Universal Resort Orlando!!

Ian Walsh 25 May 2016
This was one trip I was really excited about. We travelled with Aer Lingus on their fantastic direct flight from Dublin to Orlando and we got to experience their Business Lounge in Terminal 2 and what a great experience, with lots of snacks and drinks to help you relax before the long flight to Florida. Ask me about lounge access for any Aer Lingus flight. The US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance at Dublin Airport was excellent and arriving into the US as a domestic passenger without any further queuing or security checks was a breeze.

On arrival, we were transferred to our first hotel for 2 nights at Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This is a brand new hotel and it is very impressive with a 1950's theme throughout. Our room, a family suite, was bright and spacious with a partitioned sitting room and the facilities onsite are excellent too. This property is fantastic for families; with lazy rivers, sandy beach areas around the large pool, water slides, bowling, a gym and kids activities throughout the day to keep the little ones busy. The breakfast buffet is huge and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The following day we were transferred by the free shuttle bus to Universal Orlando Theme Park, just a few minutes away and we started our VIP Tour of Islands of Adventure including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. My inner child was rearing to go with our park tickets, maps and VIP cards.

Guests staying at any of Universals Hotels gets early access to the theme parks one hour before they open to the public. This was just fantastic and it is a brilliant perk for guests of the resort. By being there one hour early, there are no queues for the rides and attractions, so with a bit of planning, you can do so much in that first hour.

We had a VIP escort through Universal Studios where you follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps as you walk through the streets of London to Diagon Alley. This is an amazing attraction. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you can visit five uniquely themed islands with some of the most amazing roller coasters I have ever been on. There are some fantastic shows and interactive attractions that will amaze adults and kids alike. These include the award winning attraction that is The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Be warned though, you’ll get soaked to the skin on Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. We stayed on this 3 times in a row.

That evening, we spent some time at Universals City Walk. We dined at the Vivo Italian Kitchen and the food was superb. After our dinner we headed over to see a show called the Blue Man Group which is comedy, theatre, a rock concert and dance party all rolled into one.

Our third day, we spent the whole time at Wet ‘n’ Wild. I love water parks and this one didn't disappoint, they have many slides and water activities, a huge wave pool and some slides that are not for the faint hearted. For the smaller kids, they have their own splash zone with smaller slides. Just so you know, Wet ‘n’ Wild is closing on the 31st December 2016 but don't worry, Universals brand new Volcano Bay Water park is opening on the 1st January 2017 and it looks amazing.

After a day at the water park, we checked in to the stunning Loews Portofino Bay Hotel for our final 2 nights. This is a magical place to stay and the entire theme of the hotel represents Portofino Bay in Italy. This hotel is very luxurious and our family room was large with stunning views of the lake. There is a fantastic freebie for guests staying at this hotel, ask me for details.

On that evening, we headed back to Universal City Walk for dinner at the CowFish restaurant. CowFish is the first and only Sushi Burger Bar, focused on offering both the best sushi AND the best burger in town. If on the night you can’t decide, why not try one of their signature creations called “Burgushi”, it is delicious!

After dinner, we went across to see the guys on the Dueling Pianos at Pat O’Brien’s. There isn't a song they can't play on the piano, no matter what we threw at them, they played and sang. It’s a great way to spend a few lively hours after dinner. Try out their signature cocktail, the Hurricane - It’s named that for a good reason.

The next morning we had breakfast on the terrace at Trattoria del Porto restaurant where the choice of food was just fantastic. After breakfast, we took the free water taxi from the hotel to Universal Studios to “Ride the Movies”. Guests staying at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel get FREE Express Passes.

That evening we had dinner at the NBC Sports Grill and Brew, great food and huge portions. After a hefty dinner, we were ready for a karaoke session at City Walks Rising Star, this was a great evening of laughs and singing or screeching more like.

Our last morning was spent visiting the hotels of Universal Orlando Resort so I could learn invaluable first-hand information on these fantastic properties. The hotels I visited include: Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Portofino Bay, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls and Hard Rock Hotel. That afternoon, we went shopping, a visit to Florida Mall is a must for any shoppers, it’s HUGE! The Premium Outlet Mall is fantastic for designer brands and buying an extra suitcase.

If you're planning a trip to Orlando, get in touch! I've so much more tips and recommendations that I couldn't fit in here. Orlando is an amazing destination and will make any holiday the trip of a lifetime, I can't wait to go back.