Universal Orlando is truly an international destination. At any given time, thousands of visitors from across the world can be found at the two gated theme parks or sipping drinks at CityWalk. Nevertheless, as an English-speaking resort destination in the United States, Universal can feel overwhelming for those coming from other countries. Our Universal Orlando for Foreign Tourists guide can help make your trip to Florida smooth.

It is important for foreign visitors to remember that American customs are sometimes different than those in your home country. For example, many European nations do not participate in the custom of tipping. In the United States, tipping is not only expected, but actually comprises a large portion of the income of those in tipped positions. Tip 10% to 20% of the total bill, depending on the quality of your service. Tipping is not expected at counter service restaurants or carts.

Another custom that may be different in the United States has to do with body language. Team members go through extensive training to learn the body language customs of many countries and strive to adopt neutral and inoffensive gestures and body positioning. Nonetheless, you may occasionally see a Team member do something that strikes you as offensive. If the person’s tone of voice and demeanor are friendly, it is highly unlikely that he or she means to offend.

Fortunately, Universal Orlando is quite experienced in catering to international visitors. During the planning phase of your vacation, visit Universal Orlando’s international site at http://www.universalorlando.com/international.html. From this site, you can review park information in your choice of languages: UK English, Mexican Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, Portuguese, or German. Each site provides basically the same information as the main universalorlando.com site. Once you arrive at Universal Orlando, your first stop in either park should be Guest Services.

At Guest Services, you will be able to obtain a guide map and show schedule in any of several languages. Guest Services also employs Team Members who speak a wide variety of languages, enabling you to talk in person with someone who speaks your language.

Whatever you need during the day, do not hesitate to ask any employee. Team members (employees) throughout the park are quite skilled at communicating with guests from around the world, whether or not they speak your language. A combination of sign language and map pointing may be used, but Team members have a sense of humor and will find a way to communicate. For specific needs, the Team member may be able to summon someone who speaks your language.

Nevertheless, at least a basic grasp of English is highly recommended for anyone who plans to visit Universal Orlando. All shows and attractions are performed in English, and the dialogue is an integral and important part of telling each story. Additionally, some shows are based on American popular culture and standards of humor, and may be confusing to those who are not familiar with this culture.

International visitors whose command of English is not perfect will find a wide variety of attractions which you can enjoy without worrying about language barriers. Roller coasters and thrill rides cross language barriers nicely. Even an attraction like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which has a large English dialogue component, will be just as thrilling if you do not follow the dialogue. The special effects, ride movement, and 3D film are stunning.

While your list of must-see attractions will vary according to your personal interests, it may be difficult to choose based on short attraction descriptions. Provided here, then, is a reference guide to the top five attractions which, in this author’s opinion only, will best transcend difficulties in language barriers or cultural confusion. If you are conversant in English and familiar with American culture, then this list will not apply to you.

  • Dueling Dragons -- Located in Islands of Adventure’s Lost Continent area, these twin inverted roller coasters race through a course that is filled with near misses. The story is presented throughout the queue, and the coasters themselves, of course, need no narration. Ride the back of Fire and front of Ice for maximum thrills.
  • Revenge of the Mummy -- This high speed roller coaster that takes you deep into the hit film is located in the New York section of Universal Studios Florida. If you have seen the movie, you will understand the storyline from the visuals. If not, simply hang on and enjoy the ride.
  • Incredible Hulk Coaster -- A high speed launch coaster located on Marvel Superhero Island in Islands of Adventure. Based on the story of the Incredible Hulk, this is actually a fairly normal roller coaster that is high on thrills. This ride has been repeatedly listed as one of the top 20 roller coasters in the world by a variety of coaster enthusiast sites.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man -- See above for description and details.
  • Jaws -- Although the dialogue is a big part of the attraction, your physical presence in a boat in the water with the menacing shark guarantees that you will experience the thrills even if you do not fully follow the storyline. Ride at night for maximum excitement. This ride is located in San Francisco/Amity at Universal Studios Florida.

Presented above are just a few of the exciting attractions that Universal Orlando has to offer that transcend barriers of language and culture. Be sure to visit Universal’s international website at http://www.universalorlando.com/international.html prior to your visit and stop by Guest Services on your way into either park. Regardless of any language or cultural barriers, the excitement of Universal Orlando is truly transcendent.