THE UNIVERSAL DESTINATION
In the beginning, Universal Orlando theme parks were an experience that you added to a larger holiday. Perhaps you were doing all the attractions in Florida, or maybe you just wanted to mix up a Walt Disney World trip, but that’s not really the case anymore.
With the continuing expansion of Universal Orlando Resort, it’s now a holiday destination in its own right! With two theme parks, a water park, a shopping, dining, and entertainment destination and eight resort hotels, you can spend a week or two purely enjoying what
Universal Orlando has to offer. Especially if you visit during Halloween and they have their hard ticketed event, Halloween Horror Nights.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, this is a must with their multi-park experience, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a truly immersive experience, pulling you straight into the world the moment you set foot in Hogsmede and Diagon Alley. With multiple attractions, stores,
shows and entertainment, you’ll feel like you’re part of the story!
With it being steps away from the famed International Drive which can add even more to your Universal Orlando holiday!
Universal Studios opened on June 7 1990 and it features numerous rides, attractions, and live shows that are mainly themed to movies, television, and other aspects of the entertainment industry. If you’re a fan of the movies, this is the place for you!
There are nine themed areas all situated around a large lagoon. Clockwise from the entrance, are Minion Land on Illumination Ave, Production Central, New York, San Francisco, London/Diagon Alley, World Expo, Springfield USA, soon to be completed DreamWorks Land and Hollywood. Where once upon a time the Universal parks were considered to be more “adult” with each new opening it becomes more inclusive of kids. Minion Land and the recently announced DreamWorks Lands are kid paradise!
During Halloween season, Universal Studios plays host of their Halloween Horror Nights experience. This is an extra ticket event here the park turns into a haunted playground, including scare zones, numerous haunted houses, and special themed shows! It’s incredibly popular.
Islands of Adventure
Universal’s Islands of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999, along with CityWalk, as part of an expansion that converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort.
Some of the most breathtaking attractions are at home here, from The Incredible Hulk Coaster, to the VelociCoaster, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure!
Islands of Adventure is modelled after a journey of exploration, where guests embark on an adventure to visit a variety of themed islands.
They are, in clockwise order from entry: Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.
If you have a two park ticket, you can take the Hogwarts Express between the two parks. It’s worth trying it in both directions as the scenes on the train are completely different!
Volcano Bay, is a tropical-themed waterpark at Universal Orlando Resort. The park, built around a 200-foot-tall artificial volcano named 'Krakatau' opened on May 25th 2017. The volcano houses three drop-capsule slides, Ko'okiri Body Plunge, the tallest body slide in America ranging at 125 feet tall, and also the first to travel through a pool full of guests.
Krakatau also holds the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides which travel throughout the midst of the volcano, winding around the Krakatau Aqua Coaster.
The park uses a wrist bands called TapuTapu for payments and queues. The wearable, which can be used to hold one’s place in line, is distributed at the entrance. TapuTapu allows payment by linking a credit card through the Universal Orlando app, so you can pay for merchandise, food, and drinks.
Volcano Bay is one of the best waterparks Orlando has to offer, and it’s the newest. It’s a great way to cool off between theme park days at Universal Orlando Resort.
The Universal CityWalk in Orlando opened in February 1999 as part of the expansion to transform Universal Studios into Universal Orlando Resort. CityWalk is to Universal what Disney Springs is to Walt Disney World – a dining, shopping and entertainment experience to enhance your stay at the resort.
Guests arriving at the resort park in one of two-story parking lots then travel via covered moving walkways over Universal Boulevard into CityWalk. From there, guests can proceed into either two of the theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
Guests staying at some of the Orlando Resort hotels can also arrive via boat into CityWalk. There are so many famous name restaurants to enjoy here, Hard Rock Café, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Cowfish Sushi and Burgers, Margaritaville, Moe’s South West Grill, Panda Express..just to name a few. There is also Voodoo Donuts and The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen.
For entertainment there is a mini golf, Universal themed escape rooms, CityWalk's Rising Star a fantastic karaoke bar and a cinema.
Universal Resort Hotels
Universal Orlando Resort boasts eight fantastic resorts split across four categories. Each resort comes with it’s own theming and some truly fantastic perks.
Not all perks are available at each resort, such as Express Pass, which you only receive by staying at one of the three Premier resorts, so when booking this is something you have to keep in mind.
The three most lavish on-site hotels and the ones that come with the most perks are Portofino Bay Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Royal Pacific Resort.
All three resorts have standard and suite-size rooms. The standard-size rooms are some of the biggest on property!
The theming of these resorts is fantastic, and you will feel like you’re in another country!
And by staying at one you are privy to some amazing perks, such as Universal’s line skip, early park entry, 24 hour room service and transportation to the parks.
You can also pool hop to any of the other resorts!
Sapphire Falls Resort is the only hotel within the Preferred category - and this hotel offers a mixture of perks and amenities from the lower categories of Prime Value and Value as well as some that are available at the Premier level, giving you the best of both worlds.
This hotel is close to both Volcano Bay and the Universal Parks and you can travel to both using the boat service or shuttle bus.
Sapphire Falls Resort is designed to appeal to both families and tourists with its Caribbean feel, as well as the business and conference sector due to its extensive meeting space.
In the Prime Value category we have Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Aventura Hotel.
These are fantastic family resorts, in particular Cabana Bay Beach Resort which has an onsite bowling alley,
milkshake shop and a lazy river down at the pool.
Both hotels are close to Volcano Bay and offer a good range of perks such as the pool hopping (although this excludes Endless Summer) and the complimentary transport to the parks.
Like with all the other Universal Orlando Resort Hotels, you also get early park entry as a perk.
Here we have the two newest hotels at Universal Orlando Resort, Endless Summer Dockside Inns and Suites and Endless Summer Surfside Inns and
Suites. Sister hotels both offering almost identical experiences.
They are located a brief bus ride across I-4 from Universal proper. Although these are Value resorts, due to the fact they only recently opened, they’re very new and very modern.
You can use the facilities at both hotels, and there is complimentary bus transfers to the Universal parks. They are perfect if you want to stay onsite but simply need a bed to sleep in.
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