Family Vacations to Universal Orlando

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Universal Orlando Resort – Family Vacation Guide

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.

Why Go?

  • Wizards

    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.

  • Luxe Resorts

    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.

  • Water Parks

    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!

  • Nightly Entertainment

    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.

  • Wild Rides

    Other great adventures include Transformers: the Ride 3D, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

What to Do

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:

Universal Studios Florida

The first of Universal Orlando’s theme parks is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and it’s where you’ll find the exhilarating Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. In addition, this park is home to exhilarating rides like Transformers: The Ride – 3D, Revenge of the Mummy (a gripping indoor roller coaster), Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster, The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and more.  Note: you need a park-to-park ticket in order to ride the Hogwarts Express.

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Islands of Adventure

Here you’ll find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey where you can get an inside look at Hogwarts Castle, including iconic spots like Dumbledore’s office. This park also features The Incredible Hulk roller coaster, the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong and more.

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Universal’s Volcano Bay

This waterpark features a massive 200-foot-tall volcano that houses The Krakatau Aqua Coaster canoe ride. Krakatau gushes water by day and flowing “lava” at night.  Guests receive a TapuTapu arm band to reserve a spot in line. Splash around on other parts of the island, and TapuTapu alerts you when it’s your turn to ride.

Take me to Volcano Bay

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Universal CityWalk

When the sun goes down, families head to Universal CityWalk for 30 acres of dining, entertainment and events. The complex features entertaining music venues and shows the whole family is sure to enjoy including Blue Man Group, Hard Rock Live and Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom. The unique dining concepts such as Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen, Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, and NBC Sports Grill & Brew ensure that the fun never stops—even during meals. Universal’s CityWalk recently underwent a significant expansion that added a mix of new restaurants and venues, so it’s easy for everyone in the family to find something they love.

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Where to Stay

  • Universal Orlando Resort lies about 30 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, and consists of two theme parks, one water park, five fun onsite hotels and a 30-acre entertainment/shopping/dining complex.
  • Universal’s onsite properties are managed by Loews Hotels and include fantastic theme park benefits such as early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, free Universal Express unlimited ride passes to bypass the lines, as well as complimentary park transportation.
  • These resorts are highly themed and include Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach, Loews Sapphire Falls, Loews Royal Pacific, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay.
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel will be the sixth Loews onsite property when it opens in 2018.

Getting Around

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.

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