If you are looking for picturesque views, phenomenal dining options, pools that will transport you and your family to full vacation mode, and oh yeah some Universal Orlando Resort theme park perks, too? Well, you’re in luck because half the fun of a Universal Orlando vacation can be found at the eight unique and impeccably-themed Universal Orlando Resort hotels. So, today, we are sharing ten unique experiences at Universal Orlando Resort hotels you won’t want to miss!
This experience at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is an educational blast — you’ll be paired with a Rum Captain (coolest job title ever) who will host a tasting of several different rums and teach you about their flavor nuances. Even if you’re not a rum-fan, I recommend trying this out or just sitting at the bar and enjoying one of the other great signature cocktails.
Well, at least try to bowl a strike. How many hotels have a literal bowling alley in them? Let alone one as cool as you’ll find at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Whether you’re staying at this hotel or not you should definitely plan a bowling excursion during your Universal trip.
3. Make a splash at your hotel pool.
What’s a vacation to Florida without a day spent at the pool? Each of the hotels deliver their own great pool experience (Cabana Bay Beach Resort even has a lazy river)! Be sure to check out our guide to the pools here and don’t forget your sunscreen.
Sushi with a view is the most succinct way I can articulate the magic that is this restaurant in Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The sushi menu is vibrant and inventive, the cocktail offerings are one-of-a-kind, and you’ll be enjoying it all with a view worthy of the word “paradise” as the restaurant overlooks the lush and tropical vibes at Royal Pacific..
5. Attempt the Kitchen Sink Challenge at The Kitchen in Hard Rock Hotel.
Think you have what it takes to eat a burger, side of fries, one fried pickle, and a giant slice of The Kitchen Sink Cake in thirty minutes? Even if you can’t, I can bet it’ll be a delicious experience trying.
6. Enjoy gelato on the harbor.
Get yourself a cup of gelato from the Gelateria and soak in the relaxing ambience of the harbor at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. You may even end up having to pinch yourself to come back to reality and remind yourself you’re not actually in Italy.
Take in one of the best views throughout all of Universal Orlando Resort at Bar 17 Bistro, located at the top of Aventura Hotel. Sipping on a Volcano View with a view of Volcano Bay is an unmatched experience.
8. Level up your vacation with one of our themed kids’ suites.
Whether the kids in your group are into dinosaurs, Minions, or music, there’s a kids-suite for them! The different kids’ suites throughout Universal hotels will really have you sleeping where the action is with the Future Rock Star Suites at Hard Rock Hotel, Despicable Me Kids Suites at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, and Jurassic World Kids Suites at Royal Pacific Resort.
9. Sample all of the exclusive drinks the hotels have to offer.
If you’re at Universal Orlando Resort’s newest hotel, Dockside Inn and Suites, grab some of the Wet n’ Wild-inspired specialty cocktails by the pool. More of a beer drinker? Enjoy the specialty craft beers at Sunset Lounge in Dockside or head to Jake’s American Bar at Royal Pacific Resort to try out their menu of specialty beers. Pro-tip for your time at Jake’s — all of the Team Members have made-up names there! Be sure to ask your server why they picked theirs.
You deserve it! This spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has a ton of options for you to relax and bring your vacation to another level of pure joy and bliss. Besides, after all that roller coaster riding you’ve been doing in the theme parks, you’ve earned yourself a massage.
If you’re coming to vacation at Universal Orlando Resort, you’re most likely going to find yourself passing through Universal CityWalk. Whether you’re staying at one of the fabulous Universal Orlando resort hotels and riding a water taxi over or parking in one of the massive parking garages, you’ll find yourself walking through CityWalk on your way to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. CityWalk is the perfect place to grab lunch, dinner, or a quick snack, and there is a lot of fun entertainment to check out after you wrap up a day in the theme parks. Here are the top 10 things to do at Universal CityWalk during your next Universal Orlando Resort vacation!
If you went to Universal and didn’t get a Toothsome milkshake, did you even go? These milkshakes are the must-get treat during your vacation for not only the deliciousness, but also the photo that will have everyone wishing they were in your shoes.
Is it sushi? Is it a burger? It’s both! Burgushi combines the best of both worlds into unique dishes you can only find at The Cowfish. While you’re there, I recommend trying one of their exotic cocktails or spiked milkshakes.
Voodoo Doll. Grape Ape. Portland Cream. No, these aren’t band names, they’re doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut. Choose from traditional or whimsical flavors and make sure to ask if they have any specialty doughnuts. They also have vegan options like the ODB, which is so good, like borderline flawless, absolutely delicious.
You don’t have to miss the game just because you’re on vacation. Catch any league game here while enjoying good food (like a giant soft pretzel) and a cold one from a selection of over 100 beers. There are also foosball tables. Literally, a table where you can eat and also play foosball!
6. Sing Your Heart Out at Rising Star with a Live Karaoke Band
If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a singer, Rising Star makes that dream reality. Take the stage with backup singers and a live band (on select nights) and belt out your favorite songs in this rockin’ karaoke experience.
7. End Your Day Roasting S’mores and Savoring Smoky Spirits at Bigfire
Open fire cooking? Check. S’mores tableside? Check. An extensive list of whiskey and bourbon? Check. Bigfire is where you go to have summer vacation vibes year round with smoky flavors reminiscent of camping and backyard barbeques.
Dang, this is some good pizza. These made-to-order pies are baked in a stone-lined oven with a variety of both blanco and rosso pizzas. Grab one to go and sit by the CityWalk lagoon for a great view or enjoy outside seating at the restaurant while getting some great people watching in.
10. Spend the Evening Listening to Your Choice of Live Music
End your busy day at the theme parks by unwinding with live music from one CityWalk’s many venues. From reggae jams to full-blown rock concerts, here are a few of my favorite spots.
There are several reasons why TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D in Universal Studios Florida is one of the best rides at Universal Orlando Resort. The action is non-stop from the moment the ride begins, which is then only elevated by the special effects and 3-D elements. Because of the constant action and story turns, the ride feels like it lasts a long time! Lastly, for fans of the franchise who grew up watching the 1980’s animated television series or the more recent live-action movies, this ride gives you the chance to become a part of the long-lasting war between the Autobots and Decepticons — your classic good versus evil scenario.
Not only did TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D bring a new hit attraction to the parks, it introduced one of the coolest character meet-and-greets. And just check out that giant Optimus Prime statue at the ride entrance! Here’s everything you need to know about one of the must-do rides in Universal Studios.
The battle between the Autobots and Decepticons (two factions of an alien robot species called Transformers) has come to Earth, and you’ve been recruited by the Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty (N.E.S.T.) to help defend mankind. Your objective: keep the AllSpark — a powerful object capable of creating new life — out of the Decepticon’s possession. Of course, the mission goes haywire as Decepticons descend on the N.E.S.T. base and an explosive battle begins…
As you enter the ride building, you’re entering N.E.S.T. headquarters, where you’ll receive debriefing on your mission from N.E.S.T. and the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. Throughout the queue, you’ll encounter the AllSpark fragment that you’re tasked with protecting, as well as other Transformer artifacts and weaponry.
Immediately after boarding your ride vehicle, which happens to be your Autobot partner Evac, you encounter your first Decepticon stealing the AllSpark until Bumblebee intervenes… but you’re not in the clear yet. Decepticons surround you at every turn as Evac attempts to evade the onslaught from Bonecrusher, Starscream, and more. During the struggle, you find yourself in the middle of Optimus Prime battling the evil Megatron. Do you and the Autobots defeat the Decepticons? I’ll leave that for you to discover.
The ride experience is motion simulation based with a ride vehicle that moves along a track (NOT a roller coaster) and combines 3-D visual and 4-D physical effects. The Transformers will appear larger-than-life with your 3-D glasses on, and you’ll feel the raging effects of battle around you like strong winds and heat.
Ride Details: – Minimum height requirement of 40″ (101.6 cm) to ride – Universal Express Pass is accepted – You can take your bags on this ride (woot!) – Child Swap is available upon request
MEET THE TRANSFORMERS
Whenever my friends or family come to the parks for vacation, one of my favorite things I tell them they have to do is meet the TRANSFORMERS characters. I remember the first time I stood next to them — I was in awe (and still am to this day)of how big and incredibly detailed they were, a feeling which only grew when next thing I knew they spoke to me!
You can meet three TRANSFORMERS daily right next to the ride building, kiddy-corner from the Supply Vault store. Optimus Prime (leader of the Autobots), Bumblebee (spunky Autobot lieutenant), and Megatron (leader of the Decepticons).
And the suites are pretty sweet, if I do say so myself. If you hear “value” and start picturing anything less than a spacious room with very, VERY comfy beds, a picnic table for meals, storage space, immaculately clean areas, and a surfboard coat-hanger — welp, you’re just not thinking about Surfside!
2. The hotel pool is in the shape of a surfboard.
Of course the pool at Surfside Inn and Suites is shaped like a surfboard; I told you that the theming at this place has left nothing untouched! This surfboard-shaped pool would take more than 1,191 regular surfboards to fill the total square footage. So, yeah, the pool is huge, there are plenty of spots to sit by it, and the Sand Bar (which is, if it isn’t obvious, a bar) is right by the pool so you’re never too far from your next drink.
3.Speaking of drinks, all food and drink options throughout the hotel are below $12.
That means whether you’re craving a Breakfast Pizza in the morning or a Pipeline Burger with Bacon Jam in the evening — or if you’re craving both right now just from reading this — you’re eating real good and saving money while you do so.
4.The Shuttle Bus from the hotel to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, and Universal CityWalk takes less than ten minutes.
Ten minutes away from Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium milkshakes, and all the other incredible thrills at Universal Orlando Resort? OK, I’m in. Staying with Universal at Surfside Inn and Suites means you don’t have to pay for transportation to the parks and you get to ride in style with your fellow vacationers racing for the first row on all the coasters. PLUS! You get into the park before regular park guests with your access to Early Park Admission. That is a full hour before the parks officially open for you to experience.
5.There are more than 1,435 surfboards around the hotel.
Each of these surfboards were made special by Quiet Flight and fit perfectly with the beachy vibes and tones throughout the hotel. Can you find all 1,435?
What are your favorite facts about Universal’s Endless Summer Resort? How many did you know?
Book your Universal Orlando Resort vacation today to check out Surfside Inn and Suites for yourself and let us know in the comments what you’re most excited about during your vacation!
One of the most memorable moments from the Harry Potter films and books is when Harry is shopping with Hagrid for all the supplies he’ll need at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can also experience the fun of shopping for Wizarding World of Harry Potter merchandise at Universal Orlando Resort as you choose a delightful creature companion, try on school robes, or stock up on quills and parchment.
There are two lands with a number of themed shops for you to explore — Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Each shop offers unique items for purchase that are inspired by the films and books, as well as incredible theming and details that make you feel as if you’re stepping right into the story. Whether you’re a long-time fan, or if it’s your first introduction to the wizarding world, you’re bound to find a magical keepsake to take home.
Quidditch is a very popular wizarding sport and now you can get all the gear to rep your favorite house. Pick up house team apparel, pennants, and accessories, as well as everything you need to play, like Quaffles, Golden Snitches, and more.
Quidditch Jerseys: Are you the new Seeker or Keeper on your Hogwarts house team? You can now get your very own jersey personalized with your name.
You can’t miss this whimsical shop run by the pranksters Fred and George Weasley. The bright, orange shop immediately catches your eye and lures you inside to check out its shelves piled high with magical jokes and toys. Adopt a Pygmy Puff or stock up on pranks and tricks like the Decoy Detonator or an Extendable Ear.
There’s only one place you can fill out your wizarding wardrobe. Madam Malkin’s offers the best in wizarding fashion, including unique replicas of Hermoine’s Yule Ball Gown and all kinds of Hogwarts house apparel.
Robes and Scarves: Stock up on everything you’ll need for Hogwarts with your house robes, scarves, sweaters, accessories, jewelry, and more.
If you muster the courage to wander into Knockturn Alley, get a taste of the Dark Arts inside Borgin and Burkes (my favorite shop) with items like Dark Mark tattoos, Deathly Hallow jewelry, skulls, and Death Eater masks.
After you experience a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders, stop in the wand shop to browse the wide selection of wands. You’ll find shelves stacked high with wands from your favorite characters and interactive wands.
Interactive Wands: Practice casting your favorite spells throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley with an interactive wand.
One of my favorite moments in the Harry Potter films is when Harry finds Hedwig, his beloved owl companion. Now, you too can find your very own creature companion in Magical Menagerie from owls and cats to frogs and rats (all cuddly plushes, of course).
Known for its stock of magical instruments, Wiseacre’s is the blue shop located right next to Gringotts bank. Inside you’ll find wares like apparel and mugs, along with Butterbeer items perfect for fans of the frothy beverage and toys to challenge the mind like a Diagon Alley puzzle.
Butterbeer Tee: No matter which type of Butterbeer is your favorite (the drink is available in cold, frozen, and even hot during the winter months), show your love for all things Butterbeer with this comfy tee.
Here’s your opportunity to speak with a goblin, although you may only get a word or two and a glare from him. Afterward, exchange your U.S. currency for Gringotts bank notes, which you can use to shop in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade. You can also pick up some bags of chocolate Gringotts coins.
Scribbulus has all your wizarding-writing needs with quills and ink, Hogwarts house notebooks (another item you can get personalized), stationery, and backpacks to carry it all in.
Howler Recordable Card: Fans may remember when Ron Weasley received a Howler from his mom for flying the family car to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This recordable card allows you to send your very own Howler.
There’s another wand shop you will want to check out right across from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Gregorovitch is a rival wandmaker of Ollivanders and you can find character wands, interactive wands, and wand stands at his shop.
You may be on vacation when you visit this shop, but it’s never too early to prepare for your next one. Globus Mundi is the official travel agency of the wizarding world and offers everything you need for your next trip like passport holders, travel apparel, mugs, and more.
Hogwarts Express Line: Travel in style with items sporting designs inspired by the iconic red locomotive, the Hogwarts Express, like a leather stainless tumbler or a collectible foil ticket set.
Before you leave Diagon Alley grab some treats to go from Sugarplum’s. This pink, sweet shop offers the finest in wizarding confections like Fizzing Whizbees, different flavors of fudge (including Butterbeer!), pumpkin pasties, Ginger Newt cookies, and more.
Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans:Challenge your friends to try a box of these beans and get ready to capture their reactions. The name says it all with flavors that range from enjoyable like lemon and cherry to the more, uh, unique flavors of grass and earwax.
Before you go, make sure to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter merchandise cart in London right outside of King’s Cross Station. You can find some of my favorite themed apparel here like the Knight Bus merchandise and the Grimmauld Place T-shirt.
You’ve arrived in Hogsmeade and the first shop you’ll come upon is the colorful sweet shop Honeydukes. Here, you’ll find all of the famous wizarding treats like Chocolate Frogs, Fizzing Whizbees, Cauldron Cakes, Exploding Bonbons, and more.
Chocolate Frog: You won’t want to miss out on this favorite wizarding world treat. Not only are they delicious, but each Chocolate Frog comes with a collectible wizard card celebrating a famous witch or wizard.
This is your one-stop shop for all your wizarding needs. Grab all of your Hogwarts house gear like robes, scarves, shirts, and drinkware. And don’t forget to check out the assortment of magical items such as wands, brooms, Sneakoscopes, and Quidditch supplies.
Owl Post is one of my favorite shops to stop in. It has everyone’s favorite owl plush companions (including Hedwig!) and every writing implement you need from quills to stationery and notebooks. You can also mail letters with a Hogsmeade postmark. For those of you who become inspired to read the books or see the movies during your visit, you can pick up both here, too!
Hogwarts House Stationery: Show your house pride with stationery that you can get personalized at the Owl Post cart located right outside the shop.
You can’t visit Hogwarts without stopping here. Rummage through the confiscated trinkets and treasures the school caretaker, Argus Filch, has seized from students such as Hogwarts Crest items, a Marauder’s Map toy, and even movie-replica props like the Hufflepuff Cup or the Sword of Gryffindor.
As you’re wrapping up your day, stop by the carts throughout Hogsmeade for any final finds like wands, wand stands, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure items like Pixie and Fluffy plushies, Hogwarts castle name keychains, and more.
Fluffy Plush Puppet: Little ones love this three-headed pooch puppet. It’s a great souvenir until they are tall enough to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and meet Fluffy face-to-face!
Shopping Tips for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
For the ultimate wizarding world experience, explore getting an interactive wand first when you arrive so you can practice your spellcasting throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
The shops are true to the films with narrow corridors and packed from floor to ceiling with whimsical oddities and magical supplies. Get a start on exploring the shops before the daytime guests with Early Park Admission. This perk is available to guests who stay at a Universal Orlando Resort hotel and gives you access to the parks one hour before everyone else.
Another perk for our hotel guests is being able to request to have your merchandise sent back to your hotel. Or, you can have the merchandise held near the park exit so you can pick it up at the end of the day. Just ask a Team Member at the shop and free up those arms from carrying bags for more spellcasting.
You can find select The Wizarding World of Harry Potter merchandise in the Universal Studios Stores located in the parks, CityWalk, and hotels. You can also find it before or after your trip on Universal’s online merch store. However, there are certain, exclusive items that can only be found in the lands.
Keep your eye out for the unexpected. You never know what you may find!
What’s at the top of your shopping list for Wizarding World of Harry Potter merchandise? Share your favorite finds in the comments below and on Twitter and Instagram using #WizardingWorldOrlando.
As the saying goes at Universal Orlando Resort: early to rise, early to ride. This is why staying on property and taking advantage of Early Park Admission can be your best friend, especially with early access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Plus, arriving early means in-park breakfast and I highly recommend you make time to enjoy a pleasant sit-down morning meal at one of the two remarkably themed restaurants in Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley before setting off on your journey.
Recommendations: To fully immerse yourself in the wizarding world you’ve got to go all in, which is why I highly recommend choosing one of the more adventurous breakfast plates like the delicious Egg, Leek and Mushroom Pasty.
If there’s one word to describe the majority of meals you will find at seated dining locations throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter it is hearty. The menus at the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks are loaded with wholesome dishes offering a feast of familiar and even some unfamiliar British fare. This, in addition to extraordinary theming and lively ambiance, makes the entire dining experience an attraction unto itself.
Leaky Cauldron – Diagon Alley
Recommendations: I can’t stress enough how good the Beef, Lamb & Guinness Stew really is, but I also dig the Mini Pie Combination.
Both the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks have kids menu options as well if you’re traveling with young ones.
Short on time? There’s a variety of grab-and-go food options throughout both lands so you can keep exploring and make use of every last valuable minute in the wizarding world.
London Taxi Cart – Diagon Alley
Recommendations: LoadedJacket Potato
When it comes to drinks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Butterbeer is a must-try. However, choices abound beyond just that sweet butterscotch concoction, including a number of other favorite drinks from the stories. Though, if you do opt for Butterbeer, the decision you’ll have to make is…which kind?
Where to get Butterbeer…
Diagon Alley – Leaky Cauldron, The Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune
Hogsmeade – Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head, Street Carts
Recommendation: Frozen Butterbeer is my personal favorite, but cold Butterbeer and hot Butterbeer are also worth a try. Keep in mind hot Butterbeer is a seasonal beverage available only during the winter time.
Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment – Carkitt Market in Diagon Alley
Recommendations: Sample the lot!CombineFire Protection Potion, Babbling Beverage, Draught of Peace, or Elixir to Induce Euphoria with a bottle of Gillywater for a flavorful treat.
Hogsmeade – Three Broomsticks
Diagon Alley – Leaky Cauldron, Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Hopping Pot
Recommendations: Pumpkin Juice is the classic, but Fishy Green Ale and Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice are the more adventurous choices.
Hogsmeade – Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head
Diagon Alley – Leaky Cauldron, Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Hopping Pot
Recommendations: Try the exclusive Hog’s Head Brew or other domestic and imported beers.
Check each location for availability of specific beverages. *Must be 21 years or older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.
Butterbeer isn’t the only sweet treat to be found in the wizarding world. Both lands feature their own whimsically-themed candy shops with shelves and glass cases of popular treats from the stories and some originals you won’t find anywhere else, too.
Recommendations: Too many to name… but I’ll try. Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Exploding Bonbons, Fizzing Whizbees, Fudge Flies, Butterbeer Fudge (yes, this exists and yes, it is absolutely delicious).
And if you’re looking for options for healthy eating or special dietary needs, we got you covered with some delicious options. If you or another guest have food allergies or intolerances, we offer a number of dining options throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where our chefs and culinary staff can accommodate your dietary needs. Just be sure to ask your server or attending Team Member for options at your specific dining location.
Leaky Cauldron – Diagon Alley
Recommendation: The Ploughman’s is enough food for two and it features an array of a feast of English cheese, crusty bread, field green salad, roasted tomatoes, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, branston pickle & scotch eggs. Wow, that’s literally a mouthful!
I hope this guide to dining in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort helped you plan all of the yummy details of your next visit. If I missed any of your favorites, please recommend them in the comments below.
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.
Any Floridian will tell you it’s just good sense to prepare yourself for rain when planning a day at a theme park. Here in the Sunshine State, we are all too familiar with those afternoon showers that come along during the later spring and summer months. As someone who has spent plenty of afternoons refreshing my weather app and trying to figure out where I can wait out the storm, I’m here to give you my best tips for a rainy day at Universal Orlando Resort so that you’re all set the next time the clouds start forming.
TIP #1: Stay at a Universal Orlando hotel.
The closer you stay to the theme parks, the easier it will be for you to decide to head back to the hotel, dry off, and come right back to the thrills once the storm has passed. And trust me, it will. Probably in like an hour or two. Plus with Early Park Admission (one of the MANY benefits of staying at a Universal hotel), you’ll be able to get a head start on your day if rain is in the forecast.
Here’s the deal — it isn’t completely unreasonable to assume that at some point during your day at Universal Orlando it may rain. Plan accordingly and throw a poncho or a light rain jacket into your bag to bring on your trip. Also plan to wear clothes and shoes that you won’t mind getting wet, just in case. Like I said, it’s just good sense to go ahead and be ready for a potentially rainy afternoon here in Florida!
TIP #3: Head to Universal’s Islands of Adventure first.
If rain is in the forecast, plan to start your day in Islands of Adventure. It has far more outside attractions that will be impacted by the rain, so you’ll want to make sure you get to fit those in first thing.
I love roller coasters as much as the next theme park fan, but some of my favorite rides at Universal are indoor attractions. Check the list below for where you can head during a rainy day at Universal!
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA INDOOR RIDES:
Revenge of the Mummy | This is actually my all-time FAVORITE ride. I welcome the rain because it gives me an excuse to ride The Mummy over and over and over again.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon | This is one of my favorite spots on a rainy day because the queue experience is so cool and transports you to Studio 6B! I love checking out the history of The Tonight Show, visiting with Hashtag the Panda, and catching the Ragtime Gals perform.
The Cat in The Hat | You won’t even remember it’s raining you’ll have such a blast in this whimsical Dr. Seuss book brought to life.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey | Not only is this a reprieve from the weather, but you’ll get to explore the incredible details found in Hogwarts castle AND go on a thrilling adventure with Harry Potter himself!
Don’t let the rain damper your good time; catch a phenomenal indoor live action stunt show at Universal Studios Florida — The Bourne Stuntacular. Or head over to The Horror Make-Up Show to fit some laughs into your day. They’re close to each other in the Hollywood area of the park so you can start with one and then head to the other without getting too wet!
Definitely download the official Universal Orlando Resort app to check for showtimes and other helpful features like Universal Pay, a map of the parks, and access to the Virtual Line experience.
TIP #6: Head to Universal CityWalk.
Take a break during your rainy day at Universal for a leisurely meal at any of the fantastic sit-down restaurants in CityWalk. The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen is my go-to because me and my crew love all of the different course-options: Bread (the warm chocolate almond bread is a must-order), Appetizer, Libation, Salad, Entree, and Milkshake. I also highly recommend asking if there’s seating upstairs! Watch the storm come and go with a great view.
VOLCANO BAY TIP: The rides at Volcano Bay only close during inclement weather, so as long as there’s no thunder or lightning, you should be good to go on the rides. If the storm is still going, I’d say wait out the storm and go ahead and use your TapuTapu to join the Virtual Lines for the rides and hunker down at Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club or one of the boat bars.
TIP #8: Ride a roller coaster to dry off.
When the rain has stopped there is no more thrilling way to dry off than riding one of the high-speed roller coasters at Universal. If you’re in Universal Studios, head to Hollywood Rip Ride Rock-It. If you’re in Islands of Adventure, take a ride on The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Jurassic World VelociCoaster. You’ll be dry in no time!
TIP #9: You tell me!
These are my best tips for what to do on a rainy day at Universal Orlando Resort, but I’d love to hear yours! Share them in the comments below!
When traveling with your family, finding relaxing accommodations to stay at while not breaking the budget is key. All of Universal Orlando Resort’s uniquely-themed hotels offer an incredible array of benefits and amenities, but none meet the extra-affordable value and levels of relaxation needed for larger families quite like Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. This resort features Dockside Inn and Suites and Surfside Inn and Suites, both of which give you the surf culture and beach life vibes you’re looking for on a Florida vacation. There really is no comparison in Orlando when you look at the price value and pair it with amenities designed with families in mind and theme park perks exclusive to Universal hotel guests.
If you’re hooked and want to know more, we are sharing the top five reasons we think you’ll love staying at Dockside Inn and Suites for your family’s next Universal Orlando Resort vacation.
1. Exclusive Food and Drinks (Most Under $12!)
By far my favorite thing about Dockside Inn and Suites is the food and drinks. There are a plethora of unique options for the whole family like the Pier 8 Egg Muffin, Dockworker Wrap, or the Chicken and Waffles bucket. Don’t miss the fun Wet n’ Wild inspired cocktails you can get poolside (Wet n’ Wild was the longtime water park that was previously located where Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is now). And for craft beer drinkers, there is the Sunset Blonde, which is a Mango Blonde Ale brewed exclusively for the resort.
2. More Than Half of the Hotel is 2-Bedroom Suites
During vacation, your hotel is your home away from home. You want to be able to relax when you get back to your room after a day in the theme parks. Having a 2-bedroom suite gives you much-needed space to recharge for tomorrow. The kids can spread out and have their space, while mom and dad can get some privacy, too. You don’t even need to spend the extra cash for connecting rooms. Also, talk about spacious — these suites sleep up to six and have a kitchenette, picnic table for meals, double vanity, and plenty of suitcase storage.
3. A Huge Hotel Calls for Two HUGE Pools
When I’m looking at hotels for an upcoming vacation, one of the deciding factors is the pool because I know we’re going to spend a full day relaxing poolside. Dockside Inn and Suites makes it an easy choice for the sole fact that it has not one, but two massive pools. Plus, there’s a fun splash pad area for kids to run around in, and for mom and dad, two large pool bars to grab an umbrella drink.
4.There are More Than 1,000 Longboards Around the Hotel
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort was designed by the same creative teams who bring the theme parks to life, so you know it’s going to be incredible with every detail. It’s inspired by surf culture and you see it come to life through every aspect of your stay, especially the design elements. Dockside Inn and Suites hooks into the chill and relaxing side of shore life with driftwood details, photorealistic artwork, overall color palette, and longboards. Each room has a custom-made longboard made by Quiet Flight just for Dockside, resulting in 1,024 longboards in total around the hotel!
5. It’s a Short Ride to the Theme Parks and an Even Shorter Walk to Surfside Inn and Suites
Any chance you can save time on commuting during vacation is a plus. Staying at Dockside Inn and Suites gives you a direct ride to Universal CityWalk and the theme parks with just a short 5-10 minute ride on the shuttles that come every 15 minutes. Plus, after your short shuttle ride, you can get into the theme parks before regular day guests because of Early Park Admission. The extra bonus is you can take a short walk over to Surfside Inn and Suites right next door if you want to check out the surfboard-shaped pool or a different dining option. (Surfside Inn and Suites is temporarily suspending operations. Please click here for more information.)
Picture This: You’re driving down the interstate. The construction is never-ending and the traffic is forever-maddening. You’ve got 6-37 different obligations in your life that demand your attention every day and between the podcast you’re trying to focus on, the meals you’re preparing for your family in your head, and the story your daughter is telling you from the backseat — you’ve got a lot going on. And then, like a beacon of hope, you see it. A volcano appears before you and suddenly all you can think about is relaxing on the beach with a tropical beverage in your hand, planning which raft ride you’ll adventure on next… This dream can be your reality at Universal’s water theme park, Volcano Bay!
The beauty of a visit to Volcano Bay is that you really shouldn’t feel the need to plan TOO much. This is your chance to sit back and relax as the island vibes whisk your worries away. So, consider this less a guide to planning and more a good friend taking you by the metaphorical hand and guiding you through Volcano Bay with my tried-and-true tips and recommendations.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are planning to include Volcano Bay in your vacation to Universal Orlando Resort, I cannot recommend enough staying at one of Universal’s hotels. You’ve got so many incredible options to choose from (and whichever you go with you’ll be avoiding sand getting in your car, which is the real dream here). Here are my thoughts to help you narrow it down a little…
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort| Staying at Cabana Bay is the number one best piece of advice I can give you for a visit to Volcano Bay. First off, Cabana Bay and Volcano Bay are incredibly close to each other — you can even book a standard room or family suite with a view of Volcano Bay. When you’re ready to get up and get going, you have access to a scenic walking-path that will lead you right from Cabana Bay to the park. Plus, your whole experience at Cabana Bay will transport you to a 1950’s beachside resort with Volcano Bay in your backyard!
Universal’s Aventura Hotel or Loews Sapphire Falls Resort| Both Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort are also super close to Volcano Bay (you can even catch the volcano light up and erupt at night from Aventura’s rooftop bar, Bar 17 Bistro). They also have access to the walking path that leads right into Volcano Bay. EDITOR’S NOTE: These hotels are temporarily suspending operations. However, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn & Suites are currently open. Details for our other hotels will be announced at a later time.
Another perk of staying at a Universal hotel is Early Park Admission into Volcano Bay, which will give you all the freedom in the world to pick the perfect beach chair, grab breakfast at Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club and relax, or get first dibs on your favorite ride before everyone else.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE…
TapuTapu has totally changed the game of water theme park experiences! You’ll be given a wearable to use for the day upon arrival at Volcano Bay and can use it to make cashless purchases with TapTu Pay and for fun interactive experiences throughout the park.
Securing either a private cabana or premium seatingis well worth it when I think of all the perks that come along with them. I can honestly tell you that every time I visit Volcano Bay for the day, I go ahead and get premium seating — I love the ease it adds. 13/10 recommend.
Learn more and call ahead to add one to your visit.
The main way you’ll use your TapuTapu, though, is for the virtual line experience for the rides. Just head to the attraction you’re interested in, tap your TapuTapu, explore other areas of the park while you wait, and then your TapuTapu will vibrate to let you know when it’s time to return and ride.
Keep an eye out around the park for maps of Volcano Bay and be sure to check your Official Universal Orlando Resort app for the map as well. You can even go ahead and peruse it some before you arrive, too. Volcano Bay is split into three different villages — Wave Village (where you enter into), Rainforest Village (near the back of the park), and River Village (to the right of the volcano). Plus there is the Volcano itself which has its own attractions! Each village has everything you’ll need — lockers, restrooms, beach chairs, restaurants, sunshine, etc.
The best option if you’re looking for quick transportation to Volcano Bay is staying at Cabana Bay, Sapphire Falls, or Aventura Hotel (helloooo walking path). There are also shuttles to Volcano Bay from the other Universal Orlando hotel properties. One of my favorite things about Universal Orlando Resort is how close everything is, so when we talk about shuttle rides, those shuttle rides are quick and easy.
If you are not staying at a Universal hotel, just drive yourself to the usual Universal Orlando parking garages and follow the signage for Volcano Bay parking. From there, you’ll be led to a quick shuttle to Volcano Bay.
TIP: Stay at a Universal hotel! Not only will you get Early Park Admission to Volcano Bay, but you’ll end up saving time and money by taking a shuttle to Volcano Bay rather than parking in the garage.
What to Bring
I definitely recommend bringing a towel (there are some available to rent, but for ease I’d say bring your own), wearing a swimsuit with some sort of cover-up, and wearing shoes that can get wet. Other than that, I’d say travel light with the same necessities you’d pack for a day at the beach — refillable water-bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, etc. Just remember whatever you bring needs to easily fit into a locker or be left behind at your beach chair when you ride the rides.
There is a lot to see and do at Volcano Bay — it’s an incredibly cool and immersive experience that provides the perfect blend of thrill and chill. I say you explore some and plan to take on all Volcano Bay has to offer!
Looking to ease into your day with a nice raft ride with your group? Jump in the Virtual Line Experience for the green slide and you’re all set. Itching for a bit more thrill? Go for the blue and enjoy the long, twisting, multi-passenger raft ride that is not at all for the faint-of heart. This option is more intense than its counterpart ika Moana, but I honestly suggest trying both! It’s good to know your threshold.
Climb to the top of the volcano and enter one of two clear tubes with a drop door to be plummeted down into the water below. These slides intertwined, twist, turn, and delightfully thrill. And if you’re ready to up your game and find even more thrill…
You’re in luck. In my opinion, this is the thrilliest ride in the park. It’s kind of like the body slides (climb to the top of a volcano, get into a clear tube, wait for the bottom to fall out), but about 100,000 times more terrifying. Those few seconds that you’re in the enclosure waiting for the door to open? Make your peace with Vol (the volcano spirit) then ‘cause this ride is NO joke.
Slide for 20 or so seconds and then JUST LIKE THAT you’re flying through the air four to six feet above a pool of water. Definitely recommend conquering Ohyah and then leveling up to Ohno. You got this.
This coaster is a feat of technology, in my opinion. It’s powered by magnets and is a unique water coaster that you’ll scream, laugh, and get wet on. Ride it once for the initial marvel of it all (a water ride that goes down AND up??) and then again to try and figure out how it all works (but HOW?!). And then again and again and again ‘cause it’s just incredibly fun!
Part tube ride, part an opportunity for mischievous tiki statues to splash you with jets of water, this attraction has several different slide and tube options for you to try out. And all of them are a twisty good time.
I know it’s not good to play favorites, but the Maku and Puihi Round Raft Rides are tied for first for me. No spoilers, but I love the eruptive way that Maku ends and the weightless moment Puihi delivers. Just don’t ask me to pick a favorite between the two.
I love thrill rides and body slides as much as anyone, but sometimes it’s nice to just take it easy in a leisure pool. Puka Uli Lagoon gives you exactly that opportunity — and with some fun bongo drums to play, too.
Another leisure pool like Puka Uli Lagoon, only this one comes with its own private waterfall and the benefit to beat all benefits: From The Reef you get a front-row seat to the riders braving the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.
Island food is my kind of food and if there’s a chance to eat coconut-encrusted anything at the foot of a volcano, I’m in. This is an airy, beach location that you can grab a bite from or if you have a private cabana or premium seating, sit back and order your tropical favorites right to you.
FAVORITES: I’m a big fan of the Coconut Curry Chicken (I’m also a sucker for sweet plantains on the side of anything) or the Jerked Mahi Sandwich.
A perfect spot for the combination of island-atmosphere and pizza-eating. There are also plenty of healthy options here if you’re suddenly remembering you need to be in a swimsuit for the rest of the day!
FAVORITES: Island BBQ Chicken Pizza is a top choice if you’re in the mood for pizza (it’s one of my favorite pizzas at Universal Orlando Resort!). But I’m also a sucker for a well-crafted Caesar Salad and the one at Whakawaiwai is great!
Swing by Bambu for plenty of yummy burger, sandwich, and salad options.
FAVORITES: The Quinoa Edamame Burger is easily one of the best burgers I’ve ever had — including meat options. It is seriously delicious and typing this right now is making me crave it. Grab a Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake to complete the meal.
What’s a water theme park day without ice cream? I don’t even want to know. I just so happen to think ice cream tastes best after a warm day splashing around and soaking up the sun. And the ice cream at Koka Poroka is proving my point with its deliciousness.
FAVORITES: I mean, I gotta go with Waturi Fusion — a combination of banana, blue raspberry, orange, and strawberry. Bonus, it looks beautiful in pictures if you can wait long enough before taking a bite!
Kunuku and Dancing Dragons Boat Bars Location: Rainforest Village (Kunuku) and Wave Village (Dancing Dragons)
Your relaxing island day wouldn’t be complete without a stop by one of Volcano Bay’s Boat Bars!
Krakatoa Katy’s & Waturi Marketplace Location: Wave Village
Whether you forgot to pack a beach necessity like sunglasses or sunscreen, or you’re in the market for some Volcano Bay souvenirs, check out the two merchandise locations in Volcano Bay. Waturi Marketplace is practically a boutique for women with some of their stylish options, and a great spot for beach apparel for the kids.
If you can find this spot within the volcano, you will feel like you’ve stumbled on your own private oasis. We won’t tell anyone if you won’t.
Vol, The Spirit of Krakatau Wander into the volcano itself to speak to Vol. Trust me, you’ve never experienced this kind of interactive magic at a water park.
TapTu Play Keep an eye out for spots throughout the park where you can use your TapuTapu to splash other guests!
Selfie Stations There are also plenty of spots where you can tap your TapuTapu, snap a pose, and get a unique shot of you in picturesque locations throughout Volcano Bay.
OK, now that you know everything Volcano Bay has to offer, what are you most excited to try? Or if you’re a Volcano Bay pro already, let me know in the comments below your own tips and tricks!
When planning for a vacation, I love to find the lesser-known things you can’t miss at that destination. It’s no different when it comes to theme parks. You probably know the highlights about Universal Orlando Resort: fun rides, hotels to stay at, delicious restaurants and entertainment, and — of course — The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This list offers twenty unique experiences at Universal Orlando Resort that you can do during your vacation.
There’s so much more you can do at Universal that you may not even be aware of. Like, did you know you can adopt a Pygmy Puff? Do you even know what a Pygmy Puff is!? Well, you’re about to find out. Whether it’s your first visit you’re planning or your 100th, I hope these spark some inspiration.
1. Try a Can of Whoville’s Who Hash
One of my new favorite foodie finds is over at Green Eggs and Ham Cafe in Seuss Landing with the can of Whoville’s Who Hash. Munching on your can of Who Hash while strolling through the land will make you feel as if you’re right in the middle of a Dr. Seuss book. You can also get Green Eggs & Ham Tots, Buffalo Chicken Tots, and more.
2. Have a Chat with a Volcano Spirit
If you venture inside the volcano Krakatau at Universal’s Volcano Bay, you will come across Vol, the spirit of the volcano! This trickster fire spirit is great to chat with and can be a bit playful with water when they want to be.
3. Tour the MEN IN BLACK Headquarters
Did you know that there is an immigration tour offered at MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack? This exclusive tour will allow you to explore the downstairs level of MIB headquarters. If you ask one of the agents nicely, they may have availability to take you down and meet a few of the aliens. *Note: This experience is not always available. Saving the galaxy can be quite time-consuming.*
4. Meet Characters From Your Favorite Movies
Did you know you can occasionally run into Men In Black agents, trade in your cash for bank notes with a Gringotts Goblin, or even practice your kung fu moves with Po from Kung Fu Panda? There are a ton of characters to meet that you may not even be aware of! Keep an eye out as you explore the parks to see who you can find.
5. Adopt a Pygmy Puff
And this, my friends, is a Pygmy Puff. They are one of the cutest creature companions in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and, when you adopt one, the shopkeepers will do a fun naming ceremony for you. You can find them at Magical Menagerie and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and you can adopt them in three sizes!
6. Bowl a Strike in Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Even if you can’t bowl a strike (like me), it’s pretty sweet having a bowling alley inyour hotel. Galaxy Bowl at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is small and intimate with only 10 lanes, which is part of its charm, but it does fill up fast. Don’t forget to make a reservation ahead of time and to bring your lucky bowling socks.
7. Snap a Pic with Your Favorite Shark
Our JAWs attraction will live on in our memories, but there is still one place you can get a taste of it. Quite literally — you can enjoy a Shark Attack drink at Chez Alcatraz. This little bar pays homage to the attraction and even has our favorite shark right next to it for pictures.
Your vacation is the perfect time to face your fears, right? Conquer the tallest drop slide in Orlando at Universal’s Volcano Bay. It also happens to have an awesome view… that is if you can keep your eyes open.
9. Try All Six Kinds of Butterbeer Treats
Yes, you read that right. There are six kinds of Butterbeer treats you can try in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including fudge, ice cream, potted cream and — of course — the three types of drink. *Certain Butterbeer treats are offered seasonally.*
10. Dance with a Panda
Sometimes you just need an impromptu dance party with a panda. Have no fear, Hashtag the Panda is here to help! You can meet and dance with Hashtag before racing through New York with Jimmy Fallon. You can also see a performance by the Ragtime Gals.
As a self-proclaimed mini golf extraordinaire, one of my favorite things to do is play a round at the Hollywood Drive-In Golf in Universal CityWalk. It’s the perfect low-key activity to end the day. Plus, the haunted and sci-fi themes of each course speak to my geeky heart.
13. See Your Favorite Movies On… Water Screens?
End your day at the parks with a front-row view of the nighttime show Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration in Universal Studios Florida. There’s something really epic about seeing a gigantic T. Rex from Jurassic World roaring in your face on MASSIVE water screens. *This show is available on select nights. Make sure to check the park map or Universal Orlando Mobile App for updates.*
14. Enjoy a Lunch Inspired by Dishes from Across the Globe
This is my kind of hidden gem when it comes to water parks. Waterfall Cove is a secluded area tucked away at the base of Krakatau (the volcano) in Volcano Bay. It makes for a peaceful escape from the crowds and has some gorgeous waterfalls that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to an exotic location.
16. Explore Lost Continent
An enchanted talking fountain, exotic cuisine, a bazaar filled with trinkets and treasures, psychic readings, and more. Lost Continent is one of the most richly-themed areas of Islands of Adventure with stunning backdrops for photos, and the perfect place to relax and grab a bite to eat. I highly recommend having lunch at Mythos and enjoying the excellent views of the park from the outside seating.
17. Eat Burgushi – Where the Cow and the Fish Become One
Take the fixings of both a burger and sushi, put them together, and bam! Burgushi. Chow down on this land and sea fusion at The Cowfish in Universal CityWalk. A guest favorite is The High-Class Hillbilly-Southern Style Bar-B-Q-Shi (pictured).
18. Live Your Best Rockstar Life
I love music, which makes Hard Rock Hotel one of my favorite places to stay. One of the fun things to do is the memorabilia tour. You can see priceless items from some of your singers and bands. Feel inspired? You can rent a guitar or record player to play in your room after! *Some hotel amenities may be temporarily unavailable during your visit.*
19. Cast Your Own Spells in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Create your own magic in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with an interactive wand. You have to try your hand at the Meteolojinx in Diagon Alley (pictured). My personal favorite spell is Incendio at Flimflams Lanterns in Diagon Alley. It’s so cool at night! You may even discover some hidden spells as you progress in your practice.
20. Sing Karaoke on the Big Stage
Even if you’re afraid of being in the spotlight, singing karaoke at Rising Star in Universal CityWalk is so much fun! You get backup singers and even a hype man to help make you the star of the show. Plus, the lights are bright enough on stage so you can barely see the crowd — just in case you need a courage booster. *Check the Universal Orlando Mobile App for when Rising Star and other CityWalk venues are open.*
What are your favorite unique experiences at Universal Orlando Resort? Add to the list in the comments below if you’re an experienced veteran of the parks!
Must be 21 years of age or older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages at Universal Orlando Resort.