Step inside your favorite movies at this legendary theme park.
From day one, Universal Studios’ modus operandi has been to one-up Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios). The theme park opened a year after MGM, and immediately the competition involved some of the biggest players in science fiction. George Lucas was on team Disney designing Star Tours. Steven Spielberg was on team Universal designing rides based on the movies “Jaws” and “E.T.” The winner? Parkgoers, who had yet another world of movie magic come to life to explore. Universal builds attractions to keep up with its most popular films. Right now the star of the park is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which brings to life Hogsmeade and King’s Cross stations, Hogwarts castle, Diagon Alley and other places familiar to Potterheads. The younger crowd will get a kick out of mingling with minions at the 4D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. For those looking for a trip back in time via flying bicycle, the original E.T. Adventure is still up and running.
Nearby/In the Park
- Universal’s Volcano Bay. Universal’s new water park is queue-free: Just scan your wristband to reserve your spot, then hang out until it’s your turn. The hot attraction right now is Krakatau Aqua Coaster, which shoots riders up through a 200-foot volcano, then lets gravity do its thing.
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Do everything Harry Potter and friends would do, from grabbing a butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron to being chosen by a wand at Ollivanders. The world is split between Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; hop on the Hogwarts Express to get between the two parks.
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Cat in the Hat and King Kong, The Hulk and Harry Potter—it’s one big, crazy cast of characters here, with every attraction surrounding the Islands of Adventure Lagoon a little wilder than the next.
If You Go
6000 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Public transportation: Mears Transportation and Super Shuttle offer shuttles to and from the Orlando International Airport and Universal Studios, as well as between Disney World and Universal Studios; rates vary.
Recommended time to spend: One to three days.
Where to stay
You can’t beat the convenience of a free shuttle to Universal Studios Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort when you stay at the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Orlando. The hotel offers a variety of amenities including free hot breakfast, gift shop, on-site destination expert, and an outdoor pool.
The complimentary shuttle offered to and from the MCO airport makes it easy for guests at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Orlando Airport to get to their rooms. The free hot breakfast, in-house restaurant, outdoor pool, and fitness center make this an exciting place for the entire family.
Only a two-minute drive from Walt Disney World Resort, Radisson Hotel Orlando – Lake Buena Vista makes it easy for families to get to the park with the complimentary shuttle service. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool, hot tub, and guest services desk where Walt Disney World Resort tickets are available for purchase.