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Universal Studios Florida is where aliens, dinosaurs, superheroes and wizards come alive. It’s hard to know exactly how many days at Universal Orlando you need for a trip to enjoy everything it has to offer.
Universal Orlando offers one- to five-day tickets as well as Express Passes and park-to-park tickets. Annual pass holders and guests staying at Universal hotels can snag tickets for early park admission on select dates.
So, to enjoy your visit properly, how many days should you spend at Universal Studios?
How many parks does Universal Orlando have?
Before you decide how many days to spend at Universal Orlando, you should know how many theme parks Universal includes.
Universal Orlando has three parks:
Universal Studios Florida.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park.
Universal Orlando rides list
Each park has no shortage of rides, meaning you can spend a whole day at one park and not get to them all. You’ll find the following attractions at each of the Universal Orlando parks.
Questions to ask yourself
When trying to decide on how many days to spend at Universal Orlando, ask yourself these questions:
Time-saving techniques can help you maximize your time, but there are only so many hours in a day.
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Needless to say, one day may not nearly be enough time to experience the highlights of the Universal parks.
However, if you’re strapped for time and one day is all you can swing, a park-to-park ticket will improve your chances of having your priority experiences at Universal Orlando.
You can buy a two-park or three-park park-to-park ticket; the two-park version allows guests to access Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in one day, whereas the three-park version adds Volcano Bay.
With a two-park park-to-park ticket, guests can take the Hogwarts Express between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure or use the entry gates to switch between the parks.
If you've got only one day for Universal Orlando, you have to create a must-do list, be strategic about which attractions you want to start with and arrive early.
We recommend looking at park maps before your visit so you can make a rough plan.
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At least a full day at Universal Studios and another full day at Islands of Adventure will give you more chances to ride the rides you want and see the shows you like.
You can also opt to visit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure one day with a park-to-park ticket and spend your second day splashing at Volcano Bay.
If you want to maximize your two-day visit, we recommend:
Getting the Universal Express or Universal Express Unlimited Pass for skipping the general queues.
Upgrading to a park-to-park ticket for at least one day.
Without a park-to-park ticket, you can visit only one land in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade — per day.
Visitors without park-to-park tickets aren't able to ride the Hogwarts Express.
It’ll be a busy couple of days, but it can be done.
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If your group is made up of older kids and adults, three days at Universal Florida is also when you can start weaving some time at Volcano Bay into your schedule to enjoy a water slide or two.
If it's a busy time of year and you expect the lines to be especially long and/or you’re traveling with young kids, then three days is just right to enjoy the two main theme parks.
For a four-day itinerary, we recommend spending Day 1 at Universal Studios, Day 2 at Islands of Adventure and Day 3 at Volcano Bay. On Day 4, you can go between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure to experience what you missed the first time or to repeat your favorites.
Note that you’ll have to upgrade your ticket to park-to-park to be able to hop parks on the final day.
If you really want to soak up all the fun of Universal Orlando, then go with five days.
This option gives you the best chance to take it all in and experience attractions at all three parks given all the worst-case scenarios, such as peak season, young kids, staying off-site, etc.
A five-day Universal Orlando vacation allows you to slow down and enjoy the thrills without having to stress about which ride you have to skip: You don’t want to run out of time and miss a must-ride like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure or Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
The bottom line
Before your next visit to the Universal Florida parks, look at what you want to experience and take a realistic approach to your planning. If the time and finances allow it, go for a longer (and more relaxing) vacation.
If not, do the best you can with the resources you have. No matter how many days you designate for Universal Orlando, you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
(Top photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort)
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