Best Way to Spend a Day at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort Map Stand - Photo by Steps to Magic

“Do you need more than one day to see the Universal Orlando” is a question that I get constantly – which means that it may be a topic to dive into a little deeper. It’s honestly a question of planning correctly and knowing ahead of time what you’d like to accomplish.

There’s more to Universal Orlando than you’ll ever be able to do in a single day. That being said, you can get a lot done if you know what to look for when you’re planning your trip to the Studios!

Best Way to Spend a Day at Universal Orlando Resort

SETTING EXPECTATIONS

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two theme parks, with Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Because of that, you’ll be running back and forth to accomplish things on your list.

This article is about whether or not you can do both parks in a single day, and it’s all about setting expectations on things that you want to do and things that you don’t. There are factors that will be beyond your control, like whether or not Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will be operating that day or what time the parks close (7pm, 9pm or later.)

My goal is to help you plan an experience without feeling like you’re over-planning!

START EARLY

Just like a Disney Park, you’ll want to be at Universal for rope drop in order to get your number one experience out of the way early. If the parks open at 9am, you’ll want to be in CityWalk by 815am or so. Grab a coffee at Starbucks and you’ll be fine!

KNOW ABOUT EXPRESS PASS

Universal has a premium “fastpass” style product which will allow you to bypass the lines. The issue is that each day has a different cost that will audience and park capacity. Just knowing that the Express Pass (which we have an article on here) exists is a step above most of the visitors at the parks.



START AT A HARRY POTTER EXPERIENCE

Be it Hagrid’s, Forbidden Journey or Gringotts…you’ll want to make a b-line to a Harry Potter experience first thing in the morning. Just follow the crowds – you’ll thank us later. We’ve got an article about the Harry Potter experiences you shouldn’t miss!

CHOICES

After you finish the Harry Potter experience, you’ll want to wander to the 2nd most popular attraction in the park before things get too busy.

  • Universal Studios – Start at Gringotts in Diagon Alley and then head to Transformers or the Mummy.
  • Islands of Adventure – Start at Hagrid’s and then go to Forbidden Journey. If one isn’t open, you’ll want to do The Hulk or head on the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley.

LUNCH

Planning your culinary day at Universal is all about knowing what’s available. We’ve got an article that shows off the Unique Quick Service dining options, which includes Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield USA and all the Harry Potter restaurants.

There isn’t a huge need for reservations, which is completely different than Disney, but it’s important to know what’s available.



NAP OR EXPLORE

When you’re at Universal, the day will just fly by because you’ll be walking throughout the resort constantly! In the afternoon, your goal will be to either head back to your hotel for a refresh OR explore spots that may not be busy with the crowds.

If you want to stay in the parks, grabbing photos or getting snacks will 100% be worth it!

DINNER

Universal’s dinner-game is fairly predictable, so when you’re in the parks during the day…keep an eye out for cuisine that will be appealing that evening. Also take note of the closing times, as we’ve been out of luck a number of times because every day is unpredictable.

FIREWORKS AND NIGHTTIME SPECTACULARS

Universal Studios has their lagoon show and Islands of Adventure has a Harry Potter castle show. Just check out your times guide to prepare for which show appeals most to your party.


Hope this helps answer the question of how to do Universal Orlando in one Day!

I’m Dustin Fuhs, a theme park fanatic that has created this platform to showcase my passion, tools and opinions to create a fun and interactive experience for everyone who visits. My goal is to help you and your family have the most magical experience at Walt Disney World. In reading my articles and ideas, I hope that you can find some fantastic ways to bring your dreams into reality!
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