If you are looking to add more thrills and excitement to your family vacation, Universal Orlando does just that. I just returned from a vacation with my daughter and two grandsons (5 & 6). This was my second trip in the past 6 months.
For this trip, we stayed 5 nights at the onsite Premier Royal Pacific Resort with a 3 park, 3 day, park to park ticket. We arrived a few days after the new Velocicoaster opened, which meant larger crowds and longer lines. The boys had a blast and are already talking about when they get to go again!
Here are a few reasons why a Universal Orlando vacation is a great option right now.
Express Pass, Express Pass, Express Pass!!
What a difference it makes in maximizing your ride time and minimizing the waiting in line, especially during peak times like summer. This option allows you to bypass the regular standby line in a lot of the attractions. Yes, there are a few attractions that you will have to wait for, but it sure beats waiting for all of them! I am so thankful that we had Express Pass on this trip. Things are opening up at a rapid pace, and the crowds were close to pre-closure levels.
PRO TIP: Stay at one of the 3 Premier Hotels that include the Unlimited Express pass. The cost for just one day of Express Pass can be over $100 per person! It could actually save you quite a bit.
Onsite resorts are just minutes away from the parks. Some of the offsite neighbor hotels are a short drive away. By staying onsite, you have walking paths, water taxis, and buses that get you where you need to go in a timely manner. Even the bus transportation to Volcano Bay is a very short ride.
Switching parks or “park hopping” is extremely easy since the entrances are a short 5 minute walk apart. The two theme parks are connected by CityWalk, which serves as the main hub to enter and exit the theme parks.
PRO TIP: At park close, it was much easier and quicker to walk back to our resort rather than wait for the water taxi or fight the crowds to get to the buses.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter
You do not have to be a fan to appreciate the theming, shops and attractions. Diagon Alley and Hogsmede provide a very immersive experience. The rides are state of the art, and Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure is a do not miss attraction for thrill seekers. The boys especially loved using their interactive wands to make magic happen. The Hogwarts Express connects both Wizarding Worlds, and is an easy way to switch between the theme parks quickly.
**Park to park tickets are required to ride the Hogwarts Express.
PRO TIP: Knockturn Alley has several magic spots to use your wand. These lesser known spots often do not have any lines!
An amazing water park! You can have it built into your park tickets when you get a 3 park ticket. It is a great way to spend a few hours away from the theme parks. Tapu Tapu makes things so convenient by letting you Tapu ride… You scan your band at the ride station and it gives you a return time. No worries about keeping track of time, because your Tapu Tapu does it for you. Tapu Tapu also allows you to play, pay and even access your locker. Wave pools, lazy rivers, and splash pads can keep younger kids occupied for hours.
PRO TIP: Take your own towels! Towels are not provided at Volcano Bay. You can rent them for about $5.00 per day.
I could write a whole separate blog on food and dining experiences at Universal Orlando. Short version….there are A LOT of unique options! From donuts to green eggs and ham tater tots, to BBQ ribs and turkey legs. Italian, Mexican, Vegetarian and Steak, to my favorite Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium (the chicken cordon bleu sandwich, and milkshakes. YUMMO!.
At this time table service restaurants are requiring reservations. We were able to get a walk up reservation at Bubba Gump’s using my Landry’s Select membership. Butterbeer is a must try, and my favorite is the frozen version.
Most quick service dining options have been utilizing mobile ordering. When you are seated just click the “I Am Here” button for them to start preparing your food. The downside here is food lines are quite long. I waited in line at The Leaky Cauldron while the others went and rode Gringotts.
**It has been recently reported mobile ordering is no longer available. We do not have reports yet if this is a permanent change or temporary.
PRO TIP: Refillable mugs are highly recommended. You can have them reactivated each day for $9.99. Ice and water dispense out of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines without using an active cup.
Early Park Admission
Guests staying at a Universal Orlando onsite or partner resort have up to One (1) hour early park admission to Volcano Bay and both theme parks. Early Park Hours may vary by park. It is important to note that not all attractions will be open during the Early Park Hour. Use the Universal app to see which parks may offer early access during your stay.
PRO TIP: Tickets purchased through your travel professional include Early Park Admission. If you are just needing tickets and not a package, contact your Embrace the Journey Travel agent to purchase your tickets.
There are many different options for larger families, including reasonably priced one and two bedroom family suites. Universal’s newest resorts, Dockside Inn and Surfside Inn are designed with budget conscious families in mind. Even if you choose to stay at a premier resort with extra perks, this will not break the bank. You can create packages with all price points that will fit a variety of budgets.
PRO TIP: Compare prices at a premier resort and a different resort where you may have to pay to include Express Pass. Discuss your need for Express Pass with your agent.
Contact your Embrace The Journey Travel agent to learn more about Universal Orlando vacation packages.
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Thanks to Embrace the Journey Travel Planner, Mary K Allen, for writing this blog post for us. You can learn more about Mary here.