5-Day Universal Studios Itinerary: Best Food, Hotels & More
Located in the heart of Orlando, Florida, Universal Studios Orlando has been attracting vacationers for over two decades. This resort destination offers hotel shuttle services to the parks and CityWalk. It has a number of different restaurants to choose from, shops, outdoor bars and hotels on the property. Universal Studios has three amusement parks, Universal Studios, Island of Adventure and the themed water park Volcano Bay. Universal offers a one-stop-shop experience where it doesn't require leaving the property (or at least not too far). From renting cars to using your hotel room key for just about anything Universal has got you covered.
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Where to stay
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando
Tropical-themed property located inside Universal Studios with bright, modern rooms.
Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando
Upscale hotel decorated with rock music memorabilia with a swimming pool and waterslide, located just a five-minute walk from Universal Orlando.
Universal's Aventura Hotel
Modern hotel with a complimentary theme park shuttle located close to Universal's Volcano Bay water park.
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Day 1: Arrive in Orlando
Once you land the adventure awaits! Staying on property at Universal Studios offers many perks. Not only can you drop your bags off and enjoy your day exploring the resort while your room is ready. You can also go straight to one of the three amusement parks. Each hotel offers restaurants, bars, quick service, Starbucks and poolside dining. Head to CityWalk via water taxi, bus or by simply walking. Catch a movie at Cinemark or even go mini golfing.
For places to eat on-property (depending on what hotel you're staying at) the quick service location or cafe is the best bet for getting food on the go.
Day 2: Enjoy early access
Another great perk when staying on property is having an extra hour to spend in the park before it is open to the public. Universal offers park-to-park tickets where you can visit more than one park in the day. Another option is doing one park per day and maximizing your time in each park. If you're using the park-to-park option be sure to take the Hogwarts Express to be immersed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You'll be transported from park to park while coming across your favorite characters... and villains onboard.
When it is time to grab a meal the best quick-service spot in Universal Studios is Today Cafe for breakfast. They offer a wide variety of pastries and drinks to quickly whisk you back into the action of the park. For a more casual dining experience, Finnegan's Bar and Grill is an Irish Pub with a full-service bar.
Don't forget to plan time to watch the parades, character meets and entertainment Universal Studios has to offer as well.
Before heading back to your hotel room you can stop by CityWalk for a late-night snack and some more entertainment that Universal offers. Once you return to your room you can relax in the lobby, each uniquely themed with seating areas.
Day 3: Explore a new park
Now that you discovered the thrill of one park it is time to head to the next park. Not only can you enjoy the perk of early admission to the park, but Universal also offers VIP tours. They come with a personalized guide that takes you through the park for behind-the-scenes action, fun facts about the parks and even skipping the line on your favorite rides. Looking for another way to enjoy the park? I recommend getting an express lane pass that allows you to spend less time in lines and make the most out of your day.
Day 4: Visit Volcano Bay
It's Getting.. hot, hot, HOT!
It's time to hit Volcano Bay. It's a great way to end your vacation. You can relax in a cabana for an extra fee or grab a beach chair next to the wave pool. With the virtual queue lines, it gives you even more time to relax and catch a tan until it's your turn to get wet.
Staying at Cabana Bay gives you walking access right to the water park with your room key. Another great perk when staying on property.
Lastly, I would recommend dinner at Bar 17 Bistro which is a rooftop bar at Aventura hotel or The Palm at Hard Rock Hotel. It is a great way to recap your vacation while enjoying a meal in a calming setting.
Day 5: Departure
No need to wait in line to check out or give your key back (you can keep it for the memories). You can check out via the Universal app or the hotel will text you with checkout instructions. Last minute shopping for souvenirs? Don't worry! Universal has a themed shop located inside Orlando's Airport(MCO)!
Need to Know
Throughout the year Universal hosts a number of seasonal events. Rock the Universe is a Christian Music festival that takes in January. February kicks off Mardi Gras with food tents, a parade at night and concerts featuring some of the biggest artists. During October, Halloween Horror Nights are in full swing. For the holidays they host Macy's in their holiday parade along with Grinchmas in Seuslanding.
For more travel tips, check out my guide to Costa Rica: Best Hotels & Things to Do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
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