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FREE Universal Studios Florida touring plan – accurate & up-to-date

The purpose of this plan is to give families an opportunity to experience nearly everything at Universal Studios Florida in one day.

This plan is written for guests with and without Express Pass access. However, to accomplish everything on this list during busy days, we highly recommend that you consider purchasing Express Passes. You can learn more in our complete guide.

It’s important to understand that, with the opening of Diagon Alley, USF has effectively added hours of additional entertainment to its roster. (The bigger Potter fan you are, the more time you’ll want to spend in Diagon Alley.) We bring this to your attention so you know it’s now much more challenging to see and do everything at Universal Studios Florida in one day. For serious Potter fans, consider adding an extra day to your visit just for exploring the Wizarding World – Diagon Alley (USF) and Hogsmeade (IOA).

Finally, Universal features free resort-wide wifi and an updated mobile app that provides wait times. To download the app, follow these links: Android or iOS. You can also find published times for Universal’s shows on their website (keep in mind the times are only published approximately two weeks in advance).

Tip: combine this plan with our Islands of Adventure 1-day touring plan to create the Ultimate Universal Orlando 2-day touring plan!

For your convenience,
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1. Entrance to Universal Studios Florida

We recommend that you get to the turnstiles 45 minutes before the park opens for the best chance to jump start your touring day.

Once you get through the turnstiles, be sure to pick up a park guide map. Universal’s in-park guide map covers both theme parks, and it includes times for the live shows and many of the character meet-and-greets.

Early Park Admission

Depending on the time of year, on-site hotel guests and Universal vacation package guests may be able to enjoy Early Park Admission (EPA) at Universal Studios Florida. We recommend you check our crowd calendar or with the on-site hotel on your arrival to see if EPA is at USF. To take the best advantage of this benefit, be certain to get to the USF turnstiles 45 minutes before the park is scheduled to open for early admission.
Once you’re admitted into the park, simply follow the directions of the attending Team Members to get to Diagon Alley. Escape from Gringotts is in the very back part of Diagon Alley – with a massive fire-breathing dragon on top, it’s tough to miss!

(If EPA is at USF) 1A. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Sr
Diagon Alley

Restrictions and access: 42 inches; must stow loose articles in free lockers before the attraction’s entrance; usually has a single-rider line. Summary: impressive tour through Gringotts Bank followed by a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory 3D track-based motion ride (remember, single-rider line skips the bank tour and entire pre-show).

Once you’ve completed Escape from Gringotts, we know you’ll be tempted to stay inside Diagon Alley. However, we recommend that you leave the area as soon as you can, because our next stop is Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and its wait times can sometimes rival those of Escape from Gringotts. If you’ve executed this plan correctly, you will be able to get back to Despicable Me before (or just as) regular admission guests are entering the park.

If you do not have Early Park Admission or if it’s not at USF the day you are visiting, your first stop will be directly inside the turnstiles. Starting with Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, we will experience USF’s most popular attractions (outside of the Wizarding World) while it’s still early in the morning, thus minimizing wait times.

2. Despicable Me Minion MayhemEp (Express Pass)
Production Central

Restrictions and access: 40 inches to ride the motion simulator, otherwise there are stationary platforms available; must be 48 inches to ride alone; has Express Pass access. Summary: Join Gru and the girls in this family-friendly 3D simulator ride featuring an all-new storyline, new animation, and plenty of minion shenanigans.

As we noted in the Early Park Admission section above, it’s important to get to Despicable Me as early as you possibly can. Even though the attraction offers Express Pass access, the ride has a low capacity, often making the wait time for Despicable Me over an hour even on slower days – and the Express Pass wait can sometimes be around or over 30 minutes during peak season.

3. Transformers: The RideEp Sr (Express Pass & single rider)
Production Central

Restrictions and access: 40 inches; has Express Pass access and a single rider line. Summary: As a N.E.S.T. recruit, jump into this intense 3D simulator experience and prepare for battle alongside Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.

4. Hollywood Rip Ride RockitEp Sr
Production Central

Restrictions and access: 51 inches; must stow loose articles in free lockers just past the attraction’s entrance; has Express Pass access; usually has a single rider line; also has a front row line. Summary: High-speed outdoor roller coaster where you pick your soundtrack.

5. Shrek 4-DEp
Production Central

Restrictions and access: None; has Express Pass access. Summary: Standard 3D movie experience with 4D “in the theater” special effects.

If you happen to hit especially long lines during your visit, Shrek is an attraction that can be skipped. (The Simpsons, which we’ll get too later, offers a chance for you to hang out with some favorite cartoon characters, and it’s more entertaining.)

6. Revenge of the MummyEp Sr
New York

Restrictions and access: 48 inches; must stow loose articles in free lockers adjacent to the attraction’s entrance; has Express Pass access and a single rider line. Summary: A not-to-be-missed high-speed, indoor rollercoaster.

7. The Blues Brothers Show
*This is a live stage show and the showtimes will vary – verify the schedule in your park map. It is not necessary to arrive at this show ahead of time.
New York

Summary: Street party that brings you face to face with the bad boys of blues, Jake and Elwood.

The Blues Brothers Show is awesome. However, it’s premise is not particularly unique in that it’s just a short musical performance in the streets of USF . For this reason, if you happen to be visiting on the busiest of days and you need another attraction to skip, this would be one to consider.

7. Bruce the Shark photo op
Tucked slightly behind Che’z Alcatraz on the pier next to Richter’s Burgers and across from Disaster!, the giant shark statue from the old JAWS attraction is a classic photo opportunity.

10. Lunch time – Finnegan’s Bar and Grill or The Simpsons Fast Food Blvd

Finnegan’s Bar and Grill is the fan-favorite, full-service restaurant located right next to the Blues Brothers stage. Highly recommended!

Not interested in full-service? Then we recommend The Simpsons Fast Food Blvd. This quick-service dining venue offers the widest variety of food in a single restaurant, not to mention some pretty wacky theming (huge hit for Simpsons fans!). If you’re not quite up for fried food, Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck right down the way is just as good.

A word of caution: on busy days, Universal’s popular restaurants will also be quite busy. While you can get a reservation for Finnegan’s, a better plan to save some time might be to skip a full meal for lunch altogether. As an alternative, you can enjoy snacks along the way – those you purchase or those you bring with you in a backpack.

Now that lunch is over, we’re going to head back to the front of USF and tour the bottom side of the park (that is, the bottom side as you look at the park map).

11. Terminator 2: 3D… Battle Across TimeEp
Hollywood

Restrictions and access: None; has Express Pass access. Summary: Sit-down indoor show incorporating 3D film, live stage acting, and a few 4D “in the theater” special effects.

12. Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up ShowEp
*This is a live stage show and the showtimes will vary – verify the schedule in your park map and try to arrive 15 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin.
Hollywood

Restrictions and access: None; has Express Pass access. Summery: Just as much of a comedy routine as a behind-the-scenes look at horror effects

We know what you’re thinking, “Oh great, another show.” But this is easily Universal’s best stage production outside of the Wizarding World and should be seen by all guests at least once!

13. Hollywood Hills photo op
Directly across from Cafe La Bamba (open seasonally), you’ll find a surprisingly easy and effective camera trick. It lets your family have their photo taken in front of the Horror Make-Up show theater, but, with a little Hollywood magic, the top portion of the photo will be “filled in” with a view of the Hollywood hills. This is super quick and makes a great souvenir – you just have to provide the camera.

14. E.T. AdventureEp
Woody Woodpeckers KidZone

Restrictions and access: 34 inches; has Express Pass access. Summary: Gondola-style dark ride designed to appeal to younger guests but considered a beloved classic by many older Universal fans.

15. Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
This area inside USF is the main center of activity for younger kids. There are two play areas (Curious George Goes to Town, Fievel’s Playground), another ride (Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster), and a live show (A Day in the Park with Barney).

As you might imagine, if time is running short or you don’t have younger kids, you can skip this area altogether. The same goes for the next two attractions.

16. Animal Actors on Location
*This is a live stage show and the showtimes will vary – verify the schedule in your park map and try to arrive 15 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin.
Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone

Restrictions and access: None; has Express Pass access. Summary: See the animal stars of Hollywood perform in Orlando.

17. Kang & Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
World Expo

Restrictions and access: 48 inches to ride without an adult; no Express Pass access. Summary: Silly humans are “captured” and forced to “attack” their fellow man using the flight path of their flying saucer to activate targets.

18. The Simpsons RideEp
World Expo

Restrictions and access: 40 inches; has Express Pass access. Summary: Motion simulator ride chalked full of characters straight from the show and generous portions of Simpsons humor.

19. MEN IN BLACK Alien AttackEp Sr
World Expo

Restrictions and access: 42 inches; must stow loose articles in the free lockers adjacent to the attraction’s entrance; has Express Pass access and a single rider line. Summary: MEN IN BLACK is a shooter ride where you are the newest MIB recruit.

The time has finally arrived: prepare to enter Diagon Alley. Based on your family’s interest in Harry Potter, you should be arriving at this point in the touring plan with two or three hours left before park closing.

For guests who do not have Early Park Admission or if EPA was not at USF, before we enter Diagon Alley, we need to explain our mini-plan for this area. Essentially the only attraction inside Diagon Alley with a significant wait time is Escape from Gringotts. But its wait time can be significant, as high as an hour or two.

So when you head into this area, you need to look up the EFG wait time and decide if you want to spend much of the rest of the evening in line for it, or if you want to enjoy everything else in Diagon Alley. It’s worth noting that EFG does have a single-rider line, but the single-rider line skips the entire bank tour and pre-show, which are just as impressive as the ride (for the record, the single-rider line is usually a quarter to a half of the posted standby time.)

Given the explanation we just offered, we’re going to list Escape from Gringotts next. Keep in mind, the later you can get in line, the shorter the line will be…, but the less time you’ll have in Diagon Alley after dark . The other stops in Diagon Alley listed below may be done in any sequence.

For guests who do have Early Park Admission, you should have experienced Escape from Gringotts as your first stop this morning, so you can skip it now and proceed with the rest of the plan.

20. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Sr
Diagon Alley

Restrictions and access: 42 inches; must stow loose articles in free lockers before the attraction’s entrance; usually has a single-rider line. Summary: impressive tour through Gringotts Bank followed by a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory 3D track-based motion ride (remember, single-rider line skips the bank tour and entire pre-show).

21. Ollivander’s Wand Shop
Diagon Alley

Restrictions and access: none; does not have Express Pass access. Summary: meticulously themed boutique where the wand chooses the wizard.

22. Interactive wands & spell-casting
Diagon Alley

Summary: display your wizarding talents with your new interactive wand as you magically affect the displays in various storefronts and, possibly, other secret areas. Note: you’ll need to purchase an interactive wand at Ollivander’s or Wands by Gregorovitch to participate.

23. Dinner time – Leaky Cauldron
Taking quick-service theme park dining to its pinnacle, the Leaky Cauldron offers a variety of British fare set in a beautiful dining hall full of whimsical, wizarding decor.

24. Sights & sounds of Diagon Alley
Catch the live entertainment in Carkitt Markett – Tales of Beedle the Bard & Celestina Warbeck – taste the treats of Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor, and slink your way through the creepy corners of Knockturn Alley. And before you leave, make sure you’ve seen the sights of the London waterfront, including the Knight Bus with its conductor and interactive shrunken head, and 12 Grimmauld Place (keep an eye out for Kreacher!)

25. The Hogwarts Express
Diagon Alley (King’s Cross Station)

Restrictions and access: requires park-to-park admission; even wheelchairs and ECVs are allowed. Summary: the famous train takes guests on a magic journey from Muggle London to the wizarding village of Hogsmeade and back (note that each ride is one-way; guests wishing to return to USF  will need to exit the train, queue again, and re-board).

Very important: the Hogwarts Express is most certainly worth a ride. The issue with fitting it into our touring plan is that it takes guests over to Universal’s other park.

With only one day to visit Universal Studios Florida, precious time may be eaten up by traveling to Islands of Adventure and then back to Universal Studios Florida. What’s more, the Hogwarts Express requires park-to-park admission, which guests with only one day for USF aren’t necessarily likely to have. For these reasons, we only recommend that you plan on traveling on the Hogwarts Express if you have Early Park Admission, which, by getting you on Escape from Gringotts first thing in the morning, would free up considerable time for you in the evening for additional activities, like the Hogwarts Express.

No matter how the final hour of your night unravels, this is how we want to end the day:

26. Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular
*Although this end-of-the-night show is usually scheduled once per day after park closing, please verify the schedule in your park map.

All around the lagoon at Universal Studios Florida

Summary: in celebration of Universal Studios’ 100-year anniversary, this nighttime lagoon show presents the most iconic movie moments in Universal’s film history on state-of-the-art water curtains, together with dazzling fountain effects, fireworks, and an incredible soundtrack. For the best viewing experience, head into the Central Park area (between Hollywood and Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone). Alternatively, if you’re coming from Diagon Alley, the viewing area in front of the London waterfront works just fine.

Missing attractions

You may have noticed that we didn’t include a few attractions in our touring plan. For various reasons, we just don’t believe that these are a good use of your time while trying to see and do all the best stuff at Universal Studios Florida in one day. Nevertheless, if you find that you have more time than expected, we’ve included our information here:

Universal’s Superstar Parade
*This is a live performance and the parade time may change – verify the schedule in your park map.

See Universal’s park map for the parade route

Summary: Universal’s first-ever daily parade brings guests face to face with their favorite characters, larger-than-life floats, and dozens of street performers, all set to a high-energy soundtrack.

The parade is a challenge to include in our touring plan because its timing changes throughout the year. If it runs earlier in the day and you can view it during your time in the Hollywood section of the park, you may enjoy it. However, if the parade runs later, we recommend skipping it, as the late afternoon and evening hours will be valuable time for us to be in Diagon Alley.

Fear Factor LiveEp
*This is a live stage show and the showtimes will vary – verify the schedule in your park map and try to arrive 15 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin.
World Expo

Restrictions and access: None; has Express Pass access. Summary: A true-to-the-TV-show live version of Fear Factor, where USF  guests volunteer to compete in scary and gross tasks. Please note that, if you want to volunteer to be a contestant, you need to arrive at the theater 70 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin.

We hope you had an awesome day at Universal Studios Florida! 

Do you have a question about the information on this page, would like to provide feedback, or did you spot an inaccuracy? Join us in our Facebook Community and let’s talk about it!

Reminder: combine this plan with our Islands of Adventure 1-day touring plan to create the Ultimate Universal Orlando 2-day touring plan!