Universal Orlando is divided into 4 distinct sections: 2 theme parks, 1 water park, and a dining and entertainment district. In our Best Universal Orlando Rides article, we will just focus on the rides at the two theme parks. However, here is a breakdown of each Universal Orlando area to give you a sense of the layout of the entire resort.
(note: see our Universal Orlando Map page to view expandable, printable PDF maps of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, Volcano Bay, and CityWalk.)
Universal Studios Florida – Theme Park
Universal Studios Florida opened on June 7, 1990, as the resort’s original theme park.
The themed areas and attractions are inspired by popular film, television, and music productions. Guests are made to feel as though they are on a movie set.
The eight themed areas are Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Springfield, Production Central, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, and Diagon Alley/London.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure – Theme Park
Universal’s Islands of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999, as the resort’s second theme park.
This park has seven “islands” that are themed around a particular form of adventure.
Guests start at the Port of Entry and then proceed through the various islands in the following order: Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Skull Island, Jurassic Park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing.
Of the seven islands, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the only one to be added (2010) since the park first opened. It is, of course, based on the Harry Potter book/film franchise.
It should be noted that Universal’s Islands of Adventure has been selected as TripAdvisor® Travelers’ Choice’s #1 Amusement Park in the World for 2015–2018, so they are certainly doing something right!
Volcano Bay – Water Park
Volcano Bay is a 27-acre water park at Universal Orlando Resort. It opened on May 25, 2017, and replaced the former Wet ‘n Wild water park (which first opened in 1977 but was acquired by Universal Parks & Resorts in 1998).
Volcano Bay is themed around a 200-foot-tall artificial volcano named “Krakatau.” The volcano is home to Ko’okiri Body Plunge, the tallest body slide in the country, three drop capsule slides, the Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, the Krakatau Aqua Coaster, and more!
Universal CityWalk Orlando – Dining and Entertainment District
The resort further expanded with the opening of Universal CityWalk Orlando on May 28, 1999.
This new dining and entertainment district replaced the former parking lot and main entrance. Now guests would arrive at one of the multi-story parking structures and then hop on the moving sidewalks and proceed into CityWalk.
From there, guests can enter Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure theme parks.
But if you explore Universal CityWalk, then you will find Universal Store (merchandise from both parks) and other shopping locations, plenty of casual and upscale restaurants, nightclubs and live music venues, the Blue Man Group show, and an AMC Movie Theater.
The atmosphere here is electric and you will never run out of things to do!