As you frog friends know, we're big fans of staying on-site at the theme park resorts. Universal Orlando Resort is one of our very favorite resorts to stay on-site (and you can book directly from us!).
There are some terrific benefits, such as proximity to the parks, free transportation, free pool hopping at select hotels, delivery of your in-park souvenir purchases to your room and more.
All of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels offer Early Park Admission. Early Park Admission allows you to enter select parks up to an hour early during your stay. This benefit can be a huge help to get a hop on the crowds, especially during busy peak times! Let's walk through all of the details of when and how to use this perk. That way, you can take advantage of it on your next trip!
Universal Orlando Hotels Offering Early Park Admission
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando
- Universal's Hard Rock Hotel
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort
- Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
- Universal's Aventura Resort
- Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites (now open) & Dockside Inn and Suites (opening 2020)
It's worth noting that select Universal Orlando Resort hotels — Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort — offer free Universal Express Unlimited, another amazing benefit.
*Mommy Frog's note: Currently, only Universal's Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites are open. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal's Aventura Resort reopened initially, but will be temporarily closed, starting Aug. 21, 2020. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has remained closed during the initial reopening phase, and the official opening of Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites has been postponed to an undisclosed date.
Understanding Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando
Universal's Early Park Admission allows all Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests and annual passholders one-hour early entry to Universal Studios Florida (during extra busy times, it can be both parks) every day, AND one-half-hour early entry to Universal's Volcano Bay water theme park every day. Valid theme park admission is required.
During Early Park Admission, select rides, attractions and areas are open one hour before the park opens to general public. (To make it easy for you, we note which park is hosting Early Park Admission, general park hours and Early Park Admission hours on our Orlando Crowd Calendar.) It used to be that the one-hour Early Park Admission was limited to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides, but that is no longer the case. The rides that open early now vary.
Universal's Early Park Admission is available every day of your hotel stay, including days of check-in and checkout! Using EPA on your check-in day is a little bit trickier, so we don't recommend it UNLESS you are only spending one night at a Universal Orlando hotel and it's an extremely busy time. If you want to take advantage of EPA on your check-in day, note that you will need to check in to your hotel first — which means very, very early in the morning. EPA usually begins at 8 a.m., so you would have to check in before that, then allow time to get from the hotel and to the park.
How to Use Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando
To make the most of your time inside the park, we recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of the start of Early Park Admission to allow that extra time needed to pass security, walk through Universal CityWalk and get through the turnstiles. You'll need your park tickets and your hotel room keys when you enter the park hosting Early Park Admission! A hotel key is needed for each family member or friend who is staying with you at the resort. The parks typically start allowing all guests in up to a half hour before the official opening time, so you definitely want to be in the park hosting EPA before then if you want to ride with the lowest waits.
When to Use Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando
As you know, the early frog gets the fly, so you'll likely need to sacrifice a little shut eye for Early Park Admission. Most vacationers don't want to do this, so use it to your advantage! You definitely should use Early Park Admission in these scenarios:
- You only have time for one day at the park. This is especially true if you are park hopping!
- You are visiting during an extremely busy time — the peak of summer and around holidays. Use our Crowd Calendar as your guide. If it's a level 8, 9 or 10 day, consider using EPA to jump-start your day in the parks before the crowds reach their highest levels.
- You're spending the day at Volcano Bay. Early Park Admission gets you first access to the rides, but it also gets you dibs on prime seating at the wave pool and other places around the park.
- You want to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with limited crowds.
- Any time you visit and want to get a hop on the crowds!
If you arrive early, you will be able to ride the two or three rides open for EPA and you can move onto the next most popular ride on your list. It may already be in operation in the 15 minutes before the park officially opens. Even if it's not, you can be one of the first in line!
For example, with EPA at Universal Studios Florida for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, you should be able to easily ride both before all park guests arrive. If you start with Minion Mayhem and then move onto Gringotts, you will then be in the back of the park and in prime position to ride Transformers: The Ride — 3-D or Men In Black Alien Attack with little to no wait.
Are you ready to hop on Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando Resort? We toadally recommend it ... and staying on property isn't too bad, either! Book your Universal Orlando Resort hotel today to make the most of your next trip.