Top 12 Best Things to Do in Universal Studios Orlando 2023

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Top 12 Best Things to Do in Universal Studios Orlando 2023

This article is your complete guide to the best things to do at Universal Studios in 2023. Whether you’re visiting Universal Orlando Resort for a day or a week, you might be looking for all of the best things to do at Universal Studios Orlando. With two dynamic and immersive theme parks, a water park and a mega shopping complex, there are so many different activities and attractions guests can choose from.

In this article, we’ll break down the best Universal Orlando rides, the best Universal shows, and even some of the best Universal Orlando hidden gems back at the hotels. You’ll see there is so much to see and do so if you’re ready to learn about the best must-do things at Universal Orlando read on!

SPECIAL NOTE: If you need help picking the best time to visit Universal Orlando for your next vacation be sure to check out our Universal crowd calendar!

Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar

What are the Best Things to Do at Universal Studios Orlando 2023?

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So, what is there to do at Universal Studios 2023? It might come as no surprise that Universal Orlando Resort has been rated one of the world’s best theme parks with guests traveling from all over the globe to experience the attractions, dining and more. Some of the most popular things to do at Universal Studios are visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and transforming a proper witch or wizard for the day, or taking a ride on one of the newest attractions the VelociCoaster!

Even if you are not a Harry Potter fan or thrill seeker, which the Universal Orlando theme parks are famously known for, you can experience a ton of amazing things to do during your stay. Between the two theme parks and water parks, there is something for everyone and that’s why trying to figure out the best things to do at Universal Studios Orlando can be overwhelming!

Related post: Guide to Universal Orlando in One Day

What are the Best Rides in Universal Orlando 2023?

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Another one of the most popular questions we receive on this topic is, what are the best rides at Universal Orlando? And as a general rule the two most popular rides amongst the Universal Orlando annual pass holders and families visiting tend to be Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and the VelociCoaster. In fact, almost all of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides tend to make the list of the best rides at Universal Orlando.

What rides can you not miss at Universal Orlando?

  1. VelociCoaster
  2. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  3. Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts

Related Page: Guide to all Harry Potter World Rides

What are the Best Shows in Universal Orlando 2023?

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As you can probably guess the next most popular question on everyone’s mind is, what are the best shows at Universal Orlando? As a general rule of thumb, we find that guests enjoy the Bourne Stuntacular, Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up show,  the Nighttime Lights on Hogwarts Castle, Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, and Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration the best. In general Universal Studios Florida is the park that has the most focus on shows so be sure to keep that in mind when making your list of the best things to do at Universal Orlando in 2023!

It’s important to note that some of the shows at Universal such as the Nighttime Lights might not have a set schedule which can make it frustrating for guests so we always recommend speaking with a team member to make sure you don’t miss out! On the flip side, one of the things about Universal Orlando which we really enjoy is how some of their shows are a bit more special during the holidays such as all of the shows during Halloween Horror Nights, Grichmas, and Christmas at Universal Orlando.

What are the best Universal Orlando shows?

  • Bourne Stuntacular
  • Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-up show
  • the Nighttime Lights on Hogwarts Castle
  • Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular
  • Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration
  • The Blues Brothers Show
  • Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Related Page: Guide to Gricnhmas at Universal Studios Orlando

Top 12 Things to Do at Universal Studios Orlando 2023

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Now that we know about some of the best rides and shows offered at Universal Orlando Resort, we can start getting into the absolute best things to do at Universal Studios in 2023! We’ve picked our top 12 things to do at Universal Studios for seasoned guests or even brand-new visitors. Whether it is your first time visiting or your hundredth time visiting Universal Orlando, we find that these following activities will make you have the most epic Universal time.

What are the top things to do at Orlando Universal Studios?

  • Ride top attractions
  • Use Early Park Admission
  • Try Butterbeer
  • Explore Universal Hotels
  • Watch the Universal Night Time shows
  • Try special Wizarding World Activities
  • Explore CityWalk
  • Make a holiday trip
  • Meet Universal characters
  • Ride the Hogwarts Express
  • Eat at a top rated restaurant
  • Go to Volcano Bay

Is Universal Orlando worth it if you don’t like rides?

Another common question we receive is, is Universal Studios Orlando worth it if you don’t like rides? Universal Studios Orlando is still a great place to visit even if you don’t like rides. There is a ton of activities to do that don’t include ride simulations or roller coasters such as the amazing shows, Harry Potter themed lands, and character meet and greets. Universal Orlando also has some amazing special events throughout the year including Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Mardi Gras, and Grinchmas.

Related post: Guide to Spending One Day at Universal Islands of Adventure

#1 – Ride Top Universal Studios Attractions

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It is only fitting that the number one thing to do in Universal is to ride the top Universal Studios Orlando attractions. Universal Orlando Resort has some of the most immersive and intense rides to ever be created. Whether you like being hunted in Jurassic Park, or like zooming through the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, Universal Studios rides have got you covered.

While we do have an entire guide on the best rides in Universal Orlando, here is a short list of must-do Universal Studios Orlando rides when you visit.

What are the best rides at Universal Orlando 2023?

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – Islands of Adventure
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster – Islands of Adventure
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Universal Studios Florida
  • Dr. Doom’s Fearfall – Islands of Adventure
  • Revenge of the Mummy – Universal Studios Florida
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit Coaster – Universal Studios Florida
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster – Islands of Adventure

Related post: Complete Guide to Using Virtual Lines at Universal

#2 – Use Early Park Admission

If you’re looking for all of the best things to do in Universal Studios Orlando, you might need an extra hour in the park with Early Park Admission. Early Park Admission comes with the purchase of every single Universal ticket bought through The Park Prodigy. Early Park Admission is the perk that gets you into either Universal Orlando theme park one hour before park open.

There are select Universal rides included with Early Park Admission, as well as, access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Some of the most popular attractions at Universal Studios Orlando are included in Early Park Admission and can seriously lower your wait times if ridden before official park open! Please note that these Universal Early Park Admission rides do change depending on the dates, so make sure to check your specific date.

What rides at Universal Studios Orlando are included with Early Park Admission?

Universal Studios Florida Early Park Admission Rides

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Islands of Adventure Early Park Admission Rides

  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster

Related post: Universal Early Park Admission Guide

#3 – Try Butterbeer

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Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, if you’re looking what to do at Universal Studios Orlando, you’ve got to try Butterbeer. Based off of the fictitious drink from the Harry Potter books, this deliciously sweet treat is a must try! You can grab this butterscotch beverage in either Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands (Hogsmeade Village or Diagon Alley) in either hot, frozen or cold forms. Of course, one of the best things to eat at Universal Studios Orlando is the butterbeer flavored ice cream or fudge that can be found around the Harry Potter lands, as well.

Related post: Complete Guide to Butterbeer at Universal Studios

#4- Watch Universal Orlando Nighttime Shows

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Are you planning on staying until park close during your Universal Orlando theme park day? If so, one of the best things to do at Universal Studios is to watch the unique nighttime spectaculars offered once the sun is down. No matter when you visit, you will be able to catch something exciting at night when looking for what to do in Universal Studios.

What nighttime shows are at Universal Orlando 2023?

Islands of Adventure nighttime shows

  • The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – Hogwarts Castle is transformed into the canvas for a five-minute, magical projection-mapping show that plays some of our favorite scenes from the Harry Potter movies with a very brief display of firework
  • Hogwarts Dark Arts Castle Show – Halloween-time nighttime castle show
  • Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle – Christmastime castle show

Universal Studios Florida nighttime shows

  • Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration – A show that celebrates music, water and light that brings you straight into the movies with themes from Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, E.T., Transformers and more!

Related post: The Nighttime Light Shows at Hogwarts

#5 – Do Special Activities in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Not only does The Wizarding World of Harry Potter have some of Universal Studios Orlando’s best rides, but it is also home to some of the coolest activities you can do while visiting. If you’re looking for Universal Studios Orlando things to do, we highly suggest checking out the Harry Potter interactive wands that are sold within the parks. Any guests with an interactive Harry Potter wand can perform over 25 spells between the two theme parks.

You are welcome to explore Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade Village in Islands of Adventure to try out actual spells with your interactive wand. If you’re looking for even more authentic Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, try the Ollivander’s Wand Experience. Guests are allowed to watch one lucky witch or wizard be selected to have, “the wand choose the wizard,” which is a truly magical experience.

Related post: Complete Guide to Universal Harry Potter Wands

#6 – What to do in Universal Studios? – Explore CityWalk

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So, what is there to do in Universal Studios that doesn’t require a park ticket? Explore CityWalk! If you have a day off in between theme park todays or are looking for something to do without a Universal park ticket, CityWalk is a great option. There is so much to do from shopping at one of the two Universal stores to dining at a variety of specialty restaurants.

What are the best things to do at Universal’s CityWalk 2023?

  • Grab a donut at Voodoo Doughnuts
  • Go mini golfing at Hollywood Drive-In Golf
  • Watch a movie at Universal Cinemark
  • Sing karaoke at Rising Star
  • Check out rock ‘n’ roll artifacts at The Hard Rock Cafe
  • Get a milkshake at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

Related post: Complete Guide to Universal Coke Freestyle Cups

#7 – Visit During the Holidays
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Truly one of the most magical things to do at Universal Studios Orlando is to visit during the holidays. Whether you are more of a Halloween type of person or Grinch-tastic Christmas lover, Universal Orlando goes above and beyond to celebrate. Both Universal Orlando parks undergo transformations with special offerings and attractions for the holiday seasons. Visiting for the holidays is one of the best things to do at Universal Studios overall and we highly recommend it!

What holidays can you celebrate at Universal Orlando Resort?

  • Universal Orlando Mardi Gras – Indulge in N’awlins-style food and spirits at various food booths and catch concerts from big names at the Universal Mardi Gras.
  • Universal Studios Halloween – Watch the parks transform with spooky ambiance or grab a ticket to Halloween Horror Nights for over 10 haunted houses and attractions.
  • Universal Orlando Christmas – Visit during the most wonderful time of year and have a Harry Potter Christmas or a much more greener, meaner Grinchmas, both of which are delightful!

Related post: Complete Guide to Universal Studios Christmas

#8 – Visit both Universal Parks on the Hogwarts Express

All aboard! One of the most unique Universal Studios rides is the Hogwarts Express, which is not only an attraction, but a way to get between parks. Guests riding on the Hogwarts Express must have a park to park ticket, so you can take the journey from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade Village (or vice versa). This is one of the best things to do at Universal Studios if you’re looking to recreate the ultimate Harry Potter experience at the Universal theme parks.

Guests are loaded onto their own train car on the Hogwarts Express and then given the ultimate immersive experience. Throughout the journey you will pass by familiar Harry Potter locations, as well as, seeing your favorite characters walk past your train car. You’ve got to give it a try!

Related post: Food Lovers Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Dining

#9 – Best Things to do at Universal Studios – Meet Unique Characters

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If you’re looking for things to do at Universal Studios Florida, especially if you’re looking for what to do with kids at Universal, meet characters! There are so many wandering around the parks, especially at Universal Studios Florida, you can run into them almost nonstop. Meeting characters at Universal Studios is also a wonderful alternative for parties that aren’t huge ride lovers and are looking to keep busy.

What types of characters can you meet at Universal Studios?

  • Universal Studios Florida – SpongeBob SquarePants, DreamWorks characters (Shrek, Trolls, Madagascar), The Simpsons, Old Hollywood Stars, Beetlejuice and more!
  • Islands of Adventure – Marvel characters (Captain America, Wolverine, Green Goblin, Storm, etc.), Blue the Velociraptor, Popeye, Dr. Seuss characters (Sam I Am, The Lorax, The Grinch)

Related post: Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Characters

#10 – Eat at Top Rated Restaurants

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When you’re in doubt of what to do in Universal Studios, eat! The best part about Universal Studios restaurants, is that you aren’t limited to only what is inside the theme parks. Some of the most delicious and interesting restaurants are located in either Universal theme park or CityWalk which is right outside. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a fancy sit-down restaurant, one of the best things to do at Universal is checking out what dining they have to offer.

What are the best restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort 2023?

  • Mythos Restaurant – Islands of Adventure
  • Lombards Seafood Grille – Universal Studios Florida
  • Hard Rock Cafe – CityWalk
  • Pat O’Brien’s – CityWalk
  • Bice Ristorante – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
  • Amatista’s Cookhouse – Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Related post: Guide to Hotels Near Universal Studios Orlando with Free Shuttle

#11 – Things to do at Universal – Explore the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Premier Hotel Universal Orlando Resort

Did you know that there at 8 different Universal Orlando hotels that guests are welcome to explore? If you’re looking for things to do at Universal on your off day, you can always grab lunch at a Universal Orlando hotel, or take a walk on the Universal Garden WalkWay. Each Universal Orlando Resort hotel has a unique theme and offer different amenities, restaurants and recreation opportunities. There is special watercraft taxis in the CityWalk bay that can pick guests up and bring them to the Premier resorts, as well as Universal busses that run to each one of them.

What are the Universal Orlando Resort hotels?

  • Endless Summer Resorts – Dockside and Surfside Inn and Suites
  • Aventura Hotel
  • Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • The Hard Rock Hotel
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • Loews Portofino Bay Resort

Related post: Where to Stay at Universal Orlando Florida

#12 – Drop from the Tallest Body Slide at Volcano Bay

So, what is there to do at Universal Studios Orlando besides theme parks? Luckily for us, Universal Orlando Resort has also an incredible water parked called Volcano Bay. Here is where you will find America’s tallest water slide, clocking in at 125 feet tall and a trap door that lets you free fall for the ultimate thrill. There are also many other attractions and dining options if you’re wondering what other things to do at Universal Studios while at Volcano Bay!

Best Things to Do at Universal Orlando FAQ

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Can you do both Harry Potter parks in one day?

A very common question we receive when trying to figure out the best things to do at Universal Studios Florida is, can you do both Harry Potter parks in one day? And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has a total of 5 rides which would allow you to do everything in one day. However it would leave you with very little time to do all of the other great things to do at Universal Orlando including the best thrill rides and restaurants. We always feel that a 2-day Universal Orlando ticket is the easiest way to enjoy all of the best things at Universal Studios Florida without feeling rushed.

Ready to Plan Your Next Universal Orlando Trip?

Beat the crowds with our discount Universal Orlando tickets! All guests who purchase their tickets from The Park Prodigy will get EARLY PARK ADMISSION to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter absolutely FREE! This could save you a ton of time in the parks and avoid buying express passes!

Make sure to check out our friends at Theme Park Today for great tips on how to have the best Universal vacation!