It was the original home for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when Universal Orlando opened Hogwarts Castle and the Village of Hogsmeade at its Islands of Adventure theme park.
At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, you can ride with Harry Potter on a broomstick high above Hogwarts Castle and stroll the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade sipping a butterbeer. Universal Orlando doubled its number of Harry Potter attractions with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at the Universal Studios Florida theme park. An impressive fire-breathing dragon sits atop Gringotts Bank and families can get a thrill with a ride on a mine car into the depths of the vault. Travel between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade by hitching a ride on the Hogwarts Express where Hagrid will give you a cheery greeting upon arrival.
While there are low-cost hotel options all around Universal, a stay at one of Universal’s six resorts will get you special perks, such as early park admission so you can hit the park’s top attractions at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure before the crowds flood the park (Ahem, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and the much celebrated FastPass, which gets you in and out of the park’s top attractions in record time. Also, thanks to the complimentary transportation of shuttles and water taxis to and from the theme parks and Universal CityWalk, you can park your car and “forgetaboutit.” The five resorts range from luxury to family-friendly economy: The Premier Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and The Hard Rock hotel; the Preferred Loews Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls Resort; and the Prime Value Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel. Please note that the Fast Pass is only included at three resorts (Portofino Bay, Hard Rock and Loews Royal Pacific) and is not included at Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay and Aventura hotels, so you might want to remember that added value when comparing the price of rooms.
Families will flip for the new water park Volcano Bay where you can explore the world of the fabled Waturi islanders of the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to the power of the wearable “TapuTapu,” there will be no waiting in long lines or carrying heavy rafts up hills. Nope, Universal has reinvented the water park, and you’re going to love it!
As the night sets and the parks close, Universal CityWalk is just beginning to start heating up. Guests can be treated to the lauded Blue Man Group, take a wacky try at two high-tech miniature golf courses, or tickle your taste buds at any of the amazing restaurants, including the can’t-miss Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen.
Other great adventures include Transformers: the Ride 3D, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
The unforgettable attractions at Universal Orlando Resort take families deep into the movies and were designed in collaboration with Academy Award winning producer and director Steven Spielberg. The centerpiece of the resort are its two world-class theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. The recent opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park now gives families a third lively option for play that’s especially great on those hot summer days. Universal CityWalk sets the standard for nighttime entertainment districts at a theme park resort. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about where to start, here’s a helpful overview of the four major entertainment options:
Guests staying at one of the five onsite Universal hotels can arrange for the Universal SuperStar Shuttle for transfer from airport to the resort. Current pricing is $36/adult and $26/child (ages 3-9) roundtrip; children 2 and under are free. Once you are on Universal Orlando Resort property, the hotels are all within walking distance of the theme parks and CityWalk, or guests can take the complimentary water taxi and shuttle buses.