Ever since I finished reading the Harry Potter books and watched all the movies, I’ve been dying to go to Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida. Backstory: My boyfriend (Ben) is not a huge fan of waiting in lines, large crowds, and screaming children (I mean, to be honest, who is?!). Plus, he doesn’t even know who Harry Potter is. When he told me we were going to Orlando, I knew I must have been a good girl because Christmas came early this year!
VIP Experience at Universal Studios
Not only did Ben surprise me with a trip to Orlando, BUT, he got us the VIP Experience
at Universal Studios which is the ultimate way to visit Universal Studios.
We checked in at Guest Services, where we received our lanyards with our VIP all-access badge. Once we checked in, we head to Cafe La Bamba to meet our tour guide, Todd. The Cafe is home to the VIP Experience dining; breakfast and lunch are included during the seven-hour experience. The hostess sat us at a table with a small group of people who were also taking the VIP tour. There were a total of twelve people, including Todd.
If you come earlier than your tour start time, you can indulge in the breakfast buffet offered at La Bamba Cafe. There is an array of the usual continental breakfast items; scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, cereal, and potatoes. Ben and I shared a bowl of fresh fruit and a coffee.
Universal Studios Florida
Our tour began at 9 am, and our first attraction was Transformers. Before each ride or attraction, Todd would give us details about each lot, why they built it, how long it’s been an attraction, etc. He would also explain what type of ride we were about to experience and asked if anyone wanted to sit out because they had the option to do so. If you’ve ever been to any amusement parks, you know there is always a line for an attraction, sometimes even a two-hour wait for a three-minute ride. Not when you’re VIP. Todd led us through back doors and secret elevators to get us straight to the front of the line.
Universal Studios Florida attraction highlights are Harry Potter World - Diagon Alley, The Simpsons, Transformers, Fast and the Furious, and movie sets that make you feel like you’re in New York and San Francisco.
The list of rides we went on at Universal Studios Florida:
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Fast and the furious supercharged
- Revenge of The Mummy
- Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon - Tonight Show
- Hollywood Rip ride rockit
Once we completed the tour of Universal Studios Florida, we headed back to La Bamba Cafe to have lunch. The restaurant is buffet style with a variety of different foods. There were plenty of vegan options, pesto pasta with beyond sausage, cauliflower steak, hummus, veggies, and rice. Ingredients were clearly labeled, and the kitchen staff was knowledgeable on the dishes in case you had an allergy or restriction.
The lunch break is about 45 minutes long, which gives us enough time to eat, use the restroom, and hydrate. The second half of the tour is at the other park, "Island’s of Adventure. To get to the other park without exiting Universal Studios Florida, you take the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmead!
Island’s of Adventure
Island’s of Adventure attraction highlights are Harry Potter World - Hogsmead, Dr. Suess Landing, Jurassic Park, Marvel Superheroes, Toon Lagoon, and a variety of great water rides.
The list of rides we went on at Island’s of Adventure:
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Skull Island: Reign of Kong
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventures
After the last ride, around 4 pm, the tour was over. Everyone said their goodbyes, and we all went our separate ways. For the remainder of the day, you can use your VIP pass to purchase merchandise at a discounted rate, go on additional rides with the Express Unlimited ride access, and get front row at the parade!
During the time of our visit, Universal Studios was celebrating Mardi Gras! In the evening, there was a Mardi Gras Parade with themed floats throwing out beads. There were a lot of people who arrived early to claim their spots along the sidewalk to catch the beaded necklaces. If you're VIP, there is a roped-off section along the street with a perfect view of the parade.
Pros & Cons
- Front of the line access to 10+ rides and attractions in one day
- Behind the scenes - walking tour
- 10% Discount on all merchandise
- No time for pictures - Since you are in a group, you don’t want others waiting for you to take pictures. If you only have one day at Universal Studios, this would be a significant con. We had an extra day to take pictures and go on the other rides we didn’t get to during the tour.
I highly recommend getting the VIP experience at Universal Studios, especially if you don’t want to wait an hour or more for one ride. I love that Universal has created this experience for those who love amusement parks without the waiting and interested in learning more about the behind the scenes aspect of the park.
Jenn, this trip looks epic! I can't wait to follow your steps and try VIP! 10 points for Gryffindor for an awesome post ;)
As a die-hard Harry Potter fan this post made my week! I must try VIP next time I go to Universal.