Disney Goer Tries to Plan for Universal

Greetings, Liners! I’m a long-time Disney liner, but this will be our first time going to Universal. I am traveling with my 9 yo daughter and 8 mth old son. I’m a bit overwhelmed with what I don’t know, though from what I understand Universal should be easier than Disney.

Please forgive me as I don’t know Universal lingo /slang / acronyms.

We plan to be an Universal 2/9 all day and 2/10 until the early evening, when we will transfer to Disney. I know many will say this isn’t enough time, but it’s what we have. My husband and daughter may venture back over on our relax day that Sunday using the Buy 2 Days Get 2 Days deal, however.

We are staying on at a “Deluxe” hotel, so we have the Express Passes. Will be able to “park hop”.

Daughter is into Harry Potter.

(1) Can someone please confirm we will have Express Passes for both days? We are staying at the hotel 2/8-2/10.

(2) What time do we need to be there to rope drop (including early access hours)?

(3) Where do we need to go first? Hagrid’s? Which park is this in and which direction will we be heading? Will there be obvious signs?

(4) Best way to get from Royal Pacific to the park?

(5) If you were there for 1.5 days with a 10 yo what would you skip and what are must do’s?

Thank you!


Can confirm express pass is both check in and check out day. And the easiest way to the park from Royal Pacific is the walking path.


Hagrid’s is in Islands of Adventure. I think the signage is crappy but follow the crowd - most are headed to Hagrid’s. Once you go through the Port of Entry, take a right to Seuss Landing and then left through Seuss Landing and keep going up. You will go past Mythos restaurant, past the bridge to Velocicoaster, keep walking straight until you get to the line for Hagrid’s.


Thank you. Do you recommend doing this first on Day 1? Or is another time generally preferred?

  1. If you are staying Wednesday night & Thursday night, you will have express pass Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday.
  2. Arrive at the gate 30-45 minutes before opening time, on those lower crowd level days.
  3. Islands of Adventure is the park that offers Early Park Admission in February. Note that if you are not near the front of the crowd and want to ride Hagrid’s first, you may as well wait til late morning. EVERYONE heads to Hogsmeade, so first thing in the morning is one of the busiest times of day for Hagrid’s.
  4. Walking (pretty short) will bring you to near the entrance to Islands and is usually the quickest option. The Water Taxi will bring you to near the center of CityWalk and closer to the Studios entrance.
    Busing from there to the parks isn’t great because you get dropped off on the other side of CityWalk and then have to go through security and walk through CityWalk.
  5. Use the official Touring Plans attractions ratings for different age groups. Sorted by Grade School age.
    Universal Studios Florida Attractions
    Universal's Islands of Adventure Attractions

You’re awesome, thanks so much! I’ve never actually used a touring plan, but this may just be the trip to do so. All very helpful information.

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No problem, glad to help with any questions!

A touring plan isn’t really necessary since you have Express. BUT, a touring plan will help as a guide/checklist since it’s your first visit. You can basically make your way around the parks in a normal fashion instead of going back and forth to find the lowest waits. Note that Velocicoaster is the only other attraction (besides Hagrid’s) that does not use an express lane.

The attraction rating list will just help you decide what is popular for your 10 year old.


Got it, thanks again!

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I recently stayed at RPR and I was also in your shoes, not being very familiar with UOR


Just adding that your email confirmation somewhere should state that you have express pass. I know mine did. Like you, I wanted to confirm I had the benefit.

Hagrid’s is a must-do, but 3 times I tried to rope drop it and 3 times the darn ride wasn’t open for early entry or kept breaking down, so I wasted a significant amount of valuable morning time.

If you are at the very front of the pack, sure, head there first, but if they announce a delay - don’t get in line. Go to Jurassic Park or do other rides in Hogsmeade.

Trying Hagrids right before park close worked much better for me

ETA: yes, do it on day 1, so that if it breaks down, you have the opportunity to try again another day.


I have a 10 and a12 year old and they are completely different. One loves thrill rides and the other doesn’t.

One thing to be mindful of is motion sickness. If your child is prone, make sure you have a plan.

I love chewable Dramamine. I took the kids dose, but there is also the less drowsy version that I think it’s just a smaller dose. Non-drowsy is just ginger, so for some people it isn’t as effective.

I had never been to Universal either before buying the military passes for 2021. We found that having the EPs for both check in and check out day was enough time for us to do both parks in 1.5 days. I checked in very early usually ~0545. Also, we found being first (or close to first) in line when the gates open will get you onto Hagrid’s in decent time and then you can hop right over and do VC, knocking out those rides where you don’t have EP.

Here’s a link to our first day from one of our 2021 jaunts: 12 Apr 2021 - USF


If you have a baby plus a 10 year old , take the boat to City Walk. Gate to both Universal and Islands of Adventure are right there and easy to see Both parks are right next to each other.

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Thank you! I saved you post for reference later.

Question: You mentioned getting return times for a couple of the bigger rides - how do you do that? Is it always available? Is there an extra cost? Finally, is there a way to manage all of this in an app?

I think I need to find some printable maps so I can wrap my head around it! :slight_smile:

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First off Hagrid’s is a roller coaster. Second, it is a very popular ride. Generally about two to two and a half hour wait time. In your situation I would start in Universal Fl. Digone Ally. which is basically Harry Potter land. They have the Leaky Caldron for lunch there and many shops. One ride there at Grinsvolt bank but I don’t know about a ten year old let alone a baby. Another rollercoaster ride. Once done there go to Cross landing to take the train across to Three Mile Island. Three broomsticks is there for dinner and many rides there as well including Hagrids.


My email confirmation doesn’t say much of anything. Confirmation number and check in date. I find the website to not be very user friendly, I think that is part of my problem.

Thanks though!

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Got it, ty!

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The Virtual Line for attractions at Universal was discontinued. Some experiences offered return times too, but that was just during covid.

The Universal App is good for: Showtimes, park hours, wait times, restaurant hours & menus, park map.

Definitely good to take a look at park maps ahead of time.


Can confirm.

Based on my research and experience I used EPA for VelociCoaster, and did Hagrid during the lunchtime lull, just after 12 noon. Waited an hour.

Given your family won’t be doing VC, I’m not clear what the argument is for you doing EPA. Why get up early and wait in a 30-45 line? I’d arrive after EPA but before regular park opening and glide straight in.

After all, you have EPs for the whole of your trip. You are not going to be time-pressured.