Have you ever considered visiting Universal as a solo traveler? Traveling with family and friends is so much fun that most people never consider doing a solo Universal trip on their own.
Research shows that self-care, recharging your own batteries, and doing something fun or rewarding for yourself is a great way to relieve stress and be your best for your job, your family, and yourself.
I recently traveled to Universal Resort Orlando for a fun solo traveler getaway. Here are some tips and information to get you excited for your own solo trip to Universal and help you to make the most of your “me” time.
Airport, Airplane, and Transfers – The Solo Traveler Way
I travel frequently for work by myself. I love the super early flights for departure and last flights out for the day when returning home. This gives you more time for vacation and usually comes at a lower cost. Breezing through security and check-in is a great perk of traveling early/late and without your family.
Traveling solo is also makes packing easier. Pack a few things in a carry-on and quickly get yourself through the scanners without dealing with strollers, kids, and all the many things we pack when we travel with our children or other family members.
On the terminal side, after breezing through security, it’s easy to find a solo spot to work, charge your phone, read a book or catch up on social media.
Once you land in Orlando there are several ways to get to Universal. They each have their own benefit and it’s best to choose the one that fits your comfort level and budget.
- Taxis: They are easy to find on the Ground Transportation level and can take you anywhere quickly. They do come with a higher price tag and there could be long waits depending on the time of day.
- Uber/Lyft: It’s easy to schedule one in advance or you can just grab one on the app as soon as you land. The cost does vary based on surge pricing and availability. This can be a cost-effective option if you plan ahead or travel during non-peak times.
- Super Shuttle: This is a great add-on to your Universal Vacation Package and is just handled for you prior to arriving in Orlando. The pick-up location is located on the A-side of the airport and it’s a quick walk from any terminal. This round-trip shared shuttle bus service is a safe and cost-effective transfer.
The bus does stop at several resorts so can be time-consuming. The return pick-up time is also several hours before your flight and you do not get to choose to pick-up time. A good option for those not comfortable with a rideshare or taxi.
- Private Transfers: Several options exist and can be from a basic town car to a fancy limousine. If you want to treat yourself more lavishly and be spoiled from start to finish this is the way to go!
Resorts and Hotels
Universal has several resorts and hotels to choose from that fall into four categories. Premier, preferred prime value, and value. I always recommend the premier resorts for their many upgraded amenities and included Unlimited Express Pass. For you Disney lovers, think of unlimited Fast Pass without any reservations needed! It’s glorious!
For the ease of getting around Universal Resort, especially at night, and quick access to the parks, the Premier resorts add a level of awesomeness to your trip and are the best option for spoiling yourself.
The three Universal Premier Resorts are Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. They include the Unlimited Express pass for the length of your stay. All three are within close proximity to both theme parks either within walking distance or a short boat ride and a quick shuttle ride to Volcano Bay. All offer deluxe amenities, many dining options, and a variety of room options to suit every taste and need. For some additional pampering visit the Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay Hotel.
Universal Orlando has one preferred hotel and is the second-best choice to staying at a Premier Hotel.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a relaxing paradise still close to everything with easy boat or shuttle service, a variety of dining options, and relaxing pools. The only thing missing from the preferred hotel option is the included Unlimited Express Pass and club-level amenities.
Prime Value Hotels
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel provide basic amenities with some added benefits like a bowling alley, lazy rivers, and is a quick 5-minute walk to Volcano Bay. The parks are a shuttle ride away where busses run every 20-25 minutes. Drop off is by the parking garages and it’s about a 5-minute walk to the park entrances. These resorts are great options for the more budget conscious and if you just need a comfortable bed, a great atmosphere, and will spend most of your time at the parks.
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort Surfside Inn and Suites and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort Dockside Inn and Suites are the newest additions to the Universal hotel portfolio. These are the most basic resorts with very limited amenities. Both are located across the interstate and a bit of a distance from the parks as well as Volcano Bay, compared to Universal’s other hotel options.
Buses take guests where they need to go and run every 20-25 minutes. Drop off is by the parking garages and it’s about a 5-8 minute walk to the park entrance. This budget-friendly resort is a good option for those wanting to visit but is on a tight budget. For a solo traveler, this would not be my first choice.
Spending the day at Volcano Bay as a solo traveler is relaxing and fun!
Volcano Bay at Universal Studios water park has 19 attractions including thrilling and one-of-a-kind water and tube slides, wave pool, lazy river, and fearless river, and many nooks and crannies to just lazing about in a lounge chair. Make use of the free Tapu Tapu wristband to reserve a spot in line, order food, or take pictures.
As a solo traveler at Universal’s Volcano Bay, it is important to know that when you enter the attractions you could be paired with other parties to fill a tube so be prepared.
The best part of doing the waterpark as a solo traveler is to truly do whatever the river floats you to. I spent most of my time floating the lazy and rapid rivers and just enjoying the water and soaking up the sun. Bonus solo travelers’ fun is the ability to just spend time in a lounge chair reading a book and sipping a cocktail without interruption. It is sublime!
There are lockers for rent to keep your belongings safe which can be a concern as a solo traveler. However, I recommend bringing a waterproof phone pouch. I was able to keep my phone, cards, and essentials in the pouch without worrying about renting a locker and just left my towel and bag with sunscreen in a lounge chair. You can bring your own towel or rent a towel if needed. Bringing spray sunscreen is really handy as it’s harder to self-apply lotion types.
Islands of Adventure and Universal Orlando
Early Park Admission is a benefit to all guests staying at a Universal Resort hotel. Early Park Admission includes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I highly recommend taking advantage of this time to get high-priority attractions done before the day crowds arrive.
As a solo traveler, it is super easy to get out of bed, out the door, and to the parks early. During my visit as a solo traveler to Universal, I utilized the included early park admission and was able to walk onto Escape from Gringotts, wait less than 5 minutes for the Ollivander’s wand experience and capture some beautiful early morning pictures without many people in them.
Bonus Tip: Park to Park Tickets are required to ride the Hogwarts Express and visit both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. As a solo traveler, it is super easy to go back and forth between the two areas. Don’t visit Universal Studios Orlando without the park-to-park ticket.
Universal Unlimited Express Passes can be a great asset to your day as it provides front-of-line access to most attractions; the notable exceptions are Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and VelociCoaster. Ride these two attractions early in the day before the lines get long and then utilize your Express Pass to skip the other long lines.
I always recommend purchasing Express Pass to maximize your time at Universal Orlando, or staying at a Premier Resort to have Unlimited Express Pass included.
The best part for me in visiting these parks is the roller coasters. As a self-proclaimed roller coaster junkie, I ride the coasters over and over. A pro tip, especially for the solo traveler, is that most attractions at Universal offer a Single Rider Line. This is an incredible time-saver and allows you to go as many times as you can handle.
On my recent visit, I rode The Incredible Hulk Coaster 4 times, Forbidden Journey 5 Times, and Escape from Gringotts 3 times without any wait.
Lockers are provided for most of the higher thrill rides. Guests are required to store their belongings and some attractions will require you to go through a metal detector to make sure you’ve left your items in the locker.
Traveling solo allows you to just have a small number of items. The lockers are quite small and most regular-sized backpacks filled will not fit. The regular-sized lockers are free but the oversized lockers are $2 per use.
Universal’s brand new Roller Coaster is called The VelociCoaster. This coaster will blow your mind, it is the most amazing roller coaster I have ever been on. This ride is not eligible for Unlimited Express passes and the wait gets really long. I tried the single rider line the first time and actually waited longer than the posted wait time. The coaster seats 2 per row so the need for single riders is less. The second time I waited in the regular line and was through much faster. The ride host can help you decide which line might be best.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is another must-do. Try to get there as soon as the park opens or take advantage of the virtual Queue if offered. This ride is a truly immersive experience for any Potterhead.
The great thing about visiting as a solo traveler is to take your time and enjoy all the touches, shopping, and experience for a full experience without rushing around trying to do everything that other party members want to do. I spend hours just looking at all the details inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Universal offers many restaurants and quick dining options. Traveling by yourself you can eat wherever and whenever the fancy or hunger pains tell you. One morning I had a Hot butterbeer, a frozen butterbeer, a cold butterbeer, and then butterbeer ice cream for lunch. I ate breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron and lunch at the Three Broomsticks. If I had my family with me it would not have been quite as intense or flexible. Make sure to take advantage of mobile ordering. I did find it very easy to locate a table or a place in line to order food as a single person even at peak meal times.
As this is your vacation you can spend all your time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or just enjoy all the other rides and shows or just sit and enjoy all that is happening around you. The days are your own and you can make it, however, makes you happiest.
Universal’s City Walk
Citywalk is located next to the parks and offers countless shopping and dining along with mini-golf, a movie theater and so much more. This is a great location to visit if you want some downtime from roller coasters or would like to get your shopping fix. The Universal Store has everything you can think of so it’s a good idea to leave shopping for Citywalk so you do not have to carry shopping bags around inside the parks. Some of the more popular restaurants require reservations and same-day availability will be very limited. I walked up to my favorite Toothsome Chocolate Emporium right at lunchtime without a reservation. Because I was by myself I was able to grab a seat at the full-service bar without a wait. The hostess mentioned that most of the restaurants offer this so this is another great perk of traveling alone.
I did miss having my family and there were many moments that I wish I could have shared with especially my teenagers. I really enjoyed just being in my own thoughts and just doing something for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Let’s start planning your solo Universal Vacation. For more information and to plan your next vacation to Universal Studios Orlando email Ilana@LOTMV.com