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Everything you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort
The home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Studios, it's more than likely that you're going to want to visit Universal Orlando Resort during your trip to Florida. You don't even need to be a fan of rides to have an incredible time here, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. With so much to do, planning ahead will help you get the most out of your visit. Our guide details everything you could ever want to know when it comes to all things Universal. Find out where to stay, how to book and what's inside each park below.
What parks are there?
You're going to be spoilt for choice at Universal - there's so much to see and do. The entire resort is split into four different parks - here's a quick rundown of what to expect in each.
- Universal Studios
Delve into the world of film and animation at Universal Studios. Kids can meet their favourite characters, thrill-seekers can jump on any of the amazing rides - from Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts to The Simpsons Ride - and everyone can sit down and enjoy one of the many shows Universal Studios is so renowned for. Learn all about how the weirdest creatures are created in the Horror Make-Up Show or watch a movie under the stars at the Cinematic Celebration - the fun goes on all night long!
- Universal's Islands of Adventure
Inside Universal's Islands of Adventure you'll find some of the resort’s most loved attractions, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Incredible Hulk Coaster and the Jurassic Park River Adventure. There are loads of shows to watch and other activities to do as well - don't forget to pay a visit to Olivander’s, where your wand is waiting!
- Universal's Volcano Bay
Cool off at Volcano Bay, Universal's water park! Get soaked on the Krakatau Aqua Coaster where up to four people share one canoe and hurtle down a sparkling waterfall, or take little ones to River Village - they'll love the Honu ika Moana ride and the calm Kopiko Wai Winding River.
- Universal CityWalk
Fancy something a bit different? Universal CityWalk is amazing for shopping, dining and catching some incredible entertainment any time of the day. Hard Rock Café Orlando and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co Restaurant & Market are both here, alongside Pat O'Brien's and Red Coconut Club - great if you want to experience the resort's nightlife!
Family travel blogger Karen Dawkins visited Universal Orlando with her family and loved the choice of places to visit that were suitable for the adults and children alike. She says:
Orlando is more than theme parks, though that’s usually our main reason to visit. We also enjoy shopping and adventure activities like zip lining there as well.
Universal Orlando is a great theme park for avid movie-goers who can become part of the action through the 4D experiences. By far, for our Harry Potter loving family, walking through the wall into Diagon Alley was simply astounding. We had heard it’s magical, but to experience it ourselves? It brought us to a halt as we tried to take in all the details.
Where to stay
With so much to see and do at Universal Orlando, you're definitely going to need more than one day to experience the magic. If you'd love to stay on-site, there are plenty of hotels to choose from - just make sure you book as far in advance as you possibly can. With so many visitors every single day, rooms can be in high demand!
There's something for everyone, and every budget, at Universal. Hotels are organised into four categories: Premier, Preferred, Prime Value and Value. Each offer a selection of park-related benefits, with the more premium hotels providing the best perks to guests.
- Universal's Endless Summer Resort
Opening in Summer 2019, the Endless Summer Resort is a fantastic choice for families on a budget. It's the cheapest on site, and you'll be able to choose between beach-themed rooms that sleep either four or six.
- Universal's Aventura Hotel
Located within walking distance of Universal's Volcano Bay, Universal's Aventura Hotel is a brilliant choice for couples or larger groups. Choose from the deluxe room that sleeps up to four or the kid's suite that sleeps five. There's a pool and splash zone, game room and fitness centre here too.
- Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort is in a similar price range to the Aventura Hotel. With a fun retro feel inspired by the beach resorts of the 1950s and 60s, a comfortable stay is guaranteed here. There are two pools and a lazy river as well, alongside a bowling alley, arcade and fitness centre.
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Escape to Loews Sapphire Falls Resort after a busy day exploring the parks. This beautiful hotel is a wonderful choice for couples, and every guest is sure to love relaxing in the grounds and listening to the cascading waterfalls. Caribbean-themed dining is available on site, should you get peckish!
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Find paradise and escape to the tropics at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Not only can you dine with the Despicable Me characters, experience Wantilan Lau first-hand and chill out poolside at the Bula Bar & Grill, you'll be able to watch a torch lighting ceremony on select evenings and kids can take part in loads of poolside activities too!
- Hard Rock Hotel
Live like a rock 'n' roll star at the Hard Rock Hotel in Universal Orlando. You'll be in the perfect place for the park's Velvet Sessions where famous names play every Thursday evening from January to October, and there's tonnes of memorabilia in true Hard Rock fashion to explore. The rooms are brilliant too, featuring sleek and stylish interiors.
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Romantic and reminiscent of the Italian seaside village Portofino, the premium Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is the place to stay if you're after a luxurious break at Universal. Choose from elegant rooms and suites, sunbathe around any of the three pools and don't forget to make the most of the incredible restaurants on site!
What time to go
With warm weather almost all year round, any time is a good time to visit Universal. However, you may find certain dates better than others - it all depends on what you're after.
If you're on a budget, visit when hotel prices are cheapest. January to mid-February and September to November tend to be the most affordable, as long as you avoid occasions like Labor Day, Halloween and other notable dates.
January to mid-February, and most days in September and week days in October, November and early December (with the exception on Fridays when themed events take place) are usually the quietest too, offering you the best chance of experiencing as much of each park as possible.
Finally, if you'd prefer to make the most out of your stay and catch a special event, don't miss New Year's Eve, Mardi Gras, the horror nights close to Halloween and the Christmas parades.
Booking in advance is always recommended for Universal Orlando Resort. You'll be guaranteed a better price, and you're more likely to find great deals through the website too. This rule applies to most theme parks in Florida - the most expensive option will always be to buy the ticket at the park on the day!
For up to date ticket prices and offers, make sure you check the official Universal Orlando Resort site. Prices are set to change year on year, but generally the more parks you choose to visit and the longer you stay, the more money you'll save.
Different tickets will enable you to access different parks. Tickets are available for 1 park, 2 parks or 3 parks, and you'll be able to choose how many days you'd like to visit for. Make a list of your must-see rides and activities to help you work out what to buy.
Express passes will help you skip the queues, and VIP tickets are also available if you'd love to experience backstage tours and other amazing perks. You'll need to buy extras like this separately. Call us to book attraction tickets or to find out more information on 0808 239 3976
Interested in heading to Walt Disney World too? Make sure you take a look at our in-depth guide to find out when to visit and when to stay!
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