Everything You Need to Know About Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to visit in Orlando! For years I only visited those parks run by our favorite mouse, but in the last couple of years I’ve been making it a point to spend some of my time at Universal. The more I visit – the more I love it!

Universal Orlando Resort

All the Parts of Universal

  • Universal Studios Florida – Lots of rides and lots of adventure. Dodge evil villains. Defend the earth. Face a fire-breathing dragon. In this theme park, the movies come to life right before your eyes!
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Super heroes and magical creates!
  • Universal’s Volcano Bay – This is the BEST water park in Orlando!
  • Universal CityWalk – Dining and entertainment at it’s best! 

Children Under Three Get In Free – Single or double strollers are available for rent upon entering Universal Studios Florida

Sit Out, Then Swap – If your children are too small or don’t want to go on a particular ride that you’d like to experience, you can take advantage of the “child swap” program. Each ride and attraction has a child swap area where one member of your party can wait with the little ones while the rest of your party rides.

Universal Rider Guide

All the Resorts of Universal

The resorts at Universal Orlando make it easy to get to the parks and CityWalk. You can enter the parks an hour before all other guests. When staying at some of the resorts, you can skip the regular lines at most popular attractions with FREE Universal Express Unlimited to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

There’s a Universal hotel for every style and budget. 

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel – Celebrate the sweet life. Enjoy the beauty, charm and romance of a luxurious escape inspired by the famed seaside village of Portofino, Italy. Tasty outdoor cafes and a serene harbor invite you to explore the colorful piazza. Three amazing pools offer different ways to relax. Incredible restaurants let you savor a deliciously delightful culinary tour of Italy.
  • Hard Rock Hotel – The coolest hotel on the planet. Live like a rock star and savor the perks of rock and roll royalty with impeccable accommodations, laid-back luxurious style and show-stopping service. 
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort – Experience a luxurious South Seas escape that perfectly combines tropical splendor and exceptional amenities. A sparkling lagoon-style pool surrounded by a white sand beach and swaying palms invites you to escape. Savor the culinary creations of a celebrity chef. Celebrate with a classic luau. Unwind with a one-of-a-kind dining adventure featuring locally brewed beers.
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – Step into paradise in the heart of the tropics. Blue waterfalls cascade over lush grounds and in the distance, calming sounds of steel drums call you to take in the scenic views, ease into island time and let go. Amid the ruins, passageways and pools you’ll find numerous Caribbean-themed dining options. 
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Vibrant, retro style rooms and suites brilliantly designed for fun and affordability. Relax with a splash, surrounded by amazing iconic architecture inspired by classic Florida beach resorts of the 1950’s and 60’s. Two massive pools, a winding lazy river, a bowling alley and more.
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel – Opening August 2018, this will be the modern and stylish place to stay. Spacious open areas will invite conversation and engagement while the 600 rooms reflect a clean, contemporary style. 

Each of the on-site resort hotels at Universal Orlando Resort has a supervised children’s activity center where kids can be dropped off in a safe, monitored environment while Mom and Dad enjoy a few hours out. An activity center is open every evening and offers movies, games, arts and crafts, and more for children ages 4–14. Please note that this service is only available to on-site hotel guests. There is a fee and advance reservations are suggested.

All Universal Orlando on-site hotels comply with accessibility requirements to ensure specially equipped guest rooms are available. Restaurants are wheelchair accessible, and all accessible guest room entrances include room numbers in Braille. Trained service animals are welcome. 

All About Dining

There are approximately 125 restaurants so there is something for every sort of eater! Dining plans offer different options, including full service or quick service – character dining – fine dining. No one goes hungry at Universal Orlando!

Annual Universal Events

  • A Celebration of Harry Potter 
  • Mardi Gras (Universal Studios) Feb. 3 – April 7, 2018
  • Rock the Universe (Universal Studios) 
  • Halloween Horror Nights 28 (Universal Studios)
  • Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort
  • Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (Universal Studios)
  • Mannheim Steamroller (Universal Studios) 
  • Grinchmas

2018 Will Be a Great Year to Visit Universal Orlando

Last week I shared all that will be coming to Walt Disney World in 2018 and if you plan on heading to Orlando, plan to visit Universal Orlando too! Universal has a long list of great things happening this year that those of you that love Universal will be on pins and needles waiting for.

Universal Orlando Happenings 2018

From grand openings to upcoming announcements, here’s a quick look ahead at what you can expect from Universal Orlando Resort in 2018.

The newest Universal resort, Aventura Hotel, will the the sixth property and as of now, plans have the opening scheduled for August. You can already book a room and start thinking and dreaming about the views out your floor-to-ceiling windows, or a cocktail in the rooftop bar. The hotel will be 17 stories and offer striking views of all the Universal theme parks! I can’t wait!

Fast & Furious – Supercharged will give you the ride of your life! The attraction will put you right in a chase scene with cars and props from the movie! 

And . . . don’t forget the recently started Marvel Character dinner! Located in Cafe 4 in Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, this dinner buffet features Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm and Rogue. Each character comes to your table to sign autographs and take photos, so start practicing your superhero pose!

It looks like Orlando will definitely be the place to visit in 2018!

Top 6 Reasons to Stay On-Site at Universal Orlando

I’m sure many of you are starting to plan your 2018 family vacations. If you’ll be heading to Orlando in 2018 the choices of what to do and where to stay are getting more difficult to make with so many outstanding options. If you will be heading to Universal Orlando you want to get the most for your money and your time and make sure the family has the best possible experience. Here are my top 6 reasons why you should be sure to stay on-site at one of Universal Orlando’s hotels.

Universal Orlando OnSite Resorts

Universal Orlando currently offers five hotels with a sixth, Aventura Hotel, due to open in August 2018. If you book your stay now at Aventura, before opening, Universal Orlando will give you a free $50 hotel dining credit on a stay of four to six nights. Or go all out and book a seven-night stay for a free $100 dining credit. Woot! Free food!

Or . . . take your pick of one of the these great resorts:

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel let’s you relax within an Italian seaside village.
  • Hard Rock Hotel let’s you live like a rock star.
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort let’s you escape to a South Seas paradise.
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort let’s you unwind in a Caribbean island retreat.
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort let’s you revel in retro fun with a Florida twist.

Anyway – back to my top 6 reasons to stay at a Universal Orlando on-site resort:

Unlimited Free Universal Express Access

Three of the five hotels on property (Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort) include Universal Express Unlimited access with your stay. The Express Pass is valid at all attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. That means you get to skip the regular lines and ride more rides during your time in park.

Easy Transportation to the Parks

Depending on the resort you stay at, you can take a water taxi, a shuttle bus right to the parks. You will never be more than a few minutes away from all there is to do at one of Universal Orlando’s three theme parks.

Early Park Admission

Each day, one or more of the theme parks and their most popular attractions open an hour before the scheduled time for on-site hotel guests. Those parks and their attractions include:

Universal Studios Florida

  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Universal’s Island of Adventure

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff

Universal’s Volcano Bay

  • Volcano Bay rides, slides, and attractions are available during Early Park Admission.

Free Merchandise Delivery to Your Resort

Shop til you drop and don’t worry about carrying those heavy bags around all day. Have your souvenirs delivered directly to your hotel.

Resort Extras

You can feast and hula at Loews Royal Pacific Resort’s Wantilan Luau, or party island-style during the Caribbean Carnaval dinner show at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Why not enjoy a live show at Hard Rock Hotel’s Velvet Sessions, or relax under the stars at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel’s Harbor Nights? 

Each of the Universal Orlando resorts offer something special that will make your stay memorable.

Complimentary Party Pass

You’ll be able to dance the night away at Universal CityWalk! If you want to enjoy a night out, your room key gets you club-to-club access at Rising Star, the groove, and Red Coconut Club in CityWalk throughout your entire stay with NO COVER CHARGE!!

Family Friendly New Year’s Eve in Orlando

family friendly new years orlando

With the holidays right around the corner and many families planning to spend some time in Orlando at one of the theme parks, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s Eve. There is so much to do in Orlando you can take your pick of fun and family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations at each of the theme parks.

Photo Credit: www.WDWNews.com

Walt Disney World Resort

Magic Kingdom: On both Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, witness the “Fantasy in the Sky” firework spectacular at 11:50 p.m. Go the night before for a special preview, or go on New Year’s Eve and receive party hats and noisemakers to make the party even better.

Epcot: Travel around the World Showcase with DJs, live music, dance stations and delicious food from all over the globe. You can even see two showings of the firework spectacular, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” at 6 p.m. and 11:40 p.m., prior to the holiday fireworks at midnight.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Here, you’ll be able to watch a brilliant fireworks display as the clock strikes midnight. Stick around afterward for a special presentation of “Star Wars: A Galactic  Spectacular” with the party continuing until 1 a.m.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort: This venue will host Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration. Bring the whole family and ring in the New Year with your favorite Disney-Pixar characters. Indulge in a buffet dinner, dance the night away, enjoy games for the kids and be mesmerized by the fantastic fireworks.

Adults Only at WDW

Disney’s BoardWalk Resort: Held in the Atlantic Dance Hall, this New Year’s Eve party invites you to don your best hat and blow your horn as you witness Epcot’s fireworks at midnight. A complimentary glass of champagne is included with admission.

Disney’s Contemporary Resort: This venue will host two parties exclusively for adults.

  • Disney Countdown to Midnight: This bash features delicious dishes, live DJs, ample dance room and a breathtaking view of the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks display. The food and drinks come from some of Disney World’s best restaurants, including California GrillFlying FishCítricos and Narcoosee’s.
  • Down in New Orleans: This jazz-infused, fine-dining experience will make you feel just like you’re in The Princess and the Frog. As the clock strikes midnight, enjoy a champagne toast and a gorgeous view of the park’s fireworks.

Photo Credit: Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure: From 8 a.m. on Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, both parks will feature DJs and memorable character meet-and-greets. A majestic fireworks show will ring in 2018 at midnight.

Rock ‘Til The Drop New Year’s Eve Party: Held at the Hard Rock Cafe & Live Orlando at Universal CityWalk, this family-friendly event includes live music, an assortment of menu offerings and a champagne toast at midnight. Plus, each ticket includes unlimited soda, juice and water for the little ones.

Adults Only Universal Orlando

 Universal CityWalk: The massive EVE at Universal CityWalk celebration gives you access to the entertainment destination’s best clubs, as well as the resort’s midnight fireworks display. You’ll also have the opportunity to dine on delicious food, such as prime rib and fresh seafood. Finally, the event will feature unique party zones, each offering a different signature cocktail.

SeaWorld Orlando

New Year’s Eve at SeaWorld Orlando: Give 2018 an aquatic welcome while surrounded by your favorite underwater animals. The party will include interactive DJ stations, craft beers, delectable food, musical performances and a vibrant fireworks display at midnight.

Photo Credit: Legoland Florida

Legoland Florida Resort

Kid’s New Year’s Party: If your little ones can’t make it to midnight, they can still ring in the New Year — albeit at the kid-friendlier hour of 7 p.m. That’s when a giant Lego brick will drop with Lego-inspired fireworks as a backdrop, capping off the giant dance party.

Orlando offers all sorts of ways to ring in the new year with your family! 

Harry Potter Fans – Let’s Celebrate at Universal Orlando Resorts

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Universal Harry Potter Celebration

Year 5 for the Potter celebration at Universal Orlando Resorts also happens to be the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I wonder if there will be some extra celebratory happenings?

Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Step inside a world where magic is real –

For three days in January (January 26 to 28, 2018) you can stop dreaming and live in the world of Harry Potter! You can take part in a magical 3-day event presented by Warner Bros. and Universal Orlando Resort™, celebrating Harry Potter and his Wizarding World.

Join fans for the fifth year from all around the world and listen to film talent Q&A sessions featuring Stanislav Yanevski (Viktor Krum), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley). You will also be able to enjoy special panels, demonstrations and surprises. Explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ and Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios Florida™. It’s sure to be a Harry Potter lovers dream come true!

The Celebration of Harry Potter will bring Harry Potter fans from all over the world together with the actors and artists who helped create the amazing stories come to life. The celebration is similar to a comic book convention and will fans see the stars up close and personal. Paul Harris, the choreographer who created wand combat for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, has led master classes in wand dueling at past events, and the designers of The Wizarding World answered questions about their craft.

During the three day celebration you will also be able to buy exclusive Celebration merchandise and souvenirs. Come dressed in your best Potter inspired costumes and waving your favorite wand!

It’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience at Universal Orlando Resort. Special event packages for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” are on sale now right here.

If you plan to visit Universal Orlando Resort – Here are 10 Tips for Saving Money on a Trip to Universal.