Aaaand we’re back! J + I took a little getaway to Universal Studios Resort in Orlando, FL to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary – my, how time flies. 🙂 We were a bit nervous beforehand given that the weather forecast called for a *solid* week of thunderstorms. I didn’t even bother planning much of an itinerary ahead of time figuring it could be a total wash – literally. We had a few must-do’s in our head but tried to stay openminded in case the whole shebang got rained out. Luckily, the weather worked with us – and now I’ve got a whole plethora of ideas for things to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains, so cheers to that. 😉
More on what to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains coming soon, since a quick checklist on that will be helpful for planning your own trip if/when weather becomes iffy. In the meantime, I’m laying out our entire Universal Studios Orlando itinerary from our 3 days in the parks and at the resort, in the hopes of helping your future trip planning.
Our Universal Studios Orlando Itinerary:
Universal Studios Orlando Itinerary DAY 1:
- The Incredible Hulk coaster – This was collectively our least favorite ride. It threw off both of our equilibriums, necks and heads, and we wouldn’t do again.
- Butterbeer in Hogsmeade – Our first butterbeer of the trip! These are suuuuper sweet – word on the street is that frozen is best.
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Hands down, our FAVORITE ride – and the most popular ride in the park (with the longest posted wait times). Truly a *fabulous* experience!
- Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey – This is the HP ride inside Hogwarts castle! It’s a mix between virtual reality (VR) and a coaster-like tracker, but it’s a really unique experience. Total transparency, it messed both of our heads up a bit because of how topsy turvy the physical movements are, combined with the VR elements.
- Lunch at Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade – Lunch here is supposed to mimic lunch at the Leaky Cauldron over in Universal Studios, but the menu did differ and was more overpriced here, I think. We grabbed some spareribs and roasted corn, but if you’re torn between the two, I’d pass here and do Leaky Cauldron instead for more traditional English grub!
- Train to Kings’ Cross Station – A ride on the Hogwarts Express is a MUST – and definitely a great thing to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains. It’s a unique experience both ways, so take both if you can!
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem – This is a family-friendly experience to become minion-fied – it’s a seated 3D experience with moving seats.
- Men in Black Alien attack – The MIB ride is super old-school but fun; it’s a ride-around shooting game reminiscent of the Toy Story ride at Disney where you’re tasked with shooting down aliens with your lazer gun. For the record, I won. 😉
- Transformers: The Ride 3D – A WILD ride! A few rides at Universal involve riding in a larger bus-like vehicle for a 3D ride-along experience where your vehicle is moved to simulate the virtual reality you’re seeing.
- Voodoo donuts – We stumbled into this donut shop on Universal CityWalk for a quick snack; surprisingly, donuts aren’t overpriced. Our Grape Ape donut was basically the size of my head and only cost $2! Light, fluffy, yummy. Would def go back! While we were on the CityWalk we made dinner reservations for around the time rain was forecasted.
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott’s – This is the totally-indoor ride inside Gringotts Bank in Diagon Alley, Universal Studios. My second-favorite Harry Potter ride experience! And the only one where Bellatrix and Voldemort make an appearance.
- Dinner at Antojitos – Once it started raining, we headed back to Universal CityWalk for dinner at a yummy Mexican spot. I’d say the food is good here, but overpriced.
- Rain. Obviously any indoor rides or eateries are great things to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains – more specific ideas listed here!
Universal Studios Orlando Itinerary DAY 2:
- Early park admission – You’re able to access the parks one hour earlier (7 am) if staying at a Universal Orlando Resort property, which we did (we stayed at the Dockside Inn – definitely recommend! It’s one of the most affordable hotels.) Early admission primarily works for Universal Studios, so it’s a great time to knock out a few more popular rides or experiences there before Islands of Adventures rides open between 8:30-9 am.
- Diagon Alley – A nice time to get the clearest possible view of Gringotts (+ attempt at a photo – I still had to try and photoshop a few people out of ours. Ha!)
- Escape from Gringotts – Again!
- Breakfast at Leaky Cauldron – While the Resort made it seem like breakfast fills up fast and requires reservations, we actually cancelled our reservation and figured we’d wing it if timing allowed – and there was zero wait. While breakfast here is totally overpriced for what you get, my apple oatmeal flan was honestly phenomenal. It cost about $17 for the dish and came with yogurt and fresh fruit, which was the basic and “totally overpriced” element. But I must say, A+ to the apple oatmeal flan. I want the recipe. Ha!
- Knockturn Alley – A spooky hidden gem! Just like Diagon Alley isn’t blatantly advertised in the park (which makes it much more fun to stumble across, I think!), Knockturn Alley is subtle turn that leads to the *ahem* darker elements of Harry Potter – namely, Bourgin & Bourkes.
- Fast & the Furious: Supercharged – Another VR experience reminiscent of the Transformers ride. J liked this one more – it’s just a different vibe! This one involves fast speed car chases – Transformers involves cars turning into massive robots threatening the world’s existence. Pick your poison. 😉
- Race Around NYC with Jimmy Fallon – Basically no wait here – and another obvious option for things to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains (same with F & the F). But fair warning, don’t do this one if you’re prone to motion sickness – it’s a more intense VR experience!
- Revenge of the Mummy – Another great thing to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains – and honestly, the most underrated ride in the park. An AWESOME experience that we both loveloveloved!!! This one is classic. The line can really fluctuate, so just come back if it’s too long at any point – we saw it both where the line was out the front door with a 45+ minute wait, and also experienced it being basically walk-on.
- The Reign of Kong – This ride-along adventure is in Islands of Adventure with a similar ride style as Transformers and Fast & The Furious, where you’ll see Kong battle prehistoric dinosaurs around your ride vehicle. Wild!
- Jurassic Velocicoaster – J liked the Velocicoaster more than I did – I had full appreciation for how wild it was as a coaster, but it DID shake my head a bit more than I like. Ha! This is probably the longest line of a coaster and much of the queue is not air conditioned – fair warning!
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Again!
- Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey – Again!
- Train to Kings’ Cross Station
- Late lunch at Leaky Cauldron – Lunch here was my personal fave! We went for traditional English fare with the Bangers and Mash entree, and I got the Peachtree fizzing tea – which I’d get again. (It’s like a slightly fizzy peach tree with ginger).
- Florean Fortescue’s ice cream Parlour – A must in Diagon Alley! You get two scoops in a small; between the two of us we tried Chocolate Chili (SO good), Earl Grey Lavender, Sticky Toffee Pudding, + Apple Crumble.
- Olivander’s wand experience – Another great option for things to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains, especially for kids. I’d say not worth waiting in line for since it’s a rather quick experience that near-exactly mirrors the movie scene when Harry gets his wand.
- ET Adventure Ride – This indoor ride is super old-school – reminded me of the Little Mermaid ride in Magic Kingdom at Disney. While the animatronics are clearly dated, it’s cute and charming with a super short wait.
- Shrek 4D – This feels like a mini-movie inside Universal Studios – but with 4D effects and some added seat motion.
- Shang Chi movie at Universal Cinemark – At this point in the day, the rain had begun. Obviously, an easy thing to do at Univesral Studios Orlando in rain is to catch a Universal movie! The movie theater on campus was just about EMPTY – we had the whole place to ourselves and caught the latest Marvel matinee.
- Dinner at Bigfire – After the movie we were a *bit* full on popcorn and Sweet Tart ropes, so “dinner” turned into light apps – ha! We shared the cheese fondue appetizer at Bigfire but were disappointed. It wasn’t flavorful and was suuuuper rich – wouldn’t recommend.
Universal Studios Orlando Itinerary Day 3:
- Brunch at the TODAY cafe – After sleeping in, we made our way back to the Studios park for brunch. The TODAY cafe did not disappoint, and I would absolutely return. While we dropped about $50 for breakfast, we ended up getting the overnight oats, avocado toast, a blueberry cheesecake poptart (YUM), lattes, and some OJ + mini bottle of champagne to make our own mimosas. 🙂
- The Bourne Stuntacular – This was another highly underrated experience – we LOVED it! It’s a stunt show in Universal Studios that was maybe 20 minutes long or so and felt like a mini-movie on stage. The visual effects and stage props were incredible, not to mention the artistry + choreography of the stuntsmen. Another must-do thing at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains!
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – This is the wild-looking red coaster inside Universal Studios; it’s a straight 90 degree angle upward as soon as the ride begins, so brace yo’self. 😉
- Revenge of the Mummy – Again!
- Superstar parade @ 2 – This is a cute little parade through the street, but nothing crazy – feel free to skip and head for a ride that may have lesser lines now.
- Quick bite for Lunch – We stopped by the Hopping Pot – a quick-service spot with mostly drink options in Diagon Alley. J got a beer (the two Wizarding beers are both GREAT and exclusive brews to Harry Potter World). I tried the Fizzy Green Ale, but did not like – it’s minty and tasted like drinking toothpaste. Pass. BUT, the beef pasties were a nice quick bite.
- Train from Kings’ Cross to Hogsmeade
- Flight of the Hippogriff – A tamer coaster right across from Hogwarts with usually short lines! More family-friendly option.
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – A VR-heavy ride-along in the same style as Transformers, Fast & the Furious, Kong, etc. You sling over the city with Spidey, so consider avoiding again if you’re prone to motion sickness.
- Dinner @ Vivo italia – We did dinner at this Universal CityWalk eatery; we ate at the bar to avoid long waits. Decent food!
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures – Again!
- Dark arts light show at Hogwarts – We happened to be there for the first night of the light show. No one knew any information on what time it would start; it ended up starting around 7:45, with the park closing at 8, and rumor was that another show would be projected onto the castle around 8:15. Honestly…wasn’t super impressed with the show. Maybe it was because I was subconsciously comparing it to Disney’s fireworks and light show, or maybe it was because we had time to think about cool would-be effects that felt like missed opportunities.
Universal Studios Orlando Tips & Tricks:
- Get the two-park passes to be able to hop back and forth between the two anytime – absolutely worth it, especially if/when weather impacts ridability.
- MOST UNDERRATED RIDE: Revenge of the Mummy
- MOST OVERRATED RIDE: The Incredible Hulk coaster
- TOP 3 FAVORITE RIDES: Hagrid’s Magical Creatures, The Revenge of the Mummy, Escape from Gringott’s.
- For many rides, there are holding rooms as part of the queue experience — if you have to fill a room, stay as close to the next door as possible instead of trying to get a front row spot. You’ll end up hopping forward in line!
- Dr. Scholl’s are the BEST shoes for amusement parks. I call them my “Disney World” shoes for a reason – they never fail me, even 49,500+ steps later. NO foot pain, blisters, discomfort, etc.
- Waits are usually not as long as the apps and rides say.
- Pack Verb bars. Lots of them…
- …and a phone tripod + timer for selfies. I have this one from Amazon and it worked PERFECTLY – we took all of our own photos!
- Don’t miss Bourgin & Bourkes down Knockturn alley off of Diagon Alley in Universal Studios.
- We stayed at the Endless Summer Resort’s Dockside Inn (or Surfside Inn, its sister property across the street!). It’s one of the most affordable Universal hotels but still super nice and gets you park access an hour early!
- A LOT of the rides are VR-based so prepare for motion sickness accordingly. We tried spacing them out between other activities.
- Voodoo donuts in city walk is GREAT — only $2 for a massive, fresh fluffy donut.
- When it comes to food/drink inside Harry Potter World: The apple oatmeal flan at Leaky Cauldron breakfast is PHENOMENAL. Hot butterbeer > cold. Butterbeer is SWEET. Hot takes on a hot chocolate or hot apple cider sorta vibe. But word on the street is that frozen is best! Dragon scale beer is fantastic. It’s an amber lager exclusively brewed in Harry Potter World! The fizzy green ale tastes like toothpaste. Hard pass.
Have you been to Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure before?
Any other favorite things to do at Universal Studios Orlando when it rains that we didn’t do on our rainy anniversary trip?