I’m frequently asked, “Where is Harry Potter Park?” and “What is Universal?” Find out where the park is and why you definitely want to visit Universal!
Where is the Harry Potter Park?
I’m glad you asked. In this episode, we cover:
- What is Universal?
- Who should visit Universal?
- Where is the Harry Potter Park?
- What is the difference between the parks?
- Is Universal Orlando is a Complete Vacation
- Universal Orlando Tickets
The Witch and Wizard’s Guide to the Wizarding World!
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Next on All Things Travel: Episode 7: What would you like us to discuss?
Previously on All Things Travel: Episode 5: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Start Making Your Magical Memories!
Ryan and Shayne are both Travel Advisers with Creating Magic Vacations, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Feel free to reach out to us for a free quote and to start making magical memories.
Shayne: Hello, we’re going to switch it up today. After a few weeks discussing Disney, we’re going to head up interstate four and check out the other parks. Today is all about Universal Orlando and all though every day is a great day for a butterbeer. Universal is currently offering a great promotion that we will talk about after the show.
This is episode number six, original air date, July 29th, 2020. Queue the theme.
Ryan, even clients who.. Whom? Who? Whom I think wouldn’t be interested in Universal, they still always ask me, “Can we visit Universal?” And the answer is, “Yes, of course, you can.” Yes. And sometimes it’s phrased like as “Where is the Harry Potter park?”
Ryan: You know, the last time I was at Disney, I asked one of the cast members how to get to the Harry Potter park, and she didn’t seem too thrilled with me for asking that, and my daughter, being a teenager, rolled her eyes, and forbade me from talking to any cast members for the rest of the day.
People think of Harry Potter when they think of Universal, but there’s so much there. Our first trip there, it was all about Harry Potter, but man, we came away having experienced so much more than that.
Shayne: And as amazing as that attraction is, it’s not my favorite part of Universal Orlando. We’ll talk about that later, too. We’ll find out. There’s just so much to cover, we’ll give an overview today and then maybe when you put all these together, we’ll have just a Universal Orlando masterclass to help everyone navigate their time in Orlando.
Ryan: Sounds good. I’m excited. I love this theme park.
What is Universal?
[00:01:50] Shayne: So sometimes the question I get is, “What is Universal?”
Ryan: What is it, Shayne?
Shayne: It’s a good question. And it’s basically two theme parks and a waterpark. There are eight Universal hotels, and it’s all next to an area called CityWalk, which is full of shopping and restaurants and all kinds of fun and nightlife.
And then there’s also, I think there are about 25 other hotels that aren’t Universal properties, but that will offer free shuttle service to the parks.
Ryan: So, a lot of ways to stay there.
Shayne: Yes. A lot of ways to enjoy some time there. Then another question I will get is “What is Universal?” Nope, that’s the same question.
Ryan: Oftentimes, people will ask me twice.
Shayne: And when I say, “Didn’t you just ask me that?”
Who Should Visit Universal?
So who should visit Universal? Because the majority of the time, at least for me, it’s a Disney client and they’re going to be in Orlando and they’ve heard about the Harry Potter parks.
Ryan: Sure, sure.
Shayne: And so they’ll say, should we spend some time in Universal while we’re at Disney or should we book just a Universal trip some other time?
What is your answer to that, usually Ryan, when someone asks that?
Universal and Disney Split Stay
Ryan: I’ve done it both ways personally, and as a travel advisor, I’ve booked it both ways and I’ve, I’ve done it both ways with my family. I certainly think that Universal warrants its own trip. I don’t think it should be viewed as an add-on to Disney. I really think if you’re gonna do both, you need to think about having a true split stay, having maybe four days at Disney, three days at Universal, especially if you’re going to do the waterpark, which I highly recommend.
I know you’ll hear this later. I love everything that has to do with Volcano Bay. It’s amazing. so, I, I really think it’s not where people trip up as they think they can just go for the day and be done with it. It’s much more than that.
You Will Always Want to Go Back to Universal Again
Shayne: Yeah, absolutely. I think another trip up is that they always think that it’s going to be their one trip to Orlando.
And whether it’s, whether it’s Disney or Universal, you want to go back. So that’s another thing that I was mentioned is that you might think this is your one trip, but you will want to go back to Disney and you will want to go back to Universal.
Ryan: Right? Absolutely. And so, you know, maybe if you’re not sure.
You know, maybe doing that split stay makes the most sense, because you can kind of sample both. If you’re not necessarily a Disney person, you can spend a couple of days there. If you’re not sure about Universal, you can spend a couple of days there.
It’s like a buffet of amusement parks.
The other thing to consider then is, and again, I’ve done it both ways. Do you stay at Disney the entire time and go back and forth, or do you switch hotels, and move to the other one so that you’re in that bubble?
From my personal travel and also working with clients, I think that moving there and being at the other park makes the most sense.
You’re cutting down on a lot of back and forth, and you also really get a sense of what the other, what, what Universal was like or what Disney is like. So, you know, I think it, I think it warrants that move if your family can accommodate that.
Shayne: I agree on our very first trip, we did a, a back and forth. Pretty much alternating days and that’s not the way to go
Every Harry Potter Fan Needs to Visit Universal
Definitely for who should visit Universal, if someone is a Harry Potter fan, or if their kids, or wife, or a distant cousin that maybe they know is in the family tree, but they haven’t met yet is a Harry Potter fan…
Then you definitely need to go and visit the Wizarding World.
Ryan: Absolutely. I know later on in other episodes, we’ll kind of take a deep dive into this, but it is immersive theming, like no other place. And to be honest, I’m including Disney on that list.
It takes it to a whole other level when you’re in one of the two parks, the two parks being Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade at Hogwarts. It’s pretty impressive.
Shayne: I don’t want to venture too far off into just Harry Potter talk, but I have a theory about that.
My theory is that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was so immersive and so much like the movie that our favorite park down the interstate decided that they had to match that and up the game.
That is a big reason why Galaxy’s Edge is so amazing, is because. Universal set that bar really high with the Wizarding World parks.
Ryan: I agree with you. I think that the Galaxies Edge was a direct response to the Wizarding world. Absolutely.
Where is the Harry Potter Park?
Shayne: Another common question is, “Where is the Harry Potter park?,” which is an excellent question. There are two of them because as I said about Universal, it’s split up into the two theme parks and the waterpark.
The two theme parks are Universal Studios Orlando, and the other one is called the Universal Islands of Adventure.
What is the difference between the parks?
Universal Studios Orlando
And Universal Studios is a television and film-based theme park. I think their tagline for a while was, “where you can ride the movies.” So there’s a lot of what looks like movie sets and a lot of immersive, rides or activities based on movies.
Ryan: If we’re going off of Disney, it’s kind of Hollywood Studios-esque as far as a lot of the things are a nod to movies, but, but I think Universal Studios steps it up a little bit more, where they’re actually filming things, there are actually movie sets there, so it’s kind of that next step.
For me, thinking back to. What Hollywood Studios used to be like when it was MGM Studios. It’s very much like that, where it’s a real movie studio.
Shayne: And I believe it’s on the other coast, but Universal Studios, Hollywood is still a functioning film studio. Yes?
Ryan: Yup. Yup.
Universal Islands of Adventure
Shayne: And then there’s the other part is the Universal Islands Adventure, which is eight themed islands where you get immersed into different adventures. One of them being Harry Potter, one is Marvel Avengers Island.
Suess Landing in Universal Islands of Adventure
This might be a good time to tell, not just my favorite part of Universal, but I think the coolest part in all of Orlando is Seuss Landing.
I love the theming and the decorations. I love the rides. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m such a Dr. Seuss fan. You know, The Sneetches has always been one of my favorite movies, but to me, Seuss Landing is the coolest place in Orlando.
Marvel Island in Universal Islands of Adventure
Ryan: Now see, when I walk into, onto the Marvel Island, it’s like walking into Ryan Hedstrom in fifth and sixth grade.
If you could open up my, my bedroom and look at the comic books that were scattered everywhere, it looks exactly like that. It’s the nineties Marvel look, which has, I think one of the best theme park rides. And that’s, that’s the Spiderman ride. I absolutely loved that ride.
I think the first time I went to Islands of Adventure. I was with a friend and in grad school, we were down there for a meeting and went over to Islands of Adventure for the day we rode that ride four times that one day. And I just I’ve ridden it several times since traveling back with my family. And I just, I don’t know, there’s just, there’s something about it. It’s just, it’s such a cool, fun ride.
Shayne: At the time of our first trip, my kid and I were recording and watching the Spiderman animated show on Disney HD.
The characters in this are right out of that. I believe it’s the same voice actors because I think that is… Is it Drake Bell, I think, who does Peter Parker’s and Spiderman’s voice on in the series. And I think he does the voice on the ride and it’s. It’s really cool. It is really cool.
And then, and then there is the waterpark. Universal’s waterpark, Volcano Bay, which is a tropical-themed waterpark and worth of its own episode.
Ryan: Absolutely. Yes, we went for the first time on our last trip. This would have been last summer, and we were there for three days and I went to Volcano Bay for a portion of all three of those days.
And what I like about Universal Studios as a group of theme parks is it’s small enough that you can really go back and forth. You can visit them, both theme parks and Volcano Bay in a day. You’re not going to see everything, but you can pick and choose things to do Volcano Bay. You can go to the first thing and then switch over to the theme parks.
You can do the theme parks and then go to Volcano Bay in the evening. I absolutely love it. It’s an amazing theme park, and yeah, we’ll get into it, on a later episode where we, where we talk about it exclusively. Cause it’s just, it’s a lot of fun.
Two of TripAdvisor’s Top Three Amusement Parks in the World
Shayne: You know, and while we’re talking about these three parks, I was looking on TripAdvisor earlier today because I remember this from some Universal training I attended earlier in the year.
I didn’t realize something they mentioned, which is, and I’ll ask you this as a trivia question:
According to TripAdvisor, what are the top three amusement parks in the world?
Ryan: The top three amusement parks in the world.
Shayne: As of the training that I attended earlier this year, the TripAdvisor number one theme park… and they said for the past five years, I don’t know if that’s including this year, because I think my training was back in January.
Ryan: Now that you say that, I remember that. And they’re yeah. I mean, there’s just so much there, with the Jurassic Park area and Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, it’s a great theme park. Absolutely.
Shayne: And then number two is the Magic Kingdom. Number three is Universal Studios, Orlando.
Universal Orlando is a Complete Vacation
Ryan: And so, so this is not an add-on to a Disney trip. This might be a trip in and of itself.
Shayne: It could be depending on the client, it could be.
Ryan: Especially if you are a roller coaster junkie, you’re, you’re, probably not going to get your food at a, at Disney. There there’s a couple of good rights as far as that level of adrenaline, but at Universal studios.
Oh, and I wouldn’t say of adventure. There are certainly some rides that, that are roller coaster worthy. And so it makes it a great. Place, especially as your kids are getting older, you know, and maybe they’ve outgrown Disney a little bit.
So, you have some family nostalgia, Disney, and then you go to Universal.
Or if you have, I’ve had this with clients where they have younger kids and older kids, and they’re trying to kind of balance those two. I think Universal really has a lot to offer.
Shayne: Yes. if you want a thrill ride that Hulk rollercoaster is a thrill ride in that Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket that it’ll scare. If you want to get scared, it’ll do it.
And so, and so to answer the question, where is the Harry Potter park? There are actually two parks. One of them is a land in Universal Studios. And then the other is a land in the Universal Islands of Adventure.
Universal Orlando Tickets
And then connecting the two is the beloved for Harry Potter fans, the beloved Hogwarts express. And if you want a chance to ride on the Hogwarts express, then we need to have a quick conversation about tickets for the Universal parks.
Ryan: You’re not going to tell me you have to buy two tickets.
Universal Orlando Park-to-Park Tickets
Shayne: Well, you do have to buy a Park-to-Park ticket to enjoy the Hogwarts express. That is true, but I will also say that it is worth it. It is absolutely worth it. I know at least one day of your stay to make sure that you get a park to park ticket so you can ride the Hogwarts Express.
Ryan: It’s almost like they plan that out, that, you know, you were going to have to buy a more expensive ticket to ride Hogwarts express and see both.
Shayne: I there’s some who suspect that they did that on purpose.
Ryan: Unfortunately, Shayne, sarcasm doesn’t translate well to a podcast.
Shayne: Oh, it doesn’t?
Ryan: Yeah, no, I totally agree. And I think part of it too, is, especially for folks who are interested or who are used to going to Disney, they’re going to find that the two parts Universal studios and islands of adventure, a little smaller.
And so, you know, you can really kind of go back and forth between the two. And so not only can you take the train, but you can go back and forth in front of the park. Because both fronts are actually part of that CityWalk, kind of the eating and dining and shopping area.
The park gates are a five-minute walk between each other, if that, so, I mean, it’s a much smaller, intimate experience when it comes to going back and forth.
Universal Park-to-Park Tickets are Priced Fairly
You know, we joke about the price, but they really do price it in a way that makes, makes sense for you to visit not only park-to-park but all three parks while you’re there.
Shayne: Yeah. Cause you can get a single part ticket and just visit one park, and good luck picking one. We’ve had ourselves in that situation before trying to pick which park we were going to go to that day. And then you can also get the Park-to-Park ticket for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
And then you can add, get a three park ticket to have a nice, cool morning at the waterpark in Volcano Bay.
More Episodes About Universal Orlando Are On the Way!
Ryan: I’m excited. So how are we going to kind of break up these episodes, talking about Universal Studios? Do you have an idea of how you want to kind of look at each different area?
Shayne: I think we should look at each park on its own. I think we need to look at the resorts because when you just like Disney, when you stay on property, it really adds to the magic of your vacation.
Universal has some ways that they do that too, where staying on Universal property, really enhances the fun and the experience of your trip.
Ryan: Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s, let’s do, a couple of episodes coming up, having, breaking all those different areas down. How does that sound?
Shayne: I think we’re using a radio gimmick here, right? We’re teasing some future episodes saying you’ve got to stick around, hit that subscribe button, so you don’t miss everything you’d want to know about both parks and about all of their really cool resorts.
Current Promotion at Universal
Ryan: So, if this sounds like a good vacation going to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, there’s actually a good promotion right now where if you buy two days of theme park tickets, you actually get two days added.
So, it’s buy two, get two. And the cool thing about this Shayne is, there are no blackout dates as far as when you can use them.
Book by August 13, 2020
As long as they’re used by December 17th of 2020, you need to book those dates, before August 13th. But again, you can use those through the middle of December. So Hey, you get two days at the parks for free sounds pretty good to me.
Four Nights is Perfect for a Universal Orlando Vacation
Shayne: That is, yeah, that’s the best way to go when you can buy two get two free.
And four days is a good amount of time for the parks.
Ryan: Yeah. I think three or four days is the sweet spot here. So, you know that you’re, you’re paying for two days, and you’ve got your whole vacation taken care of. So, if somebody wants to talk to you about going to Universal Studios, how can they reach out to you?
Contact Us to Book Your Universal Vacation
Shayne: Well, don’t tell our fellow Disney-loving fans, but Universal parks are my favorite parks and.
I would love to spread the enjoyment of Universal Orlando and help you plan an amazing vacation there. If you are interested, reach out to me at shayne@creatingmagicvacations.Com or on my website at shayne.fun.
That’s S – H – A – Y–. Why? Because it’s fun. N – E and remember, my job is to make you the vacation planning superhero.