Universal Orlando Resort

ABCs of Universal Orlando

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Frank Smith once said: “Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language.” Universal Orlando, like many theme parks, has a language of its own. Also, your experience at Universal Orlando will be more positive if you learn to speak the lingo properly. As you plan your next trip to Universal Orlando, it can become confusing with all the unique words, phrases, and acronyms. I have attempted to include some of the best terms you need to know before visiting Universal Orlando. This will not be a comprehensive list but you will be speaking Universal Orlando soon.


Arrival Day: The day you arrive at Universal Orlando Resort. This is usually used to indicate that you are staying on-site but arriving too late to use a day of your ticket media.

Attraction: This usually references a ride, show, or similar form of entertainment within the park.

Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP): a paper system, unlike Disney’s version, that is designed to accommodate guests who can’t wait in regular queues for a variety of reasons.

Audio Animatronic: Term for a lifelike robotic person or animal that is programmed to move and speak simultaneously. Some good examples of this are Hagrid, on his coaster attraction, and the raptors in queue for Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

Aventura: a value plus resort featuring tech-savvy guest amenities and the Bar 17 rooftop bar.


Backstage: this is the areas designed for team members only and generally out of theme park guest view. These are sometimes seen by guests if they are throwing beads from a Mardi Gras float and or touring a house/maze at Halloween Horror Nights. In these areas, video and photography is generally forbidden to continue the mystery for most guests.


Cabana Bay Beach Resort (CBBR): a value plus on-site resort located near Volcano Bay waterpark.

Character: A team member who is dressed in costume for a meet & greet, show, parade, party zone, or other form of entertainment. Common examples are Minions, Hashtag the Panda, and Spongebob Squarepants.

Character Dining: A restaurant experience where you also can meet one or more characters during your meal. Examples of this are Grinch Breakfast during holiday season, Minions Breakfast at one of the resort hotels, and Marvel Character Dining in Island of Adventure. These currently are not happening but are expected to return.

Child Swap: This allows younger guests (and others with them) to skip a ride (either because they are not tall enough or they do not want to go), giving everyone else in the party an opportunity to enjoy the attraction without having to go through the queue all over again. There is usually a waiting area near the attraction loading area where an adult may wait with the child(ren) not riding. The adult waiting will be allowed to ride when other adults return from the attraction.

CityWalk: This is the shopping, dining, and entertainment area at Universal Orlando resort. Most guests must walk through this area to reach the two land-based theme parks since they are located very near CityWalk.

Crowd Calendar: TouringPlans.com’s data-driven resource for predicting how large the crowd level will be at each park on a particular day. This is included with your subscription.


Dark Ride: A ride, such as Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, that takes place indoors with limited or specific style of lighting.

Diagon Alley: Wizarding World area in Universal Studios Florida.

Dockside Inn and Suites: This is larger of two value hotels that are known as Endless Summer Resort.


Early Park Admission (EPA): this is a privilege resort guests, and some others, get to enter at least one land park and Volcano Bay before official park admission.

(photo by @bioreconstruct)

Endless Summer Resort: a pair of value hotels known as Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites. These hotels are located on Universal Boulevard.

Express Pass: This privilege admits users to a separate line for an attraction, which is given priority status when boarding. There is an unlimited version which can be purchased and comes complimentary for guest of premier resort hotels. There is also a limited version which entitled guests to one time on each attraction.


Full-Service Dining: term for a dining experience where you are seated at a table and served by a waiter/waitress.


Guest: anyone coming to visit Universal Orlando Resort.

(photo by Scott Sanders)


Halloween Horror Nights (HHN):  is an annual special event held in September/October at Universal Studios Florida (as well as Hollywood, Singapore, and Japan locations). This event occurs after park closing and requires a separate ticket. This is consider the best Halloween “Scary” event in USA.

Hard Rock Café: this is the worldwide restaurant chain location in CityWalk area. This is often confused with the on-site hotel.

Hard Rock Hotel: this is a premier on-site hotel located closest to the theme parks.

Harry Potter World: sadly, there is no such place. This is a common language used by people to describe being in either Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley area of Universal Orlando Resort. This grew out of poor branding by the resort overall once Wizarding World area was created.

Hogsmeade: The Wizarding World area in Islands of Adventure.


I-Drive: International Drive, a major tourist area in Orlando. This road borders the Endless Summer Resorts near Universal Boulevard.

Islands of Adventure (IOA): Universal Orlando’s second theme park which opened in 1999.


Lost Continent: An area of Islands of Adventure often overlooked between Seuss Landing and Hogsmeade. The Mythos restaurant is in this area.

Loews: company that partners with Universal Orlando to run the resort hotels.


Mardi Gras: this is a seasonal event held in Universal Studios Florida usually in February and March. This event is included with admission with concerts, special parades, and other seasonal special activities.

MCO: airport code for Orlando International Airport, the primary airport in Orlando area. This is the closest airport to Universal Orlando. The airport code reflects the airport’s former name, McCoy Air Force Base.

Mobile Order: a feature available via the Universal Orlando app at select counter service restaurants allowing you to place your order and pay via the app. Depending on the restaurant, this could be pickup or table delivery.

My Universal Photos: this is a photo system that may be purchased for ride photos and with roaming photographers in park. The photos will be available for viewing on your account and may be downloaded from there.


Off-season: times of year when Universal Orlando is usually less busy. Please consult the Touringplans.com crowd calendar for exact dates. These times of years tend to have shorter park hours, but single day tickets and on-site resort prices are lower.

Off-site: staying somewhere other than a Universal Orlando Resort hotel.

On-site: staying at one of Universal Orlando Resort hotels.


Preshow: part of the attraction that takes place before the attraction itself, often setting up the story. This is often done with themed video or “elevator” sequences.

Pool Hop: term used to describe a guest staying at a Universal Orlando hotel choosing to visit pools at other on-site hotels. Under normal conditions, this is allowed by Universal unless you are staying at one of the Endless Summer hotels.

Preferred Hotel: this is highest level on-site hotel besides premier. This level only includes Sapphire Falls.

Prime Parking: this is generally closer parking to the CityWalk security hub and usually on the third level of the parking garage, which is the same level as security hub so there are no escalators to take. This parking area comes with a hefty fee unless included with your premier annual pass.

Premier Hotel: these are the top-level hotels most comparable to deluxe hotels elsewhere. These hotels include unlimited Express Passes for all guests. The three hotels in this category are Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, and Royal Pacific.

Portofino Bay Resort (PBR): this premier hotel is generally considered the most upscale hotel on-site. It is themed to be European in setting as the name implies.


Queue: a line or sequence of people awaiting their turn to enter an attraction or dining area.

Quick Service Dining (QSD): dining location where you normally order from a counter and then pick up your food at a window. Some of these locations deliver the food to your table, after ordering, like at Leaky Cauldron.


Resort Guest: someone who is staying at one of the Universal Orlando resort hotels.

Rock The Universe (RTU): this is a contemporary Christian music festival event held at Universal Studios Florida. The event is held after regular park closing usually in late January.

Rope Drop: common term for being at the front of the line for park opening. This references back to when actual ropes were used to guide guests at park opening at some theme parks.

Royal Pacific Resort (RPR): this is usually the lowest priced Premier level on-site hotel.


Sapphire Falls Resort: This is the preferred level on-site hotel.

Sanford International Airport (SFB): a smaller airport located northeast of Orlando about 37 miles from Universal Orlando.

(photo by @bioreconstruct)

Simulator: an attraction that features screen technology of some type. This can be a seated 3-D attraction or include a ride vehicle moving in conjunction with a video being shown at least part of the time. This is designed to make participants feel the action without leaving their seat.

Single Rider Queue: a separate line available at many attractions for those who are traveling solo or don’t mind being split up from their party since this will normally happen for those in this queue. These queues are used to fill in empty seats so the ride can run at higher capacity, and single riders usually have a shorter wait.

Surfside: this is the smaller of the two value resorts at the Endless Summer Resort.


Team Members (TM): this is the title for employees of Universal Orlando Resort.

Touring Plan (TP): a step-by-step outline of your day at Universal Orlando, designed to maximize attractions and minimize waits. There are field tested plans from TouringPlans.com proven to save you time or you may create your customized plan.

TouringPlans.com: the wonderful website that featuring touring plans, crowd calendar, and many valuable trip-planning resources, plus ratings and reviews for every attraction, restaurant, and resort hotel.


Universal Dining (UD): this indicates that an item on menu is part of Universal dining plan as a beverage, snack, and/or meal credit. This program is not being sold as of publishing time.

Universal Orlando Annual Pass (UOAP): this is term used for the annual pass program at Universal Orlando.

Universal Express: this is shorter queue privilege available for free to guests at Premier Universal Orlando resort hotels which allows guests to enter a separate queue for most attractions at any time. This is available for purchase for day guests and a perk of the Premier UOAP after 4:00 p.m. each park day.

Universal Orlando Resort (UOR): this is the proper name for the entire property including shopping, hotels, water park, and theme parks. This can be confusing because UOR has not done a very good job of branding their property.

Universal Studios Florida (USF): this is the name for the original theme park and nothing else on property. This is sometimes shortened to US but is not proper name and leads to potential mistake of USO.

Universal Studios Orlando (USO): this refers to a fictitious place that does not exist. There is no such park, and you will find no branded merchandise with this name. This is common terminology mistake made. Please see abbreviations for UOR and USF for clarification.

Unofficial Guide (UG): this is a series of travel books for various destinations, including the Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando written by Seth Kubersky and several people associated with TouringPlans.com. This is published annually with appropriate updates.

UOFistBump: this is the term used to show desire to give a team member a compliment for a job well done


Volcano Bay (VB): this is a high quality water park located near Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Universal likes to refer to this as their third them park, but sorry Universal Orlando, a well-themed waterpark is still a waterpark.

Value Plus Resort: these are slightly more upscale hotels from value ones as name implies. These include Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Aventura.

Value Resort: these are the lowest cost hotels at Universal Orlando Resort. They are the Endless Summer Resort with two hotels, Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites.

Virtual Queue: a system where to ride, guests must sign up via Universal Orlando app and/or scan QR code in park to link to a separate website to attempt to get a virtual queue spot. This is commonly used for Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. This system is sometimes instituted for other attractions like Revenge of the Mummy and Fast-N-Furious Supercharged. When the timeslot to ride is available, you then have your code scanned and enter the attraction’s queue. This is similar but less stressful than boarding pass system at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Image: Universal


Water Taxis: these are modes of transportation between CityWalk and the premier/preferred hotels. Despite being called taxis, they are at no cost to guests.

As mentioned earlier, this list will not exhaustive but will include all the terms the author could find used commonly. The lingo will change. The abbreviations will be modified but this list should help you feel like you are in a “community of speakers of that language.” Good luck!

Have any terms you think should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments.


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