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Universal Orlando Resort picture in Orlando-Walt Disney World
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  • Amusement Parks, Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

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Whether you're traveling with little ones, teenagers, friends or your significant other, odds are you'll find something to enjoy at Universal Orlando Resort. This sprawling entertainment area features two theme parks, as well as Universal CityWalk, a pedestrian thoroughfare with shops, restaurants, a movie theater and nightclubs. The original park – Universal Studios Florida – is home to the 3-D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and The Simpsons Ride, while Universal's Islands of Adventure has several rollercoasters and a "Jurrasic Park"-themed ride. A water park – Universal's Volcano Bay – is also available.

But the main draw of Universal Orlando's parks is its new Harry Potter sections. In Universal Studios Florida, you'll find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, where you can escape from Gringotts, eat at the Leaky Cauldron or get chosen by a wand at Ollivanders wand shop. And at Universal's Islands of Adventure, there's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which houses the Three Broomsticks, Hogwarts and Hagrid's hut.

Although travelers caution that crowds are the norm here (especially in the Harry Potter areas), many say visiting Universal Orlando Resort was the highlight of their trip to Orlando. To minimize your ride wait times, visit on a rainy day or when school is in session. Or, pay an additional $49.99 to $84.99 per day for an express pass (if it's not already included in your entrance fee). Available for one or both parks, these passes let you skip the lines at participating rides once or an unlimited number of times.

Universal Orlando Resort sits one block away from International Drive near Orlando International Premium Outlets and Fun Spot America's Orlando park. To get to the resort grounds, you can drive (additional fees apply for on-site parking), hail a taxi or ride the No. 21, 37 or 40 LYNX bus to the Universal Boulevard and Hollywood Way stop. If you stay at a Universal hotel, you can take one of the property's free shuttle buses or water taxis to Universal CityWalk or any of the theme parks. Restaurants and grab-and-go food stalls, gift shops and restrooms are available in both parks.

Single-day tickets for one Universal Orlando park cost $110 to $124 for adults and between $105 and $119 for children ages 3 to 9 when purchased on Universal Orlando Resort's website. For one-day access to both parks, an additional charge of $55 applies. Extra savings are available when multiday tickets are purchased. Each theme park is typically open every day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., but extended hours are offered on select days. Hours for Universal CityWalk's amenities vary.

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#1 Walt Disney World Resort Excessive, exhausting and expensive, Walt Disney World Resort is above all else enchanting. Composed of four theme parks (the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal ... Read more » Handout / Handout / Getty Images

#2 Universal Orlando Resort Whether you're traveling with little ones, teenagers, friends or your significant other, odds are you'll find something to enjoy at Universal Orlando Resort. This sprawling entertainment area features ... Read more » Brett Kiger / Flickr

Paladin27 / Flickr

#4 Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex As much a part of Orlando's culture as Mickey and Minnie, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is another alternative to the city's crowded theme parks. Though it ... Read more » Purdue9394 / Getty Images

#5 SeaWorld Orlando While Mickey's house and Harry's wizarding world are certainly magical, many vacationers find Shamu's lair equally enchanting. And if you're short on time, you might want ... Read more » jimfeng / Getty Images

#6 Golf If you're not coming to Orlando to explore its theme parks, chances are you've come to visit its links. More than 170 golf courses – many of which have ... Read more » ivanastar / Getty Images

#7 The Mall at Millenia Popular brands like Apple and H&M rub elbows with high-end boutiques like Prada and Versace at the The Mall at Millenia. Providing a nice change of pace from the overpriced ... Read more » inazakira / Flickr

# Downtown Orlando Read more » Gina Pricope / Getty Images

#8 Gatorland Let's face it: Orlando is not the place for a cheap getaway with the kiddies. But this 110-acre preserve of alligators, crocodiles, snakes, toads, turtles and more is an ... Read more » Danita Delimont / Getty Images

#9 I-Drive The International Drive Resort Area is one of Orlando's most diverse regions to visit. Situated less than 10 miles southwest of downtown Orlando, this area features a variety of ... Read more » Philipp Meier / Flickr

#10 Harry P. Leu Gardens Despite the fact that most vacationers spend their time pounding the pavement, trundling tots from one amusement park ride to the next, Orlando is actually a great place to stop ... Read more » scott.zona / Flickr

#11 Orlando International Premium Outlets If you enjoy shopping, then no visit to Orlando would be complete without perusing the city's outlet malls. Although several are available in the International Drive Resort Area, some ... Read more » DJ A. / Flickr

#12 Fun Spot America Although these amusement parks are not as well-known as those found at SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, Fun Spot offers a plethora of rides, including ... Read more » Rain0975 / Flickr

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While visiting Walt Disney World Resort, take in one of the parks' fireworks shows, which are offered at various times every day. Handout / Handout / Getty Images

Take your pick between a variety of movie-themed attractions at Universal Orlando Resort, including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Brett Kiger / Flickr

Interact with aquatic animals like dolphins, otters and stingrays at Discovery Cove. Paladin27 / Flickr

Prepare to launch your vacation into overdrive at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Along with perusing historical NASA exhibits, you can see what it's like to get behind the controls during the Astronaut Training Experience. Purdue9394 / Getty Images

SeaWorld Orlando's main draw is its animal exhibits, but thrill seekers will likely enjoy the park's three rollercoasters: Kraken, Mako and Manta. jimfeng / Getty Images

Golf courses abound in the Greater Orlando area. For some of the best fairways, tee off at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge, the Villas of Grand Cypress, Orlando or the Waldorf Astoria Orlando. ivanastar / Getty Images

Need a day away from Mickey and Minnie? Find refuge at The Mall at Millenia, where high-end boutiques like Prada and Versace rub elbows with everyday retailers like Victoria's Secret and Gap. inazakira / Flickr

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Experience alligator-centric activities like zip lining above a breeding marsh, feedings and gator wrestling at Gatorland. Danita Delimont / Getty Images

One of International Drive's quirkiest attractions is WonderWorks, an interactive entertainment complex. Philipp Meier / Flickr

Harry P. Leu Gardens features 50 acres worth of camellias, roses, ferns, azaleas and more.  scott.zona / Flickr

Orlando boasts an array of outlet stores, but some of the best can be found at Orlando International Premium Outlets. DJ A. / Flickr

This amusement park may not be as well known as those found at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, but Fun Spot America – the only family-owned theme park in Central Florida – regularly draws in visitors with its unique rides, including a virtual reality rollercoaster and Orlando's only wooden rollercoaster. Rain0975 / Flickr

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