Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort is not just Harry Potter
Universal Orlando Resort comprises 2 theme parks, one water park, a shopping, dining and entertainment area and numerous hotels. This resort will probably be the favourite holiday memory for Harry Potter fans and anyone with a sense of adventure.
The theme parks boast some of the best thrill rides in Orlando. No expense has been spared in the creation of the themed areas and the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter takes the biscuit. Universal theme park tickets have risen dramatically in recent years and this is all because of the Wizarding World.
The 2 theme parks of Universal Orlando Resort are very different to the theme parks of Walt Disney World. The Disney World parks are better for younger children whereas the Universal parks are not as toddler friendly. There are lots of big thrill rides and shows that are aimed towards the bigger kids and adventurous adults. Study Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure carefully before you buy and you will not have regrets if travelling with young children.
Movies, movies, movies
Universal Orlando Resort is all about the movies. Every show and ride has it’s own movie or at least it’s own TV show. The Simpsons, King Kong, Transformers, Jurassic Park and The Mummy to name but a few, all have themed rides here. You will see characters from the movies and you may even get to have a chat with them.
There are also blasts from the past so if you are a fan of Back To The Future like me, expect to see Doc Emmet Brown and his time travelling DeLorean around Universal Studios.
Universal Orlando Resort App
The App is great for checking out the wait times and finding your way around the park. It also has restaurant locations and opening times. Unlike Disney’s App, it doesn’t allow you to reserve a slot for the majority of rides and shows in the park. Things are moving in that direction though because you can now book some rides and reserve your place in the line.
Visit the Universal Resort App page to discover the benefits of this great app.
The first ride of the day
If you are staying in one of the main 4 Universal Orlando Resort hotels you would enter City Walk via water taxi. If you are taking the car to Universal Orlando Resort you would park up in the multi story car parks and then hop aboard the Moving Sidewalks. These Moving Sidewalks are the same thing you regularly see in airports to speed up your journey. These will take you to the security area.
Security and ticket procedure
When you get to the Universal Orlando security area it will look a lot like an airport security point. Body scanners and baggage scanners are looking for weapons so you could have a wait if you are there when the park is just opening.
Finger print scanner
When you get to the entrance of Universal Studios or Islands Of Adventure you need to scan your finger print. Each ticket is allocated to just one person so you need to register your finger print to your ticket. On each subsequent visit your finger print will be required again to enter the parks. The scanners can play up a little bit so you may need a few goes to get through.
This special souvenir cup can be purchased at many drink locations and restaurants throughout the Universal parks. To buy one cup will cost you $16 + tax at 2019 prices. The more you buy, the cheaper they get. Once purchased you will get unlimited soft drinks for the whole day. When you return on subsequent days you can re-activate the cup for around $8 and you are good to go again.
The great thing about this cup is you can use it again next year or the year after. As long as you pay to re-activate the cup it should always work. You can get your moneys worth with these cups because on a hot day you could get through a lot of drinks.
Unlike the FastPass+ at Walt Disney World, you have to pay for this Universal Express Pass. The one advantage of the Universal Express pass is that you can skip the regular queue on many rides so it’s not limited to reserving 3.
Having a Universal Express pass would allow you to get on a ride in around 5 to 10 minutes. The starting price for a Universal Express Pass is $69 at 2019 prices but most days will cost more. The Universal Express pass allows you to skip the regular lines on each participating ride just once. If you want to skip the lines more than once you would need the Universal Express Unlimited.
The Unlimited Pass starts at $89 but again, most days will cost more than $89. After running a few dates through the Universal Calendar, you can pay well over $150 for an ‘unlimited’ pass. Remember these Express passes do not get you entry into the parks so you must have a valid theme park ticket. These Express passes can become really expensive so read how to get FREE Universal Unlimited Passes by booking one night in a hotel. The Brit Family do this every time we visit orlando
Universal Orlando Resort operate two types of VIP tours. The VIP Experience and the Private VIP Experience.
The VIP Experience…
…is a guided tour of one or both theme parks by a Universal Orlando Expert. You will get priority access to at least 10 rides and attractions. You will also get to skip the lines at the rides. Other benefits include complimentary valet parking, continental breakfast, a quick service meal and drink. You will also get reserved seating at shows.
Prices start from $189 plus tax per person at 2019 prices.
The Private VIP Experience..
…is a private guided tour for just you and your family/group. You can build your itinerary and see what you want to see through the tour. The meals are upgraded to full service meals also.
To reserve a VIP tour call 001-866-346-9350 from the UK seven days a week. You must call at Florida times of 9am to 7pm
Child Swap/Baby Swap…
…at Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure. Annoyingly Child Swap isn’t somewhere you can trade your child in for a better one but it is still quite handy. The staff here are very trusting of visitors so you do not need a child swap ticket.
The service works like this: if a ride is too intense for one of your little Brit’s, one of you can wait with them in a designated Child Swap Area while the rest of your party rides. Once they have ridden, you can then get straight on the ride without waiting. You can also take a couple of people that have just finished the ride back on with you so some may get to ride twice.
The Child Swap waiting areas usually have a TV with some cartoons playing to keep the little ones happy while you wait.
At some rides in Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure you need to stow all your belongings in a locker before a specific ride. Slim lockers are free but Universal have introduced a $2 charge for some larger lockers. Men In Black, Gringotts, Forbidden Journey, Rip Ride Rockit and The Hulk all require you to put belongings in the lockers.
Each guest can have a free slim locker and most are opened and closed with your theme park ticket. Some of the older lockers are activated with a fingerprint which very rarely works correctly. The queue for the lockers at the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride can sometimes be as long as the ride itself.
Halloween Horror Nights
This is one of the only things I have not done in Orlando. Between September and early November Universal Studios puts on an amazing show but it’s not for the faint hearted. Halloween Horror Nights is very popular and some people travel to Orlando just for this event. Your challenge is to make your way through horror houses without ‘bottling it’. A Stranger Things House is coming in 2019 and other popular shows also have houses there. The Walking Dead is really popular and the zombie make-up is actually created by the shows special effects people.
Monsters from the good old days also have their own house so you will be up against Dracula, Frankenstein and Co. You may think that house would be easy but it isn’t. I went through a haunted house in Universal Studios Hollywood a few years ago and everyone was petrified. This house had the Werewolf, Dracula and The Mummy and they can really put the frighteners on you. The rooms will be very dark but the characters will not touch you so don’t worry about that.
Halloween Horror Nights requires a special ticket to enter the park so you cannot use your standard theme park ticket. The regular park will close earlier on these nights to allow the Halloweeners in. Find out more about Halloween Horror Nights at the Official Website. WARNING: The website contains content not suitable for young children.