• Elizabeth Perry (The Nerd Travel Pro)

5 Tips for Getting Around Universal Orlando


If you’re thinking of a visit to Universal Orlando Resort to experience its thrilling attractions and the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s a fairly easy place to get around – but, knowing all the ins and outs certainly helps. Here are 5 tips for getting around Universal Orlando!

All Roads Lead to CityWalk

The first thing to know is that, if you’re trying to get to Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, your first stop will be CityWalk. This is the dining and shopping district between the entrance to the two theme parks, and you’ll go through it in some capacity on the way to the theme parks.

Buses and Water Taxis

If you’re staying at one of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels, you’ll have access to complimentary transportation to the theme parks. The kind of transportation you’ll have depends on the resort you’re staying at. If you’re at one of Universal Orlando’s Premier or Preferred hotels, including Royal Pacific Resort, Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Sapphire Falls Resort, there’s a water taxi that will take you into the heart of CityWalk. There’s a dock near the entrance to Universal Studios, and this is where you’ll go if you’re using the water taxi. All of Universal Orlando’s other on-site hotels have bus transportation that drops guests off at the entrance to CityWalk. This is a few minutes’ further of a walk than the water taxi stop. Note that if there's lightning or severe wind, water taxis won't run, and there will be buses to take you back to your hotel instead.

Or Walk, If You Prefer

Most of the on-site hotels also have a walking path to CityWalk. The shortest distance is from the Hard Rock Hotel at about 5 minutes and is sometimes faster than waiting for the water taxi. The furthest is Cabana Bay Beach Resort at 15-20 minutes. (You can technically walk from Universal Orlando’s value resort, Endless Summer Resort, but with a 30+ minute walk through some busy intersections, you should take the bus instead).

Security Checkpoints

No matter where you enter CityWalk, you’ll need to go through a security checkpoint. Everyone goes through a metal detector, and all bags go through a scanner. There is one big security checkpoint at the entrance to CityWalk – everyone coming from the resort buses, from taxis and rideshare services, and from the parking garage go through this checkpoint. This one can be crowded and may take some extra time to get through. If you’re coming on the water taxis, you’ll go through security before boarding the boat. If you’re walking from one of the on-site hotels, you’ll enter via one of two security checkpoints – one near the entrance to Universal Studios, and one near Margaritaville in CityWalk. They’re usually a lot less crowded than the main CityWalk entrance.

What If I’m Not On-Site?

If you’re coming to Universal Orlando from off-site, you’ll either park in the parking garage, or be dropped off outside the entrance to CityWalk near the parking garages. Taxis drop off in the same place that buses drop off, and then you go up an escalator to the security checkpoint. If you’re coming in on a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft, you’ll be dropped off at a designated area in the Jurassic Park section of the parking garage. From there, you can head to the security checkpoint.

Learn More about Universal Orlando Resort

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