The Orlando Blog – Part 1

By Adele Sharman

26 May 2023

That’s my 10th visit to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, so I decided to make this post-guide in honor of the anniversary. 

Are these parks primarily for kids or adults? Well, they’re definitely for both, as all adults are kids at heart. Even without children in tow, I had an amazing time. The roller coasters and water rides made me feel like I was in heaven, although my husband wasn’t as thrilled.

Now, let me share my personal tips and recommendations for making the most of your visit to Orlando.


Firstly, where should you stay? Throughout the years, I’ve tried different options, including villas in Kissimmee, hotels on International Drive, and even hotels located near Universal Studios itself.

Staying in a villa was a great choice when I traveled with my daughters and parents. It provided us with space, a private pool, a BBQ area, and even a games room. Some villas even had a cinema room. However, remember that having a car is essential since walking is not practical due to the busy highways and the presence of alligators. With a villa, you can buy groceries, relax by the pool, and alternate between villa days and park days. This approach helps save money on dining out, and you can conveniently wash and dry your clothes before heading back home. Most villas provide pool towels, beach chairs, and coolers. If you’re not keen on cooking and cleaning during your holiday, a villa may not be the right choice for you. In that case, you can hire a cleaner at an additional cost.

International Drive is another option where I’ve stayed in a few hotels along the strip. Although having a car is still recommended, you can also utilize the I-Trolley to get around. Some hotels offer free shuttles to Universal Studios and City Walk, but be mindful of the schedule and check for any parking fees.

Onsite accommodations at Universal Studios provide a variety of hotel options, although they tend to be more expensive. You need to consider the parking fees, which can range from $25 to $40 per day and add up quickly. However, staying onsite offers certain benefits. You can walk to the park or take a boat. Some hotels also include Express Tickets in their packages (remember, you still need a park ticket), as well as early entry to the parks. These perks are definitely worth considering. However, keep in mind that food and drink prices at onsite hotels are generally higher, so factor this into your budget.


There are different parking options available at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and City Walk:

  • General Parking
  • Prime Parking 
  • Prime Upgrade
  • Valet Parking
  • RV/Bus Parking
  • Parking for Electrical Cars
  • Parking for Disabled

Parking at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure costs $26 per day, but after 6 PM, it’s free (except during Halloween Horror Nights).

Parking rates vary based on different levels, with lower levels being more expensive due to proximity to the entrance. If you opt for valet parking, be prepared to pay $75 for the day. This parking area is conveniently located next to the security hub, allowing for quick entry and exit from the parking garage. Choose the option that suits your budget.

Prime Upgrade

Prime upgrade is available for free if you rent a car from websites or places like Orlando International Airport. Just make sure to have the necessary official documents to present at the gate. If you’re driving a rented car, you’ll have to pay for regular parking initially, but the staff will upgrade you to prime parking at no additional cost. If you plan to visit more than once a year, consider getting an annual pass, which offers several benefits and discounts, including free parking.

Another option is to stay at hotels and resorts closer to Universal Studios Orlando. These establishments often provide free parking and offer a complimentary shuttle service to and from the park. You can also park at nearby Metro stations, where you’ll find lower rates on parking fees. Alternatively, you can use Uber or Lyft to reach your destination. Keep an eye on the official Universal Studios website for any new discounts, offers, and best deals related to parking and other fees.

Park Tickets

Now, let’s talk about park tickets. Please note that my information may not be entirely accurate, so don’t quote me on this. Buying tickets in the UK and the US can be different. Florida residents, for example, can purchase cheaper tickets, and you can also find 1-day, 1- or 2-park passes available here. However, I have never been able to purchase these tickets in the UK. In the past, I’ve typically bought a 7 or 14-day park pass, but prices can add up, especially for families. Feel free to click on this link to visit the official website in the US or reach out to me, and I can provide ticket prices in the UK through a preferred partner website.

On this particular visit, I paid $410 for a 2-park, 1-day ticket for two people, granting access to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Keep in mind that walking around and dining at City Walk is free. I didn’t purchase Express Tickets on this day because the park wasn’t too busy, and the wait times were around 20 minutes. However, during the summer holidays, wait times can increase to an hour or even two, so be prepared. Remember, you cannot bring outside food into the parks, so budget accordingly for meals and drinks. Don’t feel obligated to eat inside the park—City Walk offers excellent dining options as well.

The first part is coming to an end, but not the adventure! Look forward to the next one soon.

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