Why You Need to Visit Universal Orlando Resort

entrance to Universal Studios Orlando

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Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is made up of three parks – Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks, plus the Volcano Bay water park. A fourth park, Epic Universe, will open in 2025. CityWalk is the shopping and dining district, where guests walk through to access the entrances to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. One fun fact is that Universal Studios is based on movies and television, whereas Islands of Adventure is based on the written word.

Universal Orlando Hotels

There are four categories of hotels at Universal Orlando Resort: value, prime, preferred, and premier. Guests who stay in any Universal Orlando Resort hotel get early park admission to Wizarding World of Harry Potter up to one hour before park opens, plus resort-wide charging privileges with room key, complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased at resort to their room, and complimentary transportation to theme parks and Universal CityWalk.

Premier hotels offer express unlimited passes to guests, including arrival and departure days.

Compare the hotel amenities and learn more about each hotel here.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, connected by the Hogwarts Express. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts at Islands of Adventure opened first, which is fitting since the books came first. Attractions include Harry Potter  the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Hogsmeade has many shops to browse, including Honeydukes and Ollivander’s to purchase wands. Grab drinks and food in the Tree Broomsticks or Hogs Head. On select nights, enjoy the light show at the Hogwarts Castle.

Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios and opened second, since it is based more on movies. Enjoy the Escape from Gringotts attraction, and exchange your Muggle money for galleons from a goblin in Gringotts. There is so much to explore in Diagon Alley, so many great details to take in and appreciate for Harry Potter fans. One of my favorite areas to explore is Knockturn Alley for the Dark Arts. There’s also the Owlery and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. The Leaky Cauldron is a fun restaurant with traditional English food. Butterbeer is prominent throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Universal Studios Orlando Harry Potter Package

An Exclusive Vacation Package is offered for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that includes 5 nights of accommodations, a 2-Park 4-Day ticket per person, Early Admission to the parks, a special Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Flight, a Honeydukes Cooler Tote, and breakfast at both the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks. Plus, enjoy 1 Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio Session with a DVD Album and 8×10 print.  

Other Vacation Packages

There are various other vacation packages offered, including:

  • Premier Vacation Package: 4 Nights at a Premier Resort, 3-Park 4-Day park to park ticket per guest, Early Admission to the parks, Free Universal Express pass for each guest, and Priority Seating at select restaurants throughout Universal Orlando Resort.
  • Create Your Own: Bundle and save $75 off when you stay 5 nights.
  • Save 30% on a 3-Park 5-Night Hotel and Ticket Package: Prime Value Resorts Cabana Bay & Aventura.
  • Various discounts offered for Florida residents.

Individual Park Tickets, Annual / Seasonal Passes

Individual park ticket prices vary by day, but cost around $119 per park and $80 for Volcano Bay. Check specials and deals before purchasing tickets. 

There are several 2-park Seasonal and Annual Passes:

  • Seasonal Pass – $425 – blockout dates
  • Power Pass (me) – $475 – blockout dates, 50% off regular daytime self-parking after first visit
  • Preferred Pass – $630 – no blockout dates, free self-parking after first visit, early admission; discounted food, merchandise & specialty items
  • Premier Pass – $905 – no blockout dates, express after 4 PM, free valet and prime self-parking after first visit, early admission; discounted food, merchandise & specialty items. 1 free HHN ticket.
  • All offer Universal hotel room discounts.

VIP Experiences

There are two types of VIP experiences offered.

The shared VIP Experience includes:

  • Priority front of the line access to rides and attractions (not just Express Pass).
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes Experiences (subject to availability). 
  • Complimentary Valet Parking.
  • Universal Express Unlimited pass throughout the rest of the day.
  • Exclusive VIP lanyard and credentials for discounts throughout the rest of that day. 
  • Breakfast at the VIP Check-in area.
  • 7-Hour tour starting at $189 plus tax per person.
  • Minimum of 10 attractions on a 2-park tour.
  • Reserved seating for shows.
  • Lunch

The Private VIP Experience for a party of up to 12 (Park Admission purchased separately) includes everything above, plus the following:

  • Up to 12 hours with a private guide.
  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (prix fixe and reservations at your preferred restaurant).
  • My Universal Photos 3-Day Photo Package.

Seasonal Offerings, Special Events, and Festivals

The Mardi Gras Festival goes from early February through early April (April 7th this year). Enjoy special foods, parade with floats, and a live concert at night.

Butterbeer Season is March 15th through April 30th. Special butterbeer treats are offered.

The Hard Rock Live Orlando has a 3,000 seat auditorium for concerts and comedians. Events here require separate tickets.

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is arguably the most popular Halloween event in the U.S. HHN is held in Universal Studios on select nights in the fall. HHN does require a separate ticket. There are scare zones, haunted houses, stage shows, and more. Trust me when I tell you… this is a truly terrifying event and not for the faint of heart.

Christmastime is a really fun time at Universal Orlando Resort.

  • At Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure, enjoy Grinchmas. Seuss Landing is decorated with the holiday charm and cheer of Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville. Plus, enjoy the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.
  • Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter features a special holiday Hogwarts castle light show, festive decor in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and holiday entertainment by the Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. 
  • Enjoy the Holiday Parade in Universal Studios Orlando, complete with Macy’s character balloons.

Epic Universe

Coming in 2025 is a brand-new park, Epic Universe. There will be 5 worlds within Epic Universe.

  • From the Universal Orlando website, “Celestial Park is the cosmic heart of Universal Epic Universe, where wondrous discoveries await among the lush greenery, tree-lined walkways and dancing fountains. Begin your cosmic journey of discovery in a world between worlds full of sensory delights for all to enjoy together. Speed through the park on Starfalls Racers, a dual-launch racing coaster. Stay at the new Universal Helios Grand Hotel. Grab drinks at Atlantic Aquarium Bar, and dine at the Blue Dragon Pan-Asian Restaurant & Tiger Bar.
  • How to Train Your Dragon – Isle of Berk will be family-friendly, with 4 attractions, including Hiccup’s Wing Gliders family coaster. Kids will enjoy the Viking Training Camp, a play area for the littlest vikings. Plus, enjoy The Untrainable Dragon, a Broadway-style production.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Ministry of Magic combines 1920s Paris with 1990s British Ministry. Expect an amazing attraction themed around the Ministry of Magic.
  • Super Nintendo World will bring a Mario Kart ride, travels through Donkey Kong Country, and more. 
  • Dark Universe will be a unique land. Per the Universal Orlando website, “From the experiments of Dr. Victoria Frankenstein to a shadowy landscape where monsters roam, Dark Universe is a world of myth and mystery.”

Two more prime value resorts will be added near Epic Universe: Terra Luna Resort and Stella Nova Resort.  

Resources

Explore Universal Orlando Resort and all it has to offer!

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