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Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida Basics

Last updated: July 10, 2023

Arriving at Universal Studios Florida

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).


From the garages, moving sidewalks deliver you first to a central hub between the two garages. Here you'll find a security checkpoint to pass through before getting to the parks.

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.


Getting Around Universal Studios Florida

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA is laid out in a P-shape, with the rounded part of the P bigger than usual. The main entrance plaza is called the Front Lot. Going clockwise around the park, the first area you'll encounter after the Front lot is Production Central, which includes Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Transformers: The Ride 3-D, and other attractions.


At the top of the P is the New York area, including Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and Revenge of the Mummy.


Next is San Francisco, the home of Fast & Furious: Supercharged.


Next is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley with Hogwarts Express-King's Cross Station and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.


After that is World Expo area, with Men in Black Alien Attack.


Continuing on you'll find Springfield: Home of the Simpsons, featuring, of course, The Simpsons Ride


The last themed area, near the front of the park, is Hollywood, featuring Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show and The Bourne Stuntacular stunt show.

Rope Drop at Universal Studios Florida

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 Universal Studios Florida 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 USF's turnstiles open for Early Admission, resort guests walk straight toward Revenge of the Mummy and are escorted to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.


REGULAR PARK OPENING On days when Universal Studios Florida does not have Early Admission, the park may still open up to 15 minutes before opening, with Despicable Me typically running for all guests.


Guests can enter the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts queue before official opening, but the ride may not begin running until park opening (or a few minutes before) on these mornings.


Most of the crowd will head for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Gringotts ride, which usually sees its longest waits between opening and early afternoon.


Despicable Me, located a short distance past the entrance, also attracts large crowds, as do Transformers: The Ride 3-D and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.


A smaller number of visitors will head for The Simpsons Ride or Revenge of the Mummy, but these attractions usually don't get crowded until an hour or two after the park has opened.

Is Universal Express Worth Paying For at Universal Studios Florida?

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.

See the list of Universal Studios Florida attractions that benefit most from Universal Express arrow

Basics for Other Universal Orlando Parks

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