Universal Studios in Orlando is one of our favorite theme parks because there is really something for everyone. Jonathan and I used to go here even back when we were dating and we have been bringing the boys since they were little. We have had the Florida resident annual passes for a while so I have learned a few tips along the way.
A lot of moms I have talked to think their kids need to be older to enjoy this park but there is really so much for toddler age kids too. They have a cute “Woody the Woodpecker” junior coaster (if you have been to Disney it is a lot like the Goofy Coaster) and play area, Dora and Diego can be seen walking the park for photo ops, Seuss Landing has a TON of rides and attractions for the younger kids, you can meet Spongebob and Patrick, Minions, and my boys’ favorite when they were little was always the Curious George Town Splash pad area with the Ball Factory (if you are lucky Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat are sometimes walking around that area too). If you have any superhero fans you can find tons of Marvel superheros at Superhero Island. You would actually be surprised at how much there really is to do with the younger crowd there. Now that my boys are a little older and reading the Harry Potter series The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is of course their new favorite.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
I could (and probably will at some point) do an entire post on just The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My favorite time to visit if you are going to spend a lot of time in this part of the park is in the winter (which in Florida December-February are the months with cooler temps…sometimes November and March will have some cooler days as well and a lot of times December-February you will have days that are well into the 80s so really it’s kind of hit or miss). If you happen to be lucky enough to catch this world on a cool dreary day it really feels like you just jumped into one of the books (or the movies). Another plus about a cooler day is that you can dress the part and wear your awesome Harry Potter Robes without breaking a sweat. They sell the robes in the park but they are not cheap (think $80 + just for the robe….if you want to be in full costume you are probably looking at $200 a person) but I linked to some stores that have a great selection of Harry Potter Gear and sometimes you can get lucky and find it on sale too. The best time to buy the robes is after Halloween. I was able to get my boys good quality robes for $15 and tons of other cool Harry Potter gear at a fraction of what it would cost in the park. If you are going to splurge on one item though definitely get one of the interactive wands. You can purchase one online here or in various places throughout the parks. Ollivanders is the wand shop in Diagon Alley with the best selection and they will even help you choose your wand (or your wand choose you)! My boys absolutely love these wands and they are so worth it for the extra fun it adds to your trip.
Another must do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is Butterbeer. Trust me….it IS THAT good and totally worth the money. Liam eats ice cream at the speed of light but he savors every last drop of this and walks around with it for an hour I swear. My boys also love Honeydukes candy store in Hogsmead because they have a ton of fun Harry Potter themed candy.
There are actually two parts to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade at Island’s of Adventure. You can ride the Hogwarts Express to get from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley (or from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade) so you can travel from one part to the other without having to go through the rest of the park. It’s a different experience each way you travel (and a great way to beat the heat if you happen to be there in the summer). I would definitely recommend doing this at least once each way so you can get the full Harry Potter experience.
To add some extra fun to your trip take this quiz to find out which house you belong in. You might be surprised what it tells you!
Places to shop for inexpensive Harry Potter gear before you go to the parks and some of my favorites
Kids’ Harry Potter Themed Clothing
Kid’s Harry Potter Themed Costumes
Adult Harry Potter Themed Clothng
Another great thing about Universal is that there are so many great food options. You can always exit the park for lunch or dinner (or grab breakfast on your way over) and there are a ton of great options available right there on Citywalk.
Some of our favorites are
Voodoo Doughnut That’s what we are eating in the pics below.
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen Their Milkshakes are to die for!
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar This is one of our favorite restaurants ever! It’s hard to go out for sushi with kids but they have great sushi and burgers (for the non-sushi lovers) and the cutest kids bento boxes that come with little rice crispy treat “sushi”. One of my boys loves sushi and they have a California roll kids meal that he gets every time (and then steals some of ours too of course). They also have incredible milkshakes and their burgers are just as good as the sushi.
Cinnabon Because does anyone NOT like Cinnabon?!?!
Menchies We are big Fro-yo and toppings fans.
Moe’s Southwest Grill If you follow me on IG you have probably seen in my stories that we eat here at least twice a week!
Breadbox The perfect place for sandwiches and again amazing milkshakes!
Starbucks Last but certainly not least! (there are a couple of Starbucks location inside the park too and sometimes they are less crowded in the morning since everyone usually stops at this one. The Cabana Bay. Aventura, and Portofino Bay resorts also have a Starbucks on site which is great because you can send your hubby on a coffee run while you’re getting ready.
Another fun spot is The Simpsons Springfield area. There are tons of fun carnival games, you can get a giant donut just like Homer’s favorite at Lard Lad Donuts , stop by the Kwik-E-Mart for a Squishy in a souvenir cup, and of course The Simpsons ride.
If you want to look the part here are some of my favorites
Where to Stay
All of the Universal hotels are great but I will let you in on a secret that a lot of people don’t know. Some of the hotels include Express Passes with their rooms and some do not. I would highly recommend staying at one of the hotels that do offer the Express passes included with your stay to make the most of your trip and to save money. It is much cheaper to get them this way than to pay for them with your tickets. These hotels typically cost a little more to stay in but they all have amazing pools and other amenities too.
The hotels that offer Express Passes included with their rooms are
The Cabana Bay Beach Resort does not include the Express Passes but the room prices are always very reasonable and they have great family suites with kitchenettes so you can save some money that way.
This is definitely not all that Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando has to offer and I will be doing another post soon with some more info. If you are visiting during the summer definitely check out the new Volcano Bay water park to cool off. I hope you all have a great week! xo