One of the most fun places in America, Orlando is famous for its super fun theme parks as well as its shopping opportunities. Anyway, things to do in Orlando are limited to these amusement parks. Since it was our first time in Orlando, we wanted to spend two days in the theme parks and we visited the theme parks included in Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal Studios has several different theme parks. In this article, I will share information about Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, as well as Volcano Bay, which is also part of Universal Studios. Planning a trip to a place like Universal is intimidating, but if you’ve never been to one of these theme parks in Orlando, these travel articles can be a guide for you.
What is Universal Studios?
It is a theme park that aims to entertain its visitors in the concepts of US-made movies and films and is the dream of everyone, young and old. The attractions inside change from time to time depending on the season and the release of new movies. An attraction that you are looking at this year may be replaced by a different attraction next year. Everything belonging to Universal Studios is under the name Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Studios is a thematic amusement park first established in 1990. It entertains millions of people not only in Orlando but also in several other locations, including Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan.
Most of the activities are called rides. You have the opportunity to get on rail cars, trains, and swing from here to there, and in some activities you have the opportunity to experience the experience in 3D. You get on a vehicle and the adventure begins. It is also written in front of the doors how long you will wait. It is possible to participate in all of the activities with the right timing.
How much is the Universal Studios entrance fee?
We mentioned that Universal Studios consists of three different theme parks. If you buy separate tickets for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, you have to pay for one theme park. You can either buy one for one day or buy two for two-day admission. You can usually buy two different days in case you can’t make the events. There is also the Park to Park (1 Day 2 Parks) option. If you want to visit two parks in one day, this ticket is a better option. Moreover, only those with this ticket can get on the Hogwarts Express train, which is very important for Harry Potter fans. We also bought a Park to Park ticket and chose Monday to be more secluded. We managed to make it to both parks.
If you have purchased two theme park tickets in a single day, you need to control your time better. Instead of waiting for 5 minutes, there were waiting times of 60 minutes. I checked the wait times on a Sunday, and there was even a place with a 160-minute wait time. You can check Universal’s crowd map according to periods, months and days, special events and waiting times of rides here.
It is also possible to find Universal Studios tickets discounts and seasonal campaigns on their website. Since they are constantly changing, you need to go to their website and check. I recommend you to buy your tickets online, because when you go to the theme parks, you are likely to get in the queues to buy tickets and waste time. When buying online tickets for Universal Studios Resort, you need to make sure which day you will be there beforehand.
Universal Studios CityWalk
From the parking lots, there is a walking area that provides access to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Islands of Adventures theme parks. Along the walking area called CityWalk, there are restaurants, gift shops, entertainment venues, bars, fast food chains such as Burger King and Starbucks.
Entrance to CityWalk is free, not included in the theme parks. People living in the neighborhood can come outside to eat and drink in the enthusiasm of the place. It is a very energetic place with shopping opportunities and live music that continues throughout the night. There is even a classic venue, the Hard Rock Cafe.
At the end of Universal CityWalk, the road splits into two. The left side leads to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, while the right side leads to the entrance of Universal Studios Florida. I will cover these two most preferred theme parks in Florida in separate articles to avoid confusion. You can find the details by clicking on the links.
Universal Studios Parking Lot
We rented a car for our trip to Georgia and Florida, so if you want to come to Universal Studios with your own car, you need to leave your car at the Universal Studios parking lots. Both theme parks of Universal Studios have the same parking complex. Both theme parks are connected to the same parking lot via the same CityWalk.
Volcano Bay Water Park is a few hundred meters further, but you will be directed to the same parking lot. Afterwards, you can take the shuttle to Volcano Bay.
When you arrive at the theme parks, you pass through the toll booths and pay at these booths. Universal Studios parking fee is $25 per car for a full day. After passing this point, you follow the signs and the directions of the staff and reach the appropriate parking point.
What you need to know about Universal Studios parking lots
- Once you park your car, you don’t need it again until you leave the amusement parks. So make sure you take everything you need to take with you when you leave your car.
- Time it well. If you want to enter Universal Studios early, you should take into account the parking time and the walking time to reach the entrance. Even if you get to the parking lot from the toll booths early, it will take about 20 minutes to park the car. Add to that 15-20 minutes to walk to the entrance after parking the car and the curious watching left and right while walking on CityWalk. You can also add at least 15 minutes to grab a bite to eat at a quick spot like Starbucks for breakfast on CityWalk.
- Take a photo of the parking lot. Since it has a large parking lot, the floors and sections of the parking lot are labeled with names like Jaws, King Kong, Spider Man, Jurassic Park. Since it can be hard to remember these numbers after having so much fun inside, take a photo of where you are before you leave the parking lot. Don’t bother with memorizing them.
- Keep your receipt. If for some reason you leave the parking lot and want to return, show your receipt. This way you will not have to pay again.
- Parking lots are free after 18:00. If you are around Orlando and want to take a CityWalk tour after 18:00, you can use the parking lot for free. Parking is free on non-event days except for special events such as Halloween, Halloween Horror Nights, New Year’s Eve.
When to go to Universal Studios?
Orlando has generally sunny and mild weather. The busiest days of the theme parks are weekends and Fridays. The most secluded days are Mondays and Tuesdays. If you are planning a vacation to America in advance, the weather in Orlando is mostly warm, but there are also stormy weather. This should be left to chance.
The best months to visit Universal Studios are January, February, March and weekdays in September, October, November, October, October, November and the first two weeks of December, while the least convenient times are weekends and traditional peak periods such as Christmas, spring and summer holidays.
Where to stay in Orlando?
Staying in Orlando is another aspect of this plan or trip. For accommodation in Universal Studios Florida, there are both big hotels such as Loews Hotels, Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn, Double Tree by Hilton, Best Western Plus and budget hotels close to the theme parks. Of course, the closer to the theme parks, the higher the prices. You can find hotels in Orlando and near Universal Studios here.
If you also want to go to Walt Disney, you can choose a hotel between the theme parks. Make sure the hotels have shuttles to the theme parks. Probably most hotels do, and some hotels even offer sea taxis for transportation. Some hotel guests enter the theme parks an hour before opening and enjoy the rides without waiting in line. For popular attractions like Harry Potter, getting there early is of course very important.
We didn’t stay in hotels on our Universal Studios trip, we stayed at the Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake campground, which is very close but still accessible by rented car. We had the opportunity to set up a tent since we had taken our tent with us on our trip to America.