Planning your day in advance is essential to ensure you’re able to go on every ride during a visit to Universal Studios in Orlando Florida especially if you only have one day to explore the park and this planning should always start with your arrival time.
You should aim to arrive at the entrance of Universal Studios Orlando between 15 and 30 minutes before the park opens. The walk from the car park is around 20 minutes, so you’ll want to factor this into the time you should arrive at the resort itself.
The benefit of arriving between 15 and 30 minutes prior to the park opening is that you’ll be able to enter relatively quickly once the park has opened and proceed to the most popular rides. As the park is quieter on the morning you should be able to take advantage of smaller wait times.
The exception to this is if you have a Universal Studios Express Pass as this allows you to skip to the front of the line for the vast majority of the rides at the park.
Table of Contents
How To Find Out Universal Studios Orlando Opening Times
The opening times of Universal Studios Orlando vary slightly throughout the year. This is usually the result of special events such as graduation parties / senior visits, concerts being held inside the park, and nights such as Halloween Horror Nights.
The best way to find out Universal Studios Orlando opening times is on the dedicated Universal Studios Orlando website or by using the Universal Studios application which is available for iOS and Android.
The park opening and closing hours are subject to change up to thirty days before the date you’re due to visit so do keep checking back to ensure there are no changes prior to your visit.
What Time To Arrive At Universal Studios If You Have An Express Pass
If you’ve invested in an Express Pass for your visit to Universal Studios then you’ll benefit from being able to turn up to the park later as you’ll be spending less time queuing for the rides.
We estimate that if you were to go on every ride at Universal Studios you’ll save between three and five hours by using an Express Pass (the exact amount of time depends on how busy the park is during your visit).
However, if this is your first visit to Universal Studios Orlando we’d still recommend arriving between 15 and 30 minutes prior to the park opening as it’s better to have more time to explore than less.
If you’ve been to Universal Studios Orlando previously you’ll likely know in advance the rides you want to go on and the ones you’re willing to skip based on previous experience. Therefore you can afford to arrive at the park an hour or two after it opens to the public if you wish to do so.
Again, however, I’d air on the side of caution, even with an Express Pass it’s better to arrive early and have more time to spend in the park than less.
How Long Does It Take To Walk From The Parking Lot To The Entrance
You’ll definitely want to factor in how long it’s going to take you to walk from the parking lot to the entrance of Universal Studios in Orlando when planning what time to arrive at the park. As you leave the parking lot you’ll be required to pass through security and on a morning especially this area can get incredibly busy and see wait times of 15 minutes alone.
As a general rule, we’d say it’s usually a 20-minute walk from the parking lot at Universal Studios Orlando to the entrance of the park. However, we suggest rounding it up to 30 minutes to allow 10 minutes for you to pass through security.
If you’re anything like me you’ll also want to add on an additional 20 minutes to queue for a Starbucks in CityWalk (you pass through CityWalk as you go between the parking lot and the entrance to the theme park).
Of course, this is all on top of the walk time which varies significantly depending on where you park. There are a variety of different parking structures at Universal Studios Orlando.
The exact one you park in is going to depend on whether or not you’re paying for premium or valet parking (in which case you’ll be located closer to the entrance) and what time you arrive.
How Long Is The Walk From Hard Rock Hotel To Universal Studios?
If you’re staying at an on-site hotel then the amount of time you’ll need to leave between leaving your hotel and arriving at the entrance of the park is significantly less.
The Hard Rock Hotel is the closest hotel to Universal Studios, walking to the park from the hotel takes just five minutes.
If you are staying in an on-site hotel which includes a boat to the entrance of CityWalk then you’ll want to allow around 30 minutes (the queues for the boat, in particular, are often larger during these times, however, the journey itself often takes no more than ten minutes).
However, if your on-site hotel requires you to catch a bus to the entrance of CityWalk then you’ll want to allow around 45 minutes prior to the opening times. The buses drop you off near the parking lot, so it’s a long walk past Starbucks and Bubba Gump Shrimp compared to the boats which drop you off in front of The Hard Rock restaurant.
There are some other hotels which are within walking distance of the park. These hotels are ideal if you’re looking to avoid hiring a car or using Ubers and Lyfts while also avoiding the additional costs that come with staying on-site. This post tells you how long it takes you to walk from the hotel to the park.
Why Does Universal Studios Close So Early?
Compared to many parks in Florida, Universal Studios closes relatively early, as early as 5pm in some cases.
Universal Studios Orlando closing early is either a result of special events such as graduate bashes and Halloween Horror Nights or during the off-season, it’s simply due to supply and demand. The cost of running the park after 5pm, 6pm or 7pm is more than the revenue generated.
Which is why we always advise arriving at the park for opening (aka rope drop) to ensure you get to experience everything you want prior to the park closing.
Much like the opening times, you can check the exact time the park is due to close online in advance of your visit, again this will help you to plan exactly how much time you have to spend in the park.
However, just because the park is closed doesn’t mean the entertainment is over. Universal Studios is connected to CityWalk and an entertainment district complete with shops, bars, restaurants, a cinema, mini-golf and more. If you’re wanting to continue your fun day out at Universal Studios Resort then I’d suggest planning your evening there.