If you’re following along with me on Instagram, you already know how much we travel to Universal in Orlando. When we got married, I had never been to Disney World, and neither of us had been to Universal in ten years or so. (Since then, things have certainly changed and most importantly, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is there now. And we all know how much I love that series.) So for our first wedding anniversary, we went down to Orlando and did all the parks.
After that first trip back Universal, we were both hooked. Obviously The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was the biggest draw for us, during that first trip back to Universal. But there really are more reasons to visit Universal than just that part of the parks!
Now, this is not going to be a post about how to plan your trip to Universal, or where to stay (but don’t worry, this is a series and we’ll cover all that eventually). This is all about why we have continued to be out of state annual passholders for the last three years. Because…why would you do that?
Why We’re Universal Annual Passholders
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Ok, I know I said that this isn’t the only reason to visit Universal Orlando…but it is worth it. The experience is very immersive, and if you grew up with the books being released and then saw them turned into movies the way that we did, you’ll absolutely love the experience of this part of the park. Both Hogsmeade Village (where Hogwarts is located in the park) and Diagon Alley are really special to step into. My personal favorite being Diagon Alley…it’s just SO GOOD. Plus, Butterbeer. And the food. And The Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringotts. Ok, I’m done for now. Side note: to visit both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and to ride the Hogwarts Express you do need a two park ticket.
Ok, hear me out on this one: one single day 2-park pass is currently listed on the Universal ticket site at $170. A 2-park seasonal pass is $285, a power pass is $345, and a premier pass is $385. We typically go down to Orlando for a weekend, so if we each go to the parks for one day, three times, the price of our pass is covered. We absolutely get our money’s worth out of our passes. Plus, since we are Premier Passholders, we receive a discount on purchases within the park, special AP offers, on-site hotel discounts, and even discounts at the restaurants and shops in CityWalk.
There really are SO many great rides at Universal. Some of them have been around for a long time (I’m lookin’ at you, E.T.), some are newer, and some are still being built. Universal and Islands of Adventure have excellent thrill rides, if you’re that’s what you’re looking for. The most popular ones are The Hulk, The Mummy, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (though you’ll only catch me on one of those three.) In addition to thrill rides, there are slower rides, screen rides, 4-D experiences, drop rides, water rides, kid’s areas, and great spots for people-watching if you’re not a fan of any kind of ride. Basically, there’s something for everyone in the parks.
This sounds a little strange when you’re talking about a theme park, I know. But Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are easy to visit in the same day. It’s just a hop onto the Hogwarts Express (if the wait isn’t too long, once you’ve done it a few times) or a 10 minute walk from one to the other. No shuttles to wait on or driving in between. We tend to wander back and forth between the parks these days since we have our favorite rides and our favorite meals, and it’s really nice to be able to get from one to the other that easily.
Walking into the park is like walking onto the set of a movie, which I guess was the whole point of Universal Studios (it was originally one park, then Islands of Adventure was added later on). You can wander down Hollywood Blvd. on one side and New York on the other side in Universal Studios. One minute you’re walking through the Jurassic Park area, then you cross a bridge and you’re at the entrance to Hogsmeade Village. Even the sounds you hear are specific to the area of that parks that you’re in. And honestly, it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere than you’d expect. Even though there is plenty to do in the parks, we never feel like we can’t sit down and relax in the shade for a while without missing something we want to do.
So, there you have it. That’s five of the reasons why we’re still UOAPs. Originally, I had the Preferred Pass and Stephen had the Power Pass because I use my pass more often. When we renewed them, we decided to upgrade his so that we no longer had to worry about blackout dates. This is the third year that we’ve purchased these annual passes, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we really love them. Now, who’s ready to go to Orlando?