6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819
Payment options: Credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Full bar
Admission: $102, $97 child.
Orlando’s other big theme park franchise always seems like it’s trying to keep up with Mickey Mouse and Co. down the road. But it’s come a long way in the past decade. The first thing you must know is the terminology: the entire complex is known as Universal Orlando, and that includes two theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure; hotels; and the bustling CityWalk, home to restaurants, shopping and nightlife.
In 2010, Universal partnered with the folks behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and movies to create a multimillion-dollar immersive experience called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The expansion, which started in Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade) and expanded to Universal Studios (Diagon Alley) in 2014, has been a game-changer for Universal in terms of audience and cool factor.
Not a Potter fan? Universal Studios still draws with its Simpsons Ride, the new Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster and Revenge of the Mummy thrill ride, plus others. Next door are more rides at Islands of Adventure, featuring the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk Coaster, and the Jurassic Park River Adventure. More so than Disney, the Universal parks are great for all ages. There are kid-friendly areas for the little ones (Islands of Adventure’s Dr. Seuss landing; Universal Studios’ Despicable Me ride), and those thrill rides mentioned above for the older folks.
In October, the attraction puts on a spectacular Universal Horror Nights Halloween event, renowned for its gory details that are taken from horror films.