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Disclosure: Thank you so much to UOR for providing us with complimentary tickets to explore the park and compile an honest series of tips and tricks.
Let me open by saying, WE HAD THE BEST TIME. Our kids’ birthdays aren’t for a couple months, but they both wanted to go to Universal Orlando Resort for their birthdays. So, we celebrated a little early. Our mission for this trip was affordability. Now that we live in Florida, it is easier than ever for us to frequent the local theme parks so we have to be more mindful of how we are spending while we are on stay-cations! If you’re a Florida resident dealing with the same concerns, make sure you check out special pricing for Florida residents. Not to mention, if you stay on site you will actually be able to enter the park an hour early for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! There is also a free shuttle from the resort via water taxi or regular shuttle, which made it easy to get into the park. We stayed at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, and loved the accommodations. I will put together a separate post on our accommodations. My friend, Jacki, shared her experience staying on site at Cabana Bay, be sure to check that out!
We actually drove down to Orlando on a Sunday morning, it’s about a two hour drive for us. We went straight to our resort, knowing they offer complimentary shuttle so we self parked for 26.00 and checked into our hotel, and then headed straight out.
Now, of course if you’re staying on site the night before make sure you get there in time to take advantage of early admission. We went the week before Spring Break so I feel like we didn’t encounter crazy crowds on the Sunday we were there, but Monday the crowd really picked up! We were gifted with Universal Express Unlimited, and I want to say that these will be something I will always invest in when visiting. You have a few options for acquiring these: you can purchase these directly, or you can stay on site at one of the resorts that includes these in their resort packages, like Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
I’m mentioning this, because if you plan to get them at you have say 2 or 3 kids plus the parents, it might be a better value to get a non-budget hotel room so you can get the complimentary express passes. (I hope that made sense, it definitely did in my mind as I typed it.. HA!)
We really wanted this to be a child led day. None of us had ever been to UOR, so we had nothing to compare it to or plan around. So, our first stop was to the Transformers area! Our four year old is a HUGE Bumblebee fan, so he was thrilled.
From there, we noticed the crowds heading into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Our son, whose 6.5, couldn’t get there fast enough. We’ve been hoping to get there since we moved, three months ago so it was kind of surreal to finally be there.
It is so well done! The magic is genuinely palpable. I didn’t grow up reading Harry Potter as a child, so reading it with my son has been my first time doing so too! It was so cool seeing the characters we’ve invested so many of our bedtimes into brought to life right before us.
I highly recommend heading straight for the HP rides as the lines for those can get lengthy!
Child Switch– We had to utilize Child Switch, but I love the way they have it designed. You go through the ride line together, and at the entrance to the ride let them know you’ll be switching off. They will give you a ticket, and send the child and waiting parent into a room with a television and plenty of space! It was really a welcomed break. Our six year old was thrilled to ride twice back to back, ha!
Next up we headed over to the Leaky Cauldron for an early lunch. The boys had their first frozen Butterbeer! [I’m surprised to report that when I asked them later what they enjoyed about the trip they both said Butterbeer!]
I didn’t think the prices were astronomical, we shared and drank water when we could in an effort to stretch our dollars more. However, I think the quick service dining plan could actually be an awesome value. The fish and chips at the Leaky Cauldron was incredible! We enjoyed it so much, we actually went back the next day!
Again, in no rush or particular order we decided to head to the Hogwarts Express and pay a visit to Islands of Adventure!
I would recommend getting a 2 or 3 park per day ticket as this gives you the ability to go from park to park in a single day.
The train ride might have been my favorite part. I thought it was so well done, and truly encompassed the imagination of both of my boys. Tip: Make sure that you take the train coming and going as it is different each way! I wasn’t expecting that, so it made it even more fun.
Be sure to visit the Owl Post to get some post cards sent out! We brought some from home, but you can buy I believe it was 12 for 15.00 right there. (something like that!) in the grand scheme of souvenirs, really not a terrible price.
I’m only a portion of the way through my thoughts on our time at Universal Orlando Resort , and already feeling like I’m going to have to break this post into several pieces.
However, I did want to touch on more thing before closing out this particular post.
Universal Orlando Resort is very preschooler/toddler friendly.
Maybe everyone, BUT me knew this! There was so much across the board for the younger kiddos. Some highlights were:
-the Kid Zone in Islands of Adventures
– The Curious George splash zone area, sadly it was FREEZING and we weren’t able to play in that area while we were there.
-Woody’s rollercoaster is a perfect for littles over 36′ inches tall.
-The Dr. Seuss inspired area had a ton of great younger kid activities and entertainment!
I wanted to touch on that in this post, but I will be curating a more in depth itinerary for visiting with little kids here in the coming weeks. I was so impressed I texted my friend from the park to tell her she could absolutely bring her young kids and still have an amazing experience.