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The Perfect Universal Orlando Vacation

Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It’s no secret that I like to have some serious fun at theme parks. Each of my 4 kids feel the same way, but my husband can take it or leave it. He doesn’t like crowds or long lines. When I told him we’d be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (yes, he is a Harry Potter fan), and that we would have Front of the Line passes, he was totally on board. For the weary, or the theme park diehards, I am going to tell you how we have the perfect Universal Orlando vacation, each and every time.

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The first tip for a truly great Universal Orlando vacation is your hotel. I love staying at a Universal Orlando hotel for my visit, because we never have to leave the resort. Hotel shuttles take you to and from Universal CityWalk, which makes for great shopping, dining, and of course, gets you to the theme parks. The only downside is that the hotel doesn’t have a free airport shuttle. They offer shuttle services though, so check with them if you require assistance in that department. 

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

I love staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort because it is so family friendly. I love the 1950s/60s decor, and the pools are super fun. It’s also super convenient to have a microwave and refrigerator in the room, because you will need it for the yummy leftovers after I tell you where to eat! 

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The last time I visited, my son and I spent our time at the pool with the water slide, so we decided to switch things up this time. The slide was closed on the day we designated to just lounge around the hotel, so we spent time at the big pool on the other side of the hotel – this includes a lazy river. The water was plenty warm in early May, and the kids flat out had a blast. They played in the sand, swam, and loved that they could go under water and hear the music playing even louder. 

Now that you have the perfect accommodations, let’s talk food. The Cabana Bay Beach Resort  offers healthy food options in the cafeteria style restaurant, which is a bonus for those trying to eat healthy while on vacation. You can grab full meals, or healthy snacks to take with you. Aside from the coffee shop, restaurant and on-site bowling alley, there is a gift shop for those wanting to take souvenirs home. 

Antojitos Mexican Restaurant on Universal CityWalk

If you aren’t wanting to eat all of your meals at the hotel, then the CityWalk has you covered. We stopped at Cinnabon for cinnamon rolls on our way into the park. Then for lunch, we ate in the park. During our last visit, we ate at VIVO (you can read my review here, but this time we tried out Antojitos and it was incredible!

Antojitos Mexican Restaurant on Universal CityWalk


Tableside fresh guacamole, Roast Pork Loin, and Mar Y Terra Stew – INCREDIBLE! Everything tasted so fresh and simply delicious. The mashed potatoes under that pork loin is like no other I’ve tried. I’m dying to know how they make it.

Blue Man Group

For nighttime entertainment, The Blue Man Group is a must-see. This was our first time to the show, and I don’t think I can ever visit again without seeing it. It was a blast! Looking over at the kids and seeing them all grin from ear-to-ear, throughout the show, was a real treat. We laughed a ton, the music was fun, and the humor was really something. The BMG show is high energy, and really adds to the entire Universal experience.


As for the theme parks, you really need to hit them both. Each park has something different to offer, and the Hogwarts Express that goes between both parks, is a different experience depending on which direction you travel. For any Harry Potter fan, a lot of time could be spent just enjoying Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. It’s like you have stepped right into the book.


Transformers The Ride - 3D in Universal Orlando

Our favorite rides and attractions are as follows: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (this might be frightening for little ones), Jurassic Park River Adventure (I LOVE the 80 foot drop in water), Flight of the Hippogriff (short, but fun), Transformers The Ride-3D, Men in Black Alien Attack, and Minion Mayhem.


To really take in all that Universal Orlando has to offer, I’d say you need a minimum of 2 days at the resort. This will give you time to enjoy the resort’s amenities, visit both parks, drink Butterbeer, and see the BMG show! Additional time doesn’t hurt!


Universal Orlando provided accommodations, tickets and a free meal, to aid in my experiences. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the author

Emily Buys

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