My family usually stays at a premier Universal Orlando hotel during busy park seasons for the Universal Express Pass, which is included with the hotel stay. On our last visit, we decided to do things differently. We chose Cabana Bay Beach Resort to be in close proximity to Volcano Bay. Fun hotel, but no Express Pass, and we were there during one of the busiest times of the year! We were afraid that our days in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure would be spent mostly standing in line. While the lines could be long, we survived! Here is how you can survive without an Express Pass too.
Make the Universal App your best friend. Both my husband and I downloaded the Universal App on our phones. We constantly checked wait times before deciding what to do next. When Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey dipped down to only a thirty minute or less wait, we headed to Hogsmeade. When the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit had a ten-minute wait, we jumped in line. The app helped us avoid the longest wait times while still experiencing almost everything that both parks had to offer.
Use any virtual lines available. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon offers virtual line passes. You can easily make your virtual line reservation through the Universal App and avoid a line at that attraction. Pteranodon Flyers has also started offering virtual line passes, which is wonderful for families with young, restless kids. Look for and use any virtual lines available!
Take advantage of single rider lines. If your travel group doesn’t mind being split up, single rider lines can greatly decrease wait times. My family really enjoyed the single rider line at Men in Black Alien Attack. My husband went first, our two kids went next, and then I went last. Doing it that way ensured that one of us was with our kids before they loaded the ride and after they got off the ride. Often, the cast members even sat part of us together!
Brave the weather. Florida is known for pop-up storms. While many people persevere through bad weather, others run back to their hotels with the first rain drops. Oftentimes, when the storm is over, the wait times for outdoor attractions become ideal. So invest in a poncho, and brave the weather!
Try a show. Universal offers several unique shows throughout the day. When the lines are long, watch a show. One of our family’s favorite things to do is to get ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley and then sit and watch The Tales of Beedle the Bard. We also recently enjoyed the Horror Make-Up Show on a busy, hot afternoon. We had never seen it before and were pleasantly surprised.
Go early and stay late. Wait times are always the best at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. Save your favorite and the most popular rides for these times. You could even go early and ride some rides, hit the pool in the afternoon, and then go back at the end of the day for more rides!
Going to Universal without an Express Pass? Don’t worry. Follow these tips, and you can survive too!