Between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, there is so much to explore and experience at Universal Orlando Resort. However, if you visit the parks frequently you might think you’ve seen it all. Spice up your next trip to Universal by checking out these awesome hidden gems.
A Secret Park Entrance
If you’ve ever been to Universal Orlando, you know that getting into the park can be quite a process. Once you make it from the parking garage, through security lines, past CityWalk, you finally make it to the park entrances. However, there’s no telling how long it might take you to get past the crowds or rookie parkgoers with ticket issues before you can finally get your day at the park started. Luckily, you can try to speed up the process by heading to the super-secret entrance.
Located near Blue Man Group Theater, there is a small entrance to Universal Studios Florida. There are no turnstiles, just a simple entryway manned by one person. The cast member on duty will check your ticket, scan your finger, and send you on your merry way.
The under-the-radar access point will lead you into the park between Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the Studios Store. It’s important to note that this entrance generally opens at 10:00 AM each day, so if you’re trying to get the day started early you should probably head to the regular gates.
At Universal Studios Florida, you can take ask for the “Immigration Tour” at Men in Black: Alien Attack. The special tour allows you to take a closer look at the immigration room on the ground floor of the ride building.
At Skull Island: Reign of Kong, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the temple. During the tour, a guide will take you through the ride’s queue, pointing out all the details in the decorations that you might have missed on your own. You’ll also get to hear a ton of insider information, such as how the self-driving ride vehicles stay on the tracks, how the ride’s story relates to the film’s plot, what Easter eggs from other Universal Orlando attractions are hidden throughout the temple, and more. Another pro tip? If you’re taking the temple tour with a little one who isn’t quite tall enough to experience Skull Island yet, you can ask for a certificate that will allow them to skip the line once they reach the ride’s height requirement!
Other attractions you may be able to take a behind the scenes tour of include:
- Hulk Gamma Tour at the Incredible Hulk Coaster (Universal’s Islands of Adventure)
- Tour of Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon (Universal Studios Florida)
- Tour of Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Studios Florida)
- Castle Tour of Hogwarts at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Universal’s Islands of Adventure)
- Bank Tour at Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida)
To experience one of these secret tours for yourself, just ask a line attendant if it’s possible on the day of your visit. Tours are based on crowd levels and cast member availability, so if you’re visiting on a peak day it might be too crowded to take a tour. If you are lucky enough to head backstage with a guide, you might even get to walk right on to the ride after the tour!
Small Live Shows Around the Park
No matter what theme park you’re visiting, at some point during the day you’ll probably be ready to take a break from the crowds and lines. Something that is unique to Universal Orlando is that there is entertainment everywhere, even when you’re taking a break on a park bench.
While the live street shows around the park may not necessarily be “hidden” gems, they definitely aren’t the first thing you think of as far as main attractions at the park.
In the New York neighborhood of Universal Studios Florida, the Beat Builders take the streets at various time throughout the day for lively percussion performances. Four construction workers stop working on a nearby construction project to put on a short musical comedy show using buckets, scaffolding, wrench xylophones, and anything else in their reach.
You’ll also find the Blues Brothers in the New York area of Universal Studios, bringing their soulful sound to the __ stage at various times during the day. Jake and Elwood have brought their signature style, dark shades and porkpie hats, all the way from Chicago. The duo performs a variety of funk hits with the help of singer Mabel the Waitress and her saxophone playing partner Jazz.
Over in the Wizarding World, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees entertain crowds in Diagon Alley’s Carkitt Market area with several never-before-heard tunes. Molly Weasley’s favorite performer and her back up singers put their vocals on display with songs like “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.”
Tales of Beedle the Bard is a puppet show reenactment of wizard fables that also takes place in Carkitt Market throughout the day. If you’re lucky enough to catch this 10-minute show, you might hear the story of “Three Brothers” from Deathly Hallows or “The Fountain of Fair Fortune.”
A train ride away in the Hogsmeade side of the Wizarding World (at Universal’s Islands of Adventure), you can sometimes catch the Frog Choir singing acapella songs like “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” on a little stage outside of Flight of the Hippogriffs.
This tiny alcove stage is also home to the Triwizard Spirit Rally, which features a few Durmstrang boys showing off their martial arts skills and four ladies from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic displaying their rhythmic gymnastics artistry.
Secret Spells in the Wizarding World
In addition to the 25 official spell locations around the Wizarding World, there are several “secret” places to practice using your interactive wand hidden around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
In the window of Slug and Jiggers Apothecary in Diagon Alley, there’s a pile of dragon dung on top of a barrel. Using your wand, you can lift the lid and a strong sulfur smell will arise. You’ll find other secret spells at Mullpepper’s Apothecary and Scribbulus Writing Implements.
Jurassic Park Discovery Center
This attraction might be more underrated than “hidden,” but The Jurassic Park Discovery Center is a great place to take a break from waiting in lines and walking around in the hot sun. The interactive educational exhibit uses fictional elements of the Jurassic Park movies and real-life paleontology in a series of fun games and activities.
The coolest part of the Discovery Center is the cage of dinosaur eggs on the ground floor. If you happen to be there when an egg hatches, you can name the baby dino and take home an official birth certificate! You can also exit through the back door to get an incredible view of Islands of Adventure across the way.
For more tips and tricks, check out these hints for planning a stress-free visit to Universal Orlando and how to explore the parks on a budget. Ready to check out these hidden gems for yourself? Start by shopping for discount Universal Orlando tickets from Tickets2You!