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Best Things to SKIP on a Quick Trip to Universal

Best Things to SKIP on a Quick Trip to Universal

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If you are planning a trip to Universal and you know you will be short on time, you are going to need to know what to prioritize and what to skip. Here is everything you can skip without cutting into your overall enjoyment.

Universal Orlando

Credit: Universal

One question that people frequently ask about Universal Orlando is: How long do you really need to spend there? The answer to that really depends on an entire collection of variables that are particular to the travel party.

For example, how much time do you have to enjoy the parks? Do you like repeating rides that you enjoy? Do you want a day at Volcano Bay, Universal’s water park, or do you prefer to just see the traditional parks? Are you limited to peak season? And the list goes on.

However, one thing is for sure. If you do feel that you are only going to be able to devote a short time frame to your visit to Universal Orlando, there are some things you can certainly skip to maximize your time.

Here is a list of what is skippable during your precious park time.

1. Waiting to Purchase Park Admission

Credit: Katie

Universal Orlando is really one place where you USUALLY should purchase your theme park admission in advance of your trip. Of course, there are some times when you MIGHT want to purchase tickets at the gate. But, generally, it makes much more sense to have your park admission purchased and ready to go prior to arriving at the gate.

This can save you a LOT of time as ticket lines can be lengthy! You will be able to head on to the entry while others are waiting to purchase their tickets.

2. The Lines

Credit: Marisol

If you have only a limited amount of time to spend in the parks, one thing that can help you accomplish this is the Universal Express Pass. This pass is available and it is priced per person, per day. Universal Express can be purchased for one park or both parks.

It can also be purchased for one ride per attraction or for unlimited rides. So, if you only want to ride each attraction once, you will want to go for the basic Universal Express option. But, if you suspect you will enjoy repeating certain attractions, go for Universal Express Unlimited

The Universal Express Pass allows you to skip the main standby line. Now, this does not mean that you will not wait at all. It only means that the wait will be shorter than what you will experience in the main line. So, if you are visiting during peak season, your wait time may be 30 minutes vs. 2 hours. However, in less crowded times, you will find Express Pass allows you to walk right on to most attractions.

Credit: KtP Writer

Express Pass IS pricey, and it is subject to variable pricing. That means that the price fluctuates with the anticipated crowds levels depending on the type of pass you purchase and the date range. It can cost anywhere from $89.99 per person per day to $379.99 per person per day.

If you want FREE Universal Express Unlimited, you can book a Premier Hotel at Universal. Everyone in the room gets the entitlement for each day of your booking.

Now, if you are visiting during one of the less busy times, it is entirely possible that you will not need Express Pass to enjoy your time there. This is especially true if you have multiple days to enjoy the parks. But, for a short trip, you might just want to grab it regardless.

3. Themes you have NO Interest In

Credit: Katie

Next, you will want to plan to visit the parts of the park with the rides that interest you the very most. This means that you will want to skip the areas that have themes you are not interested in. You can always visit them if time permits once you have completed all your high-priority experiences.

To make focusing simpler, here is a rundown of the themed areas in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure along with the IPs of focus and the attractions you will find there. As a bonus, you can cross off the ride types you don’t enjoy (water rides, children’s experiences, coasters, etc).

Universal Studios (13 Rides)

Credit: Universal
  • Production Central: (Eclectic) Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (Coaster) and Transformers: The Ride 3D (3D Thrill ride)
  • New York: (Eclectic) Revenge of the Mummy (Indoor Coaster); Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (3D Theatre)
  • San Francisco:(Fast & Furious) Fast & Furious – Supercharged (3D Bus Ride)
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley: (Harry Potter) Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s; Hogwarts Express (Train)
  • World Expo: (MIB) Men in Black Alien Attack (Game-based dark ride)
  • Springfield: (Simpsons) The Simpsons Ride (Simulator); Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl (Spinner)
  • Minions Land on Illumination Avenue: (Despicable Me) Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (3D Theatre) and Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast (Interactive game-based ride-through experience)
  • Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone: (Various Children’s IP) E.T. Adventure (dark ride)

Islands of Adventure (18 Rides)

Credit: Katie
  • Marvel Super Hero Island: (Marvel) The Incredible Hulk Coaster (Coaster); Storm Force Accelatron (Spinner); Doctor Doom’s Fearfall (freefall/Drop Tower); The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (3D Thrill Ride)
  • Toon Lagoon: (Vintage Comic Strips): Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (Water ride); Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges (Water ride)
  • Skull Island: (King King): Skull Island: Reign of Kong (3D Bus Ride)
  • Jurassic Park: (Jurassic Park/Jurassic World): Jurassic World VelociCoaster (Coaster); Pteranodon Flyers (Flying Ride); Jurassic Park River Adventure (Water Ride)
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (simulator x thrill ride); Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (Coaster); Flight of the Hippogriff (Mini Coaster)
  • The Lost Continent: The attraction here is closed forever.
  • Seuss Landing: (Dr. Seuss): The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! (Children’s train); Caro-Seuss-el (Merry-go-round); The Cat in the Hat (Dark Ride); One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (Spinner)

3. Attraction Dupes

Credit: Universal Studios Orlando

Did you know that at Universal, some of the rides are extremely similar to one another? In fact, you might even say that some of them have a fraternal twin elsewhere in the parks.

This means that essentially if you ride one, you have very nearly ridden the other, too. They will have different visuals and storylines, but if you closed your eyes, you’d have almost an identical experience.

Here is a list of the “ride dupes,” so you can prioritize one over the other if you are short on time. And, of course, if time permits, you can circle back around.

Credit: Universal
  • Kong: Skull Island (Islands of Adventure) and Fast & Furious: SuperCharged (Universal Studios) are very similar to each other. Honestly they are both pretty bad, but if you are going to pick one, pick Kong. Fast & Furious: SuperCharged is terrible on all levels.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure) and Transformers: The Ride-3D (Universal Studios)- both are FUN, but they are extremely similar and rely on the same 3D tricks. If you have to pick one, go with the IP you like better. I prefer Spider-Man.
  •  Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (Universal Studios) and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon  (Universal Studios) are both theatre-based simulators. Again, go with your preferred IP. Minions might have an edge because it offers stationary seating for those who may experience motion sickness.

4. Shopping In the Parks

Credit: Universal

I am typically a fan of shopping. However, if your time in the parks is limited, you will want to skip shopping in the parks.

The only caveat to this is IF you are really into a specific themed area like Jurrasic Park or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are a few items that are unique to the parks.

However, a lot of the merch outside of the specialty shops at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is similar to what you can pick up at your favorite retail locations like Target and Amazon.

Credit: Universal

Plus, once the parks are closed, you can also shop at City Walk if you have time in the evening. There are plenty of retailers there, and City Walk typically stays open several hours later than the parks.

And, if you are flying out of MCO (Orlando International Airport) to get back home, there is a Universal shop at the airport before you pass through security. You can always wait and do your shopping there.

5. Dinner In the Parks

Credit: Universal Orlando

If park hours are short during your visit, you might want to hold off on having dinner until after you leave the parks. Enjoy a sizable lunch and some of Universal’s delicious snacks throughout the day to sustain your energy levels. Then, you can devote more time to enjoying the attractions before the park closes.

If you want to extend your time in the Universal bubble, you can wait and have dinner at one of the delightful restaurants at City Walk. There are some FANTASTIC and unique options there such as Toothsome Chocolate Emporium or Cowfish. Remember, City Walk is typically open much later than the theme parks.

Or, you could dine at your hotel if you are staying at a Universal Hotel. Additionally, there are plenty of restaurants in the Orlando area if you are not.

Can you think of any other tips for visitors that will help them save time in the parks? Let us know in the comments! And, feel free to pass this article along in case you know someone planning a trip to Universal who can benefit from the information.

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