What to Bring to Universal Studios (+ Best Day Bag Tips)
Wondering what to bring to Universal Studios to make your trip easier?
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 (the bag you’ll bring into the park).
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.
Finally, you’ll save yourself time and money by using this Universal Studios packing checklist to ensure a comfortable and carefree day.
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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, having a properly stocked day bag 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!
Additional planning tip: This list can be used for visiting both Universal Orlando, and Universal Studios Hollywood!
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.
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 in 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 to store your Express Pass in.
It is important to note that lanyards are not provided by Universal Studios or by the resort at which you are staying – meaning you need to provide your own.
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 sundown.
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, or something simiar, because they are lightweight, affordable (in case they get lost), and offer full UV protection.
4. Comfortable Walking Shoes
Universal Orlando Resort is a gigantic entertainment resort complex that 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.
Whatever you do, just don’t wear flimsy flip-flops or anything with a wedge or heel.
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’s 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) is to use waterproof phone pouch that can hang around your neck.
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 touchscreen use.
6. Portable Battery Charger
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, as well as to do mobile ordering and select virtual line times, 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!
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.
The dark pavement and limited shade at Florida theme parks yield sun exposure that is greater than you may be anticipating.
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.
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
The drawstring hoods on these ones are an added bonus!
If you’re looking for something more lightweight, we’ve used these ponchos too.
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!
9. Reusable Water Bottle
Per their policy, guests are allowed to bring a refillable water bottle 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.
If you’re wondering if you can take food to 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.
If you or your family has any special dietary needs, bring those essentials along as well.
Our family loves when I bring along KIND Bar Minis, and Cliff Kid Z Bars to theme parks as their go-to snacks.
11. Pain Medicine and Motion Sickness Medication
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.
Additional planning tip: If anyone in your family is prone to motion sickness, note that many of the rides at Universal Studios are motion simulated, as well as 3 and 4D. They can be somewhat difficult to handle for those with sensitive stomachs.
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 to have on hand.
Even if your smaller children haven’t used a stroller for a while, I would highly advise you to bring one when heading to Universal Studios.
You’re going to be doing a ton of walking and your small children won’t be able to keep up and/or they’ll be asking for someone to carry them once their feet start to tire.
Trust me on this.
Bringing a stroller is also convenient because it can store most of your belongings underneath it while you walk around.
Universal Studios Backpack Tips
- Unlike my Disney day bag tips, less is better when visiting Universal. Walt Disney World 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.
- Last, check the list of prohibited items as you cross-check your packing list. Prohibited items include: weapons, alcohol, marijuana, power-driven devices such as Segways and Hoverboards, and any other items Universal personnel deem to be inappropriate, disruptive, or harmful.
Universal Studios Orlando Resort Overview
For those of you who are new to the Universal experience and are a bit confused like I was, Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort consists of:
- Two theme parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
- A water theme park: Volcano Bay
- A shopping, restaurant, and entertainment complex: Universal CityWalk Orlando
- Six onsite Loews Hotels
- An upcoming theme park, Epic Universe, expected to open in early 2025
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located in both Universal Studios (Diagon Alley) and Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade).
Each of the 3 parks has a separate ticketed entry, though park-to-park tickets are available if you’re looking to explore them all.
Universal Citywalk, however, is free to enter and is located directly between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Together, the Universal Orlando Resort covers 541 acres of land and welcomes over 11 million annual visitors from all around the world.
If you enjoyed reading our guide on what to bring to Universal Studios, we’ve written several other guides to help your vacation planning:
Universal Orlando Touring Plans:
- Universal Studios Touring Plan: 1-Day Itinerary
- Islands of Adventure Touring Plan: Complete 1-Day Itinerary
- 9+ Fun Things to do in Orlando
Universal Orlando Tips:
- 45 Tips for your First-Time Visit to Universal Orlando
- 9 Big Differences Between Disney World and Universal Studios
- Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando: 9 Reasons to Stay
- A Complete Guide to Lockers at Universal Orlando
- 7 Best Restaurants at Universal Orlando Citywalk
Universal Orlando Rides:
- Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure
- Top 7 Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida
- Is Universal Express Pass Worth It? A Detailed Look!
Do you like the ‘less is more’ or ‘overpacking’ stragegy when it comes to what to bring to Universal Studios? I’d love to hear from you!-Jen
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*
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, 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!
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.
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 🙂
Your Fanny back looks like a great size! Could you please share the brand or where you purchased? Thanks!
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 🙂
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!
Thank you! I am glad you find this list helpful! These are my go-to items!!