Universal Studios Orlando VIP Tour – Is It Worth it?

We were gifted this trip to Universal Studios Orlando. All views on the VIP experience are our own.

In December we were lucky enough to experience the Universal Studios Orlando VIP Tour. The one question we were asked the most by people who knew we were going was

Is the vip tour worth it?

In short, YES! Our youngest son Arlo is autistic and so theme park days can be overwhelming and stressful for us, despite the fact that he LOVES them! This experience took all the stress out of the day.

The Universal Studios Orlando VIP tour was hands down the best experience we have ever had at a theme park. Coming from Orange County, we aren’t exactly short of theme parks to visit and we are a family of Disney and Harry Potter lovers. We love Universal Studios Hollywood and have enjoyed many wonderful family days there, but the Universal Studios Orlando VIP tour literally blew all other experiences out the water. So much so that there’s probably no point visiting any other theme parks now. We have peaked. Ultimate theme park success was ours that day in December!

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Where did we stay at Universal Studios Orlando?

We stayed in a 2 bedroom family suite at the brand new Surfside Inn and Suites and we loved it! Having the extra space was perfect for our little family of 4. My boys are loud and let’s be real; I like to be able to close the door at night so we all sleep better! We had a little breakfast area, 2 queen beds, a fridge and then the bedroom which also had a queen bed.

surfside inn breakfast area

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This fun, family-oriented Value hotel introduces extra affordability to your Universal vacation. The feeling here is relaxed and easy, with a cool surf vibe woven throughout. In addition to beachy, surf-themed standard rooms, Surfside Inn and Suites features spacious, 2-bedroom suites that sleep up to six, making it the perfect spot for families of any size to experience a Universal Orlando Resort vacation.

A sister hotel, Dockside Inn and Suites, will open in March 2020. Both hotels will be part of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, a vibrant and sunny retreat.

– Universal Orlando website

How does the Universal Orlando VIP tour experience work?

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We arrived at the park at 9am and went straight to the VIP tour entrance. We met our guide and were offered coffee and breakfast but we’d already eaten and were honestly just so excited to get into the park! Our tour guide David asked us some questions to get an idea of what we wanted to see, our top rides and any shows we might be interested in. Our tour heavily featured the Harry Potter areas of Universal Studios because we are HUGE Potter fans!

This is where it got crazy. Ever seen those people walking around a theme park and being all fancy with a guide? That was US! We felt like VIPs – I mean yes, we were on the VIP tour, but it really was amazing. We let David, our tour guide, take us on the optimum route to fit as much into our day as possible. We had him from 9am – 5pm and we wanted to ride everything we could because we only had one day in the parks.

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I told David that Arlo is autistic and he was amazing with him all day, and so patient with Arlo’s many MANY questions! As you can see Arlo took quite a liking to David which was amazing for all of us to watch.

We started off with a few rides but what we were really waiting for was Diagon Alley where we shopped, rode the Harry Potter rides, did a few spells and drank some butterbeer. We felt much more relaxed because we didn’t have to worry about waiting in any lines which obviously cut hugely into any day at a theme park. The VIP tour meant that we did not have to wait in any lines. We loved Escape from Gringotts which is a ride they do not have in Hollywood. Even if you are not a Harry Potter fan you will be blown away by Diagon Alley. The attention to detail is incredible. If you are a fan then I challenge you not to squeal with excitement at every turn!!

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David systematically took us around Universal Studios until we reached Kings Cross Station where we got the train to Islands of Adventure. Obviously we rode the other Harry Potter rides in Hogsmeade but the standout ride was Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure. The newest ride in the Universal Studios arsenal more than lives up to the hype. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best ride we have EVER been on. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say it’s fast and full of surprises! The wait time for that ride was over 2 hours but thanks to our VIP tour we were able to skip the line and ride it twice in a row!

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As well as all the Harry Potter mania we rode an amazing 16 rides, had lunch at Cafe La Bamba which is the VIP only restaurant (and the food was delicious!), watched the Hollywood Horror Make up show and the special Macy’s Holiday Parade.

So How much does the VIP tour cost?

There are a few options for the Universal Studios Orlando VIP experience. They offer one or two park options, as well as group or individual tours. We had an individual tour which meant that it was just our family with the guide. We saw a few group tours where they have a maximum of 15 guests in a group and the tour is determined by the guide (but the guide talks to the group about their preference so nobody misses out!). The group tour rate starts at $189 for the 1 park tour (5 hours) and $199 for the 2 park tour (7 hours). To book a Private VIP Tour or for more details, call (866) 346-9350, 9 am–7 pm, seven days a week.

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Behind the scenes on the Men In Black Ride

Along with your guide, you’ll also get*:

  • Priority front-of-the-line access to all rides and attractions including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D and all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ attractions and experiences
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences in the parks (subject to availability)
  • Complimentary valet parking (one vehicle, based on availability)
  • Reserved seating at shows (excludes live performances during Mardi Gras and Mannheim Steamroller during the holidays)
  • Complimentary continental breakfast and lunch**. Dinner included in Private VIP Experiences only
  • Universal Express Unlimited ride access at participating rides and attractions throughout the rest of the day (during normal park operating hours)
  • Exclusive VIP Experiences lanyard and credential
  • Universal CityWalk Party Pass™, valid only on date of VIP Experience (during normal CityWalk park operating hours)^^
  • Discounts at select Universal Orlando owned and operated merchandise locations in the theme parks and CityWalk

*information is taken from Universal Studios Orlando website and is subject to change.

Visiting a theme park with a child with autism can be extremely stressful. The Universal Studios Orlando VIP experience made everything so easy, and so for our family, it was 100% worth it and we would definitely do it again. Our guide David had a great understanding of autism and said he’s toured many special needs families. If you decide to try the tour I can highly recommend David! Tell him Arlo (the little boy from England who didn’t stop talking all day) says hello!

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We finished our day at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium which is a must visit restaurant in Citywalk!


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I am Viv, stay at home mom (mummy) to Edison who is 7 and Arlo who is 5. I am married to my best friend and university sweetheart Steve. In October 2014 we moved 5321 miles from our beautiful Victorian home in Sheffield, England to Anaheim Hills and are loving the wild adventure this move has turned our life into. I am so very grateful that this move has given me the opportunity to quit my kinder teacher role to stay home with my crazy whirlwinds and enjoy the adventures of modern motherhood. I love farmers markets with my little foodies, antique shops, restoring antique finds, reading, baking, eating out and trying not to spend everything we have in Target! Oh and chips. I LOVE chips (crisps for any Brits reading this). All the chips.