Should You Visit Universal Orlando this Summer?

On it’s face, a trip to Universal Orlando this summer seems like a no-brainer.

Why so? Well, I’ve snagged a solid AP rate on a Cabana Bay family suite ($140), it’s been a long, long time since we last visited – like 10 years, and my son (the youngest addition to our family) has finally hit the 38″ milestone. You know, the one that means Universal will let him actually participate in fun. There’s also this recently opened dinosaur roller coaster thing.

Post-pandemic, I’ve really ramped up the push to get us back to Universal Orlando. We’ve held off going since my daughter was born 9 years ago because, honestly, she really couldn’t do a ton and had no real connection to Universal franchises. About the time she cleared some of the height requirement milestones, my son came along and kind of put us back in the same boat. At this point, however, we’re finally in a good a place family demographic-wise to visit.

So why am I questioning this plan?

Wait times.

I’ve spent a decent amount of time watching Universal Orlando wait times and have been kind of blown away by some of the waits in recent times. Let’s take a glance at Islands of Adventure on a random Monday at 1pm:

Islands of Adventure Wait Times

I like doing this because I can imagine exactly what my thought process would be if I was actually in the park. As mentioned, I’ve got height requirements in play with my son, but I also have motion sickness limitations in play with my wife.

This actually isn’t near as bad as I’ve seen. Maybe the capacity increases on attractions are helping a bit and bringing the wait times back down to earth. We’re at peak time of day and I see that we can head over to Seuss Landing and ride Caro-Seuss-el and the Seuss Trolley as a family. I could also take my son over to Seuss Landing and send my wife and daughter over to ride…well…not a lot. Maybe Reign of Kong at 40 mins…but my wife isn’t crazy about the attraction and I’d rather my daughter ride with me in case she gets scared.

So…while I know this is just a snapshot, it does help paint a picture of what our real in-park situation might look like as we’re circled around trying to decide exactly what to do next. The part of this that may be the greater concern is that we’re probably circled around making these decisions in 90+ degree heat….but that’s for another post.

Could we add Universal Express and alleviate the wait time concern? At nearly $250 / person / park / day….that’s not really a viable option for us…or really most folks I know. Could we stay at one of the three premier onsite resorts that give you Universal Express as a perk? Maybe, but the family is really in love with Cabana Bay…and I’m in love with the rate.

So while I’m a little encourage for the wait time snapshot from today, I’m still a little worried about venturing into Universal Orlando during a post-pandemic summer armed with little more than my tolerance for waiting.

Of course, we did the same thing at WDW over the past spring break and that turned out…somewhat ok. I also kind of worry about crowd level volatility at Universal with no park reservations required. It can tend to be the dumping ground for folks without WDW park reservations.

What about you? Are you on the fence regarding a trip to Universal or Orlando in general this summer? Let us know in the comments.

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