Attention passengers: this is the pre-boarding announcement for your trip to Universal Orlando Resort. We are now inviting those guests in desperate need of a theme-park vacation to begin boarding at this time. Please have your Universal tickets ready. Enjoy the ride.
… One in-flight Harry Potter movie marathon later…
Dear families, welcome back to Universal Orlando Resort! Long time no see — who could’ve guessed it would take over two years for us to meet again? But the wait is over — well, at least until you hit your first themed queue, but I’m sure you won’t mind that one! With borders reopening, international travel is a go (pause for applause)! And while the wheels of the world stopped turning for a very long second there, ours kept going at the same speed as our new coaster (spoiler alert): no-brakes-til-the-end.
Full disclosure? I can’t say things look the same around here. Let me put it this way: you know that warm feeling you get when you meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in forever and it’s like not a day has passed? Well, this is so much better. ’Cause even though you’ll still know your way around the theme parks like they’re your childhood neighborhood, you will feel like a first-timer all over again. That’s because over the past couple of years we got faster, we got bigger, we got more fun, and we got yummier (probably should have led with this, huh?).
So, here’s our warm welcome: a roundup of all the big updates on rides, attractions, places to eat and stay at Universal Orlando Resort that, up until now, you maybe have only seen on social media. So, enough with the daydream: start a text thread with your favorite people in the world, download The Official Universal Orlando Resort Appand get to planning your much-needed vacay — cause, amigos, I’ve already told everyone you’re coming!
WHAT’S NEW IN… HOTELS
Whether you’re planning on spending one week or one month (hey, who’s counting?), checking into one of our new hotels (yup, plural) is starting off your vacation on the right foot and without breaking budget. At Universal’s Endless Summer Resort you can take your pick between Dockside Inn and Suites & Surfside Inn and Suites. As all other Universal Orlando Resort hotels, these are also uniquely themed and will surely get you into beach-life mode as soon as you check in. Located in the heart of Orlando, with easy access to the best the city has to offer, the resorts are both a 5 to 10-minute shuttle ride away from Universal CityWalk and theme parks. Oh, and did I mention the huge pools? The one at Surfside is, of course, shaped like a surfboard. And it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with that huge family of yours: at either hotel, you have the option of booking 2-bedroom suites.
You can also find exclusive options of food and drinks and get park perks, such as Early Park Admission up to one hour before the gates open. Extra value, extra comfy, extra fun. And I mentioned the huge pools, right?
PRO TIP: Hotel hop! Grab a quick and affordable bite at Beach Break Cafe in Surfside before hitting Sunset Blonde in Dockside for the Mango Blonde Ale, brewed exclusively for the resort.
WHAT’S NEW IN… FOOD AND BEVERAGE
When you think of coming to Universal Orlando Resort, what excites you the most? Me? Glad you asked. It’s the food. All right, all right, I do love the attractions. But eating at Universal is an attraction in itself. It’s safe to say that whenever there’s a new spot opening at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventures, or CityWalk, you can find me standing in line. So, if you’re anything like me, these yummy new venues are for you.
For me, mornings only begin after that first sip of coffee, so head to TODAY Cafe as soon as you walk through the famous arches at Universal Studios for breakfast. It has become my favorite grab-and-go spot since it opened in 2019. It might look familiar — it was designed to look and feel like you’re on the set of NBC’s long-running show The TODAY Show. Feel free to go beyond coffee: try the avocado toast, the chocolate croissant, or the acai bowl (trust me on the latter, I’m Brazilian). While still in Universal Studios, go for lunch at the newest hotspot: Central Park Crêpes. Made to order, the crepes are unbelievably fresh and delicious — and sooo worth the wait. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll go with the new option on the menu, the Plant-Based Chick’n. It’s a quick bite that’ll leave you thinking about its many different flavors for hours.
PRO TIP: Grab your crepe and find a seat on one of the benches in Central Park for a great view of the theme park.
As you can imagine, there are lots of tasty new things to try around the Resort and I would gladly go on and on for many scrolls. But I’ll leave you salivating with two delicious cliffhangers:
WHAT’S NEW IN… ENTERTAINMENT
The Bourne Stuntacular at Universal Studios Florida
You know it, I know it, everybody knows it: no one brings the magic of movies to real life quite like Universal. We’ve seen it for decades in countless attractions, rides, and shows. But The Bourne Stuntacular is something else. The name gives (most of) it away: a spectacular stunt show. But not just that: it’s a fusion between intense storytelling, the best of stagecraft, and state-of-the-art technology. I’m talking 28-feet-tall and 130-feet-wide LED screen with over 19 million pixels… Not really sure what this bunch of numbers means, huh? I got you: basically, it’s cutting-edge tech that creates such detailed images that lines blur together and you can’t really tell what’s happening on screen and what’s happening on stage. And for the 20 minutes when we are on the edge of our seats and so completely immersed, it feels like we too are traversing dangers, hanging from helicopters, and in the middle of a high-speed chase on a motorcycle. The perfect boost of adrenaline before hitting the rides. And to answer the question I’m sure you’ll be asking yourself as you exit the show: yes, that guy did just willingly take a 22-foot free-fall to the ground. And nope, it wasn’t on screen.
PRO TIP: Turns out the best seats in the house are on the far right of the theater, as the best surprises in the stunt show come on stage from the left side. So, don’t worry about rushing into the auditorium. Better yet, stand all the way to the back during the pre-show briefing and make sure you’re one of the last people to walk in.
WHAT’S NEW IN… RIDES
Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Islands of Adventure
In one word: thrilling! Jurassic World VelociCoaster is a whole new species of roller coaster. I mean, have you heard it’s the fastest and tallest coaster in Florida? And that it doesn’t hit the brakes until the end? In fact, when you think the vehicle is finally slowing down, it speeds up even more — up to 70 mph in 3 seconds. Man, it’s fast — lift-you-off-your-seat-your-eyes-start-to-water fast. Definitely not your average coaster. It’s more like a 4,700 feet long full-on immersive dip into Jurassic World that’ll launch you up to the 155-feet apex just before… Nah, can’t ruin all the fun for you. But I will tell you this: riding VelociCoaster is that boost of self-confidence that’ll leave you feeling like there’s nothing you can’t do!
PRO TIP: The great thing about this ride is that you don’t have to worry about guaranteeing the front or back row — you get completely different yet unforgettable experiences wherever you sit. No better reason to ride it over and over and over again.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Islands of Adventure
It doesn’t really matter if you’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin. Or even if you’re a roller coaster enthusiast just in this for the amazingly themed queue. There’s only one rule in regards to this ride: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a must-do. Located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, it has set the theme-park-attractions bar to its highest. This story roller coaster fusion is a truly immersive and magical experience that’ll take you beyond the grounds of Hogwarts, to the edge of the Forbidden Forrest, and bring you closer to some of the Wizarding World’s rarest magical creatures while aboard an enchanted motorbike that goes 50 mph. There are a few more surprises along the way, but I’m not about to give them away — ah, I wish I could see your face as your step off the ride! And since I’m sure you’ll be riding it more than once, we recommend experiencing the ride in both the motorbike and sidecar. Both are breathtaking!
PRO TIP: Ride it as many times as you can and in every way you can — on the motorbike, the sidecar, during the day, and at night! Going at 50 mph you’re bound to miss a few awesome details here and there. So, make sure to hop back on that queue and try to catch something new every time — I guarantee you’ll always ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure like a first-timer.
WHAT’S NEW IN… STORES
This I know for sure: there’s no way you’re leaving Universal Orlando Resort empty-handed (ha, don’t think I don’t see a wand sticking out of your bag over there!). I mean, you’ve waited so long for this vacation that it’s THE trip to remember. So, whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or alone, you’ll want to browse for that special souvenir. Look no further: head straight to the all-new Universal Studios Store on the right-hand side of CityWalk, just along the path that leads to the famous arches. The Resort’s new huge flagship is classy, not at all cluttered, and a perfect combination of the must-take-home mementos. Plus, I love the way it’s set up: maaany different sections dedicated to lands and characters. If it sounds like you could spend hours here, that’s because you can. Especially if you’re a Jurassic fan or a Potterhead like me and already have your eye on the only-found-here merchandise.
PRO TIP: One of the perks of having made reservations at one of Universal Orlando Resort hotels is that all your shopping gets sent directly to your room so you don’t have to carry them around all day.
That’s a wrap on our big updates! Can’t wait to hear what’s new with you, so please share in the comments below when you are coming and what you are most looking forward to doing.