Seeking tips and guidance for planning an awesome 1st trip to Universal

Been going to WDW for the last 10 years with an average of 3 out-of-state trips per year. Didn’t renew APs this time as there have been too many changes that have reduced our happiness. DH and I are ready for a new adventure. Never even considered Universal before yet now thought we would check out the competition. We are booked at Portofino for 6 nights in less than a month. I’m looking forward to being able to go with the flow, not having to get up early every morning to book Genie ressies and then stressing if I don’t get them. Being a foodie, I have a good feel now for the food options. I’ve read all the menus, read a lot of posts and blogs and made some good ADRs. We’re thinking about getting Seasonal APs since cost is rather neglible and we generally do not go during busy times as we like to avoid the most crowded times anyway. We’re read all the TP blog posts on Universal. Anything else I should know?


Six nights at Portofino! Wow! What a relaxing trip! Finding the AP that works for you is always great. Will you get 2 park or 3?

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That’s going to be epic!!

Sounds like you’re suitably researched :+1:t2:
Hope it’s a great trip…

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What restaurants are you booked at? Do you like thrill rides? Roller coasters? Relaxed stuff?

We’ve never been to a water park before. Not really in the plans, at least for now. We are planning for some lazy pool time for sure.

We booked Mythos, Big Fire, Finnegan’s Toothsome, Cowfish, Lombardi’s and Mama Della’s. Plus we want to do the luau at Royal Pacific. We are sit down restaurant people - not a fan of quick serves. The only quick one we have planned is Leaky Cauldron.

We’re not thrill ride people, at least not the extreme ones like Veliacoster and Hulk. At disney, we didn’t like Space or Rock N Rollercoaster. I get a bit clausterphobic too, so I don’t like rides where there’s a bar that goes over your body and locks you down.


Probably not. Sounds like you did a great job researching already! Here are a few main things in case you missed anything:

  • Download that official UOR app to check: park hours, park map, early admission schedule, showtimes, wait times, restaurant hours & menus, etc.

  • Lockers: If you try any of these attractions, you cannot take any type of bag/purse on: Mummy, Gringotts, MiB, Forbidden Journey, Hagrids

Fanny packs are allowed though for your belongings (phone, keys, wallet, etc.) You can also use cargo shorts with the pockets that close for these things too. The small lockers are free for the ride duration at all locations. Note that they are small. Mini-back pack, sling bag, etc. will work. A larger bag may not fit, and you will have to pay for a larger locker.

  • Attractions: If you get motion sickness, it’s good to know which attractions are the worst for this. I have a general attraction questionnaire which helps with this that I can share if interested.

  • Diagon Alley: If interested, I also have a detailed map of Diagon Alley available too.


Thank you @bebe80 - I am very interested in your questionnaire and map. Sounds really helpful!!

Sure thing!

This questionnaire is for all to use, no name required. It helps you decide which rides you want to try or to not try. The attraction descriptions detail which ones risk sickness, are rough, spin, get soaked, etc. These are not all the attractions at UOR, the tamest rides were left off.

I included both Wizarding World Maps right away for you. They are PDF’s so you can print if desired.

Diagon Alley Map.pdf (5.9 MB)

Hogsmeade Map.pdf (6.5 MB)


Oh! Almost forgot. This may be more your style. Universal has Free Guided Backstage Tours available at times. Ask a TM at the attraction entrance. It would be nice to get an update on the availability of these. :slightly_smiling_face:

  • Men in Black Immigration Tour
  • Race thru New York Studio Tour
  • ET?
  • Revenge of the Mummy Production Tour
  • Escape from Gringott’s Bank Tour
  • Fast and Furious Garage Tour
  • Transformers?
  • Incredible Hulk Gamma Tour
  • Dr. Doom’s Fearfall Villains Tour
  • Reign of Kong Temple Tour
  • Velocicoaster Paddock Tour
  • Forbidden Journey Castle Tour
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I found a 2 park pass works for me. I just buy a water park ticket if I go to VB.

I like Finnegan’s for in-park solid food.

Maybe this will help. My wife and I have been to Universal Fl. a number of times. We are about to do Portifino on the 5th of Oct for 6 days. Sounds like you used MVT as well. We bought AP’s a year ago and just renewed. It says we could save 20% on renewal but somehow it came out to about 50%. Yes, it is the three park pass. One can do the parks easy in two days if your not roll coaster type fans. We do the Minions, Transformers, and Jimmy Fallon ride through NY. We watch the Blue’s brothers and Marilyn Manroe on the streets. We have done Three Broomsticks and Leaky Caldon in Diagon Alley. They are both about the same with a slightly different menu. One is in Universal Fl. while the other is in Adventure Island. Make sure to get park to park as that is the way you can ride Hogwarts Express from one park to the other. Both parks are right next to each other and the train ride is very small, but it looks longer because of video in the windows. Remember 9 3/4’s to enter the train station. If your a Muggle it may be hard to find but if you have a invite to Hogwards then your a wizard and no problem. Beside those two restaurants which are mobile order, the rest are expensive and only so so. I would save your dinner eating for Citywalk. In Citywalk my wife and I tend to eat at Obrien’s (piano bar type place but kids are welcome), Margarettaville, Toothsome’s Chocolate Factory, and Hard Rock Restaurant. (prepare to have your picture taken holding a Electric Guitar which is added cost if you purchase it), Make sure to make reservations for dinner as they fill up fast the day of. Unlike Disney, there is no no-show fee for any of them except Hard Rock is booked via Open Table and they want you to cancel if your not going to show up but still no fee. The rest are booked via another on-line service and though they would like you to cancel if not showing, they don’t make a stink about it if you don’t. Also for lunch don’t miss Voodoo Donut or the sandwitch shop on City walk. The nice thing about Universal is that all resorts are walking distance from the two parks or take a short ride via boat to the parks. Volcano Bay I cannot tell you about because we haven’t been there yet. We not much for water activities. I know there is more I can tell you but this is a start. Oh yes, Butterbeer is a must and we buy it frozen on a hot day. No alcohol in Butterbeer. Kind of Butter Scotch tasting. Have a great time and if your HP fans, don’t spend all your money on Robes and wands unless of coarse they call to you, and then what can you do? Your a wizard Harry. :laughing:

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You have the 3 park pass but haven’t gone to Volcano Bay? Did you renew it to the 2 park pass?

Nope. As far as I know we couldn’t down grade without losing the discount. We could upgrade but we were already at the three park level. Besides we went from the non-renewal price of $2015 to renewal of $1024 for the two of us. Renewed on-line so with that discount I wasn’t screw with it.

Don’t think I have seen this one yet - the water rides at Universal are no joke. No matter where you sit, you will come off COMPLETELY soaked (except the Jurassic River Adventure - I have been less wet in the middle back). But they are so much fun. We usually save them for the last rides of the day so we can take our soaking wet selves back to the hotel to shower and get into comfy, dry clothes. And we always have a second pair of park shoes for the next day.


Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m getting excited!

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