Universal Orlando Resort is as incredible as it is huge. With two theme parks, a brand new water park, five onsite resorts, and an outdoor entertainment complex, you really need four or five days to take it all in. Yet, if you find yourself pressed for vacation time, you can still maximize your fun at Universal by minimizing the time you spend in line. Here are several ways you can plan ahead and skip the line at Universal Orlando theme parks!
The first time I went to Universal Orlando Resort, I didn’t know what I was doing. I had one day to see two theme parks and, as you might expect, quickly ran out of time. Rushing through the second park as closing time neared, my kids were begging to ride every attraction we passed.
So, the second time I visited, I joined a VIP tour of Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It was a much better experience. I still tackled two parks in one day, but I covered a lot more ground and managed to enjoy all of the best rides. I highly recommend rigging the system to have a more relaxing day at Universal Orlando Resort! Here are five ways to do just that.
5 Ways to Skip the Line at Universal Orlando
Skip the Line at Universal Orlando: VIP Tours
Feel like a celebrity as you are escorted to the front of every line! Universal Orlando offers a VIP Experience for two of its theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These parks are home to some of the world’s most exciting and innovative theme park experiences, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley. If you want to join a small group led by a knowledgable Universal employee, this is the way to go! The tours are customizable — your group can pick the rides and your guide will pick the most efficient route. Then, you’ll walk to the front of every ride, which usually means taking a back door to the Child Swap area. Your guide will share interesting facts about the history, design and backstory of each ride, while taking care of all the details. As a parent, you can just relax and enjoy the day.
The VIP Experience includes:
- Complimentary Continental Breakfast.
- Priority front-of-the-line access to rides and attractions.
- Universal Dining Plan – Quick Service.
- Exclusive behind-the-scenes experience.
- Reserved seating at shows.
- Complimentary Valet Parking.
- Universal Express Unlimited access throughout the rest of the day. (Some exclusions apply.)
Before you purchase the VIP Experience, you must first buy your park tickets. Then, choose from:
1-Day, 1-Park Experience: Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- From $189 per person.
- Available for parties of up to six people.
- Priority entrance into a minimum of eight major rides and attractions.
- Tours begin at 11 a.m. and last approximately 5 – 7 hours.
1-Day, 2-Park Experience: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- From $199 per person. Theme park admission is not included in the listed price.
- Available for parties of up to six people.
If you have a party of seven or more, you will need to book a private VIP Experience for your group. For more information, call 1-866-346-9350.
Skip the Line at Universal Orlando: Universal Express Pass
For a more affordable option, you can purchase the Universal Express Pass for one or multiple parks. Although this pass does not take you to the front of the line, it does allow you to enter the Express Pass line, which is shorter than the regular line. You will still have to wait for the ride, but your wait time will be shorter.
First, purchase your park tickets, then purchase the Universal Express Pass as an add-on. See which rides allow you to skip the regular lines with Universal Express.
Options for the Universal Express Pass include:
- Universal Express Pass for Volcano Bay water theme park – from $19.99 per day. (Does not include Krakatau Aqua Coaster.)
- Universal Express Pass for Islands of Adventure – from $49.99 per day. (Does not include Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or the Hogwarts Express.)
- Universal Express Pass for Universal Studios Florida – from $59.99 per day. (Does not include Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.)
- Universal Express Pass for Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – from $64.99 per day.
The above passes allow you to ride each ride one time. For unlimited rides, you will need to purchase the Universal Express Unlimited Pass.
Skip the Line at Universal Orlando: Universal’s Resort Hotels
A great way to skip the line at Universal Orlando is by staying at one of Universal’s onsite resort hotels, including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Staying on property grants you one hour early access to the three theme parks, including the water park, Volcano Bay, with a valid park ticket.
If you stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel, or Loews Royal Pacific Resort, you also get free Universal Express Unlimited (a value of up to $89 per person, per day – valid at Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with theme park admission). Combine this with each hotel’s free, convenient transportation to all of the parks, and staying on property adds up to a convenient morning in the parks with no lines!
Skip the Line at Universal Orlando: Free Virtual Line
The new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was the first attraction at Universal Studios Florida to feature a Virtual Line experience. This means guests pick their ride time and return to the attraction at that time – easy peasy!
Guests simply download the free Universal Orlando Resort app and once in the park, choose one of the times available in the app. Alternatively, guests may choose a time at kiosks outside the attraction entrance. At the appointed time, guests return to the attraction and head straight into a series of fun waiting rooms. First, they pass through a replica of 30 Rockefeller Plaza that is filled with Tonight Show memorabilia. Then, when their group color is called, they move on to be entertained by a pre-show with The Ragtime Gals and Hashtag the dancing panda. Getting on a ride has never been so much fun!
Skip the Line at Universal Orlando: Free Tapu Tapu Wearable
Every guest who visits Volcano Bay is given a waterproof TapuTapu wearable to use for the day. It is included with your water theme park ticket – there is no additional charge. So, once you have your TapuTapu secured on your wrist, simply head to a kiosk located near an attraction entrance and tap your TapuTapu. Now you have a virtual spot in line! Go, float the lazy river or play in the wave pool until the TapuTapu tells you it’s your turn to ride. If you purchase a Universal Express Pass for Volcano Bay, your rides will come pre-loaded on your TapuTapu.
So, there are five ways to skip the line at Universal Orlando, and here’s a bonus one for reading all the way to the end. Many rides have Single Rider lines that move even faster than the Express lines. If you’re able to split up your group, give them a try!
Learn More About Universal Orlando Resort
Disclosure: Heidi was invited to visit Universal Orlando Resort. We were not compensated for this article. All opinions are our own.