4. Taste a butterbeer!

Harry Potter fans, as well as anyone else craving a tasty cool drink to beat the heat, will want to try out a butterbeer before leaving Universal. If you are a fan of the books, you are most likely well aware that this drink is mentioned countless times throughout, so it must be pretty darn good. Although the recipe for the creamy drink is a secret, you can find countless recipes online trying to mimic the popular treat. Here’s a few tasty butterbeer recipes to get stated. This drink is alcohol free, and basically tastes like a mixture of cream soda and butterscotch.

Butterbeer station at Hogsmeade - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando

5. Ride the Hulk Coaster

The Hulk is the coaster to ride if you are limited on time. Found at Islands of Adventure, this super fast coaster takes you on a thrilling adventure of 67mph as you race through 7 inversions in the blink of an eye. The runner up coaster award goes to Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt, a heart pumping coaster accompanied by music, and featuring a near vertical climb. The high speed, special effects laden journey through the pitch dark via the Mummy coaster is also a blast. For a tamer coaster ride, be sure to check out the motion simulator Simpsons ride – a real unexpected blast the first time around! Skip the headache/neck pain inducing Dragon Challenge in favor of those mentioned above!

Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Islands of Adventure

6. Spend a night exploring CityWalk

Citywalk is one of Orlando’s top dining, shopping, & entertainment districts. There is just so much to do here, from themed restaurants, to fun karaoke bars, to mini golf and movie theaters. It’s a great place to kick back and relax after a long day at the parks. Or simply enjoy Citywalk as a sole activity on a much needed day off from the parks. Must-do’s here include dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, listening to live karaoke (accompanied by backup singers & a live band) at Rising Star, seeing the latest action flick on a giant IMAX screen, and enjoying a laid-back themed round of mini golf at Hollywood Drive-IN Golf.

Hard Rock Cafe at City Walk Orlando

7. Plan some time to enjoy all the great shows

Oftentimes, we are so busy with the rides (even repeating our favorites several times – Dudley Do Right’s & The Hulk for me!) that we forget about all the amazing shows. Must-see shows at Universal Orlando include Animal Actors on Location, The Blues Brothers Show, the Universal Horror Makeup Show, and Universal Cinematic Spectacular. Shrek 4D and Terminator 3D are also both worthy of your time. Skip Fear Factor Live and Poseidon’s Fury.

8. Enjoy all the spectacular water rides at Islands – don’t be afraid to get wet!

A lot of people skip out on the water rides because they do not want to walk around dripping wet all day. First of all, I recommend stuffing an extra pair of shorts and a tank top in your backpack and simply change into dry clothes when you are done with the water rides for the day.  Second, air dryers are available for a few bucks near the water rides if you would rather not lug around clothes. Third, it’s just so brutal out during the summer months, that I cannot imagine not cooling down on the water rides during the heat of the afternoon!

Dudley Do Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal Studios

Dudley Do Right’s Ripsaw Falls at Islands is the ultimate blast. It’s the best water ride and you can easily get on a few times in a row early on in the morning, although it gets totally packed by late afternoon. Lots of little drops twists tease you until the final 75 foot double drop. Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges is a fun circular whitewater rafting type ride with lots of twists, turns, and drops – great fun for big parties as it fits up to 8 adults. And the classic Jurassic Park river raft ride features both fun animatronics and an exhilarating 85 foot drop!

Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges at Universal Studios Orlando

9. Let the wand choose you at Ollivanders

One of the best souvenirs for Harry Potter fans is pretending to be a wizard for the day with your favorite character’s wand – you can even pay an upcharge for an interactive wand which can be used to access special features throughout the parks! They carry a wand for any character you can think of, not just the main cast – boxes and boxes of wands are piled high to the ceiling. Although you can pick one up at multiple stores around both parks, it’s so much more fun to watch the wand ceremony at Ollivanders where you could possibly be randomly selected amongst the crowd for a personal wand reading. Be aware that only 1 person will get picked for a personal wand experience, however, it’s still a magical experience to be part of the show as a spectator. Just one of those little things that add a little something extra to the whole Universal experience!

Ollivanders at Universal Studio Diagon Alley

A view of Ollivanders and the Gringotts Dragon, which blows fire every 15 minutes.