Beyond tickets and food, when visiting a theme park there are many expenses, considerations and upgrades. Rarely these days can one price of admission give you full access to everything you want to do inside a theme park in one day. If you are wondering if the Universal Studios VIP Tour is worth the price, then hopefully our experience will help you decide whether you will book one for your family.
We attended the Family Forward social media conference at Universal Orlando Resort. We paid a package price, where we received a 4 night hotel stay at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and tickets, with unlimited express passes to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. Universal provided us with a VIP Tour for free, as part of the event and the following is information from our experience.
Coordinating a family theme park adventure is no joke, it’s a job. It takes months of searching for all kinds of information and the real planning begins after you book the airline, hotel and tickets. You need to research menus and places to eat, weather and lines during peak/off peak times, and ride height limitations, in order to devise the best plan on the day of your visit. It is not an inexpensive trip, so planning these days definitely help to maximize time and money, but I will not lie, it can be stressful.
The Universal Studios VIP Tour experience in Orlando was extremely enjoyable, to which my husband has now decided (after standing in line for several hours at another theme park earlier in the week feverishly booking Fast Passes), “There is no other way to visit a theme park.”
We were provided with a 1 day, 2 park, VIP group tour by Universal Orlando Resort.
During the VIP experience, a tour guide takes a group of 12 people through the park on select rides and attractions, with no waiting in line. They devise a plan, based on your ride preferences, that gives your group priority, front of the line entrance throughout the day.
When some rides average long wait times, it does not matter, you can be on and off the ride in 10 minutes.
We were part of a special event, and we had 24 people and 2 tour guides, which is not generally how the tours are scheduled, but honestly it worked out awesome for us.
What Rides Can I Expect During a VIP Tour?
Every group’s experience is different, but between the hours of 9 and 4, in this order, with our guide leading us to each attraction and ride, we enjoyed:
- The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
- Skull Island Reign of Kong
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- While one guide took some of us, mainly the smaller kids, on the Flight of Hippogriff, another guide took the adventurous adults on the Dragon Challenge dueling roller coasters
- Hogwarts Express
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
- One Guide took some thrill seekers to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, which they rode twice, the rest of us enjoyed Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- E.T. Adventure
- Men In Black Alien Attack
Our Thoughts On Our Tour Guides
Our VIP tour guides were energetic, pleasant, and knowledgeable, getting us excited for activities. They offered information about what to expect on the rides in terms of scariness and movement and shared some fun tips about the park.
Overall, the kids in the group seemed to adore the guides. You could see the guides often walking through the park, holding their hands, while patiently answering each and every one of their questions.
My favorite perk of having the guide, was that my son was not tall enough for some rides, that my husband and I both wanted to experience. He could opt to wait with the guide in the child swap area, while my husband and I rode together. Our guide would also hold our backpack, too.
At the end of the day, you will need to plan on tipping your guide for your experience.
Anything Else Included In the VIP Tour?
Halfway through the day, our tour included an all you could eat buffet lunch that had dozens of options for both the kids and the adults, including soft drinks and dessert.
Depending upon the VIP experience you choose, there are meals included, but confirm with the theme park what is provided in your experience.
On the day of your tour, the VIP ticket also gives you the Universal Unlimited Express Pass for the remainder of the day and 10% off in the stores if you do any shopping.
Will I Have Time to Visit Other Rides And Attractions After the Tour?
If you do not have obligations for a show, like Blue Man Group or specific dinner reservations, then you will absolutely have time to ride the remaining rides and attractions. Remember, your VIP ticket also gives you the unlimited express pass, so you won’t walk on and off the ride, but the wait time will be shorter.
Definitely use that time after the tour to visit the remaining rides you want to experience. Absolutely go back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and spend time leisurely exploring Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, wandering in and out of the fun shops, practicing your spells if you buy a wand and maybe testing out those Bertie Botts jellybeans.
How To Book VIP Tours
First buy your theme park tickets, then call the VIP Center to arrange for your tour, which is an added expense.
The Private VIP Experience allows you to fully customize your tour. You can purchase VIP tours the day of your visit, but it is recommended to buy ahead of time, as they do sell out.
Wondering if the VIP Experience is Worth It?
The VIP Experience allowed us to enjoy all of the most popular rides and attractions in both parks in 1 day. This could honestly save you from staying additional days in the park, resulting in less money spent on food and hotel nights. So while you may spend more money up front, if you are pressed for time or are visiting during a peak timeframe when the lines will be long, then this is a great option to get a personalized experience in a day or 2.
In case you are wondering, the Universal Express Unlimited Pass, which you can also get as a paid option or by staying at a participating Universal Resort, does not bring you to the front of the line, like the VIP experience. The Express Unlimited Pass gives you entrance to a shorter line, versus standing in the regular line.
We attended the Family Forward social media conference at Universal Studios Orlando Resort. We paid a package price, where we received a 4 night hotel stay at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and tickets, with unlimited express passes to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay. Universal provided us with a VIP Tour for free, as part of the event and the following is information from our experience.