Universal Orlando Resort#2 in Best Things To Do in Orlando-Walt Disney World
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 "Jurassic Park"-themed rides and experiences, among other highlights. A water park – Universal's Volcano Bay – is also available.
But the main draw of Universal Orlando's parks is its 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 additional daily fees 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 start at $115 for adults and $110 for children ages 3 to 9 when purchased on Universal Orlando Resort's website. Prices do increase at peak times. 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 Kingdom), two water parks (Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach), more than two dozen hotels and the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex, this sprawling property features iconic sights and rides like Cinderella Castle, "it's a small world," Spaceship Earth, Toy Story Land and Pandora – The World of Avatar. Even Anaheim's Disneyland can't compete, according to some.
Of course, there is one major drawback. Walt Disney World park tickets are expensive, regardless of whether you're visiting for just a day (single-day tickets for kids and adults ages 10 and older start at $109). Meanwhile, one-day water park tickets start at $64 for adults 10 and older. Most suggest you visit this expansive property over the course of several days to justify the high entrance fees. If you have limited time, consider skipping the parks in favor of exploring Disney Springs, which is free to visit.
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