The Universal Orlando Resort is an amazing destination in Orlando, Florida, made very popular when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction was added. This resort is much more than that though. Currently, there are two dry theme parks and a water park that make this an awesome destination for your family vacation. With a lot to see and do, here are our recommendations for a Universal Orlando 4-day itinerary.
Universal Orlando Recommendations
Let’s start with a few tips and recommendations to make the most of your Universal Studios 4-day itinerary. Our Universal Studios 4-day itinerary reflects that you have these options in your vacation package.
We highly recommend the Universal Park-to-Park ticket option. Even though you will be at the resort for a few days, you will need the Park-to-Park ticket to experience Hogwarts Express. You don’t want to miss this amazing attraction! With the parks being so close together, you’ll also enjoy having the flexibility to move between the parks.
We also recommend a 3-Park ticket. This allows you access to both theme parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, as well as the water park Volcano Bay.
Express Unlimited Pass
Universal Express Unlimited is another amazing feature to consider. Honestly, after using the Express Unlimited pass, it’s hard to visit the parks without it. If you have a family of four or five, you may find booking at a premier hotel—Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, or Royal Pacific—is the best deal since Universal Express Unlimited is included for all guests.
If you have a smaller family or a larger family (and need two rooms), staying at another one of the amazing onsite resorts, such as Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Aventura, or Endless Summer Resorts, may be a better option and you can add the Express Unlimited feature to your ticket. If you go this route, we often find Cabana Bay Resort or Aventura Hotel to be the best mix of cost and location benefit.
We recommend you stay at one of the onsite hotels listed above. Although only some come with the Express Unlimited pass, all onsite hotels include the special benefit of early park admission. All the onsite hotels are close to the parks and some are even walkable to some of the parks. Between the convenience and extra hour of park time, we believe an onsite hotel is the best choice.
Universal Orlando 4-Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival and Islands of Adventure
Flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the best option and you can add Super Star Shuttle Transfers to your package.
Not only do they take care of getting you to your resort, but they handle most of your check-in process right at the airport so you are ready to go when you arrive at your onsite hotel.
With a morning arrival, you can still make great use of this day. If your room isn’t ready, leave your luggage with bell services and go to Islands of Adventure to get your vacation started.
Head to the right after you are through the entrance and take in the rides in Seuss Landing including Carou-Seuss-el and The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. If you need a bite to eat, grab something on your way through the Lost Continent or go to Hogsmead in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and eat at Three Broomsticks.
Tip: For Butterbeer and spirits, go to the back of Three Broomsticks to Hog’s Head.
At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll want to take your time walking around. Visit Ollivanders for a wand fitting, see the Frog Choir sing, and enjoy other live performances. You can also visit the Owl Post and send a postcard to a loved one or friend.
You will also want to ride Flight of the Hippogriff, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. If the line is too long, you can do this another day.
After a long travel day, we recommend a few options for dinner. Eat at Mythos Restaurant in Islands of Adventures. If your family is tired, go back to the hotel, get settled, swim, and have dinner at the hotel. Another option is to head back into City Walk for dinner at Margaritaville or Toothsome Chocolate Emporium.
Day 2 – Universal Orlando
With early park entry available, start bright and early at Universal Orlando and head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
You can grab breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, but you may want to head to Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts first. Then take some time to check out all of Diagon Alley.
The Ollivanders is mainly the same, but you can hit the Gringotts Money Exchange, see some performances, and wander back to the Knockturn Alley section to browse the shops.
After you have seen enough, go to Kings Cross Station just outside Diagon Alley, and take the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.
Tip: As you move through Kings Cross Station take note of all the elements. There is so much to see.
When you move to platform 9 ¾, listen for the special sound.
Once you arrive in Hogsmeade, take a right out of the station and head toward the castle and out of Hogsmeade to explore the rest of Islands of Adventure. By Jurassic Park, there are some good quick service locations as well as the Raptor Encounter and Jurassic Park Discovery Center which you shouldn’t miss.
Next go through Skull Island: Reign of Kong and on to the Toon Lagoon. Since it’s the middle of the day and you may be wet from Jurassic Park River Adventure, this is a good time to also hit Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls. You will get soaked.
Finish out the Marvel Super Hero Island area with some great coasters and maybe even go to the Marvel Super Hero Dinner. Note: The Marvel Super Hero Dinner runs Thursday through Sunday night and reservations recommended.
Day 3 – Volcano Bay
Start the day at Volcano Bay. The lowest crowds are in the morning and you can stake your claim or get a cabana.
Be sure you have the Universal App set up so you can link your Tapu Tapu when you get to the park. Tapu Tapu helps you handle the lines, charge items (so you don’t need to carry money), get in and out of a rented locker, and load your photos. Everything you need to pay and play.
Once you are situated, use Tapu Tapu to get into a virtual line. In the meantime, you can ride anything that says “Ride Now”. The rides that build up the longest lines are Krakatau (my favorite), Ko’okiri Body Plunge, and Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides. If those are rides you want to do, then go for them first. The two rivers (one lazy and one crazy) and the wave pool are areas to enjoy if you are waiting in a virtual queue and there is nothing available to “Ride Now”. The park’s crowds peak mid-day so get to the park early and get started on the fun.
You may want to stay all day or you may want to leave in the early afternoon. If you leave early, head to Islands of Adventure and take the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando. It’s sort of the long way to get to Universal Orlando BUT the train is fun to ride in the other direction.
Tip: Don’t forget your towels. You can use ones from your resort. Just don’t forget to bring them with you.
Spend the evening checking out Universal Orlando. Head right out of the train station to San Francisco (Fast & Furious), then New York (Revenge of the Mummy and Race through New York), and Production Central (Despicable Me, Shrek 4-D, Transformers, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit).
Day 4 – Universal Orlando
Hopefully, you have a later flight on your last day so you can go to Universal Orlando one more time. Leave your luggage with bell services and hit the park. Finish up E.T. Adventure, Springfield (Simpsons Ride and Kang & Kodos’ Twirl n Hurl – if you dare), and World Expo (Men in Black Alien Attack). Depending on time, you can revisit any attractions you want to do again or didn’t get to do earlier. Don’t forget to be back at your resort in time to take the Super Star Shuttle back to the airport.
This itinerary is just a start. At Magical Memory Planners, we work with each family individually to help them create a plan that works best for the needs of their family. Let us help you create a magical Universal Orlando vacation at no additional cost to you.