Just a few general questions for someone NEW

Doing a split stay between Univeral and WDW. Really looking forward to it

We are staying at Portafino - so we get early admission and express pass - YEAH.

1 - With the exception of ensuring that we hit Harry Potter first thing - do we need to really follow any plans etc ( I am a planner - and use lines / touring plans at WDW ) but just curious

2 - do we need to make any reservations for dining?

I am hoping that Universal is a bit more flexible and we don’t have to plan down to the minute like we have to for WDW (that is a big part of its appeal to me this time)

Nope. Hit DM early also queues can reach 40mins for exp pass. Dining all bookable places have links on Uni website. Most take bookings from 30 days and a few are 45/60 days. You can get a table most places the day before but if you want a particular time book a week before. Day of walk ups still exist for most citywalk places but you will have a 45/60 min wait. Mythos is best booked in advance as walk ups are not always available. You can book online day of as well if there is availability. Think of it as real world dining Sat nights book in advance/ Tuesday nights quieter more tables without a reservation. Concierge can help with booking also.
3 Broomsticks and Leaky are cs so no booking. You can however book breakfast there via your hotel (pay in advance ) but they take walk ups for breakfast so we do that about 10.30 instead.
If planning on eating in 3b or LC I would look at the Uni cs dining plan as it might save you money.
Refillable drinks cups for in park and coca cola freestyle for in park also are worth looking into. Refillable popcorn buckets also.

Awesome - thanks!!

Also when in the parks - my wife does take a small back pack (not the big ones) - for the camera and few necessities. We don’t like lugging things around.

However I heard at several of the HP rides you have put put everything in a locker - is that true or is to only if you can’t fit it int eh seat with you. We are all pretty small people so would think there would be room to take on the ride - plus I don’t feel comfortable leaving a pretty expensive camera unattended. Thoughts?

You must use the lockers on the rides that provide them, they will not let you put things in front of you like at Disney. You can keep your phone in your pocket on some of the rides, but the ones that have metal detectors (Dragon Challenge, Hulk, RRR) you cannot have anything on you. They will send you back to the lockers. There is no room for any kind of a bag on a lot of their rides.

Plus hats need to go in lockers and non prescription glasses for those 3 rides also.and nothing in pockets means keys and change etc but thats only the 3 with metal detectors. No fanny packs allowed either.

As @Wahoohokie says If there are lockers you MUST use them. Rides that lockers must be used on are the 3 with metal detectors Mummy MIB FJ and not sure about Gringotts asfar as I can remember. The rest you can take bags on. Lockers are free and use fingerprint technology with a code. I have never heard of anyone having stuff stolen. We couldn’t get FJ lockers to open after our ride. TM was ablevto override the lock to get access but we had to describe the contents prior to opening Tell her our name and confirm with id upon opening before we were allowed our stuff. We don’t take expensive cameras to the parks as a general rule.We might take them or the video camera on a particular day if we want to photo or video something in particular