Fans Are Wrong About Universal Orlando, and It’s Hurting Their Vacations

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Guests Shopping in Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World at Universal Orlando Resort

Credit: Universal

Fans are wrong about Universal Orlando Resort, and it’s, unfortunately, having a major impact on their vacations.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two iconic theme parks, including Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, as well as Universal CityWalk and an immersive water park in Universal’s Volcano Bay.

E.T. holdings a clear globe and looks at a green plant.
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Guests visiting Universal Orlando have the opportunity to enjoy plenty of thrilling attractions, including E.T. Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

But, there is a myth about Universal Orlando that is hurting the vacations of thousands of Guests: It’s the idea that it can all be done in one day.

Wizarding World of 'Harry Potter' Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Can Universal Orlando be done in one day?

First of all, can Universal Orlando be done in one day? Technically, any theme park Resort can be done in one day if you only have a handful of attractions that you want to experience. Magic Kingdom can be done in one day, but you’re not going to experience every single thing that there is to offer.

Many people go to Universal Orlando, and they discuss it as if they do both theme parks in one day. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World Resort— and maybe even SeaWorld Orlando– this might be the only time you have and that’s understandable. But, if you’re truly want to experience all that Universal Orlando Resort has to offer, you’re not going to be able to do it in one day.

And, unfortunately, you’re going to have to skip some really fun and unique attractions in the process.

Here’s a look at some reasons why Universal Orlando Resort is much more than a one-day destination.

Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure
Credit: Universal Orlando

Don’t skip the shows at Universal Studios Florida, especially The Bourne Stuntacular

Guests who do Universal Studios Orlando in one day almost never have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the shows, and that’s a shame.

Universal Studios Florida is home to three world-class shows that you won’t regret stopping to watch. Each show lasts a little less than a half-hour, but you would be surprised by how many people end up skipping the shows altogether.

Animal Actors on Location!, Universal Orlando’s Horror Makeup Show, and The Bourne Stuntacular all run plenty of performances daily.

Animal Actors Live on Location! at Universal Studios Florida
Credit: Universal

Animal Actors on Location! gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how animals are trained for the movies. The Horror Makeup Show is the classic and timeless comedy show that has been in the theme park since the very beginning. It gives you a look at how Universal Pictures created the Classic Monster and the effects that go into producing a horror movie. But, don’t worry, it’s not scary.

Finally, there’s The Bourne Stuntacular. This is the newest of the three shows, and it’s unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else. The amount of technology involved in bringing this show together is absolutely insane and it’s one show that you won’t be sad you took the time to see.

Universal’s official description of The Bourne Stuntacular reads:

“Forget what you know about stunt shows. Through a cutting-edge fusion of stagecraft and film, you follow Jason Bourne as he outruns sinister characters hoping to bring him in. He dangles from a helicopter in Dubai. He’s chased across rooftops in Tangier and by motorcycle through Virginia. There are fistfights, shootouts and danger at every turn.”

Bourne Stuntacular
Credit: Universal Orlando

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has too much to offer

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, visiting both theme parks is a must.

There are three rides located in Hogsmeade Village in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These include The Flight of the Hippogriff, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Next door at Universal Studios Florida, you can experience Diagon Alley, which includes Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

Shopping in Diagon Alley at universal orlando resort
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

The two lands are also connected by the Hogwarts Express, which can only be experienced if you have a Park-to-Park Pass.

Even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, anyone will admire the amount of detail that went into creating these lands. When you add in restaurants and experiences like Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, Ollivanders Wand Shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, the Leaky Cauldron, The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, the Frog Choir in Hogsmeade, and much more, the Wizarding World can take up a good portion of a day by itself.

hogwarts express at universal studios florida
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Stopping by Camp Jurassic is a must

There are plenty of rides to enjoy while at Universal Orlando Resort.

E.T. Adventure, MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack, Transformers: The Ride 3-D, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and The Cat in the Hat are just some of the rides that you’ll experience while at Universal Orlando Resort.

But, there’s an experience that diehard fans know about that, sadly, many Guests miss out on.

A dinosaur in front of a palm tree
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Camp Jurassic is located in Jurassic Park at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. While the playground might be overshadowed by Jurassic Park River Adventure and the Jurassic World VelociCoaster in the same island, you shouldn’t skip it. Even if you’re a grown adult.

This playground is immersive. It takes you through caves, under a water fall, up high on dinosaur capture nets, and much more. Some of the best memories from a vacation can be made here because you’re away from all the crowding and simply enjoying exploring.

Universal’s official description of Camp Jurassic reads:

“This mega recreation area is a multi-level prehistoric playground where kids can have mammoth-sized fun. Explore dark caves and amber mines, climb dinosaur-capture nets and negotiate swaying suspension bridges as the ground rumbles with the roar of dinosaurs.”

Universal Orlando CityWalk
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Don’t miss out on Universal CityWalk

You’ll walk through Universal CityWalk on your way into the theme parks, whether you’re going to Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure. But, have you taken any time to explore all the offerings that the shopping, dining, and entertainment district has to offer?

It’s not as big as Disney Springs, but it’s still plenty big enough with many fun experiences and delicious eateries for Guests to enjoy. The best part? It’s located literally right outside the theme park.

You can escape some of the “theme park crowds” by heading to lunch at a restaurant in CitWalk. Then, once you’re done exploring for the day, there’s plenty to enjoy, as well.

citywalk
Credit: ITM Katrina A.

Here’s a look at the full-service restaurants you can enjoy at Universal CityWalk:

  • Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
  • Bigfire American Fare
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market
  • The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
  • Hard Rock Cafe Orlando
  • Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
  • NBC Sports Grill & Brew
  • Pat O’Brien’s
  • The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
  • VIVO Italian Kitchen

We recommend making a reservation for any of these restaurants that allow reservations to be made. This gives you a chance to enjoy the fun inside the theme parks longer, and cuts down on your wait time after a long day at the Parks.

In addition to the full-service restaurants located in Universal CityWalk, there are plenty of quick-service restaurants, food stands, and bars to enjoy.

Universal CityWalk
Universal Studios Orlando CityWalk / Credit: visitorlando.com

What if you’re looking for entertainment? Universal Orlando has you covered, as well.

The Red Coconut Club is always around for Guests of age to enjoy its offerings. In addition, there’s the Universal Cinemark Movie Theater, which shows new releases on 20 screens with luxury recliners, and the Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf course, which has two different courses for Guests to enjoy. Shopping can be done at the Universal Studios Legacy Store, Universal Studios Store, and Quiet Flight Surf Store.

The newest experience at Universal CityWalk is Universal’s Great Movie Escape.

Universal’s Great Movie Escape invites Guests of all ages to solve their way through a pair of first-of-its-kind escape rooms based on two of the biggest film franchises in history. Universal’s entertainment team partnered closely with filmmakers and escape room industry experts around the country to create innovative experiences that go beyond the typical escape room – blending state-of-the-art challenges, detailed sets and original storylines to immerse guests in story-driven adventures that allow them to escape into the movies like never before.

universal's great movie escape citywalk
Credit: Spectrum News/Ashley Carter

Another unique feature of Universal’s Great Movie Escape is the variety of challenges Guests must work together to complete – each one specifically crafted so that the experience is enjoyable for novices and escape room-aficionados alike. Each adventure boasts eight incredibly detailed environments featuring state-of-the-art activities that are:

  • randomized – so the solution can vary with each visit
  • customizable depending on party size – ensuring everyone gets to participate
  • designed to adjust based on skill level and complexity – so there’s always something to solve

Universal’s official description of the escape room can be read below:

“Now you can escape into the movies like never before. Find yourself in a secret genetics lab and use your wits to avoid becoming the prey in Jurassic World: Escape. Or stop Biff Tannen from sabotaging the timeline in Back to the Future: OUTATIME. This is no ordinary escape room experience.

Separately ticketed experience. Not valid for theme park admission. Pricing and availability vary depending on the time, date, and product selection.”

Universal’s CityWalk is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until late. You can check the hours for your specific visit on the Universal Orlando calendar.

universal great movie escape lobby
Credit: @UniversalORL on Twitter

Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel lets you experience all the action

If you’re really wanting to immerse yourself in all the action, the best way to do so is by staying at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel.

Universal Orlando offers three tiers of Resorts with unique benefits: Value Resorts, Prime Value Resorts, and Preferred Resorts.

The Value Resorts are Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites.

The Prime Value Resorts are Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

The Preferred Resorts are Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.

A small boat in a harbor next to a body of water
Credit: Universal

All Universal hotels provide complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks. The preferred hotels have both water taxi and shuttle bus services, while the prime value and value resorts have shuttle bus services. In addition, you can enjoy Early Park Admission at select attractions– including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter– to enjoy before the Park officially opens to the rest of the crowds.

If you stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, or Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, you’ll also be given complimentary Universal Express Passes, which means you can skip the regular line queue and make the most of your days at the theme parks without having to wait in line. Keep in mind that Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure does not currently have Universal Express as an option.

cabana bay orlando
Credit: Universal Orlando

Did we mention Universal’s Volcano Bay?

If all that weren’t enough to take up multiple days, Universal Orlando Resort is also home to a world-class Water Park in Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Complete with a giant Volcano in the middle, Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park is the ultimate destination for a relaxing day. All the rides at Volcano Bay feature a Virtual Line that changes how you wait. Just tap in with your TapuTapu wearable to grab a ride time. Then go float, swim, splash, eat, shop, or relax around the water  park. Your TapuTapu will tell you when it’s your time to ride.

Universal's Volcano Bay Water Park
Credit: Universal

When you arrive at Volcano Bay, you’ll receive the TapuTapu to wear on your wrist. It’s your key to having an amazing day—you’ll use it to ride most of the attractions, activate interactive surprises, open rental lockers, make cash-free payments and more.

If you stay at a Universal Hotel, you can hit the beach 30 minutes before the water park opens, which is also a great way to get a headstart ahead of the crowds, if that’s what you’re interested in.

What’s your favorite experience at Universal Orlando Resort? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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