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by Wishes Diva

So, you may be wondering why we are focusing on a Universal travel guide in this post. The reason is simple: I firmly believe that knowing what your options are and choosing what is best for your family can make all the difference in having the most magical vacation possible! And while we are a Disney tips site, Universal may also be something you are interested in visiting! Speaking from experience, Universal can be a great addition to your Orlando vacation, especially if you are a fan of Harry Potter!


I recently had the opportunity to read the Unofficial Guide’s guidebook for Universal Orlando which definitely provides some vital information for planning your trip! The book is split in to ten sections. Each one focuses on one part of the trip, and let me tell you, the team over at Unofficial Guide have thought of virtually everything you would need to consider when planning for your trip!

(Side note: Before the introduction, there is a Dedication page in which the team at Unoffical Guide dedicated the edition to the people who lost their lives at the Pulse nightclub. It was very touching and very cool to see them take the time to do so.)


Introduction: This is the first section of the book. It gives you an overview of the entire Universal Orlando complex from both parks to the City Walk. In my opinion there was a lot of information that was not relevant to planning in this section, but that can be expected in an introduction. This section also included a lot of comparisons to Disney. If this is something you’re interested in, it would be very helpful. In my opinion, it was too much. I read this book to get information about Universal, not Disney. I could’ve done without the comparisons, or at least had them all compiled into a separate section that I could skip if I chose to.

Part One: Planning Before You Leave Home. This section gives a good start to planning. It includes important information such as addresses and phone numbers that you may want to take note of while planning. It also gives you information about the time of year to plan your trip based on weather and crowds as well.

Part Two: Accomodations. This section gives you all the details you could want about choosing a hotel. There is some very useful comparisons between multiple hotels in this section. This includes the five hotels on Universal property as well as many hotels off property! The charts on pages 113-117 are extremely helpful. It rates all of the hotels and compares their overall quality, room quality and price in a nice, easy-to-read table.


Part Three: Arriving and Getting Around. Here you can find information about driving or flying to Orlando and how to get to Universal by whichever means you need to. It also gives good information about getting to Universal from Walt Disney World if you are splitting your vacation between the two areas.

Part Four: Bare Necessities. This section tells you how to deal with the basic needs while at Universal like money and other services. It details how to handle unexpected wrenches thrown into your plan (like attraction closures, car trouble, or inclement weather).

Part Five: Universal Orlando with Kids. This section is a must read for families considering visiting either of the Universal theme parks. The most important part of this section discusses the different attractions at the theme parks and highlights possible frightening parts of each. When trying to decide which attractions to have your little ones try, this section will be a huge help! There are many attractions at Universal that may be frightening to kids so definitely do your homework!


Part Six: Dining and Shopping at Universal Orlando. This part of the guide highlights all of the dining ang shopping locations in the parks and in the City Walk area of Universal as well. They nicely separate full-service and quick-service restaurants for easy decision making before or during your trip! There are also profiles for each restaurant included in this section as well!

Part Seven and Part Eight: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These sections, in my opinion, are the most important and most helpful sections of the book. This is where you truly get the information about planning for the parks. If you are on a time crunch and don’t have time to completely dive into this guide book I would suggest starting here. These sections detail everything from the attractions to the live entertainment and even touring plans for different vacation scenarios. (Note: the actual printed touring guides are found in the very back of the book.)


Part Nine: Universal Orlando CityWalk. This section is helpful for all things at Universal but not in the parks. It tells you what options you have for clubs and entertainment around the area directly outside the theme park gates.

Part Ten: Universal’s Volcano Bay. This section highlights a new addition to the Universal family, the water park! This section gives some good preliminary information about the water park that is set to open later this year.


Overall this guide book is very thorough and very helpful. I really like how every section is labeled and included in the Contents section at the beginning of the book. That makes it very easy to find the information you are looking for. The touring guides in the back of the book are a great feature as well. I love how detailed they are, and that there are many options depending on the size and ages of your group.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who needs help with their trip!

Read some of our other Unofficial Guide reviews here:

The Unofficial Guide Color Companion to Disney World
The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2017
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017

books in The Unofficial Guide Series? Books in the 2017 series include:

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2017

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2017

The Unofficial Guide Color Companion to Walt Disney World  2017

The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017

The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line 2017

The Unofficial Guide to Universal Studios 2017

Each of these books is available online or at your nearest bookstore, but we have a contest for you to WIN A FREE COPY of ANY of these guide books from The Unofficial Guide Series. So how do you enter? Just scroll down below to the Rafflecopter section of the article and go from there! Best of luck and best wishes!

And don’t forget, we all need help planning our vacation and a Vacation Specialist will help you plan your trip as well as save you money! With this guide, our own site and a Travel Specialist like our Military Diva Patricia Payne, you can make the most of your Walt Disney World vacation!

Disney Diva Disclaimer: Liliane Opsomer from The Unofficial Guide Series and Keen Communications, LLC, provided me with a copy of The Unofficial Guide. They have generously allowed Tips from the Disney Diva and Devos to give away another copy of ONE of The Unofficial Guide Series for free to our readers and fans of our site and social media. I received no other compensation for this review and my opinions are 100% entirely my own.

Copyrights of all the Photographs in this article belong to Liliane Opsomer and are being used with her permission.


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I am a 28-year-old living outside of Dayton, OH. I work as a Enrollment Coordinator of a Child Care Center. I am the proud Mom to a handsome little boy and a precious baby girl. When I am not at work, I am reading about Disney or watching Disney movies! I have an obsession with all things Lion King. I love to read and I am an avid soccer fan who follows the USWNT almost religiously!