Universal Orlando Resort

SATURDAY SIX: 6 Attractions We Miss At Universal Studios Florida

by on May 20, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Attractions We Miss at Universal Studios Florida!  We are about to enter the part of the theme park calendar when both Universal and Disney like to unveil new attractions and experiences for the busy summer crowds. However, in most cases, whenever we get something new it means we also have to say goodbye to something it replaced. For example, for guests to be able to enjoy the Valley of Mo’ara in Pandora: The World of Avatar, Disney removed Camp Minnie Mickey. Universal Studios Florida has gone through more turnover than most theme parks. In fact, of the park’s opening day attraction lineup, only E.T. Adventure and the Horror Make-Up Show remain. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite USF attractions that have been replaced over the years, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Kongfrontation

Amazingly enough, despited be based around one of the worst filmed versions of King Kong in history (the 1976 remake) Kongfrontation remains an attraction that many Universal fans wish was still in the park. Even though it was replaced by the incredibly popular Revenge of the Mummy indoor coaster, the nostalgia for Kongfrontation is strong. The attraction had many signature moments, including interactions with various super-sized Kong audio-animatronics, and a very memorable end-of-ride photo opportunity where guests could be photographed in Kong’s hand. The Universal mantra of “Ride the Movies”  was exactly what Kongfrontation was all about. It may have been a bad movie, but you were in it and the experience was awesome. There are still references to Kong in Revenge of the Mummy, and Universal finally brought the great ape back into the parks with Skull Island: Reign of Kong, but man we still miss Kongfrontation.

Kongfrontation. (photo credit Universal Orlando Resort)

Kongfrontation. (photo credit Universal Orlando Resort)

Kongfrontation. (photo credit Universal Orlando Resort)

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SATURDAY SIX: The 6 Best Meet and Greets at Universal Studios Florida

by on May 13, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Meet and Greets at Universal Studios Florida! About this time last year, Universal bought DreamWorks Animation for $3.8Billion. However, we haven’t see much of that deal reflected in the theme park world until this past week when a new meet and greet with Kung Fu Panda’s Po was announced for Orlando. In theme park fandom, many have speculated on what incredible attractions that DreamWorks characters could be a part of (who wouldn’t want a How To Train Your Dragon ride?!) but the “meet and greet factor” was mostly overlooked. Meet and greets are now a huge part of the Disney experience, and only getting bigger. In fact, even runDisney races have become so heavily integrated with characters that the surprise removal of them this week caused a  near meltdown on social media.

Now Po the panda is going to be meeting guests in Islands of Adventure, so we’re going to look at some of the fun meet greets located right across the way in Universal Studios Florida, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The Scooby Gang

Having your picture taken with Scooby Doo is almost a rite of passage for any Universal guest. On any average day at the park you’re almost assuredly going to run into the canine sleuth along with Shaggy. Some days, you may find them posing with pics with Velma or Daphne. But on great days, you are able to find the entire Scooby Gang together and that can make for some really fun photos and interactions. You also have to get a shot of the Mystery Machine, which along with K.I.T.T., the General Lee, and the Batmobile is one of the most iconic vehicles in TV history.

The Scooby Gang. (photo by @hedgehogscorner)

The Mystery Machine. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

# 5 – Knight Bus

The opening of Diagon Alley brought with it a lot of surprises in the form of character entertainment. We all swooned for the soothing voice of Celestina Warbeck and marveled at the creativity of the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts in their Tales of Beedle the Bard shows, but two characters who always bring smiles to Muggle faces are the Knight Bus conductor and his shrunken head sidekick. Both are quick on their feet (not literally in the case of one of them) and the meet and greet starts the guest’s “Diagon Alley experience” in the best way possible.

(photo by Brandon Glover)

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Ask It Results: Universal Orlando Instead of Walt Disney World

by on May 10, 2017

The results are in! Last week we asked you:

With Universal’s new offerings (like Volcano Bay), are you considering an onsite vacation to Universal instead of Walt Disney World?

Vacation dollars don’t go on trees, no matter how many money trees you buy at your local horticulture superstore, and vacation time is a finite commodity as well. For many years, Disney was the end-all-be-all for the ultimate Central Florida family getaway. Times change, and so are vacation habits. Here’s the results of your voting, with more than 2,000 votes cast.

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Ask It: Universal Orlando Instead of Walt Disney World?

by on May 3, 2017

For many years, Universal Orlando Resort has upped its game in terms of attractions, restaurants, and resort hotels. This summer, with the opening of the Volcano Bay water park, Universal keeps pushing forward on becoming a primary vacation destination instead of second fiddle to Walt Disney World. So we’re curious to see if this may change your vacation plans. Here’s this week’s Ask It:

With Universal’s new offerings (like Volcano Bay), are you considering an onsite vacation to Universal instead of Walt Disney World?

  • No (46%, 542 Votes)
  • Planning both WDW and Universal (30%, 352 Votes)
  • Yes (24%, 275 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,169

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Voting is open here and on Twitter, and feel free to share your views in the comments.

 

Harry Potter Christmas Experience Announced for Universal Orlando

by on April 13, 2017

I think it’s the Gospel of Luke that, in chronicling the birth of Jesus, quotes Lysanias of Abeline saying “Verily, I say unto you, this day shall be commemorated with a totally awesome video projection show. And maybe dragons.”

Universal Orlando fulfilled that millennia-old prophecy today by announcing a new, Harry Potter-themed Christmas event for its two theme parks. The new event will run from November 18, 2017 through January 6, 2018. It includes new holiday decor and food adapted from the Harry Potter novels, plus a new nighttime video projection show – also inspired by the books – to be displayed on Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure. The video projection simulation looks promising in the video. And Universal does a pretty good-to-great job with the food offerings in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, so new menus are something to look forward to as well.

The announcement also includes updates to Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. My favorite part of the whole announcement is where Macy’s is referred to as “the global leader in balloon entertainment.” I had no idea there was an official ranking system for this. I’d like to see the belt that the title-holder gets to wear. If you happen to be sitting in spots 2 through 10, now you know what you’re up against.

SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

by on April 8, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Universal’s RACE THROUGH NEW YORK STARRING JIMMY FALLON! 

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. (photo by Brandon Glover)

This past week Universal Studios Florida (USF) officially opened their newest attraction, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. While not the E-Ticket thrill ride many Universal fans are used to, it is the family friendly attraction that the Universal parks needed. Featuring the crowd pleasing Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, the attraction continues the Universal tradition of including humor within the attraction, while also implementing a whole new way to experience the thing we all hate the most: Theme Park Lines. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The Facade

One of the many synergies between the attraction and the park itself is the ride’s natural placement in the New York section of USF. With many theme park fans about to riot because of the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay of Tower of Terror out in California, it is great that Universal was able to place a ride exactly where it should go (as opposed to say, the nearby Transformers: The Ride 3-D.) Not only is Race Through New York in the best possible spot, the facade itself looks so good it immediately made everything around it look better. A scaled down replica of the actual NBC building at “30 Rock” in New York City, Race Through New York looks fantastic. Even better, while the facade looks stunning during the day, the area looks even better at night when the sun goes down.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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SATURDAY SIX – 6 Reasons We Love MARDI GRAS at Universal

by on March 11, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Mardi Gras Celebration. No one loves theme park events more than us. Mickey’s Not So Scary? Fantastic. Halloween Horror Nights? Even better. Grinchmas, Mickey’s Very Merry, and Food & Wine? Can’t wait for each of them. Earlier this year, EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts was shockingly good and we’re incredibly excited it is already scheduled to return in 2018.  Villain’s Unleashed? Okay, that was the exception that proves the rule.

King Gator float. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love Universal’s SAPPHIRE FALLS RESORT

by on March 4, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We LOVE Universal’s Sapphire Falls Resort! Currently, the Universal Orlando Resort has five on-site hotels, with a sixth (Aventura) opening next summer. Universal separates its hotels into three categories: Prime Value (Cabana Bay Beach Resort), Preferred (Royal Pacific Resort), and Premier (Hard Rock and Portofino Bay.) Sapphire Falls falls under the Preferred category.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Sapphire Falls is located directly next to Royal Pacific, and the two hotels actually connect in their convention space area. As part of the Loews brand, Sapphire Falls has the type of service you receive at a higher end hotel, and stays at Sapphire count towards the Loews YouFirst Loyalty Program. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of Sapphire Falls, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The Lobby

The lobby at Sapphire Falls is the most guest friendly of any Universal hotel. Similar to the lobbies at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and the newly renovated Polynesian Village Resort, guests walk into a wide open lobby with a huge window on the opposite end overlooking the property. One of the most oft-talked about features of the lobby is the striking “beach ball” chandelier. Pictures do not do this chandelier justice and, when lit up at night, the fixture looks absolutely fantastic.

There is plenty of unique seating in the lobby, including one area with a huge TV. There are outlets all over the place to plug in  your electronic devices, including a large wooden table which has enough space for at least ten people to work from their laptops. If you need to spend time in a hotel lobby, this is the exact type of one you want to be in.

Sapphire Falls lobby. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Lobby chandelier. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Lobby. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Outlets.

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Price comparison of Orlando’s water parks

by on February 17, 2017

Summer is coming and this year will be unlike any previous year in Orlando because Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay erupts onto the scene. It’s hard not to call Volcano Bay a water park, because well, that’s what it is, but it is indeed so much more. It is said to have technology and features unlike anything we’ve seen before, especially in Orlando. Still, chances are as you think about planning your Orlando vacation, you’re thinking about Volcano Bay as if it is a water park. Most likely you are trying to decide how to spend the time you’ve allocated for a water park and debating between Volcano Bay, Disney’s water parks, Aquatica, or even Discovery Cove.

Price comparison of Orlando’s water parks

Without diving too deep into the strenuous detail between all of Orlando’s water parks, let’s take a look at this price comparison.

Prices below do not include tax, prices are as of 2/17/2017

Ticket type Volcano Bay Disney Water Parks
 Single day Single day tickets are not officially available as of yet, but can be purchased only as part of a vacation package through select travel booking services. Several sources indicate $124 as the price per person.

 $62.00 adult

$56.00 child

Multi day regular theme parks plus water parks

(park to park / park hopper)

3 days

  $314.99 adult

($105 per day)

$304.99 child

($102 per day)

 $364 adult

($121.33 per day)

$346 child

($115.33 per day)

Multi day regular theme parks plus water park

(park to park / park hopper)

4 days

$324.99 adult

($81.24 per day)

$314.99 child

($78.75 per day)

 $440 adult

($110 per day)

$420 child

($105 per day)

Multi day regular theme parks plus water parks

(one park per day)

3 days

 $259.99 adult

($86.66 per day)

$249.99 child

($83.33 per day)

 water parks are not available without Park Hopper option

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Dani’s Best Week Ever February 16, 2017: Universal Mardi Gras and a pinch of Disney

by on February 16, 2017

The Big Easy has arrived in Orlando. Universal Mardi Gras 2017 is now in full swing, through March 25, 2017. This year marks the first time that Mardi Gras fills the streets of Universal Studios Florida every single night. It’s nice to know more guests are able to enjoy this lively celebration no matter the day of the week. I paid a visit to Universal Orlando to get some Mardi Gras flavor in my life, and I even managed to make it over to Walt Disney World and visit two parks in two hours!

Universal Mardi Gras 2017

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