The Perfect Theme Park Virtual Vacation


Take a Virtual Universal Studios tour to escape to Universal Studios for a day from the comfort of home!

Psst: Please be sure to follow all local regulations, social distance, and wear a mask to keep yourself and others safe. Also: this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no cost to you.

Ice-cold butterbeer. Dinosaurs flying over treetops. High-speed roller coasters. Don’t you wish you were at Universal Studios RIGHT NOW!?

I visited Universal Studios Orlando in February for the first time since my stint as a Cast Member at Walt Disney World, and let me tell you: the parks have only gotten better! For adrenaline junkies and lovers of movie franchises like Jurassic Park and Harry Potter, Universal Studios is a magical escape from reality full of fun and excitement.

I’ve been dying to go back, so we used the power of imagination – and a little science – to create a Virtual Universal Studios tour!

Today, you’ll be visiting a magical version of Universal Studios Orlando where everything is perfect and nothing bad ever happens, where no there are no lines or crowds or height restrictions, where everything is FREE and the weather is always perfect.

So sit back, relax, and let’s take a virtual vacation to Universal Studios!

Psst: Craving theme parks & virtual escapes? Check out our other posts:

Tips for your Universal Studios Virtual Tour

Although we’ve done our best to guide you on your virtual tour of Universal Studios, we do have a few tips, tricks, and helpful recommendations to make the most of your virtual vacation and ~set the scene.

  • Turn on a Universal Studios Spotify Playlist, like this one or this one. Not only does Universal Studios feature some of the BEST movie music (hello, Hans Zimmer! John Williams! Leg-en-dary), but the music cues will help set the scene and activate the parts of your brain that are triggered by sound memory! We’ve included some specific musical cues throughout the post, too. When you see one, hit play.
  • Grab some theme park snacks. Cue your taste-based sensory memory with snacks you’d enjoy at Universal Studios, like homemade Butterbeer (here’s an easy recipe, a complicated but more accurate recipe, or just add butterscotch syrup to cream soda and top with marshmallow creme). Fry up a funnel cake, grill up a burger, or just microwave a corn dog and some fries. Don’t worry about whether it’s healthy or not: today, you’re on vacation!
  • Wear your and favorite Universal Studios-appropriate outfit (like a Harry Potter t-shirt… or robes). Nobody can see you, you’re at home. Go on. Trust us!
  • If you are a fully grown adult, definitely take advantage of a little magical assistance … perhaps some wine or other *ahem* substances will help you set the scene.
  • If you’ll be virtually visiting Universal Studios with your loved ones, read this post to them out loud!
  • Don’t skip the videos! We dug through hundreds of videos to find the best Universal Studios ride videos, park walkthroughs, and movie clips that will help you feel like you’re really there. We’ve embedded our favorites and linked to additional options. (Even though some of them don’t have pretty covers, they should all work when clicked on!) If you watch all the videos we embedded (plus the videos we linked), your visit to Virtual Universal Studios Orlando will take the better part of a day!
  • Pull this post up on the big screen. The bigger the screen, the more real Virtual Universal Studios will feel.

Now, let’s get ready to take a journey … to the island park!

Welcome to Virtual Universal Studios

You’ve arrived! Despite Jeff Goldblum’s incessant weird laugh, you made it to Virtual Universal Studios and – thank goodness – the park is NOT filled with rogue dinosaurs running amok (yet).

You take a lap around the park to orient yourself.

Where to next? Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, or … wait, what was that?

You see the corner of a robe disappearing into an unmarked wall. Hang on – disappearing into a wall? That doesn’t make any sense…

And yet, as you watch, a very nervous young girl with bright red hair walks straight towards the wall and … vanishes! You look around, but nobody else seems to notice. And then you hear something playing very quietly …

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Virtual Tour

You try to walk through the wall, but nothing happens.

The Wizarding World is calling to you. But how can you find it?

You check your Virtual Universal Studios map. To your surprise, you can’t find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on it anywhere. There’s no Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, either.

That’s strange… you could have sworn it was there last time?

Just then, an idea occurs to you. Looking around to make sure nobody’s watching, you whisper “I solemely swear that I’m up to no good.”

It works! The map begins to swirl and change. As the lands of Virtual Universal Studios move around and settle into place, you see that you can get to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter by train! Thank goodness.

All aboard the Hogwarts Express!

Welcome to Hogsmeade! It’s a snowy winter’s day, and yet it’s also warm out. Magical!

Honeydukes in Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando
I don’t know about you, but that sign makes me immediately start drooling.

This music is playing and the whole town is filled with holiday cheer. At Hogsmeade, it’s always Christmas, even in the middle of July! You walk around Hogsmeade, taking in all the sights and smells.

You stop into Honeydukes to pick up a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and a delicious, fudgey Cauldron Cake topped with sweet flames!

Cauldron Cake  from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Honeydukes in Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando Florida
Mmmm, witchcraft and cake, my favorite combination.

You look around and realize that everyone else waving a wand around. Looking closer, you realize that they’re actually doing magic. What?! You thought that only wizards could do magic!

But then you see a sign: Ollivander’s Wands for Muggles!

Well, gosh darn it, you’re a Muggle and you want a wand too. You scurry into Ollivander’s shop, which is covered floor to ceiling in dusty boxes of wands…

Now that you’ve got a wand, you can finally use all of the spells you memorized. Feeling mischievous with power, you expelliarmus everyone in your immediate vicinity. Their wands fly out of their hands!

Before they realize it was you, you quickly disapparate. You turn and twist through the air and wind up outside of Diagon Alley, feeling a bit unwell.

Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood Studios Orlando
Just casually strolling past this giant fire-breathing dragon, NBD

To calm your stomach, you grab a cold butterbeer and take a leisurely walk around Diagon Alley, admiring the sights and sounds.

Feeling much better, you decide to open a bank account at Gringott’s. Only one problem: there seems to be an enormous dragon guarding the entrance, and it keeps shooting molten hot fire!

I mean, you can understand the need for security at a bank, but that seems a bit dangerous…

Dragon on top of Gringott's at Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando
How the heck is anyone supposed to open a bank account at Gringott’s with THAT guarding the entrance?!

You wait until the dragon is taking a cat-nap and hurry inside.

You’re ready to go back to Hogsmeade, so you catch a ride on the back of Hagrid’s magical motorbike!

You’re back in Hogsmeade! It’s hard to pick Wizarding World favorites, but between a fire-breathing dragon and cheerful, warm year-round Christmas … yup, it’s a draw.

Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando
Welcome to Hogsmeade, where it’s always both snowy and warm! Magical!

All that saving the wizarding world and riding around in magical motorbikes made you thirsty, so you grab another butterbeer, because there is no such thing as too much butterbeer.

Butterbeer in Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando
There is no other drink in the entire world is as delicious as this, and that is a FACT.

As you sip your butterbeer and contemplate ordering fish & chips at the Three Broomsticks, you spy a turret on top of a hill.

You walk towards it, and a huge, looming castle appears: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Hollywood Studios Orlando, Florida.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in all its glory!

While you marvel at the beauty of Hogwarts, two young witches wearing robes and colorful scarves push past you, muttering “hurry! The Quidditch Match is starting soon!”

Quidditch Match, eh? You follow them, hoping to sneak your way into the stadium…

That was wicked. You leave Hogwarts and turn right. But instead of the snowy rooves of Hogsmeade, you find yourself in a tropical jungle…

Jeep and dinosaur at Jurassic World in Universal Studios Orlando, Florida.
Hop right in! It’s totally safe… probably.

Virtual Jurassic World

You leave the Wizarding World behind and enter the Jurassic World! Pteranodons fly overhead, jeeps bounce past you, and around every corner, you fully expect to see a Velociraptor.

You take a quick walk through the park – you know, to make sure there aren’t any dinosaurs running free.

You don’t see any rogue dinosaurs running rampant through crowds of people, but you DO see a few dinos outside of their cages, including a giant Velociprator! Luckily, he seems well trained and maybe even friendly.

Confident that the trainers in the park seem to have things under control, you hop on a perfectly safe boat tour.

You know what? Nobody has anything under control in Jurassic World. The dinosaurs ALWAYS get out. Nature always finds a way! You’re not safe here.

You leave the impending chaos of the Jurassic World behind and run to the next ride. Surely, no dinosaurs can get you on Skull Island!

Um, EXCUSE ME?! Is nobody guarding the entrance of Jurassic World?! Are dinosaurs just showing up in every ride now?!?!!

No more tropical islands – you’re getting the heck out of here. You’ll head to the nearest major city, where no dinosaurs or giant apes have ever been!

… crap.

Lombard's Landing in San Francisco area, Universal Studios Orlando, Florida.
Welcome to Pier 39 – er, I mean, Lombard’s Landing – in San Francisco!

Virtual New York/San Francisco

Welcome to Virtual New York/San Francisco! Here in Virtual Universal Studios, they have combined together into one giant megapolis, full of very fast cars, dancing construction workers, and also Spiderman. And, hopefully, no dinosaurs.

You’re greeted by the city’s very own Beat Builders!

Those sick beats get you in the party mood, so you head to the coolest party on the block.

Man, that was wild. How will they ever top that in Fast & The Furrious 14: Family Furr-ever?

Now you’ve got a major craving to watch your favorite movies from the Fast & the Furious Franchise, like Extremely Fast & Incredibly Furious, A Fast Series of Furious Events, and Accelerated & Aggressive.

You keep walking and find yourself in an animated world… hang on, this isn’t Virtual New York/San Francisco! This is Virtual Springfield, and nobody even knows what state that’s in!

You take a detour to visit Krustyland and see how it holds up to Virtual Universal Studios Orlando.

Verdict: Virtual Universal Studios is WAY better than Krustyland, rampant dinosaurs notwithstanding. You’re grateful to be back in the real (virtual) world.

Suddenly, someone swings overhead. Is that Spiderman?? Does he seem … blurrier than usual? You squint but can’t quite make it out – if only you had a pair of 3D glasses!

Blurry Spiderman swings his way through Virtual New York. You follow him from below. But he disappears into a secret lair somewhere in the middle of Toon Lagoon…

Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Studios Orlando, Florida.
Where the heck did Spiderman go!?

Virtual Toon Lagoon & Marvel Super Hero Island

Everything around you is animated again, and for a minute you wonder if you ended up back in Krustyland. But then you realize you’re in Virtual Toon Lagoon!

It’s hot out, so you chug a spinach smoothie and take a refreshing spin on Popeye Raging Rapids.

You emerge from the ride soaking wet and find a pair of 3D glasses on the ground – finally! This will unlock so many virtual rides!

You put them on and the world is a clearer, sharper, and more 3D place! Now what 3D ride should you ride next?

Suddenly, a green giant wearing purple shorts roars past you, knocking your 3D glasses right off your face and smashing them to smithereens.

EXCUSE YOU, you yell, shaking a fist. But the green giant doesn’t turn around. He’s heading straight for some kind of laboratory filled with … is that smoke, steam, or toxic gas??

Against your better judgment, you follow the green giant. You’d like to give him a stern talking-to, and also you’re very curious about the source of all that mysterious steam.

You head into the laboratory…

That was AWESOME! You forgive the Hulk for destroying your 3D glasses – you’ll just have to avoid Virtual 3D rides, no big deal.

You look back over your shoulder and realize the sun is beginning to set over Virtual Universal Studios Orlando.

Hulk Roller Coaster at Sunset in Universal Studios Orlando
Is there anything prettier than the sun setting over a roller coaster at a Virtual Theme Park?

The park closes just after sunset, so you hurry over to ride the most exciting, adrenaline-rush-tastic ride in the park: Rip Ride Rocket.

OK, that was awesome – other than the TERRIFYING stop in the middle, at least! To make up for the troubles a friendly park employee gives you a free coupon for a milkshake.

A milkshake sounds AMAZING – you’re hungry after all those rides! You make your way out of the park, taking a minute to stop and admire the view at Seuss Landing.

Sunset at Suess Landing in Universal Studios Orlando, Florida.
So long, Virtual Seuss Landing!

You take a nice long stroll through Virtual Universal Studios as the sun sets.

Virtual CityWalk

Where was that free milkshake again? You look at the coupon the park employee handed you: “Toothsome Chocolate Emporium – find Penelope & Jacques.”

Who the heck are Penelope & Jacques? Hopefully the Chocolate Emporium is small, so you can find them easily.

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal Studios Orlando
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is freakin’ ginormous.

Well, so much for that idea. How the heck are you supposed to find anyone a GIANT chocolate factory?!!

At the entrance to the Emporoium is a woman who looks like a time traveler from the early 1900’s and a giant robot. They introduce themselves as Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome & her robot companion, Jacques.

Well, that wasn’t as hard as you thought it was going to be!

Penelope tells you a story about her travels and Jacques hands you a basket of chocolate almond bread with salted caramel butter, which is heavenly. You could stand there chatting with them all day, but then you remember what you came for: a milkshake!

You excuse yourself and hurry over to place your order. Which milkshake should you choose??

Milkshakes at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium  in Universal Studios Orlando
The hardest part of ordering at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is picking a milkshake flavor.

The decision is agonizing, but you settle for a Strawberry Cheesecake milkshake!

Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium  in Universal Studios Orlando
Why yes, that IS a whole slice of cheesecake garnishing your milkshake.

You take your milkshake to go and wander back into the park to take one last evening stroll before park closing.

You find yourself in Hogsmeade just in time to watch the evening fireworks at Hogwarts!

What a perfect way to end the perfect day at Virtual Universal Studios! You head home, exhausted and happy from your day of adventure.

Mischief managed.


Did you enjoy your Virtual Universal Studios tour? Be honest, how many times did you cry while listening to Harry Potter music? Was that just us???

Psst: Craving more theme parks & virtual escapes? Check out some of our other posts:

If you enjoyed this post, drop us a comment and let us know where else we should do a Virtual Vacation!

Did you enjoy your virtual day at Universal Studios? Save it for later on Pinterest so you can come back anytime you want!

Disclaimer: On our most recent trip to Universal Studios we received a complimentary media ticket. All opinions, weird obsessions with Jeff Goldblum’s laugh, and open-mouthed sobbing in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are 100% our own and totally not their fault.

Our Top Travel Tips & Resources

Here are our favorite travel tips & resources for saving money and planning travel logistics! For more tips, check out our complete guide to trip planning.

  • Face Masks: Scientific consensus demonstrates wearing face masks protects both yourself and those around you from viral spread! We love these reusable face masks because they’re ethically made with sustainable materials and budget-friendly.
  • Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Skyscanner or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Accommodations: We usually stay in mid-range boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). Depending on the destination, we also love staying in AirBnBs. We’ve also used TrustedHousesitters as both hosts and travelers.
  • Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it – visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local’s perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place using public transit. When we book a rental car, we use RentalCars.com to find the best deal.
  • Luggage Storage: Checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover? Use Stasher to safely store your luggage while you’re running around. Be sure to use the code PW10 for 10% off your booking!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!

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