Many of our Disney World clients express interest in taking a side trip to Universal Studios while they’re in Orlando…especially if they have Harry Potter fans in their families. Fortunately, we can help plan your Universal Studios vacation too! And to get the ball rolling, we’re launching a series of blogs to showcase everything that the Universal Orlando Resort has to offer. Today, we begin with a general overview of Universal Studios.
First, the resorts. Universal Orlando has five onsite resorts: the Portofino Bay Hotel, the Royal Pacific Resort, the Hard Rock Hotel, the Sapphire Falls Resort, and the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Guests of all five resorts get some incredible perks, including early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! But the deluxe resorts (Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific, and Hard Rock) come with additional incentives, including a complimentary Unlimited Express ticket enhancement which lets guests of these three hotels skip the lines at all non-Harry Potter attractions.
Second, the theme parks. There are currently two theme parks at the Universal Orlando Resort: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Both parks
feature Harry Potter lands that are connected by the Hogwarts Express (Side Tip: In order to ride the Hogwarts Express, you must have a park-to-park ticket). While the Harry Potter experience is certainly a huge draw for most guests, there is much more to enjoy beyond the Wizarding World as well: family-friendly attractions, thrill rides, character encounters, parades, entertainment…the list goes on and on. And beginning this summer, pack your swimsuits for some wet and wild fun at Volcano Bay, Universal’s new water park opening in late May!
Third, Universal CityWalk. Adjacent to the two theme parks, this expansive area is the go-to spot for entertainment when visiting the Universal Orlando Resort. Tons of restaurants, exciting bars and lounges, and a variety of shopping locations await!
And finally, getting around. One MAJOR difference between the Universal Orlando Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort is that, unlike Disney, Universal does not provide complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport. They do, however, offer a shuttle for a nominal fee. And the Universal Orlando Resort is much more compact than the Disney World Resort, making transportation significantly more convenient once you arrive at the resort itself. Both theme parks, CityWalk, and many of the resorts are all within walking distance of each other. Ferries and shuttles are also provided.
Next time, we’ll start reviewing the Universal Orlando onsite hotels, beginning with our very own April Leline’s report on her recent stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. In the meantime, shoot us your questions or quote requests anytime!
Meredith McCutcheon: Owner and Disney/Universal Specialist