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Universal Orlando Resort

From Harry Potter to the Simpsons, this theme park delivers big family fun


Universal Orlando has two theme parks--Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida--plus the CityWalk area of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues; and four hotels where guests get fast-lane ride access. Best of all, everything is connected by walkways and waterways served by free water taxis.

1. Diagon Alley: Opening Summer 2014

Concept art, Universal Orlando Resort

The highly anticipated Diagon Alley is slated to come to life at Universal Orlando Resort in summer 2014. Diagon Alley will be located at Universal Studios Florida, where 'London' has been recreated. Diagon Alley and 'London' will feature shops, dining experiences, and a new ride called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

2. Cabana Bay Beach Resort: Opening Spring 2014

Loews Hotels & Resorts

Slated for a soft opening in late March 2014, the Loews Cabana Bay Beach Resort offers value-priced rooms and moderate-priced family suites with separate sleeping areas and mini kitchenettes.

3. Universal Orlando - Islands of Adventure Theme Park

Universal Orlando - The Hulk coaster - photo ©  Teresa Plowright
The Hulk. Photo © Teresa Plowright.

Parents with small kids will want to spend time in Seuss Landing or in the gigantic Camp Jurassic play zone. Teens and 'tweens will spend the day in an adrenaline rush, hitting thrill rides such as The Hulk. Spiderman "ride" is good fun too.

4. Seuss Landing, Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando, Seuss Landing - photo ©  Teresa Plowright

This area of the Islands of Adventure is great for little kids, completely themed around the beloved books of Dr. Seuss. You might find the Grinch here, for Grinchmas, during the Holiday Season.

5. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter them park, Hogwarts Castle Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.
Photo © Teresa Plowright.

Finally, we Muggles can enter the magical world of Harry Potter, at this beautifully detailed theme-park-within-a-theme-park, in Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando.

6. Universal Studios Florida

Shrek 4D - photo courtesy of Universal Orlando
Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando .

This theme park at Universal Orlando has plenty of move-based attractions that kids will love: ET, the Revenge of the Mummy "dark ride", the Simpsons Ride, Jaws, and plenty more. Newest coaster, The Rocket, is a super ride.

7. Superstar Parade

Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Extra fun in the Universal Studios Florida theme park: a daily afternoon parade featuring SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer, and other characters that kids will love to meet'n'greet.

8. Universal Orlando: Holiday Celebrations

Universal Orlando - Grinchmas - photo courtesy of Universal Orlando
Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Universal Orlando has two major Holiday Season special events: at Universal Studios Florida, the daily Macy's Holiday Parade has giant balloons and floats from the famous Thanksgiving parade in New York; and over at Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure, get ready for Grinchmas.

9. Mardi Gras Weekends at Universal Orlando

Mardi Gras Weekends - Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando
Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Every year, at Universal Studios Florida, Mardi Gras is celebrated with a 10-block parade, live music, and more, on weekends from early-February to mid-April. (Dates change every year, depending on when Easter and Mardi Gras occur.)

10. Blue Man Group

Universal Orlando - great chance to see Blue Man Group.
Photo by Ken Howard © BMP.
Blue Man Group is a performance by, well, blue men: an indescribable mix of mime, percussion, and antics involving the audience. Blue Man Group can be seen in New York City, Las Vegas, London, and other venues -- including Universal Orlando. Blue Man Group has a special theater in Universal Studios Florida, but performance-goers can get to the theater directly from CityWalk (no need for a ticket to the theme park.)
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