• Universal Studios Early Admission & Rope Drop Guide

Universal Studios Early Admission & Rope Drop Guide

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Feb 29, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

Universal Studios Early Admission & Rope Drop Guide

Hello and welcome to our special guide, where you will be waking up early to explore everything that Universal Studios has to offer! Yep, get ready to wake up to join Gru, the Minions, E.T. and all the students from Hogwarts.

You should know by now that, if you are staying in a Universal Resort Hotel, you can enter Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure one hour before anyone else on select days. Unlike Disney World, Universal has a strict schedule which tells you which parks will be open for Early Park Admission during the month, and which attractions will be available to you. That might be disappointing to some but, hey, at least you get a one hour head start instead of Disney World’s thirty minutes during Early Entry.

It may come as a surprise to some guests that Islands of Adventure features way more Early Park Admission days than Universal Studios. This actually makes a lot of sense, since the most recent (and best) rides are located in Islands, like Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

Universal Studios doesn’t feature a lot of thrilling rides that are available before the park officially opens. Most of the time, you will find Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem welcoming you for your early adventures. Still, this is a good chance to get to the Diagon Alley early, take some pictures and enjoy a fun roller coaster next to Harry Potter and his friends.

Universal Studios Harry Potter 4.webp

What is Early Park Admission & Rope Drop

Early Park Admission & Rope Drop are actually two different terms.

Early Park Admission is a perk given to guests that stay in a Universal Resort Hotel or one of their partners. It lets you enter Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios one hour before anyone else. Only selected rides will be available to the public during this special time.

Rope Drop at Universal Orlando means that you are ready to enter the Park as soon as the gates open. So, you can Rope Drop during Early Park Admission, but you can also Rope Drop during normal operating hours. During this time, every attraction will be available to the public.

In short, every guest has access to what we call a Rope Drop, but only Universal Hotel guests can enjoy Early Park Admission.

Keep in mind that, almost always, the theme park that has Early Admission will open to all guests one hour before official operating times. There will be, however, checkpoints which will only allow Early Admission guests to move forward. In Islands of Adventure, for example, this checkpoint is usually located near Seuss Landing, which leads guests to both the VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s.

This is a list of the majority of Hotels that will give you the Early Park Admission perk: Aventura, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls, Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel, Endless Summer: Surfside Inn and Endless Summer: Dockside Inn.

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It’s important to know that you need to have everything ready for your Early Park Admission/Rope Drop strategy and not leave important details for the last minute.

  • Check park opening times through the official Universal Studios website or the Universal Orlando Resort app the night before your visit.
  • Get your backpack ready with everything you need already inside: snacks, a pair of slippers if you plan to go on a water ride and everything else you might need. Again, do this the night before your visit.
  • Get that alarm clock ready and wake up early! If a park opens at 9am and you don’t have Early Park Admission, get there at 8am. If you do have Early Park Admission, this means that the park will officially open at 8:00am, and you need to be there around 7:30am if you want to be one of the first ones in line for the most popular rides. Yes, this means you will need to wake up pretty early. Take into consideration the time to take a shower, eat something and wake up your kids (yeah, this might be tough, but you can do it!).

Remember that Early Park Admission and Rope Drop are just a small part of your park strategy for that day. You will save a lot of time in one popular attraction, maybe save precious minutes on a second ride, and that’s about it. After that, it’s time to follow a traditional ride strategy.

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Early Park Admission at Universal Studios

This is a list of rides which are usually available for Early Admission guests at Universal Orlando:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Additionally, keep an eye out for special occasions when Ollivander’s wand experience and Revenge of the Mummy are also available. These opportunities often coincide with peak seasons such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Also remember one important detail: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem has a ride height requirement of 40” (102 cm). If your children aren’t tall enough to ride Minion Mayhem, it’s probably not worth it to arrive super early in Universal Studios and make use of Early Park Admission. Get some sleep, recharge your batteries and come here during normal park operating hours!

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You know what? The Early Park Admission strategy is pretty simple. Almost always, you will want to visit Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, maybe ride it even twice, take pictures at the Diagon Alley and visit some stores to get a nice souvenir from Hogwarts. If you are in a party with kids and they can’t go to Gringotts, then head over to Minion Mayhem and have fun. See? Simple and easy.

If you have access to Early Park Admission, this could be your strategy:

  1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  2. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts/Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  3. Rip Ride Rockit (as soon as the park officially opens)
  4. Revenge of the Mummy (shortly after the park officially opens)

This strategy allows you to ride Gringotts twice if you so desire, or provides ample time to relax in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, allowing you to take pictures and enjoy as much butterbeer as you'd like.Furthermore, it grants you the opportunity to experience Rip Ride Rockit and Revenge of the Mummy as soon as the park opens, while most guests head to Diagon Alley. This ensures shorter wait times for these awesome roller coasters.

Now, if you have small children in your party, your Early Park Admission strategy will change. You should probably follow this.

  1. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  2. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (re-ride)
  3. TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D (as soon as the park officially opens)
  4. The Simpsons Ride (shortly after the park officially opens)

Both TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D and The Simpsons Ride have the same ride height requirement as Minion Mayhem, so your family should have zero problems enjoying them.

Rope Drop without Early Park Admission

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Did you arrive early in Universal Studios, but you are not staying in a Universal Hotel? The first thing you need to know is if Universal Studios actually offers Early Park Admission during the day of your visit. If that’s the case, you probably want to stay away from the Diagon Alley until 2pm or so. This area will be packed with Early Entry guests and you will spend a lot of time in the queue just to ride Gringotts.

So, here is a good strategy to start your day with the right foot if you don’t have Early Park Admission.

  1. Revenge of the Mummy
  2. Rip Ride Rockit
  3. TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D

This strategy allows you to enjoy one of the best rides in all Universal Orlando early on, which is Revenge of the Mummy, then head over to Rip Ride Rockit and Transformers. These three attractions are located next to each other, so you won’t be moving around too much. Just remember to store all your valuables at the locker next to Revenge of the Mummy, since Rip Ride Rockit doesn’t allow you to enter it with anything in your pockets.

If you're visiting with young children and aiming to ensure they have a delightful time, consider using this strategy instead:

  1. TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D
  2. The Simpsons Ride
  3. Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  4. E.T. Adventure

Remember that your kids need to be at least 40” (102 cm) to ride Transformers and The Simpsons. This strategy gives you time to explore Springfield and take a lot of pictures there before heading to E.T. Adventure, which is a classic ride. You should probably save the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for later, since it gets really packed in the morning. 

Universal Studios Streets.webp

That’s it!

We hope you had fun learning a bit more about Rope Drop and Early Park Admission at Universal. Remember, these strategies will save you some time but, after riding two or three rides, it’s back to a traditional guide to optimize your time.

One important thing to point out is that you don’t need to get too attached to an itinerary that you must follow all the time. Visit the rides you want to visit and have fun. Try to not stress out if a ride has queue times bigger than usual and enjoy the moment. If you got to Universal Studios early, there is a very, very good chance that you will go to the best rides (even more than once) even if you don’t min-max your strategy.

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