Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and CityWalk

As an alternative to the theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios is located just south of Orlando, adjacent to Interstate 4 and International Drive.  The movie themed location has two separate theme parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Harry Potter fans also have The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (located in Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley (in Universal Studios).  There is also CityWalk which is an area aimed at dining, shopping and vibrant nightlife.  Unlike some of the Walt Disney World Resort rides, the rides found at Universal Studios offer as much 'thrill' as fun, so height restrictions may apply.  This restriction should give a good indication of how family-friendly they are for smaller children and how much adults will enjoy them.

Universal Studios

Full list of Universal Studios attractions

Universal Studios is an Orlando super-theme park and working film studio all in one.  Expect to see thrill rides based on your favourite movie sets, from the tried and tested Egyptian Rollercoaster that is Revenge of the Mummy, to the newer thrill rides of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster and the awesome Transformers 3D and Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts simulator rides.  For something even more stomach-churning, why not soar through Krustyland on the Simpsons simulation-coaster - crashing and smashing your way through the film set. Not one for rollercoasters, but like shooting aliens with ray-guns?  Men In Black Alien Attack is probably your scene.

If this sounds all too much thrill and not enough chill, Universal Studios also has a variety of shows and rides aimed specifically at younger visitors.  Journey through the magical ET Adventure on your flying bicycle, see Shrek 4-D or let the children go wild on Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse coaster Transformers 3D Rip Ride Rockit

Islands of Adventure

Full list of Islands of Adventure attractions

Islands of Adventure is the second of the fantastic parks at Universal, offering even more thrills and attractions through the world of books, cartoons and animation.  With new rides such as Skull Island: Reign of Kong, to favourites such as the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman simulator ride - where you travel with Spiderman in a 3D interactive landscape - or the water ride that is Jurassic Park River Adventure (beware of the T-Rex in the waterfall!)  Want to see the park from on high?  Accelerate upwards faster than the shuttle on Doctor Doom's Fearfall, then weightlessness as you fall back to Earth again ...and again!.

Ripsaw Falls Bilge Rat Barges If you like to get wet (really wet), then the excellent Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls and Popeye & Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges should be your second stop - after first stopping off to by a poncho.  For the children, well they can explore the Me Ship, The Olive interactive play area, fly over the park in the Pteranodon Flyers or go round and round on the Caro-Seuss-el!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley

Hogsmeade attractions and Diagon Alley attractions

These are parks-within-a-park, offering fans the chance to visit Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade village, Diagon Alley and other famous Harry Potter landmarks.  Being Orlando however, "interactivity" is the buzzword, so expect more than just static sets - expect real-life interaction with an emphasis on fun and excitement.  

The Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter is an 'totally immersive', dark simulator robo-coaster ride.  The Flight of the Hippogriff is very much a family rollercoaster ride, where as the braver should try the Dragon Challenge.  This is a 'Triwizard Tournament' Chinese Fireballs and Hungarian Horntail themed rollercoaster with two trains which twist and loop - almost coming together. Forbidden Journey Hogsmeade Village

Take time out to relax with a walk through Hogsmeade village in the winter.  For all those budding wizards, an array of gift shops are available to purchase those essentials - wand, broom stick, latest spells.  The wands will even come alive only when selected by their rightful wizards.

Diagon Alley Hogsmeade Express The two parks are now linked with the Hogsmeade Express.  Not just a train, but a magical journey between two Harry Potter lands.  Just one point to note, this ride is only available if you have access to both parks.

CityWalk

Full list of CityWalk entertainment
For a meal or to relax with a drink, head towards CityWalk.  This is where you will find restaurants, bars, entertainment and vibrant nightlife.  With restaurants such as Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe and Bubba Gump Shrimp you will be spoilt for choice.  For live music, comedy and theatre, see The Blue Man Group or catch the latest blockbuster movie at the Cineplex. Dining and Bars Universal Studios

Are you visiting Universal Studios and staying in a villa this year? Do you want to know how close you are to the parks?  Find Universal Studios on a map of the Orlando area and see the other theme parks and attractions near by.

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