Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida is one of those places that you have to put on your bucket list. If you have an ostomy and/or IBD there may be a few things you should know ahead of time.
In this article, I’ll be going over some of the tips that helped make my visit something I’ll remember forever.
If you want a quick rundown of my experience, check out this video that I recorded in collaboration with The Front Butt YouTuber!
Before Your Visit
Get the App
The app allows you to do everything from buy tickets, see current wait times for rides, locate bathrooms, and find restaurants.
As a new visitor to Universal Orlando, I was able to easily navigate the park without any trouble because of this app.
Things to Bring
Something I love about Universal Orlando is that their food and beverage policies are very loose.
I was able to bring my own snacks (Clif bars) and water without trouble, which is something I really appreciate. Definitely bring something to snack on or drink as you’ll be doing a lot of walking and Florida tends to be hot!
Bring your emergency supplies with you if you’ve got an ostomy, especially if you plan to go on the rides (which is why you’re going, right?!).
I kept my supplies in a Ziploc bag and kept that in my backpack so that they were always with me as I walked around. Using a travel kit like THIS one can also come in handy.
If you are going with a backpack it wouldn’t hurt to bring an extra change of clothes just in case.
You may or may not decide to bring along a stoma guard – I didn’t need one, but some ostomates may feel more comfortable keeping one handy or wearing it for their entire visit.
In addition, make sure to bring sunscreen as the Florida sun can be scorching!
Attraction Assistance Pass
By far one of the most important things to do is to visit guest services and ask for an Attraction Assistance Pass.
This pass allows people with disabilities to enter the express line which greatly reduces wait times.
As I’ve discussed in a previous article, nearly all theme parks offer ride accessibility passes and nearly all of them allow people with IBD and/or an ostomy to qualify for the pass.
At Universal Orlando, you’ll get a physical card that’s scanned when you are at the entrance of the ride.
In most cases, you’ll be allowed to enter the express line right away, but if a ride has a wait time longer than 30 minutes you’ll be given a time to return back. Using the app mentioned above will help you see which rides have long wait times and which can be entered right away.
If you are traveling in a group, you will be allowed to use the pass to get friends/family on, but the number of extra guests may vary (usually is a maximum of three other people). If more than one person has a disability, I would suggest they also get a pass.
The beauty of using a pass like this is that you can use the bathroom and head straight to the ride without very little delays. This comes in handy if you have to frequently empty your ostomy bag throughout the day (like I do!).
Lockers, Emergency Supplies, Bathrooms
Something that you might not expect when visiting Universal Orlando is the number of metal detectors throughout the park. Several attractions require you to walk through a metal detector before entering the ride, and nearly all of them require you to leave any loose items in a locker (including phones, bags, your supplies, etc).
The good news is that the lockers at each ride are free to use for a set amount of time (which varies from ride to ride). The bad news is that you’ll be separated from your emergency supplies for a short while.
Don’t worry too much about being separated from your supplies – this is only while you’re on the ride.
But if you’re like me, you’ll probably walk around a bit before returning to the locker to get your stuff. If this happens, be mindful not to walk too far away from your supplies, just in case you need them.
Also keep in mind that in addition to being separated from your supplies, you’ll also be separated from your phone, snacks, and other items you brought along.
If you do need to use a bathroom, there are plenty around the park. I used the Universal Studios App to help locate bathrooms on several occasions since the signs aren’t too obvious (especially in the Harry Potter section of the park).
Food and Drink
As I mentioned earlier, Universal Orlando has an excellent policy regarding outside food and drink.
From their website:
- Bottled water
- Small snacks that do not require heating
- Any food required for medical purposes and medically–indicated nutritional supplements
- Any food required for special dietary needs
- Baby food/baby formula
- Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep
- Picnic lunches
- Food that requires heating or refrigeration
- Alcohol and glass containers
- Hard-sided coolers
- Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep
- Coolers, suitcases, and bags with wheels
Kudos to Universal Studio because not all parks allow you to bring in outside food. Being someone who lives with medical challenges, this policy is not only appreciated but it also makes my visit more enjoyable.
If you don’t want to bring your own food you won’t have to go far before you find a wide variety of restaurants strewn everywhere in the park.
Tip for vegans: Not all restaurants will offer vegan options, so if possible check ahead if you plan to eat at the park. The Universal Orlando App will allow you to filter restaurants that offer vegetarian options, but not all menus can be “veganized”.
I’ve personally been to the Mexican Restaurant, Antojitos and Bob Marley’s restaurant (both in the CityWalk area) and they have vegan options.
Check out these other awesome resources to help you find vegan options:
- How To: Vegan at Universal Studios, Orlando (Happiest When Exploring)
- Eat Vegan at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (PETA2)
- Vegetarian Eats Everyone Will Love at Universal Orlando Resort (Official Universal Orlando Resort Blog)
Enjoying the Rides
Many of the rides here are in 4D, which means you are in a physically moving ride that’s enhanced with 3D effects with even stuff like real water and fire! If you’ve never been on a 4D ride then get ready to have your mind blown!
Other rides include traditional roller coasters, and family-friendly rides, too.
The harnesses on each ride differ slightly, and there were very few times where I felt that my stoma would be impacted by them.
That said, this depends greatly on the placement of your stoma, how far your appliance sticks out, your weight, etc.
One of my friends, Megan The Front Butt YouTuber (the gal in the video above) said that one ride was a bit tighter than she felt comfortable with. She also said that she usually brings a stoma guard when she visits these parks.
Rule #1 for ostomates should be: Empty your bag before riding. This is so important not only to help prevent blowouts but also because it’ll put your mind at ease. That Attraction Assistance Pass makes this convenient to do, even after every ride if you must!
Rule #1 for someone with IBD should be: Use the bathroom when you can and know your limits when it comes to eating or walking long distances.
In between rides I tend to either snack or sip on my drink. While this may cause my stoma to be more active throughout the day, it also helps to keep my energy up and keeps me hydrated.
Universal Orlando is an excellent park to visit not only because the rides are out of this world, but because it’s one of the most ostomy and IBD-friendly parks around.