Universal Orlando Resort offers two different theme parks and a water park for guests to enjoy. If you are planning a visit, you may be wondering where to start and how to make the most of your time in the parks. Here is your guide to Universal Orlando Park Touring Strategies, with three different options to tour the parks.

When To Arrive

Before your visit, check which park(s) are offering Early Park Admission and take advantage! This is a perk offered only to resort guests. It is ALWAYS recommended that you arrive early and head to the most popular attractions first. This is especially true if you do not have the Universal Express Pass or if you are planning to ride one of the newer attractions that don’t offer it.

Plus, one of the best things about staying on-site at the Universal Orlando Resort is the ease of getting to and from the parks. Therefore, if you need a break during the day, it’s a quick walk, water taxi, or bus ride back to the resort if you are staying on property. These Universal Orlando touring strategies work best when you arrive early to the theme parks.

Touring Plans

The following touring plans are designed to help you plan your day and avoid going back and forth across the parks. In addition to the touring plans, there are some basic strategies to keep in mind when you visit the theme parks. Each plan can be easily modified to fit your wants and needs. They are not meant to schedule every moment of your day.

While it is possible to experience the two theme parks in one day, it is my opinion that it will be rather rushed and you will miss some things that are definitely worth seeing. For that reason, there is a touring plan included for one day at each park. It is very easy to “hop” back and forth between the parks

Here are a few other things to consider:

  • These touring plans include the height requirements for each attraction. If you are visiting with children and they are not tall enough to ride, use the rider switch option. That way, everyone who is tall enough and wants to experience the attraction can still do so. Speak with a team member for more details about this option.
  • Whether you are using Universal Express Pass or the standby line, these touring plans will help guide you so that you are not backtracking across the parks.

Universal Studios

The first touring plan focuses on Universal Studios. It includes a suggested order for all of the rides and attractions. In addition, there is a list of the shows and character experiences.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • It is important to arrive early, especially if you are not using the Universal Express Pass. Keep an eye on the park hours and get there before opening.
  • If you are looking for dining options, check the app and use the mobile order option to save time. During busier times, consider eating at “off hours” to avoid longer wait times
  • There are many different character experiences throughout the park – check the app for the exact locations
  • Don’t miss the shows, including the newest addition – the Bourne Stuntacular. For a family-friendly option that is sure to bring a lot of smiles, check out “Animal Actors on Location!” There is also a nighttime show called “Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration” that occurs on select nights, right before park closing. This show revisits your favorite movie moments and consists of water, lights, music, projections, and pyrotechnics.

To view the touring plan, click here – Universal Studios 1 Day Touring Guide

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The second touring plan focuses on starting your day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Arrive early if you want to ride the first two attractions on this list. The two newest attractions at this park do not offer Universal Express Pass and both are very popular! If you do not arrive early, keep an eye on the wait times and use the “Wait Time Alert” option in the mobile app. The wait is often shorter later in the day for both.
  • Like Universal Studios, use the app to mobile order food. It will save you time!
  • At dusk, and through park closing, be sure to stop by Hogwarts Castle to see the nighttime show. The show plays several times throughout the evening.
  • Don’t miss the character interactions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure! Stop by the Raptor Encounter to see Blue and some of her siblings, or head over to Marvel Superhero Island to strike a pose with your favorite Marvel characters! Check the app for more details and if you are looking for a specific character, be sure to check with a team member.

To view the touring plan, click here – Universal’s Islands of Adventure 1 Day Touring Guide

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This touring strategy focuses entirely on everything to see in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are 6 attractions to experience. However, there are many other things to see and do for the Harry Potter fan, including looking for the Easter Eggs found throughout this land.

  • Arrive early. Yes, I said it again. This is important, especially if you are not using Universal Express Pass.
  • If you would like to eat breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, be sure to pre-purchase your voucher. Currently, that is the only way to eat breakfast there. Your Key to the World Travel advisor can add that to your vacation package or you can purchase a voucher at the Vacation Planning desk at your resort hotel.
  • Make sure that you ride the Hogwarts Express BOTH ways. Each way is different, taking you to Hogsmeade and then back to London.
  • If there is someone in your travel party who does not want to or is not tall enough to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey but still wants to see the castle, speak with a team member at the ride entrance. Ask to do a walk-through to explore the castle and then exit before boarding the attraction.
  • Be on the lookout for the hidden gems in the land such as the vanishing cabinet, Moaning Myrtle, Kreacher peeking out the window, and more!

To view the touring plan, click here – Wizarding World 1 day Touring Guide

A Few More Tips and Tricks

  • As you explore the parks, remember that it is very easy to “hop” back and forth between the two. The parks are right next to each other and connected by the Hogwarts Express. If you do not want to ride the Hogwarts Express, it is easy to walk between the two parks. These Universal Orlando touring strategies can be modified if you plan to split your time and “hop” between the parks.
  • As you are touring the parks, remember that many attractions do not allow you to bring bags or purses on the rides. Complimentary lockers are available while you ride but I suggest packing lightly and using a crossbody bag or “fanny pack” if possible.
  • To hold your tickets, room key, and/or Universal Express Pass, I suggest a lanyard. You will need to show your tickets to go between the parks and your room key or Universal Express Pass ticket to enter the Express line. It is easier to have it all at your fingertips to scan and go.


Are you considering a trip? This is a great time to plan your perfect vacation! Having a travel advisor means someone there to have your back in any occurrence. There is no additional cost to you and you have peace of mind knowing that your vacation is in good hands. Contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.

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