Universal Studios Florida One Day Itinerary

Looking to plan the perfect day at Universal Studios Florida? Well we’ve got the plan for you. In our Universal Studios Florida one day itinerary, we’ll take you step-by-step through a full day at the park!

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About This One Day Plan

We recommend reading this post in full. But if you’d like to just jump to the minute-by-minute itinerary, click here.

Not all guests are going to spend a full day at Universal Studios Florida. We advise spending a full day at both of Universal Orlando’s parks, though, and so this one-day plan is built with that in mind. We also have a one day itinerary for Universal’s Islands Adventure.

This post does not go in-depth discussing the different rides. For more information, we have a Guide to the rides of Universal Studios Florida. Also, your day may be greatly helped if you have Universal Express Pass.

This post is largely based off a day when crowds were at level 8 out of 10 by Touring Plans measurements. The afternoon has been tweaked significantly to emphasize the importance of flexibility, priorities, and “building” your own day. It’s important to remember that things like weather or unexpected ride closures can throw a wrench into your day.

This plan does not assume you use child swap, which allows parents to swap supervising a child who does not meet a height requirement without waiting in line twice. If you do use child swap, your day will move more slowly as you have to wait for two people to ride each ride.

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Important - Early Park Admission

Every day, one of Universal Orlando’s two parks has Early Park Admission. This perk, primarily for guests of Universal’s hotels, allows guests to enter the park one hour early to enjoy select rides.

With Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure newly open at Islands of Adventure, Early Park Admission is only at Universal Studios Florida at least through September 2019, and it is every day at that park. Check the website for future updates.

In the immediate term, this post is going to assume there is Early Park Admission at Universal Studios Florida. Once days without Early Park Admission return, we’ll (hopefully quickly) update the post to reflect that.

Guests With Early Park Admission

As covered more in-depth in our Early Park Admission post, guests with Early Park Admission will ideally visit both Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem during Early Park Admission.

Arriving 30 minutes before the beginning of the early hour should be sufficient to fit both of those in most days. If you can only visit one, we learn recommend visiting Despicable Me Minion Mayhem early and saving Gringotts for later.

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Guests Without Early Park Admission

Also as covered more in-depth in our Early Park Admission post, guests without Early Park Admission will probably just want to ignore both Escape from Gringotts and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem until the afternoon.

Heading to Despicable Me after riding Rip Ride Rockit is maybe okay if it has a low wait, but the lengthy experience on Despicable Me encourages us to punt it until later in the day.

Morning at Universal Studios Florida

Again, we recommend reading this post in full. But if you’d like to just jump to the minute-by-minute itinerary, click here.

This post is written based on a 9AM official open (Early Park Admission would start at 8AM). Always check the park hours for the specific hours on your visit.

Quickly upon starting your day, you’ll want to use the Universal app to grab “Virtual Line” return times for Fast & Furious and Race Through New York.

We recommend grabbing them for times that will allow you to ride both between 5PM and 6PM. You can modify them later (as long as there’s availability), if your plans change. Don’t grab them for the exact same time slots.

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The immediate priorities for the morning are the following five rides: Rip Ride Rockit, Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, and MEN IN BLACK.

In a perfect morning, you’ll walk onto all five of those in that order. If the waits are at or under 15 minutes, you should just proceed through them in that order.

If a wait exceeds 15 minutes, consider skipping that ride and coming back later. Your goal is to walk on to as many rides as quickly as possible before settling for waiting in any lines.

Arrive about 30 minutes before the park opens if you don’t have Early Park Admission. Whether you’re coming from Early Park Admission or starting without it, your first priority is Rip Ride Rockit.

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A good target is to be on that ride at about 9:12AM. If you do have to pass on Rip Ride Rockit for now, be sure to pay attention to the weather. Don’t get stuck in a situation where afternoon thunderstorms keep you off the ride.

The other four rides—Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, and MEN IN BLACK—are the core of the morning. If you get through these quickly, you’re in great shape for the rest of the day.

These four should have waits of 15 minutes or less. If you’re behind schedule, or the waits are getting bigger than 15 minutes, it can be a good idea to push Transformers or Revenge of the Mummy later into the day.

Because The Simpsons Ride has a dull, outdoor queue, it’s a good idea to avoid having a long wait on that one. Transformers and Revenge of the Mummy, by contrast, both have themed indoor queues—good for a break from the Orlando afternoon weather.

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Here’s what a good schedule for boarding these four looks like:

  • 9:20AM Transformers

  • 9:33AM Revenge of the Mummy

  • 9:57AM The Simpsons Ride

  • 10:17AM Men In Black

There’s three rides left on this side of the park that you might want to quickly fit in: Kang and Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, ET Adventure, and Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.

You definitely can get all three of these done by 11AM, but it requires a perfect—perfect—morning. For the sake of this itinerary we’ll assume you clear two:

  • 10:30AM Kang and Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

  • 10:55AM E.T. Adventure

If your morning went perfectly without Early Park Admission, you should have seven rides done by 11AM. With Early Park Admission, the count is at nine.

Things won’t always go perfectly, but we encourage you to try and have at least seven attractions done before you start thinking about lunch, entertainment, or characters.

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Afternoon Planning at Universal Studios Florida

Around 11AM, it’s time to start thinking about entertainment, lunch, and your afternoon.

There’s no perfect way to balance entertainment, character greetings, and rides in the afternoon. It’s nearly impossible (if not actually impossible) to fit everything in just because of conflicting show schedules.

And if you pushed a lot of rides into the afternoon, you’ll have more lines to wait in. This part of the day is just about priorities. Hopefully your morning went as well as possible so you have fewer decisions to make.

Afternoon Rides

Following this itinerary, you should have between five (if you started with Early Park Admission) and seven (if you missed Early Park Admission) rides left. Let’s talk about them…

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Two are the Early Park Admission rides—Escape from Gringotts and Despicable Me. There’s no perfect time for these, you’ll just have to try and find space for them in your afternoon if you missed the extra morning hour.

Shrek 4D is another one you’ll just have to squeeze in where you can.

Two are the virtual queue rides—Fast & Furious and Race Through New York. These should be scheduled for later in the day.

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster should have a short wait most of the day. If you have small kids who, the ride might be worth up to 15 minutes waiting. For everyone else, wait no more than five minutes.

Hogwarts Express is tricky. Remember, you need a park-to-park ticket to ride this one. As we cover more in the evening section, we recommend riding Hogwarts Express near the very end of your day (read more about it below).

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Afternoon Entertainment & Characters

Universal Studios Florida has much more entertainment than its sister park, Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It’s unlikely you’ll catch everything, but we always strive to catch as much as possible.

The park has basically two types of entertainment—stage shows and streetmosphere.

Stage shows are (as they sound like) performed in larger theaters and occur less frequently through the day. These shows are usually about 20 to 30 minutes long. The four stage shows are: Fear Factor Live, Animal Actors on Location, Horror Make-Up Show (we recommend skipping), and A Day in the Park with Barney (best for small children).

Streetmosphere occurs at select spots in the open areas of the park, and usually consists of 5 to 15-minute shows more frequently throughout the day. The current streetmosphere lineup consists of around nine shows, including things like The Blues Brothers, Beat Builders, and Marilyn and the Diamond Bellas.

You should always check the most recent entertainment schedule (it’s on the app or you can get it at guest services), don’t rely on the times here, which are just provided as an example.

Although not strictly entertainment, we do recommend you try and plan for about an hour to explore Diagon Alley. There are two pieces of streetmosphere entertainment in Diagon Alley, each 15 minutes long and typically held one at the top and one at the bottom of the hour—The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.

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And of course there are the cornerstone pieces of entertainment. These are Universal’s Superstar Parade (at 7PM on our example day), and Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration (at close, 9PM on our example day).

Finally, on their app, Universal categorizes characters as a type of entertainment. Make sure you know what characters you want to meet and where and when they’ll be greeting.

Example Afternoon at Universal Studios Florida

We’re going to build this afternoon bit by bit with some commentary. Let’s start with lunch and the first few hours.

We aren’t big foodies, so we just stick to quick service lunch. The most options are found in Fast food Boulevard, in Springfield. This spot gets incredibly busy midday, though. Even using mobile order, I waited about 20 minutes for my order to be ready one afternoon.

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If you’re game, we recommend mobile ordering pizza from Louie’s Italian Restaurant. This puts you near a variety of streetmosphere that you can slip in before, after, or during your meal.

Try to go to at least one stage show in the early afternoon. You can’t push all of them late in the day because the limited, overlapping showtimes cause conflicts.

If your morning ran late, you might have a quicker lunch, skip the streetmosphere, or skip a stage show. You could also prioritize a remaining “must-do” ride here if you’re concerned about your evening being too busy—just push one of the stage shows later in the day.

Here’s a look at an early afternoon schedule:

  • 11:00 Blues Brothers / Sing It! / Marilyn / Beat Builders / Lunch at Louie’s

  • 1:00 Fear Factor Live

  • 1:30 Animal Actors on Location

  • 2:00 Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster (5 minute wait)

Next up, we head to Diagon Alley to check off three boxes there—two shows and a ride. If the timing here isn’t perfect, that’s alright. Some extra downtime time to explore Diagon Alley with a butterbeer is awesome part of a day at Universal Studios Florida.

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This is the sort of block you can shift around your day depending on how much you want to be sure you get some other attractions in. It’s common for both Diagon Alley shows to run later into the day than the other shows.

If you’re worried about rides, you might prioritize rides, planning to visit those two shows in the evening hours before hopping on the Hogwarts Express. Just check the schedules in the app, first. Also, be sure to catch the dragon blowing fire every ten minutes (on the 10s of the hour).

  • 2:30 The Tales of Beedle the Bard

  • 2:45 Escape from Gringotts (Approx. 60 minute wait)

  • 4:00 Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Most shows will stop around 4PM, and that’s when you just need to start dealing with any remaining rides. Pushing too many rides this late is a risky endeavor, though, which is why we mentioned above that you could also have prioritized rides earlier.

  • 4:15 Despicable Me (Approx. 45 minute wait)

  • 5:10 Race Through New York (Virtual Queue)

  • 5:50 Fast & Furious (Virtual Queue)

Evening at Universal Studios Florida

This is where things get a tad tricky. Following our itinerary, the only two rides left are Shrek 4D and the Hogwarts Express. You’ve also go the parade, dinner, and nighttime entertainment to sort through. Let’s break this down…

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Hopefully you have time for Shrek 4D or a quick dinner before the 7:00PM parade. Then you’ll do the other after the parade. If this doesn’t work, you might have to get dinner outside the park in order to fit in Shrek 4D.

  • 6:30 Shrek 4D or Dinner

  • 7:00 Parade

  • 7:15 Shrek 4D or Dinner

Evening Rides on The Hogwarts Express (Two Options)

Now, you noticed by now that we still haven’t covered the Hogwarts Express. Well, you need park-to-park tickets to ride the Hogwarts Express. So you’ve got two options.

First, you could ride it and either ride it back or walk back to Universal Studios Florida. Time this to catch the nighttime show, Cinematic Celebration. You could also do this at any more convenient point in the day. Here’s what this looks like:

  • 8:00 to 8:15PM Board Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure

  • Return to Universal Studios Florida

  • 9PM Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration

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Second, you could ride it to the other park (Islands of Adventure), and then watch their nighttime show. Our recommendation if you have two days is to use this strategy both nights, swapping nighttime shows via the Hogwarts Express. Here’s an example schedule with this strategy:

  • 8:00 to 8:15PM Board Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure

  • Dinner (Time Permitting)

  • 9PM Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts

Either way, this wraps up your day at Universal Studios Florida!

Complete Example Itinerary

In case you jumped here, this is a reminder that this is a sample itinerary. It notably does not include any character interactions, so you may shuffle things around to fit those in. It is based on a day with park hours from 9AM to 9PM.

While the core of this itinerary is a full day spent at Universal Studios Florida with high crowds, significant changes were made to the actual itinerary to more sensibly organize things and to emphasize (as we did throughout the rest of this post) flexibility and weighing your personal priorities.

  • 7:30AM Arrive for Early Park Admission, if applicable

  • 8AM to 9AM Early Park Admission

  • 8:30AM Arrive for Regular Park Opening

  • 9:00AM Scheduled Park Opening (check your visit’s actual hours)

  • 9:12AM Rip Ride Rockit

  • 9:20AM Transformers

  • 9:33AM Revenge of the Mummy

  • 9:57AM The Simpsons Ride

  • 10:17AM Men In Black

  • 10:30AM Kang and Kodos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

  • 10:55AM E.T. Adventure

  • 11:00 Blues Brothers / Sing It! / Marilyn / Beat Builders / Lunch at Louie’s

  • 1:00 Fear Factor Live

  • 1:30 Animal Actors on Location

  • 2:00 Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster (5 minute wait)

  • 2:30 The Tales of Beedle the Bard

  • 2:45 Escape from Gringotts (Approx. 60 minute wait)

  • 4:00 Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

  • 4:15 Despicable Me (Approx. 45 minute wait)

  • 5:10 Race Through New York (Virtual Queue)

  • 5:50 Fast & Furious (Virtual Queue)

  • 6:30 Shrek 4D or Dinner

  • 7:00 Parade

  • 7:15 Shrek 4D or Dinner

  • 8:00 to 8:15PM Board Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure

  • Dinner (Time Permitting) or Return to Universal Studios Florida

  • 9PM Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts or Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration