Travel

Published on July 13th, 2012 | by Matthew

A Trip to Universal Orlando Resort

On a summer night, a trip to the local movie theatre is a great way to beat the heat. But when you’re staring up at the big screen, popcorn in hand, you’re looking to do more than cool off. Movies let you escape to whatever fantasy world you choose. They’re a great way to leave the distractions of Life behind, if only for a little while.

But what if you want to go further? What if you don’t want to just watch the movies, but live them? That’s where Universal Orlando Resort comes in. With two full theme parks, a vibrant nightlife scene, and world-class dining and accommodations, this unique resort is the perfect destination for movie lovers of any age.

Attractions

The centerpiece of Universal Orlando is the Universal Studios Florida theme park. Originally opened in 1990, the park has consistently expanded its repertoire of rides and attractions to compliment Universal’s blockbuster film releases. Promising guests the chance to “ride the movies,” thrill-seekers are free to jump into their favourite films.

“I’d definitely recommend The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” wrote Charlotte Slingsby, a CAA Associate who visited the park in May. “Oh my goodness, what a laugh! [The cast] had the entire audience roaring with laughter for the entire show.”

The entrance to Shrek 4D sets you on your quest

The entrance to Shrek 4D sets you on your quest

Slingsby, 24, noted that Shrek 4D is the perfect ride for fans of the animated films, where the audience follows Shrek on an epic adventure in a state-of-the-art theatre production. And there’re plenty more flicks to drop into. Whether you want to tag along with The Simpsons, break an ancient curse in Revenge of the Mummy, or defend the planet in Men In Black: Alien Attack, Universal Studios’ park offers you the chance to become your own brand of movie star.

A short walk from from the resort’s original park is Islands of Adventure, a newer theme park with a decidedly different flavour. Guests begin their journey at the

Port of Entry, and can visit six “islands” during the day, each with a different theme. Swing over Marvel Super Hero Island to help Spider-man defeat New York City’s worst villains, or escape a rampaging T-Rex in section modeled after Jurassic Park.

Islands of Adventure’s newest landing, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will be the highlight of the park for any wannabe wizard.

“I’ve loved Harry Potter since I was 12 years old,” wrote Slingsby in her review of the park. “So eating at the Three Broomsticks [Restaurant], sipping on Butter Beer, and going to Olivander’s Wand Show was a dream come true for me.”

Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure

Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure

Guests can tour the Forbidden Forest, Hogsmeade Village, and even the iconic Hogwarts Castle while enjoying rides, shows, and games based on the series.

Connecting the two parks is Universal CityWalk, a collection of restaurants, shops, nightclubs, and even an AMC movie theatre (of course!). Featuring a variety of entertainment, from concerts and games to great performers like the Blue Man Group, CityWalk features something for everyone, even when the parks close for the evening.

Accommodations

Sprawling out from CityWalk is a waterway that links the attractions to the resort’s three hotels. At one end of the channel is the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel, which delivers on its promise of capturing the feel of the South Pacific with tropical surroundings, great cuisine, and a lagoon-style swimming pool complete with a white sandy beachfront.

At the other end of the waterway are the other two on-site hotels. The Hard Rock Hotel, much like the restaurants that share its namesake, immerse you in the world of rock stars. With great music playing throughout the resort, including through the pool’s underwater sound system, your stay will feel like one big backstage adventure.

Portofino Bay's harbour lit up at night

A water taxi approaches the Portofino Bay Hotel

Lastly, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel feels like a retreat taken right from the streets of Italy. With outdoor cafés and cobblestone streets, you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of a seaside village. And its distance from the main attractions has its advantages, according to Slingsby.

“The Portofino is the furthest from CityWalk and is quite a bit more private,” she mentioned. “You do feel as if you are in Italy.”

Perks

No matter what hotel you choose, guests at the resort enjoy a few perks with their visit, including early admission to parks, a Universal Express pass that lets you skip the lines at attractions, and character dining, where you can visit with your favourite characters. The resort also offers the Meal Deal, a ticket that allows you to enjoy food throughout the parks’ restaurants for a single price.

“I highly recommend it,” wrote Slingsby. “It’s great to be able to go through the park…not having to worry about scheduled breaks and paying for food.”

With great attractions, amazing shows, and four-star hotels, Universal Orlando Resort is the premiere destination for moviegoers young and old. Not only is it a place where those classic silver screen stories come to life, it’s a place where you can be a part of it.

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