logo ×

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

As always, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun to be enjoyed in Orlando’s theme parks this year.  But there are several real-life spooky stories associated with the area too!


The Ellis Exclusive Villas team has been looking into some of the real-life, local ghost stories about the haunted locations around Orlando’s theme parks and the wider Orlando and Central Florida area.

So, if you’re interested in going beyond the theme parks to find out about Orlando’s ghoulish and unnerving goings-on, check out the locations on this spooky list.


#1. Walt Disney’s apartment ghost story

While Disney World, Orlando is our favourite Walt Disney theme park, it seems that the man himself might have stuck around in the California park!  In July 1954, Walt Disney moved into a small apartment on the Disneyland site so he could oversee the theme park’s construction ahead of its grand opening in July 1955.  According to local legend, it’s possible the legendary cartoonist never left!

One evening, a cast member turned off the lights and locked up only for the light in the apartment’s front window to come back on again.  She went in, turned off the lights again and, when she again tried to leave, the light was on again.

It’s now a tradition to leave the light on in an apartment above the Firehouse on Main Street at Disneyland every night as a tribute to Walt… spooky!


#2. Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride

Meanwhile… back in Orlando… Like the rest of the attractions at Disney World, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride is no stranger to screams of enjoyment.  But legend has it that, if you don’t tread carefully, some decidedly more frightened screams could result.

No one’s certain whether the story of a local welder called George who was killed during the construction of the attraction is really true, but believing in him might be a good precaution if you’re going to ride this attraction!


It’s said that the cast members who work on the ride in the day or close it up at night like to bid George good morning and good night.  It’s said that failing to keep him appeased in this way has resulted in some very strange occurrences… and, whatever you do, don’t say that you don’t believe in George while you’re on the ride… it’s said George will stop the ride if you do!


#3. Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando

If you’re looking for ghosts, it’s almost common sense to head to the local cemetery… and Greenwood Cemetery certainly adheres to that notion.

As well as being home to the tombs and mausoleums of some of Orlando’s most prominent families, the cemetery has several spooky stories attached to it.  Local legend has it that in certain areas of the cemetery, you can hear the disembodied sounds of children’s laughter.

Meanwhile, just outside the mausoleum of Fred Weeks, you may spot the cemetery’s most famous long-dead resident.  There have been several sightings of Fred lurking just outside his final resting place.


#4. Ceviche restaurant, downtown Orlando

If wandering around cemeteries isn’t your particular idea of fun, dining out at Orlando’s popular Ceviche restaurant used to be a much more appealing way to get your ghost story fix.

Ever since the tapas bar opened for business, tales of spooky goings-on have been reported – mostly linked to the building’s former roles as city hotel and, before that, a local church.  Most of the sightings centre on a woman wearing nineteenth-century clothing who is said to linger by the bar.  But some report unseen hands that pull at clothing.  And some mention a ghostly priest!

However, in June we heard the sad news that Ceviche Orlando is closing its doors permanently, as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

You’ll now need to head over to St Pete to enjoy Ceviche’s delicious tapas – and while the food should be as tasty, you can’t expect the ghostly sightings!


#5. Motel ghost, International Drive

Staying in your own vacation home with a private pool (and, at the moment, the easy social distancing) is always better than staying in a hotel in our humble opinion (although we might be slightly biased!)… but nowhere is this more true than in room 206 of the Super 8 motel on International Drive, Orlando.

Room 206 is said to be impossible to heat and the room feels cold in the heat of day – even with the air conditioning turned off!  Guests have also claimed to see an imprint of a human body appear on the sheets, even when nobody has been there!  And some guests have been woken by the feeling of someone else in bed beside them or by the bed suddenly shaking violently in the night!

We definitely prefer the good night’s sleep of our own vacation homes!


#6. Princeton Hospital, Orlando

Ok, so it’s an unlikely vacation destination (we hope!) but this hospital is definitely part of Orlando’s spooky folklore!  The psychiatric hospital is said to be haunted by the spirits of patients by the doctors, nurses and other staff who work there.

The second and third floors, in particular, are said to be host to strange paranormal goings-on, with lights flickering on and off, unexplained knocking sounds, freewheeling wheelchairs drifting along corridors and disembodied moans and voices.


#7. Cassadaga, Florida

Cassadaga is famous for its paranormal activity.  The town is home to a local spiritualist camp.  Located just off the I4 on the way to Daytona, Cassadaga is the place to go to meet healers and spiritualists, but it also has its fair share of spooky stories.

In the centre of town, the Cassadaga Hotel is supposedly haunted, as is the eerily named Devil’s Chair in the Lake Helen Cassadaga cemetery.  It seems only natural that the place named locally as “the psychic capital of the world” should be particularly attractive for visitors from beyond the grave…


#8. St Augustine, Florida

There are many compelling reasons to make a day trip to St Augustine from one of our vacation homes in Orlando: the food, the seasonal events, the history, the beaches… The town was once the state capital of Florida and its historic sites are well worth exploring.

The iconic St Augustine lighthouse is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Pettee girls.  Their father was working on the lighthouse construction when they drowned in the sea a short distance away.  Today, visitors to the lighthouse report hearing sounds of the children’s laughter and footsteps on the lighthouse’s many stairs.


Meanwhile the sprawling site of St Augustine’s seventeenth-century Castillo de San Marcos fortress has a number of ghost stories attached to it.  Visitors report seeing a lovesick woman in white.  While others report seeing the ghost of a Seminole man who leaps from the fortress walls.


#9. Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida

Beautiful old buildings seem to attract tales of hauntings and the Tampa movie theatre is no exception.  This gorgeous theatre building was built in 1926.  It is said to be haunted by one of the projectionists who worked there from 1930 until 1965, when he died of a heart attack in the projection room.

Since then, employees have reported many spooky and paranormal events that have happened, especially when they are alone in the theatre!

Although the theatre isn’t open at the moment, you can do your bit to support this local non-profit institution by streaming movies from its website.  In honour of the season, there’s a whole range of ghostly, ghoulish and downright scary movies to enjoy.

This year, brave souls can also sign up to SpiritsFest – an exclusive online Halloween event.  Sign up to receive a code to access an exclusive evening of LIVE-streaming entertainment, starting at 7:00pm Saturday night.  And you can also purchase SpiritsFest sampling-to-go boxes for $95 featuring four spirited seasonal cocktails.


#10. Complex 34, Kennedy Space Centre, Florida

Now that SpaceX has revitalised the local space industry, heading over to the east coast to see a rocket launch is a must-do while in Orlando: you’re guaranteed a really amazing day trip from one of our Orlando vacation homes if you time your trip right.

It’s around a 50-minute drive to get to the East Coast beaches and, while you’re there, a trip around the Kennedy Space Centre is an absolute must!


However, the location isn’t without its share of spooky stories either.  The terrible tragedy of the three astronauts who died in a cabin fire on the launch pad of Complex 34 is well known.  The launch pad was immediately closed down and now Launch Complex 34 is maintained as the memorial site for the crew of Apollo 1.

In normal times, you can visit the site on official tours.  Visitors who do have reported a variety of paranormal activity taking place there, including a mysterious screaming.  Many who have visited the site report a feeling a sudden and overwhelming sense of dread.


Want to live the Orlando adventure for yourself?  Book your visit!


Spooky stories abound – as you can see!  If this has whet your appetite for some spooky Halloween fun, read our guide to the Halloween fun that’s happening at Florida’s theme parks this fall season.

Halloween 2020


Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

EEV Vacation Homes


Fall is one of the most fun times in Orlando’s theme parks.

This year, Orlando’s theme parks are working hard to get the right balance between ensuring guest safety and spooktacular Halloween fun in Orlando.

Even with the new rules being enforced to protect guests from COVID-19, there is still plenty of fall fun to enjoy!

Here’s our round up.

Scary Good Times at Universal Orlando

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights are one of our favourite events.  Like many people we were sad to hear they won’t be running this year.

Universal have introduced plenty of “scary good” fun to occupy us though!

There are two heart-pounding haunted houses in Universal Studios:

Virtual lines are in place for both attractions to enable social distancing. Both haunted houses are included with normal admission to Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

You can take your kids (age 12 or younger) trick-or-treating in Islands of Adventure. Grab a free trick-or-treat bag, then look out for pumpkin stickers marking participating retail stores.

There’s also a fun Scarecrow Stalk. Find all 13 custom-crafted scarecrows and skeletons on this all-new scavenger hunt to receive a candy sampler bag, while supplies last.

Costumes aren’t essential, but they are encouraged.  Dressing up is a good way to have Halloween fun in Orlando.

Even better for Florida residents, if you buy a day you can visit every day through to December 24th for free!


Halloween fun at DisneyWorld Orlando

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party isn’t happening this year either.  However there are still plenty of special treats to enjoy.

The Boo-To-You parade, fireworks, stage shows and character meet-and-greets cannot take place this year because of social distancing rules.

Nevertheless, Disney has ensured that your little ones can still see their favourite Disney characters and enjoy the magic of the season. Magic Kingdom has introduced mini cavalcades that happen at various times throughout the day.  It’s actually really nice to enjoy a more laid-back park experience without the crowds.

There are plenty of special autumnal food treats to enjoy too. How about the Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundaes at Sleepy Hollow? Or the Pumpkin Spice Milkshake at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies?

Disney is inviting all guests to embrace the spirit of the season by wearing Halloween costumes when visiting between September 15 and October 31, 2020.  While costume masks aren’t allowed for anyone over the age of 14, all guests are required to wear approved face coverings during their visit.

Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  We’re pleased to say it’s still going ahead, albeit in a scaled back way.

Disney is inviting guests to sip, savour and stroll around the park.  There will be twenty participating marketplaces at this year’s Taste of Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

Kids can follow Remy’s Ratatouille Hide and Squeak Scavenger Hunt. You will need to purchase a map and then explore the World Showcase to help Remy collect ingredients for his signature dish.  Along the way pick up  stickers from select Festival merchandise locations.  At the end of the hunt claim your prize at Disney Traders.

The event is included in your Epcot admission.  Remember to use the Disney Park Pass reservation system in order to enter the park.

What Halloween fun is happening at SeaWorld?

You can read more about what’s happening elsewhere in Central Florida on our blog: read about this year’s Spooktacular at SeaWorld here.

Ready to book your own Halloween fun in Orlando’s theme parks?

Check out our vacation homes near Disney World & Universal Orlando:

Browse our homes

The Halloween fun has begun in Orlando’s theme parks!

The parks are a little different right now, thanks to the social distancing measures that are in place to keep guests safe. That isn’t affecting all the fabulous fall fun there is to be had though!

SeaWorld’s fun-filled Halloween event, the SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular, is back this year.

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular

This year, Spooktacular is running on Saturdays and Sundays, from September 19th through November 1st.

You’ll notice some differences: the frequent hand-sanitising stations, the obligatory mask wearing and a few tweaks to the programme.

Plus, on the Trick-or-Treat Trail this year:

The Spooktacular events are all included in park admission. This year’s attractions for your little ones include:

Plus! Enjoy a nostalgic drive-thru experience

New this year, SeaWorld have introduced a fab drive-thru movie experience as part of their Halloween events.  Now, you can enjoy a spooky film night under the stars while complying with social distancing requirements.

You can buy treats before the movie from the local food trucks that will be parked up nearby. Then sit back in the comfort of your own vehicle and enjoy the movie!

Saturdays, Sept. 19 – Oct. 31 and Friday, Oct. 23 & 30

Family-friendly Halloween film: 7:45 p.m.
Fright-filled Halloween film: 10:30 p.m.

It’s $40 to park your vehicle and this includes all seated passengers in it to view the movie.

Book your Halloween fun now!

Halloween is one of the most fun times of year in Orlando’s theme parks. We’re so pleased that this year, you can still experience and enjoy the magic.

You can find out more about SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular here.

If you’d like to book your stay in Florida to enjoy a visit to SeaWorld Orlando or any of the fun-packed fall events that are happening in central Florida and its wonderful attractions this year, please check out our homes here.

There can be few places better to spend the Christmas and New Year than Orlando.

Here’s the Ellis Exclusive Villas run down of the very best ways to celebrate the holiday season.


#1. Disney’s Magic Kingdom: Micky’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a warm-hearted family celebration featuring all your favourite Disney characters.

It is a specially ticketed event running over select nights between Nov 8 and Dec 22.

This year’s event features a Frozen-themed Disney castle and a special Christmas Parade and lightshow.


#2. Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has seen a slew of new openings in recent years, including the new Star Wars world and Toy Story world.

Its Christmas celebrations this year include the Jingle Bel, Jingle BAM firework spectacular and a special show on Sunset Boulevard which includes falling snow.


#3. Epcot: International Festival of the Holidays

Discover Christmas traditions from all over the world at Epcot’s Christmas celebrations.

The highlight is the Candlelight Processional with a 50-piece orchestra, which takes three times each night. Plus, enjoy delicious festive treats at the food stalls and a festive cookie stroll.


#4. Universal: Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This festive season, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have both had a holiday makeover.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you haven’t been this year, do make a trip to the Universal parks a part of your holiday season schedule because Universal has also had a fantastic new opening in its Harry Potter world this year: a new rollercoaster called Hagrid’s magical creatures motorbike adventure.  Plus, there’s a new lightshow featuring Dementors, Death Eaters and the Dark Lord Voldemort at Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure.

Elsewhere in the Universal parks, you can enjoy a Macy’s Holiday Parade and a Who-liday Spectacular featuring Dr Seuss’s Grinch.


#5. Snow falling in Celebration

We’re big fans of the town of Celebration, just outside the Disney Parks. It’s well worth a visit anytime of year, but Christmas time is particularly special.

As well as horse-drawn carriage rides around the town as it is all dressed up for Christmas, carol singers on the streets, and a really buzzy Christmas feel in the shops and restaurants, the town also boasts a temporary ice rink and even has its own snowfall every evening!


 #6. Legoland Florida Resort

If you have young children in your party, don’t miss a trip to Legoland this festive season.  Your little ones will love the special Christmas activities at the theme park.

As well as special fireworks shows on select nights leading up to Christmas, there’s also a child-friendly new year’s party this holiday season.


#7. Festival of Trees at OMART

If you aren’t travelling with little ones, the Festival Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art is perhaps a more age-appropriate way to celebrate the holiday season.  This highly regarded event is a bit of an Orlando Christmas institution. It’s a great way to stock up on truly unique gifts made by local designers and artists, while supporting the museum’s programmes for lifelong learning.

Loch Haven Park, where the Orlando Museum of Art is sited, is about 10 minutes from downtown Orlando.  So, while you’re visiting downtown Orlando, combine a trip to the Festival of Trees with tickets to enjoy another Orlando cultural Christmas tradition: Orlando Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Dr Philips Centre for the Performing Arts.

This year’s performances run from Friday, December 13 through to a matinee performance on Monday, December 23, 2019.


#8. ICE! At Gaylord Palms


If you don’t want to make the trip downtown, then you might want to try another local favourite a bit closer to home. This year, the popular ice sculpture show at the Gaylord Palms hotel and resort features a Polar Express theme.

The walking tour around the ice sculptures is a real holiday treat and your kids will love the ice slides at the end!  Running: November 25, 2019 – January 5, 2020 at the resort at 6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee.


Remember! If you need help purchasing tickets for any of these wonderful holiday celebrations, please speak with our ticketing partner, Kissimmee Guests Services.

With Christmas inspiration, now book your visit!


Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

Browse our homes


Talk to our ticket partner for the best deal on tickets – guaranteed!

Buy Tickets


Read our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure:

Orlando Hacks


The latest new Harry Potter Adventure!  Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride is opening at Universal on June 13th.

The latest addition to the World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is sure to delight coaster freaks and Harry Potter fans alike.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike ride boasts some thrilling white-knuckle stats:

* The longest rollercoaster in Florida

* The first coaster in the USA to feature a free-fall vertical drop

* The most launches of any coaster in the world

Fun Fact:  It combines some of the most high-tech animatronics and input from the creative team behind the Harry Potter films.  Universal’s creative team worked with Stuart Craig, the films’ Creative Director and Alan Gilmore, the Art Director.

Immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter

Thanks to this exciting new ride, visitors to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogsmeade at the Universal Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando will be ushered into a new world of magical creatures

It’s the first time that visitors to the park will come face to face with one of the series’ best loved characters.  Universal has pulled out all the stops to create its most advanced and realistic animated figure yet.

Fun Fact:  The team worked directly with Robbie Coltrane, the actor who plays Hagrid in the films, to develop facial expressions and body movements for the animated Hagrid figure that introduces visitors to his magical creatures.  New voice recordings by Robbie Coltrane where produced for more authenticity.

Meet the magical creatures of Hagrid and Harry’s world

Enter through Hagrid’s hut prior to venturing on to the abandoned ruins, on the edge of the Forbidden Forest.

A pre-ride show featuring digital projection technology will entertain you as you meet Hagrid, Arthur Weasley and Hagrid’s pet – Fang.

You’ll then be able to decide whether to ride Hagrid’s motorbike or travel like Harry in the sidecar alongside.

Buckle up and the ride will plunge deeper into the Forbidden forest – where you’ll meet some of the wizarding world’s rare and wonderful magical creatures.

A rip-roaring ride

It isn’t only magical creatures that will be taking your breath away. Hadrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride launches at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Fun Fact:  The ride track measures in at 5,053 feet long.  This makes Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride the longest roller-coaster in Florida.

The ride includes the first free-fall vertical drop in the USA.  Drop 17 feet vertically down for an adrenaline-spiked, stomach-losing free-fall, before in one movement being catapulted 65 feet into the air at a 70-degree angle and dropping back down again.   A really wild and hair-raising adventure!

Want to live the adventure for yourself?  Book your visit!

Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

Ellis Exclusive Villas – Vacation Homes

Read our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure:

Universal Orlando Hacks

Mickey Mouse has been a prominent feature in the Walt Disney company’s Orlando theme parks since they first opened in the 1970s.  Here are some of our favourite Mouse facts.

Walt Disney famously commented, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

Today, Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with average annual attendance of more than 52 million.

There are now 4 parks at the Lake Buena Vista site: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

A Star is Born

Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in the cartoon “Steamboat Willie”.  This short film debuted on November 18th 1928.

Fifty years later, on November 18th 1978, Mickey became the first cartoon character to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The star was awarded to celebrate Mickey’s 50th birthday.

You can see Mickey’s star at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard.

Steamboat Willie

Although Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey Mouse film to receive a cinema release, it was actually the third Mickey Mouse film to be created.

It was preceded by “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho”.

These two earlier films initially failed to find distributors.  Later, they were picked up and released.

Mickey’s first feature film was released in 1940.  In “Fantasia” Mickey starred as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

It Could Have Been So Different…

Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse after he lost the rights to an earlier character he had created, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Walt Disney originally planned to call his mouse “Mortimer Mouse”.

Walt changed the name to Mickey when his wife Lillian suggested the name of Mortimer sounded too pompous.

Lillian suggested Mickey because she felt the name better evoked the characteristics of fun and humility.

The Talkies

The first film in which Mickey spoke was his ninth release.  “The Karnival Kid” was released in July 1929 and Mickey’s first words were “Hot dog!”

Walt Disney wasn’t happy with the first few actors chosen to provide a voice for Mickey – so he did the job himself.

Walt Disney continued to be the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1947.

The two people who then became the voices of Mickey and Minnie were married in real life.

Mickey’s most famous phrases include: “Oh boy!”, “That sure is swell!” and “See ya soon!”.

Now you know the Mouse facts, book your visit!

Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

Browse our homes

Talk to our ticket partner for the best deal on tickets – guaranteed!

Buy Tickets

Read our best-ever hacks for Disney World:

Orlando Hacks

What’s new in Orlando?

There always seems to be something exciting happening in Orlando.  And this season is no different.

The Ellis Exclusive Villas team brings you news of all the new rides and excitement coming to Orlando soon.

We bring you news of:

Infinity Falls, a new raft ride at SeaWorld

Ray Rush, an award-wining new ride at Aquatica water park

Oga’s Cantina, exciting first news from Galaxy’s Edge

Tigris, soon to be Florida’s tallest launch coaster

Family fun from Disney

What are the most exciting new rides and attractions opening soon in Orlando?


Infinity Falls

Well, it doesn’t get much more exciting that the new ride opening at SeaWorld this week.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen: this week.

>Infinity Falls opens at SeaWorld on 4th October and we just can’t wait!

This new SeaWorld ride is set to be the most thrilling river rapids ride of your life!  It features the world’s longest drop on a river raft ride and the only vertical lift on a river rafts ride.  Jump on one of Infinity Falls 14 rafts and you’ll be whisked away on a watery adventure.  If holding on tight through churning white water is your thing, then this is the ride for you.

Infinity Falls Fun Facts

Ray Rush

The grand opening of Infinity Falls comes hot on the heels of another SeaWorld new attraction: the Ray Rush ride at Aquatica Orlando, which opened this May and has already scooped Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Award for Best New Water Park Ride.

This awesome ride is another fun family raft ride.  Hop on a raft and water jets will launch your raft so you whoosh down the Ray Rush’s exhilarating slides and tubes before popping out in the pool below – splashtastic!


Ray Rush Fun Facts

Oga’s Cantina

Disney has opened Toy Story World this year and Star Wars fans are eagerly awaiting the opening of Disney’s Star Wars World, Galaxy’s Edge.  If you are a Star Wars nut, then Disney has something special for you to make the wait more bearable.

Oga’s Cantina is a new restaurant which Disney has announced will open next year – serving Star Wars themed food and drinks to the sounds of its resident DJ.  Visitors can expect to meet a few Star Wars themed characters in Oga’s Cantina.  Besides RX-24, the former StarSpeeder 3000 pilot droid, who is the Cantina’s resident DJ, it’s a safe bet a few Storm Troopers will be making an entrance.

Oga’s Cantina Fun Facts

Galaxy’s Edge is set to open Fall 2019 in Disney World Orlando.


Meanwhile, Busch Gardens has been announcing some exciting plans of its own – especially for coaster fans.

Tigris is set to be a new record-breaking rollercoaster.  Busch Gardens has scheduled its opening date for Spring 2019, so you don’t have long to wait to experience what will be Florida’s tallest launch coaster.  The movement of the coaster has been designed to imitate the agility of a tiger and it sounds like it will have just as much power too!

Tigris Fun Facts

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Finally, Disney is also planning one for the littlies with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.  This fun, family attraction is set to open in 2019 and will throw guests into the wacky and unpredictable world of Mickey Mouse.  It will be Disney World’s first Mickey-themed ride-through attraction and its crazy capers will feature a new no-glasses ride experience that Disney is calling 2½D.

We’ll bring you more news when we hear it!

Orlando’s unique magic

If you’d like to experience any of these rides and attractions – whether this year or next – now is the time to book your Orlando vacation home.  Booking early ensures you get your pick of the crop: you can browse our homes here.

Orlando is the centre of the theme park universe, with good reason.  And its managed to retain that status for decades thanks to the continual innovation and ground-breaking designs of the theme parks’ imagineers.  These are the people that bring the rides off the drawing board and to life and, if this season’s launches are anything to go by, they just keep getting better and better!

We’re so excited to see what’s coming next.  And of course, we will share all the news with you right here on our blog.

Now you know the news, book your visit!

Check out our vacation homes in Orlando:

Browse our homes

Talk to our ticket partner for the best deal on tickets – guaranteed!

Buy tickets

Find out more about Disney’s Star Wars launch.

What we know now

The Ellis Exclusive Villas team shares our favourite Disney World top tips. This is everything you need to know about Disney World!

Even experienced Disney visitors will learn something from this collection of our favourite Disney hacks. If you are planning to visit Disney World while staying at one of our Orlando vacation homes, make sure you try these best-ever Disney World Hacks.

Let us guide you step by step through everything you need to know about getting the most from your visit to Disney World Orlando.

#1. Pick your dates wisely

Ticket prices can vary wildly from one month – or day – to the next. Choosing the right dates to go can have a huge impact on your total bill. If you are able to pick your travel dates freely, January and September are usually the cheapest months – and the weather is milder too.

If you are planning a visit to the parks with tiny tots, then make the most of these cheap rates before your toddler reaches school age and you’re constrained to the more expensive school holiday periods.

We really love Dave Shute’s guidance on this and if you’re serious about picking a day with lower footfall highly recommend you visit his site.

#2. Get your ticket from a reputable source

Don’t fall for too-good-to-be-true prices – always get your ticket from a reputable source.

If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. You don’t want to find yourself signed up for a timeshare meeting to get a discount (what a waste of a day’s holiday!) or, worse, turned away at the gates.

#3.Buy your tickets AT LEAST a month before you go so you can use the Fast Pass service

Disney’s Fast Pass Plus will save you lots of time standing in line.

Fast Pass is a free service from Disney. To use it, you need to have Disney tickets.

Then, 30 days before you are due to visit, you can use your Fast Pass to reserve your place in the queue on some of Disney’s most popular rides and attractions.

If there are some rides you don’t want to miss, your Fast Pass is the best way to minimise the time you stand in line for those rides. Simply register online or in the app to book your slot in the queue in advance.

Each guest can reserve their place in the queue for up to three rides or attractions.

You can also use your Fast Pass Plus to book character Meet and Greets too – which is really great if you have toddlers and little ones in your party.

Spend some time thinking about what you want to do, what you don’t want to miss, what is going to make your day special and use of your Fast Pass allocations wisely.

#4. Download the Disney World app

The best source of information before you go is the Disney World app – it includes information about wait times per attraction as well as showtimes for fireworks and parades.

Download the Disney World guest app “My Disney Experience” as soon as you can. The app is available on IoS and Android.

The app is ideal for helping you get familiar with the park layout and services before you arrive.

It also gives you access to the Fast Pass Plus scheme – so you can book your place in the queue for the most popular rides (see item #3). You can access the Fast Pass Plus system from 30 days before your visit. This scheme is one of the best ways to minimise the time you spend in line during your visit – so do make use of it.

#5. Book Disney restaurants and Disney character meet and greets far in advance

Character meet and greets are extremely popular and you need to book them month’s in advance. Don’t leave it to the last minute.


#6. When you visit, aim to arrive BEFORE the parks officially open

People don’t usually want to get up early in the morning when they are on vacation so, as a rule, the parks are always quieter first thing in the morning. Aim to arrive even before the official opening time. This enables you to make your way to the gate for “rope drop” and be at the front of the queue!

Magic Kingdom opens an hour before rope drop – so you can spend a little time browsing the stores on Main Street before getting yourself into pole position for opening.

On some days, on some rides, you may even be able to enjoy an attraction before the official opening time.

#7. Early starts don’t have to mean a full day

If you have toddlers in your party, one thing we have found useful over the years is to book a villa just a short drive from the main gate – our homes on Seasons are ideal. This way, you can align your trip perfectly with your toddler’s schedule.

You’ll be used to the early starts with your toddler’s early rises so can arrive at the parks early and make the most of the lighter queues in the mornings. When your little one is ready for their lunchtime nap, escape back to the vacation home for lunch. This will save you a fortune because you can cater for yourself instead of having to pay high restaurant prices in the parks.


You can chill by the pool during the heat of the day, then return to the parks fully refreshed in the late afternoon – ready to enjoy the evening fireworks and parades.

Disney can be quite overwhelming, especially on a first visit, so this is one way to reduce the stress and sensory overload on your whole party!

#8. Extra Magic Hours

One way to sneak into the park before anyone else is to stay at a Disney hotel for a night when there are Extra Magic Hours running at the park you want to visit.

On these days, hotel guests can access the park an hour early or stay a couple of hours later than other guests.

A word of warning, however: this is really only useful if you intend to get up an hour earlier and make use of that extra magic hour. What’s more, the parks do tend to be busier on the days when Extra Magic Hours are available.

There is a cheaper and better way to get into the park early which we will explain below.

#9. Time your Disney restaurant bookings and Disney character meet and greets wisely

Rather than checking into a Disney hotel and leaving your villa empty for the night, we recommend saving your money and booking a character breakfast on a day when there are no Extra Magic Hours instead.

Book an early breakfast at Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table on a non-EMH morning and you can skip down an empty Main Street USA and pose with characters with hardly any others in the picture.

This is a great treat. Plus, the rest of the day won’t be subject to the extra crowds that seem to materialise on Extra Magic Hours days.

You can also use the Disney app to book restaurants and character meet and greets.

Do book as early as you can because they are popular!

#10. Agree a meeting point

As soon as you enter the park, set a meeting point where all your party can meet up in the event you get separated and your phone batteries die. If nothing else, it’s good for peace of mind.

#11. Your first visit should be to Guest Services if it is a special occasion

On your first visit, birthday, anniversary or special event go to Guest Services as soon as you arrive to pick up a pin badge. Wear your “It’s my birthday today” pin and you’ll be regaled with birthday greetings all day. A little bit of extra Disney magic which makes an occasion or birthday extra special.

If you are going to do this, we recommend an early start because the queue for Guest Services can get long quickly – and early start saves the time you’ll spend in line.

#12. Leave your selfie stick at home

They are not welcome at Disney.

#13. Do pack a poncho

This is our favourite money saving tip. At certain times of year, Florida is known for its flash showers so having a lightweight waterproof is vital.

Plus,  your waterproof poncho will also come in very handy on the water rides!

However, the ponchos you buy in the park are expensive, so if you are trying to save money don’t leave it until you get to Disney World to buy one. Pick them up cheaply from local stores or online before you go.

#14. Make use of the Single Rider and Rider Switch schemes

Just as in Universal, Disney operates a rider swap scheme for parents with young children, so no one has to miss a turn on the ride because they’ve been left holding the baby.

As well as ensuring both Mum and Dad get to turn on the ride, older children in the party can enjoy a second turn without having to return to the back of the line.

Another way to reduce times is to ride as a single rider. This way, you will be seated where there are single seats between large parties. However, you do need to be prepared to ride alone; if you join the Single Rider line with other people in your party, you need to understand that you will be seated separately.

If you are parents visiting with one child who is too small to ride, you can combine Rider Switch with Single Rider and keep your wait times to an absolute minimum.

#15. Keep adding to your Fast Pass Plus selections as you use them

Once you use up your three pre-booked Fast Pass Plus selections, you can add more Fast Pass Plus options through the day (subject to availability). Either use the app or go to one of the Fast Pass Plus kiosks around the park.

Remember, to use the Fast Pass Plus scheme to full advantage, you need to get your Disney tickets well before you travel.

#16. If you don’t mind missing parades or firework shows, this is the time to ride!

The wait times for attractions are usually much lower when there is a parade or show happening.

On nights when there are no evening spectaculars in Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, you’ll find those parks have shorter waiting times too.

So, provided you don’t mind missing the shows, this can be a great time to get some extra rides in.

If you have little ones in your party or its your first visit, you won’t want to miss these magical events of pure Disney – so position yourself to the beginning of the parade route so you can scoot off once the parade passes and enjoy the short lines!

Word of warning: make sure you are on the right side of the parade route for the attraction you want to ride. There’s no crossing the parade route once it’s started.

#17. Offset your mealtimes

Wait times are often shorter during mealtimes too. So, you could consider scheduling a mid-morning snack and afternoon tea instead of having lunch.

This is a double win: you eat when the restaurants are less busy and you make the most of the short lines during peak dining times.

#18. Shop wisely

There are so many ways to spend money in the parks, so it’s worth thinking about what you want to spend your money on before you go.

You can pick up Disney merchandise cheaply in stores like Walmart or online, so if you are trying to save money it might be worth buying your little princess her Elsa dress before you go.

You can also save money by taking refillable water bottles with you – most restaurants will give you free iced water if you ask for it.

When Main Street is busy, you can avoid the crowds by walking through the shops instead of along the road. The shops are all inter-connected and the air conditioning is a cooling bonus!

We suggest you leave your shopping until the end of the day, because the shops of Main Street remain open for an hour after the rest of the park closes. However, if you do pick up a few souvenirs during the day, you can ask for them to be sent to the front of the park for the end of the day, so you can pick up your gift shopping as you leave.

Follow these 20 tips and you can get your most from your Disney World Orlando visit.

Share your Disney World Orlando hacks!

If you have other Disney World Orlando tips you can share with our guests, please do share your thoughts on our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear your Disney World tips and hacks.

If you’d like to talk to us about finding you the perfect vacation for your Disney World Orlando vacation, please email: reservations@ellisexclusivevillas.com 


Now you know the hacks, book your visit!


Check out our vacation homes near Disney World Orlando:

Browse our homes


Talk to our ticket partner for the best deal on tickets – guaranteed!

Buy Tickets


Read our best-ever hacks for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure:

Orlando Hacks


There’s only a month to go until Disney’s newest world opens at Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando.

Here’s everything you need to know about the soon-to-open Toy Story Land.

Toy Story Land – Opening June 30, 2018

This summer visitors to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Disney World Florida can enjoy a whole new land: Toy Story Land.

It’s the first of two major expansions to the Hollywood Studios park and is intended to be a really immersive experience. Toy Story fans should definitely not miss getting tickets to this park this summer!
Toy Story World will cover approximately 11 acres just off Pixar Place, behind the existing 4D shooting game, Toy Story Mania.

This is currently Hollywood Studio’s most popular ride, which is presumably what inspired Disney to expand on the Toy Story theme. The Toy Story Mania building will be extended to create a new entrance which will open directly onto the newly created Toy Story Land area.

Slinky Dog Dash

The centrepiece of the Toy Story Land area will be the Slinky Dog Dash – a family-friendly rollercoaster which coils around curves, hills, bridges and drops.

It should give a great view over the whole of Toy Story Land and the giant-size toys of that fill the landscape. Disney says there are more than 400 toys around Andy’s backyard.

Riders have to be 38in (97cm) or taller to enjoy Slinky Dog Dash and Disney describes the thrill level as “Thrill Ride, Small Drops”.

Alien Swirling Saucers

The other Tier One ride in Toy Story Land is the Alien Swirling Saucers spin ride.

Disney says, “Inside a play set that Andy won at Pizza Planet, the Aliens have powered up their flying saucers—and they’re ready to spin you on a wild ride into space! Hold on for some wild fun as your toy rocket takes off, all while electronic space music provides an intergalactic soundtrack. And if you’re really lucky, you might just get ‘chosen’ by the claw. Oooooo!”

The height restriction on this ride is just 32” (81cm) or taller.

Woody’s Lunchbox

Woody’s Lunchbox is the new food kiosk in Toy Story Land which will offer guests “tasty meals and old-fashioned floats” from a walk-up window service.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, visitors can enjoy a Toy Story themed menu.

Announced earlier this year, it includes: S’more French Toast Breakfast Sandwich; Banana Split Yogurt Parfait; Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwiches; Raspberry Lunch Box Tart; an Ice Cream Float with Barq’s Root Beer; and Grown-Up’s Lemonade.


Toy Story Merchandise

The Disney site is also promising Tshirts, Novelties and Beyond!


Character Meet and Greets

You can get a taste of the character meet and greets you can expect at the new Toy Story Land by checking out this video in which ABC previews the park attractions.

Disney says, “So buckle up your space ranger utility belt, set your lasers for big fun with some of your best pals… and get ready for the biggest play date of all time!”


Use Your Fast Pass

The FastPass+ reservations opened for Toy Story Land in April 2018. This means if you are planning a trip to be one of the first to experience the new Toy Story Land at Disney World Orlando, you can pre-book your rides on Alien Swirling Saucers or Slinky Dog Dash.

Best Price on Tickets

For great value tickets and information and advice about the best ticket and FastPass packages for you, we recommend you speak with our ticket partner Kissimmee Guest Services. They guarantee to match any price if you find the ticket cheaper up to 14 days after your visit – so you can be sure of getting the best deal.

Click through to their site from our attraction tickets page: www.ellisexclusivevillas.com/attraction-tickets/

If you are planning a trip to Universal Studios Orlando during your stay in Florida, you need to read these 10 Universal Orlando tips before you go.

We’ve pulled together some amazing hacks for you. Universal Orlando features three amazing theme parks — Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the Volcano Bay water theme park — it offers days and nights of endless fun for every member of the family.

Whether or not you’re staying at an Ellis Exclusive Villa or not these Universal Orlando tips will save you time, effort and money. And, most of all, help you to have a fantastic day at Universal. We’ll even help you discover one or two secret areas that most visitors miss!

Tip 1: Arrive Early – Even Before the Parks Open!

To enjoy the most popular attractions, do make sure you get to the parks early. The parks will be less crowded in the morning as most people like to sleep in late whilst on vacation.
If you can, aim to arrive about 1 hour BEFORE the park opens. If you are lucky, the park gates may open 15 minutes before the official opening time.

BONUS TIP: Once in, head to the back of the park and make your way to the front. We’ve tested this and being early allowed us to breeze through several wait times on the most popular attractions before the crowds arrive.

Most people will start at the gate and work their way into the park, so if you start the opposite way round you should maximise your time without the crowds.

Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are much calmer early on and you will be able to get some good photo shots and browse the shops in relative peace. These areas can get pretty busy and it’s easy to miss some of the highlights when the usual crowds are buzzing around.

Tip 2: Buy Park Tickets in Advance

To save time and money we recommend buying your park tickets ahead of time.  For the best deal, buy them through our ticket partner, Kissimmee Guest Services.

You can purchase them on the day at Universal Studios, but expect a big queue and the tickets tend to be more expensive.

Make sure you purchase a park-to-park ticket if you plan to ride the Hogswarts Express, as this visits both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Don’t worry if you forget or decide on the day, as there are ticket booths at the train stations in both parks, but you’ll save money and time if you purchase your tickets for both parks ahead of time.

Tip 3: Plan for Four Days Minimum

To conquer Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and the new Volcano Bay Water Park we recommend planning 4 days of your vacation to these parks. Maybe 5, if you don’t have an Express Pass. See our Tip Four for our tips on the best way to get an Express Pass.

You will definitely need a full day to explore the NEW Volcano Bay Water Park. It is amazing and is one of the best water parks around. It’s been a big hit with our guests.

BONUS TIP: If you are visiting Universal’s Volcano Bay water park, plan ahead and hire a private cabana where you can relax and unwind. The cabana retreats have padded lounge chairs, a small refrigerator stocked with bottled water, a complimentary fruit and snack basket, plus towel and locker service. You also have access to a concierge service with an exclusive menu of food and drink which can be delivered direct to the cabana.

One-story and two-story retreats are located throughout the park and you can get single or a family suite.

Tip 4: Get a FREE Express Pass by Spending a Night in a Universal Hotel

You’ll need to stay at either the “Royal Pacific”, “Hard Rock” or “Portofino Bay” hotels.

I know this tip sounds crazy coming from a vacation rental company, and you want to experience all the extra conveniences of staying in a villa over a hotel.  However, it can pay to spend a night at one of these hotels at Universal Orlando if you plan to visit the Universal parks.  This is because hotel guests get THREE amazing perks that will help you to more than double what you see in the Universal parks.

Perk 1 – You get to enter the Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure parks one hour earlier than the general crowd.

Use this early admission to go on the Forbidden Journey or the Gringott’s Bank ride an hour before anyone else is let into the park. If you’re quick and it’s not a busy day at the hotels, this extra hour potentially gives you enough time to ride the Forbidden Journey THREE times before the rest of the park even opens! We tried this for ourselves last time we visited Universal Orlando and it does work!

Another good use of this early entry is to visit Ollivanders in Hogsmeade, where the queues can get long very quickly. Getting there early will save you a lot of time waiting. Plus, the shops and town of Hogsmeade and the brilliant Diagon Alley are totally different when it’s empty; much calmer and more photogenic!

Perk 2 – Each guest staying in the room gets a FREE Universal Express Unlimited pass (worth around $149 each).  This can be used every day of your visit and this includes your date of check in and departure.

Universal Express allows you to skip the lines at most Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure attractions. It is awesome and includes the major Harry Potter rides: Escape from Gringotts, Forbidden Journey and Hogwarts Express. However, please note, an Express Pass is a separate purchase at Universal’s Volcano Bay.

The value of the Express Pass tremendous, especially during busier times. Do the maths and see if it makes sense to stay on site for your party! It is often cheaper to stay on-site with Unlimited Express Pass when you compare it against staying off-site and purchasing the Unlimited Express separately.

Don’t check out of your Ellis Exclusive Villa – just take an overnight bag and check into the hotel for one night so you can use the Express Passes for free.

Perk 3 – Added benefit of being close to the parks. Your hotel stay also includes free parking – and this can save you a further $25 per day (so assume 2 days parking charges are saved during a one-night stay).

There are five Loews hotels on site at Universal Orlando:
• Loews Portofino Bay Hotel – includes the Universal Express passes and early park admission.
• Hard Rock Hotel – includes the Universal Express passes and early park admission.
• Loews Royal Pacific Resort – includes the Universal Express passes and early park admission.
• Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – includes early park admission.
• Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – includes early park admission.

All of the hotels are within walking distance or a shuttle bus ride to all three theme parks and Universal CityWalk, which is well worth visiting.

If you are interested in checking out whether booking into a hotel could work out as a cheap way to get an Express Pass for you, give the Ellis Exclusive Villas team a call or email us: reservations@ellisexclusivevillas.com  We work with a number of ticketing and hotel booking partners who can get you a great rate.

We will help you do the maths and see if this will work for you.

Tip 5: You’ve Got Your Tickets – Now Plan Ahead

To get the most out of your days at Universal parks, we recommend you plan, plan and plan.

To help you do this, Universal has a very useful app. As well as helping you find out what’s going on in the parks, the app includes an interactive map, real-time wait times for rides, park hours and a parking reminder so you will remember where you parked your car. Best of all, it enables you to connect to Universal’s park WiFi – for FREE.

The app is FREE to download, so do download it!

Before you go, use the app to get the whole family involved in planning the day, making it more fun and efficient. It will save you so much time and frustration.

Another thing to plan in advance is PARK RESTAURANTS. Check out the Universal Dining Plan. Planning where you are going to eat will help you with your budget, as you will not have to eat at the closet restaurant you can find when everyone is hungry.

Planning ahead will also give you a chance to check out the menus and prices before you visit. Another option is to come out of the parks and eat at Broadwalk at Universal Citywalk. It tends to be quiet in the afternoon.

If you want to eat in the parks, try and wait until late afternoon to have lunch. This is when the ride waits are the longest and the restaurant queues are shorter.

Tip 6: Wear Comfortable Footwear and Bring a Backpack and a Rain Poncho

Universal doesn’t have any transportation inside the parks, so you can expect plenty of walking and standing in queues.

Make your number one wardrobe priority some good, comfortable footwear. Get them before you go and break them in before your trip! Sore, tired feet can make for a miserable day at the parks.

If you have a two-park ticket, don’t miss taking the Hogwarts Express between the parks. It is a really convenient way to get around and is a brilliant family experience – plus it saves walking time.

BONUS TIP: Take the train from both parks, so you make the journey in both directions; the experiences are totally different and, if you are a Harry Potter fan, not to be missed.

We also recommend taking a backpack for your snacks, water and personal items. If you don’t feel like carrying a backpack, you can rent a locker at the parks.

Do take a lightweight rain poncho. Florida rain showers can blow in quite suddenly, and the poncho will come in handy on some of the water rides anyway!

Tip 7: Beat the Queue as a Single Rider or with a Child Swap

The parks try to make the queuing work as seamlessly as possible for everyone and two of the options introduced to manage the queues for the rides better include “single rider” and “child swap” policies. The canny park visitor can use these two policies to make the most of their visit.

Single Rider
If you are 10 years or older, then you have the option of grabbing a spot as a “single rider”.

Since most people ride in groups of two or more, if there is an extra single spot available on a ride, the attendants will ask for a single rider to fill the empty seat and you’ll be able to skip to the front of the queue.
At some rides, there is even a special queue reserved just for single riders.

Single Rider Lines at Universal Studios Florida:
• Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
• Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
• Men in Black : Alien Attack
• Revenge of the Mummy
• Transformers : The Ride 3D

Single Rider Lines at Universal’s Islands of Adventure:
• The Amazing Adventure of Spider-Man
• Doctor Dooms Fearfall
• Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
• Skull Island : Reign of Kong

Child Swap
One perennial problem if you are visiting the parks with small children is the age and height restrictions on some rides.

“Child swap” has been designed to help families visiting with little ones to wait in the queue together once while allowing both adults a turn on the ride.

This works by one parent staying off the ride and waiting in the designated child-swap room with the child who is not tall enough to ride. Meanwhile, the rest of the family hops on the ride.

When they are finished, the parents can swap roles and the parent who initially stayed back is given a chance to ride without having to queue up again. Instead, they simply walk to the front of the queue in the child swap designated area.

Another added benefit of using the child swap is that the second parent can take up to three guests on the ride with them. So, several people in the family get to go on the ride twice without having to go to the back of the queue in between!

Tip 8: Factor in Breaks and Take Time to Explore

Make sure you factor in breaks during the day. It can get overwhelming for adults – and young children can find it especially hard going without some downtime.

Make the most of the water splash areas around the parks to help your little ones cool down. Pack a change of clothes for them so they can splash around to their heart’s content.

Another low-key activity little kids will enjoy can be found near the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. The air-conditioned shop in Seuss Landing has a colouring station in the store – a great opportunity for the little ones to cool down with some calming activity.

If you are visiting Universal Orlando with kids, do take advantage of child swap and single rider rides and plan your time wisely.

Don’t rush through the parks. Take time to explore, especially both the Harry Potter worlds. You will discover there is so much more to see in them than the rides and main attractions. If you know where to look, you can find magical elements hidden all around. For example, buy an interactive wand at Ollivander’s and you will be able to cast spells.

Magic will happen right before your eyes! It’s truly amazing.

Tip 9: Shhh… Use the Secret Entrance

Ok, so it’s not really a secret entrance… More like an entrance most people aren’t aware of.

If you don’t manage to get to the parks early, you can still avoid some of the queues by entering Universal Studios by the Blue Man Group auditorium, under the Rip, Ride, Rocket rollercoaster. Using this entrance will help you get in to the park quicker.

You access the park right in between the entrance to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the Studio store. Do note, however, that this entrance does not open with the regular park opening (or early admission). It generally opens around 10AM – ideal for late arrivals!

Tip 10: Useful Insider Knowledge!

Here are a few of the things that many people aren’t aware of… but we think are absolutely worth your time.

Harry Potter
• While visiting Gringotts ask the goblin in the Money Exchange any question and he will respond. Ask him about the dragon in Gringotts next time you visit.

• Want to impress Harry-Potter-mad kids? Head to The Three Broomsticks or the Hog’s Head pub and order a Pumpkin Fizz. You won’t find it on any menu, but it’s a magical carbonated delight! A secret item you shouldn’t miss!

• Why not try the Fire Whisky, the booze of the wizarding world?  In the Deathly Hallows, it’s said to give anyone who drinks it an overwhelming sense of courage to go along with its “burning sensation”. You can order it at the Leaky Cauldron and Hog’s Head pub.
• Dial 62442 (MAGIC) in the phone in Diagon Alley and it will connect you directly to the Ministry of Magic. Give it a try!
• You can buy an interactive wand at Ollivander’s. With it, you can cast spells around Diagon Alley. If you yell “Metelojinx!” and move your wand the right way, water will pour down from the umbrella!

Men in Black Tour
Talk to the team member outside the attraction and ask them if you can get a tour of the immigration room. If it is a slow time and they have someone available, another Team Member will come out and escort you into this incredible room. This is a fantastic spot to take fun photos, so take full advantage of the unique opportunity.

Live Raptor Photo Opportunity
If you’re brave enough, you can approach the nearly nine-foot-tall raptor for a unique photo-op. But don’t make any sudden movements—as she gives you a sniff, her dagger-like teeth are just inches away. Are you daring enough to meet this prehistoric predator?

Jurassic Play Area
After you ride the Jurassic Park River Adventure, you can go to the Jurassic Park Discovery Centre. Here you can relax in the air-conditioned room while kids check out all the cool dinosaurs. Make sure to wander over to the eggs. If you’re there when a baby dino breaks out of its shell, you may be lucky enough to name the newborn and get an official birth certificate!

Secret Songs
Choose your own song on Hollywood Rip Ride Rock it.

How do you find these hidden tracks? After lowering the restraints, push and hold the ride’s logo for around 10 seconds. When you release your finger, a number pad will show up. Enter a three-digit code, then push enter, and a mystery song corresponding to the code will be played. Most of the tracks are located between 101-132, 301-312, 501-508, 701-718 and 901-904. If you hit a different number, you’ll hear the default song.

To get you started, try 902 (Rainbow Connection by The Muppets) or 310 (Vogue by Madonna).

Character Meet and Greet with Shrek and Donkey
We recommend you check the guide for times for this character meet and greet so that you can hang out with these totally awesome and funny characters.

Share your Universal Orlando hacks!

If you have other Universal Orlando tips you can share with our guests, please do share your thoughts on our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear your Universal tips and hacks.

If you’re interested in finding a price for an overnight stay in a Universal hotel, please email: reservations@ellisexclusivevillas.com 


Now you know the hacks, book your visit!


Check out our vacation homes near Universal Studios Orlando:

Browse our homes


Talk to our ticket partner for the best deal on tickets – guaranteed!

Find out more