Things to Do at Universal Orlando
Here are 22 things to do at Universal Orlando. Universal Orlando is one of the most popular theme parks in the world and for good reason. With thrilling rides, exciting attractions, and immersive experiences, it’s no wonder that millions of visitors flock to this park every year.
If you’re planning a trip to Universal Orlando, a few must-do items should be at the top of your list. From snapping a photo at the iconic Universal Globe to exploring the magical world of Harry Potter in the Wizarding World, there’s something for everyone at Universal Orlando. So grab your wand and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
Do I need a rental car for a Universal vacation?
I like to get around as needed while on vacation, so I like to rent a car. If you decide to rent a car in Orlando, I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
Discount USA Car Rental offers the best pricing, whether you’re flying into Orlando or Sanford. As a bonus, you don’t have to pay anything until arriving at the airport, and cancellation is free.
If you need to find some reasonable flights, sign up for Going Free alerts.
22 things to do at Universal Orlando
Here are the best things to do at Universal Orlando, listed in no particular order. If you enjoy these, make sure to also check out 10 things to do in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for adults.
Pictures at the Universal Sign
When you arrive at Universal Studios Florida, you are going to want to start your visit out on the right note. So, take the time to get your picture taken at the Universal sign.
Yes, the Universal Globe may be busy in the morning when you arrive. But later on, when it is time to leave, you are going to be too tired to stop.
Wander Through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
One of the main reasons people visit Universal Studios Orlando is to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is best to head to one side of Harry Potter early in the day to avoid the long lines. Early park admission is highly recommended for these two areas of the park.
At Universal Studios, you will find Diagon Alley. The main Harry Potter ride there is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Outside this ride, check out the fire-breathing dragon.
You will find Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure in Hogsmeade. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is another ride at Islands of Adventure.
There are often long lines at all the Harry Potter rides at Universal. This is because they are some of the best things to do at Universal Orlando.
I recommend purchasing the Universal Express Pass if you want to skip a long wait time during your visit or simply stay in one of the Universal hotels that comes with Express Pass, such as Hard Rock Hotel Orlando.
If you have a Harry Potter fan in your family, make sure you purchase the park-to-park (or park hopper) pass with your tickets. That is the only way you can ride Hogwarts Express.
The train will take you between the Universal Orlando theme parks. The Hogsmeade Station is at Islands of Adventure. King’s Cross Station is at Universal Studios.
Your experience on the train will be different each way. So, while the lines are long, they can be worth the wait.
Things to do at the Wizarding World
If your kids haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet, purchase them before heading to Universal Orlando. Although, you can always read them after this amazing family vacation! You can also check out 30+ Movies to watch before going to Universal.
Oh, and don’t forget to try the butterbeer and visit the wand shop while at Harry Potter. They are both experiences you will remember forever. Plus, the kids won’t want to go home without going through their very own interactive wand experience.
If you can’t find Ollivanders Experience in Diagon Alley for the wand show, you can ask a team member to guide you. Or look for the long line!
Plenty of photo ops exist in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Check out The Knight Bus, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, the telephone booth at King’s Cross, and all the others.
Do the VIP Experience
Getting early park admission can be helpful in gaining quick access to certain areas of the park. But as the day goes on, the park will fill up with so many people.
So, what is the best way to enjoy all the rides while enjoying special benefits? I recommend doing the VIP Experience!
You can choose a VIP Experience in one park or do it in both. Your tour guide will show you all the fun things throughout the parks. You will have the best time as you conquer all the top things on your list.
The good news is you can do a VIP Experience with another group or choose a Private VIP Experience.
Get a Few Thrills on the Hulk Coaster
The Hulk Coaster is located at Islands of Adventure. This is one of the best roller coasters at Universal Orlando.
There are seven inversions that your family will race through at 67 miles per hour!
Ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Another fabulous roller coaster is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Although, this one offers a more heart-racing experience. As the music plays loud, you will zip upwards at a near-vertical climb.
You get to choose the song of your choice before this ride takes off. Choose carefully if you want this to be the ride of your life!
Have Fun on the Simpsons Ride
Is your family not a fan of the thrills most roller coasters offer? Then the Simpsons Ride might be one of the best attractions for you!
This motion simulator ride will make you feel like you are on a roller coaster. Yet, you won’t actually be moving much at all. So, everyone should still be able to stand up straight once the ride is over.
If anyone in your family is prone to motion sickness, grab a burger from the Krusty Burger after instead of before. Trust me on this one!
Pretend to Stay Up Late Watching New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
Have you ever stayed up late to watch the Jimmy Fallon show? Well, if you haven’t, now is the time to see what all the hype is about!
During this simulated ride, you race through the streets of New York City. The goal is to see who can reach the studio first. There are many special effects during this ride that will surprise and delight your entire family.
Speed Along on Fast & Furious Supercharged
Universal Orlando is known for its rides based on favorite movies. Fast & Furious Supercharged is one of the best of those rides. The special effects included in this ride are wind, fire, and water.
This is a noisy ride that can be intense. Small children may not be thrilled with this ride.
See the Aliens on E.T. Adventure
Your family will love stepping back in time to spend a little time with E.T. This is one of the older, classic rides at Universal Studios Orlando. In fact, it’s one of three original attractions remaining at Universal Orlando. Do you know the other two? They are the Animal Actors show and Horror Makeup Show!
You will all ride a flying bike through the sky, as you try to take E.T. home. One of the best things about this ride is it is personalized. You give your name when you enter the ride. Your name is then called out to welcome you home at the end.
Be Scared on the Revenge of the Mummy
The Revenge of the Mummy is an indoor roller coaster. This completely dark ride has plenty of special effects. Although, you might not see them if you are too scared to keep your eyes open.
You should go on this ride 2 or 3 times. If you can. That is the only way you may find yourself getting used to the speed, and sights, so you can experience it all.
Be a Kid Again Seuss Landing
Seuss Landing is a great place for younger children at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. On the Caro-Seuss-el, the whole family can ride their favorite characters. Spend your time making your character’s ears wiggle, heads turn, and eyes blink.
There is also One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat in the Hat. Don’t skip The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. During this ride, you can see the entire Seuss Landing and some other areas of the theme park.
Ride the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Does your family want to get close to Spider-Man during your visit to Universal Orlando? If you answered yes, you must go on this favorite ride in the park.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is one of the most popular attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. It is a three-dimensional ride.
During this ride, you will travel through New York City in a moving vehicle. The best part is plunging down to the ground from the top of a 400 foot structure.
See the Dinosaurs on the Jurassic World VelociCoaster
This is one of the thrill rides in the world that utilizes a launch system. When you go on this rollercoaster, you need to be prepared to go from 0 to 50 mph in only 2 seconds.
Once you reach that speed, the rest of the ride gets even more heartracing I’m talking propelling speeds of up to 70 mph. Then there is a steep plunge of 140 feet.
Participate in Halloween Horror Nights
Halloween Horror Nights is one of the special events held at Universal Orlando every year. This spooky event is held on select nights during the months of September and October.
In addition to all the rides at Universal Orlando, you will find so much more during this special event. There are 10+ haunted houses and at least five scare zones. Themed drinks and foods are also available as well as other HHN merchandise.
Have Fun at Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is a special event that is held every spring. There is vibrant music and entertaining street performers. Add in the colorful costumes and parades, and you may forget about the rides.
Collect as many beads as possible as you eat authentic Cajun cuisine during this fun event.
Be Competitive on the Men in Black Alien Attack Ride
One of the best rides at Universal Studios is Men in Black Alien Attack. Aliens are attacking New York City and your job as an agent in training is to get rid of them all.
Compete with your family to see who can get the most points obliviating the aliens during this fast-paced ride.
Wander Around Universal CityWalk
Does your family still have energy after a long day at the theme parks in Orlando? Are they still ready to party after a full day at Walt Disney World or Universal Studios?
If you answered yes, you can hang out at Universal’s CityWalk afterward. There are quite a few themed restaurants and the Rising Star karaoke bar at CityWalk.
A newer restaurant is the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. This restaurant may have a strange name. However, the food is delectable!
One of my favorite places to grab sweet treats here is Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. You can head there right after dinner. Or play a round or two at Hollywood Drive-In Golf while letting your food digest. There are two courses at the golf course. One of those is The Haunting of the Ghostly Greens.
No matter when you go to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, get ice cream in some form.
CityWalk can be a lot of fun. Go on a non-park day if you can’t head there after a full day at the theme parks. You’ll have plenty of time then to sit down at a full-service restaurant and listen to a live band.
Make sure to check out our CityWalk Orlando Restaurants List.
Watch a Show or Two
If this is your first time at Universal Studios Orlando, you may be so focused on the rides you forget about the shows. However, I don’t recommend waiting until the next time you visit to see them!
A few favorites include The Blues Brothers Show, Beat Builders in New York, and Animal Actors on Location.
Tackle the Water Rides at Islands of Adventure
You don’t need to visit Universal’s Volcano Bay to get soaked on water rides. You can do it at the other Universal Orlando theme parks!
Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls is one of the most popular water rides at the park. It is best to head to this ride early in the morning before the long lines form. Just be prepared for the 75-foot double drop at the end.
The Jurassic Park river raft ride is a little calmer. It is basically a nice boat ride until you reach the drop to take you to the end of the river. That drop is a short 85 feet!
Another rafting ride is Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges. Up to 8 people in your group can go together in the road raft. You can all twist and turn together as you get soaked along the way.
Stay at a Universal Orlando Resort
There is nothing better than staying at one of the Universal Orlando Resorts. Staying at one of these resorts is one of the best ways to get early admission to the parks with your park ticket.
A couple of the favorite Universal Resorts include Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. You can even stay at the Hard Rock Hotel. They all have amazing pools and great on-site restaurants. Plus, they are all really close to the parks.
Another option is Cabana Bay Beach Resort. There is a lazy river along with a tropical swimming pool. Add in Galaxy Bowl, the arcade, and other fantastic amenities and you will have plenty of things to do on a non-park day.
Take Pictures with the Characters at Universal Orlando
You won’t need to stand in line for hours to get your picture taken with many of the characters at Universal Orlando. Lots of characters make appearances daily. You can check out the schedule for the day. Or you can grab a picture when you see a character you like.
A few of the characters you may see include Hello Kitty, Scooby Doo, and the Simpsons.
Grab a Few Sweets from the San Francisco Candy Factory
This candy shop is the perfect place to grab a few sweets to keep you going during your visit at Universal Orlando. Although, you can also stop in before you leave to get a few things for a midnight snack.
The San Francisco Candy Factory has everything from gourmet cookies and fudge to caramel-covered apples.
Enjoy a Great Meal Inside Universal Orlando
You don’t need to eat quick grab-and-go meals when you visit Universal Orlando. Instead, you can enjoy a leisurely sit-down meal if you have the time.
One of the best places to eat a great meal is the Leaky Cauldron. You will find this restaurant inside Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Your family will find authentic British foods at the Leaky Cauldron.
It is best to have a reservation for a meal at the Leaky Cauldron. You can always try The Three Broomsticks if you can’t get into this restaurant. That restaurant is over in Hogsmeade.
Head Over to Universal’s Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay is Universal’s water park. Visiting this water park is a great way to cool down during a hot Florida day.
Your family will love all the water slides. In between going down the slides, you can relax at Waturi Beach. Or the kids can have fun in the wave pool, while you relax in a cabana.
Wait for the New Epic Universe to Open
One of the best things to do at Universal Orlando in the future will be to visit the new Epic Universe. This is where Super Nintendo World will be located.
Two attractions are currently being planned for Super Nintendo World. Those attractions include Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge and Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, as well as Yoshi’s Adventure.
As of right now, it is said this new section of the park will open in 2025. Here at Florida Travel with Kids, we will keep you updated as more information is released.
Things to do at Universal Orlando
I hope this list of things to do at Universal Orlando helps you plan your Universal vacation.
If you’re heading to Universal Orlando (or even Walt Disney World), check out our other Universal Travel Tips and Disney Travel tips:
- The Best Instagram Spots at Universal Orlando
- Things to do in Orlando for Christmas
- Hidden Secrets of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The best bags for Universal Studios
- 7 things to buy at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 30 Things to Do at Disney World Resorts
- The Best Fanny Pack for Disney
- The Best Place to Stay at Universal Orlando
- 32 Things to do at Hollywood Studios
Are you planning a Universal Vacation?
I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist. Unfortunately, there are many scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner like Undercover Tourist.
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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