Visited Universal Studios towards end of March for spring break. To get the most out of the day, we purchased the Express Pass - which gives you a one-time pass to jump to the head of the line. While it's painful to know you're spending $800 just for park entry for a family of four - I have to say it was completely worth it. We also purchased the tickets online, which gives you early entrance.
When you start your day at 8am (early bird entrance), there is only one ride open at that time - the Harry Potter ride (at least when we went) - so head for that. We were able to go on it twice before 9 without having to use the Express Pass, which we saved for later in the day (more about that in a bit).
So if you take advantage of the early bird entrance and Express Pass - you are able to hit every single ride once with very little wait. By time we hit all of the rides, did the tram tour and watched the special effects show, animal show and Waterworld - it was about 6pm. By that point our kids (16 and 13) were ready to go - so for our family - the unlimited express pass wouldn't have been worth it.
Although - here's one thing that might have affected our kids "being done".
They got stuck on the Harry Potter ride for 40 minutes in the afternoon when they used the Express Pass. When they finally got off, the park gave them an extra one time express pass to ride the Harry Potter ride again - my kids said forget it. If this happens to you, don't give the pass away - go to the customer service area and just ask for a pass for something else - they gave us one to any ride. We used it for the Transformers ride - which we all thought was pretty awesome.
Here are some additional tips and unscientific observations:
- download the app - really nice to use when you want to determine wait time at rides
- to me it looked like in the beginning of the day the rides that were on the upper level had longer times (e.g., Simpsons ride), then by the time the afternoon rolled around the rides at the lower level (e.g., Mummy, Transformers) had longer wait times - which makes sense if you think crowds travel through the park in the same way - do everything close then work your way to the lower level - if this is the case - then start doing rides at the lower level first - go reverse traffic
- we didn't park close and saved the extra money - wasn't a terrible walk at 7:45am - made it to the park in about 10 minutes
- we brought bottled waters and it wasn't taken away
- personally I think sitting in the tram tour car towards the front is better - we did the express pass for the tram tour and walked right on - but the problem is that we walked right on to the last car - we probably should have just waited and tried to get on the next tram - oh well - in the end it was fine
- Mummy ride was super fun but also super short
- Was able to ride Jurassic Park without getting overly wet - fortunately the timing of my boat avoided direct sprays - so if you're curious about how wet you'll get - it's possible to stay relatively dry. Also I was sitting on last row on the end.
- Butter beer at Harry Potter world was a hit - cream soda and butterscotch - I'm not a fan of butterscotch but this was pretty good
- Taco truck at Simpsons world for lunch had good and surprisingly reasonably priced food.
Overall - great trip. Our 13 year old said it was the best day of her life - and how many parents of teens get to hear that?!
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