Ok so last week I talked to you about general things in my First Timers Guide to Universal Studios (Part 1) – like hotel, tickets, Express Pass, the dining plan, etc. This post will be about all the ‘other’ stuff – tips to make your trip the most enjoyable.
Now whether on if you are going with kids or not – you need a general game plan. Personally I do NOT like to plan my entire day. Too many things can go wrong, lines can be longer than you expected throwing you off – plus the heat, grumpy people (like your children). Just be flexible! Remember this is vacation, so relax, and enjoy!
Clothes. Now I am used to heat – but not quite the Florida- heat- in- the -middle -of -summer -heat. It always takes me some time to adjust. If you are going in the SUMMER do yourself a favor. Pack comfy! I’m talking cotton or that work-out clothes material. I sweat a LOT. I am going to blame it on 3 pregnancies and hormones! And when you are in that heat you are gonna sweat a LOT. So here are my recommendations for you mamas out there:
BLACK pants. I wear black yoga capri pants or shorts all summer long. 1. You are less likely to see the sweat coming from your backside 2. They are comfy 3. they are light unlike jean shorts, which don’t do well with sweat or water from water rides (or rain).
I would also recommend tank tops or sleeveless tops. All a t-shirt is going to do is get wet with sweat – at least this way you can air dry!
If you have the Express Pass like we did, you are gonna’ do a LOT of walking – more than others just standing in line (longer than you had to). So you are going to want to bring more than one pair of shoes. We all got blisters, but at least they weren’t rubbing the next day because we had a different pair of shoes to wear. Now I HATE my feet being hot. So I wear supportive flip-flops nearly everywhere. My favorite are Sketcher Go Walks (they are the only flip-flop that don’t leave me hurting after wearing them all day). I have several pair so I swap them out. My kids brought their flip flops and sneakers, so we were set!
When I first read about Universal’s policy regarding carrying items on rides, I kinda’ freaked. For several rides you MUST put all loose items in a storage locker if you can’t fit them in a button/zipped pocket on your person. Now I was the sole adult with 3 kids in tow – storing away my phone, credit cards, keys and cash- well I was a bit nervous. I read several blogs that mentioned you are allowed to carry a fanny pack that sits around your waist IF you are still able to fit in the seat and buckle completely. Now I grew up in the 90’s so fanny packs to me – uhh yeah.. I wasn’t a fan. However, they’ve made some great improvements to the fanny packs of the 90’s. For example, this pack holds your phone, credit cards/cash/ID and key without a problem.
Now I have to admit, we still had to use the lockers at each ride because we carried more than just a small fanny pack around for the day. The rides that require you to put your belongings in the lockers are actually FREE during your ride. You use your fingerprint to open the locker when your done, and though I’ve read that some people have had some issues – we didn’t have any. It was fairly simple, though crowded.
I carried around a backpack, and my girls carried these ‘fanny backpacks‘ – small and compact but carried everything they needed. (not too heavy means a lot when you are walking a lot day in and day out!)
Also more necessities to care in your bag: ponchos (they are $10 a piece at the park – which can really add up), first aid kit, tissues, sunscreen, chapstick, a brush or comb, hydration pack (you can refill your waters in the park) gum, some easy to carry but not easy to smash snacks, if you wear contacts you may want to bring re-wetting drops, I also carried a travel size pain meds, and a travel-size deodorant and maybe even a body spray.
Let’s Talk Phones.
Now we all know we need NEED our cell phones, especially if we are in a big amusement park and traveling with multiple people. Even me traveling with just the kids, sometimes my girls would go ride while my son and I took a break – I made sure they had their phones on them. And making sure that your phone is protected – and always charged – is especially important. Make sure you have a protective waterproof case (even if you have your phone in your bag or fanny pack). I ordered myself and my daughters a waterproof pouch that works like magic (trust me. I had my phone in the pouch and on a float when I was cleaning the pool last weekend – my nephew jumped in and knocked it off, and it floated to the bottom – but it was perfectly dry!) It’s better to be safe than sorry – and these pouches come with nylon lanyard so you can wear it around your neck if you need to (and yes, you can fit money and credit cards in there as well. You could probably tuck it in your shirt in lye of the fanny pack if you wanted!)
Between taking pictures and surfing Facebook while standing in line, your battery probably won’t last all day. I ordered 2 of these Dual Portable Power Banks. I charged them every night and threw them in our bags in the mornings. Usually by about 3:30 or 4 one of us were in need of it. It made me feel a lot more comfortable knowing we’d all have phones to get a hold of each other if we got separated at all.
If you are taking kids to Universal you are going to be spending some money on souvenirs – however, you can keep your cost down and still get the kids everything (or almost everything) they want. First things first – if you got the park to park tickets, and especially if you have Express Pass you need a lanyard. (see photo below)
I didn’t know we would need them – and I sure wasn’t trying to pull out those tickets every single time we got in the Express line. So we bought these at the gate at Universal. They aren’t super expensive; however, they had a limited supply. Amazon has (for lack of a better world) crap load. Especially some awesome Harry Potter lanyard options. Anyway, they scan it each time, and it makes it easier if everyone is wearing them.
I felt like generally the souvenirs at Universal were pretty average for an amusement park – they have a lot of ‘toys’ you could find at any Toys R Us or Target; but they had a lot of unique items too. Like Ollivander’s Wand Shop. If your child is lucky enough for the wand to pick them during the experience – well, that’s quite a special opportunity. Even if not, being able to buy their own wand for Ollivander’s – well, it’s a Potter fans dream. At nearly $50 each it’s not a cheap souvenir, but it’s one I would consider worth it.
Then you have the robes – depending on how hard core your Potter fan is, you may or may not want to buy your robe in advance. The robes at Universal (though made very well) start around $100 each. For me, $100 x 3 kids = too much. I found some pretty cool Hogwarts robes on Amazon for around $25 each – and even scored some pretty cute Harry Potter glasses for my son.
You would be surprised the number of people (kids and adults) walking around in their favorite house robe – it’s quite a fun place to be!
Summer adventures in Diagon Alley! #VZConnectingUS #sweepstakesTH @triphackr
A photo posted by Krissy Higgins (@krissyar) on
Don’t forget to try the Butter Beer (or my kids favorites Butter Beer Ice Cream)!
Do you have any questions I didn’t cover? Message me, or leave a comment and I will do my best to help!
So yes you can ride all the rides with a fanny pack? I have no weight restrictions and the bag works at our Six Flags park with no problem. I just don’t want to get there and have to take it off for every ride and use a locker.
You won’t have to take it off for EVERY ride. But there are a few that they absolutely will not allow ANYTHING – no phones, nada, on the ride. But they do provide the lockers for you (So you don’t have to pay) and they are conveniently located right outside the exit of the ride.
It was fine for us, I don’t like using lockers either, but for the few rides that it was required for, it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.
Thanks for the article Krissyar. Are the black pants you linked the ones you wear? Do you have any more recommendations for those? Thanks!
I do have a few pair of those, as well as capri leggings from Old Navy and Torrid.