If you’re a resident of Orlando, Florida, chances are you consider yourself an expert on all the ins and outs of Universal Orlando Resort. We all know the best places to find light bites and we all have our secret tricks to beating the long lines on some of Universal’s most popular attractions. But in addition to all of the well-known and frequently talked about hidden gems at Universal, there are a few lesser-known things to keep an eye out for on your next trip to the parks. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks
If you find yourself lucky enough to be at the parks sometime in the early morning, then chances are you’ve stopped by the Today Cafe or the Crescent Moon Cafe in search of the most important meal of the day. It’s no secret that breakfast at the theme parks can be a difficult meal to manage, and with many families opting to eat at hotels or home before venturing into the parks, it’s often something that we don’t think about; many people may not even be aware that some of Universal’s restaurants – like the Three Broom Sticks – actually offer breakfast options.
One of my favorite food hacks at Universal Studios is to visit the Three Broomsticks for breakfast. With a variety of offerings – an American Breakfast that features eggs, bacon, and fruit; a Pancake Breakfast that comes with American bacon; an English Breakfast that offers fresh scrambled eggs, sausage links, black pudding (in the adult portion only), English bacon, baked beans, a grilled tomato, and breakfast potatoes; and a Continental Breakfast that offers a variety of fruit – breakfast at the Three Broomsticks proves to be delicious and affordable, which is always a factor to consider when spending a day at the parks.
When joining Witches and Wizards for breakfast, I find that the kids’ meal option ($12.99) is more than enough food for one, and just like its adult counterparts ($17.99), comes with a beverage of choice. Most surprisingly, this includes all varieties of butterbeer, which alone can run you almost as much as one of these breakfast meals. Granted, the butterbeer drinks that come with the breakfast options are slightly smaller than what you might get at the Hopping Pot, but it’s still plenty to go along with your breakfast! My personal favorite combination is the English Breakfast with a hot butterbeer. Despite living in Florida, you can’t beat starting the day with a hot beverage!
2. Camp Jurassic Amber Mines
Deep within the caverns of Camp Jurassic lies one of the most beautiful spots in all of Universal Orlando Resort. Secluded and rarely talked about, the Amber mines of Camp Jurassic are a surreal photo opportunity that is sure to take your breath away.
While actually finding this hidden gem is a reward in itself, searching the caverns for it was no small amount of fun! Accessible through a few different entrances (and I’ll give you a hint: one of them is by Pteranodon Flyers), these atmospheric amber mines have multiple layers to explore. Originally intended to be an explorable space for children within the Camp Jurassic playground, my one criticism of this particular set piece is that the floor tends to get slippery due to the mist.
Despite this minor oversight, the Jurassic Park Amber Mines are still easily one of my favorite atmospheric spots and one of the most underrated photo ops in the entire Universal Campus.
3. Hire a Detective
New York City is a city rife with crime and mystery. If you find yourself in the middle of a mystery, you may find it in your interest to seek out the professional services of Boris Shuster, a Private Investigator. At the corner of Delancey Street are the Faulkner Apartments, home to one of Halloween Horror Nights’ lesser-known Icons (and that’s Icons, with a capital I).
First making his debut in 2008’s Reflections of Fear as the PI who worked the case against Dr. Mary Agana – AKA Bloody Mary – following a string of disappearances all linked to her rehabilitation clinic, Boris has lurked in the background of many Halloween Horror Nights since, from his founding of the Supernatural Research group Legendary Truth to his involvement in the 2021 house Legendary Truth: Case Files Unearthed, Boris’s most recent sighting at Universal Studios was at the 2023 Halloween Tribute Store, where his film-noir room detailed his adventures in False Idols: Part I.
While Boris’s activity in the parks is mostly limited to his Halloween Horror Nights escapades, one can often find his office window updated with seasonal decorations – and sometimes, if you watch closely enough, a clue or two as to where he might pop up next.
4. Men in Black Tour
While many are familiar with the Castle Tour at Hogwarts Castle – where guests are allowed into a secondary, largely ‘unused’ queue line for The Forbidden Journey to take their time perusing the interior of the castle at their own pace, the Men in Black tour is a lesser-known and more elusive experience at Universal Orlando resort.
This tour isn’t always available, as a team member will have to escort you through the facility, but if you catch it just right, guests are actually allowed onto the floor of the Men in Black training facility to view The Twins – Idikiukup and Bob – up close and personal.
Also available for Men in Black Tour guests is a guest book to sign, where you can state your name, planet of origin, and purpose for visiting Planet Earth. This tour, when available, is a fun and unique photo opportunity and an excellent chance to see some of Universal Studios’ oldest remaining animatronics in person!
5 . Fun Food Options
1. Dole Whip
While many parkgoers consider the Dole Whip name to be synonymous with Disney Parks and Resorts, this tropical treat can now be found at Universal Studios Orlando as well! Located within Schwab’s on Hollywood, Dole Whip is a pineapple soft-serve sorbet that can be purchased in either a cone or a cup for around five dollars. One serving of Dole Whip is more than enough to share, or enjoy all by yourself in the Florida heat!
2. Central Park Crepes
Located just in front of La Bamba, the creperie cart is a little-known food option in Universal Studios Orlando, offering a variety of crepes for on-the-go eats.
Crepes at Universal are $9.99-$11.99 each and are made fresh there as you wait. Not only delicious but fun to watch be made, the crepe is a thin French pancake that is then stuffed with your choice of filling. With a cookies and cream crepe, a strawberry hazelnut crepe, and a savory brisket crepe for those looking for something a little more substantial for an in-hand lunch, these crepes beat out the Handwich by a mile… but might prove a little difficult to eat without making a mess.
3. Hot Butter Beer
While hot butterbeer may not be one of the most popular beverage options from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, given how unbearably hot Florida is at all times of the year, I find it to be a refreshing pick-me-up and a great, sweet alternative to the mid-day Starbucks stop. With its warm butterscotch flavor and the signature foam topping this often-ignored treat, it can be found in many locations within the Wizard World lands of both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
6. Witness the Miracle of Birth
One of my favorite experiences at Universal Orlando Resort is also one of the oldest. Housed in the lower levels of the Jurassic Park Discover Center sits an incubation lab where scientists are hard at work bringing the prehistoric creatures to life for research and display within Hammond’s dream made real.
Guests with a particularly keen eye may notice a rotating incubator situated center-stage by the lab. Some of the incubators are empty, and some have eggs still waiting to hatch – and if you catch it just right, you might even be lucky enough to witness a baby dinosaur being brought into the world, hatching right from its egg.
While primarily geared towards an audience of children who will gather to press their noses to the glass and watch a dinosaur hatch, this show – which takes place every thirty minutes – is always a good time, even for adults. Not only are we lucky enough to witness such a scientific marvel taking place in front of us, but the reactions from starry-eyed kids make the experience all the better. If you were ever a dinosaur kid, this show is a must!
Just try not to be TOO disappointed when the Jurassic Park Geneticist chooses a kid to name the baby dino instead of you. There’s always next time, after all!