Attractions

SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort According to Our All-Star Panel

by on January 24, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort. We invited distinguished theme park experts from all over the world to come together and decide – once and for all – what the six best attractions are at the Universal Orlando Resort. Unfortunately, they were all busy. So instead we would like to introduce to you an all star, blue ribbon panel, made up of Universal experts. These include members of some of the greatest Universal websites (including Orlando United and Orlando Informer), the best Universal podcasts (including Parkscope and the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast), the most amazing Uni photogs (including Mike Sperduto and Brandon Glover), high ranking officials of the Theme Park Illuminati (such as Len Testa and Jim Hill), fan favorite park icons (including Scarlett Litton and Mark Diba), and the man who literally wrote the book on Universal, Seth Kubersky. We used a total of 25 individuals, in honor of Universal’s upcoming 25th Anniversary.

SaturdaySix_Computer

SATURDAY SIX staff crunching numbers.

The Criteria: Each of the 25 experts voted on what they consider to be the six best attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort. These attractions could be any ride or show currently in Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida. Special event shows – such as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure or the Blues Brothers Christmas Show – were not eligible. Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points. The votes were then sent to a top secret location in Florida and counted no less than 22 times (we’ve had some problems in the past. Sorry, Mr. Gore). The results are in, and we now proudly present….

The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX BEST ATTRACTIONS at the UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT.

# 6 – MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack (14 Points)

BEST_MIB_Sperduto

MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Jim Hill, JimHillMedia.com – Steven Spielberg was supposedly the guy who came up with Universal Studios Florida’s original catch phrase (“Ride the Movies”). But MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack was the first theme park attraction that really did allow guests to ride a movie. To immerse theme park visitors in this hyper-detailed environment that then tried to replicate the specific look & feel of a particular motion picture. So much of what Universal Creative has since been celebrated for when it comes to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it first did with the April 2000 opening of this 70,000 square foot attraction. From the exterior to this enormous show building (which replicates the observation towers of the New York State Pavilion that played such an important part in the finale of the original Men in Black movie) to the insane level of detail found in this attraction’s queue (e.g., being able to listen in on the “worm guys” as they take their coffee break) to how interactive the actual “Alien Attack” ride is all by itself… The sheer ambition of MIB:AA is still kind of mind-blowing. And then when you factor in that upwards of 2200 Guests are able to experience this USF attraction every hour … Well, is it any wonder that the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) decided to give Universal Creative an Outstanding Achievement award in 2001 for all the great work that it did on this interactive, genuinely immersive attraction?

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: January 22, 2015

by on January 22, 2015

IMG_2409Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios for all the latest updates, stopping by Downtown Disney for a little food truck action, and finishing up at Magic Kingdom. Ready for some beautiful, blue Florida skies? Let’s get moving! :)

Early Saturday morning we set out for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I knew with the holiday weekend and awesome weather that we’d be facing a crowd. You can see from the photo that it wasn’t too crowded when we arrived, but that changed fast. Speaking of fast, check out the progress removing the hat! I can’t believe how fast it’s coming down. In the bottom right hand side of the photo you can see the actual top of the hat behind the construction wall. It’s so much bigger than it looks! Want to see what other fun stuff we found this weekend? Be sure to click to read more!

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A Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt

by on January 18, 2015

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Cinderella Castle

One of the most magical things about Disney World is that there is something to see everywhere you look! But just how much do you actually stop and look? If you’re up for a challenge, I have one for you. Whether you consider yourself a Magic Kingdom Master, or you would just like something extra fun to do at the park, I invite you to try this Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt!

I have photos of 15 things that you may or may not have noticed at the Magic Kingdom park and it’s up to you to find them. Don’t worry if you get stuck, there is a hint for each one. Also, to make things a little more interesting, especially if you’re the competitive type, finding each item is worth a certain number of points. The higher the points, the harder it may be to locate. For those of you aiming high, a perfect score is exactly 30 points.

So there are two ways you can use this Magic Kingdom Scavenger Hunt. First of all, you take this scavenger hunt to the Magic Kingdom yourself and see how many of the following you can find. It’s an interesting way to pass the time when you’re waiting in line or when the park is crowded, and is sure to make you appreciate the little Disney touches. It’s also a fun activity for the kids. Another way to use this scavenger hunt is to take a guess from home on where to find the following and see how many points you can win! If you get stumped, there is an answer key at the end of the post, so don’t scroll too far if you want to avoid spoilers.

Are you ready? Let’s start!

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: January 15, 2015

by on January 15, 2015

1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting the Disney Marathon at Epcot, stopping by Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check on the hat, and finishing up at Magic Kingdom. Ready for some fun? Let’s go! :)

So why would I include a photo of the Walt Disney World maingate entrance? You might recall that last week I recommended getting to the parks extra early this weekend because of the Disney Marathon. I’ve always enjoyed getting in extra early and getting ahead of the crowds during race weekends, but it had been years since I showed up at 11am. Well, showing up that late meant that traffic stopped right where I took this photo! I decided to tough it out this year so I could share what it looks like with you guys. Click to read more if you’d like to see why you should get there early! 

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1989: A Disney World Album

by on January 2, 2015

Did you know that Disney World has a hit album of its own? The year 1989 was a big year for Disney World as guests enjoyed a number of new attractions, restaurants, and even new parks! In fact, a number of new sights and experiences that made their first appearance in 1989 are just as popular today as they were then. So let’s take a look at 1989: A Disney World Album to see what hits debuted at Disney World twenty-five years ago.

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon

This Disney World water park opened on June 1, 1989 and has charmed guests for years with its scattered, windblown theme. The story behind the park is that a typhoon swept through and turned a tropical paradise upside down as evidenced by the leaning buildings, shipwrecks, and other odds and ends strewn about in a rather amusing fashion. The icon of the park is a shrimp boat, the “Miss Tilly,” which the storm left perched atop Mount Mayday. The centerpiece of the park, and probably its biggest claim to fame, is the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. It is one of the largest wave pools in the world releasing 6 foot waves every 90 seconds! In my opinion, this pool is worth a visit to Typhoon Lagoon alone. Believe me, once you’ve spent some time here, you will be ruined on any other wave pool anywhere else for life. Although, there is more to be enjoyed at Typhoon Lagoon, such as the thrilling Humunga Cowabunga slides, the relaxing Castaway Creek, the Crush n’ Gusher water coasters, and so much more. Typhoon Lagoon also is famous for Shark Reef, where guests have the opportunity to snorkel around a shipwreck with bonnethead and leopard sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish. What makes this experience even better? Your snorkeling equipment is free with the price of admission! While some guests prefer the incredible wintry theme and thrills of Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon’s laid back, tropical atmosphere and incredible surf pool makes it my favorite of Disney’s water parks.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2014 (No Matter How Hard We Try)

by on December 27, 2014

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2014 (No Matter How Hard We Try). With this being the last edition of the SATURDAY SIX for 2014 we thought that we would spend a little time looking back at some of the most memorable moments of the year. Now we already covered some of the great things that happened during the year, and some of the worst as well, so today let’s look at six theme park stories that fall into a different area. Events that are almost hard to believe actually happened, but we promise they did, and we’re here with the proof. So let’s kick it off with…

# 6 – The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video

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There is no truth the rumor that the dwarfs are wearing sunglasses because of the glare coming off the Mine Train’s final show scene. (photo via Disney Parks

 

There are music videos, and there are music videos. This is the latter. Coming off one of the strangest commercials of all time for FastPass+, Walt Disney World outdid themselves with a commercial for the soon-to-open Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction. We admit to watching this commercial on a non-stop loop after we first saw it, laughing harder each time. I mean, let’s be honest, when you think of the Seven Dwarfs, who doesn’t think of rap music?!

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One-Day/Two-Parks; A Universal Orlando Trip Report

by on December 17, 2014

The gate to the Studios.

The gate to the Studios.

…in which our intrepid couple travels outside the Disney bubble and lives to tell about it.

Step 1 – Transportation from Walt Disney World to Universal and Park Tickets

While planning for a particularly long vacation to Walt Disney World, my husband and I decided to squeeze in a day over at Universal Orlando Resort to try out a one-day / two-park touring plan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Instantly we were faced with the question, “How do we get there?” We were planning on taking Disney’s Magical Express from the airport and would not have a car while on vacation. Would we dare to use the public transportation and hop a bus? We had seen a harrowing,(although hilarious) YouTube video of a British couple who took this route. It didn’t work out so well for them, and they splurged for a cab ride on the way back. Yes, busing was out of the question. We were on a time limit and didn’t have the three hours it took these poor folks just to get to the park. Well, with rental car and busing out of the question, that left us with a taxi.

We did our homework and priced up the fares using the Mears Transportation website. It didn’t seem too terrible, and this is really what we were leaning towards, until I read in the fine print that even if stuck in traffic, the meter is running. We wanted to be on the roadways during rush hour traffic. This probably was not a good plan either. Well, what to do? Do we just forget about Universal? No! Where there is a will, there is a way. And after more research we discovered that some of the travel agencies that sell tickets also sell transportation packages. Now we’re talking!

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Disney History: The Jungle Cruise

by on December 14, 2014

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

The Jungle Cruise is an iconic Disney attraction that promises danger, adventure, and a whole lot of laughs! Located in Adventureland at both Disneyland and Disney World, the Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at both parks and is still entertaining guests today with its witty Jungle Cruise Skippers, the backside of water, and the hilarious names for its steamboats, such as Senegal Sal and Congo Connie. But did you know that the original idea for the Jungle Cruise was very different than the attraction we know today? Did you also know that evidence for the original plan for the Jungle Cruise can be found in two other Disney World parks? Get your pencil and paper ready because for today’s lesson, we are going to brush up on some Disney History: The Jungle Cruise!

The Inspiration

When Disneyland was being built in the 1950s, Walt wanted to create an attraction that represented his True-Life Adventures series. It’s also been said that Walt was a fan of The African Queen, a 1951 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, a mismatched pair who must sail a steamboat down the rivers of Africa. The two ideas morphed into a vision for an attraction where guests would sail down the exotic rivers of the world in a steamboat while observing live wildlife on either side. Naturally, this plan had to be modified when Disney learned that live animals would be difficult to contain, care for, and keep to script, so the solution was to install audio-animatronic animals instead. However, you can find a vintage poster for The African Queen at Hollywood Studios on Sunset Boulevard as it is a Hollywood classic, but also possibly a nod to Walt’s inspiration for the Jungle Cruise!

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Disneyland Attractions to Skip

by on November 6, 2014

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

 

“How much will it cost?” “When is the best time visit?” “Where am I going to stay?” “Which attractions should I experience?” These are the four most important questions you must answer before venturing on your Disneyland vacation. For me, the first three questions have always been easy to answer, but the last one has always been a bit of a challenge. That is because it all depends on who will be joining you on your Disneyland trip. It’s important to find a balance with a list of attractions that everyone can enjoy together. One method that has always worked for me is to skip Disneyland attractions that will take up more of my time.

I am on the same boat as our other TouringPlans’ writer – Tom Bricker – who believes that everyone should experience every attraction once. But what about those moments when you are strapped for time or only going to be at the park for one day? Even if you create your own touring plans – which is a must – it can still be unclear which attractions should be added to your touring plans. This is why I am here to help you determine which attractions to skip and which attractions will maximize your time at the park. Let us begin.

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Disney Parks Potential: The Jungle Book

by on October 21, 2014

© Disney

© Disney

Welcome back to Disney Parks Potential, where I take a look at some of Disney’s more underrepresented franchises and characters while coming up with interesting ways to integrate them into Walt Disney World or Disneyland. If you missed the first entry, which covered The Incredibles, you can check that out here. Today I’ll be taking a look at an all-time Disney animated classic, The Jungle Book.

When you hear that Jungle Book has no attraction presence at Disney World, you probably think, “Wait, that can’t be right.” I mean, with a park entirely dedicated to animals, it’s hard to believe that Disney doesn’t have at least one attraction based on The Jungle Book. That wasn’t always the case, however. When Animal Kingdom first opened, there was a show called Journey into the Jungle Book but it only lasted a year before being replaced by Tarzan Rocks! in the theater which now currently houses Finding Nemo – The Musical. Besides that short lived show, there haven’t been any further attractions based on The Jungle Book.

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