Briar & Main does Universal Orlando!

Every year our agency plans what the travel industry calls a FAM trip together. FAM or “Familiarization” Trips are intended to increase the travel advisor’s knowledge of the destination to better serve their clients.

Left to Right: Tatiana, Jill, Alia, Kristina, Kerri & Krystle
Photo: Mandy Rena Photography

Last month, Briar & Main headed to Orlando, Florida and spent a busy weekend touring Universal Orlando Resorts, the parks and drank a lot of butterbeer!

The great thing about Universal Orlando is that it can be a vacation all on it’s own or, for most of our clients, is an added day, 2 days or extra week onto their already planned Walt Disney World Vacation.

Here are a few fun tips when visiting:

Visiting the Theme Parks

Unlike some of the other Orlando area attractions, Universal Orlando hasn’t implemented a park booking system, and so you’ll simply turn up at the parks in the morning as usual. However, capacity is limited each day, so during any holidays, make sure you get there at park opening to avoid being turned away later in the day. As with many locations and attractions across the US, face masks and temperature checks are now the norm, and required for all visitors to the parks. If you are looking to skip the lines and have an even more distanced experience, consider adding the Universal Express pass onto your visit, where you’ll receive priority access to many of the attractions in the parks. At this time, Universal’s Volcano Bay water park is closed for the winter and is scheduled to reopen on 1st March 2021. 

Universal Orlando’s Hotels

Loews Portofino Bay Resort

If you haven’t visited the resort for a few days, you’ll be impressed by the expansion of the on-site hotel offerings. There are some fantastic value for money hotels which the whole family will enjoy staying at, such as Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. In December 2020, Universal’s Dockside Inn and Suites opened to the public, offering another price-conscious option at the resort. There are so many great benefits to staying at one of the on-site hotels, and with the current situation, you’ll appreciate the easy access and proximity to the parks their hotels offer. If you are staying at the higher category on-site hotels, one of the best perks of your stay is the included Universal Express pass, which will minimize your wait times while in the parks.

New for 2021

Each year, theme park fans anticipate the newest additions to the parks. Islands of Adventure will see the opening of the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster in summer 2021, which is sure to draw many fans of the Jurassic World movies. It’s yet to be announced if some of our favorite events, such as Halloween Horror Nights, will return this year. We have our fingers crossed that dates will be announced soon, as we know many fans missed this staple event last year.

Tips for your visit to Universal Orlando in 2021

Before heading to the parks, we’d highly recommend downloading the Universal Orlando app, as this will provide you with up-to-date information about wait times, as well as allow you to join the virtual line for certain attractions. The virtual line means you can enjoy your time walking around the parks until you are called back to ride the attraction. It’s a great feature to use during this time and will minimize your time in line surrounded by other people. You can also buy your tickets in advance of your visit on the app, which you’ll then scan for entry on arrival. Finally, for those moments when you don’t want to wait in line for your lunch, you’ll be able to place a mobile food and drink order from selected restaurants.

CityWalk, which is the resort’s dining and shopping district, is still open as usual and is one of our favorite spots to escape the crowds and heat for a bite to eat. With so many great restaurants to choose from, plan to enjoy a meal here at the end of your day in the parks so you can relax while soaking up the atmosphere. Our top recommendations for restaurants here include Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, which serves the most incredible artisanal milkshakes, and Cowfish, which will satisfy both burger and sushi lovers with the same menu.

Booking your trip to Universal Orlando

One of the most frequently asked questions about booking a trip to Universal Orlando is how many days should I visit for? As with any vacation, this will depend on you and your family’s preferences, but we’d recommend factoring in at least one full day for the two main parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. For anyone with keen Harry Potter fans in the family, we’d recommend adding a third day on to this, as they’ll want to spend extended time exploring the incredible areas dedicated to the Harry Potter books and movies. If Volcano Bay is open during your visit and you are a keen water park-goer, we’d recommend a full day here also. With the great prices that are available for the on-site hotels, you could easily spend a full week here, which would give you time to relax and explore some of the other attractions in the area.

Photo: Mandy Rena Photography

If you need any assistance planning your 2021 Universal Orlando vacation, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We are happy to answer any further questions or concerns you may have about visiting the parks, as well as recommend the top vacation packages and resorts for your family.