Universal Studios Orlando is one of the most popular theme parks in Florida, attracting millions of visitors each year. With two massive parks – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure – packed with thrill rides, shows, restaurants and more, it’s no wonder vacationers flock here. But with so much to see and do, is it possible to experience Universal Orlando in just two days? Here’s a look at what’s involved in visiting Universal Studios Orlando and whether two days is enough.
What’s included in Universal Studios Orlando
Universal Studios Orlando resort consists of two theme parks:
- Universal Studios Florida – The classic Universal Studios park with themed lands and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows. Headlining attractions include The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, The Simpsons Ride, and more.
- Islands of Adventure – Universals second Orlando park, home to immersive themed lands like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Jurassic Park, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon and Seuss Landing.
In addition to the two parks, Universal Orlando Resort includes:
- Volcano Bay – A tropical themed water park with slides, rivers, beaches and more.
- CityWalk – An entertainment complex with shops, restaurants and attractions like the Blue Man Group show.
- On-site hotels – Universal has several on-site hotels including some with premier level benefits.
With two full theme parks, a water park and entertainment complex, it’s easy to see how you could spend several days exploring Universal Orlando. The key question is whether it’s realistic to fit it all into a 2 day visit.
Realistic attractions for a 2 day Universal Orlando itinerary
To maximize your time, it’s best to map out a solid 2 day itinerary ahead of time so you can make the most of the parks. Here are some tips for planning a successful 2 day visit to Universal Studios Orlando:
- Focus on 1 park per day. With 2 full days, you’ll have time to see the highlights of both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure without feeling rushed.
- Arrive early! Be at the gates by 30-60 minutes before opening time to get a jumpstart on crowds.
- Use Universal’s Early Park Admission if you’re staying on-site to access certain attractions an hour before the parks open to other visitors.
- Prioritize the most popular rides and attractions that often have long lines like Escape from Gringotts, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, etc.
- Take advantage of Universal’s ride reservation system to bypass lines on busy attractions.
- See one or two shows or performances each day.
- Allot time for lunch, dinner and breaks so you’re not rushing around.
- Spend your evenings at CityWalk – you can return to your Universal hotel via the parks.
Here’s a sample 2 day Universal Orlando itinerary with some of the best attractions:
Day 1: Universal Studios Florida
- Arrive 30-60 min before opening
- Visit Diagon Alley and ride Escape from Gringotts
- Experience Hogwarts Express to Islands of Adventure
- Return to Universal Studios Florida
- Ride Despicable Me, E.T. Adventure, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Have lunch at Leaky Cauldron or Fast Food Blvd
- See Shrek and Donkey’s Meet & Greet
- Catch a showing of Horror Make-Up Show
- Ride Men in Black Alien Attack and The Simpsons Ride
- Dinner at Lombard’s Seafood Grille or other Universal restaurant
- Spend evening at CityWalk
Day 2: Islands of Adventure
- Arrive 30-60 min before opening
- Head straight to Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (or make virtual line reservation)
- Visit Wizarding World – Hogsmeade & ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- See the Frog Choir perform in Hogsmeade
- Ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
- Have lunch at Three Broomsticks
- Ride Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Spend afternoon in Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon
- Dinner at Mythos or other Islands of Adventure restaurant
- Return to CityWalk for evening entertainment
This packed but manageable 2 day schedule hits many of the most popular Universal Orlando attractions. While it may seem like a whirlwind visit, you can still experience the highlights and magical environments of both parks.
The benefits of spending 2 days at Universal Orlando
Spending 2 full days at Universal Studios Orlando has several advantages compared to a quicker trip:
- You’ll have enough time to fully explore both theme parks without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
- Two days allows you to ride all the headliners and major attractions at least once.
- You can re-ride your favorite rides like Escape from Gringotts and experience Hogwarts Express both ways.
- No need to scramble from park opening to close – you’ll have time for breaks, meals and shows.
- It’s less exhausting than trying to do everything in 1 super long day.
- You may get lucky with lower crowds on one of the days.
- Time to enjoy CityWalk entertainment in the evenings.
Two days provides enough time to fully immerse yourself in the themed lands, detail and environments throughout both Universal parks. You can better appreciate the immersive worlds and superb attractions when you aren’t watching the clock.
Potential downsides of only having 2 days
While 2 days is certainly enough time to experience many of Universal’s top attractions, there are a few potential downsides:
- No time built in for Volcano Bay water park which requires a whole separate day.
- May miss some shows, attractions and details in the parks.
- Not much wiggle room if crowds are heavier than expected.
- Rushing from attraction to attraction can be tiring over 2 days.
- Harder to spontaneously re-ride or revisit favorite parts of the parks.
- Only one evening in CityWalk, may want more time to enjoy dining and entertainment.
- No upside if one of the days has bad weather.
While you can certainly still have an amazing visit in 2 days, some guests prefer a more relaxed 3-4 day trip. But for many visitors, 2 days allows them to experience the best of both parks.
Making the most of 2 days at Universal Orlando
To ensure you maximize your time during a quick 2 day visit to Universal Orlando, keep these tips in mind:
- Get an early start each morning. Arrive at least 30 minutes before park opening to beat the crowds.
- Use Universal Express Passes if you want to skip the regular lines on many rides.
- Master the ride reservation system. Reserve a time for Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and other popular rides you don’t want to miss.
- Stay at a premier on-site hotel for early admission perks and walking access to the parks.
- Prioritize “must do” attractions for each park and stick to your plan.
- Take advantage of single rider lines on busy rides to speed up your wait.
- Pack snacks and refillable bottles so you aren’t wasting time waiting in food lines.
- Download the Universal Orlando app to help efficiently plan your days.
Most importantly, go in with realistic expectations. Identify your top attractions in each park and accept you may need to skip a few things. Rushing around for 2 exhausting days trying to do it all can ruin the fun.
Adding a 3rd day at Universal Orlando
Some travelers prefer to extend their Universal Orlando vacation to 3 days. Benefits of an extra day include:
- See attractions or shows you missed on the first 2 days
- More time to re-ride favorite rides and wander through the parks
- An easygoing pace – no need to rush around
- Chance to visit Volcano Bay water park
- Built-in buffer if crowds are higher than expected
A 3rd day works well if you have Universal Park-to-Park tickets. On day 1, visit Universal Studios Florida. Day 2 is for Islands of Adventure. Then day 3 gives you flexibility to revisit highlights or explore Volcano Bay.
Having a 3rd day is also insurance against bad weather or other unexpected delays. Some guests find it’s worth the added hotel night to eliminate the stress.
Visiting Volcano Bay water park
One major Universal Orlando attraction you won’t have time for on a 2 day trip is Volcano Bay. This lushly landscaped water park is home to innovative slides like the Krakatau Aqua Coaster as well as a massive wave pool, rivers and beaches. Realistically you need a full day to enjoy Volcano Bay. Options include:
- Add a 3rd day to your trip specifically for Volcano Bay.
- Extend to a 4 or 5 day vacation with one day for the water park.
- Skip Volcano Bay entirely and stay focused on the two theme parks.
- Just visit Volcano Bay for a few evening hours after spending the day at Universal Studios and/or Islands of Adventure.
While Volcano Bay is an amazing park, if your time is very limited, you may decide to postpone the water park fun until your next Universal trip when you can devote a full day.
Is a park-to-park ticket needed for 2 days?
For a 2-day visit, purchasing a park-to-park ticket for Universal Studios Orlando is highly recommended. Here’s why:
- A park-to-park ticket allows unlimited access to both Universal theme parks over 2 days.
- You can visit one park in the morning and easily take the Hogwarts Express to the other park later in the day.
- Gives more time to see each park thoroughly without constantly re-entering through the gates.
- More flexibility to revisit a park or hop between parks as you wish.
- Only a bit more expensive than two 1-park, 1-day tickets.
A park-to-park ticket makes the most sense to maximize your time. Without it, shuffling between the two parks eats into your limited hours. The convenience is well worth the small upgrade cost for a 2-day trip.
Where to stay for a 2 day Universal Orlando trip
Choosing accommodations close to Universal Studios Orlando can make a huge difference in getting the most from your 2 days. Here are top options to consider:
- An on-site hotel like Royal Pacific, Hard Rock or Portofino Bay. Benefits include Early Park Admission to Wizarding World, complimentary transportation and walking access to the parks and CityWalk.
- A Universal partner hotel like Cabana Bay, Aventura or Sapphire Falls. Also gets you Early Park Admission to Wizarding World an hour before park opening.
- Off-site hotel minutes from the park like Holiday Inn & Suites, DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando. Quick drive or shuttle to Universal.
- A vacation rental home through Airbnb, VRBO, etc. Look for one within 10 minutes of the parks.
Closer accommodations allow you to quickly return to your room for rest, avoiding time wasted traveling from far-off hotels. Premier hotels are best to maximize perks and Early Admission time.
Best times of year for a 2 day Universal trip
To make the most of 2 days at Universal Orlando, plan your visit for less busy times of year when crowds are lower. Recommended times include:
- September after kids return to school. Lower crowds but still warm weather.
- October for nice weather, Halloween Horror Nights excitement and shorter lines.
- Early November before Thanksgiving week. Nice temps and fewer families visiting.
- Early December to see holiday decor but avoid bigger Christmas crowds.
- January through February for cooler temperatures and lower crowds after New Years.
- Late April to early May after Spring Break before the summer rush.
Trips during peak seasons around major holidays and summer break tend to be the most crowded. But with smart planning, you can still have a great 2 day Universal Orlando vacation anytime of year.
Best ways to save money on a 2 day Universal trip
Here are some top money-saving tips for your 2 day Universal Orlando getaway:
- Book a Universal Orlando vacation package that bundles hotel, tickets and perks into one deal. Packages often offer significant savings over purchasing separately.
- Buy discounted multi-day tickets online directly from Universal’s website before your trip.
- Look for special Florida resident ticket deals if you live in-state.
- Find coupons and promos on Universal’s website, on food packages, and at visitor centers.
- Eat some meals at quick service restaurants like Fast Food Boulevard to save over table service.
- Skip expensive extras like Universal Express Passes unless your time is very limited.
- Bring your own snacks and refillable water bottles into the parks.
Take advantage of whatever deals and discounts you can find. But focus the bulk of your savings efforts on hotel and ticket packages.
Is 2 days enough time for Universal Orlando? While everyone’s travel style is different, for most visitors, 2 full days allows you to experience the very best attractions at both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure without an exhausting and stressful schedule.
The key is using those 2 days strategically. Stay on-site for Early Park Admission, arrive early, utilize ride reservation systems, minimize wait times using Express Passes or single rider lines, and stick to your must-do list. This allows you to see the Harry Potter lands, hit the top thrill rides, and enjoy the amazing themed lands throughout both parks.
While a 3rd day or more gives additional flexibility, 2 days still provides enough Universal fun. Using smart planning, you can have an epic visit that feels leisurely even with limited time in the parks. With a little prep work and savvy touring, 2 days can be just enough to have an incredible Universal Orlando experience.