Our Guide to Universal Orlando Resort has hints, tips, and tricks for planning your vacation plus information on all the biggest attractions. The guide is an essential resource for both first-time and repeat visitors.
Universal Orlando Resort, commonly known as Universal Orlando, opened in 1990. It is the second-largest resort in Orlando covering 541 acres of land in comparison to Walt Disney World’s 25600 acres. The resort opened on June 7, 1990, with one theme park Universal Studios Florida. Since then it has developed into a multi-day attraction with 2 Theme Parks (Universal Studios Florida & Islands of Adventure), a new water-park in 2017 (Volcano Bay), City Walk a nighttime district & 7 hotels. This expansion isn’t due to stop any time soon; Universal has recently announced a new park Universal’s Epic Universe will open in the future.
Our Guide to Universal Orlando had its last major update in September 2019. We have updated the guide with all the latest information including all the latest news & rumors. We have also extended several sections of the guide with additional information including a new section on your most commonly asked Universal Orlando Questions.
Jump Right Into Our Guide to Universal Orlando
Are you looking for specific information about Universal Orlando? We have created some handy page jumps will help you find information in our 2019 Guide to Universal Orlando.
- Universal Orlando Basics. Just what is Universal Orlando like and how does it compare to Walt Disney World?
- Coming soon to Universal Orlando Resort. Everything we know that is arriving in Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure during 2019 and beyond. Including the new Universal Orlando theme park Universal’s Epic Universe.
- Planning your Universal Orlando vacation. Tips and tricks if you are visiting Universal Orlando Florida. Includes information on Express Pass, parking, tickets, transportation and a host of additional information to have a great vacation.
- Transportation at Universal Orlando all about how to get to the resort and to get around it.
- Universal Orlando Useful Information answers to your most common Universal Orlando questions. If you have a question about the resort you will probably find the answer here.
- Universal Studios Florida everything you need to know about the original park at Universal Orlando Resort.
- Islands of Adventure the 2nd park to open at Universal Orlando is full of big thrills.
- Volcano Bay all about the new water park at Universal Orlando.
- CityWalk is the entertainment and shopping district at Universal Orlando.
- Universal Orlando On-Site Hotels information on all the outstanding resorts at Universal Orlando. Plus details on the newest resort Universal’s Endless Summer Resort opening in 2019.
- Dining at Universal Orlando Details about dining at Universal Orlando. Plus information if you are visiting with a food allergy or intolerance.
Universal Orlando the Basics
While Universal Orlando Resort remains smaller than Walt Disney World, it has undergone massive expansion in recent years. The introduction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has made Universal Orlando top of many guests must do list when visiting Orlando. Attendances at the parks have risen in recent years and in 2017 Universal Studios was the 10th most visited theme park in the world & Islands of Adventure the 14th.
What is Universal Orlando like?
Universal Orlando is loud, flashy & bold in comparison to Walt Disney World. While there are fewer attractions, the majority are big E-Ticket experiences. Universal does not do small filler attractions & finds little room for keeping sentimental historical attractions. What this means is attractions in Universal Orlando are usually an outstanding experience.
Universal Orlando will appeal more to families with teens & young adults or those with a sense of adventure. While Walt Disney World probably offers a better overall experience for families with young children, there is enough for people of all ages to enjoy a couple of days at Universal.
Universal Orlando will usually take a minimum 2-3 days to experience both theme parks. However; the parks are growing, and in busy periods you will struggle to complete both parks.
Should I visit Universal Orlando or Walt Disney World?
If time allows you should visit both!
Both Walt Disney World & Universal Orlando offer unique experiences. While both resorts are better at some things, overall they both provide an excellent experience.
We have completed a comparison between Walt Disney World & Universal Orlando which might help with deciding which to visit if time is tight.
What is new at Universal Orlando Resort in 2019 and beyond
There have been several new attractions which have opened at Universal Orlando Resort in 2019:
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the biggest new attraction at Universal Orlando in 2019. The attraction opened on June 13, 2019, at Islands of Adventure, but there have been quite a few teething issues. Feedback from guests, lucky enough to ride, is fantastic, but the ride is still struggling to operate at full capacity. This forum has all the latest details.
- Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle is a new light show which opened on September 14, 2019, at Islands of Adventure. Unfortunately, the attraction is only scheduled to run until November 15th. Death Eaters, Voldemort, dementors & mountain trolls all feature in this sensational show.
- TODAY cafe is a new diner that opened at Universal Studios Florida in Spring.
- Bigfire opened at CityWalk this summer. Your meal is cooked on an open fire.
- Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites has now opened. This resort is Universal’s first Value Resort. There is a second part of the resort Dockside Inn and Suites due to open in 2020.
Universal Orlando Rumors
Unlike Walt Disney World, Universal keep details of new attractions low key. Often Universal only confirms the opening of a new attraction close to the opening date. The following are rumored new attractions at Universal Orlando:
- There were rumors that a new live-action show will be opening in the former Terminator 2: 3-D building during 2019. However, as yet no new attraction has been confirmed for 2019.
- If you have been to Islands of Adventure recently, you will have noticed construction around Jurassic Park. Although still not officially confirmed it seems a new Jurassic World coaster is getting built to open in either 2020 or 2021.
Universal’s Epic Universe
Universal has confirmed that they are building a new theme park and it is going to be called Universal’s Epic Universe. No opening date has been confirmed but we can’t wait.
The development will be on a new 750-acre site a few miles away from the existing Universal Orlando Resort. The new development will be south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard. The new site will almost double the total acreage available to Universal in Florida.
In addition to the theme park, Universal has announced there will also be an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants, and more on this new site.
While there are no new attractions or themes announced, there have been plenty of rumors. Rumored properties for Universal’s Epic Universe include:
- Super Nintendo World
- More Harry Potter…likely to be Fantastic Beasts
- Classic Universal Monsters e.g. Dracula
- How to Train Your Dragon
- Lord of the Rings
- Star Trek
You can follow all the latest news on Universal’s Epic Universe on our dedicated page.
Planning your Universal Orlando Vacation
Planning your visit to Universal Orlando is an essential activity. While the resort is smaller than Walt Disney World, it is still big, and you do need to plan your trip. The planning process usually does not have to be as rigorous as a trip to Walt Disney World but should not be ignored. We have created several guides to help you plan a sensational trip to Universal Orlando.
Universal Orlando Tips & Mistakes to Avoid
Everyone who has ever visited a theme park has a selection of tips for having a better time on their next visit. These are our favorite Universal Orlando Tips & Tricks.
It is easy to make mistakes when on vacation. Usually, these mistakes will have little impact on your vacation, but on occasions, they will reduce your enjoyment. Here is our list of 20 Mistakes you Must Avoid at Universal Orlando.
Must-Do Experiences at Universal Orlando
If you are tight for
Universal Orlando Tickets
Tickets for Universal Orlando are always cheaper to purchase in advance of your vacation.
Universal Orlando has several ticket options, but the most significant decision is whether you want to buy a Park to Park Ticket. Guests who do not buy this option cannot ride the Hogwarts Express.
The Hogwarts Express takes you from Universal Studios to Islands of Aventure and vice versa. Each direction is a unique adventure. We recommend most first time visitors should purchase a park to park ticket.
To learn more about Universal Orlando Tickets and how to get the best value for your money visit our Guide to Universal Orlando Tickets.
Both Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios Florida have a system for priority boarding of attractions. At Universal Orlando, the system is called Express Pass, and unlike Fastpass+ at Walt Disney World it is not free.
Guests who buy Express Pass present their pass at participating attractions to bypass the regular lines. They join a shorter Express pass line and have reduced waiting at the attraction.
Express Pass is not cheap and the decision on whether to buy can be difficult. At quieter times of the year, it is usually not essential, but during peak periods there are definite benefits. You can learn more in our Guide to Universal Express Pass.
Transferring between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is much easier than park hopping at Walt Disney World. There is only a short walk of approximately 200m between the entrance of both parks. Also, guests can also jump between both parks by riding the Hogwarts Express at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, you must have a park to park ticket to enter both Universal Theme Parks.
All rides at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have a Child Swap facility. Child Swap allows the rest of a family to ride an attraction when a child is either too small or young to experience the ride. Child Swap works differently than Rider Switch at Walt Disney World.
The young child sits, usually in a dedicated waiting room, with a parent while the rest of the family ride. Once the first group are off the ride, parents swap supervision and the rest of the family ride without waiting. Usually, attendants will allow an older child to ride again.
To use Child Swap at Universal Orlando speak to the cast member on the entrance to the ride who will advise of the procedure to follow. How you access child swap does vary on each attraction.
Meeting Characters at Universal Orlando
There are numerous character opportunities at both Universal Studios Florida & Islands of Adventure. The majority of meet and greets are scheduled with details available on park maps. However, unscheduled meet and greets might happen throughout your day. The majority of characters will sign autographs and waiting times tend to be shorter compared to Walt Disney World.
Characters you might meet at Universal Studios Florida include:
- The Simpsons
- Scooby & Shaggy
- Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron
- SpongeBob SquarePants
Character opportunities at Islands of Adventure include:
- Spider-Man and the Marvel Super Heroes
- Cat in the Hat, the Lorax and other Seuss characters
- Betty Boop, Popeye & other Classic Comic Book Characters
- Various characters in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but not the stars!
Character Dining at Universal Orlando Resort
There are several character dining experiences available at Universal Orlando Resort:
- Despicable Me Character Breakfast is available every Saturday morning at Loews Royal Pacific. You will be able to meet Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and the Minions.
- Marvel Character Dinner is available at Cafe 4 at Islands of Adventure. Expect to meet Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Storm, and Rogue.
In addition, there are the following seasonal character dining options:
- Halloween Horror Nights Scareactor Dining Experience at the Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Cafe. You must have both an event ticket and a Scareactor Dining Experience ticket for the date you plan to attend. The event is not recommended for under 13s.
- The Grinch™ & Friends Character Breakfast is available during the Christmas period at Islands of Adventure.
When planning your vacation to Orlando what the weather will be like is likely to be something you will have considered. Florida’s official nickname is “The Sunshine State” which was officially adopted in 1970. While it is highly unlikely you can visit Orlando and not meet a fair measure of sunshine this can undoubtedly be offset with plenty of rain and the occasional hurricane. Orlando weather can be unpredictable and if you are not ready can cut the enjoyment of your vacation.
You can read more about the Orlando Weather including our Top Tips to Beat the Weather in our guide.
Transportation at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando has one huge parking lot. Guests walk, following security, through CityWalk to both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. There are complimentary buses available that transport guests to Volcano Bay from the parking lot.
Daily parking charges at the time of writing were:
- Prime Parking:
- Prime Upgrade:
- RV/Bus Parking:
- Regular Parking:
Also, there is also a valet parking option available which currently costs:
Before 6 pm
$26.00 for 2 hours
$65.00 for over 2 hours
After 6 pm
$26.00 for 2 hours
$45.00 for over 2 hours
For Preferred Annual Passholders
For Premier Annual Passholders
There is one gas station on Universal Orlando property. The Hess Express is located at 5981 Turkey Lake Road.
If you should be unlucky to suffer a breakdown in the parking lot, Universal offers complimentary vehicle assistance. If you need help ask a parking assistant.
Hotel Transportation at Universal Orlando
Guests staying at any of the Universal Orlando On-Site hotels have access to complimentary resort shuttles. Shuttles are via either water taxi or bus and transport you to all parks including Volcano Bay.
Airport Transportation to Universal Orlando
There is no free transportation between Orlando’s airports and Universal Orlando. However, guests who have purchased a Universal Vacation Package can use Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle. This service is not free, but it is convenient. Further details on Universal’s SuperStar Shuttle is available here.
Alternatively, for guests who do not wish to hire a car, there are several other shuttles/limo services you can book in advance. However, Taxis are the obvious choice for most guests. Expect to pay $50 between Orlando International & Universal Hotels. Children 5 and under need a child car seat when in Florida and you might wait longer for a taxi if you need this.
Getting to Universal Orlando from Walt Disney World
Disney World & Universal do not run transport to each other’s parks. However; it is not difficult to get between Universal and Disney. Your options depend on how many of you there are. The easiest option is to get a taxi from outside your hotel. Expect to pay $50-$60 each way.
Perhaps not quite as easy but cheaper is catching an Uber or Lyft. Uber & Lyft are both cashless taxi services. You order your taxi from an App, and your payment is taken from a pre-registered card. We have used these services several times, and they do represent good value.
An alternative option to get between Universal and Disney is a shared bus. Mears provide a service which we have used before. From our experience, if there are more than 3 of you, getting a taxi or Uber works out cheaper. Your bus will also make multiple stops for pickups and drop-offs so it will take longer to get to your destination than a taxi.
Universal Orlando Useful Information
Many guests have questions about Universal Orlando Resort, but often the answers are not easy to find. We have batched together some of your most common questions in a new section on Modern Life is Good containing Universal Orlando Useful Information. If you have a question you are likely to find the answer here.
A lot of this information used to be included in this guide but the content has been expanded & moved to make the advice more accessible. You can navigate straight to the advice you are looking for by clicking the links below:
- Park Hours & Closures
- Stroller & Wheelchair Rentals
- First Aid
- Nursing Facilities
- Celebration Buttons
- Phone Charging
- Paying for Goods at Universal Orlando
- WiFi & The Universal Orlando Resort App
- Locker Hire
- Prohibited Items at Universal Orlando Resort
- Smoking at Universal Orlando Resort
- Car issues
- Tipping at Universal Orlando Resort
- Visiting Universal Orlando Resort with Disabilities
- Pregnant at Universal Orlando
- Lost and Found at Universal Orlando Resort
- Children’s Activity Centers
- Universal Orlando VIP Tours
- My Universal Photos
- Package Pick-Up and Delivery
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Florida welcomed around 10 million guests a year and opened on June 7, 1990. It was the first theme park to open at Universal Orlando Resort & opened shortly after Hollywood Studios.
The park’s theme is the entertainment industry. Attractions are mainly based on popular films or television shows. To learn more about Universal Studios Florida visit our dedicated guide.
Universal Studios Florida features 7 areas/lands plus a lagoon.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
In July 2014 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley opened in Universal Studios. It features two rides Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express connecting it to the first half of the Wizarding World in Islands of Adventure. To ride the Hogwarts Express, you must have a theme park ticket that allows admission to both parks.
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts an amazing 4D coaster but perhaps the highlight is walking through Gringotts itself.
- Hogwarts Express travel to Islands of Adventure, but there is plenty to see on
Take your time in Diagon Alley the rides are only part of the experience as there is so much to see. The shops and dining options add to the fun. Plus don’t forget to turn into Knockturn Alley.
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D is an impressive simulator but I have no idea what is going on!
- Shrek 4-D great fun with Shrek & Donkey.
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit I am going to admit this is the one ride in Orlando I am scared of riding! The vertical climb puts me off riding.
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem silly simulator attraction which is no longer in 3D.
- Revenge of the Mummy a terrifying dark coaster with some awesome effects.
- Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon I have never seen Jimmy Fallon, but this is a fun simulator
- The Blues Brothers Show Classic street entertainment.
- Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration Universal’s new night spectacular on the lagoon. Scheduled for select nights only, check your time guide for showtime.
Universal Horror Make-Up Show one of the original attractions at the park is all you can find in this area.
Sometimes The Simpsons area is counted as its unique land but officially it is inside the World Expo.
- Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl a fun Dumbo-like ride but with some added Simpsons zaniness.
- The Simpsons Ride perhaps this is starting to feel a little dated, but it is still good fun.
- MEN IN BLACK I’m not very good at this shooting attraction. Mrs. Modernlifeisgood loves it!
- Fear Factor Live audience participation game show.
Fast & Furious – Supercharged this is the park’s newest attraction, but I left somewhat underwhelmed.
Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone
There isn’t a lot for small children in Universal Studios Florida. Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone has the best of the attractions for little ones.
- Animal Actors On Location! fun animal show
- E.T. Adventure a theme park classic & 1 of the remaining attractions from opening day
- A Day in the Park with Barney stage show with plenty of singing along but do kids still know who Barney is?
- Curious George Goes to Town playground
- Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse a fantastic introduction to coasters.
- CoasterFievel’s Playground another playground.
For further information on Universal Studios Florida read our dedicated guide to the park.
Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999, along with CityWalk. The park’s theme is a journey of exploration across themed islands. When the park opened there were 6 islands, but a 7th Wizarding World of Harry Potter & 8th Skull Island has since opened.
We now have a dedicated Guide to Islands of Adventure which has further information on the park.
Port of Entry
Port of Entry is the entrance to the park and the first island for all guests. The area has a magical feel and is home to a selection of shops plus guest service facilities. The park’s icon Pharos Lighthouse is within Port of Entry.
Other islands are reached at the end of Port of Entry and guests have the choice of walking clockwise to Marvel Super Hero Island or anticlockwise to Seuss Landing.
Marvel Super Hero Island
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man a sensational 3D simulator & my personal
favorite. This set the bar all other 3D attractions try to beat. Had a refresh in 2012 but is still essentially the same ride.
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster perhaps one of the greatest coasters ever made? Vicious & powerful!
- Doctor Doom Freefall big drops
- Storm Force Accelatron very, very fast teacups
- Meet the Marvel Super Heroes Despite Disney owning marvel Universal still has exclusive use of the majority of classic Marvel Characters.
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls fun flume ride.
- Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges perhaps the best & wettest barge ride you will ever experience.
- Me Ship, The Olive kids play ship
Skull Island: Reign of Kong riding a safari truck you have a Kong Encounter. Many small children will find this attraction scary.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure an entertaining boat ride followed by an 85-foot drop ends
- Jurassic Park Discovery Center watching a raptor egg hatch is the fun highlight
- Pteranodon Flyers only those who are between 36 and 56 inches (91 and 140 cm) or those with a child of that height may ride
- Camp Jurassic prehistoric playground
A new Jurassic World coaster has recently started being constructed in this area. Rumored to be a high thrill coaster with an anticipated 2021 opening.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ – Hogsmeade
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened June 18, 2010, at Islands of Adventure. The area is themed around Hogsmeade and was the first part of the Wizarding World. There is a selection of shops, bars and restaurants all themed around the books. Take your time when visiting Hogsmeade as there is a lot to discover. The big attractions in the land are:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey after touring the dramatic reconstruction of Hogwarts soar through the grounds on a bench. An incredibly impressive attraction.
- Flight of the Hippogriff is a fun kid’s coaster.
- The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle an impressive nightly display. However, crowds can be very large. Currently, a variation of the show Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle has taken its place.
- Hogwarts Express ride to Universal Studios. Park to park ticket is required.
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the big new attraction for 2019. This family coaster has fantastic feedback from those lucky to ride, but there continue to be various teething problems.
The Lost Continent
Not much of this land now remains and is now the least interesting area of the park. A significant part of the island was removed for the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The stunt show The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad closed in September 2018 to further reduce the options. The Mystic Fountain remains the highlight of this otherwise pointless island. While there have been no announcements, expect The Lost Continent to be redeveloped soon.
Poseidon’s Fury is the only remaining genuine attraction. However, it is possibly the worse attraction in Universal & you should keep away!
Seuss Landing is the one area at Islands of Adventure where small children will find plenty of attractions to enjoy.
- The Cat in the Hat a fun dark ride, but it is a little bumpy.
- Caro-Seuss-el carousel
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish a Dumbo-like attraction in which you have to avoid getting wet. Hint to stay dry, the top jets have not worked for years!
- If I Ran The Zoo play area.
- The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! A zany train in the sky.
Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park opened on May 25, 2017. The park replaced Universal’s earlier water park Wet ‘n Wild. As this is Universal’s water park expect big thrills when you visit, but there is plenty of fun for kids too.
To access Volcano Bay, guests are transported from the main Universal Orlando parking lot via free bus. Also, there is free transport from Universal Resorts.
Universal Express Pass is available at Volcano Bay but is not included in Resort Express Pass.
The main feature of the park is Krakatau a 200-foot artificial volcano. The volcano holds 3 fantastic drop capsule slides. Attractions include wave pools, slides, raft rides, play areas & a lazy river. The park is split into 4 lands each inspired by Polynesian Themes:
Krakatau streams waterfalls during the day and fiery lava effects at night. The volcano is home to 4 fantastic attractions:
- Krakatau Aqua Coaster
- Ko’okiri Body Plunge a near-vertical drop with a trap door start.
- Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides the tallest drop capsule slides in the world.
- Punga Racers a four-lane racing slide.
Overlooks the waters of Waturi Beach at the base of the volcano. wave pools, slides, and areas to relax are all located at Waturi Beach.
Is the home of attractions for all ages including the park’s youngest guests.
Rainforest Village includes both high thrill attractions and areas to relax. attractions include several high trill raft rides.
TapuTapu at Volcano Bay
Universal has attempted to eliminate waits at Volcano bay with the introduction of virtual lines. All guests are given a TapuTapu to wear on arrival. Guests simply tap into a virtual line with their TapuTapu to secure a ride time. Once their TapuTapu vibrates you return to the line for a short wait before your ride. It sounds simple, but there are mixed reports on its success.
Dining at Volcano Bay
There is a selection of dining venues available in River Village, Rainforest Village & Wave Village. Food & Drink is inspired by the flavors of the South Pacific region. Dishes available include Coconut Curry Chicken, Jerked Mahi Sandwiches, Hawaiian Ribs, and Plantain Chips & Guacamole.
Universal City Walk
Universal CityWalk is the entertainment complex at Universal Orlando Resort. CityWalk contains a selection of bars, restaurants, shops & other entertainment offerings. The area opened in 1999 with Islands of Adventure. Day visitors enter Universal Orlando Resort through CityWalk before entering the theme parks.
Universal CityWalk is bright, modern and loud & is a contrast from Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. The area is open until 2 am and there is free self-parking from 6 pm.
The area has a selection of excellent restaurants, bars, shops & entertainment venues including the Blue Man Group. You can book reservations for several of the CityWalk Restaurants here. However, not all restaurants accept advance reservations.
Many of the shops at CityWalk sell the same products you will find in the theme parks. You can save time while in the parks by leaving shopping until you visit City Walk.
Several of the bars and clubs at City Walk have a cover charge. The cover charge often kicks in at 10 pm but does vary by venue, plus admission is restricted to adults 21 years or older. Deals are available which allow admission to several venues for 1 price.
An evening in City Walk is great fun and extends your day well into the evening.
Universal Orlando On-Site Hotels
There are now 7 resorts at Universal Orlando. All Universal Hotel guests benefit from being close to the theme parks, free internal transportation & early access to a park for 1 hour each morning before regular guests. Loews manage all Universal Orlando Hotels.
Universal Resorts are in price brackets with the top 3 Premier Hotels having a complimentary Express Pass included. Your Express Pass is valid on both your arrival & departure dates. Guests should price up Express Pass carefully as often it is cheaper to stay in a Premier Hotel than buy Express Pass.
Premier Hotels at Universal Orlando
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel was the first hotel to open in 1999. This luxury resort has an Italian Seaside Village theme and has 750 rooms
- Hard Rock Hotel opened in 2001 and has a rock theme. We have a review of the Hard Rock Hotel here on Modern Life is Good.
- Loews Royal Pacific opened in 2002 & has an enchanted isles theme. The resort has 1000 rooms. You can read our review of Loews Royal Pacific on this site.
Preferred Hotels at Universal Orlando
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is the only resort in this category and opened in 2016. This is a comfortable resort similar in standard to Royal Pacific but does not include an Express Pass.
Prime Value Hotels at Universal Orlando
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort 2200 rooms are located in this no-frill hotel
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel a modern tower hotel which opened in 2018.
Value Hotels at Universal Orlando
Universal’s latest resort is Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. The resort is split into 2 halves Surfside Inn and Suites opened in 2019 and Dockside Inn and Suites opens in 2020. Universal promises that these resorts are their most affordable yet. However, don’t expect any luxuries.
Dining at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando has a good mix of Table Service, Quick Service, and Cart locations. However, guests who have visited Walt Disney World might be disappointed in the number of options available. Universal Orlando dining options have improved in recent years, but they are behind the high standard Disney set. The best restaurants are inside the Universal Orlando Resorts. Both Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure have 2 table service restaurants which are very popular.
Price-wise we tend to find that Quick Service locations are more expensive than Disney World, but Table Service is cheaper. However, prices do vary by location. Dining in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in our opinion, is ridiculously expensive.
Universal does offer several dining plans. There is a quick service plan open to everyone and a plan which includes some table service restaurants open to resort guests only. Overall we don’t think the dining plans at Universal Orlando represent great value for money and are fairly limited. You can find out more here.
Restaurant Reservations at Universal Orlando
Not all venues at Universal Orlando accept advance reservations. However, the restaurants inside the parks all do.
Advance reservations are highly recommended but there is usually no rush to book, unlike Walt Disney World. Usually, you can easily book a reservation on the morning of your arrival. You can book reservations here.
Food Allergies at Universal Orlando
The majority of dining location throughout Universal Orlando Resort can cater for food allergies. We have found that staff at some locations are not as knowledgable as staff at Walt Disney World. However, it isn’t difficult to get a safe, good quality meal at most locations.
Many restaurants have allergy-friendly menus available on the Universal Orlando website. However, we recommend speaking to a member of staff before ordering at all locations. There are often additional dishes available which are not on the menus.
If you have additional queries you can email Guest Services at [email protected] before you visit.
You are also able to bring your own food into the parks. If there are any queries from security staff just let them know that a member of the party has a food allergy/intolerance.
Our Guide to Universal Orlando Resort for Beginners is still in
Are you planning to visit Walt Disney World as well? Our Guide to Walt Disney World is an essential guide to help plan your vacation. The guide has been running for several years and is updated regularly with the latest information.