There is so much to do and see at Universal Orlando and it’s all SO. MUCH. FUN!!!!! My first bit of vacation planning advice is to make a priority list of 10 rides and attractions you know you want to do here. Plan your day around those priorities.
I was invited on the #UORGirlsGetaway press trip and received complimentary admission to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks. All opinions expressed are 100% honest based on my personal experiences.
On my recent girls getaway trip, I spent one full day from opening to closing time in the parks. We packed every ounce of fun possible into that day. We had a little bit of time to rest for lunch, but other than that – my feet were constantly on the go. I wanted to make the most of every second I had at both of the theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. And I did! Ten of my favorite things to do are listed below.
The SECRET to making every second at Universal count:
Universal Orlando’s VIP Experience. The VIP Experience is open for everyone, not just celebrities. It gives you a ton of perks, my favorite one is that you get to skip all the lines at the rides and attractions. That’s right, I went straight to the front of the line at every single theme park. It meant I had time to ride everything I wanted to ride, and no waiting around. It also meant I got behind-the-scenes tours, reserved seating at shows and access to exclusive viewing areas for Universal’s Superstar Parade® and Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular – 100 Years of Movie Memories® nighttime show.
I loved being a VIP! I highly recommend booking a VIP Experience for your group if it fits within your vacation budget. You should reserve it ahead of time because there is Limited Availability.
That being said, I have also been to Universal without being on a VIP Experience tour. I can honestly say that Universal Studios does the best job of any theme park when it comes to making your wait time in line a super cool part of your experience. For example, on a past trip with my kids, we had to wait in line to ride Transformers 3D. Our time in line was actually pretty exciting. We watched the on-screen commander fill us in on our upcoming mission to save the world from the Decepticons. We were trained and ready by the time we reached the front of the line. My kids thought waiting in that line was pretty awesome!
Just a disclaimer: When I visit a theme park, I ride ALL the rides – even scary roller coasters don’t phase me. (Okay, so maybe they do…just a little…but I still LOVE to ride them!)
10 Super Awesome Things to Do at Universal Orlando
1. Start your day off with a Scream! I got my adrenaline going with the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket Roller Coaster. You literally climb STRAIGHT UP for 17 stories, then you scream your way down at 65 miles per hour. All while rocking out to a cool song you get to pick ahead of time.
There are several other world-class roller coasters to do while you are there. I screamed my head off for the entire 2 minutes, 15 seconds I rode on the Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster. It’s INSANELY fun.
2. Go on an adventure with Spider-Man. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a 3D experience award-winning thrill ride for families. The simulated 400 foot freefall will surely give your stomach a flip!
3. Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley) in the Universal Studios Florida theme park. Whether you love Harry Potter from the books or the movies or both, you must step into his world. All I can really say is WOW. It’s perfect in every single detail. Be just like Harry and his friends and visit the wand shop to pick your magic wand. Honestly, I went in and did not buy a wand and I wish I had done this…so I’m telling you – do this! It’s fun for your trip and also a wonderful collectible souvenir. Don’t miss the fire-breathing Dragon. It’s AWESOME.
4. Ride the Hogwarts Express. The Hogwarts Express is both a theme park attraction AND a means of real transportation from park to park. It’s just like the train in the movies – be sure to pay attention to what goes on outside your windows!
5. Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade) in the Islands of Adventure theme park. Explore Hogwarts castle, visit shops and enjoy magical rides like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Don’t forget try some ButterBeer or Pumpkin Juice. These non-alcoholic beverages are authentic drinks from the Harry Potter books and movies – you can’t get them anywhere else.
6. Meet your favorite Characters! My inner 8-year-old comes out whenever I see one of my favorite characters walking around at Universal. I saw Despicable Me minions, Bart Simpson, SpongeBob SquarePants and many of Marvel comic’s Avengers (Spiderman, Captain America and more!)
7. Become a Minion. That’s right, Gru is turning everyone at Universal into minions! Everyone in the family can enjoy the 3D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride. I got turned into a minion but then the machine accidentally fired and turned me back into a human. Oh well!
8. Save the world from the Decepticons. TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D is one of my favorites. You really feel like you are one of the Transformers. It’s the perfect mix of on-screen battle action and thrill ride.
9. See a live show. There are several ways to do this – and you can do as many as you want! Catch the daily interactive parade featuring your favorite characters, watch the new nighttime show called Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories at Universal Studios Florida, or stop by fan favorites like The Blues Brothers, the Sinbad stunt show, and more.
10. Experience an Event. Universal Orlando is almost always celebrating something big! I was there for the annual Mardi Gras celebration, which brings live music concerts (I saw MKTO), authentic Mardi Gras parades and Cajun food to the French Quarter Courtyard at Universal. Other annual events include summer’s Rock the Universe, fall’s Halloween Horror Nights and winter’s Grinchmas.
Like I said at the beginning, there is so much to do and see at Universal Orlando. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to having the time of your life at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Learn more about both Universal theme parks, plan your visit and buy your tickets online at UniversalOrlando.com
What is your favorite ride at Universal Orlando? Have you ever done the VIP Experience tour? Share your favorite things about Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, and any vacation tips in the comments below.