Guides and Tips

5 Vacation Hacks for Avoiding Crowds at Universal Orlando Resort

April 8, 2017
Universal Orlando Resort Vacation Hacks

Always on the lookout for the biggest and best? You’ve come to the right place. Not only is Universal Orlando Resort the ultimate destination for your next-level vacation, but we’re about to tell you how to maximize your time here.

Universal Orlando Resort Vacation Hacks

Stay on property to get free Universal Express Access

The biggest reason to stay on property: three of Universal Orlando’s Hotels offer free Universal Express access for everyone in your party. That means you’ll get to skip the regular lines at all participating rides and attractions. It’s an amazing value; you’re going to want to take advantage of this one.

Universal Orlando Resort Vacation Hacks

Don’t ride the first thing you see

Most guests will enter through the front gates and head to the nearest attraction. Zig when they zag – head to the back, then work your way forward.

Vacation Hacks at Universal Orlando Resort

Eat outside of the 11 am – 1 pm lunch window

Most people head to the in-park eateries during this window of time. Plan to snack before or eat a late lunch and you’ll have a bit more of the place to yourself.

Universal Orlando Resort Vacation Hacks

Enter Universal Studios Florida through the “secret entrance” (pending availability)

Did you know there’s a second park entrance to Universal Studios Florida near the Blue Man Group theatre? Head in that direction and get to the rides that much faster.

Universal Orlando Resort Vacation Hacks

Use child swap

Those with kids who can’t or don’t want to go on specific rides can use child swap to keep from waiting in line twice. One parent stays with the child while the other rides, and then you switch. Ask the greeter at the front of the attraction to get you set up.

What hacks do you like to use when you visit Universal Orlando Resort? Tell us in the comments below!

See more Universal Orlando vacation hacks:

7 Vacation Hacks for Staying Stress-Free at Universal Orlando

7 Vacation Hacks for Getting the Most Out of Universal Orlando Attractions

7 Vacation Hacks for Saving Money at Universal Orlando

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  • Reply Chad April 8, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    New ride Kong skull island … avoid the long line , use “single rider” line . This hack will not work with most rides hoping to ride with your party . But this long ride is a large old school bus ride that seats a lot of people at one time , your chances of riding with your party from the single rider line is a 90% chance . This saved us 1.5 hrs of wait time

    • Reply Mike F April 10, 2017 at 11:49 pm

      If you are in the single rider line don’t expect to ride with your entire family. I hate people that will argue with the attendant that they need to ride with someone else that is also in the single rider line. They do announce that if you are in the single rider line you will not be riding with another person in the single rider line. One guy insisted that he ride with his son. He held up the entire ride. He was finally told that either get on the ride or his son get on the ride or get in the regular line and wait again. He left the line and did not go on the ride and was applauded when he left. Know what each line is for. Single rider is not the express line.

      • Reply SB20 May 16, 2017 at 1:51 pm

        Well single riders line is an express line for single riders.

      • Reply C Johnson May 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm

        Thanks Mike for making this point very clear. It only takes a couple of inconsiderate people to ruin it for everyone else. Considerate conduct is necessary anywhere that there are large crowds. Along with patience.

    • Reply Emesge May 16, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      We used the Kong single rider line several times during a recent visit and were on the same car each time. Also a good option for Forbidden Journey and Gringott’s. Please, please, please don’t use this option if you’re with kids or if you are traveling with a non-English speaking companion. I’ve seen instances in both cases where the parties got separated and lost because of panic.

  • Reply kellie mccutcheon April 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Go to guest services and tell them about an exceptionally great experience with one of their staff and name the member of staff. The staff member gets an award and you will get a pass to jump to the front of the queue on your next ride.

    • Reply Hobbygoblin May 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      Huh?! When did that start? I give positives any time a Team Member goes above and beyond, and I’ve never once gotten a pass.

      • Reply DadGuy June 25, 2017 at 1:00 pm

        The staff member will get a kudos and maybe a free lunch.

    • Reply annr May 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      I also did told guest service about someone who did something wonderful. I didn’t tell them to get anything because people rarely get commended on doing a great job. It’s usually the complaints you hear. They didn’t give me a pass.

  • Reply @GoWithTheHeart April 9, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    If you plan on going for more than four days and want to stay at and on-site hotel buy annual passes. It cost just as much as 5 days at park but you will get an average savings of 10-30% off the on-site hotels with code APH (Annual Pass Holder), 10% off almost any universal store, and it’s good for a year! Blackout dates apply on the cheaper one but well worth the investment!

    • Reply SB20 May 16, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Can this be used with the FLO discount code?

      • Reply Scout May 16, 2017 at 2:47 pm

        No, it’s either/or. When you book online, Florida discount code is FLO and the annual pass holder is APH. However, they do check your license or annual pass.

      • Reply C Johnson May 16, 2017 at 10:44 pm

        Discounts can NEVER be stacked. If they could many would be paying half price or less. Choose the option available to you that offers you the best savings and go with that one.

  • Reply Nanci Hernandez April 10, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    We usually go end of August, that’s when most kids/families in the South go back to school. We literally went on revenge of the mummy 3 times back to back because there was no line at all what so ever.

    • Reply maria April 13, 2017 at 4:45 am

      we are travelling there at the end of august hope this is the same for us

    • Reply Scout May 16, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      That happened to us once on the Harry Potter quidditch ride! We were able to ride it three times right in a row!

    • Reply Ronni January 16, 2019 at 12:40 pm

      True at the end of April also.

  • Reply pam April 10, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    HA!! Been using the “secret” entrance for years but the last time we were there it wasnt there for some reason. Being a premier pass holder for years we have figured out other great things too when navigating the parks. We usually stay at Royal Pacific Resort and get the expresses but the last 3 times we stayed at Sapphire Falls and they dont have expresses and it didnt matter. not only did we go at a time when it wasnt super busy we figured out what time to go to certain attractions where there wasnt more than a 10 minute wait. That has proven to be tried and true for us

    • Reply PJ April 11, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      The secret enterance is still there, it only opens after 11am

      • Reply Lindsey Humphries May 16, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        Oh!!! I was wondering! We went and didn’t see it bc obviously way too early! They need to open it earlier!

    • Reply Vanessa April 11, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks Pam! We, too always stay at Royal Pacific because we love it so much and for the passes! We’ve been wanting to try Sapphire Falls but are scared we will regret not having the fast passes when we go with our 5 and 6 year old…you think it’s worth it??

      • Reply Rocky May 16, 2017 at 4:01 pm

        No way. I am a local and trust me, you want the express passes. Besides, you can go over to Sapphire Falls and use the pools even if you stay at RPR.

        • Reply Fiona May 16, 2017 at 10:55 pm

          Child swap is the best idea ever, and not many people know about it. It’s Great. Was wondering that about using the other resort pools, I guess you just use your hotel key card.

  • Reply Genie April 11, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Great tips

  • Reply mre April 11, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I tried the Child Swap feature and couldn’t get anyone to swap their children for mine. Isn’t that the way it works? Ha Ha

    • Reply Lisa May 16, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Yep. I was joking with some friends that I’m glad they didn’t have that Child Swap when I was a kid. Then again, if it was a rich family… 🙂

  • Reply Marjorie Rojas May 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    As premier pass holders we avoid long lines getting to the park after 2:00. We walk around, eat, and after that we start using the express pass (which is after 4). We also use the Universal app. It is very helpful, because it tells you the wait times, what rides have express pass, single riders, the show times, etc.

  • Reply Gerald F. Dziedzic May 16, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    When did they start the single rider line? I was there on Feb. 19 and I asked if they had a single rider line and I was told no. I have been a preferred annual pass holder since 2003 and that is very upsetting. Please answer my query!!!!

    • Reply Cassie May 16, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      I went jan 2016 and they had it

    • Reply Danielle May 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      We went in 2011 and again in 2014. Both times we used the single rider lines. New attractions won’t have it all the time.

    • Reply Jordan May 16, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      Um they’ve had single rider lines for many of the rides for as long as I can remember. Certain rides don’t offer it, but I would definitely say 75% do. Maybe you just went to one that didn’t offer it.

  • Reply Jacqueline Kelly May 16, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Thank you That was helpful. Unfortunately, the hotels on property are so expensive that it’s better to stay at someplace close and pay for Express Passes. You will definitely save money. Unfortunate, but true.

    • Reply C Johnson May 16, 2017 at 10:58 pm

      Why people are giving this comment negative ticks I do not know. The comment is true. Their are off site hotels that are great accommodations and even after buying the Express passes it is still cheaper to stay off site if you are on a tight budget. I would think that everyone would like an on site Hotel property that offers free Express Passes but unfortunately not everyone can afford it. It’s more important to enjoy the park than not go at all because you just cannot afford the park and all it offers.

      • Reply Sam April 29, 2019 at 3:10 pm

        I agree with doing the budget stay. It is way better to stay off site then not to experience the parks. Also, if you get to go during school the Express pass may not even be needed.😀 But…

        Staying off site and buying Unlimited Express will never cost less then staying on site at a hotel that includes Unlimited Express. The cost of Unlimited Express frequently adds over $100 to each persons daily ticket. Groups of 2 or more will find the cost quickly building beyond the hoped for savings. A family of 4 would be adding $400 or more to each day at the park. Add that cost to the off site room cost and on-site is a huge savings. Hence the down votes.

        Remember this is only if you will be purchasing the Unlimited Express and going into the parks everyday of your stay.

        Only going 2 days? Stay at an on-site for one night and it includes 2 full days of Unlimited Express then switch to an off-site hotel for the rest of your vacation.

  • Reply Lindsey Humphries May 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    We tried finding the secret entrance at the time the park opens for onsite guest and did not see it. We walked all the way back into the blue man entrance into that building. Where exactly is it? We were there right after Christmas and will be there again this year!!!

  • Reply Joanne May 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Head to the exit for Dragon Challenge (after placing your stuff in a locker) then hit the re-ride line and avoid the lengthy walk up the hill and around tons of winding pathways. 🙂
    Best Rollercoasters ever !!

    • Reply Jessica July 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      This one won’t matter since its closing soon…

  • Reply Cassie May 16, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Yep use the single rider line. Hardly need to wait in line. If u and your friends all do it chances are u may be on the same same ride just not together. Not like u can talk diring a lot of them anyway. Its much better then waiting in line for lime 2 hrs.

  • Reply Daysi May 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    My family gets on the single riders line when available. It’s much faster!

  • Reply Chrissy May 16, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I like to cut through the billabong store to get to Universal Studios quicker. I avoid the crowds in citywalk, look at clothes, and get to enjoy the AC for a little bit. It really helps. 🙂

  • Reply Mandy Tsang June 20, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Is there a limited sales of unlimited Express Pass everyday?

  • Reply Jennie Woodward July 30, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    If you have a disability or are visiting with someone who is disabled, get a guest assistance pass. It helps us a lot with our disabled daughter so she doesn’t have to endure long queue lines. Makes it a much more pleasant visit.

  • Reply Kimberley Renton July 30, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Go to the park after 6pm. Most people go home at dinner time so it’s much quieter. Plus you don’t have to pay the completely ridiculous price of $20 for parking as it’s free to park after 6pm.

    • Reply DBecks October 9, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      But they close at 8, don’t they? Maybe for someone who has annual passes, but $100+ for 2 hours is just not a good deal if you’re buying regular tickets.

  • Reply Hayley May 27, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    I love the option on the Universal app that alerts you when rides you want to go on are down to the wait time you prefer. Such a huge time saver!

  • Reply karen kruise July 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I like the VIP tour on the first day so those traveling with me get all the good stuff first. Last year Lindsay was my groups guide and she was wonderful. I have already reserved a first day tour and know that it will be phenomenal.

  • Reply Jorge January 5, 2019 at 8:47 am

    going in March 2019, st Patrick’s day weekend. Should I still get express passes?

  • Reply Louise Stacy April 11, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Thank you for the tips, appreciate it.

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