Feeling a bit left out when planning a trip to Universal Orlando just because you are all like, “Definitely NOT getting on that ride!” While the big shiny roller coasters and blockbuster-inspired action rides are what bring many people to the parks, there’s so much more to Universal Orlando Resort.
Here are a few of our favorites things to do outside of the rides.
1. Channel Your Inner Wizard at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
You could easily spend your entire trip to Universal Orlando exploring the lands of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Immerse yourself and get lost in the wonder of all things Harry Potter. While others in your group strap into one of the world’s thrill rides, like the multi-dimensional Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in Hogsmeade, you can head into Ollivanders wand shop. The shop is lined from floor to ceiling with wands of all shapes and sizes, and you can even experience how a wand chooses a wizard first-hand.
With wand in hand, make your way to one of the many purveyors of Butterbeer that can be found throughout both areas. Along the way, keep an eye out for bronze medallions on the ground where you can use your interactive wand. Your interactive wand can cast numerous spells throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The fun doesn’t stop there – both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are packed with details big and small that will keep witches, wizards and Muggles entertained for hours.
2. A Ride to Consider Trying: The Hogwarts Express
If you can handle a little bit of motion simulation, consider hopping on-board this iconic train. The Hogwarts Express takes you on immersive journeys with familiar characters and creatures as you travel between King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade Station in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
3. Satisfy Your Inner Foodie at Universal CityWalk
Take your taste buds for a ride at one of the top-notch restaurants at Universal CityWalk. With the choice of tasty food spots almost as abundant as rides inside the parks, it can be tough to choose just one restaurant.
It’s hard to go wrong with lunch or dinner at The Cowfish, which serves up amazing burgers and top-shelf sushi all under the same roof. NBC Sports Grill & Brew will keep you up-to-date with your favorite teams with a side of awesome pub fare. If you’re craving something south of the border head to the colorfully-painted Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food for some pretty legit tacos and out of this world table-side guacamole!
At the end of the day, grab a seat next to Jimmy Buffet’s seaplane at the Lone Palm Airport and catch the sunset with a tropical drink in hand. Sink your toes in the real sand beach and enjoy the tiki bar inspired menu – it’s the perfect place to unwind.
4. Sit Back and Catch a Show
Between the theme parks and Universal CityWalk, there are tons of live shows to check out. Check out the fun music and humor of Blue Man Group at CityWalk or one-of-a-kind attractions like the Horror Make-Up Show. There is sure to be a show that will keep you at the edge of your seat.
But one of the most thrilling things you can do outside of the rides at Universal Orlando is be a participant in the Fear Factor Live show. Compete against other park guests in crazy physical challenges. Or jump on stage and see if you have what it takes to tackle your fears. There’s always a chance for bugs to be involved, but fun is always guaranteed.
More must-see shows at Universal Orlando:
Universal Studios Florida
- Universal’s Superstar Parade
- The Blues Brothers Show
- Marilyn & the Diamond Bellas
- Sing It!
- Beat Builders
- Flying Fish Market
- Animal Actors on Location
- Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Oh! The Stories You’ll Hear!
- Poseidon’s Fury
- Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show
- Frog Choir in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
- Triwizard Spirt Rally in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
5. Get Into Character
The rides are great for some, but it’s the characters that really bring the parks to life. Walking around the park you might bump into one of the Minions or even a Marvel Super Hero. Your little non-riders will love seeing characters from Dr. Seuss, Barney and Scooby-Doo
Get even closer to your favorite characters by sitting down for breakfast or dinner with them. Book a table for you and some of Universal’s most beloved characters. If you’re staying on-site, you can have breakfast with the Minions – but you just might not want to order banana pancakes!
More ways to have a character encounter:
Universal Studios Florida
- A Day in the Park with Barney
- Meet the Transformers
- Meet Shrek and Donkey
- Superstar Parade Character Party Zone, where Dora & Diego, SpongeBob, Gru and the girls from Despicable Me, and even the pets from Secret Life of Pets appear at alternate times throughout the day
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Dr. Seuss Character Zone
- The Mystic Fountain
- Raptor Encounter
- Classic Comic Book Characters
- Meet the Marvel Villains
- Meet Spider-Man
6. Chillax at an On-Site Hotel
If a comfy massage table is more your style, then hang back at your hotel for a relaxing morning while the riders in your group take on the park. Pamper yourself with a spa treatment at Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel or head down to the hotel pool with a good book in hand. Everyone will have a better time if they are doing what makes them happy, just set a time to come together again for some family or group fun.
Make a plan to meet your riders back at the hotel for lunch or dinner at one of the many great dining options. Each on-site hotel at Universal Orlando is home to a handful of restaurants that fit the style and theme of the hotel, like the Caribbean-inspired Strong Water Tavern and Amatista Restaurant at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. It’s a great spot to meet up before heading back into the parks, which are just a short water taxi or shuttle ride away!
Don’t let the big rides scare you away from making the trip down to Universal Orlando this year. Start planning now and get #ReadyforUniversal.