The Universal Orlando Resort encompasses a plethora of fun attractions, shows, rides, and restaurants to feed your thirst for the movies. With two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, it offers double the fun and the world-famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The theme parks are surrounded by what is known as Universal CityWalk, a great no-admission necessary place to stroll around and enjoy entertainment, shopping, and dining. Around that are the unique on-property hotels offering spectacular amenities, great pools, and free transportation to the parks, which recently expanded with the Volcano Bay water/theme park’s opening.
You will not be at a loss for fun or interaction at this stellar Orlando, Florida offering, but here are 19 fun things to do at Universal Orlando that are a must!
FYI: By the way, the complex’s official name is Universal Orlando Resort, though it is mostly called Universal Orlando or simply “Universal.”
I was a guest at Universa Orlando Resort as part of the We Grow Retreat 2018 sponsored by Universal Orlando Resort and Mediavine. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
#1 Drink A Butterbeer
Can anyone come to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without trying a Butterbeer? Absolutely not! Have the buttery sensation discussed worldwide in both parks at both King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade. Try it cold or frozen.
Tip: Travel between King’s Cross Station (Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) aboard the Hogwarts Express. Dual park admission is required.
#2 Grab a Breather
Take a break from an invigorating day at the parks on the High in the Sky Seuss trolley train ride. This colorful, family-friendly ride slowly takes you around Seuss Landing while telling you a classic Dr. Seuss story.
Tip: You can take great photos of the park from this ride.
#3 Eat a Gourmet Doughnut
Voodoo Doughnut is now at the Universal CityWalk. Game changer! Try the most requested doughnuts: the Bacon Maple Bar, Grape Ape, or Dirt Doughnut. You can also opt for a special one created exclusively for Universal like the Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) jelly-filled doughnut.
Tip: Parking is free for Florida residents at the Universal CityWalk after 6 PM.
#4 Visit the Mandara Spa
Experience ultimate relaxation at the 13,000 square-foot Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, complete with a steam room, hot tub, fitness room, and sauna. Indulge in the Elemis Pro-Collagen Age Defy Facial, or if you are feeling adventurous, try the Balinese Massage, great for circulation and to relieve tension.
#5 Feast on Something Delicious
Did you know that the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium has a full-service restaurant with tasty eats? Have the Chocolate Almond bread with salted caramel butter, Totchos, Croque Monsieur, Grilled Chicken Gnocchi, or Coffee & Chocolate Stout Buffalo Wings.
Caution: Be sure to save room for the killer milkshakes, which is probably why you came to Toothsome anyway. Don’t forget; you can take home the mason jar it is served in.
#6 Ride the Coolest Ride at Universal
Hop on the Lost Continent area’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong 3D bus ride for a thrilling, fun time that will leave you scratching your head as to how they did that! It is my favorite Universal ride. Don a pair of 3D glasses and depart on a journey full of surprises. I will leave you with only that as not to spoil the fun.
#7 Spend an Evening at Universal’s Most Fun Show
The Blue Man Group Show is alive and well at the Universal CityWalk. Bring your friends or family and laugh the night away with their crazy antics and audience participation. Guaranteed to make you smile, this dance party/concert/comedic multi-sensory show only gets better the longer it runs.
#8 See the Despicable Me Production
The Despicable Me attraction is a must-do at Universal Orlando. See the mischief that Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and the Minions get into while enjoying the adorable show.
Note: This is an immersive attraction (think simulator), and the bench can be uncomfortable at times.
#9 Experience a Unique Dining Experience
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar gets my vote for the best place to eat at the Universal Orlando Resort. Whether it’s the salty Edamame or Crab Rangoon Dip, The Cowfish Bento Box, or The Cowfish Has Officially Left The Building peanut butter and banana burger, everything you put in your mouth from this creative culinary gem is incredible.
Tip: Be sure to snap some photos from the restaurant’s top floor for great panoramic CityWalk views. Eat lunch at the Universal CityWalk instead of inside the park.
#10 Meet Your Favorite Super Hero
At Islands of Adventure, get your fangirl (or boy) on as you meet your favorite superheroes, like Captain America, Wolverine, the Green Goblin, and Spider-Man.
Note: These are casual meet and greet encounters, not organized, get in line type photo-ops.
#11 Enjoy a Posh Stay at Sapphire Falls
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is a lovely place to call home during your Universal Orlando Resort visit. The 1,000 Caribbean-themed rooms are stylish, comfy, and the property is loaded with fun things to see and do. Best of all, it offers quick transportation via boat ride to the Universal theme parks and CityWalk.
Tip: Sapphire Falls Resort has the largest pool of all Universal on-property hotels. Enjoy a sandy beach area, oversized hot tub, and a waterslide!
#12 Grab a Snack at the Poolside Bars
Not only does Universal Orlando have delicious restaurants at the CityWalk and hotel restaurants, but they have tasty eats by the hotel pools, as well. Try the chilled Spicy Shrimp Dip from Dhrum Club Kantina at Sapphire Falls, which pairs nicely with salted tortilla chips. Enjoy the open air, TVs around the cave-like snack bar, and friendly bartenders.
Tip: You can only use the amenities at the hotel in which you are staying.
#13 Pretend You’re in New York
The protocol to get to Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is exactly like being a guest on the real show at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City–Even down to the TV clips on the screens and everything! It takes some time to get through the queue to the actual ride, but are entertained all the while.
#14 Eat a Donut as Big as Your Head
One of the most popular areas at Universal Orlando’s theme park is Springfield, home of The Simpsons. Wait until you see the enormous pink frosted donut that will leave you on a sugar high to help get you through a busy day at the park!
Note: You might want to share it with a friend–it’s enormous.
#15 Take a Forbidden Journey
Soar above the castle grounds in this interactive ride at Islands of Adventure’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Forbidden Journey takes you through Harry Potter movie scenes around thrilling twists and turns, spins, and drops while riding through Hogwarts.
Note: Your personal belongings must be stored in a locker before riding. Don’t worry–they are free!
#16 Have a Good Scare
Attending Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios is all that and a bag of chips. From the thrilling scare zones to the incredibly haunted houses (different levels of frights), you are guaranteed to have your adrenaline on overload as you work your way through the eerily decorated park. The park offers special foods, drinks, shows, and hours for this fright fest.
Note: Halloween Horror Nights requires a separate ticket.
#17 Unleash Your Inner Mermaid
Universal Orlando Resort’s Volcano Bay is a super-thrilling water park with 20 waterslides that are fun for all ages. The park, Universal’s third, opened in the summer of 2017. Immerse yourself in the tropics as you explore the awesomeness of this unique park.
Don’t miss the 70-degree extreme fall through a trap door on the Ko’okiri Body Plunge ride. It is one for the books!
#18 Enjoy the Pool Scene
Skip going to the parks one day during your vacation and enjoy the Florida sunshine at whatever Universal hotel you choose to stay at. You deserve a day of relaxation!
#19 Break Bread with the Characters
Book your VIP breakfast experience at Café La Bamba and meet your favorite characters from Go Diego Go, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Despicable Me. Be sure to get your share of selfies (and bacon) at Universal’s Superstar Character Breakfast on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Universal: Family Fun For All Ages
While the list of things to do at the Universal Orlando Resort is endless, you must do 19 fun things. Between the three theme parks, on-property hotels, and CityWalk, there are many things to see, do, smell, eat, touch, savor, and try. The Universal Orlando Resort is guaranteed to provide plenty of thrills, screams, laughs, smiles, gasps, and memories for the whole family.
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