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Last updated: July 10, 2023
DRIVING Universal Orlando has two multistory parking garages that hold 20,000 cars each. All resort entrances have signs leading to these parking structures.
To avoid delays, plan on arriving at the parking garages about an hour before the parks open.
The parking garages are divided into sections named after Universal movies and characters, such as Jurassic Park, King Kong, E.T., and Spider-Man.
Each section is color-coded, and each row in the section has and has a number. The first digit of the number tells you which level of the parking deck you're on, and the rest of the numbers tell you the row you're in.
For example, if you park next to a sign that says 'King Kong 409', then you're in the King Kong section of the parking garage, on floor 4, and in row 9.
Take a photo of the name and number of your section, level, and row when you park.
From the parking garage you'll have an 8- to 20-minute walk to the theme park entrances (there are no parking trams).
If you're going to Volcano Bay, follow signs to park on the lowest level of the south garage, where you'll find ticket booths, security screenings, and dedicated shuttle buses that will transport you to and from the water park.
WALKING FROM THE HOTELS The walk from most Universal Orlando hotels takes abotu 15-20 minutes using the resort's dedicated walking paths. The walk from Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Portofino Bay are the farthest, taking about 25 minutes.
WATER TAXI service water taxi service is available between Universal's Preferred and Premier hotels and the two theme parks. The boat service uses a dock in CityWalk near the bridge to Universal Studios Florida as a hub.
Boats depart about every 15-20 minutes, from 1 hour before Early Park Admission begins until 15 minutes before CityWalk shuts down.
Give yourself 20-25 minutes for the boat ride, plus time for the boat to arrive. Bus service is usually faster.
HOTEL BUS SERVICE runs every 20-30 minutes between its hotels and the parking garage, from which you can walk to CityWalk or the theme parks.
Theme park buses run until 15 minutes after CityWalk closes.
Think of Islands of Adventure as a large circle with a lagoon in the middle. Each "island” has its own self-contained, visually consistent theme.
You first encounter Port of Entry at the front of the park, a mélange of Middle Eastern and Asian architecture, where you'll find Guest Services, lockers, stroller and wheelchair rentals, ATM banking, Lost and Found, and shopping.
From the Port of Entry, moving clockwise around the lagoon, you'll find Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Hogsmeade, and Seuss Landing.
There is no in-park transportation to move you between lands.
Early Park Admission is the most valuable free perk available to Universal on-site guests. It allows you to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other select attractions, 1 hour before the parks open to the general public.
The park and attractions open for Early Admission on any given day will vary depending on crowd levels.
When Islands of Adventure has Early Admission will open its turnstiles 60 to 90 minutes before the official opening time.
Both hotel and day guests will be admitted to the park, and everyone in your group (including children) who are eligible for Early Admission will need to show their own room key or annual pass to get beyond the park's entry plaza during Early Admission. Everyone else will be held in an alternate area until official opening.
When IOA opens for Early Admission, offered at IOA, resort guests may head to Hogsmeade and the VelociCoaster as soon as the gates open, walking clockwise through Seuss Landing and Lost Continent.
Guests without Early Admission can still enter the park early but will be held in the Port of Entry and Seuss Landing.
Marvel Super Hero Island's attractions may open to all guests up to 15 minutes before the official park opening time.
If IOA officially opens an hour after USF, only guests eligible for EPA may ride the Hogwarts Express Hogsmeade Station during IOA's early-entry hour.
On days when Early Admission isn't offered, the park will still open its turnstiles 15 minutes before opening time. Most entering guests turn counterclockwise through Seuss Landing and make a beeline for Hogsmeade or the VelociCoaster as soon as the park is open.
A smaller number of guests will head clockwise for The Incredible Hulk Coaster and then continue through Toon Lagoon to Skull Island.
Universal Express is Universal's front-of-the-line system. It's free for some Universal Orlando hotel guests and annual passholders and costs (a lot) of money for everyone else.
Universal Express will significantly reduce the amount of time you spend waiting in queues at Universal Orlando. But whether that time saving is worth it depends on the season you visit, hours of park operation, and crowd levels.
During busy periods, Universal Express users should wait no more than 15-20 minutes for a ride, even when the standby wait is well over an hour. That's a big time savings and may make it easier to see your favorite headliners in a single day.
During slow periods, Express users should experience little to no wait at most attractions and can practically walk on to most rides. However, the standby waits will typically top out between 15 and 30 minutes at these times, making the total minutes saved with Express much less.
Universal Express is not mandatory for enjoying the parks, as long as you show up early with a well-organized touring plan. If you want to sleep in and arrive at a park after opening, Express is an effective but expensive way to avoid long lines at the headliner attractions, especially during holidays and busy times.
If, however, you arrive at least 30 minutes before park opening and you use our touring plans, you should experience the lowest possible waits.
If you aren't eligible for free Express Passes, try the touring plans first. If waits for rides get too long, you can almost always buy Express in the parks, because they rarely run out.
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