Dip into the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
If you love Harry Potter (and who doesn't), then it is mandatory that you visit both Hogsmeade and
Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando. Best of all, when you visit both, you get to ride the Hogwarts Express which connects the two Potter-centric areas. Get lost in Knockturn Alley, escape Gringotts, and use your wands to create magical effects at every turn. After doing ALL the things and downing a Butterbeer or two, stopping by Honey Dukes
is a must. Indulge in Fizzing Whizzbees, Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans which even includes some of the super gross flavors — you’ve been warned. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Enjoy the Hogwarts nightlife.
Celebrate the four houses of Harry Potter during The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
(running select nights throughout 2018). As night falls, Hogwarts Castle is covered with otherworldly lights and projections. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Get wet at Volcano Bay.
A little over a year old, Volcano Bay is a fully immersive water park centered around a gigantic 200-foot-tall faux volcano named Krakatau. This volcano isn't just there just for looks; it hosts several different rides like the Krakatau Aqua Coaster and the Ko'okiri Body Plunge (which is the the tallest body slide in America). Additionally, there's a wide variety of water-based attractions sprinkled around the park. If you'd rather chill, there's a huge wave pool, a lazy river, and several areas designed for relaxation. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Go to the movies. This summer will see the debut of the brand-new watery extravaganza called Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration. Moments from the Harry Potter series, Jurassic World, The Fast & the Furious, and Despicable Me will be shown on full panoramic water screens with over 100 dancing fountains, as well as projection mapping and pyrotechnics. While there is no date for the official opening, it will begin thrilling park goers this summer. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Feel like you’re in Little Italy (or Hollywood’s version of Little Italy) in the middle of Florida. The backlot section of Universal Studios is an ode to the always-active film sets out West (Universal’s Studio Tour in Los Angeles goes to actual working film sets). While the newest episode of your fave show may not be in production there, it’s still a hoot to walk around these classic-style sets. (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
Visit your hometown
. Depending where you're from, you might be able to assuage any homesickness with Universal's recreations of American cities, like in the case of our own hometown of San Francisco! Along with the iconic signage, there's even a version of SF's Buena Vista
, the famous home of the Irish coffee. (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
Hang out with the Cat in the Hat.
Seuss Landing is a surreal area awash with color and loads of whimsy. Rides like The Cat in the Hat, The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, and the Caro-Seuss-el bring all that brightly hued Dr. Seuss magic to life. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Immerse yourself in old-school cartoons and comic books. Cathy, Betty Boop, Popeye, Broom-Hilda, Hagar the Horrible, and many 'toon stars of yore are represented in an area that seems to be ripped from the funny pages. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges are two wet rides not to be missed! (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
Go fast! For those who have a need for speed, there's the new Fast & Furious – Supercharged, an attraction inspired by the blockbuster movie franchise. In the full-throttle, high-octane experience, guests ride along with Dom, Letty, and Hobbs, hitting twists, turns, and plenty of thrills along the way. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Do something thrilling. One of the biggest draws at Universal (besides all of that wonderful Potterness) is the over-the-top thrill rides that will make you scream, shake, sweat, and scream some more with all their twists, turns, and miracles of physics. If you're a fan of roller coasters, you won't be disappointed. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Hang out with King Kong.
In the heart of Universal's Islands of Adventure
, the largest of the the apes holds court in Skull Island: Reign of Kong
. This thrill ride is not for the faint of heart; it's a treacherous journey through a mysterious jungle with all sorts of prehistoric creatures and monsters coming at you from all sides. Thankfully Kong is there to (hopefully) save the day. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
The Simpsons' hometown has been carefully recreated right in the middle of Orlando. It's all there, from the Kwik-E-Mart, to Duff Brewery
, to Moe's Tavern
. Subtle details are everywhere, so make sure to keep your eyes (and ears) open. (Photo via Sunny Chanel)
Hug a Minion.
The Minions of Despicable Me
fame are totally irresistible and can be found hanging out by the attraction designed in their honor — Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
. This action-packed ride is a hilarious 3D journey that you have to go on if you love these yellow creatures. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Feast on all the donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts
recently spread their sugar-coated magic to Orlando. The Portland, Oregon-based bakery — famous for their Instagram-worthy donuts — just opened their first location east of the Mississippi in Universal Studios CityWalk
. Hungry visitors, faced with the challenge of choosing from about 50 unique and whimsical donuts, can chow down on everything from a classic glazed to a vegan maple to the iconic Voodoo Doll donut. Or better yet, try one of each. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Stay in style.
The Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
, located a short distance from the parks, is a slice of Caribbean-inspired luxury, complete with gigantic pool and lively rum bar, that really makes for that vacay feeling. After a crazy day hitting the parks, it's truly an oasis. (Photo Universal Studios Orlando)
Or go retro with your hotel choice.
Modeled after classic Florida beach resorts of the 1950s and '60s, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort
takes it up a notch with the theming. Not only do they adhere to an old-school color palette, but the products offered in the rooms — like Zest and VO5 — are on-point for that period. (Photo Universal Studios Orlando)
Be the first to stay at the Aventura.
This August, the sixth Universal hotel opens right next door to the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and across the street from Cabana Bay. This towering modern resort boasts 600 rooms, a rooftop lounge known as Bar 17 Bistro, a sprawling pool area, and a Starbucks in the lobby (and we all know that's a perk). (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Grab a bite at Urban Pantry. No matter where you're staying, the brand-new food hall Urban Pantry, opening at the Aventura Hotel, will be worth the trip. Inspired by the food halls of San Francisco and London, the eatery will offer a roast station, pizza station, wok station, and burger station to please all different tastes. (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Head to CityWalk and eat all the things.
While there are a ton of choices vying for your tummy's attention, there is one that really stands out; you'll need to forget about counting calories at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
. This towering eatery in the heart of Universal CityWalk serves up a wide array of savory items, with a few including yummy touches of chocolate like the Warm Chocolate Almond Bread and Coffee and Chocolate Stout Chicken Wings. But what really makes this place special are their Instagram-worthy milkshakes such as the Peanut Indulgence, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate X5 (chocolate ice cream, chocolate chunks, strawberries, chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate spirals). (Photo via Universal Studios Orlando)
Plan your trip for this Halloween season. Stranger Things
fans will want to schedule in that visit during Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights
. Included in the experience will be Hawkins National Laboratory, the Byers' home all done up with flashing Christmas lights, and the eerie Upside Down woods complete with a shower of floating orb-like spores. We're scared already. (Photo Universal Studios)
Do you have any insider tips for visiting Universal Studios Orlando (or any amusement parks)? Share them with us @BritandCo.