Universal Orlando Resort
I have wanted to visit the Universal Orlando Resort for years. Finally, in March, my mom (Melody) and I had the opportunity. We stayed on property at Cabana Bay, which made things incredibly easy. We visited both Universal theme parks and had an absolute blast! There was so much to see and do that the ladies of Wherever I May Roam Blog did not know where to begin. Here is the rundown of my first visit to the Universal Orlando Resort.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
My mom and I stayed at Universal’s Cabana Bay the day before and the night of our theme parks visit. It was wonderful and incredibly convenient! We loved the retro vibe of Cabana Bay and thought the colors went right along with the old Florida beach feel.
After we checked in at Cabana Bay, Melody and I opted to spend our evening at the Universal City Walk. We left our room, went to the bus stop, and took the shuttle across the street to the City Walk. It was so easy and we did not have to fight traffic or parking.
Read our full review of Cabana Bay.
Universal City Walk
I cannot believe that after all of my time in Orlando I had never visited the Universal City Walk! Nicknamed the “epicenter of awesome”, this is definitely the spot for great food and fun nightlife. I loved all of the neon signs and fun atmosphere.
My mom and I had dinner at Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches, since most restaurants were on a wait. This cute eatery is located on the upper deck of the City Walk. We both enjoyed our sandwiches and the creative decorations inside of the restaurant, namely the lunch boxes hanging on the walls.
Afterwards, we walked around and took everything in. We wanted dessert from the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, but the line was out of the door. We finished our lap of the Universal City Walk and headed back to Cabana Bay so that we could rest up for the next day.
Islands of Adventure
The day of our Universal parks visit, I sprung out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning. Your Wherever I May Roam writers got dressed, rode the bus to the City Walk, ate la fantastic lunch at CowFish, and began our day at Islands of Adventure.
All it took was me stepping inside of the gates to see why Islands of Adventure was ranked the #1 Theme Park in the World by Trip Advisor in 2015 and 2016. The themes of each area are incredibly well executed; you truly feel immersed in the world represented.
Since I am obsessed with Dr. Seuss, we stopped in Seuss Landing first. I had my picture taken with The Grinch (tears of joy). We also rode the Cat in the Hat, which adorably told the story.
Then, we walked through The Lost Continent and Jurassic Park areas. While passing through Skull Island, we rode Skull Island: Reign of Kong. This 3D bus ride was Melody’s favorite. She could not get over what a cool concept this ride was.
We finished our loop of Islands of Adventure by checking out Toon Lagoon and Marvel Super Hero Island. We wanted to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster but you have to put your things in a locker and the line to do so was quite long.
It was now time to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade!
Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade
All I have to say is wow! I felt like I had stepped out of Florida and into a Harry Potter movie. Hogwarts was constructed perfectly; I could have photographed it all day. My mom and I rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which took us inside of the castle and on a ride like I had never experienced. We also rode Flight of the Hippogriff before grabbing a Butterbeer and strolling around the town of Hogsmeade, found at the foot of the castle.
In order to get to Universal Studios, we rode the Hogwarts Express. How cool is that? The train was not operational when we arrived, but we stood in line for half an hour until it was. We sat back and relaxed in a cabin while watching a Harry Potter video on the train “window”.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley
The Hogwarts Express took us to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley at King Cross Station in Universal Studios. Upon exiting the train station, you walk the streets of London. Apartments line the sidewalk and a double decker bus, which Harry Potter fans know as the Knight Bus, sits across the street. Secret passageways transport you to Diagon Alley.
Diagon Alley absolutely blew me away! I did not know what to do first. My mom and I looked around the shops, and I had a hard time not buying everything that I saw. From Quidditch gear to dolls of Doby, Diagon Alley has it all.
Instead of waiting in line to ride something, we walked around taking pictures and watched kids casting spells. I really wanted to buy a wand from Ollivanders and join in on the fun, but I opted to wait until my next visit when my husband is there, too.
My favorite parts of Diagon Alley were the Gringotts Money Exchange and fire breathing dragon. I truly felt like I was in an alternative world.
My mom and I finally pulled ourselves from Diagon Alley to see what else Universal Studios had to offer. I am not a fan of the Simpsons, but I really enjoyed the Springfield area. It has carnival games and a cool themed food court.
We headed to the New York and San Francisco areas to find some lunch. After waiting at Finnegan’s Bar & Grill for twenty minutes and not having a server, we ended up at Louie’s Italian Restaurant. Our lunch was quick, tasted great, and the staff was very friendly. We were glad to sit down and rest our feet for a few minutes.
After recharging, we were ready to get back to it. We scored a Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon ticket, in testing at the time. We had gone to a Tonight Show taping in January during our NYC travels and the inside of the building looked just like Rockefeller Plaza and NBC Studios. Your Wherever I May Roam writers were exhausted by this point and after waiting forty-five minutes, we left without riding.
On our way to the exit the park, we stopped in Production Central for the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction. It was really cute and a great way to end our day at Universal Studios. We made our way back to the bus to relax at Cabana Bay for the rest of the evening.
Visit The Universal Orlando Resort
I had a blast visiting the Universal Orlando Resort. Although this was a trip that I was really looking forward to, the parks exceeded my expectations. I am already planning my next trip to the Universal Orlando Resort and cannot wait to bring my husband. What a fun day we had!
About The Universal Orlando Resort
Five onsite Hotels
Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, Loews Royal Pacific, Cabana Bay, Loews Sapphire Falls
Stay on property and gain access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour early
“The longer you play, the more you save per day”
One day park ticket starts at $110
Single day park to park starts at $165
One day Volcano Bay $65
Upgrade to an Express Pass starting at $49.99 which cuts your wait time, at majority of the rides, in half (excludes Wizarding World of Harry Potter)
About Islands of Adventure
Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Jurassic Park, Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing
Dr. Doom’s Fearfall, Dudley Do-Right’s Topsaw Falls, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Popeye and Bluto’s Blige-Rat Barges, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Poseidon’s Fury, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Cat in the Hat, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, The Incredible Hulk Coaster (150 feet, 67 MPH, 7 loops)
Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!, Eighth Voyage of Sinbad
Dr. Seuss Favorites (Grinch, Thing 1 and 2, Cat In The Hat), Marvel Characters (Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Green Goblin)
26 Total including American, Mediterranean, pizza, coffee, Mexican, Asian, Greek
Dragon Challenge (two different rides), Flight of the Hippogriff (pass Hagrid’s Hut), Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (through the castle and face magical creatures), Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade
Hog’s Head (Butterbeer), Three Broomsticks (British food)
Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Ollivanders (wands), Owl Post
About Diagon Alley
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (multi-dimensional thrill ride), Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station
Hopping Pot (Butterbeer), Leaky Cauldron (British food)
Borgin and Burkes, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Scribbulus
Gringotts Money Exchange (trade in $10 and $20 bills for bank notes to use in Diagon Alley), Knight Bus (shrunken head), Ollivanders (wands)
About Universal Studios
Production Central, New York, San Fransisco, Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley, World Expo, Springfield: Home of the Simpsons, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, Hollywood
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, ET Adventure, Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (65 MPH), Kang & Kodos’ Twist’n’Hurl, Men In Black Alien Attack, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, Revenge of the Mummy, Shrek 4-D, Terminator 2: 3-D, The Simpsons Ride, Transformers: The Ride-3D, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
Blues Brothers, Fear Factor Live, Animal Actors
The Simpsons, SpongeBob SquarePants, Transformers, Shrek and Donkey, Cast of Scooby Doo, Curious George, Despicable Me
33 Total including burgers, pizza, pastries, Italian, seafood, Irish, American, ice cream
Universal Orlando Resort Photo Gallery
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Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.
Check out some of our other Orlando articles:
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Thanks to Universal Studios and Cabana Bay for making this trip possible.
As always, all reviews and opinions are unbiased and completely my own.