The ultimate guide to Universal Events, Drinks, and Entertainment for Grown-Ups
UPDATE: Many events, restaurants, and hotels are unavailable for health and safety reasons. Be sure to double-check what’s available during your vacation.
Universal is like Disney World’s cool, edgy little sister. She’s rougher around the edges and dedicates her life to “Hard Rock” and thrill rides. Despite some child-friendly aspects of this park, Universal has always had an older demographic in mind. Pair the nightlife of CityWalk with a real Hogwarts castle and you got yourself an adult playground. When it comes to adult-friendly activities, Universal Orlando is the ultimate vacation destination!
P.S. I made a cool gift you can download for free. It’s my 12 Can’t-Miss Things to Do at Universal Studios cheat sheet. It will be super helpful when planning your Universal vacation! You can sign up for my Resource Library below and you’ll find the guide in my massive library of goodies.
Ready for food, fun, and frolic for adults at Universal Orlando? Let’s get started!
Spend a Night-Out at CityWalk
Let’s start with the most adult-friendly section of Universal Orlando. CityWalk is a shopping, dining, and nightlife center that’s admission-free. While you don’t pay admission, you will need to pay for parking if you arrive before 6 PM. The good news is that CityWalk becomes much more exciting after 6 PM. It’s the perfect nighttime spot to visit on your first night in Orlando or on a non-park day.
There are loads of places to eat, drink, and party at CityWalk. I’ve narrowed your choices down to the top 5 most popular spots to visit on your night out!
Top 5 Things to Do at CityWalk for Adults
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium changed the way Universal does desserts. This unique restaurant resembles a steampunk version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. You’ll even encounter characters unique to the Toothsome like Latte, a steampunk robot dog.
The sweets are obviously the star here though. You can order a HUGE milkshake complete with an entire cupcake. Or, pick up a sleeve of macarons on your way out!
Toothsome is definitely the most popular restaurant in CityWalk and the restaurant doesn’t take reservations. I advise putting your name on the waitlist as soon as you arrive. The weekends and evenings are especially busy!
Become a Karaoke Star!
Rising Star is a karaoke bar that features a live band and even backup singers! So, if you perform here you’re basically famous. Those of you who aren’t ready to take the stage can enjoy a cocktail and enjoy the show. I’ll admit this place is much more fun once you’ve had a Mojito or two. The bar is open from 8:00 PM to 12:30 AM most nights and has a $7 cover charge.
Partake in a Mini-Golf Challenge
What’s wrong with a little friendly competition? Hollywood Drive-In Golf is a kooky mini-golf course that will put your putt to the test. Encounter silly aliens and haunted houses while you hang out with your pals!
Get Your Groove On
The Red Coconut Club is your place for dancing and tiki vibes! The club hosts a live band between 8:00 PM to midnight on select nights. After midnight, a live DJ keeps the party going until 2:00 AM. There is a $7 cover charge after 10:00 PM. This means you can arrive before 10:00 and get in free! You can also hit up The Groove for a more “club” atmosphere. The multi-level dance floor features a balcony overlooking CityWalk.
Take a Dance Break for Doughnuts
Mmmm…doughnuts. Voodoo Doughnuts is the most popular place for a snack on-the-go in CityWalk. Voodoo’s schtick is that they create wacky doughnuts with toppings like bacon, Cocoa Pebbles, and Tang. The shop is usually open until midnight which makes it the perfect late-night snack!
P.S. Voodoo will often create seasonal or special event doughnuts so check the menu! Last year’s Halloween Horror Nights doughnut was filled with pumpkin filling and it was DELISH.
Avoid the lines!
Single Rider Lines
Take advantage of the Single Rider Lines. This line fills in available space by admitting individual riders onto the vehicle. The line is usually shorter than the general line and allows you to cut down on waits. The Single Riders line is totally free but you should be comfortable splitting up your group and riding next to a stranger or two.
The best way to make use of your time is to buy the Express Pass. This will allow you to skip most of the lines and cut back on your wait times. I advise looking into this if you’re only visiting for one or two days. You’ll get way more done in that amount of time and can be totally worth the cost.
The Universal Express Pass costs $69.99 (per person, per park) and allows you to skip the line for each participating ride one time. The Universal Express Pass Unlimited is $89.99 (per person, per park) and allows you to take the Express line on participating rides an unlimited amount of time.
One money-saving hack is to book a night at one of Universal’s Premier Hotels. By booking one night, you’ll have access to the Unlimited Express Pass during your vacation. It often ends up being way cheaper than buying an Express Pass for everyone in your travel group.
Relive Your Childhood at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Whether you read the books or watched the movies, Harry Potter has most likely been a part of your life. It’s a land full of nostalgia for those who grew up with The Boy Who Lived or others who are just looking for a good drink!
One thing to note: You need to purchase a park-to-park pass to see both sections of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and ride the Hogwarts Express. The upgraded pass is completely worth it, if you ask me. Besides the Wizarding World, the two parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) have lands and attractions that you won’t want to miss.
Top 5 Things to Do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Try a Butterbeer (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley)
Take a sip and whisper to yourself, “You’re a wizard, Harry.” ButterBeer takes like cream soda with a dash of butterscotch. It’s non-alcoholic, sweet, and an absolute must-do. At Universal Studios Florida, you can find the drink at The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Hopping Pot, and The Leaky Cauldron. At Islands of Adventure, purchase a cup at the outdoor Butterbeer cart, Three Broomsticks, and the Hog’s Head pub.
Did you know there are SIX types of Butterbeer at Universal? You can order the drink frozen, cold, or hot during the cooler seasons. (Many believe that the frozen version is best and I’d have to agree!) You can also find Butterbeer Potted Cream (Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks), Butterbeer Fudge (Sugarplum’s and Honeydukes), and Butterbeer Ice Cream (Florean Fortescue’s, The Hopping Pot, and Three Broomsticks).
Take your pick between the drink, ice cream, or dessert! You can’t go wrong with the creamy, butterscotch flavors.
Exchange Your Muggle Currency at Gringott’s Bank (Diagon Alley)
This tip is for Hary Potter Superfans! It’s for those of you who LOVE being fully immersed in the magic. You can exchange your real money for wizard money and use it for purchases throughout the Wizarding World. Once you’ve met the Banker goblin, you can head to Ollivander’s to purchase your wand, school robes, or anything else your Wizarding heart desires. If you have any money left over, they will happily exchange it back.
Experience The Forbidden Journey (Hogsmeade)
This is the popular motion simulator ride located inside Hogwarts Castle. On the ride, you’ll fly through Quidditch fields, fight Death Eaters, and escape giant spiders. This is an absolute must-do at Universal and it will make you feel like you’re really venturing through Hogwarts.
Pro-Tip: If you want to experience the castle and are prone to motion sickness, you can ask Team Member to give you a tour of the castle on foot!
Plan Your Escape from Gringott’s Bank (Diagon Alley)
This ride took 3D experiences to the next level! The ride takes you on an adventure through Gringott’s Bank where you’ll encounter Voldemort, Bellatrix, and a very unhappy dragon. It’s got dips, turns, and high-speeds that make your ride a little more thrilling.
The ride isn’t too intense, but there are a few drops that may surprise you. The detailing inside Gringott’s is worth a visit too. This is one of the only times I actually enjoy waiting in line!
Hagrid’s Magical Creature’s Motorbike Adventure (Hogsmeade)
Come face-to-face with a Blast-Ended Screwt! The newest addition to the Wizarding World is also one of the coolest rides in Universal Orlando. The roller coaster takes you through some awesome scenery with exciting launches and more surprises. Be sure to get to Universal early so you can snag a spot in the Virtual Line!
Grab a Pint at Hog’s Head Pub (Hogsmeade)
On tap, this cozy nook has a Dragonscale lager, Hog’s Head Brew, and Wizard’s Brew. It’s located inside The Three Broomsticks, so you can grab a few beef pasties to accompany your beverage. Pay close attention to the friendly hog mounted on the wall. He might greet you in an unexpected way!
Pro-Tip: Order your Butterbeer at the Hog’s Head if you’re in Hogsmeade. The line is usually much shorter than the Butterbeer carts!
Stay at an Adult-friendly Universal Resort
Most of Universal’s hotels are very adult-friendly and the themes are on point. The newest additions, Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the Aventura Hot are two of the most popular choices. (They also happen to be located directly across the street from each other.)
Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Cabana Bay is inspired by 50’s and 60’s Florida beach parties with two retro-themed pools, a swanky lounge, pool slides, and a lazy river. There are numerous reasons why adults love Cabana Bay. The fun colors and recreations make the resort kid-friendly, but the grown-ups absolutely loved the retro-future decor too. Also, Universal’s water park, Volcano Bay, is just a short walk away. No need to take a bus (unless you want to) and you don’t have to worry about how many Mai Tais you drank on the man-made beach.
Cabana Bay is also home to their very own bowling alley. The alley is themed to fit the retro-chic atmosphere and it’s a super fun way to spend a rainy day. Grab a drink, reserve a lane, and keep the chicken wings coming!
The biggest perk for me is the onsite Starbucks. I’m practically worthless without my triple shot of espresso. Having the ability to Mobile Order my coffee on the way to Universal is a dream come true!
Aventura is Cabana Bay’s classy next-door neighbor. It has a chic and modern design that you might find at an upscale Vegas resort. The pool is lined with palm trees and the rooms are slick in white and greyscale coloring. (This resort also has a Starbucks. Woohoo!)
The real party, however, is on the rooftop. The roof features an open-air bar with a 360-degree view of Central Florida and Universal. You can’t get much more “adult” than sipping a martini on the roof of a resort.
The rooftop is quite possibly the chicest place in Universal. You can also visit for a drink if you’re not staying at the resort.
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
You can also level up your stay with one of the Premier Resorts. All of them include an Unlimited Express Pass and tons of onsite amenities like restaurants, spas, and deluxe rooms.
Many guests will say that the Portofino is their favorite. The hotel is inspired by an Italian village and you’ll see this theming in the immersive piazza. The buildings are colorful, cozy renditions of an Italian village. There are also several pools that are just as stunning as the architecture. You can find the kid-friendly pool with slides and a kiddie area. Adults can enjoy the two other “quiet pools too!
What to drink at Universal orlando for Adults
You’ll find a libation station at every corner in Universal Orlando. This theme park has no qualms with serving parents and childfree adults a ton of rum. It seems that most restaurants, lounges, and stands have a special cocktail for day-drinkers. So, let’s go over some crowd-favorites, shall we?
Guide to Bar hopping at Universal
Duff Beer – Duff Brewery Garden
All of the beer on tap at Duff Brewery is made locally in Florida. The Duff Beer is a special brew made just for Universal. How cool is it that you can drink a REAL Duff Beer??
Also, the bar has frozen slushy cocktails if you’re not a beer person. The slushies come in Strawberry, Pina Colada, and Margarita flavors.
Rum Runner – Backwater Bar/Confisco Grille
Backwater Bar happens to be my favorite place to grab a drink at Universal. The bar isn’t really “themed” but it does have a certain coziness to it. The place feels very much like a homey bar you stumbled into on your vacation. The Rum Runner is a solid rum cocktail but they have a full bar too.
Backwater Bar is connected to Confisco Grille which is one of the best places to eat at Islands of Adventure!
Potion of the Gods – Mythos Restaurant
Mythos is inspired by old-age myths and figures. The theming here is pretty cool and something adults can appreciate. Also, the food is really great. (I once had a Bolognese Pasta that would make any god proud.) While you eat, try the Potion of the Gods made with coconut rum, spiced rum, black raspberry liqueur, orange, cranberry, pineapple juices, and a float of Cruzan 137 rum. It’s rummy, sweet, and unique to Mythos!
Pot of Gold Coffee – Finnegan’s Bar and Grill
Finnegan’s will definitely lure you in with their AMAZING Potato and Onion Webbs. The appetizer is literally just fried potatoes and fried onion strings. The Irish pub is also home to brews and coffee cocktails. On a chilly day, try the Pot o’ Gold Coffee made with Kahlua and Bailey’s!
The server conveniently served my coffee in a to-go cup so I can bring my boozy coffee with me!
Hog’s Head Brew – Hog’s Head
Like I said, you should definitely order your Butterbeer from Hog’s Head because the line is usually much shorter than other locations. You can pair your sweet, non-alcoholic drink with something a little stronger. Hog’s Head Brew is a special beer that you can only find in the Wizarding World. (There are other drinks like the Fishy Ale on the menu too!)
Ocean Attack (Formerly Shark Attack) – Chez Alcatraz
This drink is famous among Universal’s frequent visitors. The drink is a tropical blend of Blue Curacao, rum, and grenadine. It’s good but you really order it for entertainment. The bartender Murph always puts on a show when mixing the drink. He even has his own puppet version of Bruce (the shark from Jaws) to make the experience authentic!
Fire Whisky and Cider – The Fountain of Fair Fortune
This final drink is kind of a “secret menu” item. Head to The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Hopping Pot, or Hog’s Head. Order a cider and ask for it with a shot of Fire Whisky. The result is a sweet Strongbow Apple Cider with a cinnamon bite. It’s refreshing, not overly sweet, and has a nice flavor.
By the way, Fire Whisky is basically an equivalent to Fireball. Although, Universal’s whisky is much smoother and tastes better!
Need some snack ideas to go with your drinks? Check out this guide to 7 Heavenly Snacks at Universal Orlando!
Soak up the sun at Volcano Bay
Water parks aren’t always my forte, but I make an exception for Volcano Bay. The island theme is beautiful and there are plenty of island drinks to be had. There is plenty to do for adults who love thrills and others who want to relax!
The beach is made with real sand and it’s the perfect setting to get a tan while you sip on a rum drink. You can wade out into the wave pool to get a little damp or spend some time on the lazy river. For drinks, I recommend Vol’s Fire Punch from the Dancing Dragons Boat Bar. It’s made with Mt. Gay rum, fresh pineapple juice, agave, Sprite, grenadine.
Thrill-seekers can raise their blood pressure on Ko’okiri Body Plunge. The 90-degree angle water slide plummets you down the volcano at top speeds. There’s also TeAwa the Fearless River which is the more…exciting version of the lazy river. Swimmers don their life jackets and get pulled down the whitewater river without a paddle!
Character Meet n’ Greets
In most cases, adult guests are more excited to meet Universal’s characters than children. The lineup consists of characters that were present in our childhood or from movies our parents grew up with. Like, you can have a real conversation with Doc from Back to the Future. Or, meet the totally groovy gang from Scooby-Doo. Other characters like Spongebob, Hello Kitty, and Madagscar animals can be found here too!
Back to the Future fans can pose with the real train from Back to the Future III and a DeLorean used in the films . The vehicles are permanently located at the entrance of Springfield. This is where you can find Doc milling about and tinkering with the cars.
BEST UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RIDES FOR ADULTS
The majority of Universal’s rides are intended for “mature audiences.” Even the sedated attractions have some sort of fear factor. From daunting roller coasters to 3D experiences, every adult is sure to find something that excites them!
I’ve already covered all the thrilling rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s time to give other rides their time in the spotlight. There’s more to Universal than wizards and wands!
7 Thrill Rides for adults
- Incredible Hulk Coaster: A big, green roller coaster with several inversions and large drops. Remember to stow your belongings in the free lockers! The Team Members will be checking you for loose items with a metal detector.
- Revenge of The Mummy: This ride has some roller coaster aspects like fast corners and launches. It’s honestly more humorous than scary!
- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (3D): Those of you who loved comic books will love this Spider-Man 3D ride! The vehicle takes you from room to room where you’ll encounter villains and more adventure.
- Transformers – The Ride (3D): The ride is very similar to Spider-Man but you’ll find transforming cars instead of cartoons. The technology has been updated quite a bit since Spider-Man and I find it enjoyable even though I’m not a Transformer fan.
- Doctor Doom’s Fearfall: This is a basic “drop ride” where you’re strapped into a ride chair then launched into the sky. The ride is maybe 30 seconds long…but it’s a very thrilling 30 seconds!
- The Simpsons Ride: I wouldn’t call it “thrilling” but it is a jostling 3D simulator. You’ll experience some thrills when Maggie grows the size of a skyscraper!
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: Fair warning, avoid this ride if you get motion sickness! It will definitely toss you around a bit. In my opinion, this huge roller coaster with huge drops and inversions is the most thrilling at Universal. You get to set the theme with your choice of background music too!
Coming Soon! Velocicoaster will open in summer 2021 and is sure to be an AWESOME roller coaster. The Jurassic World thrill ride will feature several inversions, reach 70 mph, and starts with a super-fast launch.
Nostalgic Rides for Adults
Universal movies may not stir up the same warm feeling a Disney movie does, but some of their attractions bring out that childhood nostalgia. E.T. Adventure is still operating (even though it’s looking a little worse for the wear). This ride continues to thrill 80s/90s babies everywhere.
You can also shoot some aliens on the Men in Black 3D attraction and relive your childhood Seussland! Much like Disney World, there are rides, characters, and entertainment that are throwbacks to a simpler time.
Special things to do for adults at Universal
Halloween Horror Nights
This horrifying Halloween party is definitely not intended for kids or those who spook easily! Every year, Universal transforms the park into a terrifying theme park with haunted houses, characters, and loads of horror-ific atmosphere. In previous years, the houses were inspired by shows like Stranger Things, The Shining, and The Poltergeist. To add to the ambiance, Scare Actors walk through the park “entertaining” the masses with chainsaws and severed limbs.
This is a special ticket event that has a separate cost but it’s totally worth it for many people. The extra entertainment, special food, and thrills make this event a must-do for Halloween! You can also visit for Mardi Gras where the occasion is celebrated with over-the-top parade floats and tons of beads!
Get the VIP Experience with a Private Tour
The VIP Tour allows you front-of-the-line access to attractions, souvenir keepsakes, quick-service breakfast/lunch, and a backstage tour. These fancy VIP Tours range between $189-$499, depending on the season. This might be worth the extra cost if your group is looking for something totally unique and special.
To go the extra mile, you can opt for the Private VIP Tour which includes all this plus full-service breakfast/lunch/dinner and customizable itineraries. The Private VIP tour starts at a hefty $2899 for a one-day tour. (I might suggest this tour if you’re traveling with a famous celebrity or you have $3000 to spare.) For either tour, you’re whisked away to experience rides and shows with a personal escort, so there’s no rush and no stress.
Taste-test the Brews at Jake’s Beer Festival
Twice a year, Jake’s Beer Festival takes place at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The outdoor festival is located under the Wantilan Pavilion and features about 50 specialty beers and special snacks. There is also plenty of entertainment to keep your spirits up! It’s a chance to hang out at a nice resort and enjoy an adults-only event!
Not visiting during the festival? Jake’s American Bar also features an exclusive experience called Jake’s Beer Dinner throughout the year. A new beer vendor is featured every month and you can order craft brews, special entrees, and dessert prepared just for the event!
Have a Spa Day
There’s nothing like a day full of spa music and scented oils. Loews Portofino Hotel has a Mandara Spa onsite that will treat you to full services and the total experience. Before or after your massage, you can enjoy the steam room, sauna, or hydropool. I’m relaxed just thinking about it!
I understand wandering through a theme park as a fully-grown human can be a little odd. You may feel entirely out of place, but you should know there are a ton of adults who travel to Universal with their partners, friends, or even solo (*raises hand*). If visiting Disney as an adult makes you feel a little strange, Universal is a great alternative. Although, if you find yourself in Seussland feeling like an absolute weirdo, get out of there and head straight to Backwater Bar.
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Have anything you want to add to my list? I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy a Universal vacay as an adult! And your comments and feedback are helpful to others! Feel free to comment below if you have any comments, questions, or reactions!
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