The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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And that’s where the thrilling fun really takes off—literally. Thanks to one of the most innovative virtual reality programs you’ll ever experience, you start off through the Floo network and begin the adventure soaring over Hogwarts, narrowly escape a dragon attack, have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow, get pulled into a Quidditch match and more. The combination of pioneering, state-of-the-art technology, innovative filmmaking and surprises around every corner are absolutely amazing and when the park finally allows the use of the “Express Pass” in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this is going to be the ride your clients are going to want to ride over and over again.

accommodations There’s a variety of Universal Orlando Resort hotels to pick from, of course, but the best bet is to book one of the three hotels located just steps from the theme parks themselves—the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific—the biggest advantage being the fact that all you have to do is show your room key and you skip all the lines. It’s basically a VIP pass that’s going to save you about $87 per day if you book somewhere else and with the crowds that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is drawing, that’s a must-do if you want to keep your sanity, not to mention your health in the heat of a Florida summer. It also works at Universal’s two theme parks through your entire stay.

We stayed at the Royal Pacific, which is—needless to say—an island-themed hotel sitting amidst a series of canals where boats take guests just about anywhere you want to go, from CityWalk to Portofino Bay or the Hard Rock to sample their wares and, of course, to the theme parks themselves.

Rooms here are spacious—about 335 sq. ft.—with all the amenities including bamboo accents, colorful linens and beautiful island decor. There are also Club level rooms, Jurassic Park-themed kids suites and especially important for family stays, the Loews Loves Kids program. There’s plenty of other family-fun amenities here, too, including a lagoon-style pool with a sandy beach that always seems to be filled with families; there’s ping pong and shuffleboard; dive-in movies at night by the pool and best of all, theMariner’s Club where the kids suites are located.

Here, in addition to Jurassic Park-themed kids suites, kids and parents both will enjoy special features such as the supervised children’s activity centers, children’s pools and play areas, as well as poolside dining and dining with some of Universal Orlando’s favorite characters at select hotel restaurants and “kids only” dining areas with TVs, activities and games as well as “kids only” menus. The hotels’ Loews Loves Kids program features lending game libraries, special menus, welcome gifts for children, supervised recreational programs, and even babysitting if parents want to make a night of it at CityWalk or in town. Teens enjoy poolside games and the Mandara Spa’s Y-Spa program, featuring services such as the “heavenly massage,” the “fake bake” self-tanning treatment and “surfers scrub” body exfoliation.

All three of the park’s onsite hotels are offering a 4-night vacation program from just $655 per adult and $135 per child 3-9 or the best rate—$1,553 for a family of four and keep in mind, that includes the “VIP” hotel key, line-jump pass with a value of nearly $87 pp per day. The program also includes early park admission to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; breakfast at the Three Broomsticks (one pp); commemorative ticket (one pp); 3-day base ticket to both Universal Orlando theme parks (one theme park per day) and access to live entertainment at Universal CityWalk. And whatever you do, remind clients to take advantage of the early park admission—especially for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the crowds are almost non-existent.

There are plenty of ways for families on a budget to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well, with Universal Orlando Resort partner hotels offering the same 4-night family packages for as little as $285 per adult. For example, you can book theQuality Inn International for an entire family of four (children aged 3-9) in a standard room with two double beds for $829. This vacation package includes the same as above, including the early admission and breakfast, plus the partner hotels—including the Quality Inn International—also offer free scheduled transportation between the hotel and Universal Orlando, as well as discounts on merchandise, food and non-alcoholic beverages at select theme park & CityWalk locations.