We love Universal Orlando Resort when we went in September 2016, so much we went back again less than a year later (August 2017) with the Family Forward Group. After two visits I have learned a few things and these are my favorites.
Photo Pass: Professional photographers are located throughout the parks, at most character meet and greets and on rides. This is a great way to insure Family Photos and Character photos without asking strangers or a family member to opt out of photo to take it. Also they have yearly plans if you are going more than once. We split with a friend on trip, and now that we are going back, it will end up being $25 for each visit for my family. Other advantages are two free prints and discounts on prints. Also they will edit the pictures- add effects, take out people if they can on ride photos.
Toddler Families: Child Swap, Ride Certificates for further visits, themed play areas and characters to meet. While many see Universal Studios as a park for bigger kids (myself included until I spent time there and then a second trip). There are a lot for toddlers to see and do. Universal Studios has a kid area with mini coasters and water play. There also many shows, which can be seen by all. For those with varying ages, do child swap- the family stays in a separate section to easily and quickly swap. This also gives an older child the chance to ride two times if wanted with each parent/adult. The pools at the hotels are amazing for kids of all ages, staying on property also gives easy and quick access back to rooms for naps, breaks and meals. Most hotels have arcades and their own recreational activities also. Ask for a schedule when you check in.
Birthday Buttons: My daughter celebrated her 6th birthday while there. Everywhere we went, people stopped us to wish her a happy birthday, give an autograph just make her feel special. These buttons for birthdays and other special occasions are free and available at guest services in City Walk and in the parks.
Water Taxis: Transport you from Sapphire Falls, Royal Pacific, Portofino, HardRock. They are quick door to door service. We have used them two years in a row. Other hotels have shuttle service options. Each have Volcano Bay shuttles, although Cabana Bay is walking distance for Volcano Bay.
VIP Experience: This is an extra super awesome ADD-ON to your passes. It starts at $190 a day for 1 park, the pass includes 2 meals, discount on everything you buy that day. We bought almost all the souvenirs that day we had the passes, we did the VIP restaurant that has food from many of the different places at Universal Studios Resort. These passes also include Express Pass access the rest of the day too, add that savings into the ticket price. VIP for 5 or more in your group is a private tour where you pick what you want to do vs pre-set tour.
EXPRESS PASS: There are two choices for Express Passes. You have unlimited (you can ride any ride over and over using express pass lines) or regular which gives you one express pass PER a ride (if the ride was great and you used express pass and you want to go again, you must stand in regular line second time around). These are FREE with certain on-site hotels or extra if not staying at Universal Studios Resort or the specific hotels. Check which hotels give this great perk.
Read about our trip from last year with family forward.