Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of October 7

by on October 5, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook Destinations. Storybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”….and for that we celebrate with a long weekend! Hooray for more time to play!

Weekly Crowd Level

You will definitely see the effects of the holiday weekend at the parks, but with careful planning using a personalized touring plan, it will be easy peasy!

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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Volcano Bay: the Lines, the Waves, and the Waturi

by on October 2, 2017

A few months ago, Daisy took an initial run at Volcano Bay, Universal’s new water park that I still refuse to call the third theme park (sorry, Universal marketing). She did not have a great experience, but the park was new, and it was still getting used to swimming without its floaties. So we gave it a few months and then tried again.

I visited the park on a relatively nondescript Tuesday in August–the 22nd to be exact–and my colleague David Davies was there a few weeks before me, on July 27. This post is an amalgamation of our two experiences, which had a few differences but the same general result: it’s not great, folks.

Arrival

Heading to the Parking Buses Around 4:15 PM

David and I each arrived differently. I was lucky enough to have an overnight stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is where some of the photos of stunning Volcano Bay views in this post came from. For me, getting in was easy: there is an entrance specifically for Cabana Bay guests about 50 feet from the Bayside Tower. Since I entered during Early Entry (more on that in a bit), the entry process was quick and simple.

The alternative for everyone not at Cabana Bay or the neighboring Sapphire Falls is to take a shuttle bus. The other Universal resorts have their own shuttle, and there is one that delivers guests from the parking area. The latter was the path that David took, and he wasn’t too thrilled. Here’s what he says about the process:

“Having to park and go through security on the first floor of a garage is very industrial and non-water-parky. I guess it conditions us to get used to crowds and lines, but forcing driving guests to take a bus isn’t fun and takes a good chunk of time. The bus’s path doesn’t seem especially direct, either, and the buses from the garage (vs. from the hotels) park farther away from the park entrance, so immediately I was feeling second-class. After exiting the bus, we had to corral ourselves into a narrow path and then through through a nicely decorated tunnel to get to the park. Then we had to take an escalator (or switchback path) up a hill to get to the entrance. I know Universal has land constraints, and the workers were doing a good job with the processes dictated to them, but these complexities can make negative first and last impressions on guests as they arrive and depart the park.”

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of September 30

by on September 28, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook Destinations. Storybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

Is it just me or did September fly right by faster than the Hulk coaster?! Life moves way too fast–get out and have fun people!!

Weekly Crowd Level

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love Universal’s HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 27

by on September 23, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Universal’s 27th Annual HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS! While Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is arguably Disney’s best hard ticket event, the premiere Halloween party in Florida takes place down the road at Universal Studios Florida. Halloween Horror Nights (HHN), transforms the entire park after day guests leave. When HHN begins, out come elaborate street experiences throughout the park, 9 insanely detailed haunted houses, and two great stage shows.

(photo by @bioreconstruct)

A perennial Golden Ticket winner for Best Halloween Event, HHN 27 faced two rather large challenges in 2017. For the first time in four years. the blockbuster sensation AMC’s The Walking Dead IP would not be part of the event. More importantly, longtime HHN creative lead Michael Aiello moved up on the corporate ladder at Universal, leaving the event in the hands of show director Patrick Braillard. Today we’re going to look at our favorite parts of HHN, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The Scare Zones

During HHN, the streets of Universal that are normally lined with churro carts become home to elaborately designed set pieces filled with costumed characters. This year’s lineup includes The Altars of Horror as you walk into the park in Production Central, The Purge in New York, Invasion! in San Francisco, Trick ‘r Treat in Central Park, and Festival of the Deadliest in Hollywood. Each of these locations have unique characters, and there is also “roaming hordes” of clowns wielding the ubiquitous HHN chainsaw that you will see mostly in the Springfield USA area. Lots of great photo opportunities here.

The Purge. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Trick ‘r Treat. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of September 23

by on September 21, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook DestinationsStorybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

Tomorrow is the first official day of fall. Even though the temperatures have yet to drop in Central Florida, the crowd levels have certainly dropped at Universal! It’s a great week to visit, so let’s see what’s in store.

Weekly Crowd Level

Things are looking pretty even and easy at the parks this week. Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

Weekly Weather Report

Mid-week is looking good, but still warm. Check out the latest weather forecast here.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of September 16

by on September 14, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook DestinationsStorybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

Welcome back! I’d like to take a second to say that I hope all that were directly affected by Hurricane Irma are safe. If your trip was interrupted or rescheduled due to the storm, or you are just needing an escape, let’s see how you can unwind at Universal Orlando this week!

Weekly Crowd Level

Please note these are the projected crowd levels at the time of publication. Due to many guests needing to change vacation plans at the last minute due to Irma, crowd levels may fluctuate. Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

Weekly Weather Report

Mid-week is looking good!! Check out the latest weather forecast here.

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Florida Crowd Updates – Coming Soon

by on September 11, 2017

Quick post to let you know we’re currently updating our crowd predictions following Hurricane Irma. We’ll expect some changes as people cancel and reschedule trips.

Please stand by and look for the first updates within 24 hours.

 

 

Face Your Fears at Halloween Horror Nights 2017

by on September 11, 2017

TouringPlans is pleased to welcome back guest author Laurie Breen.

Maybe you’re a fan of classic horror movies like The Shining. Maybe you’ve been riveted by all six seasons of American Horror Story. (Who else is dying for Cult to come out!?) Or maybe, like me, you’ve been to one or two Halloween events and want to find out if you’re brave enough to tackle the biggest frightfest of them all. Well friends, screw your courage to the sticking place and join me on a Halloween Horror Nights adventure.

Where to Start

With 9 haunted houses, a.k.a. “mazes”, and 5 outdoor Scarezones, Halloween Horror Nights is a killer event. First, you’ll want to check out the Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) website. On every page there is a big warning: Halloween Horror Nights is NOT FOR EVERYONE. Universal advises that this “event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13.” Not only are there enough ghouls and gore to unsettle the staunchest stomach, there is plenty of revelry among the adult guests. Horror Nights runs on select nights from September 15th through November 4th.

(c) Universal Orlando Resort

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Hurricane Irma – September 11 Update

by on September 11, 2017

Last update – September 11, 2017, 4:30PM Eastern

News on park hours tomorrow here.

Today is about cleaning up and getting the power back on in Central Florida. We will post as soon as we hear about things reopening.

Hurricane Irma went through Central Florida last night with howling winds, lots of rain, and many people losing power. Irma has been downgraded to the still very dangerous category of tropical storm.

Follow the latest news on Hurricane Irma at the National Hurricane Center.

Florida Airports

Every major airport in Florida is CLOSED until further notice. Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami are assessing damage.

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Hurricane Irma – September 10 update

by on September 10, 2017

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 10, 2017, 10:30AM Eastern

For more in depth information on what to expect if you’re in Central Florida during a hurricane, read this article.

Another day, another update. Thanks for sticking with us.

The incredibly slow speed of Hurricane Irma means that the forecast for when it will reach Central Florida keeps getting pushed out. Currently the eye is forecast to reach the Tampa-St. Petersburg area around 2AM Monday. Though it’s counterintuitive that a “slow” storm is worse, it is. You don’t want winds and rain to linger in a area, which is what they’re doing now.

The eye is making landfall in the Florida Keys, but the winds and rain are being felt all the way up the state. Miami is seeing flooding and power outages.

The storm is currently tracking west of the Orlando area. This does not mean there is no danger. The storm could still change directions and the area will still see very high winds and rains.

Follow the latest news on Hurricane Irma at the National Hurricane Center.

Florida Airports

Every major airport in Florida is CLOSED until further notice.

Airports are not set up to take in evacuees in cases of emergency.

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