Hello adventurers! If you’re planning a trip to the sunshine state and you are looking for things to do at Universal Studios Florida, you are in the right place!
This epic theme park has become a second home to me – it’s just 20 minutes from where I live in Orlando, and as an annual passholder, I spend a lot of time here. You can often find me screaming my head off on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, or sipping Butterbeer on a leisurely stroll through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The coolest part about Universal Studios is that your adventure is totally up to you. Whether it’s roller coasters and thrill water rides you’re after, some relaxing fun in the sun, or outrageous live entertainment, I’ve got you covered. These are the best attractions and things you should not miss (and should book early!) on your next visit to Universal Studios Orlando!
NOTE: We centered this article ONLY around Universal Studios attractions! Islands of Adventure, Universal’s other theme park where the famous Jurassic Park is located, is just a quick stroll through CityWalk from Universal Studios’ front gates.
Last but not least, With a park-to-park ticket, you get access to the 2 theme parks, so you can keep the adventure going by hopping from one to the other!
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Make some magic at the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
- 2. Scream to the beat on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™
- 3. Shake it at the Blues Brothers® Show
- 4. Plunge into the past on Revenge of the Mummy
- 5. Explore Universal CityWalk
- 6. Have a beer (or a beverage) at Duff Brewery
- 7. Take a nostalgic trip on E.T. Adventure
- 8. Dine back in time at Mel’s Drive-In
- 9. Become a real life minion on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™
- 10. Race through New York with Jimmy Fallon
- 11. Get some grub at the pub, Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
- 12. Defend the planet on MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack™
- 13. Put your head inside Jaws (because why not?)
- 14. Visit Universal Orlando for their AMAZING seasonal events
- 15. Be a celebrity for the day with a VIP experience
- FAQs about things to do at Universal Studios Florida
If you are in a hurry
When it comes to planning a Universal Orlando vacation, the best time to start is right NOW!
In the summer months especially, Universal hotels fill up fast. Staying on-property comes with some big benefits, like early park admission (beat the rush to the busiest rides before the park opens), complimentary transportation (the water taxi is a real treat!), and complimentary merchandise delivery – who wants to carry their bags around the theme parks all day? Get your hotel booked ASAP!
Here’s what you’ll want to do first:
And here are the best hotels: Universal’s Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (luxury), Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (mid-range), Universal’s Endless Summer Resort (budget)
PRO TIP: Psssst, want to save $US~15 per person per ticket to Universal Studio? Check out this site, it is an authorized seller and the difference is always pretty significant!
1. Make some magic at the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando Resort is worth all the hype, and then some!
At Universal Studios, you’re transported right into these beloved books the moment you walk through Platform 9 ¾. Stroll around fantastical Diagon Alley™, take a thrilling ride on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, then savor a sweet treat like butterbeer, or try a uniquely flavored scoop at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. If you go with the latter, I highly recommend a Chocolate Strawberry Peanut Butter Sundae – it’s served in an adorable souvenir glass you can bring home with you!
Kick the magic up a notch by purchasing park-to-park tickets and experience both Diagon Alley™ and Hogsmeade™ via the Hogwarts™ Express! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ extends into Universal’s Islands of Adventure (the other Universal Orlando theme park), home to Hogsmeade™. This is where 3 of the 4 Harry Potter rides are located.
Did you know you can get there without detouring through the muggle world first? 😉 Park-to-park ticket holders have the option to take a Hogwarts™ Express train car directly from Kings Cross Station at Universal Studios to Hogsmeade™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
You certainly don’t need to be a die-hard Potterhead to get swept away by Diagon Alley™ and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, but if you are a Harry Potter fan, prepare to have your mind blown by the Hogwarts™ Express and both Universal Orlando theme parks!
PRO TIP: Look out for the fire breathing dragon while you’re in Diagon Alley™ – you can catch it a few times every hour!
PRICE: US$186 per person
2. Scream to the beat on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™ is one of the best rides at Universal Studios Florida, and easily tops my list of favorite roller coasters at any Orlando theme park. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else!
When you embark on a 90 degree climb towards the sky, you’ll pick a song to come blaring through the speakers for your wild descent, as you zip, zoom, and plunge through the air as high as 17 stories above the ground! The song selection is full of bops – there are a variety of genres and something for every music taste.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™ is such a blast, every time I ride it I immediately want to get back in line to ride it again! There’s just something about screaming along to a song you love.
PRO TIP: Long wait times? Many attractions offer a single rider line, so you can get on faster. If your group is okay with splitting up, this is a great way to save time without splurging on an Universal Express Pass.
3. Shake it at the Blues Brothers® Show
Universal Orlando is packed with extraordinary rides, but you don’t want to miss out on the fabulous entertainment either! The Blues Brothers® Show at Universal Studios Florida is my personal favorite. It’s located in the New York area of the theme park, and features Jake and Elwood from the classic SNL sketch turned movie, performing a medley of cheerful, memorable tunes.
The Blues Brothers® Show takes place in the street, so you don’t have to worry about long lines or waiting. You can come and go as you please!
PRO TIP: Get showtimes, wait times, and everything you need for a day at the parks by downloading the Universal Orlando Resort app.
4. Plunge into the past on Revenge of the Mummy
I especially love this ride at Universal Studios because it does what Universal Orlando does best: combines immersive thrills with movie magic! Revenge of the Mummy is an indoor roller coaster ride based on The Mummy movies, and it’s scary good fun. In fact, it’s even a little funny!
While Islands of Adventure boasts a ton of roller coasters that go upside down (a ton of times, I might add), Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida does not go upside down.
This makes it a great ride for those who want an adrenaline-pumping fun experience, but draw the line at being inverted. No judgment here! There are still lots of twists and turns (and fire!) along the way.
5. Explore Universal CityWalk
Just outside the theme park gates is Universal CityWalk, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex smack dab in the center of it all! Try one of the larger-than-life restaurants, like The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, or Florida favorite Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, voted the best burger in all of Orlando.
There’s also a massive movie theater, Hollywood-themed mini golf course, famous Voodoo Donuts, lots of shopping, and a Starbucks, which comes in handy when you’re running around having this much fun.
Adults visiting CityWalk have an abundance of options for nightlife! Fat Tuesday, Pat O’Brien’s, Rising Star Karaoke, and many more bars have late hours, great music, and extensive menus of beer, wine, cocktails, and late night snacks.
Admission is free, so if you decide to skip the theme parks one day, you’ll find countless things to do at Universal CityWalk.
6. Have a beer (or a beverage) at Duff Brewery
The iconic Duff Beer from the hit show The Simpsons is brought to life at this cozy, outdoor bar. Duff Brewery, in the Springfield, U.S.A area of the theme park, is the perfect place to give your legs a break, and quench your thirst in the hot Florida sun. Sit down and enjoy scenic views of the lake while sipping a Duff beer, a cocktail, or something non-alcoholic if that’s more your fancy!
This is my go-to spot when I need a moment to relax, check wait times, and give my tired feet a rest. It’s also fantastic if you’re craving a hot dog. 😂
Moe’s Tavern, Homer’s favorite watering hole in the show, is also nearby, serving up more Duff Beer and a variety of delicious, Simpsons-inspired non-alcoholic drinks. If you’re traveling with fans of The Simpsons, Moe’s Tavern is a must, as is The Simpsons Ride, a virtual reality roller coaster to Krustyland!
7. Take a nostalgic trip on E.T. Adventure
Based on the 1980’s classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (a movie that made me cry more than I’m willing to admit), this ride is nearly synonymous with Universal Studios, as it’s the only opening day attraction still operating today! While Universal Studios in Hollywood and Japan both closed down E.T. Adventure, the ride can still be enjoyed at Universal Studios Florida!
E.T. Adventure is a family-friendly, feel-good ride that kids (and kids at heart) will adore. There’s a special surprise at the end that’ll leave you smiling, but I’ll let you experience it for yourself!
8. Dine back in time at Mel’s Drive-In
Step into another moment from the silver screen at Mel’s Drive-In, inspired by the movie American Graffiti. This classic 1950’s diner serves up all-American eats, like BBQ, burgers, french fries, and onion rings. Don’t forget to wash it down with a milkshake!
Mel’s Drive-In is a quick service restaurant, so there are no reservations required. That makes it a great pick for a busy day in the theme parks. It’s also on the budget-friendly side, which is a huge plus when you’re having to eat out for every meal!
9. Become a real life minion on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™
It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always be a shameless fan of the Despicable Me movies. They just make me so happy! If you’re the same way, or you’re traveling with little kids, make sure to check out Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™.
This silly ride will have you laughing the whole way through your adventure being recruited as part of Gru’s minion army. Minion Mayhem is located at the front of the theme park, so the line tends to get long. This is a good one to do first thing in the morning or late at night to cut down on wait times!
HACK: Want to maximize your Universal Orlando vacation? Consider purchasing a Universal Express Pass, which allows you to skip the lines, saving a ton of time on popular attractions.
10. Race through New York with Jimmy Fallon
Universal Orlando Resort is known for its unique attractions, and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is definitely one of a kind. Your favorite characters from The Tonight Show come together in this incredible New York City Adventure, featuring its most iconic buildings.
The queue is awesome too, as it’s a tour in itself. Learn about the fascinating history of NBC and The Tonight Show, get up close to historical pieces and memorabilia, and explore the 30 Rock lobby… all before you’ve even boarded the ride!
11. Get some grub at the pub, Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
Another must-do restaurant at Universal is Finnegan’s Bar & Grill, a traditional Irish-American pub in the New York area of the theme park. This restaurant has a great vibe – it’s super high energy and everybody is having a great time!
The menu is delicious, featuring pub staples like shepherd’s pie, Guinness beef stew, and plenty of brews to pair with your food.
I love seeking out themed restaurants wherever I’m visiting, and Finnegan’s is at the top of my list of favorites. You can also grab drinks to-go, if you just need an excuse to pop in and feel some air conditioning. Hey, it’s Florida – we’re all just trying to stay cool!
12. Defend the planet on MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack™
Aliens are taking over New York City and it’s up to you to wipe them out. Are you ready for the challenge? MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack™ is an old-school Universal ride that, despite its age, keeps guests coming back for more. The reason is simple: it’s that fun!
You’re armed with lasers, and you rack up points by shooting these alien invaders. The interactive element keeps you so engaged, you don’t even mind that the ride is a bit dated. If anything, this wonderful feeling of nostalgia keeps MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack™ on my must-do list.
13. Put your head inside Jaws (because why not?)
The Jaws ride was closed in 2012 to make room for Diagon Alley, but its giant hanging great white shark still remains as one of Universal Studios’ most iconic photo opps! Did you even go to Universal if you didn’t take a pic with your head in its mouth?
Growing up, I was always terrified of getting anywhere near the shark, despite my parents’ assurances it wasn’t real, yet there’s something nice about knowing it’s still there today.
Chez Alcatraz, the outdoor bar where the shark is located, has a drink tribute to the movie and former ride. For a refreshing beverage and entertaining performance from the bartender, order an Ocean Attack. Duh nuh… Duh nuh…
FUN FACT: The great white shark on display is called Bruce!
14. Visit Universal Orlando for their AMAZING seasonal events
As a local, I love visiting the theme parks during their special seasonal offerings. Universal Studios Orlando has 2 of the best: Halloween Horror Nights and Mardi Gras, each offered for a limited time annually. Mardi Gras is included with admission, while Halloween Horror Nights is a separate ticketed experience. Here’s a brief overview of these exciting events!
14.1 Halloween Horror Nights
Warning: this event is not for the faint of heart, but for anyone who loves a good scare, listen up! Halloween Horror Nights is a completely immersive, totally terrifying takeover at Universal Studios, featuring frightening haunted houses, sinister scare zones, and live entertainment brought to you by the most nightmare-inducing scareactors around! Available during select nights in the fall.
14.2 Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is my favorite time of year! This bayou-inspired bash is packed with food, drinks, and entertainment. Every year from February through mid-April, experience this New Orleans celebration, Universal style.
Catch a concert from some of the biggest stars in music, sample incredible Cajun cuisine, drink Hurricanes and other festive cocktails, and catch all the beads you can handle from the passing parade floats!
15. Be a celebrity for the day with a VIP experience
Consider this your backstage pass to the Universal theme parks! The VIP Tour Experience offers a surprisingly affordable way to see Universal Studios Orlando like a celebrity guest: in an expert-led guided tour with priority boarding on the best attractions.
If they’re within your budget, VIP theme park tours are 100% worth it. They offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience and allow you to do so many fun things without needing to wait in line. You also get a glimpse into the inner workings of the park, which has always fascinated me as a theme park fanatic!
PRICE: Starts at US$190 per person
|👪 Family-friendly score:||High|
|📅 How many days:||1-2|
|🎢 Best value ticket:||Park-to-Park Ticket|
|🚶🏽♂️ Best free activity:||Universal CityWalk|
|👧 Best attraction for kids:||Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™|
|🕺 Nightlife:||CityWalk’s Rising Star|
|🥟 Must try food:||Butterbeer|
FAQs about things to do at Universal Studios Florida
🎢 What are the best attractions at Universal Studios?
The top attractions at Universal Studios are: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™, Revenge of the Mummy, The Bourne Stuntacular, and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™, among many other fun rides.
🎬 Is 1 day at Universal Studios worth it?
Absolutely! In 1 day at Universal Studios, you can ride the best attractions, catch amazing live entertainment, and explore fantastical Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World.
⚡ What is there to do at Universal Studios besides rides?
Even if you don’t ride a single ride at Universal Studios, you can have an amazing time strolling through the immersive themed areas, sampling a variety of movie-themed food and drinks, and watching the live entertainment throughout the theme park.
🌎 Is Universal Orlando Resort more fun than Disney?
Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World both score high on family-friendly fun, but if you’re a Potterhead, movie buff, or big fan of thrill rides, Universal Studios may be the kind of fun you’re after.
🆕 Are there new attractions coming to Universal Studios in Florida?
Yes, Super Nintendo World is currently being built and is supposed to be opened in 2023. For the die-hard fans though, this attraction is available now in Universal Studios Hollywood.
Isn’t Universal Orlando so magical? Thrilling rides through cinematic moments, adventurous eats and drinks, show-stopping entertainment that bring the movies to life – there’s certainly no shortage of fun things to do at Universal Studios! I loved sharing about one of my favorite places with you, and I’m here if you have any other questions.
If you’re on the fence between a single park ticket and a park-to-park ticket, I say go for park-to-park if it makes sense for your budget! The two theme parks are phenomenal on their own, but together they make for an unforgettable, epic getaway!
Islands of Adventure has some of the best rides, including the wild Jurassic World Veloci Coaster, and more enchanting Harry Potter areas to explore.
Remember to book your hotel stay as early as possible aaaaaaand the actual ticket! Do not ever buy it at the gate, it is outrageously expensive (+the queues!), instead check Ares Travel, they usually have some pretty great discounts there!
And please leave a comment below if you have any questions. I’m here to help! 😊
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