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.
As you’re planning your vacation to Universal Orlando Resort, be sure to add in a day to spend at Universal’s water theme park, Volcano Bay. This lush, tropical oasis has four themed areas inspired by the Pacific Isles, each with a mixture of both relaxing and thrilling experiences. For those looking for adventure, the 200-foot-tall volcano, Krakatau, towers at the heart of the theme park with water slides that twist and turn throughout it like the Krakatua Aqua Coaster. If you’re looking to unwind, enjoy a slow tube ride through the Kopiko Wai Winding River. And that’s just the tip of the volcano. There are so many things to do in this island paradise, so where do you start? We’ll help get you going with the top 10 things to do at Volcano Bay.
10. Refuel with Island-Inspired Dishes, Signature Drinks, and Cool Treats
Volcano Bay has changed the game when it comes to food in a water park with dishes jam-packed with flavors inspired by the South Pacific. A couple of favorites are the Waturi Fusion Ice Cream and the Quinoa Edamame Burger.
You’ve booked your vacation to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Now what? If you’re planning to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the very first time, you may need some tips for visiting the Wizarding World!
I remember the first time I knew I was going to be able to go to Hogwarts and try a Butterbeer just like Harry Potter. I was overflowing with excitement, which only increased ten-fold when I found myself finally walking under the arches into Hogsmeade village. I’m pretty sure I stood there for a good chunk of time staring and taking it all in before finally making a mad dash to get everything done in a matter of hours.
It’s not every day you can wander the streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley like a real witch or wizard. Make sure to add your robe, wand, and any other Harry Potter apparel or accessories to your packing list for some real epic pics. If you want to get your gear during your visit, there are many shops to check out throughout the wizarding world.
Arrive Early and Stay Late
Try to get there first thing in the morning for fewer crowds. (If you’re staying at a Universal hotel, definitely take advantage of the Early Park Admission perk!) On the flipside, if the theme parks are open later, try to stay until nighttime. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is absolutely breath-taking at night.
The entrance to Diagon Alley is cleverly disguised as a brick wall in the London area, just like it’s described as in the films and books. Believe it or not, some people (like my brother’s friends) walk right by it!
Try All Six Types of Butterbeer Treats
You’re probably familiar with Butterbeer, the frothy drink from the films and books that is reminiscent of butterscotch and shortbread. But, did you know there are six different Butterbeer treats you can try in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, like soft-serve ice cream and fudge? (Certain Butterbeer treats are offered seasonally.)
Don’t Skip the Queues
Typically, I’m all for getting through queues quickly, but the ride queues in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are ones you don’t want to miss. You get to see the iconic rooms and details inside Hogwarts castle and Gringotts bank, and even pass through Platform 9 ¾ on your way to ride the Hogwarts Express.
See All the Shows
A choir of singing frogs AND a theater troupe who performs with puppets? What more could you want. There are five live shows — two in Hogsmeade and three in Diagon Alley — you can see perform daily. (Check the Universal Orlando Resort App for show times.)
You may be too distracted by the fire-breathing dragon atop Gringotts bank when you first enter Diagon Alley and walk right by Knockturn Alley. Put your brave face on and wander into this shadowy alleyway, which gives you a taste of Dark Magic in the wizarding world.
Treat Yourself to More Than One Wizarding Treat
Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Sugar Quills, Pumpkin Pasties, and more. Nab a few of your favorite wizarding world sweets before you leave and enjoy them while reminiscing about your trip after you get back home.
Don’t Forget Your Interactive Wand Map
If you treat yourself to an interactive wand, don’t forget about the map! Each wand comes with a map that shows where you can cast spells throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Don’t be like me wandering around aimlessly searching the ground for bronze spell markers because you forgot it.
Explore the Shop Windows
Your attention may be pulled toward the rides or getting a Butterbeer, but make sure to take some time to do some “window” shopping. There are incredible details in each shop window that bring the magic to life right before your eyes.
Coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter any time of the year is quite magical, but coming during the holidays… it’s a whole ‘nother experience you won’t want to miss. Need more convincing? Two words: hot Butterbeer.
What are your favorite tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?
When you think of a Universal Orlando Resort vacation, you probably think of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or some amazing roller coasters. But, what about for families with little ones? There is plenty to do with a baby at Universal, from rides to shows to meeting characters and more! Plus, mom and dad can still find time to do the things they want to do, too.
Seuss Landing in Universal’s Islands of Adventure is so much fun to explore with little ones. They can ride a couple of the rides, meet characters, and watch a show. The bright colors and fun surroundings also help to keep them entertained.
Caro-Seuss-el: All kids love carousels, right? Toddlers can sit by themselves while mom and dad stand next to them while we go around and around. Baby not ready to ride solo? There’s a carriage option that you can sit in, too.
Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!: This daily show features your favorite Dr. Seuss characters: The Cat in the Hat™ with Thing One™ and Thing Two™, Sam-I-am (of Green Eggs and Ham fame), The Grinch™, and the Lorax—all dancing to musical “tellings” of the good doctor’s best-loved stories. Your kids will be all smiles watching the characters dance and sing. Afterwards, you may even get to meet the Lorax!
Kidzone is an area inside of Universal Studios Florida with tons of play areas, splash pads, and one of the most classic rides, E.T. Adventure. It offers a great mix for babies, toddlers, and older kids, including:
A Day in the Park with Barney: Those of us who grew up watching Barney can now take our kids to see him and his friends. The show is so much fun with singing, dancing, and even being able to meet the characters afterward in a fun play area.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Although we weren’t able to experience the actual ride vehicle (the ride height requirement is 40”), there is a stationary seat option at the front where you can sit with your baby. My daughter loves the Minions and after the ride you can meet one!
Universal’s Superstar Parade: Speaking of the Minions, watch them and other characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and the Secret Life of Pets dance and sing in Universal Studios.
One of the best things to do with a baby at Universal is meet all the characters. You can find them throughout the parks, and your baby will love interacting — and in many cases — staring in awe at them while trying to capture a photo.
Best Character Moments at Universal for Little Ones
Having fun with SpongeBob SquarePants and friends from Bikini Bottom
Meeting the Lorax and other Seuss characters
Chatting with the Hogwarts Express Train Conductor
Staring up at wonder with Dad at the Transformers
Dancing with our favorite Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me
Take All the Photos
Okay, so this activity is more for the parents, but you’ll be able to capture so many great memories. Besides the photos you’ll get from meeting characters and taking on certain rides and shows, there are also a ton of fun areas where you can snap a pic of your munchkin. How fun will it be for them to recreate that same pic later when they’re all grown up!
Best Photo Spots
Getting that iconic family vacation photo in front of the Universal Globe
Repping future house colors in front of Hogwarts castle
Acting silly at all of the fun Toon Lagoon photo ops (there are so many!)
Splish, Splashin’ Water Fun
It seems like almost every little one loves some water fun. There are a ton of places for baby to splish and splash in all three theme parks, at Universal Orlando’s hotels, and even in CityWalk.
Universal’s Volcano Bay
First and foremost, there’s an entire theme park where water is life. Universal’s Volcano Bay is the perfect choice and even has a special area for babies called Tot Tiki Reef, complete with a mini volcano! You can also have fun playing in the sand of Waturi Beach, exploring the caverns inside the volcano, and even trying a nibble of Waturi Fusion Ice Cream.
There are splash pads throughout the parks that are fun to take a minute and cool off with. You can find them over in Toon Lagoon, in CityWalk, and over in the ultimate splash area Curious George Goes to Town. The hardest part will be trying to get your little one to leave!
I highly recommend staying at one of Universal’s hotels during your vacation to take advantage of not only easy access to the parks, but also the pools! Take a relaxing dip with baby in the morning or afternoon with the ability to go back to the room and take a nap any time you want to.
Tips and Tricks for Visiting Universal with a Baby
EATING IN THE PARKS
As any parent knows, you have to be flexible when it comes to a baby’s meals on the go. However, having certain amenities and a level of comfortability sure makes things easier for everyone. Here are a few tips to make your day even easier:
Bring Your Meal: You can pack snacks, baby food, water, and formula to bring into the parks. There are nursing stations located in each park, as well as high chairs available at each restaurant.
Stay Cool: It can get warm in Florida, but there are plenty of sit-down restaurants with A/C to cool off in. If you’re going the quick-service route outside, there are still plenty of shaded areas to sit. Remember to drink plenty of water!
Get Comfy: Park your stroller outside to free up space and ask a Team Member for a spot that’s comfortable for a high chair.
WHAT TO BRING & WEAR
One of the thoughts that haunts me when traveling with our baby is how much we have to bring with us. For such a tiny human being, they tend to require a lot of stuff! Here’s what we found necessary to bring (outside of the usual baby essentials) and some recommendations on what to wear, too.
Stroller: If you’re going to bring a stroller, I suggest bringing a smaller, more nimble one to navigate through the crowds. One of those baby-carrying packs is pretty awesome, too. You can also rent a stroller at the parks if you want to save some space when traveling. Just remember, you have to park your stroller outside of each attraction.
Food & Drinks: As I mentioned above, you can bring in your own food and drinks, so make sure to pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Hat & Sunscreen: Pack baby a hat and sunscreen to protect them from the Florida sun. Make sure to bring some for you, too!
Stroller Fan: I found a stroller fan to be a great addition to keep the baby cool as we walked through the parks.
Change of Clothes: We all know babies can have accidents or get messy while having fun. Bring a change of clothes in case you need them. There are changing spaces in every restroom, including family restrooms, which I prefer.
Light Jacket or Blanket: Going from the hot outside into cold A/C can be jarring for baby. Bring a light jacket or blanket in case baby needs to warm up a little bit inside, especially when waiting in Child Swap.
Baby Headphones: The parks, and some of the shows and rides, can get really loud. Bringing a pair of baby headphones can protect their little ears while also making them stylish.
Rechargeable Mobile Battery: You’ll find yourself taking tons of pictures of your little one, which will drain your battery.
Make a Game Plan
When traveling with a baby, you will likely find yourself moving at a slower pace. The same is true when you’re trying to do the parks. My best piece of advice is to plan for multiple days at Universal Orlando Resort to make sure you can check everything off your must-do list.
Speaking of, research and plan ahead before your visit to create your must-do list. What attractions you want to ride, what shows to see, what restaurants you have to eat at, etc. I would also recommend staying at one of Universal’s hotels to make things even easier. Transportation is a breeze with shuttles or water taxis from the hotels to the parks (no getting baby in and out of a car seat!), and you can take advantage of Early Park Admission, which gives you more time in the parks with fewer crowds. It’s also great to have a place nearby where you can take the little one back for a nap, and each hotel has cribs available upon request. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably need some rest midday, too!
Take Advantage of Child Swap
This is probably one of the best things that has ever existed in the history of theme parks. Here’s how it works: Your party waits in the queue and when you get close to boarding the ride, a Team Member will direct a member of your party to wait in the designated Child Swap area with the baby. Once the rest of your group is off the ride, you can swap places and ride. This can be a great time to give your child a snack or a drink. There’s even a changing station, too, in case you need it. Some child swap locations also have great views for people watching, movies or music playing, and interactive play sets.
Visiting the theme parks with a baby will definitely change your overall experience around certain rides, shows, and more, but I personally think it makes it even more fun. You will find yourself doing new things you may not have thought of doing, while creating priceless memories with your family.
What are you looking forward to doing with your baby at Universal Orlando Resort during your vacation? Share with me in the comments below.
One of my favorite things about spending a day at a theme park is the food! There are so many delicious snacks and treats! When we can’t visit the theme parks in person to get our fix, we can make these theme park recipes at home.
Disney Parks Recipes
Disney Parks Churro Bites
1 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups vegetable or canola oil
½ cup sugar
Combine water, butter, salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in 1 ½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring pot to rolling boil.
Reduce heat to low.
Add flour and stir vigorously until mix forms a ball. Remove from heat and let rest for 5-7 min.
Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined. Set aside.
Heat oil in medium skillet or 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚.
Spoon dough into piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 1-inch strip of dough over saucepan, cut with knife, and drop into hot oil. Repeat until churro bites fill saucepan with room to fry.
Fry churro bites until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh spider strainer.
Drain churro bites on paper towel.
Mix sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss in churro bites until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce.
Mickey Mouse-shaped Beignets
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105°)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup boiling water
Vegetable oil for frying
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Combine sugar, shortening, salt, heavy cream, egg, flour and boiling water in a large bowl; stir in yeast mixture. With the dough hook attachment of an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the dough just until combined and smooth. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
Roll to 1/4-inch thickness and cut individual beignets with a Mickey Mouse-shaped cutter or cut into 2 1/2 to 3-inch squares. Cover with a towel and let dough rise until doubled in size in a warm, draft-free area, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Using caution, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to 350°F in a deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Fry beignets until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, turning as soon as they brown on one side. Remove with tongs and place on paper towels to drain. Dust warm beignets with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Lunch Box TartsRecipe
Chocolate Hazelnut Tarts
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
3 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 eggs, divided
10 tablespoons water
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk, divided
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
For Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, butter, coconut oil, and 2 of the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined.
Add water and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed and blend until dough is smooth. Do not overmix.
Divide dough into two even balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in refrigerator for 45 minutes.
Preheat over to 375 degrees.
Mix remaining egg and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Lightly flour a large cutting board and roll first ball of dough into 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut into eight 2- by 6-inch rectangles.
Place rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with reserved egg wash. Spread 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread on the rectangle.
Roll remaining ball of dough into 1/4-inch thick rectangle and cut into eight 2- by 6-inch rectangles. Place on top of chocolate hazelnut covered tarts and seal edges with a fork. Brush top of tarts with egg wash.
Bake for 17 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.
Mix sugar, 1 tablespoon of the milk, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Slowly add remaining milk until icing is smooth and spreads easily, but is not runny.
Spread icing on each cooled tart and top with bacon pieces.
Grilled Three-Cheese SandwichRecipe
Cream Cheese Spread
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Double Gloucester or cheddar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich
8 slices of artisan bread
8 cheddar cheese slices
8 provolone slices
For Cream Cheese Spread:
Combine cream cheese, Double Gloucester or cheddar, heavy cream, and salt in food processor. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
For Garlic Spread:
Combine mayonnaise, garlic, and salt in small bowl and stir until blended. Set aside.
For Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich:
Lay out artisan bread slices on parchment paper or large cutting board.
Place 2 slices of cheddar on 4 of the bread slices. Place 2 slices of provolone on remaining bread slices.
Equally spoon cream cheese spread on slices with provolone. Gently smooth cream cheese spread over each slice.
Press cheddar side and provolone side together.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, until hot.
Brush both sides of the sandwiches with garlic spread.
Grill sandwiches for 2 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.
Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup Recipe
1/2 pound of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 4 tablespoons butter 1 cup all-purpose flour 3 cups chicken stock 4 cups milk 1 pound white cheddar cheese, grated 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce Coarse salt, freshly ground pepper to taste 1/2 cup warm Canadian golden lager or any pale lager-style beer Chopped scallions or chives, for garnish
In a 4- or 5-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon, stirring, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Add red onion, celery, and butter and sauté until onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add milk and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Do not boil after milk is added.
Remove from heat and add cheese, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Blend with immersion blender until cheese is melted and soup is smooth. Stir in warm beer. If the soup is too thick, thin with some warm milk.
Serve the soup hot, garnished with chopped scallions or chives.
The Grey Stuff Recipe
1 1/2 cups cold whole milk
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
15 chocolate sandwich cookies
1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
3 tablespoons instant chocolate pudding mix
12 scalloped sugar cookies
Edible sugar pearls
Pour milk into large mixing bowl. Add instant vanilla pudding mix and whisk for 2 minutes until smooth and slightly thickened. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, until firm.
Place chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor and pulse until puréed.
Fold puréed cookies into pudding mix. Stir until fully mixed.
Add whipped topping and instant chocolate pudding. Stir until fully mixed.
Place in refrigerator and chill for one hour.
Spoon grey stuff into piping bag fitted with desired tip. Pipe grey stuff onto cookies. Top with sugar pearls.
Tonga Toast Recipe
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 quart canola oil, for frying
1 loaf sourdough bread (uncut, 12 inches long)
2 large bananas, peeled
Mix sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl (large enough to roll toast) with a fork until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
Whip eggs in medium bowl (large enough to dip toast) until well beaten. Add milk, cinnamon, and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
For Tonga Toast:
Using caution, preheat oil to 350°F in a large pot or a deep fryer. (If using a large pot, use a candy thermometer to make certain the oil does not get any hotter or it will burn.)
Slice the bread into four three-inch-thick slices.
Cut each banana in half crosswise, then each piece lengthwise.
Place a bread slice flat on the counter and tear out just enough from the middle (do not tear all the way through) to stuff half a banana into; repeat with each bread slice.
Dip stuffed bread into batter, covering both sides, allowing excess batter to drip off bread and place carefully into hot oil.
Cook 4-5 minutes until golden brown. If needed, turn toast over after 2 minutes and cook for another 2 minutes on other side. Remove and drain excess oil.
Roll toast in cinnamon-sugar. Repeat for each piece of toast.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Milk Shake Recipe
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons jelly (strawberry or grape)
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
Add additional peanut butter or jelly to taste.
Cook’s Notes: Two cups sliced strawberries can be substituted for jelly.
Chili with Beans
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Black pepper, to taste
Ground cayenne, to taste
2 cups jar cheese sauce
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 (2 pound) bag frozen potato barrels
1 1/2 cups corn chips
Chili with Beans
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
For Chili with Beans:
Brown ground beef in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven over medium heat until fully cooked. Drain off excess grease.
Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until onion is translucent.
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chili powder, and cumin. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt.
Add black pepper and cayenne, as needed.
Keep warm until ready to serve.
For Queso Sauce:
Place cheese sauce and diced tomatoes with chilies in small saucepan. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, until warm.
Keep warm until ready to serve.
Cook potato barrels according to package instructions.
Divide potato barrels into 6 bowls. Place 1/4 cup each of corn chips, chili with beans, and queso sauce on top of each bowl of potato barrels.
Top each bowl with 2 tablespoons shredded cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and 1 teaspoon green onions.
Kitchen Sink Recipe
1/2 cup warm fudge topping
1/2 cup warm butterscotch topping
1/2 cup warm peanut butter topping
1 medium banana, sliced in 1/2-inch slices
1 cinnamon spice cupcake (2 ½ x 1 1/4-inch), quartered
1 angel food cupcake (3 x 1 1/2-inch), quartered
2 generous scoops vanilla ice cream
2 generous scoops chocolate ice cream
2 generous scoops strawberry ice cream
1 generous scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream
1 generous scoop coffee ice cream
3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/4 cup marshmallow cream
1/4 cup strawberry topping
1/4 cup pineapple topping
14-ounce can dairy whipped topping
1 large brownie (6-inch x 6-inch), quartered
1 regular-sized candy bar, quartered
4 chocolate cookies with cream filling
1 tablespoon sliced toasted almonds
1 tablespoon dark and white chocolate shavings
1 tablespoon crushed chocolate cookies with cream filling
1 tablespoon chopped jellied orange slices, about 2 large slices
1 tablespoon milk chocolate chip morsels
1 tablespoon peanut butter chip morsels
1 tablespoon chocolate sprinkles
1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
1/2 cup drained maraschino cherries
Pour hot fudge, butterscotch, and peanut butter toppings into bottom of large bowl.
Layer banana slices and cupcake pieces over toppings. Top with all ice creams.
As quickly as possible, spoon chocolate syrup, marshmallow cream, strawberry, and pineapple toppings over ice cream.
Cover completely with dairy whipped topping. Tuck brownie pieces, candy bar pieces, and cookies in whipped topping.
Sprinkle with toasted almonds, dark and white chocolate shavings, crushed cookies, jellied orange slices, milk chocolate chip morsels, peanut butter morsels, chocolate sprinkles, and rainbow sprinkles. Top with cherries.
Butterbeer Recipe from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
One of the most iconic snacks from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or even all of Universal Orlando Resort is butterbeer. Butterbeer is served chilled, frozen, or warm (seasonally) inside of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can find this sweet butterscotch flavored treat in the Three Broomsticks, Leaky Cauldron, Hog’s Head, and carts throughout the Wizarding World.
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream divided
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
4 bottles (12 oz. bottles) cream soda
In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.
To make your butterbeer most like the original version served at Universal Orlando Resort, you will want to freeze this recipe since it served hot.
We even have a Harry Potter recipe card that you can print out to save your butterbeer recipe to make again and again!
Fried PB&J with Bananas Sandwich Recipe from Halloween Horror Nights
Although Universal Orlando Resort was unable to offer Halloween Horror Nights in 2020, you can still enjoy a delicious treat from the nation’s premier Halloween event as you dream about the fun for 2021!
The first step to enjoying these fried pb&j with bananas sandwich is to make the secret ingredient that makes this sandwich unbelievable… FUNNEL CAKE BATTER!
Funnel Cake Batter Recipe
1 ½ cups of whole milk
2 large eggs
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
In a large bowl, mix the milk and eggs together.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Next, stir the bowl of dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
Set aside for later.
Fried PB&J with Bananas Sandwich Recipe
2 slices of thick cut, white bread
1 ½ tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
1 ½ tablespoons of grape jelly
½ banana sliced
1 teaspoon chocolate syrup
½ cup funnel cake batter
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar
Canola oil (I would get at least 48 oz.)
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pot or large fry pan with canola oil until it reaches 350 degrees (use a candy thermometer to check temp).
You can also use a dutch oven or stock pot to fry as well. Whatever floats your boat… or in this case, sandwich.
For the canola oil, you’ll want around 2 inches or so. You want to be able to fully submerge the sandwich in the oil.
If you don’t have a candy thermometer (which I did not), you can tell the oil is ready when it’s shimmering with a whiff of smoke.
Spread creamy peanut butter evenly on one slice of bread.
Spread grape jelly evenly on another slice of bread.
Pause to lick any peanut butter or jelly you may have gotten on your fingers.
Slice the banana and place onto the piece of bread with the peanut butter.
Close sandwich and submerge into the bowl of funnel cake batter until completely covered.
Place the sandwich into the preheated oil but be careful! I recommend using tongs or a large slotted spoon.
Fry until golden brown on both sides.
Remove from oil and place onto paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Drizzle as much chocolate syrup as you’d like and garnish with powdered sugar. I love A LOT of chocolate as you can probably tell in the picture!
First, let’s get fancy and get a bunch of little bowls and divide all the ingredients up into them. Then, let’s get mixing!
Put the jalapeños in a large bowl (if you don’t like spiciness, skip this step.)
Carefully cut the avocado in half and discard the pit by inserting the blade into the seed using a quick and gentle cutting movement, then twist and remove. Gently scoop the avocado with a spoon and place in a bowl.
Add the red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, and olives to the bowl.
Add a drizzle of olive oil.
Mash and mix all the ingredients together using the back of a large spoon or fork, then mix in the lime juice.
Shape it into a perfect little guac mountain and garnish with extra cilantro or tomatoes.
Get your favorite chips and get your guac on!
Blast the mariachi music, throw those chips in a bowl, and get that salt shaker ready. It’s time to fiesta!
Big Apple Grilled Cheese Recipe from TODAY Cafe
You can bring a taste of Universal’s comfort food to your home with the Big Apple Grilled Cheese recipe from TODAY Cafe. This fun twist on grilled cheese combines the savory flavors of melted cheesiness and tomatoes with the crisp sweetness of apples all in one sandwich. It’s a great lunch option for your kids or for the big kid that’s in all of us.
2 slices of white bread
2 slices of cheddar cheese
2 slices of Swiss cheese
1 slice of pepper jack cheese
1 tablespoon roasted plum tomato
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 thin slices of Red Delicious apple
Butter two slices of white bread with softened butter
Remove the core of the apple and cut into 4 wedges
Thinly slice one wedge of apple and set aside for later
Place bread butter side down into non-stick fry pan on medium heat
Begin to build the sandwich by laying the pepper jack and Swiss cheese on one slice
Allow the cheese to begin to melt from the heat below
Once the cheese begins to soften, place apples and tomatoes on top of the slice with cheddar
Using a spatula, flip the side with the pepper jack onto the other side and press for one minute
Ensure that both sides are golden brown, remove from pan and place onto cutting board
Cut in half and enjoy the cheesiness!
Serve with your favorite side of fruit, potato salad, or whatever your heart desires
Bonus: it’s an easy recipe to tackle for those of us who aren’t necessarily cooking savvy.
Mini Pumpkin Donuts with Green Icing Recipe
This is the perfect pumpkin donut recipe to bring a little Halloween Horror Nights to your home. Not only are they deliciously pumpkin flavored, they’re also mini and very cute!
Makes 24 Mini Pumpkin Donuts
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup of pumpkin pie spice
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk
4 cups flour (plus a little more if dough is sticky)
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Green icing or white icing + green food coloring (from local grocery store for topping)
In a large bowl mix the sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and nutmeg together.
Add eggs, milk, and melted butter. Beat well.
Add 3 cups of the flour, beating until blended. Add one more cup of flour and beat well. The dough should be soft and sticky but firm enough to handle. If you feel it’s necessary, add up to 1/2 cup more flour.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for (at least) one hour.
Ahh… spring! I always affiliate springtime with a sense of newness. Something about spring cleaning, spring training, springing forward when daylight saving time begins — it’s all the good stuff of brighter days and fresh beginnings. And, I have a feeling that will be even more necessary and even more true this year, especially at Universal Orlando Resort. To kick off the season, I’m sharing the top four reasons to visit Universal Orlando Resort this spring.
The event will include food, entertainment, BEADS, and even a few other Mardi Gras staples. Chef Jason Glus, one of Universal’s Executive Chefs who played a major role in developing this year’s menu says, “As chefs we wanted the food this year to bring everybody together to celebrate all the wonderful flavors from around the world. No matter what celebration, no matter what culture, no matter what ingredient we will all dine together.”
And with a menu like this, you can sign me up for a little bit of everything!
Nothing says spring vacation quite like a trip to Volcano Bay. Universal’s water theme park is reopening to guests on February 27 and I personally cannot wait to grab myself some jerk shrimp mac and cheese, a Waturi Fusion ice cream cone, and some volcano-front seating to soak up some rays.
Speaking of rays, spring in Florida is L O V E L Y. We can all stow away those boots and swap them out for some sandals. I truly love nothing more than grabbing a refreshing Shark Attack from Chez Alcatraz, strolling around the streets of Universal Studios Florida, and taking a ride or two on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit on a sunny spring day. Can’t you just smell the sunscreen and hear the roller coaster screams now?
No Universal Orlando vacation is complete without a stay at one of the incredible Universal hotels — especially during the spring! I know I firmly believe that you should never miss an opportunity to swim, and Universal’s hotel pools give you plenty of opportunities to do exactly that. Plus every pool is unique to its hotel and its theming!
This year in particular I am so excited to try all of the Mardi-Gras-themed dishes and drinks at each one of the currently-operating hotels. Drinking a “Let The Good Times Roll” Hurricane while bowling at Cabana Bay Beach Resort’s Galaxy Bowl is certainly an opportunity we should all be taking advantage of!
There you have it! And just think, these are just the top four reasons to visit Universal Orlando Resort this spring! Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit, prepare yourself for a whole lot of jambalaya, and start planning your Universal Orlando Resort vacation!