Universal Studios is a resort located in Orlando, Florida that consists of three fun filled amusement parks; Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and a an epic entertainment area filled with shops, restaurants and bars. Below I have provided you with a Universal Studios Resort guide for all travelers.
Universal offers a variety of on property hotels to suit any budget! I would definitely recommend staying on property as there are many perks included with the price of purchasing a room. For instance, if you plan on enjoying your time at the parks or CityWalk; there are unlimited shuttles and water taxis that will provide you with transportation to and from the parks as well as early park admission for one hour before the parks open, which is a huge perk to avoid long lines!
I have been to Universal numerous times and each time I love to stay at the Sapphire Falls Resort! We find this resort fits our budget and hotel standards perfectly! It is clean and beautifully decorated with fantastic amenities. We love the feel of staying in a luxury resort without having to spend four to five dollar signs and that is exactly what the Sapphire Falls Resort offers. Additionally, staying at any of the Universal Resorts allows guests to use the amenities of every hotel with their room key card! This is perfect for couples who would like a more quiet pool/spa experience that the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel offers or for families who would like a more kid friendly environment that the Cabana Bay Beach Resort offers.
When visiting the parks, we try to get all the popular rides out of the way as early as possible. In Universal Studios, those rides are Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Revenge of the Mummy and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. These rides are the most busy and will require the most wait times. If you are not a rollercoaster fanatic like I am, Universal Studios also offers a number of different attractions and shows that are also worth checking out, like Shrek 4-D and Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon.
Traveler Budget Tip: Make sure to bring small bags into the park so you are able to use the free lockers provided for certain rides.
Islands of Adventure was my favorite park out of the two Universal amusement parks, solely because it was rollercoaster heaven. If you are a thrill seeker, Islands of Adventure is the park for you! Featuring rides like: The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Spider-man, Jurassic Park River Adventure and not to mention the two thrilling attractions in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Of course a trip to Islands of Adventure cannot be made without enjoying the two water rides as well: Popeye and Bluto's Bilge- Rat Barges and Dudley Do- Right's Ripsaw Falls.
Traveler Tip: Not necessary to purchase the Universal Express Pass, I have been to both parks many times and completed each park in one day, with time to spare before close.
The CityWalk is the location for all things dining, drinking, shopping and after hours entertainment. This strip is the location of some fantastic restaurants and bars like The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, Bigfire and NBC Sports Grill & Brew. Each restaurant has their own flare and cuisine and I would definitely recommend having a drink and spending some time exploring all that CityWalk has to offer. Last but not least be sure to get all your souvenirs before you leave at the Universal Souvenir stores throughout CityWalk!
Traveler Tip: After the parks close head back to your Universal Hotel by water taxi or shuttle to freshen up for the night. The water taxi's run every 15 minutes until 2:30AM and are perfect because you never have to worry about leaving the property or driving.
In my opinion, the food in the parks is not nutritious and is overpriced. I would recommend snacking throughout the parks on some Auntie Annie's pretzels, churros or some frozen butter beer! The food outside in CityWalk is most definitely better. We usually like to eat a big breakfast before entering the parks either at the hotel or at CityWalk (there is a Starbucks for those of you who need your morning coffee, like myself). Later when the parks close, you will find that CityWalk will be buzzing with all the guests trying to find some dinner before they leave, I would recommend you eat an earlier or later dinner to avoid the crowds and the long wait times.
Froot Loop Doughnut
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium
Chocolate or Cookies and Cream milkshake
Traveler Tip: I would not recommend waiting in line for the restaurant as the wait is usually very long and you are able to get dessert and ice cream from the front store counter.
Frozen Butter Beer
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Traveler Tip: Make sure to ask for the FROZEN Butter Beer, as the parks both sell chilled and frozen. I found that I liked the frozen a lot better.