2024 Universal Orlando Trip Report: What It’s REALLY Like!

Today I’m excited to bring you our very first Universal Orlando trip report from our long-time reader, Rebecca!

Who shares the good moments and not-so-good moments of her recent vacation to this Orlando resort.

I hope you enjoy Rebecca’s story!

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report  archway entrance to Universal Studios Florida

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.  Which means if you click on certain links, I may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Universal Orlando Trip Report: The Good and The Bad

Hi Nikky,

Our trip was great! Smack in the middle of spring break season, but that’s when we could go.

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report Ticket at Universal Studios Florida

Having never been to Universal Orlando Resort but always longing to go after they built The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Our first morning went great, I think most people were over in Islands of Adventure and a food kiosk Team Member told me that they opened Universal Studios early at the last minute, so Diagon Alley was pretty much empty.

Get Your Universal Orlando Resort Tickets Today! CLICK HERE.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley

It was so neat. I could have spent my whole 4 days in the Wizarding World. I ended up with two wands.

My fellow Ravenclaw, Luna’s wand, and while the Collector’s Edition wand was sold out online and in the parks, my Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal Store still had them in stock!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Wands at Ollivanders
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Wands

The Team Members were so helpful as my wand magic wasn’t as natural and smooth as I hoped it would be.

Trying Butterbeer for the First Time

Oh the butterbeer!

We also tried pumpkin juice, but hot butterbeer had my heart (we are from Minnesota and winter still won’t release us from her icy grasp).

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report  butterbeer soft serve in front of gringotts bank and pumpkin juice sign at Florean Fortescues Ice Cream Shop in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley
Butterbeer Ice-Cream

But we liked frozen as well and I can totally see how refreshing that is in the Florida heat.

Discovering Springfield U.S.A. with the Simpsons

My son did lure me to the rest of lands.

He loves the Simpsons so we ate there and got a  Flaming Moe and took a BIG Pink Donut back to the hotel.

Get up to 76% off of the Orlando attractions with Groupon TODAY!

Water Rides and Express Passes, Oh My!

We went on all the water rides and since Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges® was a walk-on, we fully enjoyed meeting the nice unsuspecting people in our rafts and watching their reactions when they got soaked.

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report water ride of Popeye and Blutos Bilge Barges at Islands of Adventure

Since the Universal Orlando Express Passes had sold out, we did use Single Rider Lines and that helped out quite a bit.

A Day of Relaxation at Universal Orlando Resort

We slept in one morning, had a pool day and went to the parks at night.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Hotel at Universal Orlando Pool area

Get up to 25% off of your Universal Studios Tickets with Groupon TODAY!

The Chaos Starts

So on our next Early Park Admission day, Islands of Adventure was backed up onto the bridge all the way to CityWalk. It was a sea of people!

Universal Orlando Resort Line to Get into Islands of Adventure

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure was also backed up into the Lost Continent and was over a 120 minute wait. It regularly got up to 180 minutes while we were there.

We ended up riding Hagrid’s roller coaster on our last day at dinner time with a posted wait of 90 minutes (it was only about 70 minutes) AND it was way worth it!

However, I don’t think I’d ever want to wait that long again, but that was the best ride.

Universal Orlando Resort Flight of the Hippogriff Roller Coaster in Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogmeade with Hogwarts in the background

We had to sacrifice Flight of the Hippogriff. I promise I’ll ride it on my next trip.

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report with Rebecca in front of Hogwarts Castle
Rebecca on her Universal Orlando EPIC Vacation!

I don’t know why that was so busy when we were able to ride Forbidden Journey twice with 20 to 25 minute wait times.

Universal Studios guide and tips
Sign up and get your FREE Universal Orlando Resort Theme Park Traveler’s Planner and Guide. Click the image to get started.

That Hogwarts Castle queue was so amazing! I loved that the founders portraits talking to each other.

WATCH NEXT: 27 Best Things to Do at Universal Studios Orlando for YOUR Trip!

Expectations Adjusted at Universal Orlando Resort

I think I had tempered my expectations due to all the media I consumed about the parks and how busy it was going to be.

Could we have done everything at Universal?

Probably, but we took it slow and enjoyed ourselves and picked our most important must-do things.

Universal Orlando Resort  Trip Report Jurassic Park in Islands of Adventure with T-Rex coming from trees over jeep

Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!

The Food at Universal Orlando Resort

My Toothsome Chocolate Emporium reservations were great. I really enjoyed my meals there and the milkshakes!

I was less impressed with our food at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It was fine and my son was pleased with it, but one day the pancakes were pretty heavy and floury like they hadn’t been mixed well.

The chicken fingers were dry and they didn’t have normal dipping sauces, BBQ or Buffalo when I asked. I didn’t see any ranch but I didn’t ask.

Bayliner Diner Menu

The pizza was pretty good, so we got that several times. I much preferred the food in the parks and CityWalk to the Bayliner dinner.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The Cabana Bay Beach Resort was great though, thorough housekeeping service, the themeing and pools were amazing.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Hotel at Universal Orlando Room

And shout out to the DJ/Song Curator at the pool because I know they were a diehard Taylor Swift fan like me.

Minion Ice Cream Treat at Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report with Rebecca

We heard great pop songs, but I noticed many hits and some deep cuts from Taylor’s impressively large catalog.

Ready to start planning your next Universal Orlando vacation? Listen to the latest podcast episode on Apple or on your non-Apple device now!

A Disney Fan Vacationing at Universal Orlando Resort

I grew up a Disney girl but adding 3 days of Disney tickets would have cost $1000 which was about half our total Universal Orlando Resort vacation package that came out to $2300!

This included our theme park tickets, hotel stay, and airfare package.

I have been reading some Disney horror stories so I hope things change over there. I loved the Magic Kingdom and Epcot and even back when Hollywood Studios was MGM Studios.

However, I’m way more interested in heading back to Universal when Epic Universe opens in the near future.

I’d love to stay a night or two at a Premiere Universal Orlando Resort Hotel to take advantage of the Express Passes that are included with your stay.

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report 
Loews Portofino Bay Resort
Loews Portofino Bay Resort

Thanks for reading my insanely long emails and take good care of yourself!



Get up to 25% off of your Universal Studios Tickets with Groupon TODAY!

My Final Thoughts on this Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report

I’d like to send some love to Rebecca for sharing her detail experience when vacationing at Universal Orlando.

Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report globe on citywalk with lighthouse from Islands of Adventure in the background

It was such a joy to read and hope her story gave you some insight on how you can plan your own EPIC Orlando vacation!

Is it Fun at Universal Orlando Resort Full Trip Report (1)
Save This Image for Later on Pinterest Using the Share Button Below!

Now it’s your turn, what things surprised you the most about Rebecca’s Universal Orlando trip report? Let us know in the comments section below.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Hoop Dee Doo Revue NikkyJ Dinner Show Disney World. Author bio of theme park expert Nikida Metellus.

About the Author

My name is Nikky. I’m a wife, a mother, a pharmacist turned theme park blogger, USA Today 10Best Contributor, and a writer who loves ALL things amusement park related!

Traveling alone to the parks has changed my life and I want to show how you can create your own solo theme park memories.

Connect with me on Instagram!

UP NEXT: Top 10 Ways to Find CHEAP Universal Orlando Tickets

Share this article!

Leave a Comment