Universal Studios Florida
I never thought I would be saying this, but spending one day at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando is one of my best days ever. We arrived just before 8 a.m. and didn´t leave until 11 p.m. I did rides I never thought I would dare and our kids were happier than ever before.
For us, the choice between Disney World and Universal Studios Florida was easy. Our kids were at this time 12 and 14 and more interested in adventure attractions at Universal than Disney.
What tickets should I buy for Universal Studios Florida?
Before going to Universal Studios Florida it is worth it to take some time and carefully plan your stay. Buying tickets for Universal Studios Florida is a bit confusing and it took me some time to figure out what tickets to buy.
First of all, you have to choose which parks to visit. There are three different theme parks. Depending on the age of your kids you might want to go to the Universal Studios, Island of Adventure or Volcano Bay. You can also visit just one park, two parks or all three.
Since this place is really trying hard to push you to buy a three days´ pass for all three parks you may end up spending well above 1200 USD for a family of four. Buying a ticket for all three parks for three days will cost you nearly 315 USD (adult) and 304 USD (kids up to 9 years).
"One way to save some money is to consider
if you really, really want to visit all three parks."
Buying a ticket for one park, either Island of Adventure or Universal Studios for one day will cost you 119 USD (114 USD for kidds). Visiting Vocano Bay for one day costs 80 USD (75 USD for kids).
Visiting two parks for one day costs 174 USD (169 USD for kids up to 9 years).
So, one way to save up some money is to consider if you really, really want to visit all three parks. That basically depends on the age of your kids. With kids aged 12 and 14 we could have managed just fine with the Island of Adventure. We ended up visiting the Universal Studios just because we had paid for it.
Also, if you buy an Express pass you will definately be able to squeeze in at least two of the parks in one day. But then the Express pass comes with a price...
It does not end there. Next thing is considering if you want an Express pass giving you the favour of skipping the lines at most attractions (not the most popular though). The price of the Express pass differs depending on if you are visiting the park on a busy day (more expensive Express pass) or on a less busy day (cheaper Express pass). You will soon notice that the Express pass actually costs more than the ticket for the park. Confusing!
The price of an Express pass varies from 190-239 USD per day and it is only valid for one park.
Let´s say I buy a one-day ticket for one park including the Express pass. That is 350 USD per person.
"Going through The Wizarding World
of Harry Potter was just amazing!"
We actually bought a one-day ticket for two parks including Express pass. We figured out that it saved us one or two nights at a hotel. Adding to that we hate standing in lines. For the Hulk, the waiting line (around Christmas) was 120 minutes. With the Express pass it was 20 minutes. After going once we went again right afterwards.
Anyway, whatever strategy you choose, the Universal Studios Florida will take a large part of your travel budget. Still, I would say it was worth it!
Our daughter Sandra has been crazy for Harry Potter since she was 5 years old and still is. Going through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was just amazing! And all the 4D:s was superb. Going with the Hulk was the best ride we have ever had.
Where to stay?
There are lots and lots of hotels around Universal Studios Florida. We checked up different places and ended up at a hotel within walking distance from the Universal Studios. That saved us the money for parking.
If we had known before that we would buy an Express Pass we would have stayed in one of the hotels in the park. Then the Express Pass is often included in the price of the hotel. Adding to that you get an Early Park Admission for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
There are hotels in different price classes. Don´t expect any of them to be cheap though!
Some other great things to do in Florida