Welcome to the beginning of your journey to planning the perfect vacation to Universal Orlando Resort!
This section, called The Script: TICKETS, PACKAGES, & PLANNING, is designed to give you all the necessary information you need to figure out how to spend your money, where to spend your money, and how to save your money. Because the first step to understanding how to maximize the value during your vacation is to understand where you are going, we are going to start with an overview of Universal Orlando.
After you have read through the overview we present below, you can use the links in the navigation window at the bottom of the page to dig more deeply into our treasure trove of information. Or return to this page to continue learning how to use this site to plan the perfect Universal vacation.
Universal Orlando overview
Universal Orlando Resort is comprised of five major sections. Here is the resort-wide map for you to reference:
The five major sections are as follows:
- Universal Studios Florida – also known as USF for short – is the original theme park, and it is where you can “ride the movies.”
- Universal’s Islands of Adventure – also known as IOA for short – is the second theme park, and here you will embark on the adventure of a lifetime through six uniquely-themed islands.
- Universal’s Volcano Bay – also known as VB for short – is a water theme park that invites you to enjoy a carefree day of relaxation and thrills.
- Universal CityWalk – also known as CW for short – is a multi-level entertainment destination that features a variety of restaurants, shops, nightclubs, and shows, including Blue Man Group and a 20-screen movie theater.
- Universal Orlando’s six on-site hotels: Portofino Bay Hotel – PBH – is the flagship on-site property and the further premier hotel from Universal. Next door, closer to Universal Studios Florida, is Hard Rock Hotel – HRH – arguably the most popular on-site property. Going to the other side of the map, Royal Pacific Resort – RPR – is often the choice for first-time visitors. Just past RPR is Sapphire Falls Resort – SFR. Finally, Cabana Bay Beach Resort – CBBR – is Universal’s value property, offering 2,200 rooms, nearly half of which are family suites that sleep up to six.
Throughout the rest of the OI Universal Center, you will learn much more about Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, CityWalk, and Universal’s various on-site hotels. For now, let’s get our bearings by speaking about transportation and distances.
One of the most important things to know when planning your trip to Universal is that everything is very close to everything else. Many first-time visitors to Universal have been to Walt Disney World Resort before (which is why we reference Disney quite a bit in these pages). However, Disney World’s property is massive compared to Universal’s, encompassing four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and over 20 hotels. Anyone planning a trip to Disney needs to consider transportation as an important planning factor. This is not so with Universal. Indeed, when specifically looking at the two Universal theme parks and CityWalk, everything is within walking distance of everything else – no transportation needed!
This makes a vacation to Universal truly a thrilling experience, especially if you get to stay at one of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels. Having the two theme parks next door to each other, and adjacent to CityWalk, means that you can easily spend your morning at Universal Studios, catch lunch at a CityWalk restaurant, and wrap up your day at Islands, all by just leisurely walking from one location to the next! (And though Volcano Bay requires a short bus trip, it’s not all that far away, either.) If you do get to stay at on on-site hotel, then your room will be just a heartbeat away from the action. The proximity of Universal’s parks, CityWalk, and the hotels offers a level of convenience that Walt Disney World just cannot match.
Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We have over 200 pages of material covering virtually everything in the theme parks and throughout the resort. But we are just at the beginning of the planning process, so let’s get you to Universal Orlando first!
Most guests enter Universal property by way of the parking garages and transportation hub. Please note that these are not shown on the official map displayed above, but you can see them on our custom-made Google map (they are the massive concrete structures to the right of the Universal transportation hub):
Click to view OI’s Universal Orlando Resort map
OI fun fact: Universal Orlando’s parking garages each contain 10,000 spaces. This makes it one of the largest parking complexes in the western hemisphere.
After making their way from the transportation area to CityWalk, guests can either head to the right and on to Universal Studios Florida or head to the left and on to Islands of Adventure. Or, instead, they can hoof it down to the bottom floor of the parking garage and hop on a shuttle to Volcano Bay.
Like we said before, we’ve got so much information to share with you. The purpose of this page was to give you a basic understanding of Universal Orlando’s layout, so, as we move forward, you have an understanding of where you are on the property. Now, we are going to get into the details of planning the perfect vacation for your time and budget.
Use the links below to continue your exploration. Or return to our Orientation page to continue learning how to use this site.
- Dining reservations at Universal Orlando – complete guide
- Maps and Rider’s Guide for Universal
- Parking, guest drop off, and the Universal Orlando transportation hub
- Saving time and money at Universal Orlando: Top 12 tips, tricks, and secrets
- Shuttles, taxis, and towncars: Transportation recommendations around Orlando
- Universal Orlando Annual Passes – complete insider’s guide
- Universal Orlando Express Passes – complete insider’s guide
- Universal Orlando ride & show wait times based on crowd levels (including Diagon Alley)
- Universal Orlando vacation packages – insider tips, tricks, & secrets
- Universal Orlando: Complete guide to attraction assistance for special needs families
- Universal Orlando: Secret to getting UNLIMITED Express Passes
- Universal Orlando’s Dining Plans – complete guide & tips to save money
- Universal Orlando’s Q-bot Ride Reservation System
- Weather at Universal Orlando: Average temperatures, rainfall, & expert advice
- What to pack for your Universal Orlando vacation: free checklist & how to keep kids safe