Guides and Tips

Fall Guide to Universal Orlando Resort

September 1, 2023
Crowd of people walking through outdoor scarezone at night, with puple light reflected on fog, red lights on trees and creepy scareactor dressed as a pumpkin on the right

With the days starting to cool down and the summer crowds dissipating, fall might just be the best season to visit Universal Orlando Resort. Earlier sunsets mean beautiful — or spooky! — nights out to enjoy the ambiance of our destination. Whether you’re coming for the jump scares of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) or for the perfect weather, this guide will help you make the most of this spectacular time of year.

WHERE TO STAY | WHAT TO DO | WHERE TO EAT

WHERE TO STAY

Booking a room at one of the eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels is the best way to maximize your fall experience. Here are two of my favorite spots to stay at during this time of year.

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

Hotel room with two queen beds at Hard Rock Hotel

The weather is getting cool but you’ll feel even cooler booking a room at the Hard Rock Hotel. It’s the ultimate place to stay if you’re planning to visit Universal Studios Florida (especially if you’re visiting the award-winning Halloween Horror Nights event in the evening) or Universal Islands of Adventure. Hard Rock Hotel is just a short walk or water taxi ride away from all the action, which is exactly what you need when there is so much to see and do at our Parks during the fall. 

Must-Have Experiences:

  • Start with a look around the public areas of the hotel, where you’ll recognize rock’n’roll memorabilia from your favorite artists.
  • The weather may be cooling off, but every day is a pool day in Florida! Plan for some time to recharge at the enormous on-site pool — it features an underwater sound system so you won’t miss a note!
  • Grab a drink at the posh Velvet Bar and, depending on the week, maybe even score tickets to see your favorite musician play on the Velvet Sessions stage.
  • If you’re heading out for some fun at Universal CityWalk or Halloween Horror Nights in the evening, grab an early dinner at The Kitchen. Its menu of comfort food is sure to keep your energy up throughout your busy night.
    PRO TIP: If you’re celebrating an event or special occasion, it definitely calls for ordering the outrageous signature dessert, The Kitchen Sink! The seven layers of sweets are perfect for sharing.
  • Staying at Hard Rock Hotel also puts you in the perfect location to take advantage of the Halloween Horror Nights Exclusive Hotel Entrance for Universal hotel Guests! Since Hard Rock Hotel is located right next to Universal Studios Florida, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this special entrance to start your scares as soon as possible.
    PRO TIP: Make sure you check out the HHN photo opportunities around the hotel!

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

Two people sitting by outdoor fireplace with Aventura hotel in the background

Universal’s Aventura Hotel has the perfect streamlined style for those who have a busy fall visit planned. Universal Volcano Bay crowds are lighter during the fall, and the weather makes it a perfect time to visit the rest of our theme parks, too. The modern rooms and great views only add to the resort’s perfect location between Volcano Bay and the rest of Universal Orlando’s sights. 

Must-Have Experiences:

  • Take the dedicated walking path from the resort straight to Volcano Bay in the morning — no bus transportation needed!
  • Check out the delicious menu and amazing views from the top floor of the hotel at Bar 17 Bistro. The staff-recommended Roasted Brussels Sprouts is one of my favorite things to order.
    PRO TIP: the sunset views are incredible, and provide perfect lighting for photographing your crew to remember the moment.
  • Have a cozy evening by the fire pit near the pool to reminisce about your day.

Honorable Mention: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Swizzle Lounge at Cabana Bay

I know the volcano views and lazy river of Cabana Bay Beach Resort scream “Summer,” but this dynamic hotel is also a great choice for fall visitors. If you’re a Halloween Horror Nights fan, this is the season to check out exclusive event experiences only for guests staying at a Universal Orlando Hotel — and Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the epicenter of it all!

PRO TIP: Make sure you check out the HHN photo opportunities and special food offerings around the hotel!

WHAT TO DO

Universal Studios Florida arches at sunset

Photo Credit: @Tampa Bay Photography

Universal Orlando Resort has plenty to see and do year-round, but some experiences are especially suited for fall.

Universal Studios Florida

Universal Studios Florida has the perfect mix of daytime excitement and nighttime thrills in the fall season. You can easily fill an entire day enjoying all this theme park has to offer!

Must-Have Experiences:

Photo Credit: @michaelkielphoto

  • It’s time to stock up for school, which means a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley! I like Scribbulus for writing supplies and Wiseacre’s Wizard Equipment to stock up for magical courses. A trip to Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions is a must for all students in need of their wizarding robes.
  • Fall also means it’s time for Dufftoberfest to return to Springfield, U.S.A.! To enjoy the weather, I suggest grabbing your pint at Duff Brewery and enjoying the friendly bartenders and lagoon view.
  • If you’re looking for vintage fall feelings, take a spin to the Green Planet on E.T. Adventure. You may recall that the classic film takes place in the fall (sheet-ghost E.T. is the best!), so this is a specifically great time of year to board your bicycle and help E.T. make it home.
  • Revenge of the Mummy is another ride that reminds me of fall and Halloween. Based on the classic Universal film franchise (which, in turn, was based on the classic Universal Monster films), the cobwebs and skeletons will have you itching to carve a pumpkin and get your costume together in no time.
  • For those who prefer their thrills at a lower speed, the Horror Make-up Show is fun, funny, and still spooky enough to put you in a Halloween mood any day of the year. The lobby is filled with horror memorabilia, including special artifacts from our own Halloween Horror Nights event. Which brings me to my next recommendation…
Scare Zone Jumpscare Scareactors HHN31

Islands of Adventure

A walk around the lagoon at Islands of Adventure in the fall, taking in the park’s stunning skyline as you set off on your park day, is a pinnacle experience of the season.

Must-Have Experiences:

Image split in two — left: hot butterbeer with Hogsmeade entrance in the background. right: woman in a dress wearing a Gryffindor scarf with Hogwarts in the background

Photo Credit | L: @motherofhogwarts | R: @capricecole

  • The start of fall means it’s time to go back to Hogwarts! After you shop for your magical school supplies, take the Hogwarts Express from Diagon Alley (and be sure to wave to Hagrid for me!) to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade, and make your way up to Hogwarts to kick off the school year right.
    PRO TIP: Your school supply shopping will only be complete if you grab a Butterbeer while you’re out! Fall is the perfect time to switch over to Hot Butterbeer until the spring.
  • Once the clocks change, you can take advantage of the earlier sunsets by visiting the Forbidden Forest at night! Hop on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure to enjoy a thrilling race through the dark forest — guided mainly by the headlight of your flying motorbike!
Skull Island Reign of Kong Entrance
  • If you’re ready for a more thrilling fall experience, head over to Skull Island: Reign of Kong. The mystery and adventure on this secretive island will definitely increase your heart rate! For extra spookiness, ride after dark and increase the ominous setting even more.
Doctor Doom's Fearfall Launch from below
  • One of my favorite scares during this season at Islands of Adventure is riding Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. Ominous from the start, it’s easy to see how it was designed to harvest the fear of its riders even before they reach the top of the 185 foot towers. 
  • All Hallows Eve Boutique in The Lost Continent is the perfect shop for fall. Featuring Halloween and Universal Monster-themed merchandise year-round, this store is worth visiting in every season for a dose of that autumn feeling.

Universal Volcano Bay

Universals Volcano-Bay-Waturi Beach Sunrise

Volcano Bay is the perfect place to relax before a night at Halloween Horror Nights, but if those scares aren’t on the agenda, the water park also has plenty of adrenaline-rush experiences on its own. In the fall, you can take advantage of the smaller crowds to ride your favorites again and again!

Must-Have Experiences

Image split in two. Left: burger / Right: jerk shrimp mac and cheese
  • Fall is the perfect time of year to eat outside. The cooler weather may even down the temperature as you enjoy the kick of the Jerk Shrimp Mac & Cheese from Whakawaiwai Eats.

During the fall and winter season, Universal Volcano Bay is closed on select dates. Guests should check UniversalOrlando.com or the Universal Orlando App for park hours and updates.

CityWalk

People sitting around table at NBC

Fun fall activities continue beyond the theme parks with these seasonal CityWalk ideas!

Must-Have Experiences

  • As Halloween approaches, it’s the perfect time of year to catch a horror movie at Universal Cinemark Movie Theater. Try not to spill your popcorn as you take in the scares of a new or classic horror film on the big screen!
  • Starting in September, you can also embrace the Halloween spirit at the Dead Coconut Club. Early in the evening, grab a specialty cocktail and enjoy time catching up with friends in the lounge atmosphere. Later in the night, dance away the frights with a live DJ and chart-topping tunes.
  • Fall is also the start of football season in the United States, and there is no better place to catch a game than NBC Sports Grill & Brew. Grab your fellow fans and find a new beer to try from the massive list of draft and house brews. And while you’re there, make sure to grab some food — everything  from their giant pretzels to their wings and their pasta dishes is always filling and delicious.

WHERE TO EAT

You can’t fully embrace the spirit of the fall without finding some autumnal flavors. Fortunately, the seasonings of the season are easy to find throughout the Resort.

Nutella Puff Today Cafe
  • At Universal Studios Florida, you can start your day with specialty autumnal pastries at TODAY Cafe. In addition to the specialty seasonal menu that changes every year, the Nutella Puff is my go-to breakfast choice.
  • If your sweet tooth tends to hit later in the day, you can also stop by the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store and make your way to the bakery counter for some incredible seasonal treats. The creative and spooky options change each year, but you can’t go wrong if you try a cupcake or a beautiful macaron.
Halloween Horror Nights Pizza Fries
  • If you’re visiting Halloween Horror Nights, be sure to try out the unbelievable special-event food at tents around the park. Their offerings are so diverse and delicious that everyone in your party will find something exciting to try.
    PRO TIP: The pizza fries are as amazing as everyone says, but don’t miss out on the s’mores fries either! They are the perfect shareable treat at the end of a spooky night with friends.
  • At Islands of Adventure, the menu at Three Broomsticks has always felt comforting like fall to me. The smell of wood smoke combined with the savory pies and platters on the menu make it seem like the leaves will change color any moment. I particularly love getting the (non-alcoholic) Pear Cider or a Pumpkin Fizz at this time of year.
ToothsomeBreadBeingDippedinButter
  • At CityWalk, The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen brings the autumnal vibes with its warm interior design, themed and costumed characters, and a milkshake and dessert menu that out-sweets Halloween itself! My favorite way to start a meal at Toothsome is with the warm chocolate almond bread, which is served with salted caramel butter. It’s the appetizer I dream about all year long!

What are your favorite things to see, do, or eat during fall at Universal Orlando Resort? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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