Universal Studios Touring Plan Test

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Many of you already know the benefits of saving time with customizable touring plans. Frequently, we send our teams into the field to test them out. This not only helps assure the efficacy of the system, but also provides real-world data. Our field reporter, Christina Harrison, is no stranger to Disney parks, but is now a proud Universal Orlando passholder. She’s having fun exploring all that Universal has to offer, and what better way to make sure she’s seeing all the sights than with a touring plan.

We sent Christina  to Universal Orlando Resort on Tuesday, June 24, 2020, to test a Touring Plan. She arrived at 6:50 a.m., hoping to get into the Virtual Line for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, but when no return time was available, she secured a Virtual Line Pass of 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. for Fast & Furious – Supercharged. Christina will try again for a Hagrid’s Virtual Line reservation on Friday.

With her annual pass, Christina gets her early entry to Universal Studios park like Universal hotel guests, so she can start her plan at 8 a.m. in Diagon Alley. Here’s how her plan worked.

Initial Plan:

Arrive Wait Duration Walking
1) Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts 8:10 12 5 1
2) Diagon Alley 8:28 2 30 5
3) Transformers: The Ride-3D 9:05 4 5 3
4) Fast & Furious – Supercharged
Notes: Use the 9:00-9:30 Virtual Line
9:17 8 5 3
5) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit 9:36 6 4 2
6) Shrek 4-D 9:47 8 20 4
7) Revenge of the Mummy 10:17 5 5 5
8) E.T. Adventure 10:31 8 8 3
9) Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl 10:48 6 2 1
10) The Simpsons Ride 10:55 7 8 1
11) MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack 11:11 7 5 2
12) Knight Bus 11:25 0 5 1
13) Ollivanders 11:31 5 7 1
14) The Tales of Beedle the Bard 12:15 15 11 1
15) Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees 12:45 15 13 8
16) Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show 1:30 9 27 3
17) Animal Actors on Location 2:15 15 25 6

After riding Rip Ride Rocket, the plan was Evaluated to update expected wait times. The results are as follows.

Arrive Wait Duration Walking
6) Shrek 4-D 10:06 22 (+14) 20 4
7) Revenge of the Mummy 10:52 12 (+7) 5 5
8) E.T. Adventure 11:14 6 (-2) 8 3
9) Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl 11:31 4 (-2) 2 1
10) The Simpsons Ride 11:38 20 (+13) 8 1
11) MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack 12:07 14 (+7) 5 2
12) Knight Bus 12:28 0 5 1
13) Ollivanders 12:34 5 7 1
14) The Tales of Beedle the Bard 1:45 15 11 1
15) Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees 2:15 15 13 8
16) Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show 2:51 9 27 3
17) Animal Actors on Location 3:30 15 25 6

The expected wait times went up an average of 6.3 minutes. The extra wait time, pushed the shows at the end of the plan to the next show time.

The predicted and observed crowd level was a 4.

Here’s what Christina’s experience was like in her own words.

I arrived at parking for USO at 6:50 a.m. for 8:00 entry (AP early entry). I attempted to get into the Virtual Line for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure but when no return time was available, I secured a Virtual line Pass of 9:00 – 9:30am for Fast & Furious – Supercharged. Important note – we are testing the same idea on Friday but using the tips we picked up through the day. Several Team Members gave the following advice:

1) Make sure we are on the Universal Wifi when we try to get in the Virtual Line. (I was not.)

2) Start trying at 7:00 a.m. exactly and if unsuccessful, exit out of the browser completely before attempting again.
Since Islands of Adventure does not have early annual pass entry, the Virtual Line time may differ from the two Virtual Line attractions at Universal Studios Orlando. We will report back on Friday.
After scanning in for the day, I made my way to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – step 1 on my TouringPlan for the day. Since Universal Studios Orlando is at lowered capacity, the line for a locker was short and efficient. The queue was a walk-on and, most importantly, very well air conditioned. Side note – as someone who has frequently swung my backpack and elbows around to clear some personal space in crowded lines, the forced social distance of the Universal Studios Orlando lines (6.5 to 12 or more feet between parties) is wonderful.
Step 2 was a walk around Diagon Alley. Since I was in during Early Park Admission hours, not all of the stores were open. This meant that a thorough snoop around only took about 15 minutes instead of the 30 designated in the Plan.
Step 3 was Transformers: The Ride – 3D. If you’re taking advantage of the early park admission at Universal Studios Orlando, this is a good time to stop for water or dip into Starbucks on your way from Diagon Alley. You’ll literally pass Starbucks when walking through the New York area of the park on your way to Production Central where step 3 is located. If you’re on plan, you’ll have around 15 extra minutes before Transformers opens at 9:00 a.m. Look out for an Optimus Prime meet and greet (socially distant) on your way out of the attraction. 
Step 4 Fast & Furious – Used Virtual Line pass.
Step 5 Rip Ride Rockit – If you haven’t been to USO before, this is the giant, swirly red roller coaster that you can see from the entrance and basically the entire left side of the park. 
Step 6 is just across from RRR – Shrek 4-D  – Advice – put your phone away. I laughed when the Team Member said to put them away and was then very thankful for my Otter Box case. You’re in a theater seat and you don’t have a seat belt but there are lots of sudden, jerky movements.
Step 7 Revenge of the Mummy –  The stilt dudes are fun and are naturally distant but they interact with guests a good bit.
Step 8 E.T. Adventure – this had zero wait and may have sentimental value for those of us of a certain age. The ride bike has E.T. – would recommend that seat.
Step 9 takes us to Springfield: Home of the Simpsons for Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl. It’s Dumbo but with a Simpsons theme.
Step 10 – The Simpsons Ride – The pre-show is now separated by party. Since I was alone, I was alone for the pre-show and in a car on my own, which was good because there were fewer people to hear me moaning from motion sickness. It’s like Soarin’ in that each car is lifted and watching the same screen but that’s it for similarities. Simpsons fans with steel constitutions will love this step in the plan.
Step 11 – Men in Black Alien Attack – for someone who has been happily riding Buzz Lightyear for years and years, my first time on MIB was a delight. The ray gun thingy has great aim and the effects and scenery were amazing.
In summary, this TP was a fantastic way to experience all 11 major attractions at USO in just over 4 hours of park access. Getting through attractions quickly is even more important now that masks shorten our tolerance of the heat and humidity. This plan requires you, like all plans, to arrive 60-90 minutes prior to opening so your entire day is more like 5.5 hours. Still, this provides a short period of time to get motion sick on so many different and well-themed rides.

It is important to re-Evaluate if not re-Optimize your Touring Plan while you are in the park. The updated plan will use the conditions in the park and give you a more accurate plan. The chart below shows how this worked on the day in question.

  Predicted Wait Time Actual Wait Time
Initial 10 am
1) Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts 12 9
3) Transformers: The Ride-3D 4 12
4) Fast & Furious – Supercharged 8 10
5) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit 6 18
6) Shrek 4-D 8 22 25
7) Revenge of the Mummy 5 12 14
8) E.T. Adventure 8 6 0
9) Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl 6 4 11
10) The Simpsons Ride 7 20 14
11) MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack 7 14 12

What are your thoughts about our in-park tests? Feel free to share any questions or comments below.

Steve Bloom

By helping TouringPlans.com continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

11 thoughts on “Universal Studios Touring Plan Test

  • June 25, 2020 at 12:45 pm
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    This is a perfect example of why we subscribe to Touring Plans.
    This kind of information is so valuable when planning a trip to Orlando.
    With our upcoming trip in (May postponed, July postponed, now) November, we are looking to maximize our time at both places.
    Thank you again for your valuable assistance in planning a $12,000+ trip.
    Definitely worth the cost of the subscription and the purchase of the book.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 2:10 pm
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    Any chance of doing something similar for those of us staying off site and not early arrival?

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 4:51 pm
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    Steve, if I’m not mistaken, the Hagrid Virtual Queue passes open up roughly 15 minutes before park open.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 4:54 pm
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    Christina is going to test this tomorrow. We were told it was earlier than that, so we’ll see.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 7:20 pm
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    Went Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and today Thursday. Didn’t do islands of adventure Sunday. But got virtual pass the other three days and can say that by 9:30am the passes are pretty much gone. You can reserve then when you are near the park but outside still. Keep trying til close enough, that’s what I did all three days I got the passes. It’s worth seeing, an amazing ride and coaster!

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 7:54 pm
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    Thanks for the detailed info, this is great. Did you attend a wand choosing ceremony at Ollivanders or just go through the store? If you went through the ceremony, how long is the wait to get to the ceremony?

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 8:06 pm
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    Yes we did a wand choosing ceremony as well on Sunday, at Universal Studios. It was nearly instant to get in. Though, Sunday was very very dead, though I would probably go to Universal Studios vs Islands of Adventure, that park was, overall much less busy in general.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 8:11 pm
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    While I am posting, we used the UOR app all four days and the times were usually pretty on what the app said. Of course there were some discrepancies, but usually they were in our favor, meaning the line went faster than the app stated, almost never longer.
    Also, know that I didn’t use one of the preplanned plans, but chose rides we wanted to see and had it figure out the best route. It did a pretty good job!

    Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 8:18 pm
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    If anyone is going in the very near future, I would absolutely take the time to see if you can get in on a technical run of “The Bourne Stuntacular.” It is a show that will not disappoint and it is well worth hanging around and waiting. Got to see it with the full production effects and it is something that cannot be fully explained and must absolutely be seen. The technical effects, timing, stuntwork, and effort that went into this show is something you will be talking about to people, for a long time.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2020 at 11:47 am
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    I’ll say I’ve toured both parks ina day before and gotten motion sick. Actually lost it towards the end of the day on the Mummy Coaster (after I got off). Too much intensity for this old guy, but still a great way to experience so much. Love the dedication and the updates from the staff.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2020 at 5:37 pm
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    I really like this new style of presentation – a combination of ride information and tips.

    Keep it up!

    Reply

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