Universal Orlando: Both Parks in One Day

Where else can you ride the Hogwarts Express, fight villains with Spider-Man, become a minion, and come face to face with dinosaurs? Universal Orlando is composed of two theme parks, a water park, and Citywalk – a supercharged entertainment, shopping, and dining district. There are also eight on-site hotels, which as a guest gives you early park admission!

Universal Orlando is unique, with both parks are located next to each other and within walking distance. I would highly recommend purchasing a 2-park ticket, as both parks are worth visiting (and with a 2-park ticket you can ride the Hogwarts Express!). If you want to fully immerse yourself in each experience you will probably need more than one day, but we were able to do both parks into one day and it was easily manageable. However you choose to tackle the parks, an Express Pass will be your best friend when it comes to navigating the lines.

Now, the big question… which park to visit first? Most people will tell you to head straight to Islands of Adventure, and if you are staying at a Universal resort on site with early admission – DO IT! Islands of Adventure is home to some of Universal’s most coveted thrill rides: Jurassic World VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. That being said, if you do not have early admission – I would avoid the crowds and go straight to Universal Studios Florida!

Universal Studios Florida, themed to the entertainment industry, is home to Minion Mayhem, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Kings Cross Station, Transformers 3-D, Men in Black Alien Attack, among several thrill rides. I highly recommend walking through Gringotts Bank even if you do not intend to ride the coaster, it is incredible and feels so real! There is also a vast amount of character meet and greets, we saw over 10 in the first two hours without even trying. Best part? No lines. This is why heading to Universal Studios Florida first is my number one tip! Also, if you are there for lunch or just looking for a snack – Central Park Crepes is a quick service spot with out of this world sweet and savory options! After we grabbed some food we headed to Animal Actors On Location where our daughter was selected to be Animal Trainer of the Day (core memory). And finally the Bourne Stuntacular was truly amazing – this was a show unlike anything I have ever seen before and I think everyone in the audience was in awe of the stunts and technology.

I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so let me focus for just a second on some hidden gems at Universal Studios Florida. Yes, you can buy the wand and make some pretty special magic… but for those of us who are looking for some free magic, this is for you! At 12 Grimmauld place, go up to the door and knock. Kreacher will appear in the window – and for any Potterhead this is pretty exciting as it is the hidden HQ of the Order of the Phoenix. Just a short walk away you will see a traditional red telephone booth. Step inside and dial 62442 (MAGIC) to be connected to the Ministry of Magic. Last, but probably the most exiting – inside Kings Cross Station at Platform 9 3/4 you can literally see guests jumping through the platform! Have someone from your group hang back and get it on video, it is pretty special.

Later in the afternoon the crowd picks up, and thats when you hop on board the Hogwarts Express and make your way to Islands of Adventure (be sure to ride the Hogwarts Express both ways, it is different each way). You will get off in Hogsmeade and here is where you can see Hogwarts in all of it’s glory! This is also where you can sip butterbeer and head into Olivander’s wand shop. My kids personally loved Honeydukes where they got their own Chocolate Frog and lollypop bigger than their heads! Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is located in this area, it does not currently take Express Pass and always has a fairly long line – for this reason we have not yet ridden it. Flight of the Hippogriff is a fun kid’s coaster and a favorite of ours. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is located inside Hogwarts Castle, and even if you do not want to ride it I recommend walking through. It is beautiful and intricately designed. The ride itself can give people motion sickness, so keep that in mind.

From there cross the bridge into another favorite area of mine, Jurassic Park. Can’t you just hear the music now?! This is a timeless classic at Universal, and people rave about the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster – another ride we have yet to go on because it is not currently taking Express Pass. Toon Lagoon is an area of Islands of Adventure that is great when it is hot, there are a lot of water rides that are guaranteed to cool you down! Marvel Super Hero Island is a great area for meeting characters and some fun rides as well. Spiderman has a 3-D right where you can fight villains, and my personal favorite: The Incredible Hulk Coaster. Thanks to VelociCoaster’s appeal, you can get on the Hulk pretty easily, and for that I am thrilled (haha!).

Wind your way thought Suess Landing and hear the books come to life, this was a favorite area for my kids (and myself if I am being honest!). We made our way back over to Hogwarts at sundown to watch the light show on the castle. This was a huge highlight, as fireworks and Harry Potter music together just hit all the right spots… I have goosebumps just thinking about it! The light show happens every 20 minutes, so you have plenty of chances to catch it!

Holidays at Universal Orlando

There you have it, one day split between two awesome parks at Universal Orlando. So… what are you waiting for?

Until next time…

20 thoughts on “Universal Orlando: Both Parks in One Day

Add yours

  1. I’m sure my kids will be thrilled to see both hogwarts and jurassic park. Never been to Florida, my parents had been there though.


  2. Wow there is sooooo much to see at both parks! My nephew just came back and he’s been talking nonstop lol! I know my kids wanted to do the water park first!


  3. I love themed parks, and I bet that Universal Orlando is a place that I will enjoy too. Not sure if my husband will, but he got no choice but to accompany me. This is a happy place!


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