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Orlando theme parks are major league on my mind right now because we are deep in the middle of finalizing our big family summer trip that will include Universal and Disney. However, I am also briefly in Orlando for work in the near future, so I’ve been thinking about how to make the most of that short stay. We have a decent handle on Disney and our options and strategies when visiting that family of parks, but Universal Orlando is tripping me up time and time again because I am so used to the way Disney operates.
I recently covered how mind-bogglingly expensive Universal Studios can be (even more than Disney), but what I learned about Universal Orlando today shocks me even more than the price tag. If you are used to Disney but newer to Universal, you may also be very surprised to learn just how early the Universal Orlando theme parks close in the evenings.
Universal Orlando Theme Parks Close Shockingly Early
It is very common for Disney’s Magic Kingdom to be open until 10PM, 11PM, 12AM, and sometimes even later than that. With that as my reference point, today I naively suggested going to Universal Studios for a few hours in the evening when our nearby work commitments were over for the day. I thought it would be pretty fun to hit a few rides on a mid-week evening without terrible crowds, and then eat some bangers and mash in the Leaky Cauldron. It’s a little silly to buy a theme park ticket and only use it for a hours in the evening, but it is the kind of ‘right place, right time’ silly that is usually worth it to me.
Coming from a Disney World background, imagine how far my jaw fell when it was pointed out to me that the Universal theme parks close that day at 7PM. Not only that, but it gets worse. On many dates, the park closes as early as 5PM!
Closed at five in the afternoon? Who closes a theme park at five, six or seven in the evening – even on a Friday night?!
If I’m understanding this correctly, a visit to Universal Studios costs more than Disney, and the parks close significantly earlier. While at Disney, we love having a morning in the parks, napping and playing at the resort in the afternoon, and then returning at night for a whole different (cooler) experience.
While there are dates that Universal Orlando is open until 9 or 10PM, especially in the summer, don’t be like me and operate with your Disney paradigm assuming that evening park hours are automatically on the table. There are a whole host of dates when the Universal Orlando parks close as early as five or six in the evening.
I guess we will have to save Hogwarts themed bangers and mash for another day!
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