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What to Bring to Universal Studios (+ Best Day Bag Tips)

By
on
February 22, 2021

In this article, you’ll learn exactly what to bring to Universal Studios as well as discover our best tips for packing your Universal Studios day bag.

Find out why less is more when considering things to bring to Universal as many of the thrill rides found here do not allow for personal belongings to be brought onboard.

Save yourself time and money by using this Universal Studios packing checklist to ensure a comfortable and carefree day.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through a link.

What to Bring to Universal Studios

First-things-first is that I do recommend that you bring a few important items with you if you plan on spending an entire day at Universal Studios.

In fact, this is one of our 45 Universal Studios tips that you should definitely check out!

Being prepared with some of the basics will not only help you tour more efficiently, but it will help you save money by not having to purchase items once there.

Here is a detailed list of what to bring to Universal Studios in your Universal Studios day bag!

Click here to find out exactly what to bring to Universal Studios for a perfectly planned day!  #familytravel #UniversalStudiosOrlando

1. Backpack or Fanny Pack

One of the most common questions regarding a day at the park is, “Can I bring a backpack into Universal Studios Orlando?”

The short answer is, “Yes, but with a few things to consider.”

First off, several of the best rides at Universal Orlando do not allow any personal items (including backpacks) to be brought onto the ride.

This requires an understanding of the Universal Orlando locker system so that you don’t have to frantically figure out where to store your backpack when you show up to get on a ride.

Likewise, whether or not you have to pay for a single-use locker depends on the size of your backpack, as only the standard-sized lockers (14 in x 5.5 in x 16.9 in) are free while you ride.

Anything larger costs $2 during the ride’s posted wait time and an additional $3 per 30 minutes.

For this reason, I highly recommend bringing a small backpack or fanny pack – that will fit into the free lockers – as there are several things to bring to Universal Studios that will need to be stowed for a comfortable and convenient experience.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  A small backpack.

2. Lanyard

A common upgrade to a standard Universal Studios admission ticket is a Universal Express Pass.

Universal Express Passes allow guests to skip the regular standby line, and use a special Express Pass line, at most of the attractions at Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure.

If you stay at one of Universal’s three premier on-site hotels you will receive complimentary Express access that is linked to your hotel room key.

If you purchase Express Passes online or onsite, they are in the form of a stand-alone paper ticket.

Either way, your Express Pass ticket or hotel room key will need to be scanned both the Express Pass queue and Express Pass loading area before getting on the ride.

For this reason, I highly recommend that you purchase these waterproof lanyards, to wear around your neck and store your Express Pass in.

It is important to note that lanyards are not provided by Universal Studios or from the resort at which you are staying.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Lanyards.

3. Lightweight Sunglasses

Orlando, Florida is belovedly known for having over 230 days of sunshine per year.

This means plenty of pleasant days to enjoy the many amazing things to do in Orlando!

With that said, we have found that it is absolutely essential to bring along a pair of sunglasses for everyone in the family when touring Orlando’s theme parks from sun up til sun down.

Not only for UVA/UVB protection but to prevent headaches and tired eyes, having the right pair of sunglasses makes a huge difference in having a flawless touring experience – and in keeping everyone comfortable and happy.

When considering what to bring to Universal Studios, we always bring along our WearMe Pro sunglasses because they are lightweight, affordable (in case they get lost), and offer full UV protection. (Click on the link above to shop, and type in coupon code TRAVELWITHAPLAN at checkout for an exclusive 20% discount!)

Plus, they’re super stylish and look great in photos!

4. Comfortable Walking Shoes

Universal Orlando Resort is a gigantic entertainment resort complex and covers over 541 acres of land.

In other words, when you’re considering what to bring to Universal Studios, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes as you will be walking A LOT.

According to friends, family, and personal experience, plan to walk an average of 10-12 miles a day when touring Universal Studios.

We personally own and use Nike Flex cross-trainers in men’s, women’s, and child sizes for their breathability and ability to cushion our feet from the hours spent walking on pavement.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Comfortable walking shoes.

5. Waterproof Phone Pouch

I am a huge fan of having my phone on me at all times when on a family vacation for it is what I use to take photos.

The most convenient way to have your phone easily accessible for photos and things like the Universal Orlando app, be sure to bring along a waterproof phone pouch.

Be sure to check the size and compatibility of the phone pouch you purchase with your current Smart Phone model, as well as look for a case that doesn’t hinder its touch screen use.

6. Portable Battery Charger

The dark pavement and limited shade at Florida theme parks yield sun exposure that is greater than you may be anticipating.

When considering what to bring to Universal Studios, do not forget to bring along a small, portable battery charger.

A day of snapping photos and using the Universal Orlando Resort app to check showtimes, do mobile ordering, and select virtual line times, etc. is going to drain your Smartphone battery at some point throughout the day.

This portable charger is my favorite as it is one of the smallest and lightest you will find. Plus, it charges your phone in a flash!

7. Sunscreen

Did you know that Florida is the warmest of all American states with an average daily temperature of 71 degrees F?

With that said, it is so important to understand how to stay cool in Florida while on vacation, as well as to always practice sun safety by protecting your skin with sunscreen.

Because you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, it is especially important to select a broad-spectrum sunscreen offering both UVA + UVB protection, and to reapply it every 2 hours, even when it’s cloudy.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Sunscreen

8. Rain Ponchos

Though we just got done mentioning the sun, it’s important to know that Orlando is also known for its sporadic rain showers, especially during the months of May through October.

I kid you not that you are more than likely going to need a rain poncho at some point during your Orlando itinerary, even if they are just to wear on a water ride.

To prevent yourself from getting soaked, be sure to pack portable rain ponchos for the entire family (consider these ones with drawstring hoods an added bonus!).

Additional planning tip: Though there are no adult water rides at Universal Studios (just some kids’ splash areas), several of the best rides at Islands of Adventure include those on which you will get wet!

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Rain ponchos

9. Reusable Water Bottle

Per their policy, guests are allowed to bring reusable water bottles into the Universal theme parks.

In fact, you can even walk into any restaurant or service counter that serves beverages in the park and ask them to refill them.

Though large water bottles will not fit into a fanny pack, bringing along these collapsible, leakproof reusable water bottles in a small backpack will save you tons of money from purchasing bottled water inside the park.

Additional planning tip: I don’t recommend bringing Hydro flasks or any other reusable water bottles that are heavy, bulky, and take up too much space.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Water bottles

10. Snacks

If you’re wondering if you can take food into Universal Studios, the answer is yes.

In fact, throwing a few snacks into your Universal day bag is always a good idea as it will save you money as well as time spent standing in line to order food.

Similar to my road trip snack list, I suggest packing a combination of your family’s favorite healthy and sweet snacks to keep things both nourishing and exciting.

Our family loves when I bring along KIND Bar Minis, and Cliff Kid Z Bars to theme parks as their go-to snacks.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Snacks

11. Pain Medicine

Don’t risk having to spend an enormous amount of money having to get a last-minute pain reliever from a Universal Studios gift shop.

Instead, when deciding what to bring to Universal Studios, always leave room for a travel-sized container of pain reliever and motion-sickness medication.

Whether someone gets a small injury, headache, or upset stomach from the rides, it’s best to always be prepared with a few over-the-counter medications brought from home.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Pain medicine

12. Hand Sanitizer

As we all know, one of the most important ways to stay healthy while traveling is to frequently wash your hands.

In the absence of soap and water, hand sanitizer is a life-save to use after touching ride handles, before eating and drinking, and before and after touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Trust me in considering a portable-sized container of hand sanitizer as one of the most essential things to bring to Universal Studios. If feasible, get one for every member of your travel party.

Things to bring to Universal Studios from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan:  Hand sanitizer

Additional planning tip: Check Universal’s face covering policy before visiting. If face coverings are required, be sure to bring extra adult and child-sized masks if your original ones get wet or sweaty.

What to bring to Universal Studios in your day bag
My Universal Studios day bag

Universal Studios Backpack Tips

  • Unlike my Disney day bag tips, less is better at Universal Studios. Disney allows personal belongings, including backpacks, to be brought onto rides, whereas most rides at Universal Studios do not.
  • Consider the size of your Universal Studios backpack or Universal Studios fanny pack and whether or not you’re willing to pay for lockers.
  • Universal Studios backpacks are allowed on water rides but we suggest bringing a plastic bag to cover them with, or they will get wet.
  • May sure the weight of your day bag is dispersed equally across your shoulders (versus a cross-body bag), so that you don’t get a sore shoulder or back.
  • All bags, backpacks, purses, packages, and items are subject to X-ray and/or additional inspection prior to entering CityWalk and the Universal theme parks. 
  • Suitcases and bags with wheels are prohibited.

Do you prefer the ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to what to bring to Universal Studios?

Jen

If you liked reading our guide on what to bring to Universal Studios, continue planning your Universal Orlando vacation here:

Universal Orlando Touring Plans:

Universal Orlando Tips:

Universal Orlando Rides:

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Click here to find out exactly what to bring to Universal Studios for a perfectly planned day!  #familytravel #UniversalStudiosOrlando
Click here to find out exactly what to bring to Universal Studios for a perfectly planned day!  #familytravel #UniversalStudiosOrlando
Find out exactly what to bring to Universal Studios (that will fit into a fanny pack!) from top U.S. travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
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8 Comments
  1. Reply

    Lyndy Burtrum

    June 8, 2022

    Hello,

    I was reading through your tips, which are great by the way! I was wondering if you carry your cell phone pouch on the rides with you? I wanted to know if I got a waterproof pouch that was clear on the other side if I could put our express passes in there as well and just carry 1 lanyard thing around my neck.

    Thank you ,
    Lyndy Burtrum

    • Reply

      Jen

      June 9, 2022

      Lyndy, hi! Great question! In my experience, yes, they let you keep a waterproof pouch around your neck on the rides. Sometimes they may ask you to tuck it inside your shirt. This could definitely work for keeping your express pass in too! Have fun!

  2. Reply

    Stacy Pumper

    January 24, 2022

    Hi,

    Wondering what brand your fanny pack is? Love the size and look and based on your experience seems like the best option for our trip in March.

    Thanks!
    Stacy

    • Reply

      Jen

      January 26, 2022

      Hi! Yes, I LOVE that fanny pack! It is from Athleta – I just checked, and unfortunately, it is no longer available. I would keep checking their website, however, as they are always rolling out awesome new fanny packs and cross-body bags. Good luck 🙂

  3. Reply

    Stacy

    January 23, 2022

    Your Fanny back looks like a great size! Could you please share the brand or where you purchased? Thanks!

    • Reply

      Jen

      January 26, 2022

      Ah, yes, it is a great one! It is from Athleta 🙂 Unfortunately, it does not look like it is available anymore. They always roll out new products, however, so I would keep checking their website…or check Lululemon. Good luck 🙂

  4. Reply

    Keri Baugh

    February 28, 2021

    This is a great list! The collapsable travel bottle is a great idea, and same for the lanyard. I always seem to misplace my room keys. Also, great tips about bags at Universal vs. Disney. I remember the lockers at Universal the first time we went and I was surprised by it as I am used to Disney. Very helpful post!

    • Reply

      Jen

      March 1, 2021

      Thank you! I am glad you find this list helpful! These are my go-to items!!

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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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