Universal Studios Theme Park Orlando Florida

By James | Last updated November 24, 2023

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Universal Studios Florida was Universal’s first theme park in Florida following on from a similar park in California. Covering more than 100 acres it first opened in 1990, just one year after Disney’s own movie based theme park Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened.

Both parks are working film and television studios though the level of production has gone down in recent years, particularly at Disney.

Like Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios Florida is themed around movies and entertainment with the original tag line “Ride the Movies!” but Universal has always tried to differentiate itself from Walt Disney World by going with a slightly more ‘adult’ theme in terms of more intense rides, shows and events.

No where is this more apparent than the comparison between the intensely scary Universal Halloween Horror Nights and the family fun Disney’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Our top tip for saving on Universal Studios Orlando Tickets

For the best prices, you will want to compare a few sites. Tickets are available through Universal Studios authorized ticket reseller Orlando Vacation, Undercover Tourist, and the official Universal Studios site. It’s definitely worth comparing the day prices of all the sites as often the resellers are cheaper!

As well as drawing on its own film characters it has also licensed in characters from other studios. These include Marvel which is now owned by Disney and the recently announced deal with Nintendo. It has also enlisted the help of Steven Spielberg.

Universal Studios Attractions

Most theme parks are divided into a number of areas or lands. Universal Studios Florida is no exception with seven lands and an entrance area.

Like the neighbouring Islands of Adventure, the central lagoon area means you have to navigate from one land to the next in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Travelling in a clockwise direction:

  • Front Lot – contains most of the administrative buildings including Guest Services, Family and Health Services, stroller, wheelchair and ECV rentals, lockers, Lost and Found
  • Production Central – a collection of working sound stages including the attractions. Transformers: The Ride – 3D, Shrek 4-D, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The Universal Music Plaza Stage is used to host live concerts
  • New York – a realistic New York street set. Host to Revenge Of The Mummy and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (which replaced Twister: Ride It Out)
  • San Francisco – west meets east with San Francisco’s Disaster! and New England’s town of Amity and the former home of Jaws. Also home to Beetlejuice’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue (now closed) and Fast & Furious: Supercharged
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Universal Studios Florida recreates the landscape of London from the Harry Potter books including the Knight Bus, the dark ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Kings Cross Station. From here you can transfer to Universal’s Islands of Adventure by riding on the Hogwarts “Express” if you have a park-to-park ticket
  • World Expo – themed on a modern World Exposition park. Includes the Simpson Ride, Men In Black: Alien Attack
  • Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone – a child friendly zone including E.T. Adventure, the Curious George Goes To Town water play area and a children’s coaster, Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
  • Hollywood – a Hollywood set with a number of restaurants and shops

Universal Studios Parades and Character Meet and Greet

During the day there are opportunities to meet-and-greet characters including Betty Boop and characters from Transformers and The Simpsons.

Each afternoon there is the Universal’s Superstar Parade which starts next to the Horror Make-Up Show in Hollywood and makes its way in a loop through Production Central and New York. At certain times of the year like Mardi Gras there is a special evening parade.

Universal Studios Restaurants and Food Stalls

Universal Studios Theme Park Orlando offers a range of full table service and fast-food quick self service restaurants. There’s also seasonal kiosks dotted throughout the park.

Read the latest update on Universal Dining Plans.

One thing that sets Universal Studios apart from Walt Disney World though is the ready availability of alcohol though it is strictly policed to prevent under-age drinking (21 in Florida).

Throughout the park you will find merchandising relevant to the area you are currently in plus the large Universal Studios Store at the front entrance.

Universal Studios Florida Park Tickets

You can buy single day or multi-day park tickets to Universal Studios Florida with or without the option to park hop to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

If you want to avoid waiting in line, there is also a Universal Express Plus ticket; similar to Disney’s FASTPASS+ system but not free.

Getting There

Universal Studios Florida is approached from the multi-level parking garage. Moving sidewalks lead you to the Central hub. From here, you pass through the CityWalk entertainment area and then turn sharp right to enter Universal Studios Florida.

Straight ahead is Islands of Adventure, Universal’s other theme park.

Special Events

Universal Studios Florida plays host to a number of special events throughout the year including live music concerts . Some are included in the standard admission but events including Rock the Universe and Halloween Horror Nights are separately ticketed events:

  • Mardi Gras (February to April) – New Orleans style street parade with floats, baubles and beads followed by an evening concert
  • Summer Concert Series – included in standard admission (no longer presented)
  • Fourth of July – spectacular fireworks display
  • Rock the Universe (September) – Christian music festival
  • Halloween Horror Nights (September to October) – Halloween horror event, one of the most intense in Florida
  • Christmas) (November to December) – New York style Macy’s Holiday Parade
  • New Year’s Eve – street party with fireworks. The park usually stays open to 1:00 am to see in the New Year
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