We have been to Universal Studios a few times, both on our dime and while partnering with Universal Orlando Resort. While they have provided complimentary admission for one of the days we visited, we have happily paid full price in the past and all these opinions are our own.
Orlando is such a fun destination in the USA for a honeymoon. There are so many parks you can visit and things you can do, but for us, the top pick is spending time at the Universal Orlando Resort because of the exciting rides and immersive experiences.
The resort now includes 3 thrilling parks: Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, and now Universal’s Volcano Bay. Within these parks is a set of attractions that is near and dear to our hearts, as well as the hearts of many other millennials looking for a location for a honeymoon, mini-moon or just a good vacation spot. We are, of course, talking about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Here are our tips for having an amazing trip to Universal Orlando Resort as a couple.
1. Consider staying on site
Usually, I do not recommend spending the extra money to stay on-site when it comes to major theme park resorts, but Universal has done a great job of adding value for guests that stay on site.
Staying at one of their six on-site hotels get you the benefits of early entry to the park, and easy transportation to the parks. You won’t have to worry about paying for an Uber ride or parking each day. Some of the resorts are very affordable and they all come with those perks.
For even more perks, you can stay at one of the premium on-site hotels. Your stay at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, the Loews Royal Pacific Resort or the Hard Rock Hotel will include Unlimited Express Passes which will completely transform your vacation. Without having to wait in long lines for rides, your time in the parks becomes easier and more relaxed. Plus, not having to wait in lines can make your visit feel extra special – perfect for your honeymoon.
Do the math and see what makes sense for you, but we highly recommend it!
If you are not planning on staying on-site, there are tons of other options. You may want to stay in between Disney and Universal. There are also some unique glamping opportunities in the area.
2. Plan Some Romance
If you come as a couple, it’s easy to stay busy running around the park. Make sure you plan some time to spend together relaxing. Plan a dinner at one of the more romantic and quieter restaurants, like Bice Italian. Enjoy a spa day at the Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. You can also just plan a quiet night watching the sunset over the park, wandering and eating your favorite treats together.
3. Get Park-to-Park Tickets
While you could easily spend a whole day at a single park, there is an essential attraction that makes it necessary to get a park-to-park ticket. (And, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can’t miss it.) You can only ride the Hogwarts Express if you have a park hopper pass. Not only is that ride essential, but it makes it easier to jump between parks to enjoy your favorite rides. (Did you know the Hogwarts Express is a different experience depending which direction you’re traveling?)
This was especially helpful on our 3rd day at the parks. We had already ridden everything in both parks, and it was getting hot, so we used the Hogwarts Express ride to travel back to Universal’s Island of Adventure to ride some of our favorite water rides, the Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, and the Jurassic Park River Adventure.
4. Drink Frozen ButterBeer
One of the main draws for us to go to Universal is the Wizarding World of Happy Potter. This place is amazing. The detail that was put into building this place is amazing and my jaw literally was dropped while I took it in for the first time. Make the most of your time here.
The frozen butterbeer is my favorite treat, but the soft serve ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour is also very good. For a meal, the food at the 3 Broomsticks restaurant was my favorite in the park.
5. Avoid Peak Season
If at all possible, do not go to the park when school is out. Any other time makes for a much better experience. Lines will be shorter and the weather will be much more enjoyable. We tend to always go during October or November and lines are usually pretty short.
6. Look for Deals for Tickets
The last two times we went to the Universal Orlando Resort, there was a deal for tickets. One time it was “buy 2 days get the third day free”, and the other it was “buy one day get one free”. Check the website for deals and keep an eye out when the busy season is ending.
7. Stay for 3-4 Days at the Parks
When we planned our trip last year Volcano Bay was not open. We expected to only need 2 days but purchased a 3-day ticket since the third day was free. When we were deciding if we wanted to go to Universal for the third day or to go to the other park a few miles north, we decided we wanted to go back to Universal. Now that Volcano Bay is open, 4 days is the perfect amount of time. It allows you to ride everything and then go back for your favorite rides.
8. Plan for a Beach Day
Speaking of Volcano Bay, make sure you bring your swimsuits and plan for a day at the water park. Even if it isn’t hot outside, the water is heated for you to enjoy.
9. Download the App
The Universal Orlando Resort app is very helpful. It provides a map of the park with wait times, food menus, showtimes, park hours and other information you need during your trip. Note that with the regular app use and taking photos of your adventures, you are going to need plenty of battery for your phone. Don’t get caught with a dead phone – bring a backup battery charger with you.
10. Enjoy The Nighttime Lights At Hogwarts
Finish the evening with The Nighttime Lights At Hogwarts, it’s an amazing production and a great way to end the night.
What about you? Do you have any tips for enjoying Universal Studios?
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.