip so much easier.  Don't forget to print them out and take them with you on your tip! EHprint Print Free Files:
  1. Download
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  5. Universal Studios Vacation Count Down Calendar
  6. Download {free printable of this article}
Also be sure to check out the Universal Orlando Resort interactive planning map online – you can use this map to pre-plan most of your trip, and it is great for the kids to help them explore prior to arriving at the resort.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal studios orlando rides

What is Universal Studios?

Universal Studios is part of the overall Universal Orlando Resort destination.  It's one of  two theme parks that offer some of the most popular attractions and experiences ever created.  Also, included is the Universal CityWalk which is right in front of Universal Studios and offers some of the hottest, most recognizable, entertainment experiences in the world. Universal Studios Florida features cutting-edge attractions – based on pop-culture icons, Hollywood blockbuster films and hit television shows – that transport visitors into a highly imaginative world where they can leap through the screen and become the star.  Here's a breakdown of the six main sections of the park:
  • Production Central
  • New York
  • San Francisco/Amity
  • World Expo
  • Woody Woodpecker's KidZone
  • Hollywood

Jaws

Universal Studios is actually a theme park with a movie production company inside.  They still produce movies and TV shows on-site.  Did you know that when you buy a ticket to Universal Studios you agree to be an extra on the set or TV show being filmed?  Isn't that cool! Stephen Spielberg is their creative consultant and so his movies {and those that inspire him} are the ones featured in the park.   Universal started as a production company and they are the ones who invented the sound stage.   Also, since Universal has such great working-relationships, the original actors reprise their rolls when a movie is made into a ride.   I think that makes a huge difference and you can see and feel the authenticity and quality of each ride.

Universal Studios Ride

How To Avoid The Lines

1.  When is the best time of year to visit the Universal Orlando Resort? September is generally a good time of year to visit. The parks will be busier around holidays and school break times. 2.  Do you have an Express Pass Line to avoid hour waiting times? Yep, get express ride access and SKIP THE REGULAR LINES at each of your favorite participating rides and attractions in both theme parks.  These are FREE for each person in your family if you stay at one of the three Universal Orlando Resort hotels.  It’s just one of the many hidden values, you can see all of my Top 5 Perks of a Hotel Key in my quick video here. 3.  Do you have a “child swap” program for parents traveling with small kiddos? Absolutely! If your kids are too small or unwilling to go on a particular ride you want to experience, please take advantage of our “child swap” program. Each ride and attraction has a child swap area where one member of your party can wait with the little ones while the rest of your party rides. Once they are off the ride, swap places and whoever rode can stay with the kids while the adult(s) who sat out get the opportunity to enjoy the ride. The best part about the child swap is that they are usually indoors! {snicker}  So your toddlers get a nice cool down period with a TV and some play time while they wait!  You can also utilize these areas if one of your kiddos decides at the last minute that they don’t want to ride.  There’s no need for the family to worry about where to reunite!  You’ll be able to see them come off the ride or arrange ahead of time to meet there.   You can check out more Child Care options and tips for traveling with kids on the Universal Orlando Resort website.

Universal Studios Shrek{Be sure to Chat with Donkey and Photo Op With Shrek}

4.  What are your Single Rider options? If you are 10 years or older, then you have the option of grabbing a quicker spot as a “single rider”.  Since most people ride in groups of two or more, if there is an extra spot available the attendants will ask for a single rider and you’ll be able to skip ahead in the line. 5.  Do you have any insiders scoop on traffic trends for the park? Most guest generally arrive to the park in the morning, so a good strategy is to start in the back of the park and make your way to the front. After 4pm the park tends to clears out a bit.  Also, most people tend to travel on Sunday, therefore Sunday’s are not as crowded and a great day to play at the parks. 6.  I was told that the park tends to less crowded between the hours of 2-4pm. Is that right? Late afternoon tends to be a quieter time in the park, but again that can change from day to day. That is why staying on-site helps – you can come and go easily back and forth depending on the day and the weather (and the mood of your children).

Simpsons{The Simpsons Ride was my families favorite ride}

Crowd Trends for the Park?

7.  I noticed that the Simpsons Ride and Terminator were the most popular rides in the park. Is that true? When is the best time to ride these rides? The Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit are marquee attractions at Universal Studios Florida, so they tend to be the most popular. It is always best to go the direction that the crowd is not going to avoid lines, but, again, it will change from minute to minute, day to day. Universal Mummy 8.  One of the things we loved about Universal is getting pictures with some of the characters. Is there a time of day or schedule when they’ll be out and available for fun photo ops? There are several character meet and greets that occur throughout Universal Studios Florida.  Check the schedule inside the map to plan out your stops.  The meet and greets can fluctuate depending on the time of year but generally include SpongeBob Squarepants, Shrek and Donkey, Star Toons (Including Woody Woodpecker, Shaggy and Scooby and others), Madagascar Characters, and Hollywood Characters including classics like Marilyn Monroe. Each of the character will also sign autographs.  So it would be really fun to have a notebook or autograph book and pen handy for each child to collect their signatures.  It's such a fun game and memory for young ones. men in black

Universal Studios Ride ~ Secrets Revealed

9.  I’m dying for some insiders secrets to winning the Men in Black game. The team we challenged killed us and we were flipping all around like crazy. HA! Do you guys have a How To Win video or something like that? My boys were bummed that we didn’t do better.  I guess the key is to hit the green light at the top of your opponents car.  This not only flips them around so that they can't shoot and gain points but it also rewards you with bonus points as well. There are no real general “rules” to win. Everyone has their own techniques, but we can tell you that if you’re the lucky person during your ride to press the red button at the perfect time (listen for the prompt from Agent K before you’re swallowed by the huge alien) you will receive an extra 100,000 points added to your score! 10.  Our guide told us that the secret to being picked to be in the movie at Disaster! is to be really animated and try to get in the front so he can see you. Are there any other insider tricks like that for anything else that’s “volunteer needed”?  Every ride lead will pick differently, so it is best just to be yourself and be prepared to have fun. My oldest son was picked to participate in the movie and he LOVED it!  So enter on the left side and try to get a place in front of the attendant, not necessarily the front in line.   This will give you the perfect position to get the attendants attention and grab a role in the movie.  No acting skills required - it's just a fun time. 11.  Twister... Ride it Out is a recreation of the movie scene where the reeked havoc in a small town. They recreated special effects such a fire, rain, the destruction of a drive-in, an explosion, and even a cow flying across the movie set.  It was really impressive but might not be suitable for children 5 and under. 12  .  Rip Ride Rockit is the most personalized and immersive roller coaster experience in the world.  Each seat is equipped with it's own stereo system where you can select your own song to listen to as you enjoy the ride.  Each seat also has it's own movie camera so that you can watch an instant replay of your adventure on the ride.

street performers{Check out the Street Breaks by the Men in Black ride - They ROCK!}

15.  JAWS - The Great White Terror of Jaws is back. Only this time, you’re riding a boat through water where he’s lurking just around the corner. 13.  Revenge of the Mummy is where you plunge into total darkness as you face fireballs, scarab beetles and an army of warrior mummies.  It's an indoor roller coaster which goes forwards and backwards in the dark.  You'll even travel under a sea of fire that's pretty impressive. 14.  Shrek 4-D has the most amazing visual effects.  You'll join Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona on a “4-D” adventure.  It's indoors but prepared to get a little wet.  It's just some mist.  This is great for all ages. 15.   Terminator 2 - 3-D Join forces with the TERMINATOR in this futuristic mix of live action, special effects and 3-D film.  It's entertaining for the Sci-Fi or Terminator fans.  It also has a great gift shop for you and your little ones to wait inside the cool air conditioning while your man enjoys the ride. 16.   E.T. Adventure - Hop aboard your bike and help E.T. save his dying planet.  My five year old LOVED this ride.  I told him the story of how E.T. needs to get home to save his planet and his friends and that we get to go along the journey.  The E.T. creatures are a little different but if you oooh and ahhh your young kiddo will love the ride.  Pay attention because at the very end E.T. will say your name! 17.   The Simpsons Ride - Swoop, soar and smash your way through Krustyland in this all-new adventure starring the world’s favorite animated family.  This was my families favorite ride!  But don't let the whimsy of the Simpsons fool you.  This ride isn't for young children as the movie itself feels REAL!  You're in a domed screen and a moving vehicle that plays tricks on your senses and makes you feel like you're really there.  I would suggest 8 years and older.  The good thing about this ride is that you're not actually moving as much as you think you are - so you can close your eyes if your senses are overwhelmed and get immediate relief. Simpons Lunch

Universal Studios Orlando Restaurants

17.  When is the best time to each lunch to avoid the lines? Most guest generally arrive to the park in the morning, so those restaurants further back in the park will be busier at lunch as guests make their way around the park. Also, any restaurant appealing to children will be busier right around those times of the day that they generally eat lunch at home or school. 18.  Where is the best place to each lunch? There are so many options, it really depends on what you want. Family favorites in the park include Richter’s Burger Co., where you can build your own burger, and Mel’s Drive-In – it is just like the movie.

Where Can We Cool Down At The Park?

19.  I LOVED that there was misting or a water elements in each of the sections of the park. I thought that was so well thought out and the perfect “cool down” and “happy toddler place”. Universal Scooby Doo

Make Life Easy With These Insider Tips

20.  Both Parks offer package pickup at the front gate. This means that you no longer need to carry any souvenirs or merchandise you pick up along the way.  Also, if you are staying at one of the on-site hotels then you get an added perk of free package deliver to your hotel room! {squeal}  We used this service several times and it’s heavenly.  It just make the day so much easier. 21.  Both parks have family restrooms ~ so enjoy that little convenience with youngters and babies. 22.  The entire resort is baby-friendly! So don’t fret if you’ve forgotten something.  You’ll be able to buy towels, shoes, diapers, etc in Toon Lagoon or the gift shops. 23.  If you are planning on eating at least 2 meals at the park, then consider purchasing a Meal Plan.  You’ll save some cash as long as you eat two meals.  One of the thing that really impressed me about the park {besides how clean it was} is how yummy and diverse the food is!  There’s something for every age and it’s gooo-ood food! 24.  If you’ve got some extra cash and want to give your family a VIP experience of the parks, you can purchase a VIP tour for your family or group.  I swear you’ll LOVE it.  {snicker}  Ask for Deana!  She’s amazing and has escorted celebrities around the park like Celine Dion and John Travolta’s families.  Plus she’s just as sweet as can be!

{Despicable Me Flash Mob}

img_Coming_In_2012

  • My family and I loved the movie, now we'll be able to become part of the story of Despicable Me with an all-new 3-D attraction at Universal Studios! My family was able to watch the Flash Mob first hand as they made the announcement.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man {at Islands of Adventure} will have all new digital animation done in 4K High Definition—the highest HD resolution available.  Honestly, I can't even imagine it getting any better than it already is.  It's phenomenal.

Universal Hop Chicks

If you want some fun ideas or traditions to make your family vacation extra memorable, check out our discussion on the Tip Junkie Facebook page. 58 of you responded with some really fun ideas.

A huge thanks to Universal Orlando Resort for putting the fun back into a family vacation!   Next up, are insiders secrets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you have any questions that I didn't cover, feel free to leave a comment and if I don't know, I'll find it out for you!

Be sure to check out these amazing video recaps - they're so much fun and worth a few minutes to get your family geared up for their vacation!

Don't forget to check out the Tip Junkie Facebook page for even more traveling tips, creative ideas, and do-it-yourself tutorials.

Tip Junkie ~ Laurie Turk

Creating Memories that Endure,

Laurie