Every major attraction has a theme store attached, many of them selling unique merchandise. Although the prices are high when you consider you're just buying a souvenir, the Hard Rock Cafe shop in adjacent CityWalk is extremely popular and has a small but diverse selection of Hard Rock everything (including memorabilia with astronomical sticker prices). For just about everything else a la Universal, the Universal Studios Store carries a decent selection of toys, T-shirts, and souvenirs.
More than two dozen other shops in the park sell collectibles. Be warned, though, that unlike Walt Disney World, where Mickey is everywhere, Universal's shops are specific to individual attractions. If you see something you like, buy it; you probably won't find it in another store. If you did forget to pick something up, there's a shop-by-phone service -- call tel. 407/224-5800, describe the item and where you think you saw it, and the likelihood is they'll be able to help you out. There is also a Universal store at Orlando International Airport, but it mainly carries the usual souvenirs.
Note: Universal has a service similar to Disney's in which you can have your purchases delivered to It's a Wrap at the front of the park so you don't have to schlep that 5-foot-tall E.T. around the park with you. Allow at least 3 hours for delivery.
International Drive Area -- (Note: Locally, this road is almost always referred to as I-Drive.) Extending 8 or so miles northeast of Disney between Highway 535 and the Florida Turnpike, this busy thoroughfare is one of the most popular tourist districts in the area, in part because it is filled with so many restaurants, shops, hotels, and attractions. From indoor skydiving and glow-in-the-dark golf to dozens of themed restaurants and shopping spots, this is the tourist strip in Central Florida. Its two main shopping draws are the Orlando Premium Outlets-Vineland Avenue, just off south I-Drive , and the Orlando Premium Outlets-International Drive (previously Prime Outlets Orlando), located at the northernmost end of I-Drive . Another I-Drive shopping spot, Pointe Orlando (tel. 407/248-2838; www.pointeorlandofl.com), features an ever-growing collection of upscale restaurants, clubs, and specialty shops in an outdoor setting. Thanks to extensive renovations, the completely re-created space includes winding walkways, shaded courtyards, fountains, and inviting lighting.
Great Buys at Universal Studios Florida
Here's a sampling of the more unusual gifts available at some of the Universal stores. Of course, in addition to these options, you can find the standard tourist fare, with a staggering array of mugs, key chains, T-shirts, and the like. I've tried to include things you wouldn't find (or consider buying) anywhere else.
- E.T.'s Toy Closet and Photo Spot -- This is the place for plush stuffed animals, including a replica of the alien namesake.
- MIB Gear -- If you find yourself in need of a ray gun or alien blaster, this is the place to buy everything out of this world.
- Quint's Surf Shack -- This is the place to go for a different kind of T-shirt. Tropical colors with subtle Universal logos and island wear are the thing here.
- Silver Screen Collectibles -- Fans of I Love Lucy will adore the collectible dolls. There's also a Betty Boop line. For an interesting, practical, and inexpensive little something to take home, check out the Woody Woodpecker back-scratcher.
- Universal Studios Store -- This store, near the entrance, sells just about everything when it comes to Universal apparel, and there are plenty of toys and trinkets as well. Logo blankets (made of supersoft jersey -- think comfy sweatshirt) are one of the more useful souvenirs sold here.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.