**I have partnered with Universal Studios Orlando to bring you a recap of our first experience in their parks! Although they provided my family with park tickets, my thoughts on the experience are completely my own**
Have you guys seen the video where my husband and I surprised Jon David and Lucy with a trip to Orlando?
You guys — it was one of the funnest things I’ve ever gotten to do as a parent. Surprising my kids with a trip has been a parenting bucket list goal, and it went off without a hitch! We were actually able to get our kids all the way to the airport without them knowing that we were headed to Florida!
I had never visited Universal Studios before, and had been absolutely itching too ever since they opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Jon David and I consider ourselves wizards trapped in the bodies of muggles, and we have spent many evenings talking about what we’d do if we ever got to visit Universal Studios. So to say that I’ve been on pins and needles since I starting planning this trip six months ago would be an understatement.
I’m happy to say that our visit to Universal completely lived up to our expectations. We just so happened to pick a GREAT time to visit — the weather was perfect (not too hot or cold, pants and a t-shirt was good) and the park wasn’t crowded at all. The two connecting parks were easy to navigate and not at all overwhelming.
One of my biggest concerns was finding enough things to entertain Lucy. Many of the rides at Universal are not geared towards younger children and I didn’t want her to get bored. As it turned out, there was NO danger of her getting bored. Besides the rides that she was tall enough for, there are several very large and very cool play areas for small children. There’s also a whole Dr. Seuss area that we ALL fell in love with!!
I reached out to Universal prior to the trip (listen, we all need to get help where we can) and they provided us with Express Passes that made a WORLD of difference in the experience. You literally go to the front of every ride line (except for a few Harry Potter rides). Because of this, we walked on to EVERYTHING. It was such a laid back couple of days, I could hardly believe that we were actually at an amusement park!
I also love that the Universal CityWalk (a shopping/dining center) is right as you enter/exit the parks. It makes it easy to stop and grab a bite to eat on your way out. Another bonus — we paid the extra $5 for preferred parking and literally WALKED to the parks from the parking garage. No shuttle, no crazy long walk. It was amazing! So stress-free!
Highlights of our time at Universal Studios:
Escape From Gringotts (possibly my favorite ride that has ever existed on this earth)
Men in Black Alien Attack (part ride/part shooting game — SO FUN!!!)
Butterbeer (I liked the slushie the best) and Fire Whiskey (for me)
The Big Pink at Lard Lad Donuts (a massive pink donut that feeds four. SO yummy!!)
Hogwarts Express Train Ride (a bit of a wait but SO worth it!)
Seuss Trolley Train Ride (perfect for littles, but fun for all of us)
The Simpsons Ride (I’m not a Simpsons fan, but this was SO fun)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is divided into two areas — Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. If you have a ticket that allows you to hop from one park to another, you can use the Hogwarts Express train to travel from one to the other. The only issue with this is the wait — even during the slow time that we were visiting, we waited 30 minutes for the train. So take that into account and be prepared. Another option would be to make your way out of the park, circle around to the other park, and make your way to the other Wizarding World area. Depending on the train wait, it might be a better option. But I honestly DO recommend experiencing the Hogwarts Express once, if you’re a Harry Potter fan. It’s unforgettable.
Both areas were pretty packed, which surprised me considering how open the rest of the park was. It didn’t keep us from enjoying the experience, but expect a lot of people, even if you visit during the slow season. The shops are small and cramped (which makes them more authentic), so they can be hard to navigate.
I loved Diagon Alley more than Hogsmeade, but both areas were pretty incredible. Diagon Alley was almost hidden — you pop in an alley and your breath is taken away as you realize that you’ve stepped into a Harry Potter book. The attention to detail is INCREDIBLE. To say that it exceeded my expectations would be an understatement.
Get a Butterbeer! If you drink alcohol, get a Fire Whiskey. Don’t leave without visiting the candy shop!! All the chocolate frogs!!
Plan on spending 2-3 days if you want to get through both parks completely. If you are visiting during a slower time, 2 days should be sufficient, provided you don’t ride many rides more than once. During busier seasons, give yourself 3 days.
Here’s a vlog of our two days at Universal Studios. We had SO much fun and I cannot WAIT to go back!
I’d love to hear about your experiences at Universal Studios Orlando! Feel free to shoot me any questions that might be helpful when planning a future trip. I’m always here to help!!
Have a great day, cuties! Thanks for reading.