Our last family vacation to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida was amazing! We decided to stay at Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel to take advantage of the perks for staying on site at a Universal Orlando Hotel. Here’s our travel tip for Universal Orlando and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Any other travel tips you would add? -Dot
1. Bring a lanyard
This allows you to store your ticket with the bar code facing out one side and the express pass with bar code facing out the other side. You will have to scan the express pass at every ride and so you will need these in an easily accessible location.
2. Bring a bathing suit
Along with your bathing suit, make sure to bring a change of clothes for the water rides and the water splash area. (If I ran the Zoo or Me Ship the Olive at Islands of Adventure or Curious Georg Goes to Town and Fever’s Playland at Universal Studios). The water play area are in both parks and are a great way to cool down and get away from the crowds. Be warned: the water rides will drench you! They also have lots of cool zone with misting fans. Tip#1 bring ponchos if you don’t want to get wet on the water ride. They are perfect since it always tends to rain at least once during our vacations.
3. Snack Credit
Use a snack credit for frozen butter beer (non alcoholic) or butter beer ice cream. These can be found at both parks in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Perfect for a hot day!
4. Purchase a Wand
Harry Potter wands can be purchased in the park and they are interactive. You can do “Magic” throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade with the wands. A magic map is included with the purchase of a wand. Visit Ollivanders Wand Shop where you can see a wand choosing a wizard. They usually pick someone out in the crowd for this experience!
5. Use Child Swap
Make sure to utilize child swap for rides where some of the kids aren’t tall enough. There’s usually a different entrance for this at each ride so keep your eyes open.
6. Take Advantage of Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort
Since we were staying at Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, we were able to take advantage of staying onsite. One of those advantages were early park admission to Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This will be the least crowded times to visit the park and I would go straight to dragon at Gringottt’s to ride this attraction before the park opens up for everyone else. The dragon at Gringott’s breathes fire over the crowds randomly, so be prepared and let the kids know just in case it happens when you’re near by.
7. Take Advantage of Complimentary Transportation
Another advantage to staying at a “on site” hotel is complimentary transportation to Universal Studios. Portofino Bay Hotel and Hard Rock hotel offers boat rides to Universal Studios. It was nice not having to worry about parking a car, just get on a boat and enjoy the ride.
8. Hogwarts Express Train
You can take the Hogwarts Express Train from park to park and it offers a unique show in each direction.
9. Short cuts
Walk from Hard Rock to Universal because you can utilize a special entrance with fewer lines for security check. It is about a 3 minute walk through the pool area to the entrance of Universal.
10. Universal Express Pass
This allows you to skip the regular lines at MOST of the rides and attractions at Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The cost is $129 per person but is included in your package if you stay “on site” at Universal Orlando’s Premiere or Preferred hotels.