Best way to do Universal Studios Orlando in one day?
December 15, 2017 6:29 AM   Subscribe

We're going to Universal Studios in Orlando but only for one day. We have tickets for both parks, but are not planning to spring for the line-skipping passes (money is tight). It will be on a non-"seasonal" day, not expected to be peak attendance, so we're hoping that won't be too big a deal - 45 mins at worst? What is the best way to navigate both parks so we can get the most out of our day? We are two adults and a 9 year old boy, none of us likes big coasters.

We are interested in Harry Potter, both sections, in particular. And we'd like to start with Ollivanders if that makes sense, because we want to be able to get a wand and do the extras (any links to what to look for would be appreciated). And I really want to see the Simpsons stuff, but don't know anything about the attractions there. My son will want to go to any playspaces where he can climb stuff. Other than that, we're going in pretty blind.

What's the best way to plan how to do this so we can see the most and spend the least time standing in lines, while not missing anything Harry Potter (we want to take the train in both directions)? We have some motion-sickness issues (we went back when the first HP experience opened, and the simulators were really hard for us, but we've stocked up on sea bands and patches and we're willing to brave it again), so knowing which rides are the most vomit-inducing would also be helpful.

We're packing food, so don't need any meal tips, and we're already planning to get there an hour before it opens to deal with parking lines and hopefully get early entry.
posted by Mchelly to Travel & Transportation around Orlando, FL (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been to Universal yet, though we hope to go next year. Have you checked out Touring Plans? They have some free plans available - check them out.

Here's a link to their free Universal planning tool:
posted by lyssabee at 7:55 AM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

The newer Harry Potter Gringotts ride is less queasy making than the Hogwarts one. It still has lot of video/motion sim, but a less immersive if you aren't in the first row of a car.

The Simpsons ride is a previous generation motion sim and is very queasy making, super fun though.

We go as a group of adults, so we use the single rider lines to cut out a lot of waiting, but that's probably not going to work with a 9 year old.
posted by advicepig at 8:08 AM on December 15, 2017

Also, my spouse is prone to motion sickness and did ok on all those rides. She used to fly with patches, but switched to non-drowsy Dramamine and it works well without the cranky side effects of the patches.
posted by advicepig at 8:09 AM on December 15, 2017

Since you've already been to the Potter area in islands of adventure, I'd go bee line to the one in Studios at park opening, and resist stopping for rides on the way. It's at the back of the park, so the lines shouldn't be too bad. And you can then do the other stuff at your leisure if you have time.

We did one park one day and the other on a second day and still didn't see everything.

I remember Olivander's being really crowded, even though there weren't a lot of people in there.

You can download the maps for the parks in PDF format to make pre-planning a little easier.

The hard part will be choosing which park you want to do with short lines, because by the time you are done with the first ride/experience, more people will have filtered their way to the back and started some lines. The good thing is they put a lot of fun stuff to look at in the lines, so it isn't completely boring.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:17 AM on December 15, 2017

If you get nauseous, just close your eyes. It's mostly the video stuff that will make you sick.

The single rider line works fine for the Hogwarts ride because you're all strapped into your own seats anyway.

I went on a weekday in early November and lines weren't bad. We had time to do everything in one day. I snuck in small snacks (Clif bars, etc.) so we didn't have to waste time in restaurants, but lots of people find the restaurant experience worthwhile.

If you have time to spare, the Jurassic Park ride isn't far from Hogsmeade and is pretty fun.
posted by metasarah at 8:23 AM on December 15, 2017

Seconding touring plans; they were a great resource for our last two WDW trips.

The number one piece if advice I'd give us to study up on all the attractions, decide what's most important to you, and make peace with the fact that you won't see everything. That's how they get repeat business!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:39 AM on December 15, 2017

Thirding Touring Plans. Prioritize what you would like to see, and order the attractions based on the guidance of Touring Plans.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 9:50 AM on December 15, 2017

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