Universal Orlando™: Inside guide


By Eloise Barker

Photography by Universal Orlando Resort™

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June 2018

Three theme parks are better than one: that’s a universal truth. Help yourself to a blockbuster-sized portion of fun at Universal Orlando Resort™. You’ll love the fantastic on-site hotels and huge helpings of dining and entertainment. Our inside guide tells you everything you need to know about making the most of your next holiday.

What's new

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts™ Castle

All new for 2018, you can watch a dazzling nighttime show in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Hogsmeade™ in Universal's Islands of Adventure. Whether you're in Ravenclaw™, Hufflepuff™...or you're not quite sure, you'll find every Hogwarts™ house celebrated with the help of powerful projections on Hogwarts™ castle. The show is repeated regularly on selected nights. Those in the know watch it from the TriWizard Stage to get the best views.

Watch a dazzling nighttime show in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Hogsmeade™ in Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Voodoo Doughnut at Universal CityWalkTM

The lowdown: Voodoo Doughnut breaks all the rules. Portland’s crazy yeast-based business has finally come to Universal, bringing with it fifty different ‘sinfully delicious’ flavours, from the cereal-studded to the risqué. Craving bacon? It’s the star attraction on the Bacon Maple Bar. Vegan? No problem. Doughnut miss this addition to Universal CityWalk.

  • The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts™ Castle

    A spellbinding end

    This six-minute show combines dazzling lights and music, and takes place multiple times per night during the summer months.

  • Voodoo Doughnut at Universal CityWalk™

    Made with voodoo magic

    The Voodoo Doll is filled with raspberry jam and topped with a dark chocolate frosting and pretzel stake.

  • Fast & Furious - Supercharged™

    No ordinary queue

    When you’re in the queue for the Fast & Furious – Supercharged™ ride, tap into the 'Supercharged Network' for extra trivia and interactivity. You’ll find it on the Official Universal Orlando Resort App.

Fast & Furious - Supercharged™ - New ride now open

The lowdown: Join Dom, Hobbs and Letty at Fast & Furious - Supercharged™, an action-packed, high-octane new ride inspired by the blockbuster films. A Virtual Line™ holds your place in queue whilst you enjoy the rest of the park, but you'll want to save time to check out the supercars on display inside.

Three amazing parks. Three top tips.

Universal Studios Florida™

Best for: Your favourite films made into blockbuster attractions, including: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Diagon Alley™ and blockbuster rides with TRANSFORMERS and the Minions.

The lowdown: At the studios, some of the best attractions are old favourites and nostalgic classics. Speaking of old – dare to disturb an ancient curse on Revenge of the Mummy and you’ll be at the mercy of a rollercoaster in the pitch dark.

Know this… On select nights, stay out for Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration™. This family show on the waterfront features leaping fountains, lights and swelling soundtracks. See your favourite film scenes brought to life on screens made by fans of water.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure™

Best for: The Incredible Hulk Coaster® that’ll turn you green and Jurassic Park™ raptors who look alarmingly happy to see you.

The lowdown: Island-hop between Marvel-lous super heroes, dinosaurs and a giant ape called Kong. That’s King Kong to you. For the fourth year in a row, Universal's Islands of Adventure has been voted as the TripAdvisor® Travelers' Choice #1 Amusement Park In The World.

Know this… On a hot day, triple up on the water rides. Head to the back of the park for the Jurassic Park River Adventure™, then jump on Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls® and Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges®. Done all three? You’ve gotta be soaking.

Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water theme park

Best for: Staying cool and seeking thrills. Try the Ko’okiri Body Plunge™ – a 125 foot drop through the middle of the park’s ginormous, vertiginous volcano.

The lowdown: Universal’s Volcano Bay is a surprisingly innovative ‘water theme park’, which uses the latest tech so you can queue virtually. That means you can be on the beach, slurping a rainbow soft-serve ice cream whilst you wait. There are a whopping 19 attractions – that's a lot for a water park, so you can easily spend a full day here. There are two ‘lazy’ rivers – one is calm, but one rushes you around like a rinse cycle.

Know this… You’ll be given a waterproof wearable – called a TapuTapu™ – which holds your place in the queue for your next ride.

  • Universal Studios Florida

    Queues you want to stand in

    Who said queues had to be mundane? The waiting area at Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™ has a deliciously sweet banana aroma.

    Book your tickets
  • Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park

    For the brave hearted

    Brave the Ohno Slide and you’ll have something to brag about: this speedy ride spits you out six feet above the pool: you’ll spend your last few moments in freefall.

    Book your tickets
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

    Get up close and personal

    Pose with a raptor for the ultimate photo, Blue the raptor found fame in the Jurassic World films, but now she likes taking selfies with park guests.

    Book your tickets

What's the best ticket?

The lowdown: To visit the parks, you’ll need a Universal Orlando Explorer Ticket. There are two types: The Universal Orlando 2 Park Explorer Ticket¹ includes 14 days unlimited access to Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure.The Universal Orlando 3 Park Explorer Ticket² includes 14 days unlimited access to Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay. You can purchase the 3 Park Explorer Ticket for the price of the 2 Park Explorer Ticket for admission before December 31, 2019.

Know this...

Stay at any of Universal Orlando's on-site hotels and enjoy extra benefits with your Universal Orlando Explorer Ticket, giving you Early Park Admission† to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal's Volcano Bay one hour before the parks open.

Don't miss

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™

The lowdown: Universal Orlando is the only place in the world where you can experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at two parks connected by the wonderful Hogwarts™ Express⁴. Diagon Alley™ is at Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade™ is at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Faithfully detailed, right down to the last shrunken head in Knockturn Alley, the world boasts magic, excitement, and astonishing rides. In 2019, look out for a new coaster in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Hogsmeade™.

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™

    Beat the crowds

    Make the most of Early Park Admission† if you’re staying at any of Universal Orlando's hotels. Head to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ first to enjoy the lands at their quietest. (Valid theme park admission required).

    Book your tickets

Where to stay?

Value: Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites

Stay for: Laid-back, fuss-free accommodation, with lots of room for the family. This brand new resort has a surfer theme to match its waterfront location – which includes a surfboard-shaped pool.

Book a stay at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites

Budget: Universal's Aventura Hotel

Stay for: With tablets in every room, this modern hotel uses technology to make things easy – and fun, too. There’s a VR games room and an underwater sound system in the pool. After a long day out at the parks, crack open a beer at the rooftop bar or toast yourself up some s’mores in the fire pits.

Book a stay at Universal's Aventura Hotel

Budget: Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Stay for: If you can pull yourself away from your inflatable ring (purchased at the hotel) on the lazy river, you’ll find a charismatically retro hotel with two pools and in-room pizza delivery. Plus, you can comfortably sleep a family of six in one of the family suites.Upgrade to a Volcano Side room for impressive water park views.

Book a stay at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Luxury: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando

Stay for: The biggest pool of any Universal Orlando hotel. You might be tempted to centre your holiday around the rum bar, but kids will centre theirs around the water slide.

Book a stay at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando

Know this:

Stay at any of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels and enjoy special access to the theme parks with your Universal Orlando Explorer ticket, giving you Early Park Admission3 to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay one hour before the park opens.

  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel.

    Did you know?...

    At the new Aventura Hotel you can take stunning 360 degree views of the resort from the Bar 17 Bistro on the 17th floor: Insta-worthy indeed.€723 pp

    Book a stay
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

    Did you know?...

    Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort has its own dedicated walking path directly into Universal's Volcano Bay, which is next door.€723 pp

    Book a stay
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

    Did you know?...

    At Loews Sapphire Falls Resort you should head to Strong Water Tavern. It offers over 75 different varieties of rum – plus excellent tapas-style plates and sunset views from the terrace.

Luxury: Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

Stay for: This palmy green paradise is straight out of the South Pacific, but you can eat Pan Asian cuisine at the Islands Dining Room. Get your loud shirt out and your aloha on at the special weekly Wantilan Luau night (fees apply).

Book a stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

Luxury: Hard Rock Hotel® at Universal Orlando

Stay for: Live music from the Velvet Session concerts⁵, an unbeatable pool scene, and music memorabilia – look out for gowns worn by Gaga and Rihanna. Don’t miss the food: this luxury hotel knows how to load up a burger.

Book a stay at Hard Rock Hotel® at Universal Orlando

Luxury: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando

Stay for: Italian indulgence that doesn’t stop at a crispy pizza (though that’s delicious, too). There's an atmospheric piazza, elegant interiors, and three pools. For the best lounging around, head to the Villa Pool.

Book a stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando

Know this:

Stay at either Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel®or Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and enjoy FREE⁴ Universal Express Unlimited™ ride access. This means you can skip the regular queues in Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure – less waiting, and more time by the hotel pool.

  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort

    Feel like a VIP

    Rent a pool-side cabana for extra privacy and individual attention.

  • Hard Rock Hotel®

    Rock out...

    To the underwater sounds in the huge pool at Hard Rock Hotel®

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

    Sunset and songs

    Weather permitting, every evening around sunset opera singers perform from one of the balconies overlooking the harbour.

Discover more at Universal CityWalk™

The lowdown: What happens when you leave the parks? It’s time for the strange delights of Universal CityWalk: where you find restaurants, bars, clubs and mini golf all in one crazy place, just across the lagoon from the theme parks. Bet you never thought you’d find somewhere mad enough to combine Burgers and Sushi- well, The Cowfish® Sushi Burger Bar does. Like your guacamole served with a touch more lime? They mash it in front of your eyes at Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food™. Does your shower lack backing singers? Live out your karaoke dream at CityWalk's Rising Star™ or watch the incredible Blue Man Group.

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