When families think of Orlando, quite often Disney World is the first to pop into their heads, but The Magic Kingdom isn’t the only fun in town – think Universal Studios! Universal is where many dreams come true, especially for fans of Harry Potter. When your family heads to Orlando, especially during the holidays, consider adding Universal Studios to your itinerary, you’ll find the holiday spirit is everywhere.
Understanding Universal Studios
It’s important to understand Universal Studios consist of two theme parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. But they are commonly referred to together as Universal Studios
There are two ticket selections to choose from Park-to-Park or Single Park Admission. With a Park-to-Park Admission ticket, your family can enjoy both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios on the same day you visit. Or you can purchase a Single Park Admission and enjoy either Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios on the same day. Single Park Admission tickets are cheaper, but they do limit your family to one park per day.
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Harry Potter Experience
Universal Studios hit it big when they added The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure back in 2010. It’s incredible popularity made it a challenge to accommodate all the fans. In 2014, Diagon Alley was built over on the Universal Studios side. This addition helped spread out the millions of Harry Potter fans. Be forewarned, there are still times when both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley temporarily limit visitors to avoid overcrowding.
Both parks offer rides, restaurants, entertainment, and shops, but it’s important for the true Harry Potter fan to see both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley. If you have a Park-to-Park Admission pass, you can board The Hogswart Express Train from Hogsmeade in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Diagon Alley and back again to Hogsmeade. Riding the train will save your family a ton of walking while giving your family an even greater Harry Potter experience!
Universal Studios Park
Universal Studios, built in 1990, was the first of the two theme parks. It highlights the entertainment industry with attractions based on its own vast film library. Your family can enjoy rides based on films such as Despicable Me, Shrek, Terminator, Transformers, and many others. Don’t miss the new Harry Potter, Escape from Gringotts ride.
The rides range from young kids giggles to adult thrills, simply do a little research to find what best suits your family’s interests.
For those looking to enjoy some holiday spirit, catch Macy’s Holiday Parade with authentic balloons and floats direct from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Also, there are holiday shows for all ages. For little ones, they can enjoy A Barney Holiday. Older kids and adults can get their holiday groove on by watching The Blues Brothers Holiday Show.
Islands of Adventure Park
Built in 1999, Islands of Adventure will take your family through a journey of exploration through action movies like Jurassic Park, Spiderman, and The Lost Continent. Older kids love riding on the high-action water ride on Jurassic Park River Adventure, the high-speed Incredible Hulk Coaster, and the 3D Spider Man thrill ride, just to name a few. The younger crowd loves the whimsical worlds of Seuss Landing, Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Super Hero Island. Character sightings can be found throughout these areas.
Don’t’ forget The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in Islands of Adventure and features it’s most popular ride, Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey – my family’s favorite ride too!
At Christmastime, your family can see a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic tale by seeing The Grinchmas Who-Liday Spectular or have breakfast with The Grinch!
City Walk is an admission-free entertainment hot spot featuring restaurants, shops, and entertainment. It’s conveniently located between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. When your family enters or exits one of the parks, you will have to walk through part of City Walk. Here is where your family can find the world-famous Universal Studios globe for a great photo op!