When visiting Universal Orlando Resort, I recommend travelling as light as possible.
I do not recommend bringing a bag, purse or backpack at all, and only carrying what you can fit into your pockets (money, ID, cards, sunglasses, tickets, small camera/phone). That way you can avoid the extra time and stress of using the free lockers (for the 1st hour) outside every ride.
I usually go straight from the airport on arrival to the parks since you can’t check-into the hotel until 4pm anyway. So, I usually just pack a small backpack for the trip, and then rent a standard locker which can be found just inside the park near the entrance/exit of whatever park we plan to be in the latest that day – and leave my bag there all day instead of carrying it around.
For larger bags like roll-aboards (which I recommend not using unless you are going for more than 3 days), there is a Guest Services area right inside the gate after you enter Universal Studios Florida (not Islands of Adventure) called “Studio Audience Center” that will hold the bag for you for free all day with a photo ID presented at drop-off and pickup.
None of the rides allow bags or loose items of any kind, and every ride has a bank of adjacent lockers for these items. The ride staff are very strict about enforcing this policy, and there are several checkpoints along the ride queue to ensure you are not bringing any bulky items with you. I have seen people actually at the point of boarding a ride vehicle with those small drawstring backpacks or hip pouches that take up no room and could be sat “against”, but they were asked to leave the vehicle and were directed to the locker area which is outside the entire ride and line area, in order to store their belongings and get back in line.
Using the ride lockers is by far the biggest time drain and nightmare experience, because the locker bays are very cramped, and of all the people who do not know any better are fumbling through the whole process of “renting” a locker or re-opening a locker which involves various steps on a single touch-screen that serves a bank of lockers, including:
- Language selection
- Action desired (rent a locker or open a locker)
- Select size of locker (certain locations)
- Select location of locker (top, middle, bottom)
- Estimated time needed
- Enter 6-digit security code
- Complete payment (for usage beyond the 1st hour)
- Fingerprint scan (certain locations)
… not to mention remembering where your locker is in the first place, and then working your way through all of the people to actually get to the touch-screen that services that bank of lockers.
If you travel “light”, then that time will not be needed and you can walk right into the line for the ride without having to stop and “rent” or “re-open” a locker.
As with carrying around bags or backpacks, I recommend the same for shopping bags. Save your shopping for the end of the day when you don’t plan to go on any more rides. Shops are open up to an hour after park closing, and the resort shops along CityWalk and inside the hotels are open much later and often carry much of the same things you can get in the parks.
Most, if not all, of the shops will ship your purchases to your home address via UPS if desired, and if you are staying at a hotel on property, they will actually deliver your purchases to your room so you don’t have to carry them around!