When you think of theme parks in Florida and California, most people’s minds go straight to Disney World and Disneyland, but there is another theme park giant that you don’t want to miss: Universal Studios! There are locations in Orlando, FL and Universal City, CA and they both offer a lot of similar experiences. We love Universal at AurTravel and our resident blog writer, Rebekah, has an extra special connection to the one in CA because that is where her husband proposed to her. We wanted to provide a rundown of some of AurTravel’s top favorite things to do and see at Universal Studios, so let’s dive in!
1. Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park (FL): Pack your swimsuit and prepare to have an absolute blast at this water park! All rides in Volcano Bay are set up with a “Virtual Line” so you can sign up in line with your TapuTapu bracelet and it holds your place for you and counts down so you can spend your wait time doing anything but just waiting.
2. The Walking Dead Attraction (CA): For all our jump-scare and thrill seekers out there, you won’t want to miss this one. Take a not-so-leisurely stroll through this hair raising, spine tingling maze and prepare for some truly terrifying undead to come for you!
3. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (both locations): In my opinion, nothing can top this! If you have even a slight interest in Harry Potter or any bit of magic, nothing can compare to all of the thought and detail that the architects have put into this area of the park. Start by going to Ollivander’s wand shop and getting one of the interactive wands and look for all the hidden spots where you can try your hand at a few spells.
4. The World-Famous Studio Tour (CA): This is a must-see if you have any interest in popular films such as King Kong, Jaws, The Fast & The Furious, and so many more. Get a real life look at where some of your favorite movies and TV shows have been filmed and see some behind-the-scenes magic along the way.
Top Food & Drinks:
1. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (CA): Barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it, shrimp kebobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried, pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp in potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich…that’s about it.
2. Butterbeer (both locations): You can’t visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without getting yourself an iconic glass of Butterbeer! It comes in three different varieties including hot, iced, and my personal favorite, frozen.
3. Duff Brewery Beer Garden (CA): A very popular locale for all guests 21 and up. You’ll probably be pretty exhausted from all the walking around, so why not kick up your feet and relax with Homer Simpson’s favorite drink and maybe catch a few scenes playing up on the screens of our favorite Springfield fam.
4. Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour (FL): One of Harry’s favorite places to do homework, why not stop into this ice cream shop and see if you can catch a peak of him anywhere. Grab yourself a hot fudge sundae or maybe a waffle cone filled with some of their delicious flavors like salted caramel blondie, earl grey & lavender, orange marmalade, and so many more.
1. E.T. Adventure (FL): Nostalgia skyrocketing through the roof with this ride. Jump on your flying bike and take a thrilling ride to help E.T. save his home planet…you know you’ve always wanted to.
2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (CA): The line for this ride can be pretty lengthy because of its popularity but I’ve never had such a good time waiting in line for any ride before. The roller coaster designers really knew what they were doing when they put this one together. Every waiting room has a different story to help lead up to the ride and there are tons of Easter eggs and clues for all the potter-heads out there, making the final ride feel that much more fun.
3. Jurassic World: The Ride (CA): The raptor encounter at the entrance of this ride might have been my favorite part about it. They look unbelievably life-like and it really helps you get into the mindset of this incredible world you’re about to enter.
4. Revenge of the Mummy (FL): This coaster has had a 5-star rating for years and there’s no doubt why. Between the real scenes and graphics taken from the film and the literal heat you’ll feel from the fires, this coaster really knows how to get your heart pumping.
1. The Tales of Beedle the Bard (FL): Gather round to see a real-life retelling of one of the most beautiful scenes in all eight HP films. Based on stories form Beedle the Bard and with props and puppets fabricated by Emmy-award-winning designer Michael Curry, this live-show is not one to miss.
2. Universal’s Animal Actors (CA): Animal lovers, gather round for one of the BEST live shows on the Universal lot. Watch animals from the big screen show off some of their best tricks up close and personal. This show gives you a behind the scenes look at how these brilliant animals are trained and chosen (majority of which are rescues) for their parts. If you’re lucky, you might even get to pet a few of these furry cuties at the end of the show.
3. University Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show (FL): Have you ever wondered how to make movie-quality fake blood? Well, this is where you’ll learn. Get ready for a close up look at some of the coolest (grossest) makeup and special effects. Don’t forget to check out the huge collection of props and effects out in the lobby before. You might just want to wait to eat lunch until after the show.
4. WaterWorld (CA): Based on the 1995 adventure film, this show has it all! Jet ski jumps, deep dives, firefights, and literal explosions…not a dull moment in this whole show. And if you feel like getting wet, make sure to get there early so you can get a seat towards the front. An exhilarating 20 minutes that will make you want to come back to see it again and again.
We just wanted to give you a little inside scoop on what you can expect when visiting, but also to let you know about an exclusive vacation package we’re offering right now for Universal Orlando – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Starting at $119 per person, per night this vacation includes:
- 5-night hotel accommodations
- 3-Park 4-Day Park-to-Park promo ticket
- Early park admission
- Special themed keepsake box featuring some exclusive items
- Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks
- One photography studio session with Shutterbutton’s.
This deal won’t last forever so give us a call at AurTravel and let us help you book your next magical adventure at Universal!
Rebekah Swerczek Growing up in a small Texas town, Rebekah always had the desire to travel and discover as much of the world as possible. After high school, she took her chance. Rebekah joined a performing arts group based out of southern California called The Young Americans. She had the opportunity to perform, teach, and mentor young kids all around the world. With this group Rebekah was able to travel to 11 different countries. She also met her husband while performing with this group and eventually they settled down in Nebraska, but they still love to travel together any chance they get. So far their favorite places are Riviera Maya, Mexico and Northern Michigan, but they still have a few big ticket bucket list items they’d like to mark off their list including: New Zealand, Hawaii, and Scotland. Rebekah is also a huge animal lover and an avid Harry Potter fan. She is the newest addition to the AurTravel team and so happy to be here.