One of the best places to visit for first timers is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Photo: Universal Orlando)

Theme Park News

The Universal Orlando Resort has a lot more to offer than you may realize, especially if you're planning your first visit. With three immersive parks, an entertainment district and a variety of dining opportunities and other fun activities spread across seven on-site hotels, there's a lot of excitement to take in. Here are some of the top things to experience on your first visit to Universal Orlando.

Both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure
Many guests aren't even aware that there are actually two separate theme parks at the Universal Orlando Resort before their first visit. Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are located right next to each other, which makes it easy to travel between the two in the same day. You'll need a park-to-park admission ticket though, which is important if the Harry Potter fans in your group want to ride the Hogwarts Express. That's right, you can actually take this train from one park to the other, conveniently connecting the two Wizarding World lands together without having to ever leave.

Must-Do Experiences at Universal Studios Florida
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley should be at the top of your list, because it's one of the most immersive theme park experiences in the world. It features unique shopping, dining and the exciting Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. For thrill-seekers, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster and Revenge of the Mummy can't be beat. Families will love joining the Minions on their very own ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Don't forget to meet some unforgettable characters like Scooby and the gang at Mystery, Inc. or Optimus Prime with Bumblebee and Megatron.

Must-Do Attractions at Islands of Adventure
Next door at Islands of Adventure you can take flight through the Wizarding World's Forbidden Forest on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the epic all-new roller coaster. Soar above Hogwarts Castle on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, take on super-villains on the high-tech Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and splash down on Jurassic Park River Adventure. Coaster lovers will also want to check out The Incredible Hulk Coaster, one of the most popular thrill rides in Florida.

Don't Miss Universal's Volcano Bay
The theme park fun doesn't have to end there! Universal's Volcano Bay is taking what it means to be a water park to another level. The moment you take that first step inside you'll feel like you’re in a tropical paradise thousands of miles away from everything. Tackle record-setting body slides from the top of the massive centerpiece volcano or relax in the wave pool at Waturi Beach or down the Kopiko Wai Winding River. There's even a fast-moving river called TeAwa The Fearless River if you're in the mood for something a little more exhilarating. Whether you're up for some thrilling fun or just looking to kick back on the beach, don't overlook Volcano Bay on your first stay!

Check Out Universal CityWalk Between the Parks
Looking for a delicious and unique themed meal, a quick bite between activities, fun things to do like mini golf or a night on the town? Universal CityWalk has got you covered. With free transportation from all of the on-site hotels, this entertainment district is located right in the heart of the resort. You may even pass through the area on your way into the parks. Reserve a fantastic meal at restaurants like VIVO Italian Kitchen or Bigfire before heading back to the hotel to cap off the perfect day. Or head out to the clubs, which are open late every night, to keep the fun going.

Explore the On-Site Resorts for More Fun
You'll be vacationing like a pro when you make plans to visit some of the amazing experiences found off the beaten path. Every Saturday evening at Loews Royal Pacific Resort you can catch the Wantilan Luau, an authentic Hawaiian luau, complete with spit-roasted pig, and live performers like hula and fire dancers. There's also live music at both the Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on select nights. There's more family fun like bowling at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort too. Even if you're not staying at these resorts, you're always welcome to visit and participate in all the fun. If you are staying on-site, some of them allow you to pool hop, so you can explore the lazy river of Cabana Bay, the underwater music of the pool at Hard Rock and much more!

The Universal Orlando Resort has a lot to offer, so the biggest tip of all is to allow for multiple days of fun on your next vacation! With three parks and so much more to do, you're going to need some time in between to catch your breath—perhaps while lounging by the pool? One way to get more out of your visit is with Universal Express. Express pass options allow you skip the regular lines at most of your favorite rides and attractions so you can truly get the most out of your visit.