Universal in Orlando, Florida is a place I know pretty well. Will and I are annual pass holders and have rode almost every single ride in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. As for staying on-site, we have only done it once (at a different hotel) and only spent the night. When I was contacted to stay at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort for 2 nights, I couldn’t pass it up. I brought Will along and it made for the perfect mini vacation. We arrived around 2pm on a Wednesday and left around 5pm that Friday.
If you’re looking to get away for a weekend, this trip would be perfect for you! On day 1 you can check into the hotel and enjoy some on-site restaurants or the pool. Then later in the day spend some time at Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios to experience it at dark. Day 2 go to Volcano Bay. Day 3 go to Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios again for the full day. That’s what we did but you can mix it all up.
Now I’ll go into depth on where to stay, what to do, and what to eat in Orlando. Universal style.
Where To Stay
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
Sapphire Falls is one of the newest hotels on the Universal properties. It has a tropical theme which really appeals to me. I mean, just look at those basket weaved beach balls hanging from the ceiling! I loved every single aspect of the hotel and the property, right down to the beach chairs on the sand. We did swim in the pool, which is the largest of all of Universal’s hotels. It has a water slide, walk-in entrance, and a pretty big hot tub. Right next to the hot tub is a poolside bar called the Drhum Club Kantine.
On the hotel’s property, there are a few restaurants. We didn’t get a chance to eat at them but looked great and have really good reviews. The two restaurants are the Strong Water Tavern and Amatista Cookhouse. There is also a grab-and-go/coffee shop by the lobby called the New Dutch Trading Co and a souvenir shop.
Our hotel room hosted two queen beds with a view of the pool. The bathroom was gorgeous but I don’t have a picture of it (you would have saw it on my Insta stories when I did a room tour if you follow me on Instagram!) They also left us some freaking delicious chocolates and champagne. Yeah, the palm tree and Sapphire Falls sign were edible!
A perk to staying on-site is that you get early admission to the parks and free transportation to and from them as well. Sapphire Falls has a water taxi (pictured below) and a shuttle bus you can take to all three parks and Citywalk.
What To Do
Brand new and filled with water is Universal’s Volcano Bay. It’s a water park complete with a wave pool, slides, bars, lazy rivers, and a beach! Inside of the Volcano is actually three water slides and we went down one of them. You get inside of a Futurama-esque tube and they drop the floor from underneath you. Then you go speeding down either a straight fall or loops and curves until you reach the pool at the bottom. It’s the most intense water slide I’ve ever been on. I did the green one in case you’re wondering. 😉
If you plan to go to Volcano Bay, go in the off-season and during a weekday. Although we went on a weekday, it is also summer break (and the park just officially opened) so it was packed. All of the rides were over an hour wait, but you don’t have to wait in line all of that time because of the nifty wristbands that hold your place. You can hook up your credit card to the wristbands too so you don’t have to carry around money. You can also open a locker with them. It’s pretty awesome.
My favorite park of the three would have to be Universal Studios. It has Diagon Alley, SpongeBob, The Simpsons, E.T., The Mummy, Jimmy Fallon, and a street with themed shops. We got to ride the new Jimmy Fallon ride on this trip and it was great! The waiting area plays funny skits from his show which made it enjoyable to wait. We also rode the new Kong ride and honestly it wasn’t worth the wait, I’d skip it. I’d rather ride The Simpsons ride which is actually VERY cool.
Islands of Adventure
On the other side is Islands of Adventure filled with comic book attractions, Jurassic Park, Dr.Seuss, Dr.Doom’s fearfall, and more Harry Potter rides just to name a few. This park has some water rides and all of the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park rides are a blast. I also reallllly love the Spider-Man ride.
We usually eat in this park because they have the air-conditioned Jurassic Park Discovery Center. It has a bunch of dinosaur bones, a shop, and a food court. All of the food stations around the Discovery Center are yummy too so you can get whatever food and take it to eat inside the center. Plus there is an ICEE cart nearby! If you don’t want to eat in the parks, keep reading.
Where To Eat
During our mini vacation, we ate some delicious food! The first meal we ate was dinner at the Caribbean Carnival at Sapphire Falls. This meal was particularly fun because it was a buffet and an interactive dinner show in one. The food was amazing, especially the snapper and the desserts. You can get tickets for it here.
The next day we ate lunch in Volcano Bay at the first eatery we saw, Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club. We shared a pizza in the shape of a longboard, called the Longboard Pizza. It was actually very delicious for being a quick grab-and-go meal. They also have sushi and pretty much everything else.
The last place we ate at was Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. I’ve had a milkshake from this place during my last visit and I have never had a better one! It was the Chocolate x5 shake and if you love chocolate, I don’t think I need to say any more. However, during this dinner we did get the Brownie Milkshake and it was almost as good. As for food at Toothsome, we started with the Chocolate Almond Bread with salted caramel butter which was amazing. Next up I had the Shrimp and Lump Crab Macaroni and Cheese and Will had the Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken. Ohhhh my goodness my Mac ‘n Cheese was so delicious! Overall, if you are a chocolate freak like me then you would love Toothsome (and even if you aren’t a chocolate freak).
SHOP MY LOOKS
*My trip was paid for by Loews Sapphire Falls Resort but all opinions are my own, of course!