Didn't think it would ever happen, but it is! Help with first trip planning

After years of dreaming about it, the situation is finally right for my family (from California) to visit Universal Orlando. We (Me 50+, DH 50+, DD 18) arrive after 8PM on Tuesday 12/26 and are staying at the Hard Rock Hotel. We have two day park to park tickets. For context I should mention that husband is a large guy who doesn’t enjoy roller coasters and isn’t very enthusiastic about this trip. Because we have an event in Sanford he agreed to tack this Universal trip onto our travel plans. I mean, since we’re already traveling across the country we might as well spend a couple of days at Universal, right? :grin: I think he will enjoy the hotel and may spend more time there than the rest of us.

We’re regulars at DL, have been to WDW a few times, but have only been to Universal Studios in California once recently, so this planning feels quite overwhelming since I want to maximize our time and budget during what is likely to be a once in a lifetime trip. If anyone has the time and knowledge, I’d love feedback on my touring plans that I created by modifying the standard templates. Given that it’s a busy holiday week, the wait times here seem unrealistic. I’ve selected “relaxed” for our pace and also built in some buffer time here and there to hopefully account for that.

Wednesday 12/27 part 1

Wednesday 12/27 part 2

Thursday 12/28 part 1

Thursday 12/28 part 2

A few other questions/considerations:

When I check in on Tuesday night, do I need to get actual tickets? Seems that I will need those for lockers.
There is rain in the forecast during our trip.
I scheduled Dudley Do-Rights and Popeye and Bluto’s back to back and right before our hotel break, though I suspect we will end up skipping water rides, particularly after what I’ve learned here.
I think we’ll be ok in Jurassic Park River as long as we wear our ponchos.
I purchased the photo pass. Any tips or recommendations?

I’m so excited about this trip and have enjoyed researching and planning with the help of all of the experts here. Thank you so much and Happy Holidays!


You don’t have to use your park ticket at the lockers. There are attendants there that will have a stack of “locker tickets”. You can just use one of them. I just used the same one all day.

Some people like paper tickets instead of getting your phone out to scan your ticket in the UOR app wallet. If you want, get your paper tickets at the hotel. They can be handy for entering or at the Hogwart’s Express.


You can use the app or paper tickets for all your needs. You’ll see a overwhelming majority of people wearing lanyards because you use the tickets often enough that it’s handier than the app.

If you want paper tickets the best place to get them is the Vacation Planning desk in your hotel lobby. There is rarely any wait as most people don’t know they exist or what their purpose is


I just looked at your plans. Even wirh Express Pass they may be a bit ambitious due to how busy the parks should be.

Also, you only gave yourself 5 minutes to explore all of Diagon Alley.

I, also, didn’t see much down time for breaks for toilets, shopping or general sightseeing.

Have fun and ask anything you need!


Popeye’s is really fun if you are willing to get soaked. I ride it right before I plan to leave the park. By far the best “river raft” style ride I have been on.

I agree with this. Make sure to manage your (and your family’s) expectations.


Is it safe to say that the flimsy little rain ponchos are useless on this one?

Yes. You will still likely get soaked.


I would get lanyards and paper tickets if possible. Your room key is your express pass and you will want it close by. You just stick the lanyard in your shirt on more intense rides.


The lanyards at Universal are fun, but the price is getting out of control. They charge for a the pouch separately now as well. The pouch is now $8!! Plus, the gave a logo on one side which covers one if you two most used items (on side hotel key/express pass the other side your park ticket/locker access)

If you can get a pouch from Amazon or local supplier for a fraction of the price. Make sure it seals shut to prevent anything from coming out.

Or get your entire lanyards elsewhere. My Harry Potter lanyard is from etsy for $12 total

The lanyards are now $13

All together for a Universal lanyard you’ll pay at least $22 for each one.

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I have combos of cheap lanyards I bought off Amazon recently.

I may have a lanyard problem since we have lots of Halloween themed lanyards too. I also have bought packs of plastic card holders (multiple styles). As @darkmite2 said it is cheaper to order before your trip.