• What is Universal Orlando?

What is Universal Orlando?

Luiz Alberto H.

Created: Feb 13, 2024

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

What is Universal Orlando?

Hello! Welcome to our guide where we will teach you all you need to know about Universal Orlando!

Are you a little bit lost and don’t know exactly what Universal Orlando is? You have heard about Islands of Adventure, but have no idea if that’s inside Universal Orlando or not? You are not sure if Mickey Mouse is part of Universal and would like to finally have an answer to this decade-old question?

Relax, it’s fine. We will answer all of that pretty soon. This is just the starting point of your journey, and the next guides will dive deep into each theme park, specific rides, FastPass options and all that. This first step into the world of Universal will help you plan your next trip by setting up the table and helping you choose the best time of the year to visit and what you should expect from this wonderful slice of heaven.

In this intro guide, you will learn about:

  • What is Universal Orlando?
  • The two main Theme Parks
  • Best Dates to Visit

So, let’s get going!

Islands Adventure VelociCoaster 3.webp

What is Universal Orlando?

Good question.

Just so you know, Universal Orlando isn’t just one theme park. Universal Orlando, or Universal Orlando Resort, is a collection of two main theme parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure), an entertainment center and also a Water Park (Volcano Bay). This is not only a great place to go on rides like amazing roller coasters and motion simulators, but also to sit down and eat delicious food and do a lot of shopping.

Universal Orlando owns or has deals with several well known IPs, like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Men in Black, The Simpsons and much more. This also means that there are several attractions based on those franchises, and great merchandise at your disposal. Do you want to buy an official Hogwarts student robe and a magic wand and cosplay as Harry Potter or Hermione Granger? Sure, you can do that. Want to finally taste a Duff Beer? You can do that inside Universal Orlando as well.

Universal Orlando is located in Florida, just next to… yes, Orlando! It’s situated about 40 minutes away from Disney World, which makes moving around pretty easy.

Universal Studios Hollywood (4).jpg

So, we have told you a bit about Universal Orlando. We already know that it’s a huge resort with two main theme parks (and a brand new one coming in 2025), a water park, an entertainment complex, multiple stores and restaurants.

Now, what Universal Orlando isn’t?

  • Universal Orlando is not Universal Hollywood. One is located in Florida, the other is in California. For now, Super Nintendo World only exists in Universal Hollywood, but it’s coming to Universal Orlando when the new theme park, Epic Universe, launches in 2025.
  • Universal Orlando is not Disney World. Think like Apple and Google. They are both entertainment resorts offering a wide range of theme parks, but they are not related. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is located in Disney World, while The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is in Universal Studios. Both are entertainment resorts that are amongst the best in the world. Are you coming to Florida? You should visit both of them.
  • Universal Orlando definitely isn't just for kids. In fact, while Disney World is more family friendly, Universal Orlando is a great place for thrill seekers, since it features some of the best roller coasters in the world. There are also great spots for children and the younglings, like a land dedicated to Dr. Seuss with lots of stores and attractions.

The two main Universal Orlando theme parks

You already know that Universal Orlando is much more than just theme parks. Still, it’s hard to deny that the theme parks are indeed the stars of the show. Each one of them has dozens of rides, attractions, live shows, restaurants and stores, after all. You can easily spend a whole day there and not see everything, so saving a whole week just to visit Universal is a very good strategy.

Universal Studios Simpsons Krustyland.webp

There are two main theme parks in Universal Orlando: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. There are also many ticket options, but a single day ticket for one theme park will cost you around $120. We will talk more about this later on.

The good news is that Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are right next to each other, connected by Universal’s City Walk, and you can just walk between them. Just keep in mind that a single day ticket will give you access to one theme park only, unless you have a park-to-park ticket, which lets you visit both on the same day. This is similar to Disney's Park Hopper option, which lets you go to two theme parks in a single day.

The two main theme parks are:

Universal Studios: I know, it can get confusing when the names are so similar! Universal Orlando is the name of the resort which involves every Universal theme park and entertainment complex, while Universal Studios is the name of a single theme park. Universal Studios is great, by the way. This theme park opened its doors back in 1990 and features several amazing rides, from roller coasters to motion simulators and incredible 3D theaters.

Popular franchises you can find here: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Men in Black, The Bourne Identity, The Mummy, E.T., Despicable Me and more!

Islands of Adventure: This is one of the best theme parks in the world and a great choice for thrill seekers. Islands of Adventure features two of the best roller coasters ever: Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster, and also one of the most classic motion simulators of all time in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Don’t believe me that this is a great theme park? Islands of Adventure is often regarded as one of the top 5 best theme parks in the world year after year, as voted by Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards.

Popular franchises you can find here: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Marvel, Dr.Seuss, Popeye and more!

Yep, you can find Harry Potter lands and rides in both theme parks. Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios, while Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure. Both spots offer different rides, stores and restaurants for you to have fun. Don't worry, both lands also offer a ton of merchandise options like magic wands, robes and even Butterbeer for you to truly feel like a wizard.

Universal Studios Diagon Alley Streets.webp

Oh, let’s not forget that a brand new Universal theme park will launch in 2025! Epic Universe promises to be way bigger than Islands of Adventure, and it even features a huge hotel built next to the main rides. A brand new theme park is a huge event, even more so considering that Universal Studios is from 1990 and Islands of Adventure is from 1999. Twenty six years later, we will have a brand new theme park with awesome new rides and lands like Universal Monsters and Super Nintendo World. This is going to be g-r-e-a-t.

Well, that’s only in 2025 and there is a chance that Epic Universe gets delayed. For now, let’s also not forget that Universal Orlando Resort includes Volcano Bay and Universal’s CityWalk.

Volcano Bay is Universal’s water park, similar to Disney’s Blizzard Beach, with several water slides and aqua coasters.

Universal’s CityWalk is similar to Disney Springs: a huge entertainment complex with dozens of restaurants, stores, a movie theater and even nightclubs for you to have fun. The good news is that the CityWalk is located right next to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, so you can walk between them. You can’t walk from Universal CityWalk to Volcano Bay, though.

As you can probably imagine, there is a lot to see and do. My suggestion? Save at least one full day for Universal Studios and two days for Islands of Adventure if that is your first time visiting. 

Islands Adventure Seuss Trolley.webp

First Steps if you Want to Visit Universal Orlando

Visiting a theme park can feel like rolling a dice. There are days that it feels like you’re the only guest going from ride to ride and everything is working in perfect harmony. This has happened to me in the past! One time back in 2019, I finished riding Revenge of the Mummy with my family. There was no one else in line and the ride operator just let us remain in the vehicle as we rode that attraction again and again. Good times.

On the other hand, there are those moments when you plan your trip in a two page excel sheet, buy your tickets in advance, choose the perfect Wednesday to have fun with your friends only to get to your destination and wonder if you made a wrong turn somewhere and arrived at a Taylor Swift concert. Everything is packed and it looks like you won’t get anywhere without an Express Pass

Islands Adventure entrance.webp

There’s no way to know with 100% accuracy whether a theme park will be crowded or not; however, there are some ways to make the dice roll in your favor. The most important tip not only for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but basically any theme park in the United States is: avoid June and July. Orlando is a nice 100* outside and there are a lot of people on vacation. Instead, these are the best months to let Famvia help you book a cruise!

These two months are very crowded and you will lose hours upon hours just to ride the Caro-Seuess-el. This isn’t even the worst part! You know what really sucks? The weather. Florida during the summer is mega-super-hot. I am talking about the temperature reaching something like 86.5°, and it feels way worse than that thanks to the humidity. With humidity it can be 100+! It’s very unpleasant in rides that have long queues without a roof over your head. Please take care to not melt under the scorching sun.

When to visit Universal Orlando?

Islands Adventure Entrance 4.webp

Now that we got June and July out of the way, know that when one park is crowded, there is a good chance that every other park is also crowded. Maybe there is a holiday you didn’t know about, or you just got unlucky. It happens. Here are some hot tips that apply to any theme park in Florida, not only Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure:

  • Avoid June and July. Yes, I am writing this again since this is very important. Summer is very crowded. It’s also way too hot. Bad, bad, bad.
  • End of January to mid-February is usually a good time. Awesome weather and queues aren’t huge, even if some of the best rides can feel packed.
  • September to early December is probably the best time. Not too hot, queue times are pretty good. Just watch out for Fall Break when kids go on vacation to terrorize your favorite attractions.
  • Try to visit Universal Orlando during weekdays if you can. Weekends will always be worse for queues and your sanity. This is especially true for Islands of Adventure, which is traditionally packed and gets worse on Saturdays and Sundays. If you can’t go to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure during weekdays, leave Universal Studios for Saturday or Sunday. Universal Studios doesn’t have as many must see rides as Islands of Adventure and is usually a more pleasant place to just walk around. 
  • Universal Orlando usually doesn't get as packed as Disney World, which is good. This doesn't mean that it isn't crowded, though. Expect 60-120 minute queue times for the most popular attractions like Jurassic World VelociCoaster and Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure.
  • Before setting up your trip and buying tickets, check the calendar for the United States holidays and anything that might happen in Florida while you are there. Run away from dates like Thanksgiving, Columbus Day and Labor Day. 
  • While our Guide to Tickets and Express Pass has a lot of helpful recommendations, we want to call out that you might need one if you are visiting the parks during summer or close to Christmas. An Express Pass helps you cut lines and save time, but this perk can be rather expensive. Expect to pay more than $100 per person for this privilege, in addition to your entry ticket. Prices get even more expensive during summer.
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