This year I had the pleasure to fly with Norwegian from London to Orlando and spend four days at the Universal Resort in Orlando. Norwegian is flying with brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners which are faster and reduce the effects of a jet lag. So with no jet lag at all, I was ready to explore the three theme parks of Universal Orlando!
Two of the three theme parks are regular theme parks while one is a newly opened water theme park called Volcano Bay. To make the most out of my trip I had the express pass which allows you to skip the regular line and almost eliminates waiting time for any attraction. Next, to that, I got early park permission as it is one of the perks of staying at one of the resort’s hotels. But even though I had early access and the express pass for four full days, it was hard to cover everything Universal Orlando has to offer. Therefore I will share with you the top 10 things to do at the Universal Orlando Resort to make the most out of your stay.
1. Get Your Picture At The Famous Globe Of Universal Orlando
Whether it is to impress your friends on Instagram or as a memory you later want to share with your grandchildren, the Universal Orlando experience is not complete without a picture at the iconic Universal Globe. This rotating landmark is situated at the entrance of the park right next to the entrance arch of Universal Studios Florida. This famous sign will make a great holiday picture both during day and night time.
2. Get Your Adrenaline Spiked At The Incredible Hulk Coaster
What is a theme park without an exciting roller coaster? For an adrenaline junky or roller coaster fanatic, this one should be on the top of your list. Being used to a slow ascend at the start of the ride, this roller coaster got me totally off guard. In only two seconds you will be launched to 40 mph (64 km/h) and start off your three-quarter mile (1,200 meters) ride. This rollercoaster features seven inversions and reaches a top speed of 67 mph (108 km/h). The Incredible Hulk Coaster is a great first pick when you have early park access as the waiting time can be quite long when it gets busier later.
3. Feel The Floor Underneath You Fall Away At The Top Of The Volcano Krakatau, three times!
Universal Orlando’s newest theme park is Volcano Bay, based on Polynesian culture and featuring the most thrilling water slides you can imagine. At the center of Volcano Bay lays the great volcano Krakatau, housing the three most extreme water slides of the park. After a long walk to the top, you will find three capsules: a blue (Kala Serpentine Body Slide), a green (Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slide), and a red one (Ko’okiri Body Plunge). You take place in one of these capsules and cross both your arms and legs before the surface under your feet falls away. Subsequently, you will “fall” into the water slide that will take you with incredible pace down to the calm waters surrounding the volcano.
4. Relax And Get A Tan At Waturi Beach
Life is about balance. Walking all the way up to the top of Krakatau is quite demanding. Plus all the stress that can come along with getting on these slides might make life a bit too intense. Therefore you can enjoy the perfectly relaxing Waturi beach which is situated right next to the volcano Krakatau. With a pretty sand beach, comfortable sunbeds, a beautiful series of waterfalls, and a gigantic pool with warm waves this is the perfect way to get your bit of relaxing beach vacation in between all the action.
5. Find The Magical Brick Wall And Visit The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter At Diagon Alley
This place is the absolute dream of any Harry Potter fan, the place where the story really comes to life. Universal has not held back in any way building their newest Harry Potter site and it has made this place as great as possible. From the moment I entered through the magical brick wall, I really had the feeling I was entering a different world. Filled with crowds of people dressed up in Harry Potter costumes and using their wands on the interactive surroundings to perform spells, this is the closest you will get at making your Harry Potter fantasies come to life. One of the most impressive seeing in Diagon Alley is the dragon atop Gringotts Bank, which will immediately catch your eye the moment you enter through the magical brick wall. Other highlights of Diagon Alley are Leaky Cauldron, the Escape From Gringotts, and Knockturn Alley.
Tip: Get a delicious ice cream at the Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour to cool down a bit from the hot Floridian weather.
6. Grab A Krusty Burger And A Duff Beer At Springfield
Have you always wondered how a day in the life of Homer Simpson would feel like? If that Krusty Burger would taste better than an ordinary burger? At Springfield in Universal Orlando, you can get the full Simpsons experience. You can grab an originally brewed Duff beer at Moe’s Tavern and take a picture with the resident customer Barney Gumble. If you want to spice it up a little you can give the Flaming Moe a try. The main attraction of Springfield is the Simpsons Ride, which is a simulation ride featuring an 80 feet (24 meters) tall dome-shaped IMAX screen. Tip: the Simpsons Ride is not recommendable for people with motion sickness.
However, if you do want to give it go and you feel you are getting motion sick, start looking at the ground or simply close your eyes to combat the symptoms of motion sickness.
7. Go On Adventure In Jurassic Park
It is time to get wild. The beauty of the nature in Jurassic park can be quite deceiving as this place is packed with dangerous dinosaurs that used to live millions of years ago. The most cooling attraction on a hot summer day is the Jurassic Park River Adventure. On this ride, I experienced what nature had to offer millions of years ago and I got a little wet along the way. Secondly, the truly brave can head over to the Raptor Encounter. Here you can have a one-on-one confrontation with an ancient reptile which has found a hole in its cage. This means you have the chance to get nearby the raptor and even pet it if you are a true daredevil. I was quite amazed at how realistic this interaction went and how well and lively the raptor responded to my behavior and gestures.
Tip: avoid any eye contact with the raptor!
8. Take Your Kids To Seuss Landing
Seuss Landing is a 10-acre zone packed with entertainment for little kids. With attractions as The Cat in The Hat Ride that will take you through the pages of the book as you will twist from room to room and see the mess Thing One and Thing, Two have made. The gift shop you will enter after this ride has the perfect family t-shirts. Namely, it has t-shirts with Thing One, Thing Two, Thing Three, numbering all the way up to your family size. Other attractions have interactive features as One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish which lets your kid control the ride with a joystick while If I Ran the Zoo is an interactive playing area. Lastly, you the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. Even though I’m not a child anymore, I really enjoyed this attraction as the elevated track of this ride gives you a magnificent view over the park.
9. Choose Your Favourite Song On the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
What is the first thing that you do when you get on a roller coaster? I bet your answer wouldn’t be to look for your favorite jam. But this is exactly what you will do when you get on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Every single person on the ride has access to a touchscreen displaying five different music categories with five different songs each. I was calmly going through all the songs when I noticed I was running out of time as the ride had already started. That’s how I ended up with Born To Be Wild – Hinder. Thus, be sure to check the list with songs before you enter the ride if you want to make sure to get your desired song. Apart from this cool music feature, the actual roller coaster itself is very thrilling as well. At the beginning of the ride, you will be taken on a vertical ascend reaching a height of 167 feet (51 meters), making it the highest roller coaster in the park. With a top speed of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h), this attraction is another excellent option for the adrenaline junkies among us.
10. Take The Hogwarts Express To Hogsmeade
Harry Potter fans, it is even getting better. Near Diagon Alley, you will find King’s Cross Station. Here you will find the Hogwarts Express at platform 9¾ that will take you to Hogsmeade Station. At Hogsmeade, you will find the famous Hogwarts Castle. Already impressive during the daytime, I was truly amazed by the wonderful light and music show at the castle in the evening. The castle houses the attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is a motion-based dark ride. Another attraction at this site is the Flight of the Hippogriff which is a family-friendly rollercoaster that passes the pumpkin patch and Hagrid’s hut on its way. Next, to that, Hogsmeade offers plenty of characteristic drink and food options. At the Three Broomsticks tavern, you can have for example Cornish Pasties or peanut butter ice cream. At the Hog’s Head pub you can get drinks such as Hog’s Head Brew, Gillywater, Pumpkin Juice, and last but not least: Butterbeer.
Tip: If you are planning to try multiple of these delicacies, try to cut back on calories the rest of the day as these foods and drinks are pretty calorically dense.
This is my top 10 things to do at the Universal Orlando Resort, but there are so many other things not included on this list even though I enjoyed them a lot as well. Just to name a few: The Transformers: The Ride 3D, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Revenge of the Mummy, and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. If you want to make the most out of your stay, I can recommend the early access and the express pass. These add-ons will nearly eliminate waiting time and ensure you will get on as many rides as possible.
If you fly from Europe, the best option is to fly with Norwegian as their fares from London to Orlando for example already start at 155 pounds. While paying way less, I didn’t compromise on comfort at all as their brand new planes are actually better than those of other airlines and their on-board service is excellent as well. If you want to know more about more about my flight experience with Norwegian, you can read my article Flying long haul with a low-cost carrier: my experience with Norwegian.
One last tip for if you were still not able to get on all the rides you want at the Universal Orlando Resort: you can always come back!
Disclaimer: We were invited guests by Norwegian and all opinions and text are all mine!
ABOUT THE WRITER
Kees is a 25 years old student from the Netherlands with a bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration and soon with a master’s degree in Strategic Management.
He is a big fan of weightlifting, which he will do every day if possible. Kees also loves food (sushi, meat, and fish) and to read nonfiction books. Not afraid to take risks, he sees traveling as an opportunity to create unique experiences that he gladly wants to share with the followers of the Twomonkeystravelgroup.
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