Over the years we have attended countless non-private VIP Tour Experiences at Universal Studios. We’ve booked even more of them for our clients! In doing so – we’ve learned exactly what kind of expectations you should have when booking this tour. Having the wrong expectations can drastically affect your final experience. So we’ve put together this article to help give some honest feedback on exactly who the non-private VIP tour experience is ideal for. If this is something you are considering, we strongly suggest you read through this blog before booking.
What Is It
If you aren’t familiar with what the VIP Tour Experience at Universal Studios is, here is a quick overview. This is a guided group tour through Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure, or both with a 2-park experience. You get to ride most of the rides and attractions with minimal or no wait, and along the way you get to see some behind the scenes things and learn some cool facts.
There are two main types of these tours.
- The first is a 1-park, 5 hour tour. This will get you priority access to at least 8 major rides and attractions.
- The second is the 2-park, 7 hour tour. This one gets you priority access to at least 10 major rides and attractions.
What You SHOULD Expect
First off – those pesky expectations. It’s very hard to set the correct expectations for this VIP tour experience without previously participating on a few yourself. This is mainly because the flow of the overall experience can differ heavily from one tour to another. This is due mostly to 2 things – which you have little to no control over.
- The rest of the group.
- The tour guide you get.
We will get into detail on each of these later on.
The key thing that will stay the same across almost all VIP tours is the ability to ride a minimum of 8-10 major rides with minimal wait times – and this should really be what your expectation should be focused on. That said, here is what else you get, officially, as part of your VIP tour experience booking:
- Priority front-of-the-line access to all rides and attractions including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®, TRANSFORMERS™: The Ride-3D and all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ attractions
- Exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences in the parks (subject to availability)
- Complimentary valet parking (one vehicle, based on availability, just show your confirmation email to the parking booth attendant when entering)
- Reserved seating at shows (excludes live performances during Mardi Gras and Mannheim Steamroller during the holidays)
- Complimentary continental breakfast and/or lunch
- Universal Express Unlimited ride access at participating rides and attractions throughout the rest of the day (during normal park operating hours)
- Exclusive VIP Experiences lanyard
- Universal CityWalk Party Pass™, valid only on date of VIP Experience (during normal CityWalk park operating hours)
1st Key Factor: The Rest Of The Group
One of the key things that seperates the VIP Tour Experience from a Private VIP Experience is the rest of the people joining you! Remember that this is a non-private, group tour. There will be 12-15 people, on average, in a group. To ensure the most positive outcome from the tour for everyone, Universal runs these tours under a majority rules system. So if you are prone to motion sickness from screen-based rides, and the majority of the group isn’t, you may find yourself being dragged onto rides that may not be your first choice. This is pretty easy to prepare for by just bringing some Dramamine or a Sea-Band.
2nd Key Factor: The Tour Guide
The second major factor is the tour guide. We’ve had amazing tours where the guide really went into extreme detail on the many different secrets and easter-eggs hidden across Universal Studios. We spent a large portion of our time exploring the depths of Diagon Alley & Hogsmeade. We learned a lot and saw plenty of things behind the scenes.
We’ve also had the opposite side of the spectrum, where we had guides who gave very minimal info about the park and the rides, and instead focused on getting us onto as many rides as possible. During these tours we’ve always surpassed the 10 promised rides.
Neither of the two types of tour styles are bad, but your opinion will vary depending on what you expected initially.
This is again why I make it a point to focus on the aspect of maximizing ride time, while minimizing wait time, as being the key factor to booking this tour. Could you end up with a tour guide that knows a lot of awesome facts and secrets about Universal Studios? Yes. Could you end up with a tour guide that primarily runs you through the attractions? Also yes. If you expect to go into this and focus on riding the promised number of rides – everything else you experience will simply be an added bonus!
When it comes to first timers, and people with limited park days, I HIGHLY recommend the non-private VIP tour experience. You really can knock out the majority of rides across both parks, within 1 day. Plus you walk away with an Express Pass to all the rides for the remaining hours of that day. Then, if you happen to have another day left over at Universal Studios you are free to spend it focusing on all the details around the parks!
The VIP Tour Experience is equally perfect for anyone who is doing several days at Disney World, and has just 1 or 2 days to explore Universal Studios.
However if you want a tour that focuses heavily on the history, the secrets, and the behind-the-scenes aspects of Universal Studios – you may leave this tour disappointed. For these types of experiences, we strongly suggest going for a Private VIP Tour Experience. Let your travel agent know exactly what kind of tour you would like, and we can work directly with Universal Studios to line your group up with the perfect tour guide!