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Entrance to Universal CityWalk
© Larry D. Moore

Universal CityWalk includes the 20 screen AMC Universal Cineplex, numerous restaurants, shops, and clubs.

Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando Resort is making a strong effort to compete with Disney World, and they are off to a good start.  To go along with its movie theme park, Universal Studios Florida, the recent opening of a new theme park called Islands of Adventure gives Universal Studios two full-sized theme parks and a CityWalk area, to compete with Disney's four theme parks, and Downtown Disney area. Universal also has three luxurious on-site accommodations, the Portofino Bay Hotel, Royal Bay Resort and Hard Rock Hotel.  Universal's continued expansions are ensuring its status as a must-see attraction in the Orlando area.

Universal Studios Escape is a resort complex with two theme parks, a Citiwalk shopping, dining and entertainment area and three hotels. The two theme parks are the original Universal Studios Florida and the new Islands of Adventure. Universal Studios Florida is a movie theme park containing rides and attractions based on movies and television shows, as well as some behind the scenes looks at movie and television making techniques. The park is similar in nature to Disney's MGM studios.

Islands of Adventure is Universal's newest amusement park

Islands of Adventure is a new fantasy theme park, similar in layout to Disney's Magic Kingdom, but with some notable differences. The entire park is filled with completely new high-tech rides, attractions, restaurants and shops. It is super clean, very functional and filled with the latest technology. The park is divided into several themed areas including Marvel Super Hero Island and Jurassic Park. Two of the areas, Toon Lagoon and Seuss Landing, are particularly suited for younger visitors.

The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride is possibly the most modern high-tech ride in world. A moving vehicle combined with state-of-the-art 3D holographic technology transports the rider into a visual reality comic book adventure. It is well worth experiencing. There are also several state-of-the-art roller coasters, and plenty of water rides to cool you off. Put this all this together and you get, arguably, the best theme park in Orlando today.

CityWalk offers entertainment, dining and shopping

In addition to the two theme parks, Universal's new CityWalk contains restaurants, nightclubs, specialty shops and a state-of-the-art movie theatre. Most of the restaurants are based on American pop culture like Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, the NASCAR Café and the world's largest Hard Rock Cafe. For fine dining, try popular television chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurant, aptly named Emeril's Restaurant Orlando. The nightclubs are also themed like Pat O'Brien's Orlando, an exact replica of the famous New Orleans bar which was the birthplace of dueling pianos. The specialty shops include names like Fossil, Quiet Flight Surf Shop, The Island Clothing Store and naturally, the Universal Studios Store. The Universal Cineplex is a twenty-screen movie theatre featuring state-of-the-art sound and picture, and comfortable high-backed tilting chairs. There is no admission charge to CityWalk, but many of the nightclubs charge a cover charge. You can purchase All-club passes with or without a movie admission.

Universal Studio's Portofino Bay Hotel © Universal Studios Orlando
Located at Universal Orlando® Resort, the Portofino Bay Hotel recreates the charm and romance of the famed seaside village of Portofino, Italy, right down to the cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes.

Universal offers some great hotel accommodations

Universal Studios Orlando Resort provides some great accommodations as well as some great entertainment. Its new top-of-the-line Portofino Bay Hotel looks like a resort town on the Italian Riviera and provides the peak of luxury. Some rooms even include butler service. Other on-site options are the modestly priced Hard Rock Hotel and the Royal Pacific Resort, a tropical-paradise themed resort.

All of these hotels are located in the Universal Studios Orlando Resort with easy access to the parks. Guests at Universal hotels enjoy a number of benefits including early theme park admission on select days and front-of-the-line access until 10:00AM for some of the more popular rides. Other benefits include room-charging privileges throughout the resort and package deliveries to your room.

Navigation at Universal Studios Orlando Resort is simple

One of the nicest things about Universal Studios Orlando Resort is its convenient layout. Two huge garages provide convenient parking for the two theme parks and the CityWalk area. From the garages, visitors enter the CityWalk area with easy access to the two theme parks, and all hotels. Having all the parking in one location with the CityWalk area as a hub, makes getting around very simple and straightforward.

Written by: Gerry Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: Entrance to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida