You might be visiting Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure in 2016 and you want to try and do both parks in one day. I will let you in on how you can actually achieve that feat.
We already went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure a couple of years ago, and we visited each park a day; making it on a slower pace. This year we got the Park to Park ticket and challenged ourselves to do the two parks in one day; a full Universal Studios experience in twelve hours.
How to do both Parks in one Day? Helpful Tips
1- Arrive Early; and by early, I mean early!
If you are staying in an On Site Hotel, you will have the early entrance, which is one hour earlier than everybody else, but even if you don´t have it, try to arrive at least half an hour before the official starting hours, as you will be already parked, and done the line when you can enjoy the parks. As soon as you enter, wether you enter through Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, directly go to the Harry Potter area, as that is the most crowded throughout the day, and most rides don´t have the Express Pass.
2- First the rides, later the pictures
Once you arrived early and entered the park, you go to the Harry Potter area. No photos! Do the rides. Every tourist and first timer is wowed and amazed and is leaving you the line spots free; so take advantage of them, and then take pictures afterwards when everybidy else is on the line waiting. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are the shortest lines for the HP rides; so make sure you are in.
If you enter through Universal Studios; go directly to Gringotts; if you enter through Islands of Adventure, go directly to Hogwarts; then do both Dragon Challenges and then do the Flight of the Hippogriff.
3- Pick and Choose:
You may not have time to do every single thing if you are doing both parks in one day. And sometimes you will even want to do some games a couple times or more. That´s why you need to prioritize. Especially if this is not your first visit. Since it wasn´t ours, some of the rides and attractions we did the first time we skipped this time, and focused on the areas we knew we enjoyed more. That gave us enough time to do Gringotts twice, and Rip Ride Rockit 6 times.
4- Know where you will be eating ahead of time:
If you already know where to eat you can plan the rides according to your schedule and optimize the times. Since we were carrying some power bars and water with us, we only needed to plan for two meals. We decided to have lunch at Thunder Falls Terrace in the Jurassic Park area, and then dinner at Lombardo´s in Universal Studios in the San Francisco area (The Clam Chowder there is excellent!).
5- Get the Express Pass:
It is an extra to your expense, but it will cut your waiting line to one third or even less. It is a great way to avoid lines. My advice is leave the Express Pass for the “Middle of the day” rides. You won´t be able to use it on Harry Potter area in most rides, so do those early and late; and in between everything that has an Express Pass entrance. If you don´t have it you can also try to do Single Rider to cut some waiting line.
What´s New in Universal Studios Orlando and Islands Of Adventure in 2016?
So, after the tips to do both parks in one day; we will go through what´s new. A bunch!
1- Harry Potter´s London in Universal Studios.
Since in our first trip this area was still under construction; it made for a perfect excuse to come back and visit King´s Cross Station, the Platform 9 3/4, The Knockturn Alley, Diagon Alley, Gringotts and more.
2- Escape from Gringotts:
It never ceases to amaze me the sheer level of talent the Imagineers have when they develop these experiences. It is an awesome first person experience where you get to go through with Bill Weasley, meet Harry, Ron and Hermione; encounter He Who Must Not Be Named and Bellatrix. It is one of those things hard to explain. You have to live it!
3- The Hogwarts Express:
Anyone who read the books, or watched the films wanted to board the train. And this one travels between London and Hogsmeade; or between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Both legs of the trip have different storylines; so I highly recommend you do both. In our case we started in Universal Studios and did all of Harry Potter area there, then we did all of Islands of Adventure, and then went back on the Hogwarts Express to complete the rest of Universal Studios.
In order to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express you will need a park to park ticket; which of course, you already have if you are trying to do both parks in one day.
My Platform 9 3/4 tip is, you will need to have someone film you crossing an holographic proyection that will show you crossing the brick wall to show your muggle friends.
4- The Velociraptor Encounter:
You don´t want to miss this photo opportunity. You will have the chance to take a RaptorSelfie with a very affable dinosaur. Good things she is well fed before taking the pics… or else.
5- NBC Sports Grill & Brew:
A huge sports themed stop bar in the heart of CityWalk, and has the perfect setting for a cold one after you visited the park. Cool fact: The tables have games in them; wether a fusball table, air hockey and others.
What is Coming Soon to Universal Orlando & Islands of Adventure?
As you can imagine; we are already looking for excuses to come back to the parks. So, take note of these great excuses of attractions and things to come.
1- Skull Island: Reign of Kong:
Boy was I psyched when I caught a glimpse of what is to come there. It opens June 2016 and from the footage we were able to watch looks like an instant hit and a great reason to visit Universal Orlando.
2- The Hulk grand Reopening:
It is one of the most famous rollercoasters in Orlando; and it will soon reopen with a new more interesting in line experience, a new look and new carts.
3- New On Site hotel:
The Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is expected to be a luxury experience for guest staying in the parks, It will open Summer 2016.
4- Fast & Furious ride:
This is a high tech ride that will immerse riders in the universe of the saga at a high pace chase.
5- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon:
The popular Tonight Show host is getting a ride right next door to Rip Ride Rockit. I really have no clue how this ride could be.
All in all, both Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure are parks that you can go a thousand times and still have a good time. You will always find something new, something you missed the last time, or something you want to repeat. (I did Rip Ride Rockit 6 times this trip, and did it twice on my previous trip. And I still have to experience dozens of more songs!).
One thing I can assure you… I´ll be Back!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, and follow me on Twitter and other social media for more Travel Tips and reviews.