Photo Credit: @ sweet_emilykay
When I travel to a new place, I immediately jump on social media to ask friends and family for tips and tricks. I trust my friends and family to give me the best inside scoop on how to maximize my trip.
So if you’re traveling to Universal Orlando Resort, why not ask the real experts — Universal Orlando Passholders. The UOAP family is not only made up of passionate individuals, but they are so knowledgeable. I know what you’re thinking, what if I don’t know any Passholders? Don’t worry, I got you covered.
I jumped to the Official Universal Orlando Passholders Facebook Group and asked, “What are the must-do, can’t-miss attractions you would recommend at Universal Orlando Resort?” We received hundreds of replies and here are just a few for your next visit.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida
With two unique lands — Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida — there are plenty of can’t-miss things to do in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Two of the must-do rides here are Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, but don’t take my word for it. Remember, we asked the experts….
Jennifer-Paul Moore “Hagrid’s [Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure] is a ride like no other. You get 2 different ride experiences when you ride the motorcycle and in the sidecar. Love the surprises too!”
Melissa Hagler “Visit Hogwarts, duh!!”
Xerxes Zaim D. Samadan “Going to The Wizarding World and forgetting about all your problems from the real world.”
Sarah Christine Morris “The NUMBER ONE attraction that keeps my heart jumping is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.”
Corinne Blastick “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts!!!!”
Michelle Marie Majka “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts! & watching the dragon’s fire, of course!”
Steven Buehler “Of course The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… the immersion is insane.”
Heather Deaton-Randall – “Go walk through Diagon Alley and let yourself whoa!”
MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack | Universal Studios Florida
Ready to defend the galaxy? Then don’t miss MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida and try to get the high score, 999,999. It’s harder than it looks but if you can max out, you’ll get instant insider cred.
Ronald Gardner “MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack! A must-do every single trip!”
Allen Sheplee “I Recommend MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack 😎😎✨🕴🏻🕴🏽🐸🐛🪲🪳🦟🐜🪰🕷”
Amanda Lee Irizarry “Defending the galaxy’s our fam favorite”
Jurassic Park River Adventure | Islands of Adventure
Need a little bit of fear and a whole lot of water action? Then this prehistoric adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a must.
Zack Back “One of my ‘can’t-miss’ attractions is definitely the Jurassic Park River Adventure.”
Jenna Brannen “Jurassic Park and E.T. [Adventure] are a must if you are a nostalgic junkie like myself 😍😍😍.”
E.T. Adventure | Universal Studios Florida
This was one of the original rides when Universal Studios Florida opened, and the Universal pros love it — myself included. If you don’t believe me, just try to suggest replacing this ride in the Passholder Facebook Group, I dare you.
Karissa Brodeur “Visit E.T.”
Savannah Reece “E.T., Jurassic Park, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure are my favorite must-do attractions whenever we visit!! 🤩 And you can’t forget a refreshing drink from The Watering Hole!!”
The Incredible Hulk Coaster | Islands of Adventure
If you miss this attraction in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you might go home and get mad, and you wouldn’t like it if you were mad. As you can see below, a night time ride is what the experts prefer.
Barbara St Pierre “Ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster at night.”
Samantha Mincik “Hulk, Hagrid’s [Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure], Spider-Man, Butterbeer & we must always visit our 🔥 friend!”
Revenge of the Mummy | Universal Studios Florida
Every theme park has a local favorite, and for many years the hype — and curse — has been real with this one.
Jessica Bryant “The Mummy is always a must do! It’s always a fun time escaping from the curse!”
Paul Thomas “The Mummy is a must! Can’t go to Universal and NOT ride it!”
RJ Mehrer “Revenge of The Mummy is the one ride we all love!”
Jurassic World VelociCoaster | Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando’s newest roller coaster is a thrill-seeker’s dream. Passholders alike can agree that this new breed of coaster is a cannot miss on your next trip.
Gabrielle McDaniel “This is our fifth time riding Velocicoaster, and riding it at night is an absolute game changer!! I had the time of my life and could not stop smiling and laughing!! Highly recommend trying to hop on at night!”
Bonnie Flook “Very intense, but smooth. I loved the launches. Excellent theming on the coaster itself, as well as the queue. Well done, Universal, Velocicoaster lives up to the hype!”
Christopher Murphy “1 word. EPIC”
Volcano Bay is Universal’s water theme park and boy is it beautiful. There are unique yummy food items and 18 attractions at this water theme park just waiting for you to ride.
Julianne Sterbutzel “Volcano Bay!!! It is a must.”
Marina Thompsonn “Volcano 🌋Bay!!”
Katie MF Schmidt “Krakata Aqua Coaster at Volcano Bay is one of the BEST Universal roller coasters and I LOVE it. Oh and that jerk mac n’ cheese at Volcano Bay is what dreams are made of.”
Kendall Miller “Showing some love for Volcano Bay 🌊♥️☀️. In my opinion, this is easily the best water park around. The TAPU TAPU is a GAME CHANGER. Being able to go on the Running Rapids or grab lunch while “in line” for a slide/aquacoster makes it so worth it to go. I love taking my daughter who has NO fear when it comes to the slides and LOVES the lights you can play with INSIDE the Volcano. This park is why we got annual passes and saw Universal / IOA as the added bonus.”
I know we couldn’t list all the attractions Universal Orlando has to offer (it would be a very long list) so here are a few honorable mentions.
Courtney Curlee “Seuss Landing with the kiddos!” (Islands of Adventure)
Rachel Foster “Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, you will get wet! Nice way to end a hot summer day.” (Islands of Adventure)
Kissimmee Crum “Racing Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is such an underrated gem!!” (Universal Studios Florida)
Becca Mae “You HAVE to visit SpongeBob StorePants and explore! So many hidden fun things for the mini humans to enjoy!” (Universal Studios Florida)
There are plenty of awesome shows that will make you laugh, cry, and just leave you in awe, like the Horror Make-up Show, Beat Builders, Animal Actors on Location!, Blues Brothers, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, and many more! But again, let’s see what the pros have to say…
Alexander Saravia “Definitely the Horror Make-Up Show!” (Universal Studios Florida)
George Smith “Horror Make-Up Show. It’s a must see on every visit. Sometimes twice.” (Universal Studios Florida)
Anne McDade “Enjoy the Ragtime Gals inside the Jimmy Fallon queue!” (Universal Studios Florida)
MUST-DO FOOD & RESTAURANTS
Oh I’m sooo glad we’re finally talking about the MUST-DO tummy teasers, (snacks) and restaurants. With Universal CityWalk having numerous restaurants and multiple food options at all three theme parks around Universal Orlando, it’s going to be reallyhard to choose just a few, but here are some recommendations from our experts.
Sam Finley “Voodoo Doughnut” (Universal CityWalk)
Cherrie Sludock “Lard Lad Donuts for sure!” (Universal Studios Florida)
Jessica Huckabey “Everyone should dine at Lombard’s Seafood! We made a special trip to Universal just for the lobster roll!” (Universal Studios Florida)
Tiffany Stewart “Hot Butterbeer in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure)
Diana Smith “A meal at Mythos is an absolute must-do!” (Islands of Adventure)
Olivia Lynn Ensminger “Have a frozen Butterbeer and cry at how much you love Harry Potter😂💗.” (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure)
Rachel Guffey “Start the day with avocado toast and a latte at TODAY cafe.” (Universal Studios Florida)
Michelle Marie Majka “Buffalo Chicken Tots from Green Eggs & Ham Cafe!” (Islands of Adventure)
Ashley Kimsey “Be silly and enjoy ALL the snacks!!!!” (ALL the places!!!!)
TAKING ALL THE PHOTOS IS A MUST-DO
OK, you’ve learned about fan-favorite attractions, shows, and tummy teasers (snacks, c’mon guys lets make this a thing). Now let’s talk about the ever-lasting memories. You cannot come back from vacation without having a few fun photos, so lucky for you, the Passholder family has a few recommendations for you.
There are a bunch of character meet and greets at Universal Orlando and these are a few insider favorites.
Traci Lynn Alban “Become a Minion, and then MEET a Minion!” (Universal Studios Florida)
Heather Deaton-Randall “Hang out with your favorite Super Heroes and chat” (Islands of Adventure)
Alexis Salem “Character photos!!!” (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure)
Thomas Schrom “Solve mysteries with Scooby and the gang.” (Universal Studios Florida)
Jess De Pasqualé “Share a Squishee with your favorite clown.” (Universal Studios Florida)
Ashley Fuson “DreamWorks Destination definitely is where the party’s at! 🥳” (Universal Studios Florida)
Hogwarts Castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
Aspiring witch or wizard or not, gazing upon Hogwarts castle is a constitution and therefore needed to be added to this list.
Shiloh Muethel “Butterbeer on the bridge overlooking Hogwarts castle!”
Kayla Davidson “Taking a photo in front of the castle is a must for everyone! Plus who can forget about riding on Hagrid’s [Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure]!”
Megan Henry “The castle at night!”
Sherilyn Milagros Reyes “Get a good view and Snap a lovely photo of the castle from the Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure queue”
Here is a hidden gem that some travelers miss but it’s a total blast and makes for a great souvenir — The Dark Room. Located at Universal Studios Florida, this is no ordinary photo booth but it does allow you and your party to take photos with immersive backgrounds. It’s very fun!
Jess De Pasqualé “Explore the green screens in the dark room photo-shop with your family!”
Brie Reyes “Taking photos in The Dark Room!”
The most famous globe. This is a photo everyone expects you to take and bring back, and rightfully so because a wise person once said “If you didn’t pose with the Universal globe, did you even go?” – Unknown.
Jaymi Spiker Poindexter “The iconic globe picture.”
Here are some other photo ops that deserve an honorable mention.
Stephanie Michele Chitwood “The E.T. photo experience. By far my favorite photo experience. Pictures always turn out perfect and so fun!” (Universal Studios Florida)
Nicole Ketterman “Shutterbutton’s photo experience.” (Diagon Alley – Universal Studios Florida)
Bailey Gifford “We love to act like kids again and have some fun with the photo ops!”
Oh the Universal Orlando events. What can I say? As an Orlando native, these are what dreams are made of. Sure, I can ride our favorite rides multiple times, and eat our favorite — say it with me — tummy teasers multiple times, but the events at Universal Orlando Resort are always a little different, so let’s see what the experts have to say.
Every winter, Universal Orlando gets a little more jolly, there’s a little more cheer and a little more of that holiday spirit — and that’s the way we like it! Holidays around here bring an extra dose of magic and mischief.
Marie Anglani Redonda “I love Universal everyday but “Grinchmas” is a favorite time of year for our annual girls trip”
The floats, the food, the music, and all amongst roller coasters? C’mon, Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is like no other!
Cathy Rogers “We look forward to Mardi Gras!”
Tiffany Williams Paiva “Mardi Gras is always a blast!”
Jarrett Fosberg “Get dat selfie with the King and Queen of the festival!!
Happy Belated Mardi Gras!”
OK, I’ve been saving my one favorite must-do pick for this event. Ladies and gentlemen, the world’s premier Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights. I’m not just saying that because I used to be a scareactor, but because the fandom by insiders and scare fanatics is real. With the phenomenal detail in every Haunted House, the terrifying frights found in every Scare Zone, and some of the biggest names in horror it is no wonder that this event is a definite MUST-DO.
Cheryl Thomas “HHN is worth the ticket price every time!”
Dana Boyer “Fun events, like Mardi Gras, HHN, Christmas events are wonderful at Universal and IOA!! My favorite is always HHN!!🎃👻”
What about just general tips? You know… just tips that will elevate any trip? Here you go:
Liz Bombardier “Take the time to enjoy the details.”
Armand Turner “Utilize the hotels [for Early Park Access] so you can be the first ones in Diagon Alley!”
Michelle Edwards “Anything in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We always start there (try to get in for early entry) and hit all [The Wizarding World of] Harry Potter rides first. Our other favorites are Spider-Man, MIB, TRANSFORMERS [The Ride 3D], Cat in the Hat, Seuss Trolley Train, and of course ET [Adventure].”
Stephanie Michele Chitwood “Jurassic Park at night! The views and ambience is so breathtaking. Plus, you have to be brave to walk through Jurassic at night.”
I want to thank all the Passholders that contributed to the amazing recommendations and I hope you found it helpful. If you’re ready to sport that Passholder status and to see what keeps our Passholders coming back, learn about how you can become a Passholder yourself!
…hm, you know what? We’re missing something. I think we need some wise and final words from a Passholder to close this out, how about from RJ?
RJ Mehrer “Take it all in and enjoy the adventure!”
So, what do you think? Did our Passholders include your favorite must-do or not? Leave a comment below with your best tips and tricks for a vacation at Universal Orlando!