Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort, located in Orlando, Florida, is a theme park resort containing two action packed theme parks, an entertainment district with non-stop nightlife and extraordinary restaurants, a waterpark, and three (soon to be four) world class Loews hotels. Many visitors describe it as a place of fun, action, magic, excitement, humor, wonder, fantasy and attention to detail.

When guests exit the parking garage, they are first welcomed into the Universal CityWalk Orlando entertainment district. Then guests can see the two theme parks Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando's waterpark is Wet 'n Wild Orlando.


Universal CityWalk Orlando opened in 1999. Guests arriving at the resort park in one of two multi-story parking structures, then travel via covered moving sidewalks over Universal Boulevard and into CityWalk. From there, guests can proceed into either of the theme parks, Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure. CityWalk features shopping, nightclubs, and dining venues, and AMC Movie Theater. Universal Store has all the merchandise from both parks and Margaritaville has a gift shop. There are many night clubs at CityWalk most popular is the Groove, which has recently taken away 80's night. Red Coconut Club is the first club up the stairs on the right. Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom is both a night club and dining, Live Reggae & Jamaican Cuisine. Some notable locations are Hard Rock Cafe, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Emeril's, NBA City, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Antojitos, The Cowfish and Red Oven Pizza Bakery. There are also casual dining places at CityWalk: Moe's Southwest Grill, Burger King Whopper Bar, Panda express, Fusion Bistro Sushi & Sake Bar. CityWalk also features a Blue Man Group show at the Sharp Aquos Theater.

Universal Studios Florida is a movie and TV based theme park where there are an array of rides, shows, movie sets and attractions. Visitors also enjoy themed dining and shopping, a variety of special events throughout the year, and you might even catch a real film crew at work on the backlot. Universal Studios Florida, opened on June 7, 1990, is a theme park that lets visitors "Ride the Movies." The themes of Universal Studio's are targeted at making guests feel like they are in a movie set with rides, shows, and attractions that are inspired by popular film, television, and music productions. The park consists of eight themed areas – Hollywood, Production Central, New York, San Francisco, World Expo, Springfield, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.

Islands of Adventure, opened May 28, 1999, is a theme park composed of seven distinct "islands" that are themed to various forms of adventures. Visitors start off in the Port of Entry and make their way through the various islands – Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, based on the popular Harry Potter franchise, is the only island added after the park opened; it opened to the public on June 18, 2010

Wet 'n Wild Orlando was founded in 1977 by SeaWorld founder George Millay. The park is considered one of the first major water parks. There are eighteen water slides and attractions at the water park divided into four categories: Thrill Rides, Multi-Person Rides, Kids Rides, and Other Attractions. Popular attractions include The Storm, Bomb Bay, Disco H20, The Surge, and more. Wet 'n Wild is located on International Drive in front of Sand Lake. In the mid 2000's the water park was acquired by Universal Parks & Resorts.

Universal Orlando's on-site hotels include: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel & Spa, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Hotel, and Cabana Bay Beach Resort. All four hotels are located in close proximity to the Universal Orlando theme parks. The hotels offer guests free water taxi or shuttle bus service to the Universal Orlando theme parks. Another benefit is that for all hotels but the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the guest room can get you "Express Pass" at a kiosk near the ticket desk in the hotels. Theme park guests who are not staying at the Universal official hotels are able to purchase "Express Passes" at an additional cost.


Like all of Central Florida, the climate at Universal Orlando is humid and subtropical. Summer (MayOctober) is hot and sticky and winter (NovemberApril) is mild and drier. Visitors from higher latitudes are often surprised by the sheer intensity of the summer sun in Florida, which can rise to within a few degrees of straight overhead in June and July. In June through September, late afternoon thundershowers are very common; plan accordingly.

Inclement weather can often lead to the temporary closure of outdoor rides and live performances. In the case of rides, they will re-open after the weather improves. Live performances may be either delayed or canceled outright. On the other hand, inclement weather could work to your advantage, as it drives some visitors away from outdoor areas, or out of the parks entirely.

When to visit

There used to be some times of year when the parks were relatively deserted, but not so much anymore. Now they just vary from "moderately busy" to "completely insane". Still, deciding when to go remains a game of trade-offs: you must decide whether to favor lower crowds or longer park hours, and decide whether you prefer scorching days or chilly nights.

The peak periods for attendance are late December, mid-June to mid-August, and mid-February to mid-April. Why? That's when kids are on break from school. If you have kids, you may have no choice but to go during these peak times. The bad news is that you'll be packed like sardines next to 50,000 of your new closest friends, you'll wait two hours to go on rides like Forbidden Journey, Rip Ride Rockit, and Transformers, and you'll be paying a premium for the privilege. In the summer, you also get to listen to the kids complain about the heat. On the bright side, you'll have plenty of company, the parks are guaranteed to be open late, and almost every ride will be up and running.

If your schedule allows any flexibility at all, you should avoid these peak periods. Attendance is lowest in October, November (pre-Thanksgiving), December (pre-Christmas), and January. These can be very good times to go; crowds are low and prices are too, but keep in mind that you may find that several rides are shut down for maintenance, and the parks have shorter operating hours. In the winter, it's often too cold to go to the water parks, and you'll need a jacket at night.

The weeks between Easter and Memorial Day are another slow period, as well as the months of August and September; both periods provide a good balance of price, crowds, temperature, and operating hours, but you may need to take the kids out of school if you're bringing them along.

Of course, you may want to coordinate your trip with a special event such as Halloween Horror Nights.


If your vacation dates are flexible, plan to arrive to the Orlando area on Thursday. Both Friday and Saturday are transition days for park visitors, especially in the summer months. Saturdays do draw in more Annual Pass holders to the park, but that is the major day that people either arrive or leave the area. This causes attendance figures to be down, making it a perfect day to visit the parks.

If you are planning to have a day of rest in your vacation, by arriving on Thursday you can enjoy two days of parks with reduced crowds and then use Sunday to rest. If during those first two days you are planning to visit the Magic Kingdom, plan to do it on Friday. Attendance figures pick up for that park on Saturday. You will be able to do more attractions in the first two days while you are revved up, and then it will allow you to relax and enjoy the park on the more crowded days.


As in most places in the United States, English is the default language throughout the Universal Orlando Resort. However, many team members throughout the property are bi- or tri-lingual, and they can be identified by language signs on their name tags, representing the languages they speak. Spanish is very common in Florida, and the US as a whole. Spanish speakers will not have any problems navigating the resort.

Guest Services locations are near the entrance of all the theme parks, water parks, and resort hotels. Team members, who usually are multilingual, will also be available there to answer any questions you may have.

For hearing-impaired guests, assistive listening devices and captioning (handheld, reflective, or video) are available for selected attractions. Cast Members with knowledge of American Sign Language can be identified by the appropriate symbol on their name tags, and interpreters are available by appointment.


Universal Studios Florida

The archway entrance to the theme park.

Universal Studios Florida features seven themed areas all situated around a large lagoon. This lagoon is the site of Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories, a thematic display that showcases scenes from various Universal films, featuring lasers, projectors and fountains, and pyrotechnics.

The seven surrounding themed areas, clockwise from the entrance, are Production Central, New York, San Francisco, Springfield, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone and Hollywood; an eighth area, London/Diagon Alley between San Francisco and World Expo. Each area features a combination of rides, shows, attractions, character appearances, dining outlets and merchandise stores.

Production Central

New York

San Francisco

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley


World Expo

Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone


Islands of Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure features seven distinctly themed "islands" circling a central lagoon. The islands, going in clockwise order from the Port of Entry through which guests enter, consist of the Port of Entry, Marvel Superhero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.

Universal CityWalk



The Universal Music Plaza Stage live concerts:



Halloween Horror Nights turns the park into a giant haunted playground, including scare zones, numerous haunted houses and special themed shows. The event is run annually in late September and October.


Seen in Hollywood
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Betty Boop
  • Lucy and Ricky Ricardo
  • Scooby-Doo and Shaggy
  • Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble
Seen in Production Central
  • Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, Minions, and Vector.
  • Shrek, Princess Fiona, and Donkey
  • Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!|Diego
  • Alex and the Madagascar Penguins
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Optimus Prime and Bumblebee
Seen in Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone
  • Woody and Winnie Woodpecker
  • Curious George and Ted
  • Barney, B.J., and Baby Bop
  • Rugrats: Tommy, Chuckie, and Angelica
  • Crash Bandicoot
Seen in World Expo
  • Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa Simpson
  • Doc Brown and Marty Mcfly
Seen in New York
  • The Blues Brothers band
  • Mummy stiltwalkers
Seen in San Fransisco
  • Beetlejuice
  • Bill and Ted


Universal Express

Universal Studios Florida allow guests to utilize the "Universal Express Plus" Pass on selected attractions. This pass admits users to a separate line for the attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. Guests of Universal's three on-site resorts may show their room keys for unlimited uses of the faster line for each ride.

Universal Express is not included in park admission. There are a limited number of passes available each day and they are often sold out in advance. The cost of the pass varies based on what parks are selected and even what day is selected, with higher prices charged on peak operating days during the year.

If staying at on-site hotels, Royal Pacific Resort or the Hard Rock Hotel, free Universal Express is available at kiosk in the lobby with your room key.


Your multi-day theme park ticket can also be used for free entrance to the Clubs and Bars of CityWalk. Other ticket options include single venue tickets or CityWalk Party Pass.

Hogwarts Express

A park to park admission ticket is needed to ride the Hogwarts Express.

Get around

While everything at Universal Orlando is within a fairly short walking distance from any point in the resort, there are some additional options for getting to and from the on-site resort hotels. You can take a free water taxi boat or a rickshaw to get to all resorts except for the Cabana Bay Beach Resort; for the latter you can take one of their specially-themed buses that run between CityWalk and the hotel.


Universal Studios Florida

Production Central:

New York:


World Expo:

Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone:



Universal Studios Florida

Production Central

New York:

San Fransisco:

Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone:


Islands of Adventure

Port of Entry:

Marvel Superhero Island:

Toon Lagoon:

Jurassic Park:

Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Hogsmeade:

Lost Continent:

Seuss Landing:



One of the best perks to staying on site is that shuttles and ferry transportation to and from Universal Studios, Islands of Adventures and Universal's CityWalk is available free of charge! And another great perk of staying on the grounds, as part of your room key, you receive Universal Express Unlimited, which allows you to skip the lines (great for when you have little ones) and early park admission (so you can get on the rides before the parks open to the rest of the public).

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 05, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.