Planning a visit to Universal Studios in Orlando anytime in the near future? If not, you really should consider it. We went for the very first time in November, and we already cannot wait to go again!
The trip we took kind of spawned off of the idea to do a mini vacation for my Momma’s birthday in November. We were just thinking something small like Branson, MO but why go small when you can go BIG? Amiright? It had been about 2.5 years since we had taken any kind of family vacation so I’d say we were well overdue! My middle sister is a nanny who never gets time off during the school year and took the fall off to help with the family business while my brother-in-law was out of state for military training. If that doesn’t scream PERFECT TIMING I don’t know what does.
An alluring factor that sealed the Universal Studios deal for us was of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! Anyone that knows us personally knows that Colton is the BIGGEST Harry Potter fan ever! (I’m one of those annoying fans that watched the movies first and then read the books…. or in my case listened to them to and from Arkansas) Parker even looks so much like young Daniel Radcliffe that when he turns 11, we are totally dressing him up as Harry Potter for Halloween!
Alright enough of my rambling. Here are some things you should know before you go!
1. STAY ON SITE!!!
Where we stayed: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
First Impressions: WOW THIS PLACE IS BEAUTIFUL!!! We had a double bed room that was right by the door for the pool and nobody on one side of us! We were able to call ahead and get all three of our rooms beside each other too! The perks alone for staying on site are astounding. One of our absolute favorite perks was the complimentary water taxis! They come every 5-10 minutes and start running 30 minutes before Early Park Admission until 2:30am every day! The kids were in heaven getting to ride these boats twice or more a day! This leads me to one of the other great perks, Early Park Admission. One hour doesn’t sound like a ton of extra time to ride rides but, believe you me, it makes the biggest difference getting to go in before the gates open to the public!
2. Always go to the official Universal website to see what ticket promotions they are having!
What kind of tickets: For the five days we were there the promotion was as follows: Buy 1, get 3 free park hopper tickets
First Impressions: I am convinced there is no other kind of ticket to get other than the Park Hopper. All three parks have so much to offer! Universal Studios houses my favorite ride: The Mummy Returns, just wait until you see that picture. Islands of Adventure is where Hogsmeade and Seuss Landing (a favorite for the boys!) are located. Then there’s Volcano Bay, but I’ll have to have Colton tell y’all the goods on that park because Coop and I stayed behind.
3. Plan out your meals!
Meal Plan: What stinkin meal plan? If there was a butterbeer option we’d have totally gone with that one, but no dice. After looking into all of the options available, we decided we would just grab some groceries before getting to the resort and then eat one meal out a day. Looking back, we stuck to this fairly well! The food options between the parks and CityWalk are endless! Remember that bit about the water taxis being available every five minutes up until 2:30am DAILY? That’s because all the restaurants are open until 1:00am!!!
4. Ignore the people that tell you Universal is not kid-friendly!
There were sooo many different areas for kids only in each of the parks. Universal is home to The Woody Woodpecker Kidzone, Fievel’s Playland, Curious George Goes to Town, E.T., and A Day in the Park with Barney to name a few. BARNEY, PEOPLE!!! Everybody’s favorite purple dinosaur, especially me. Islands of Adventure is where you’ll find Jurassic Park and Seuss Landing! Volcano Bay has two separate play areas for children under 48”: Tot Tiki Reef and Runamukka Reef!
5. Download the Universal Studios Orlando FL app
Growing up going to Six Flags type theme parks, I can tell you this app is a complete game changer. The app is a map, dining option finder, and ride wait time informer! This is the last and biggest tip I have for you. We never had to wonder where anything was. The part that showed how long each rides wait times were often dictated which park or area we went to first. The whole family used the app and Parker even had me download it to his iPad because of how cool its features are! Oh yeah, and it’s free!
While our trip definitely revolved around family time and our anticipation for Harry Potter World, we had an amazing time in the rest of the Universal Studios Orlando FL parks too! I didn’t plan much for this trip – something that was very hard for me. I really just wanted us to be in the moment and experience everything the park had to offer as we found it. If you are the planning type, I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful in your planning process! On Thursday, I’ll be sharing our favorite rides, what to be sure and buy BEFORE you go, and what we ate while there. Hope to see you then!