Why you should go
Divided geographically by region-specific architecture and ambience and fabulously themed as a Hollywood backlot, Universal Studios' simulation-heavy rides and shows are dedicated to silver screen and TV icons. Drink Duff beer, a Homer favorite, in Springville; ride the Hogwarts Express into Diagon Alley; and sidle up to Lucille Ball on Hollywood Blvd. And if you're looking for thrills, you'll find two of Orlando's best roller coasters: Revenge of the Mummy and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
Tickets and other practicalities
Tickets start at around $109 for one park ($104 for children 3-9 years old). Florida residents are sometimes eligible for discounts.
Tickets are good anytime within 14 consecutive days, and multiple-day tickets include admission to paid venues in CityWalk. Universal Orlando Resort participates in the Orlando Flex Ticket available online or in person at the Orlando Official Visitor Center.
Avoid lines at designated rides by flashing your Express Pass at the separate Express Pass line. The standard one-day pass (for Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios from $70; for Volcano Bay from $20) allows one-time Express Pass access to each attraction; the unlimited version allows you unlimited access to rides (from $90; Volcano Bay from $40). If you are staying at one of Universal Orlando's deluxe resort hotels – Universal Orlando's Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or Loews Royal Pacific Resort – up to five guests in each room automatically receive an Unlimited Express Pass. A limited number of passes per day are available online or at the park gates. Check www.universalorlando.com for a calendar of prices and black-out dates. Note that Unlimited Express Passes are sold bundled to park admission online, but, if they're available, you can add them to an existing ticket at the park.
Universal Orlando Resort has eight excellent resort hotels divided into four pricing categories: value, prime value, preferred and premier. The bulk of its hotels are themed to evoke a summery vibe of yesteryear, and for the most part they work. Staying at a resort eliminates many logistical hassles: it's a pleasant gardened walk or a quiet boat ride to the parks; most offer Unlimited Express Pass access to park attractions and priority dining; several popular rides, such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, open one hour early for all guests; and the Loews Loves Pets program welcomes Fido as a VIP.