I’m just not that into amusement parks. There, I said it. Big crowds exhaust me. Rollercoasters scare me. All of the other rides make me sick. I’m cheap, I like naps, and get claustrophobic.
This month, we met up with a small group of Jake’s friends and visited Universal Studios Orlando. Despite all of these things, I spent an entire day at Universal Studios and I had a good time. If you are like me, you can, too. Here’s are my ten best tips:
Yes, your day will cost a lot of money and you will be here all day. If you just want to visit for one day, there really aren’t any ticket discounts. Single-day park passes with admission to both parks cost about $170 including tax. Disney Park Hopper passes cost the same amount. And don’t forget parking! Add an additional $20 per car.
Admission includes any entertainment and rides. Everything else costs extra, just like at any other amusement park. My not-so-scientific guess is that approximately 60% of the park is actually composed of stores, restaurants, and stands offering more stuff to buy. If you want to do Universal on budget, set a budget. There are too many tempting things to buy.`I did see families enjoying sack lunches and filling up their own water bottles. These are easy way to save money.
The ticket prices, though, are what they are.
2. There’s gotta be some theme that you enjoy!
Even though we were at the park all day, we still couldn’t see everything at Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. The parks are divided into themes, including Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Wars, Poseidon, old-fashioned comics, and the Simpsons. There’s gotta be something that you’re into!
3. Appreciate the details
Universal puts so many details into each theme, down to each trash can and bathroom sign. I didn’t go on any rides, but Jake admired how well the areas where he waited in lines were interesting to look at and reflected the themes.
In addition, Universal considers user experience. I never felt like it was difficult to find an employee when I wanted to ask a question. There are tons of restrooms and they’re extremely clean. I never stressed about finding drinking fountains and places to sit in the shade. And the park provides free lockers to hold your items when you go on a ride.
4. Every time everyone wants to go on a ride, drink something.
5. Eat something.
Just like the beverages, there is food everywhere. Some of the food vendors are theme-specific. For example, you can order grilled meat and veggie kabobs in the Poseidon area, doughnuts in the Simpsons world, and pumpkin cakes in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Prices are higher than what they would be outside of the park, but much of the food wasn’t as expensive as I’ve seen in other amusement parks. Plus, it tasted better. Five dollars will buy you a churro or pretzel and there are pretzel/churro stands everywhere.
It’s never too early in the morning to enjoy a pretzel with cheese sauce.
6. Don’t try to navigate around everyone’s selfies.
It’s literally impossible. Don’t even try. Feel empowered to walk right through.
7. If you’re from the North, enjoy the weather.
When we left the Twin Cities, the temperature was sub-zero. As soon as we exited the plane, we ditched our jackets and soaked in the 80 degree weather. Just being able to spend a whole day in the sun was a treat itself.
8. Relish your steps.
We averaged seven miles worth of steps. If you enjoy tracking your steps, you might be surprised at your day’s tally.
9. Soak in everyone’s joy.
Other people’s joy upon meeting their favorite characters, walking around in robes waving magic wands, or watching a dinosaur egg hatch is contagious.
Feel free to share your thoughts below on amusement parks or Universal Studios below.