Planning a vacation? Here are some of the best things to do at one of the top theme parks in the country.
By Jackie Michel
This past week, I traveled to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida! While traveling is certainly more unique during COVID-19, I felt safe the whole time. The parks have taken extra precautions to make sure their customers feel safe while there, including strict masking policies, hand sanitizer stations before (with someone there to squirt it into your hands) and after each attraction, and personnel wiping down the most-touched surfaces very often. So, if you’re looking for a pandemic-friendly vacation, look no further. Here are the top things to do at Universal Studios Orlando, and their connecting park Universal Studios Islands of Adventure:
Explore Harry Potter World, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure)
Both of Universal’s parks contain a part of the Potterverse: Hogsmeade, the village near Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Diagon Alley, the hidden shopping street in London where young witches and wizards get their materials for school. Honestly, you could spend a whole day in just that part of the parks. There are many shops and places to eat that are well known from the series, including Honeydukes, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Ollivander’s, Three Broomsticks, and the Leaky Cauldron. You can even take the Hogwarts Express to get between the two parks, just make sure you have a park to park ticket in order to make the journey.
Ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (Universal Studios)
Right as you enter the park, to your left is a large, red roller coaster track winding in between buildings. If you love roller coasters, this one’s for you! What’s unique about this coaster is that when you take your seat, you use a little screen on your lap bar to pick a rock song to listen to as you ride the ride. If you prefer to be surprised, the system will pick one for you! Listening to music really adds to the enjoyment and excitement of taking on such a big coaster, and it was awesome!
Attend one of The Bourne Stuntacular shows (Universal Studios)
While this isn’t a ride, this cutting-edge stunt show has received raving reviews from all ages! A combination of live action and film performances, watch as the hero Jason Bourne is chased and fights off his evil pursuers. This show is about 30 minutes long and they have showings all throughout the day. No reservation necessary.
Ride the new Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure (Islands of Adventure)
This ride is right at the entrance to Hogsmeade, and is the newest attraction to hit the park. While the wait time might be a little long, this ride is definitely worth it! Featuring our favorite half-giant, see Hagrid’s hut and some of his creatures as you wait to board the motorcycle-sidecar combination and take off around the forest. You will encounter a dragon, unicorns, Cornish pixies, and more as you race along the track, with parts that speed you up around a ruined building. After you get off, you can enjoy a hot butterbeer across the street at the Three Broomsticks.
Ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster (Islands of Adventure)
For all roller coasters lovers, here’s another one for you! Located in the Marvel part of the park, which is cool within itself, you can spot the large green track from almost anywhere, and hear the Hulk’s “Roar!” as riders are shot out from the radiation tube onto the coaster. Full of loops, spins, and twists, this is definitely one for only the most hardcore coaster riders. Make sure to brace yourself for the Hulk’s rage!
By Category: Looking for something specific? Here are the best things by category!
For younger kids:
- All of Seuss Land (Islands of Adventure): based upon Dr. Seuss’s books, this part of the park contains all things for little ones, including story turns, a carousel, and a trolley train.
- E.T. Adventure (Universal Studios): this ride takes you on a flying bike through the world of E.T., and even back to his home planet.
- Flight of the Hippogriff (Islands of Adventure): if you have older kids who are wanting to enjoy the Wizarding World, this ride is a good mini coaster for the younger siblings. With a short track and amazing visuals, this is helpful to distract the little ones and make them feel a part of the Harry Potter experience.
For those with motion sickness:
- Escape from Gringotts (Islands of Adventure): If you want to join in on the Harry Potter fun, but are too afraid of the motion sickness (please avoid Forbidden Journey at all costs, because it will definitely take you out), Escape from Gringotts is your best bet. With only one drop and a few spins, those with minor motion sickness can certainly handle it.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure (Islands of Adventure): This is a boat ride through water, so be prepared to get wet! However, the large boat is on a track and very stable, and there is only one big drop. This one can be fun for the whole family.
- Men in Black Alien Attack (Universal Studios): This is a shooting game, where you ride in a little car in a glow in the dark indoor space and shoot at aliens to score points! While this ride does move, it certainly is not crazy but is still a fun experience!
For those who love a particular theme:
- The Simpsons Ride and Simpsons Land (Universal Studios): If you love this long-running cartoon show, you are sure to love this part of the park! With all of the characters in statue form, to a whole store of Simpsons merchandise, to a place to buy Lard Lad Doughnuts, this part of the park is a perfect replica of the world of the Simpsons.
- The Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Land (Islands of Adventure): If superheroes, especially the Marvel brand, are your thing, this is the place to go! They have character meet and greets, stores full of merchandise, and the Amazing Spider-Man 3-D ride. You’ll really feel like a hero once you enter this part of the park.
- Jurassic World: VelociCoaster (Coming Summer 2021!) and Jurassic Park Land (Islands of Adventure): Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of the Jurassic Park movies, it can be pretty cool to step into this part of Islands of Adventure and see the dinosaurs, themed restaurants, and the famous Jurassic Park Jeep. You can see the new roller coaster being built through the fencing, and if you’re planning a vacation for the summer you can be there when it opens!