If you are staying at an on-site hotel and thus have preferred access or have purchased a Universal Express Plus pass (see Chapter One), then you can largely ignore the following advice and proceed as you wish.
1. Get up early. You want to arrive at the park before the official opening time. Allow at least half an hour to park your car and get to the main entrance.
2. Since you were smart enough to buy your tickets the day before, you don't have to wait in line again, at least not for tickets. Position yourself for the opening of the gates and go over your plan one more time.
3. As soon as the gates open, move briskly to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, using the single rider line if available.
4. Make a right after exiting Rockit and ride Despicable Me.
5. Head past "Mel's Drive-In" around the lagoon to The Simpsons Ride.
6. Continue next door to Men In Black. Use the regular queue if this is your first time on MIB; otherwise use the single rider line.
7. Next stop is Jaws. After Jaws, continue to your right to Disaster! Option: If E.T. Adventure is high on your list, go there first and then head for Jaws; if not, save E.T. for late in the day when many of the kiddies and their exhausted parents will have left.
Note: Jaws is scheduled to close Jan. 2, 2012.
8. Ride Revenge of the Mummy. If the wait is over 30 minutes, use the single rider line.
9. See Shrek 4-D, then experience Twister if the wait isn't too long.
10. See Terminator 2:3-D
11. Now the time has come to start checking out the theater and amphitheater shows. The Universal Horror Make-Up Show is a short walk from the T2 exit, and is a must-see. Check your park map for Beetlejuice and Blues Brothers show times.
12. At this point, you will have been on the most popular rides and seen a show or maybe even two. The crowds are beginning to get noticeably larger and the sun is high in the sky. Take a break, maybe eat lunch. If the park is particularly crowded and you feel you are "running late" you may want to limit your lunch to quick snacks you can carry with you as you move from line to line. There are plenty of outdoor kiosks dispensing this kind of portable "finger food."
13. Continue your rounds of the shows you want to see and check in periodically at any rides you missed (or would like to try again).
14. As the crowd thins toward closing time, circle back to the rides you missed. A great time to find shorter lines to even the most popular rides is about an hour before the official closing time.
15. If the Universal 360 show is running, find a viewing location near the water about ten minutes before the performance.
16. The park doesn't lock the gates at the scheduled closing time. So this is a good time to buy your souvenirs; you'll have saved some prime touring time and won't have to lug them around for so long. Many of the smaller eateries will be open as well, so feel free to grab a well-earned dessert. And you'll still have plenty of time to visit Lucy: A Tribute before heading to your car.
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