Orlando is the theme park capital of the world. Seriously, if you love theme parks you need to visit. We are a theme park family and visit multiple times a year. Today I’m sharing details of the Universal parks and resorts to help you plan your Orlando vacation.
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The big theme parks in Orlando are Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Both offer amazing entertainment and are great choices for a family vacation.
I am often asked about visiting both parks or people are confused about what theme parks are where. Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are not related. This is important to know when planning an Orlando vacation.
They are close in proximity, about a 15-20 minute drive, but they are different. You can visit both parks during your Orlando visit but be sure to do your research so you understand what parks and resorts are at what theme park.
Today I am sharing an overview of the Universal parks and resorts, what to expect, where to stay, and what attractions are at the parks.
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Universal Park and Resorts Overview
There are 3 parks, 8 resorts, and 1 entertainment complex included at the Universal Orlando resorts. They offer a range of pricing for the resorts, and ticket options to fit your family and budget.
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida is the original Universal park. Here you will find attractions like Despicable Me, Transformers, E.T., Men In Black, The Fast and the Furious, Jimmy Fallon Race Through New York and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.
It also has Springfield U.S.A., home of The Simpsons and my favorite Taco Truck (BumbleBee Man’s Taco Truck). You can also visit Moe’s Tavern to indulge in a Duff Beer. My favorite ride at Universal Studios Florida has to be Escape from Gringotts. This is inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.
Diagon Alley is incredibly themed and if you are a Harry Potter fan it is a must. Honestly, I wasn’t even a big Harry Potter fan during our visit and I was blown away with the attention to details and the immersive feeling.
Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure is home to Seuss Landing, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, Marvel Super Hero Island, and Jurassic Park. There are more thrill rides at Islands of Adventure like the Hulk, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and King Kong.
There are also a few water rides like Jurassic Park, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Popeye + Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges. You will get soaked on these attractions. We usually wear a poncho when we ride. I purchase them at the dollar store before we leave home. Read about the best water rides at Universal Orlando!
Island’s of Adventure is getting a brand new addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Hogsmeade. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventures opens this June and it looks like it is going to be amazing. We can’t wait to visit this summer.
Update: We visited and love the new attraction!! Arrive early and head straight to the ride! There is also a virtual que for this. Guests can reserve their ride time by using the Universal app. This opens at 7:00am and goes fast. If you miss the chance to get in check back often for more times.
Universal Parks Tip: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has two locations. One at Universal Studios and one at Islands of Adventure. If you purchase a park-to-park ticket you can ride the Hogwarts Express(Train), that transports guests between parks. You must have a park-to-park ticket to ride this. If you choose to go with a 1 Park/1 Day pass you can still enjoy the Wizarding Worlds, but you will not have access to ride the Hogwarts express.
Volcano Bay is the latest addition to the Universal Orlando Resorts. It is a water park with advanced technology that allows riders to virtually wait in line. This means you can play at the wave pool or splash pad, and wait to be notified that it is time to ride a slide.
We spent a few hours exploring Volcano Bay in August. It is an incredible park! Read more about tips for your first visit to Volacano Bay.
Universal Orlando Resorts
There are currently 7 resorts at Universal Orlando with 1 more scheduled to open in 2020. The resorts allow guests special perks like early entry and on-site transportation as well as pricing that fits any budget.
Premier Hotels ($$$$)
- Loews Portofino Bay Resort
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Preferred Hotel ($$$)
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Prime Value Hotels ($$)
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
- Universal’s Aventura Resort
Value Hotels ($)
- Universal Endless Summer Resort- Surfside Inn and Suites
- Universal Endless Summer Resort- Dockside Inn and Suites
CityWalk Entertainment Complex
CityWalk is an shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at Universal Orlando. After a day at the parks or if you want a break for lunch, you can walk over to CityWalk to enjoy a great meal.
Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen is a favorite because of the chocolate bread and amazing milkshakes. We have played mini-golf at Hollywood Drive-In Golf and there are so many different restaurants to choose from.
Universal’s CityWalk gets extremely busy after parks close and it does cater to an older crowd as the night goes on. Keep this in mind when planning your visit.
Universal Tip: One of the great things about Universal is the parking garage/transportation drop-off leads you to all of the parks. You walk through CityWalk and take a left to Islands of Adventure or a right to Universal Studios. This makes park hopping easy!
Must Read: Top 10 Best Food at Universal Orlando Resort
Universal parks and resorts are a great place for your Orlando vacation. There are amazing attractions, entertainment, and resorts to make everyone in your family happy.