If a breathtaking Polynesian beach and the ribbeting Italian Riviera are destinations on your bucket list, look no further than Universal Orlando Resort. Tadpoles might have their sights set on creating chaos with minions or casting spells in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when they enter the resort. That doesn't mean Universal isn't filled with experiences that cater to older guests — it's truly the perfect playground for tadpoles at heart. Across eight hotels, three parks and one dazzling entertainment district, there's so much to see and do during a trip for adults at Universal Orlando. Not sure where to start? Leap and I have got you covered!
Universal Orlando Resort Hotel Options for Adults
Aside from purchasing your park tickets, booking a hotel is the next important step when planning your vacay. With on-site benefits such as Early Park Admission and Express Unlimited (for premier hotel stays), as well as free transportation to the parks, you really can't go wrong with staying at a Universal Orlando hotel. Every hotel on Universal property offers stellar service, stunning surroundings and, most importantly, comfortable beds. But there are certain features that make each accommodation unique and all are worth considering when booking your hoppening hotel stay.
If you were wondering where you can find that slice of Italian paradise, hop on over to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Experience La Dolce Vita as you indulge yourself with a luxurious treatment at Mandara Spa, take in the waterfront views with some caffè from the Gelateria or vino from The Thirsty Fish (both on the Harbor Piazzo) and spend the afternoon relaxing by the quiet Hillside Pool on the hotel's east wing.
Amp up your vacation and savor the perks of rock 'n' roll royalty with a stay at Hard Rock Hotel. Live like a VIP as you enjoy drinks and nightly entertainment at Velvet Bar, tune up your mind, body and spirit at the Body Rock Fitness Center and come face-to-face with history as you stroll through its priceless collection of music memorabilia.
You're on island time as soon you enter Loews Royal Pacific Resort, a tranquil South Seas retreat that's the epitome of Polynesian paradise. Savor the three S's (sushi, sashimi and sake) at the blissful Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar or toast to fabled explorer Jake McNally's adventures at Jake's American Bar. When you're done, take advantage of the equipment and facilities at The Gymnasium, or lounge at the lagoon-style pool.
Travel back in time to the Florida beach resorts of the '50s and '60s when you stay at this retro resort, just hops away from Universal's Volcano Bay. Soak in the vintage vibes with the cocktail selection at Sizzle Lounge, float your cares away in the hotel's winding lazy river and challenge your friends or significant other to some ten-pin action at Galaxy Bowl.
Enter a tropical oasis where waterfalls cascade over lush grounds and the sounds of steel drums take you away. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort evokes the beauty and serenity the Caribbean is known for in every detail but none more so than in its rum collection. Try rare and vintage selections at Strong Water Tavern, where your very own rum specialist will help you navigate your journey. Sit down around the fire pit outside, and don't miss out on the tasty tapas such as ceviche.
Just a short shuttle ride away from the rest of the action is Dockside Inn and Suites, a salute to all things sand, sea and sun. Wet your whistle at The Oasis Beach Bar by the pool or Sunset Lounge in the lobby, cool off at one of two large pools and get in the zone at the hotel's complimentary fitness center.
The Endless Summer Resort truly makes us frogs feel at home (since we're used to having the best of both worlds), so we're hopping with delight to get back to Surfside Inn and Suites! This tribute to the relaxed surfer lifestyle is right across the street from Dockside Inn and Suites and is also accessible to the parks by shuttle. Quench your thirst at the laidback poolside Sand Bar, visit the state-of-the-art fitness center or take a dip in the surfboard-shaped pool.
Only a short distance away from Universal's Volcano Bay, Aventura Hotel is a frogtastic option for adults looking for modern accommodations with a relaxed vibe. This sleek and stylish resort features an inviting and comfortable lobby bar with barVentura and a convenient and sunny poolside bar with Bar Sol ... but the crème de la crème is 17 floors up on the resort's roof. Bar 17 Bistro offers a menu inspired by urban, international flavors, delicious custom cocktails and stunning views of Universal Orlando's three parks.
Universal Orlando Resort Park Options for Adults
The two theme parks and one water park that call Universal Orlando home offer thrills and chills for frogs of all ages, but there's definitely something freeing about not being tied to the tadpoles during your trip. Let's take a look at some of the must-do attractions, dining and entertainment for your adults-only vacation.
As Grandma Frog never fails to remind us, with age may come wisdom, but not necessarily courage. (Tad is without a doubt the adrenaline junkie of the fam!) Every person has their own comfort-level when it comes to thrills, but I'm a firm believer in taking advantage of your time away from the tadpoles who are more likely to be too scared to take on most thrill rides, such as roller coasters.
Speaking of coasters, the selection at Universal comes in all shapes and sizes. Each park has its own kid-friendly, mild coaster, but the wild ones that thrill-seekers are going to want to race toward are as follows:
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: It's a music video and you're the star! Jam out to your favorite song on this 65-mph coaster that begins with a 90-degree angle climb to its first heart-stopping drop.
- Revenge of the Mummy: Brave insects, warrior mummies and fire (and a backward drop into total darkness) as you trespass onto the Tomb of Imhotep.
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: Journey deep into the vaults of "the safest place on Earth" as you encounter the Golden Trio, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Bellatrix and trolls on this half-coaster, half-simulator ride.
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster: Get blasted with gamma radiation and experience the adrenaline of Hulk-like power as you're propelled upside-down into a weightless zero-gravity roll on this high-speed rampage.
- Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls: Ride along with Dudley Do-Right as he rescues the lovely Nell Fenwick from the clutches of Snidely Whiplash. Your log will slosh its way through twists and turns before encountering a dastardly 75-foot drop on this half-coaster, half-water flume.
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster: Race alongside Jurassic World's ferocious velociraptors on Florida's fastest launch coaster complete with four(!!!) inversions and a 155-foot, 80-degree drop.
- Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure: Join Hogwarts' beloved Care of Magical Creatures professor for a special lesson just for Muggles. This story coaster will let you come face-to-face with a Blast-Ended Skrewt, Fluffy (the three-headed dog), unicorns and more while flying by on Hagrid's motorbike. Just watch out for the Devil's Snare!
- Krakatau Aqua Coaster: Experience the power of Krakatau as you slide upward and downward and into dark twists and turns through Volcano Bay's towering, 200-foot-tall volcano.
Of course, roller coasters aren't the only thrills the parks have to offer. Be sure to check out these other attractions that are only for the brave of heart:
- Doctor Doom's Fearfall: Scream for your life as you're blasted up 185 feet and hurled back down to Earth with face-melting force while the Fantastic Four's greatest foe collects your fear to use as a weapon.
- Jurassic Park River Adventure: Venture into the "restricted area" of Jurassic Park, where you'll come face-to-face with a terrifying T-rex. Your only escape? An 85-foot, pitch-black plunge.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: Encounter magical creatures and familiar faces as you fly through the passageways, corridors and grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
- Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides: Take a leap of faith as a trap door opens beneath you and sends you sliding down to the base of the Krakatau volcano.
- Ko’okiri Body Plunge: Pay tribute to the volcano god himself as you fall 70 degrees and 125 feet through a drop door that could open at any heart-pounding moment.
- Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides: Fly along the twists and turns of these twin slides that skirt the side of the volcano and catch some major air as you're dropped 4 feet and 6 feet, respectively, above the water below.
Now, all that screaming might leave you a little parched. Here are some (*clears throat*) beverage options that you definitely shouldn't miss out on:
- Finnegan's Bar & Grill: This traditional Irish-American pub is part lively bar, part full-service restaurant and a whole lotta good craic! Stop in for the live music, authentic Irish dishes and/or a nice pint of whiskey.
- Chez Alcatraz: In the shadow of Bruce, the great white shark, on Fisherman's Wharf lies this wonderful watering hole where you can create your own cocktail. I highly recommend ordering the Ocean Attack for a drink and a show!
- Duff Brewery: You can't visit Springfield without trying Homer's favorite lager! (D'oh!) Grab a seat at this waterfront beer garden and enjoy an ice-cold glass of Duff Beer. (It's also served at neighboring Moe's Tavern where you can try the famous — albeit nonalcoholic — Flaming Moe.)
- The Fountain of Fair Fortune and The Hopping Pot: Head to either of these Diagon Alley favorites to grab of pint of tried and true Butterbeer or something a little more adventurous like Fishy Green Ale ... but I recommend not leaving without trying either the Wizard's Brew or Dragon Scale draught beers since you won't find them out in the Muggle world.
- Hog's Head: Just a train ride away in Hogsmeade, you'll find the original meeting place of Dumbledore's Army. This pub features all the same staples as its Diagon Alley counterparts, plus exclusive "secret menu" concoctions, such as The Triple (picture-perfect layers of Strongbow Cider, Hog's Head Brew and Guinness), Hog's Tea (Long Island Iced Tea but with raspberry tea instead of cola) and Pear Dazzle (fruity favorite with vodka, nonalcoholic pear cider and lemonade).
- Backwater Bar: The entrance to Islands of Adventure is technically also the exit ... so end your day at this exotic watering hole tucked away behind Confisco Grille. Adventurers 21 and up will love their assortment of specialty cocktails!
- Dancing Dragons Boat Bar and Kunuku Boat Bar: These sister boat bars are Waturi favorites and feature draft beers, delicious tropical cocktails and refreshing frozen drinks.
Universal has entertainment options that every member of the family is sure to enjoy ... but if there's one thing tadpoles get easily, it's bored ... or scared ... or both. While the little ones may want to skip the following options, they're still fantastic entertainment that I definitely recommend stopping to watch when you leave them at home:
- Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show: This look into the "mad" science behind Hollywood makeup and special effects brings a lot of laughs with some entertaining hosts, but if your tadpole isn't good with (fake) guts and gore, this is definitely one to check out on your adults-only trip.
- The Blues Brothers Show: Tadpoles may have no idea who Jake and Elwood are. And that's toadally fine! (Honestly, some of you froggies may not either.) Regardless, the pharaohs of funk take the stage every day at Universal Studios and put on a frogtastic show!
- Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees: This spell-binding songstress and her bewitching backup singers can be found over in Diagon Alley performing never-before-heard songs including "A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love," "You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart" and "You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me."
Universal CityWalk Options for Adults
It's called "The Epicenter of Awesome" for a reason. Universal CityWalk invites you to eat, drink, shop and dance the night away. When you're with the tadpoles, go find out who's the real putting pro of the family at Hollywood Drive-In Golf or catch the next big blockbuster at Universal Cinemark. When you're not with them, a different type of fun begins!
- Belt your face off at CityWalk's Rising Star, a rocking bar and karaoke club where you can take center stage as the headline act! Only frogs 18 and up with a valid photo ID are allowed admission on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Directly across from Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (which is home to the second volcano on Universal property), you'll find Jimmy's very own seaplane, the Hemisphere Dancer. Located under the wings is Lone Palm Airport, a waterfront tiki bar that truly reminds you that it's always five o'clock somewhere.
- Missing Mardi Gras? No worries! The good times are always rolling at Pat O'Brien's, a reproduction of the beloved New Orleans hangout, complete with crawfish, beignets, dueling pianos ... and the infamous Hurricane cocktail.
- Another Bourbon Street staple, Fat Tuesday serves up frozen daiquiri-style cocktails in a glorious array of colors and flavors. Opt for one of its delicious custom combos or, if you're brave enough, dare to try the 190 Octane, its no. 1 flavor.
- Do the words "chocolate" and "cocktails" grab your attention? What about "chocolate cocktails?" If so, head to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen and thank me later.
- While we're on the topic of sweets, a visit to CityWalk truly isn't complete without a trip to Voodoo Doughnut Orlando. It's a cult favorite for a reason.
Universal Orlando Special Events for Adults
Of course, I couldn't sign off without mentioning the annual events that bring the fun to Universal nearly year-round! Enter (if you dare!) The World's Premier Halloween Event and brave the horrifying haunted houses and sinister scare zones of Halloween Horror Nights. Welcome the holiday season with resort-wide celebrations, including magical offerings at Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, whimsical Who-liday fun at Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure and larger-than-life Macy's balloons at Universal's Holiday Experience. Finally, join Florida's Biggest Party during Mardi Gras, an authentic New Orleans celebration with froggerific floats, electric entertainment and frogtastic food. (Feet don't fail me now!) Be sure to check the calendar of events as you begin planning!
We love Tad and Lily, but Leap and I can't wait to get back to Universal Orlando by ourselves! It's such a different vacation when we're not taking the tadpoles along. Have you done an adults-only trip here? Share your favorite must-dos in the comments below!