We recently took an eight-day trip to Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, Florida. We took our two kids, ages two and nine. This Trip was amazing and I feel it will be hard to top it on our next adventure. I fell in love with the idea of blogging when we came back from this trip. I loved this trip so much that it was all I thought about for weeks to come after. I contemplated moving to Florida because we loved it so much!
First off, there are plenty of on-site hotels with different styles and price ranges to choose from.
- Universal Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel– 4 Star, Starting at $256, Italy themed
- Universals Hard Rock Hotel-4 Star, Starting at $244, Rock-Star themed
- Universal Lowes Royal Pacific Resort-4 star, Starting $208/night, Tropical-Hawaii themed
- Universal Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort-4 star, Starting at $152/night, Island themed
- Universals Aventura Hotel-newest Hotel, Starting at $116 Modern style
- Universal Cabana Bay Resort– 3 star, Starting at $112/night, Retro style
We stayed at Sapphire Falls and loved it!
However, all of these hotels are beautiful and offer different activities to participate in. Also, if one stays on-site, one may visit any of the other on-site hotels, swim in their pools, tour their spacious grounds or eat at their many restaurants. We went to a luau at Royal Pacifica. The luau made me feel like I was in Hawaii again.
The park has a few different ways to travel within Universal Studios. I think boats are the fastest because they glide to two of the theme parks and it runs until 2 am. Themed buses travel between any of the hotels and all three of the theme parks. There is also a walk way along the boat channel if walking is preferred, but we did so much walking all trip we choose not to take this way. I really thought the boats were helpful because the wait isn’t too long even though the lines are, and there are no stops along the way. It is relaxing to ride the boat after a long day of walking around in the hot sun.
Side note: I like to talk to the captain of the boats and find out all their different history’s and why they are doing what they do now. Many of them absolutely love what they do. In fact, Orlando has that feel for me. How could it not, it is beautiful in florida.
The second best thing about staying at these hotels is that we are allowed access into the parks an hour earlier with regular admission park passes. This was nice to use for the busiest attractions.
Now lets talk a little about the parks shall we?
There are three Universal Studio Parks:
- Volcano Bay – The Newest water park
- Island of Adventure– Jurassic Park, The Incredible Hulk, Harry potter, and much more..
- Universal Studios– Main Theme Park, Transformers, Shrek, and The Simpsons to name a few. There is a small parade at 7 p.m.
- Bonus: City walk– Free to the public
You can find prices for the tickets here.
For a few dollars extra, you can add onto the experience:
- Express passes skip the lines.
- Dinner plan add pre-paid meals to the trip. This is only good for the parks and city walk, not the hotels. Includes drinks and snacks. Check the restaurants at City Walk for participation.
- Photo package have pictures downloaded to a USB that is put on a lanyard.
- VIP Experience tour guide with a host through some of the rides in both the Main Park and Island of Adventure.
First park I want to talk about is Volcano Bay, the newest of the parks. This park has Tapu-tapu for every rider which goes around the wrist like a watch and can virtually check in one line at a time. While waiting for that line, one may go in other lines that have no wait times. One may also lay in the Lazy River or grab a drink from a bar and hang out at Waturi beach while a two-year old is passed out on one’s lap. Tapu-Tapu also connects to a debit card to use it to pay for food or drinks. These watch like device can fall off, so they are password protected before items or food can be charged.
This park has 18 attractions, 4 restaurants, 3 shops, 2 bars and a little ice cream/drink hut at the entrance to the park. The park does have a few kids zones. One is called Runamukka Reef. Get it? (Run a muck) This is a big area for the kids and has lots of secrets that only the tapu-tapu can illuminate. Volcano Bay has clever names for their attractions like ‘Ohyah’ and ‘Ohno‘ drop slides. My favorite ride was the very first one we went on called Honu of the Honu Ika Moana, because it was the scariest of them all being so high up and the drop…oh man. The aqua rollercoaster ride called Krakatau comes in a close second, and it’s fun to say.
At the entrance of the park there is a singing rock that my daughter absolutely loved. So we had to buy the miniature coffee bean plant holder in the shop to remember that silly singing rock. I can still hear him humming his song
The next park I want to talk about is Island of Adventure. This park was awesome, especially the Jurassic Park exhibit. A Raptor is in a broken cage that we were able to take a picture in front of. The staff took a video of us too, which was cool to watch our reactions later.
Inside the museum and restaurant there is a station where one can turn themselves into a dinosaur. DNA samples are taken front your handprint and they ask you a few things about your favorite dinosaur and whala.. a dino is created.. Is it stable? Come find out.. My daughter was able to name one of the little dino eggs that hatch once an hour in their labs. The staff gave her a certificate of birth and we can come back and check on the little dino whenever we want. We went back two days later to checked on her, the staff was like, ‘uhh… She looks the same’.
There is plenty to do at Island of Adventure. Plenty of food, plenty of drinks plenty of snacks, plenty of rides, plenty of shopping, and plenty to do for our two-year old as well. He wasn’t tall enough for some of the rides, which most restrictions are 42 inches. However, the lines for the kiddie rides were really short. We were able to ride them several times before moving onto the next.
We especially like The High in the sky Seuss Trolly Train ride, say that 5 times fast. One Fish, Two Fish water ride is a good one too. This one is on a little pond with water that squirts from the ride onto the riders. Don’t worry, the small child does decide who gets wet.
A Mystical Fountain talks to people passing by right next to the train. Of course, my daughter had to get in on the action, I have to say I was amussed! I posted one of the videos for your entertainment.
The Hulk is probably the most popular ride in this park. It looks incredibly fun and insainly scary for the thrill riders. I used to be one of those people whom liked these types of rides. Not sense I had my children. I decided living was more important.
Both Universal and Island of Adventure have an amazing Harry Potter section with a Hogwarts train that connects the two parks. Unfortunately, it was raining when we took the train, so everyone wanted to take shelter on it. It’s pretty neat and feels like we are actually apart of the movie. You just have to see it yourselves. It’s pretty amazing.
We wanted to go into the Hogwarts Castle from the movie Harry Potter, but the wait was incredibly long. (I recently watch behind the scenes of this castle and I must say I am truly sad we missed it.. It looks and sounds amazing.) The staff informed us that if we come back before the park closes the line will be way shorter, ya we forgot… Ooopppsss.
Diagon Alley, in the Main park, was hard to find at first, tucked away behind walls in Universal Studios. (Kind of looks like the entrance for the bathrooms). Once we found it and walked in, my jaw dropped. It was so amazing in there. I have to admit that I haven’t seen all of the Harry Potter movie, but this attraction made me want to.
Butter beer, don’t let the name fool you, is non-alcoholic, so we let the kids have some. It’s almost like a root bear float. You won’t get it back though, so might just want to get them their own. Have I mentioned yet, this whole park serves alcohol and beer for the adults?
If you have seen the movies then you know how amazing the detail should be in this area. A little hint before buying a magic want, in Island of Adventure there is a wizard whom can pick out the best wand that fits each person. Actually, he exclaims that the wand picks the person. However, he only picks one person during each cycle, but worth a try because they are expensive and worth it. These wands are in fact magical around this attraction in both the parks. They are able to make things happen. Here take a look for yourselves.
At Universals Main Park, a short parade featuring Dispicible Me and Pets starts at 7 pm local time. I thought the floats were so cute as you can tell by my narriration in my video.
This park has 15 rides, 31 places to get food and drinks of all sorts, 19 types of shows from the parade to fear factor, and we did most of our souvioneer shopping here as well. Last but not least this park has three amazing kid zones.
Some of the most popular rides here are Dispicible Me-Minion Mayham, Shrek 4D, Transformers 3D, Revenge of The Mummy (our first ride of the trip, also my daughters favorite), Hogwarts express, and Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts to name a few. All of which we experienced.
My favorite would have to be Transformers. I really enjoyed the story that went along with this ride. The wait is a little long but there is so much to see and do while waiting, so it goes by fast.
Shrek was also a favorite. Expecially the meet and great with Fiona, The Donkey and Shrek. All were very funny and they wanted to go swimming with us.
The Kid areas include
- Curious George– Silly monkey turned the whole town upside down. He has water play and inside ball play (really nice to go in the middle of a hot day to cool off and just play with the kiddos.)
- Fievel’s Playland-Based off of the movies, lots of rope climbing available here. My daughter loved the mini water coaster.
- Barny’s Backyard-A cute inside play area decorated to look like the outdoors. My son expecially liked to play in this area.
I have talked about all three of the parks, Our favorite rides, places to get food and drinks. Now I want to explain a little about City walk.
Citywalk connects Island of Adventure and the Main park. There is music, vendors, entertainers, movie theater, food, bars, and clubs. Some of the most famous restaurants are Bubba Gump, Margarita Ville and Hard Rock Cafe.
I mentioned earlier the dinner meals are accepted at participating restaurants but many have select meals to choose from. Not the whole menu. So beware of that.
We did add a character breakfast at Universal and the Luau at the hotel. Both were great and the breakfast buffet was wonderful.
The boats and busses drop off their passengers here as well. It’s very busy. A lot of the locals come out at night to hang out here
A few more things I recommend before going. Get a portable fan that sprays water for each person. Bring extra batteries, hat’s, sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles and sunglasses for EVERYONE. If you have young ones, bring a stroller. There are no stores outside of the park that are close enough to walk to, by the way, so come prepared. They do have strollers to rent inside each park. Make sure to locate the first aids as they are scattered throughout.
We wanted to get the most out of our vacation as do most people. I feel it would have been helpful to read a personal experience before hand so I knew what to .
Well I think I have covered all of the topics I wanted to. If you have any questions or anything to add please email me.
Disclosure: All pictures and videos are my own. Prices are subject to change. I did my best to remove all people from my pictures that I don’t know. These opinions are my own. I have no connection with Universal and I am not being paid to write for them.
Thank you for reading.