Back in December, I was hosted as an agent at Universal Studios for and FAM (familiarization) Trip. I was there to observe their social distancing and safety guidelines in action, along with take my knowledge from trainings and see it come to life. This was not my first Universal trip. My husband and I spent our second and fifth wedding anniversaries visiting as we are huge Potterheads (That's Harry Potter Fan for you muggles reading).
We were hosted at Universal Studio's Endless Summer Resort: Surfside Inn & Suites. The sister resort, Endless Summer: Dockside is very similar in room design, layout, and hotel location.
This property is a great option for the budget conscious guest or those with a larger family or travel party. The two bedroom family suites will sleep up to six. Those rooms also feature a kitchenette and picnic table in room to comfortably eat as a group. Pictured is a standard two queen room. This rooms was quite large and lush feeling for a Value category room.
For me, the biggest draw of Universal Studios is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal did a FANTASTIC job bringing the books and films to life. These highly immersive areas are a dream to walk into for any Harry Potter fan.
When I visited in 2012, only the Islands of Adventure portion, Hogsmeade Village was open. We had a blast walking through Hogwarts and catching frog choirs throughout the day. Later, for our 5th anniversary, we returned for the opening of Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. I enjoy shopping Borgin & Burkes as a proud Slytherin, popping into Globus Mundi to chat the industry with wizard and witch Travel Agents, and of course, riding Escape from Gringotts!
Additional highs for me from Universal are: The Mummy (my favorite ride there outside of WWoHP), The High in the Sky Suess Trolley in Suess Landing, The Incredible Hulk Rollercoaster (smoothest big coaster I've ever been on), and Jurassic Park.
As a Registered Dietitian/Foodie/Hobby Baker, I love seeing the food options at different destinations. I especially enjoy cultural meals or unique offers. I'm not above a burger and fries by any means! But with the frequency that I attend theme parks, I like a little more variety.
Universal did not disappoint! In years past, the food lacked a little to be desired. I could tell that more attention to detail is being paid on offerings and quality. This traditional Fish & Chips meal with an unsweet tea was purchased at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade Village.
My mom ordered a ribs, roasted potato, and corn on the cob plate as she wasn't in the mood for fried fish and then riding rides. Can't really blame her!
Above is my favorite way to consume Butterbeer! Butterbeer is an alcohol free beverage that is a favorite of Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the books and films. It is described as a blend of cream soda and butterscotch. It is available as a cold carbonated beverage, served hot which has a cult-like following, frozen like an icee, and as pictured: Butterbeer Ice Cream! The drink versions can be found at various stands in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Village. The ice cream is found at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor and can be served in a cup or a cone.
Outside of the parks, lots of fun is to be found at Universal's City Walk. This area does not require a ticket and has a large variety of restaurants, stores, and entertainment. You can shop for surf gear, visit the Islands with a frozen concoction at Margaritaville, or even get a tattoo at Hart & Huntington!
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
CowFish Sushi & Burger Restaurant
Moe's Southwest Burritos
Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
Pictured is a famous Toothsome's Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen.
*My husband and I stayed at the Loew's Royal Pacific resort in 2015. Our favorite thing to do was stop by Cold Stone Creamery for a pint of ice cream on our way back to the hotel. There is a direct walkway between CityWalk and the Royal Pacific hotel. We could be back to the room before our ice cream ever started to melt. It's that close!
In a few short weeks, I will be back at Universal Studios with my family. I am so excited to take my blossoming Harry Potter fans to see Hogwarts. Also, my youngest has told every person he knows for the last two months that he is going to ride Jurassic Park. Watch here on the website and on IG/FB for pictures, videos, and info from this upcoming return to USO!