Universal Orlando Resort

Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide

by on September 22, 2014

Halloween Horror Nights 24 touring plan

Let our Halloween Horror Nights 24 touring plans be your umbrella when braving the elements at Universal Studios Florida. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights has been resurrected for its 23rd annual outing, opening on September 19, 2014 under stormy skies. HHN, as it’s know to its legions of bloodthirsty fans, is recognized as the nation’s most popular and industry-awarded haunted theme park event. Before the opening weekend bloodstains have fully dried, we’re introducing this year’s Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide to help our brave readers make it through terror (relatively) unscathed.

Originally a locals-friendly filler during a normally slow season, Universal Studios Florida’s Halloween celebration started in 1991 as a single weekend of “Fright Nights” has grown so famous that the 28 event nights between 9/19 and 11/1 will provide a substantial percentage of USF’s annual attendance statistics. Much like visiting any of Orlando’s theme parks during a peak holiday season, an evening at HHN can be tremendous fun if you go in with a solid plan and sane expectations. Without those things…well, you might be better off eaten by zombies!

I’ve been attending HHN every year since 1996, and visited last year’s event on over a dozen evenings; I’ve combined that experience with intelligence gathered on 2014′s opening night to compile this Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide. Tweaks will continue to be made throughout the event, so the crowd patterns observed during this year’s initial operating nights aren’t guaranteed to persist, so we will continue to update our advice as operations evolve.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – September 14 to 22, 2014

by on September 22, 2014

Universal Orlando Resort saw low waits all week last week with only a few exceptions. Most days came in at a level ’2′ as predicted with only Friday and Saturday departing from the week-long trend.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Speed Planning A First Trip To Universal Orlando

by on September 21, 2014

Outside Universal

Outside Universal

By nature, we’re crazy planners. We like to look over the scenery, plan our day, and then return to the plan to tweak it. Last year, we planned a Walt Disney World trip in a month – and thought we’d never do anything crazier.

This year, we planned a first trip to Universal Orlando in ten days. Let’s take a ride.

Live blogging our trip to Universal

July 21, 2014

We’ve got this weird set of credits on Southwest that have to be used by May of next year, and, being teachers, we can’t really see an opportunity to use them. So my wife, Christy, keeps looking at flights and attempting to see what will work. We’ve looked at other locations, quick trips in the near future, and essentially come to the conclusion to just hold on to them. We actually look at Universal, but reservations aren’t available for our dates, August 2 to August 6. So, we put it on hold.

July 22, 2014

We resolved to wait, but I checked the website. And inputted the dates. And something strange happened. I asked my wife again which hotel it was. Frankly, I still have no idea which hotels are which. Except Cabana Bay. That sticks out in my brain. “Loews Royal Pacific,” she retorts. Which shows up on the list. For our departure in ten days. After a quick look back and forth, we go to work.

iPad in her hands and computer in mine, we are assembling. I’ve inputted the dates into the Universal site, and quickly updated that to show the Harry Potter package and reservations for breakfasts on two days. Christy has the Southwest site. And it’s giving major headaches. It turns out that each reservation can only use four methods of payment per reservation, and we have five people in our party. After contacting Southwest, I decide to plan our trip in three chunks – including one adult and one young child in each reservation. I’m starting to stress that once I book one reservation, and the other spots will become unavailable or more expensive. It means sacrificing the smallest credits, but we should all be able to book. I’ve got two browsers open on the computer, and the iPad working, and I’m able to reserve all of the spots! I turn to the computer and prepare to pay. For the reservation that no longer exists. I’ve been logged out.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX: Six “Secrets” of the Universal Orlando Resort (MEN IN BLACK, Doc Brown’s Plans, USF’s 2nd Entrance)

by on September 20, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six “Secrets” of the Universal Orlando Resort. Here at the SATURDAY SIX headquarters we look at the “secrets” of the theme park universe we all love; such as Island of Adventure’s Port of Entry and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. Today we are going to look at the Universal Orlando Resort itself and examine six things you may not have known you could do there, even if you have gone 100 times. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring up the full size version, and let’s get to counting down the secrets contained within Universal, starting with…

 

# 6 - Tour the “Immigration Room” of the MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack Queue

UORSecrets_MIB1

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

One of the areas at which Universal excels is attraction queues and one of our favorites is at MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. One of the areas guests walk by overhead is the immigration room, which seems straight off the set of the first MIB film. What you may not know is that you can actually get a tour of this area. Talk to the Team Member outside of the attraction and ask if them if you can get a tour of the immigration room. If it is a slow time and they have someone available, another Team Member will come out and escort you into this incredible room.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Crowd Report – September 7 to 13, 2014

by on September 17, 2014

Universal Orlando Resort saw typically low September crowds last week despite some hot weather. Neither park reached a crowd level above a level ’2′ until Friday and attraction wait times stayed well below annual averages all week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Does Diagon Alley Feel Like Home (London)?

by on September 16, 2014

The actual Diagon Alley Set from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

The actual Diagon Alley Set from the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Ed. – We’re happy to bring back our International Youth Correspondent for another kid’s eye article. We’re also grateful to the Duncan family for being so accommodating when we rang them up and asked to borrow their children for a day.

When I heard that Universal Studios Florida was to welcome Diagon Alley as a new land, and that it was to be connected to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter already existing as Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, by the Hogwarts Express train, I was thrilled. I am a colossal Harry Potter fan and had already visited the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, where the eight Harry Potter movies were filmed, for an audio guided tour of the sets. I couldn’t wait to see how Universal was going to duplicate the original Diagon Alley set, replicate my home of London in general, and build the Knight Bus, Platform 9¾, and, of course, Gringotts Bank.

So when we visited Orlando this summer, my brother and I decided to adopt some American parents for the day, Len Testa and Laurel Stewart – the TouringPlans legends – to take us around the new area and attractions. Len had even concocted a back story in case someone asked how my brother and I got our English accents; we were to reply: “From our nanny, Mary Poppins.” And to do so with a perfectly straight face! I would have totally failed and was so glad we didn’t have to use this in the end.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Sapphire Falls Resort Opening in 2016

by on September 10, 2014

Only a few months after opening the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando has announced that its fifth on-site hotel will be called the Sapphire Falls Resort and will open in summer 2016.

Universal’s latest Loews-branded hotel will sport a Caribbean theme and contain 1000 rooms, 77 of which will be suites. Landscaping will feature a tropical lagoon and large waterfall. The new resort is located between the Royal Pacific Resort and Cabana Bay Beach Resort, on the south side of Hollywood Way just east of Adventure Way.

Sapphire Falls concept are wide shot

Concept art of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. Cabana Bay Beach Resort can be seen at the top center, with IoA’s Ripsaw Falls ride at the top right. (Images courtesy Universal Orlando/Loews)

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – August 31 to September 6, 2014

by on September 8, 2014

Wait times at Universal Orlando skewed lower than expected last week although not significantly so. We correctly predicted the crowd level within one index level every day with only one exception. The week after Labor Day, like at Disney World, is the single slowest week of the year at Universal Orlando. If you can handle the hot summer temperatures you will experience near empty touring conditions.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – August 24 to 30, 2014

by on September 5, 2014

Welcome to the Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report! Here we take a look at how our crowd predictions performed the previous week and take a brief look at the week to come.

Last week, no park reached wait times higher than a level ’5′ on our scale and most days stayed around a ’3′ or ’4′. Predictions tended to be high rather than low which is consistent with what we observed at Disney World last week. An early return to school for some school districts is pulling the annual September lull in attendance a week earlier than usual.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

 

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Levels – Daily Breakdown

Sunday, August 24, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
4
4

Our predictions for attractions at Islands of Adventure were high by an average of 3 to 10 minutes. However, we correctly predicted most attractions at Universal Studios.

Islands of Adventure
4
2

Monday, August 25, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
4
5

Another slow day at Islands of Adventure on Monday. Only Ripsaw Falls (35 minutes) and Spider-Man saw wait times above a level 2 on our scale.

Islands of Adventure
4
2

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
5
4

Crowds remained low on Tuesday including a 23 minute average posted wait at Forbidden Journey and a 25 minute average at Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket.

Islands of Adventure
5
3

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
4
3

Low waits at Islands of Adventure again on Wednesday. No attraction reached an average posted time above 40 minutes (Ripsaw Falls).

Islands of Adventure
5
2

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
4
3

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem averaged 44 minutes (predicted  54) on Thursday but otherwise wait times were low.

Islands of Adventure
4
2

Friday, August 29, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
4
3

Hulk, Jurassic Park River Adventure and Dragon Challenge were among the Islands of Adventure attractions that had an single-digit average posted wait on Friday.

Islands of Adventure
4
2

Saturday, August 30, 2014

WHAT WE
THOUGHT
WHAT WE
SAW
ANALYSIS
Universal Studios
5
5

We under-predicted Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (49 minutes, predicted 37) but every other prediction was within 5 minutes of what we observed on Saturday.

Islands of Adventure
4
3
What to Expect This Week
August 31 to September 6, 2014
How Crowded is Universal Orlando Resort?

How Crowded is Universal Orlando Resort?

The first week of September is typically a great week to visit the Universal Orlando Resort. Crowds are lighter with most schools in session and summer vacations concluded for most families.

To see Universal Orlando Resort Crowd predictions for the days of your vacation, check the Crowd Calendar.

To get details about our predictions of future crowds or details about crowds in the past check out the Crowd Calendar and select “Jump to Date” on the left margin.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Merchandise: The Film Vault in Universal Studios Florida (Kong, Ghostbusters, BTTF)

by on August 31, 2014

Earlier this month Universal Studios Florida opened a new store called The Film Vault which offers products featuring a wide assortment of fan favorite Universal properties including Ghostbusters, King Kong, The Godfather, Back to the Future and more. The store is located across from Transformers: The Ride 3-D and replaces the Delancey Street Preview Center, where guests were used as test audiences for upcoming television shows. The preview center has been moved closer to the front of the park near Schwab’s Pharmacy.

FilmVault1

The Film Vault (photo by Seth Kubersky)

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print