When I had some free time in Florida, I really wanted to visit Universal Studios and explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Universal Studios Resort in Orlando is home to two major theme parks, an entertainment district, water park and world-class hotels. I was able to stay at a on-site hotel, in the heart of the excitement, and within walking distance to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk.
Here is my guide to visiting Universal Studios Resort in Orlando!
Where to Stay
If you’re traveling with kids or as a family, you will definitely want to stay on-site at the Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The resort puts a retro twist on the 50’s and 60’s with two huge pools, a lazy river, an on-site bowling alley, fitness center and lots of fun for all ages.
In addition, you get early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens and complimentary transportation to both theme parks!
If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, spend a weekend in style at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, a luxurious Italian-style hotel on resort grounds. Book views of the garden or the riviera bay, or splurge for special Club Level rooms with complimentary breakfast and admission to the fitness center.
The concierge will also throw in priority seating at select restaurants, unlimited skip-the-lines access to all rides and early park admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Luckily for you, hotels offer guests free water taxi or shuttle bus service to the parks.
Visiting Universal Studios Florida
It’s all about fun and thrill at one of the biggest movie-based theme park in the country. There are eight themes: Hollywood, Production Central, New York, San Francisco, World Expo, Springfield, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and- of course- Diagon Alley.
Enjoy an action-packed weekend alongside Optimus Prime in Transformers: The Ride, battle the evil Lord Farquaad with Shrek, and swing high on skyscrapers with Spiderman.
Learn all about movie-making in behind-the-scenes shows, and grab your souvenirs and snacks at themed shopping and dining. Don’t forget the heart-stopping rollercoaster Revenge of the Mummy!
Visiting Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Next on the list of theme parks are the Islands of Adventure, seven distinct themed areas that celebrate worlds of books, comics and myths. Here you’ll find Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, Marvel Super Hero Island, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
These rides, though more geared toward children than the Universal Studios park, are fun for all ages!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal’s fun-packed tribute to Harry Potter actually includes two awesomely-themed areas: Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Take a ride on the Hogwarts Express and explore Diagon Alley!
Wander through the streets of Hogsmeade and slurp down butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron. Delve into the inner sanctum on fun rides like Escape from Gringotts and the Forbidden Journey through Hogwarts Castle. Just make sure you line up early, waiting times at this popular park can be over 2 hours!
The CityWalk is where you’ll find all the dining, drinking and shopping venues at the resort, and find awesome souvenirs from the Universal Store.
Try spicy shrimp at the Bob Marley—A Tribute to Freedom Jamaican restaurant, and down fresh avocado and fish tacos at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
Don’t miss a Blue Man Group production at the Sharp Aquos Theater, or dance all night at the Red Coconut Club!
Wet ’n Wild Orlando
Wet ’n Wild is Orlando Studio’s water park, that packs a wallop of eighteen slides and attractions. There are four areas to choose from, depending on your preference: Super Thrills, Kid’s Thrills, Group Thrills and other attractions.
With everything from drag races, body coasters, plunges, free falls, to toboggan rides, waterfalls, and lazy rivers- there’s something for all ages!
When to Go
The parks at Universal Studios like to dress up for the holidays, whether rain or shine! Come over in the winter for Macy’s Holiday Parade and Grinchmas, or during Mardi Gras when the streets are bursting with live concerts, parades and cuisine straight from New Orleans.