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Hey guys! I’m jumping out of chronological order today because I want to share with you an AMAZING giveaway (my biggest ever) totally exclusive to Alex in Wanderland readers. I’m too excited to hold off any longer!

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In late 2016, an exciting offer landed in my inbox: be part of Universal Orlando Resort‘s innovative Blog Squad, a group of travel content creators tasked with bringing the best of Universal straight to your screens. As a regular and enthusiastic visitor to The Sunshine State, but not much of an authority on theme parks, it felt like a fun new adventure for me.

And thus I donned a sparkly cap, and rose to the occasion.

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog
Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Our inaugural Blog Squad retreat took place in October and was headquartered at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Universal Orlando has five beautiful onsite hotels, and I was thrilled to be posted up in this colorful Caribbean homage. Staying onsite has a ton of benefits when visiting the theme parks of Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the soon-to-open Volcano Bay, and there really is something for everyone.

From the budget friendly Cabana Bay to the mid-priced Sapphire Falls and Royal Pacific, (my three favorites, from first glance) all the way up to the premium Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay, there’s something at every price, too.

But for this visit, I was all about Sapphire Falls. I mean, where else are you ever going to find a beach ball chandelier?!

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

However, I didn’t linger long in my room after check-in. We had a busy week ahead, and I wanted to kick it off with some time at my favorite part of any hotel: the pool.

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog
Sapphire Falls Orlando Hotel Pool

I had just enough time to brush the surface of catching up with two of my favorite girls — Kristin and Angie, also in town for Blog Squad festivities, before the enormous 16,000 square foot pool was closed for a late afternoon thunderstorm. But that was fine. We had a big evening to get ready for.

Sapphire Falls Orlando Hotel Pool

Sapphire Falls Orlando Hotel Pool

Sapphire Falls Orlando Hotel PoolPhotos by Kristin Luna

It was time for welcome night, where we’d meet the rest of the Blog Squad and the Universal team who had brought this thing to life. For our first evening, we stuck close to home, kicking off with a rum tasting at the onsite Strong Water Tavern, and later wandering downstairs for dinner at the onsite Amatista Cookhouse.

It was a treat to have such a fabulous evening without ever having to leave the hotel.

Sapphire Falls Hotel Orlando

Strong Water Tavern, Sapphire Falls HotelPhoto by Kristin Luna

Strong Water Tavern, Sapphire Falls Hotel

Amatista Cookhouse Sapphire Falls Orlando
Sapphire Falls Hotel Orlando

Amatista Cookhouse Sapphire Falls Orlando

Amatista Cookhouse Sapphire Falls Orlando
Amatista Cookhouse Sapphire Falls Orlando

The next morning, we were out and about! Because we had so much ground to cover in so little time, we had the opportunity to experience Universal Orlando Resort’s exclusive VIP Experience tours, which is a pretty huge deal in the world of theme parks.

These tours give you an experienced guide who creates an itinerary perfectly tailored to your party’s priorities, and then walks you straight to the front of every ride line in the park. You also get tons of fun extras like reserved seating at shows, access to behind-the-scenes park areas, meet-and-greets with your favorite Universal characters, and included meals and valet parking. But really, it’s that whole “no lines are the new black” thing that makes the VIP Experience the alluring prospect it is, even starting at $199 per person per day (park tickets are sold separately).

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog
Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

We spent our VIP tour exploring Universal Studios Florida, which is both a working production facility and a fabulous theme park that allows guests to jump through the screen and feel like they walked onto the set of their favorite movies and TV shows. Opened in 1990, it was the first park to open in what would later become the Universal Orlando Resort family.

Some of the popular rides in this park include Revenge of the MummyMen in Black Alien AttackTransformers: The Ride-3D, and Terminator 2: 3-D. My favorite from this trip was Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and I have Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, E.T. AdventureShrek 4-D, and The Simpsons Ride on my list for next time!

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

For so many visitors to Universal Orlando Resort, however, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the star of the show. Now, Harry Potter heads, pay attention, because this is important. The truly breathtaking Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios Florida, and is connected to Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure via the Hogwarts Express ride, a train that actually connects you from one theme park to another!

This means you’ll need the park-to-park ticket to get the full Wizarding World of Harry Potter experience. Some of you know — and are aghast! — that I have never read the Harry Potter books (an oversight that my experience on the Blog Squad has convinced me to rectify). But man, you don’t have to be a fan to admire the creativity and detail that went into creating this fantastical world. It’s a faithful recreation of the books and movies that would do JK Rowling proud — in fact, rumor has it she personally approved every detail.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Wizarding World of Harry Potter

That evening, after a very special Minion date at the Universal Globe, we were off to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, one of the latest additions — and a fast new favorite — of CityWalk’s dining options. I can see why it’s so popular. The theming is just spectacular, the menu is diverse and impressive, and the milkshakes are made for making your friends drool with jealousy on Instagram.

Actually, I’d say the biggest eye-opener for me on this trip was the caliber of food available throughout Universal Orlando Resort. From the poolside menu at Sapphire Falls to the lunches and dinners at CityWalk to snacks along the way in the the parks themselves, I found myself seriously impressed with the quality and diversity — and the prices! — of almost everything I ate and drank. And what variety! No joke, I started a “to eat” list for my return trips.

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

The Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumPhoto by Kristin Luna

The next morning found us back on the VIP Experience grind, this time tackling Universal’s Islands of Adventure! This park is all about bringing your favorite superheros, characters, and creatures to life through eight fully immersive “islands,” including Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade, The Lost Continent, and one of my new favorite places on the planet, Seuss Landing.

To be honest, before this trip, I kind of thought Universal Studios would be “my park,” but I quickly realized that Islands of Adventure is my true love!

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

We kicked things off in Marvel Super Hero Island, home to The Incredible Hulk — everyone’s favorite green roller coaster! (On my very first, very brief visit to Universal years ago, I posted an obscure photo of one of the emerald tracks to Instagram asking everyone to guess where I was and thinking I’d posed quite a riddle. Enthusiastic answers came flooding in — y’all know your parks!)

Next up, we wandered over to Jurassic Park, home to what is thus far my favorite ride in the entire Universal Orlando Resort: Jurassic Park River Adventure, a boat based adventure in which you outrun a toothy t-rex. I love this ride! Thanks to the recent Jurassic Park sequel I’m re-obsessed with the brand, and walking through this lush and perfectly themed land made me itch to run back to my hotel room and watch the entire anthology.

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

After lunch at Mythos in The Lost Continent, a restaurant regularly voted best theme park restaurant in the world, we were off to one of the most magical and wonderful places on the planet that is totally not just for little kids no matter what your friend Angie taunts you with… Seuss Landing!

There’s not a single straight line in Seuss Landing, including the palm trees, which are rumored to have been transplanted into the park after being warped by the winds of Hurricane Andrew. Kristin and I continued the wackiness with a bit of acro yoga in some of our favorite areas, a move that certainly attracted a bit of attention.

And while I only had time for one ride — One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, which brings the book to life — I cannot wait to return to tackle the rest. At Christmas, Seuss Landing is transformed into the site of The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, an event that has officially been added to my bucket list.

Seuss Landing, Universal Orlando Resort

Seuss Landing, Universal Orlando Resort

Seuss Landing, Universal Orlando Resort
Seuss Landing, Universal Orlando Resort

Seuss Landing, Universal Orlando Resort

That night we enjoyed more of Universal Orlando Resort’s nightlife with a show at The Blue Man Group. One thing I do love is that all of Universal’s attractions are connected both resort shuttles and beautifully landscaped walking paths, but also by convenient water taxis. You literally don’t have to get in a car for your entire vacation!

And you have multiple safe, efficient and free ways to get back to your room safely if you stay onsite and decide to enjoy some of the nightlife at CityWalk (which we were too wiped to tackle any more of on this particular trip, but I look forward to checking out in the future!)

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

The final day of our trip was dedicated to a very popular event at Universal that, quite frankly, is just not my jam: Halloween Horror Nights. What can I say, this scaredy cat is more of a Grinchmas girl! (Can you see the fear in my face in the bottom photo as I survey the crowds? Ha!) That said, it was definitely fascinating to see the creativity and dedication that goes into making this iconic event happen for those that love it.

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Halloween Horror NightsPhotos by Kristin Luna

Wow, what a whirlwind five days! It was a wild trip, but I really left with an amazing sense of what Universal Orlando Resort is all about — a vacation that doesn’t take itself too seriously, a place to make memories with your favorite people, a destination that is all about the simple pursuit of fun.

And I’m excited to say this is just the beginning! As part of my year-long partnership with the Blog Squad, I’m back at Universal right now covering the launch of their third theme park, Volcano Bay. (Spoiler alert: it’s a water theme park and it’s amazing. Stay tuned to my social media channels for a preview!) And I’ll be staying on after to have some personal time to explore the parks at my own pace. And I might just be planning yet another trip later this year. What can I say, I’m hooked!

Now here’s the best part: you can come too.

Universal Orlando Resort Travel Blog

Win Your Own Trip!

Want to visit Universal Orlando Resort now? (Duh.) Great news, because I’ve partnered with Universal Orlando Resort on a giveaway open exclusively to Alex in Wanderland readers — I’m so excited for one of you to win!

PRIZE: One winner will receive two 3-day tickets to Universal Orlando Resort parks including Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay and a 3-night stay for two at one of Universal Orlando Resort’s onsite hotels. See official rules for details.

HOW TO ENTER: Please enter using Rafflecopter.

RESTRICTIONS: Must be 18+ and US or Canada resident. Contest closes June 8th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Win a Trip to Universal Orlando Resort
Win a Trip to Universal Orlando Resort
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192 Comments...
  • Danielle
    May 25 2017

    What a great prize!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Thanks Danielle! Good luck!

  • Kelly
    May 25 2017

    I wouldn’t have thought to visit with just adults, but it looks like you had a blast!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ha ha, I am all about the adult theme park trips! And I’m always surprised to see it’s not as rare as you’d think!

  • Anne
    May 25 2017

    Looks like you had an amazing trip! Harry Potter world is my favorite, especially the ice cream in the Diagon Alley part!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Oh my gosh YES. It’s a must! Love the apple crumble flavor!

  • Kendal
    May 25 2017

    Woah, my friend and I were discussing only ten minutes earlier a vacation to Universal!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Perfect timing! Fingers crossed for ya 🙂

  • Stacy
    May 25 2017

    I love that you went full on Florida with the bedazzled cap and embroidered palm tree shirt! Way to commit. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ha ha, my sister and I always say “is my Florida showing?” In this case, DEFINITE YES.

  • Marni
    May 25 2017

    I LOVE the Universal parks!! The detail in the Harry Potter sections is absolutely unbelievable (and as a Potterhead, I fully encourage you to follow their suggestions and read the books!). Since you loved Seuss Landing so much, you NEED to prioritize The Cat in the Hat ride when you go back – it’s really well done – and also check out the High in the Sky Seuss ride. The Jurassic Park River Adventure is an amazing ride also, and you didn’t mention it, but I highly recommend Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barge. I’m so jealous you’re there right now – I get emails from Universal all the time and it makes me want to hop on a plane immediately.
    Marni recently posted..Hiking to the Carbide Willson Ruins in Gatineau Park

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Oh my gosh, I am SO itching to do the water rides — haven’t made it to either of the big ones in Toon Lagoon yet. Perfect respite from the summer heat though!

    • M Schnee
      June 5 2017

      Your photos are making me itch to go back – also a big Potter fan and there is so much more to explore now!

      • Alex
        June 6 2017

        So much! And Universal is ALWAYS announcing new openings… so there’s always more to explore.

  • Rachel Nursey
    May 25 2017

    Omg great write up on your amazing adventure!! Living in Orlando for 5 years of my childhood was seriously a kid’s DREAM. I have yet to return to this place I called home since I was last there in high school, but have been dying to go back!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Wow I bet! It must have been such a disappointment as a kid to go anywhere else after, ha ha. Season passes would definitely be a must if you were local!

  • Jill
    May 25 2017

    SO jealous you got to see the Harry Potter park! I’ve been dying to go ever since it opened. I’m a West Coaster, though, so for now I’ll take what I can get with a trip to the smaller LA version in June. 🙂
    Jill recently posted..Kayaking in Lagos, Portugal

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      My dad and I were discussing visiting the LA version one of these trips. We flew over it when we did our helicopter ride and it looked cute!

  • Alyssa trobacher
    May 25 2017

    Wouldn’t winning this be treat!

  • Tracy Z
    May 25 2017

    Last time I was in Florida, I was hoping to hit Universal with my husband, but alas I had some little ones in tow. It sounds like such a blast (without littles;))

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      They munchkins do go crazy in Seuss Landing — and I was right there with them, LOL.

  • Brittany Brown
    May 25 2017

    Looks like an awesome trip! I’ve been dying to see the Harry Potter attractions. You gotta read them!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ha, I feel like I’m the last person on the planet who hasn’t!

  • Jamie
    May 25 2017

    Awesome giveaway Alex! I’ve been to Universal/IOA manyyyy times as an Orlando resident, and had season passes in high school. It’s still my favorite theme park by far, and there’s SO much to do! I’d love to stay on-site and really get the full experience – something I’ve never done since I live in town! Also – I’m looking forward to the Orlando meet up tomorrow! Woop! 🙂

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      It was soooo great meeting you! Staying onsite was a blast — definitely hope you get the chance, too!

  • Sj Dc
    May 25 2017

    Thank you fpr the amazing giveaway and hope your fabulous blog is all that you dream it’ll be and more!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Thank ya — and good luck!

  • Katie MacLeod
    May 25 2017

    It sounds like you had a really great time – the photos look brilliant! I’ve been desperate to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for ages, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for this one 🙂
    Katie MacLeod recently posted..How To Make Friends As An Expat (From Someone Who’s Been There)

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ah, good luck Katie! It really is an out of this world experience — they did an AMAZING job on those two Harry Potter areas.

  • Stacia
    May 25 2017

    In Oregon, I grew up with the unlicensed, generic fairytale theme park, Enchanted Forest. I’ve always wanted to see one of the Disneylandworlds, especially now that you can go to Diagon Alley. So much fun!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Actually, I know it can be a little confusing but Disneyworld and Universal Orlando Resort are two totally separate things! All the fun Harry Potter stuff is at Universal 🙂

  • Kaitlyn
    May 25 2017

    Ahh! This trip looks absolutely amazing. All the food and drinks look so good.

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Oh man. Just wait until you see what I’ve been eating and drinking while back in Orlando this week. Universal has a strong food game!

  • Kathryn Allen
    May 25 2017

    WooHoo! Can’t wait to experience this…

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      You would LOVE Cabana Bay. It’s so you!

  • Lili
    May 25 2017

    I’d love to win! I love Universal Orlando, especially the Harry Potter parts and the new Volcano Bay looks amazing!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ah, it’s AMAZING! Can’t wait to post about it soon!

  • Elizabeth
    May 26 2017

    I’ve actually been to the Halloween horror nights! We did 7 of the 8 haunted houses. I don’t think I need to repeat that experience. I would love to go back though to see the newest Harry Potter part!! My favorite restaurant was the dueling piano bar somewhere near the Universal boardwalk I think.
    Elizabeth recently posted..What A Peculiar Time To Be Alive

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Oh yes, Pat O’Brien’s! CityWalk is so much fun — so many great bars and restaurants!

  • Seems like an AMAZING visit! Too bad the competition is not open to international entrants 🙂 I used to live in Orlando (as a Disney Cast Member) and would visit Universal often – love it there!
    Lisa // Fjords & Beaches recently posted..The Best Hotels in Oslo, Norway

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      So sorry Lisa! I will try to make sure my next giveaway is open to all!

  • Eliana S
    May 26 2017

    What a great prize!

  • Ijana Loss
    May 26 2017

    How awesome!! I’m not much of a theme park person myself, plus I’m living out of country right now, but this is a great opportunity for someone to win a great trip! I haven’t been to Universal Studios Orlando, but when I went to Universal Studios Hollywood I was also impressed with the food. Food quality seems to be improving everywhere!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      That is SO true. Festivals, theme parks, everywhere — you can’t get away with having mediocre food anymore. The bar has been raised and so have people’s expectations!

  • Sang Hyun Lee
    May 26 2017

    What a beautiful blog! 🙂 Thank you so much for this giveaway!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      You’re too kind! Thank you — and good luck!

  • Cass
    May 26 2017

    Your trip looks AHmazing!! I’m completely jealous. Orlando and universal studios are two places I would love to visit. I am a complete Harry Potter nerd, and on of the items on my bucket list is to buy a Gryffindor scarf from Harry Potter World. Thanks for sharing about your trip. You’re fantastic!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Aw, thanks Cass! I would love to help make that dream come true for you! They have some aaaaaahhhhhmazing merch in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

  • Chris
    May 26 2017

    TIP: Enjoy a Butterbeer AFTER you ride Dueling Dragons 😉

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ha ha! Just rode Dueling Dragons for the first time — it was epic!

  • Rachel
    May 26 2017

    Wow, you make the theme parks look super fun. I love your photos and glad you just have fun photos sometimes. It’s really refreshing!

    -Rachel
    Rachel recently posted..Camping Off-Season at Killens Pond State Park

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Thanks Rachel! Glad you enjoyed these bright and colorful clicks 🙂

  • Pam R
    May 26 2017

    I absolutely love Universal studios in Orlando and am currently in the process of planning a trip there with my mom and sister. We actually love the Halloween Horrors set up and are purposely going to visit in October so we can experience it. And as huge Harry Potter fans we cannot wait to see Diagon Alley (I’ve only seen Hogsmeade and it was amazing).

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Kudos to you Pam! I am way too much of a scaredy cat, ha ha! But wow, I definitely got to experience how much people love that event!

  • Anne
    May 26 2017

    I would love, love, love this! How exciting!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Thanks Anne! Good luck!

  • Anna
    May 26 2017

    Your universal trips look amazing! I also love it when you, Angie & Kristin get to hang 🙂

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Aw, we sure do too! Here’s hoping for many more adventures ahead!

  • Shannon S
    May 26 2017

    Awesome!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Good luck Shannon! Thanks for reading!

  • Sandy
    May 26 2017

    Oh I love Islands of Adventures I want to go back now but alas I am not a US or Canadian resident (my husband is Canadian though). Wonderful giveaway!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Tell your husband to enter, Sandy! 😉

  • Dominique
    May 26 2017

    I’m thinking to go to Florida next year, and I think of skipping all the theme parks. On your photos they look beautiful and I’m sure I’ll visit them one day, but they are not really that high on my list 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..Galway – A Failed St. Paddy’s Day

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      That’s fair! Florida has SO much to offer, there really is something for everyone here.

  • Kristin
    May 26 2017

    I’ve been to the Disney parks several times but never Universal! I’m dying to go visit, especially since the Harry Potter world was created! Great post!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Thanks Kristin! I’ve got a few more — with some great Wizarding World of Harry Potter photos — coming up!

  • Kyle
    May 26 2017

    I went to Florida 4 years ago, and I loved it. I would love to see the upgrades they made to Harry Potter land.

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Yes! If you haven’t been to Diagon Alley yet, it will blow you away!

  • Jessica
    May 26 2017

    Aw! This is awesome Alex!! Thank you 🙂

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      You’re so welcome Jessica! Good luck!

  • Sheila Smith
    May 26 2017

    Sounds AMAZING! I have been to Universal in LA but never in Florida and I am dying to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      I’ve got to go to the LA version one of these days — looks super fun!

  • What a great giveaway! I’d love to go do some acroyoga there too!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Kristin and I could do acro anywhere 😉 Love my yoga partner in crime!

  • Jenna
    May 26 2017

    Love Universal Orlando! Glad to hear you have been enjoying it! We used to visit quite often when I was younger, but it’s been several years since we’ve been. Would love to head back again to check out some of the new additions and the new water park, too–it looks awesome!
    Jenna recently posted..9 Awesome Adventures in the Southern Finger Lakes of New York

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Oh my gosh, Volcano Bay is SO COOL! It’s definitely worth a trip back to see. Can’t wait to post about it.

  • Kristina
    May 26 2017

    Killer giveaway! My parents live not too far away in the St Pete area, so I’d love to win this prize!! Haven’t been to Universal Florida since I was a kid!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      What a fun visit home that would be! Good luck Kristina!

  • Rachel
    May 26 2017

    Your trip looks like it was amazing! Thanks for me amazing giveaway!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      It was so fun — and I’m having a blast being back right now! Good luck Rachel!

  • Tracie Cooper
    May 26 2017

    I would love to stay at Cabana Bay and check out the new Volcano Bay water park, both look amazing and would be perfect for a weekend getaway!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Indeed they would! At Cabana Bay now and it’s seriously one of the cutest hotels ever. I love it!

  • Diana Neidecker
    May 26 2017

    this is a great prize! HP is one of my favorite things in the entire world ; and mythos is SUCH an awesome restaurant!!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      I really loved Mythos! Who knew you could get such great food in a theme park?!

  • MaryAnn
    May 26 2017

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway! This would be so much fun.

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      You’re so welcome MaryAnn! Fingers crossed!

  • Alicia
    May 26 2017

    I seriously love reading your blog. So many bucket list additions thanks to you! This is an amazing giveaway!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Aw, you’re so sweet Alicia! Thank you!

  • Lily
    May 27 2017

    This would make my broke college student summer dreams come true! You are awesome!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      Ha ha — I remember those days well, Lily! Good luck!

  • Leandra
    May 27 2017

    Harry Potter world is on my dream list. It looks like so much fun!

    • Alex
      May 31 2017

      You’re going to love the photos from the trip I’m on right now then 😉 Stay tuned!

  • Summer I.
    May 27 2017

    Wow, what a fun trip. I would love to experience it all. Thanks for the chance.

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      You’re so welcome! Good luck!

  • Stacee Walker
    May 27 2017

    This would be awesome!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I’m so excited already for the winner’s trip!

  • melanie
    May 27 2017

    It has been too long since I have been to Florida-you are making me want to go back!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I love it down here — and I have so much more left to explore!

  • laura
    May 27 2017

    The Wizarding World has been on my travel wish list for awhile now, but seeing the cute accommodations and awesome food options (as well as the other parks) is making me want to bump it up!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Yeah, the hotels are really a big draw. They are all so fun and well themed, it’s like an extension of the parks!

  • Meghan
    May 27 2017

    Great post! Reminds me of all the reasons I fell in love with Universal. Can’t wait to plan a return trip. Thanks for hosting this contest!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      You’re so welcome Meghan! Good luck — I love Universal too!

  • Lindsay Bade
    May 28 2017

    What an amazing giveaway! Thanks for the chance! It’s been over 10 years since I have been able to visit and would love to bring my kids!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Aw, that would be amazing! Fingers crossed for you Lindsay!

  • Caroline
    May 28 2017

    Great post! I absolutely love Orlando and all the theme parks there, definitely looking forward to Volcano Bay on my next visit!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Ahhh, Volcano Bay is SO cool. Totally obsessed with it!

  • Sarah
    May 28 2017

    Ahh, how fun! I’ve been to universal studios in California as a kid, but now I feel the need to make it to the Florida one as well after reading your fun post!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I’m the opposite — have been to Florida but still need to make it to the California version one of these days! I’m so close by whenever I’m out there to see my dad!

  • Lauren
    May 28 2017

    Love love love the photographs!! The food looks delicious, the hotel looks incredibly fun, and you have made me want to visit again as an adult!!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I’d argue it might be even more fun as an adult, because they have some great bar and nightlife options 😉

  • Victoria Shingleton
    May 28 2017

    Are you going to the Disney parks while in Orlando? How do you think they compare to Universal? I’m especially curious if Volcano Bay is really the “third gate” they’re claiming it to be.

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Hey Victoria! I haven’t been to the Disneyworld parks since I was a kid, but I love the Disneyland parks in California! I tend to prefer the more compact setup of Universal and Disneyland, where you don’t have to get in a vehicle all the time to get between them (though that doesn’t really answer your question, it kind of explains why I haven’t been back to Disneyworld as an adult.) I’m sure I will go someday! And I’ll have a full review post of Volcano Bay up soon, stay tuned!

  • Kara Aragon
    May 28 2017

    What an incredible giveaway! I live in Florida but I haven’t been to any amusement park since the year 2000. I’ve been wanting to go to Orlando’s parks for ages & your blog post makes me want to go so much more! Great photos & post. Looks amazing!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Sounds like it might be time for a staycation 😉

  • Laura
    May 28 2017

    Looks like so much fun! Seems super adult friendly which I would not have expected!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Yeah, it really is! That was a surprise for me at first too, but now I’m used to seeing groups of adults on theme park getaways. It is a blast.

  • Katarina
    May 29 2017

    Oh my gosh! This seems like one of the most fun giveaway prizes I’ve ever seen!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      That’s awesome to hear Katarina! Good luck!

  • Annie
    May 29 2017

    I love love love Universal! We live over in Tampa so it’s only a short drive away. My friends husband is the chef at Toothsome, so awesome you visited there! Those milkshakes are AMAZING.

    -Annie

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Oh my gosh that’s amazing Annie! LOVED Toothsome. Have you seen that I’m doing a reader meetup in St. Pete this Sunday? Check Facebook — hope you can join!

  • Denise Wei-Vital
    May 29 2017

    My son & I went to Universal for the 1st time last summer & loved it. We would love to go back again to check out volcano bay

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Aw, fun! I bet he would go wild at Volcano Bay — so many fun spots to explore!

  • Cate
    May 29 2017

    My mom surprised me with a trip to Universal last spring, mostly for the Harry Potter world! I love, love HP (seriously, read it!) and it was such a magical experience
    Cate recently posted..A Love Letter to the Sea

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      What an amazing surprise! Maybe now you can be the one to surprise her 🙂

  • Ashley Smith
    May 29 2017

    I love this post because I am such a Universal nerd. Like you said, the detail that went / goes into the Wizard World of Harry Potter is out of this world. Plus the Incredible Hulk is my fave roller coaster. I can’t wait to check out Volcano Bay!
    Ashley Smith recently posted..3 Days in Amsterdam // Flowers, Art, Brews, Nudes

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Yes! So amazing. And oh my gosh, I LOVE The Hulk. Such a thrill!

  • Lindsay
    May 29 2017

    Awesome giveaway! I love water parks and want to check out Volcano Bay!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I agree, water parks are the best! No better cure for a sweltering summer day!

  • That photo of us is pretty much my favorite ever! Can’t wait to be back at UOR with you a third time this fall 😉
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Long Weekend Getaway: Three Perfect Days in New York City

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Okay which one though because I count PLENTY 😛

  • Kristin
    May 29 2017

    I’ve never seen/read Harry Potter either but would love to check out Universal!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      You really don’t have to be a fan to enjoy it — there’s so much to see and absorb!

  • Caroline
    May 29 2017

    Super excited to see Volcano Bay! Sounds so fun!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Full review post coming soon!

  • Susan
    May 29 2017

    Universal is super fun!! I ❤️ the Cabana Bay resort & would love to go back!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Oh my gosh I’m newly OBSESSED with Cabana Bay Resort — it is so fun and so well done!

  • Britt
    May 30 2017

    Always need an excuse to visit FL! And I’m dying to see (IRL) the Diagon Alley addition at WWHP!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      If you love Hogsmeade, you’ll ADORE Diagon Alley. So much to explore!

  • Claudia
    May 30 2017

    Thanks for the giveaway, Alex!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      You’re so welcome Claudia! Good luck!

  • maria
    May 30 2017

    I LOVE Universal! I had 1 free day after a conference a few years ago and did the whole park by myself 🙂

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I love that Maria! Well, the single rider lines are the fastest 😉

      • maria
        June 6 2017

        yeah they are! we are going for my sister 40th this fall and I can’t wait!

        • Alex
          June 8 2017

          Amazing! Have the best time!

  • Rachel Clarke
    May 30 2017

    I love Universal Orlando! Great as a kid but even better as a adult haha… The hulk is definitely one of my favourite roller-coasters 🙂
    Rachel Clarke recently posted..All you need to know about Revolut Travel Cards (Quick Read)

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      I agree! No height restrictions woot woot! 😉

  • Yasemin
    May 30 2017

    I’d love the opportunity to go to Harry Potter world!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      It’s a pretty special place! Good luck!

  • Emily Bloor
    May 31 2017

    WOW Alex, you always make everything look so much fun, and your photos are always so vibrant and colourful! This looked like an incredible trip, and what an amazing prize!
    Emily Bloor recently posted..Notes From The Backpack – May 2017

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Aw, thank you so much Emily! Can’t wait to share about the trip I’m on right now! (Previews on Instagram and Facebook, of course!)

  • Emily
    May 31 2017

    I did Universal for the first time last September and LOVEDDDD it!!! Would love to go back!

    • Alex
      June 1 2017

      Nice! We just missed each other, cause I was there in October!

  • Kelly V
    June 1 2017

    What a fun opportunity!

  • Amanda
    June 1 2017

    dying to go to harry potter world! I feel like the worst fan for still not having been to this one or LA…

    • Alex
      June 2 2017

      Universal in LA is definitely on my list for my next trip!

  • Sarah
    June 1 2017

    Universal is always our first stop whenever we visit Orlando. I haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies or read any of the books, but it’s still so impressive!

    • Alex
      June 2 2017

      Ha, I’m in the same position Sarah! It’s still super impressive I think, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan — and either way, there’s three enormous parks to explore, so much more than Harry Potter.

  • Hannah Logan
    June 1 2017

    This looks like so much fun! I’ve wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for ages!
    Hannah Logan recently posted..The Best Travel Bag for Female Photographers

    • Alex
      June 2 2017

      Well then I’ve got my fingers crossed for you Hannah! Ah, I wish everyone could win!

  • Paige W
    June 2 2017

    My husband’s dream is to visit the WWOHP! I would so love to make that happen before our big trip!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Aw, that would be such a sweet and fun surprise!

  • Sara Coats
    June 2 2017

    I’ve been to Universal Studios Hollywood… I’s love to visit US Orlando! Love your blog!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Awesome Sara, thank you so much! I need to do the reverse, ha ha.

  • Meg
    June 2 2017

    Love that you’re representing Florida proud. Totally swiping “is my Florida showing” (I’m from Clearwater). 🙂

    I’m a Disney girl at heart but love Universal Orlando as well. I’ve always wanted to go to Halloween Horror Nights — they really amp up the scaries!!

    Thanks for the giveaway!!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Aw, fun! I have tons of Florida stuff coming up… keep your eyes peeled 🙂

  • Nicole
    June 2 2017

    Looks like you had a lot of fun Alex!! I’ve never been myself and would love to go! Is 26 too old – we never really grow up right? 😉

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Heck no! Just had a blast at 27 😉

  • Christopher Mason
    June 2 2017

    I think I’ll win this.

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Ha! I like your confidence!

  • Sara
    June 2 2017

    What an amazing giveaway! I love roller coasters and haven’t made it to Universal Orlando yet!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Good luck Sara! There are some great coasters there… Hulk is my fave!

  • Julie
    June 4 2017

    Yer a winner, Harry.

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Lol! Good luck Julie!

  • Caline
    June 4 2017

    This is awesome!!! We love Universal!!!Your pictures are sooo good!!!!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Thanks Caline! Appreciate that — theme parks are surprisingly fun to photograph!

  • Lisa
    June 4 2017

    Even as a 30 year old, I have dreams of going to Harry Potter World! Looks amazing!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      I can attest that it was amazing at 27 😉

  • Katie
    June 4 2017

    Wow what an incredible time you had! 🙂 We visited Universal a few years ago and LOVED the Simpson ride! As a massive Harry Potter fan I was honestly the biggest kid ever in Diagon Alley and Hogwarts!

    I hadn’t heard of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort but will check it out when we head back – I can imagine there are some fantastic benefits for staying on site! It is great that you were able to enjoy it with blogging friends too – I love reading Camels & Chocolate! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Aw, Kristin’s blog is the best! So glad you read her too! I’m actually headed to her house next week 🙂

  • Mckay
    June 4 2017

    Awesome giveaway!

  • Meghan
    June 4 2017

    OMG, please randomly pick me! 😉

    Can’t wait to find out who the winner is! I freaking love Universal and can’t wait to visit the new waterpark!!!

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      Rafflecopter picks the winner but… I will totally cross my fingers for ya 😉 Wish I could pick all of you!

  • Sarah Gillis
    June 4 2017

    Universal is amazing!!! Harry Potter is definitely my favourite part 🙂

    • Alex
      June 5 2017

      I think you’re not alone in that 🙂 I pretty much have Seussland to myself as my favorite spot, ha ha!

  • Itai
    June 5 2017

    Nice prize! This would be perfect after I’ve gotten so tired circling the entire globe earlier this year. I traveled, so now I need a vacation! 😉
    Itai recently posted..DxO ViewPoint 3 Review | Neocamera

    • Alex
      June 6 2017

      Oh man, I know the feeling! A vacation feels so good after a long trip 😉

  • Courtney Blacher
    June 13 2017

    Your pictures are really beautiful. I love them! And that sparkly cap is so fansy.

    • Alex
      June 15 2017

      Ha, that cap definitely makes me laugh 🙂 Perfect for sparkly Orlando!

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