Universal Orlando Resort

SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam ‚Äď Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2014

by on December 6, 2014

This week‚Äôs¬†SATURDAY SIX¬†takes a look at¬†Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2014. As theme park fans, we’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. Unfortunately for us, the theme park business itself seems to be turning into a zero-sum game, where we only get new things if we lose something else. So while it’s fantastic that we’re getting a Frozen attraction, James Cameron’s World of Avatar, and restaurants such as Cowfish, it comes with a sense of sadness as it also means we’re probably saying goodbye to something in the parks and resorts that we have been enjoying. Today we pay our respects to some of those that we lost in the past year, starting with….

 

# 6 – Camp Minnie-Mickey/ Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade (Animal Kingdom)

Regular readers of the SATURDAY SIX know how much we love Animal Kingdom, so it was tough to see two things leave this year: Camp Minnie-Mickey, and Mickey’s¬†Jammin’ Jungle Parade. While Camp Minnie-Mickey had no major attractions outside of a stage show and character meet-and-greets, the entire area was wonderfully designed and was delightful to take in while appreciating all the whimsical details. The area of Camp Minnie-Mickey is scheduled to be part of the upcoming Pandora expansion to the park.

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Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Daisy Duck taking a Jr. Woodchuck stroll through Camp Minnie Mickey. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 5: Mai Tai at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop

by on December 5, 2014

The Christmas season, my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave advent calendars in the rear view mirror*¬†but I still miss that¬†daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014 we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at¬†Walt Disney World¬†and the¬†Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property. Bonus points award for atmosphere where drink is served. And any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY FIVE: Mai Tai at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (Royal Pacific Resort)

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Mai Tai at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort. The hotel also has one of my favorite restaurants on UOR property, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop.¬†The signature drink at Tchoup Chop is their¬†1944 Mai Tai Roa Ae. Ingredients:¬†3 Star Barbancourt Rum, Myers Dark Rum, Orgeat Syrup, Orange Curacao & Fresh Lime Juice. Mai Tai Roa Ae translates as “Out of this world, the best.” This authentic Polynesian Mai Tai from Tchoup Chop tastes as good as it sounds, and we recommend getting it served in the high quality¬†tiki mug.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 3: Flaming Moe at Moe’s Tavern

by on December 3, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,*¬†but I still miss that¬†daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at¬†Walt Disney World¬†and the¬†Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the¬†Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served.¬†Any¬†drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY THREE: Flaming Moe at Moe’s Tavern (Universal Studios Florida)

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“Hey, Homer came up with the drink, but I came up with the idea of charging $6.95 for it.” – Moe Szyslak, The Simpsons (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Available in Springfield USA, the Flaming Moe became the first signature drink in Universal history that guests wanted to watch before they drank. Based on an iconic episode of The Simpsons, the Flaming Moe uses a unique dry ice effect to simulate the drink being on fire. While the Flaming Moe itself is little more than orange soda, the overall experience of seeing the Flaming Moe in action is more than enough to include it on the list.

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25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 1: Shark Attack at Chez Alcatraz

by on December 1, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that¬†daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY ONE: Shark Attack at Chez Alcatraz (Universal Studios Florida)

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Shark Attack at Chez Alcatraz in Universal Studios Florida. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Available at Chez Alcatraz¬†in the San Francisco area of Universal Studios Florida, the Shark Attack is visually one of the coolest drinks on property. Located mere steps away from the photo-op with the world’s most famous great white shark, this drink perfectly gets across the creepiness of seeing blood mixing with water that scared us all in Jaws. Ingredients:¬†Malibu Coconut Rum, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, dash of Grenadine.

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2014

by on November 27, 2014

This week‚Äôs¬†SATURDAY SIX¬†takes a look at¬†Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2014 was a great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning, to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, I ask that Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with….

# 6 – Disney and Universal Merchandise is Better than Ever

It wasn’t long ago, that the only merchandise people were buying at Universal were Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts. Over at Disney, almost every single store, whether in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney, was selling the same generic”Disney Parks”stuff. A seismic shift started to occur in 2010, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, and blew the doors off everyone’s projections in the area of merchandise and Butterbeer. Guests were now walking out of Universal with house robes, wands and chocolate frogs in hand. This success was then repeated throughout both of their theme parks, with unique and exclusive items found everywhere you looked, from the EVAC action figure at Transformers gift shop, to the faux girl scout cookies in Despicable Me’s Super Silly Store, to my personal favorite – The Film Vault – ¬†a whole new store focusing on retro merchandise.

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Jungle Cruise merchandise found at the Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – November 16 to 22, 2014

by on November 25, 2014

To say last week was a slow one at Universal Orlando Resort is an understatement. Wait times at both parks stayed in the lowest levels of the year all week, exactly as we predicted. Even the weekend crowds could not muster a crowd¬†level above ’2′ on our scale.

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

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SATURDAY SIX: Six “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on November 22, 2014

This week‚Äôs¬†SATURDAY SIX¬†takes a look at¬†Six “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort. The Universal theme parks are filled with extraordinary features, from the incredible dragon atop Gringotts bank in Diagon Alley, to the hilarious games of chance in front of The Simpsons Ride, but my favorite ones are the subtle – almost hidden -details that most guests don’t even notice while touring the park. I like to think of these details as Easter eggs, similar to the ones most of us are familiar with in movies (and, in Hollywood, no one is better than Disney Pixar.) Now, some of these details are almost impossible to find unless you know where to look for them, while others are hidden in plain sight, but all of them, whether consciously or subconsciously, add to the overall immersion at Universal.¬†¬†Today we are going to look at six of these Easter eggs, several of which even longtime Universal fans may have not noticed before. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, keep your head on a swivel, and let‚Äôs start counting down‚Ķ

# 6 – Mickey Ears in Twister… Ride It Out

Our first stop is at an attraction that may not be around for much longer, Twister… Ride It Out. Based around the movie Twister from 1996 (and one of your humble authors favorite guilty pleasures,) the attraction’s pre-show has guests walking through a house that has been ravaged by a tornado. One of the pieces of debris inside the house is a car coming through the roof. If you look closely at the passenger side front tire of the vehicle, you will see a pair of the iconic Mickey Ears.

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Twister… Ride It Out at Universal Studios Florida. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – November 9 to 15, 2014

by on November 19, 2014

Our predictions last week told us that Universal crowds would be about average the first half of the week then very low for the second half. We were half right. Crowds were low all week. In fact, last week constitutes some of the lowest crowds we’ve seen over a seven day period at Universal Orlando Resort.

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

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Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – November 2 to 8, 2014

by on November 11, 2014

Last week was the slowest week at Universal Orlando Resort since early September. We saw crowd levels less than ’5′ all week at both parks. Our estimates were consistently a level or two too high which tells us that attendance may be down at the resort, a good sign for guests who want to visit in November without experiencing significant crowds.

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

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Video: Cabana Bay Garden Bridge Now Open at Universal Orlando

by on November 8, 2014

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Cabana Bay’s garden bridge is now open to pedestrians, and we’ve got the POV to prove it. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

It seems like only yesterday that we were wondering when the new pedestrian walkway and garden bridge connecting the Cabana Bay Beach Resort with the rest of the Universal Orlando Resort would open. Well, wait now more, because it looks like The Cowfish wasn’t the only thing Universal quietly debuted this month.

The Cabana Bay garden bridge opened recently, and even though the walkway between the hotel and CityWalk isn’t yet fully landscaped, I wanted to capture the following POV video to give you a feel for this new path’s potential:

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