2016: A Good Year For Universal Orlando Tickets

There’s a lot of things that your Universal Orlando tickets will get you into next year. If you’re planning a vacation sometime in 2016 or beyond, let us whet your appetite…

Skull Island: Reign of Kong is going to be Universal Orlando’s newest Islands of Adventure experience. An immersive, multi-dimensional attraction will take you on an expedition into the jungle of the 1930s, seeking massive, prehistoric predators…and more!

The Loews’ Sapphire Falls Resortis already taking reservations for summer 2016. A tropical lagoon with a massive waterfall forms the centerpiece of this fifth hotel inside the Universal grounds. Not only will you have shuttle access to Universal, but you’ll also be able to access the park by water taxi — just in case the swimming and sheer aquatic beauty wasn’t enough for you.

Fast and Furious: Supercharged opens in early 2017 — a high-speed, immersive attraction that will take you into the adrenaline-fueled world of underground racing made famous in the movie franchise. Explore the headquarters of Dom Toretto and his team, and feel the speed as only a Universal ride can deliver.

Volcano Bay is going to be one of the greatest additions to the value of your Universal Orlando tickets in the foreseeable future — a massive, 53-acre water park. The first water park ever opened on Universal grounds, Volcano Bay is promised to make visitors “completely reimagine what it means to be a ‘water park’,” say Universal executives.

Of course, if you’re expanding your vacation beyond just Universal Orlando, you’ll find several other new developments in the next couple of years.

  • The Pandora area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is opening in 2017, offering visitors the chance to take a “Flight of Passage” through the world of AVATAR.
  • Epcot Center is opening a new Frozen ride called “Frozen Ever After” that takes guests to Arendale’s Winter Festival — in early 2016.
  • SeaWorld’s new hypercoaster, Mako, is as shark-themed as the name suggests. Makos are the fastest sharks in the sea, and this ride will whip you around up to 73 miles per hour! Opening in summer 2016.

Yes, a few older rides will have to close to make room for some of these — but all things considered, the value of your Universal Orlando tickets is only climbing with every passing year. Enjoy!

The Best Attractions at Universal Studios Orlando

This isn’t one of those lists where we try to rank the best attractions at Universal Studios Orlando — that’s going to depend way to much on your age, gender, tastes, and age. Nope, this is just a no-particular-order list of what you need to see when you visit Universal Orlando — and why.

E.T. Adventure
The only original Universal Studios ride that is still in operation — if you remember the words “penis breath” being gently rebuked by a laughing mother and bicycle silhouettes against the full white moon, this one is for you. The ride actually puts you on ‘bikes’ and sends you sailing across the scenes of the movie, ending with a twist — a visit to E.T.’s home planet, which looks like Jim Henson had a psychedelic experience, had Bob Ross paint it, and then asked a foam rubber company to bring it to life. So basically spot-on accurate to the movie.

Revenge of the Mummy
If you’ve ever ridden on the California classic coaster Space Mountain, you might think you know what the roller-coaster-in-the-dark experience is all about. You’re wrong, unless you’ve also ridden Revenge of the Mummy, which intersperses the darkness with amazing glimpses of massive sets designed to make you feel like some sort of hyperkinetic Indiana Jones (OK, well, Brendan Frasier) exploring an ancient Egyptian ruin. And just on the off chance that you aren’t a Brendan Frasier fan, this is exactly the ride for you…because in this case, in the end, the ‘good guy’ dies.  Proper.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Diagon Alley, a subsection of Universal Studios Orlando, genuinely feels like its own miniature world, unique and fully-formed. Every element of the architecture, from rooftops to pavement, is just a little bit off — enough that you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Smack dab in the middle of it is the Escape from Gringotts…experience. You can’t call it a ride; it’s easily the single most immersive experience offered at any modern theme-park. Even waiting in line is epic, as mystical bank tellers and magically-animated newspaper headlines keep you engaged until you get inside. Then, inside, the train cars can (and do) split up, rotate a full 360 degrees, and otherwise put you fully engaged into a story of Harry and friends battling Voldemort’s forces as they attack Gringotts bank. It’s so good, they have special mechanisms in place to keep people from coming back through too quickly. Just ponder that. 

6 Hotels to Book Alongside Your Universal Studios Tickets

When you’re planning your Universal Studios Orlando vacation, the two fundamental lodging options are on-site, where you can walk to the rides but will pay significantly more, or off-site, where you will have to take a bit longer to get to the park, but can save a decent chunk of money. The biggest problem with off-site is paying for parking and taking the time to drive — but a hotel that offers a free shuttle to Universal Orlando is the happy medium that can make the most of a vacation. Make the reservation at the same time that you buy your Universal Studios tickets, and you’ll be ready. Here are our suggestions for family-oriented rooms with good prices and free transport:

Celebration Suites
Just a few miles from Universal, the lauded Celebration Suites offers a heated outdoor pool, a game room, an in-room kitchen (or Continental breakfast), and rooms for up to 8 people.

CoCo Key Hotel
Right there on the famous International Drive, the CoCo Key is, as you might imagine, an island-themed resort that has its own water park. The rooms only go up to 4 people each, but up to 3 kids below 18 (!!!) stay free!

Doubletree at Universal Studios
Smack dab at the entrance to Universal Studios, the Doubletree Hotel awaits. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and the breakfast buffet is excellent (as are the three other restaurants). The rooms hold up to four.

Holiday Inn at Universal Orlando
The Holiday Inn also has a branch directly outside Universal Studios; this one offers an outdoor pool and kitchenette in each room in addition to the on-site dining options. Suites can hold up to 8 people.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa
Several miles south of Universal, the Lake Buena Vista is a little further away than most on this list, but is also a little less expensive — a great price-saving reservation to pair with your Universal Studios tickets. Rooms sleep up to 10 people, and there’s both on-site restaurants and kitchens in each suite.

Quality Suites – The Royale Parc
The Quality Suites can house up to 8 people in a suite, and while they’re not the closest place to Universal, they do offer one surprising (and useful!) benefit that no one else does — a free, full, hot breakfast to wolf down before you get on the free transport to Universal. That’s convenience!

Whichever you choose, we’re confident that getting a free ride to the park is the most economical and most effective way to enjoy Universal Studios Orlando.

Universal Orlando: A Food Adventure

There are so many reasons to love a trip to Universal Orlando — the rides, the characters, the luxury. But there are some reasons you might not be anticipating…like the food. Yes, the food at Universal is just as much a part of the experience as the adrenaline and the exploration. In some cases, the food is adrenaline — and in many cases, it is definitely exploration. Here’s what we mean:

The Lollipop King
Ever wanted to eat a bug, but were too afraid to try? Do you think you might be able to succeed if the bug was encased in banana-flavored sugar? What if it were a scorpion?  Yep — the Revenge of the Mummy Gift Shop offers up actual scorpions embedded in ‘amber’ that just happens to be made of candy. And because the arachnoid’s chitinous carapace has been encased in candy, it tastes just like (fake) bananas…or so we’ve been told.

The King Donut
In the bottom level of the Hard Rock Hotel, there’s a shop called Emack and Bolio’s, and it features a donut so large a six-year-old could wear it as a bracelet. Six dollars of dough and honey glaze (or chocolate frosting) is enough to put a diabetic in a coma at thirty paces — or feed a family of four enough to send them sugar buzzing around the Universal Studios until halfway to lunchtime.

The Rocky Road Candy Apple
At the Port of Entry in the Island of Adventure, the Crescent Moon Bakery, there’s a treasure to be unburied — a massive granny smith apple! Buried under a layer of caramel, a layer of chocolate, a layer of pecans, a layer of marshmallows, and then another layer of drizzled chocolate and caramel, it waits for a suitably adventurous explorer to dig deep enough to reach the tart, lovely fruit.

Epic Gummy Bears
The San Francisco Candy Factory, ironically found at Universal Orlando rather than in California, produces gummy bears that are more than four inches tall and clock in at 350 grams (12 1/3 ounces). If you’ve ever wanted to eat 70% of your RDA of carbs in a single item, this is the one you want — 280 of those 350 grams are pure sugar. Noms!

The Kitchen Sink Challenge
Speaking of the Hard Rock Hotel, if you’ve ever wanted to be famous for 15 minutes, try training for a few weeks in competitive eating before your trip to Universal Orlando. That way, when you sit down and hand over $40, you, too can take on The Kitchen Sink: a huge hamburger laden with bacon, cheese, and chipotle horseradish aioli; a side of fries big enough to feed most grade schoolers all by itself; and a three pound piece of cake including seven layers of different kinds of cake, each with its own complementary frosting and sprinkles. One person has defeated the Kitchen Sink thus far…will you be next?