Carrying Bags, Using Lockers & Shopping at Universal Orlando Resort

When visiting Universal Orlando Resort, I recommend travelling as light as possible.

Carrying Bags

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.

Using Lockers

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!

Previous Tip: Arriving at Universal Orlando Resort – Transportation Hub, Security Checkpoint & Ticketed Entry Process

Next Tip: Ride Experience & Single Riders Line at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort


Selecting Tickets for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando)

The Harry Potter areas at Universal Orlando Resort are separated between 2 parks with Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, and the Hogwarts Express train connecting the two.  So, to enjoy all of the Harry Potter attractions, you will need a “Park-to-Park” pass.

To make the most of your visit, you will need to make several decisions when purchasing your tickets online, in person or through a travel representative:

Step 1: Number of Days

Universal Orlando determines their ticket prices based on the dates you will be visiting.  When calculating the number of days your ticket should cover, consider whether you plan on visiting the park(s) for a partial day on your day of arrival and departure from Orlando.  Depending on what time your outbound flight is scheduled on the day of your departure, for example, it may allow you to go to the park for a few hours before you have to be at the airport.

Additionally, staying at a Universal onsite hotel gives you the added benefit of gaining Early Park Admission into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is one hour earlier than the standard opening time for regular guests.

NOTE: Most of the time during the off-season, Universal will offer a 3rd day free with the purchase of a 2-day ticket.

Step 2: One or Both Parks

As mentioned above, the Harry Potter areas at Universal Orlando Resort are separated between 2 separate parks with Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley next door in Universal Studios Florida, and the Hogwarts Express train connects the two.  So, to enjoy all of the Harry Potter attractions, you will need a “Park-to-Park” pass.

Step 3: Extras

Several options to bundle your ticket purchase with upgrades will be available during your purchase.  One of the most popular options is ExpressPass which allows you to bypass the lines at most rides throughout the parks.

During the off-season which is generally November-February excluding holidays and special events, crowds are more moderate and ExpressPass will be less necessary than if you are visiting during the peak times which include holidays, Spring Break or Summer.

NOTE:  At this time, ExpressPass is not available for any of the Harry Potter rides.

Step 4: Delivery Method

Tickets must be assigned to the name of each guest in your party during checkout.  Universal offers several ways to obtain your tickets after purchasing including:

You will receive an email link to a printable PDF file which contains each ticket on a separate standard A2 (letter-sized) page.

NOTE: During my visit on February 17, 2015, I observed that ticket scanners throughout the park were not reading this format, and the ticket takers had to manually type-in the barcode numbers from the ticket each time.

Will-Call Kiosk
Outside the main entrance to each park, there are automated self-service kiosks where you can retrieve your tickets by swiping the credit card you used to purchase them, and entering the confirmation code you received via email.  You must have both of these pieces of information to retrieve your tickets quickly and easily.  If you have ever used a kiosk at your local movie theater to buy or retrieve tickets, it’s a very similar experience.  Small card-like tickets will print out that easily fit in a pocket or wallet and scan consistently and quickly throughout the parks.

NOTE: You cannot purchase tickets at these kiosks.  They are for retrieval only.

Mail Delivery
Small, card-like tickets like the ones you would receive at a Will-Call Kiosk will be dispatched to your mailing address.

NOTE: This option may only be available for certain ticket types such as Annual Passes and may not be available if your arrival date is too near to the time of purchase.

Next Tip: Selecting a Hotel for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando)