How to do Universal Studios in One Day

It'll be a long day (and you might have to skip Volcano Bay), but it's doable with park-to-park tickets.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Published
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

MORE LIKE THISTravel

The Universal Orlando Resort is a sprawling, three-park complex located in central Florida. Although it can be a little overwhelming to visit, you can do Universal in one day. Let’s talk about how to visit multiple parks, what’s inside each and tips for maximizing your visit.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando has been hard at work expanding its footprint and now comprises three separate theme parks:

  • Universal's Islands of Adventure.

  • Universal Studios Florida.

  • Universal's Volcano Bay. 

Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida opened in 1990 and is the oldest of the parks in the resort. It focuses on film and has a working studio inside, along with roller coasters, thrill rides and Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal’s Islands of Adventure debuted in 1999 and relies heavily on larger rides such as The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Jurassic World VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. It also features a section of the park dedicated to Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter films.

Universal’s Volcano Bay

Universal’s Volcano Bay is a water park with theme park elements, including water slides and a water coaster. The newest park at Universal, it opened in 2017.

Video preview image

Can you do multiple Universal parks in one day?

Most people who visit the Universal Orlando Resort are generally looking to visit the two main parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This is especially true for those looking to do Universal Studios in one day since the two are located next to each other.

If you have just one day at the Universal Orlando Resort, we have good news: Doing both parks in one day is possible. You’ll need to get up early and stay up late, but it can be done. Let’s go over some tips on how to make this happen.

How to do Universal Studios in one day

Buy park-to-park tickets

Not everyone can visit Universal in one day, especially since you’ll need to opt for the more expensive park-to-park tickets. However, if you have just one day at Universal Orlando Resort, purchasing multi-park tickets is going to be essential.

Stay on-site

Universal Studios gives its guests several benefits for staying in one of its branded hotels, including the ability to enter the theme parks up to one hour before they open. This can be key for those looking to get in as much fun as possible since the crowds will be minimal.

Early park access is available for guests of any Universal Orlando Resort hotel, even its least expensive options, which start at $96 per night.

Use Universal Express Passes

Universal Express Passes allow you to skip the regular queue at participating attractions. Unlike Lightning Lane access over at Walt Disney World, there’s no set lineup time required; you simply show up and join the Express Pass line.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Universal Express Unlimited Passes are provided for free to all guests when they stay at a Universal Premier category hotel.

This can save you a ton of time on a Universal Studios one-day itinerary. In fact, this is the single most helpful tool for visiting both parks in one day.

There are two types of Express Passes available:

  • Universal Express: Skip the regular line one time per ride.

  • Universal Express Unlimited: Skip the regular line an unlimited number of times.

Pricing varies based on demand and when you purchase the pass, but the standard Universal Express pass starts at $89.99 per day, while the Universal Express Unlimited pass starts at $99.99 per day.

Opt for the single-rider line

Many theme parks offer single-rider lines for rides. This allows those willing to ride by themselves to use a separate queue for entrance. They’ll be allowed to sit in any remaining gaps on rides, thus reducing empty seats and allowing people to get on faster.

Not all of Universal’s attractions have a single-rider line, but many do, including:

Islands of Adventure:

  • Dr. Doom’s Fearfall.

  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls.

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

  • Jurassic Park River Adventure.

  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Universal Studios Florida:

  • Fast and Furious — Supercharged.

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

  • Men in Black Alien Attack.

  • Revenge of the Mummy.

  • Transformers: The Ride — 3D.

Visit during the low season

If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money and you’re wondering if you can still do Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in one day, the answer is: Yes, you can. You don’t need a Universal Express pass or a stay in one of its branded hotels.

Instead, you can visit during the low season to minimize your wait times. Tourism in Florida is highly seasonal. Take advantage by timing your vacation to coincide with low crowds during months such as September and January.

If you’d like to do Universal Studios Orlando in one day

Is one day enough for Universal Studios Orlando? Yes, if you optimize your time.

Although there are three parks within the Universal Orlando Resort, most folks have their sights set on Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

It’s possible to do both in a single day, whether you’re choosing to stay on-site, purchase a pass that’ll let you skip the line or simply visit when crowds are low.

(Top photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort)


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.