Universal Orlando Resort

NBC Sports Grill Brew Replacing NASCAR at Universal CityWalk

by on April 30, 2015

NBC Sports Grill Brew

The new NBC Sports Grill Brew is bound for the site of Universal CityWalk’s former NASCAR restaurant. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Since late last year, the entire theme park community (ok, just Derek Burgan) has been mourning the closure of the NASCAR Sports Grille, and eagerly awaiting news of what’s next for the former restaurant’s prominent footprint along the promenade of Universal Orlando‘s CityWalk. After months of watching NASCAR’s slow-motion demolition, we finally have evidence confirming rumors that an NBC Sports themed restaurant would be the new replacement. User “CatCatCat” on the OrlandoUnited.com forums was the first to share a new State of Florida business license filing that lists “NBC Sports Grill Brew” as the new eatery’s name.

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 19 to 25, 2015

by on April 28, 2015

Last week, other than Wednesday and Saturday wait times were a couple points lower than the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted. No park reached a crowd level higher than a level ‘6’ on our scale, good news for guests who visited the resort. It seems clear that the Spring Break season has ended and we have entered the post-Easter lull that should last from now through Memorial Day weekend.

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 MORE “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on April 25, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six  MORE “Easter Eggs” at the Universal Orlando Resort. One of our favorite parts of both Universal and Walt Disney World are all the wonderful details that make these fully immersive theme parks stand out from everyone else. In our first look at Universal Easter eggs, we saw a pair of actual Mickey ears on Twister….Ride It Out!, the Jaws references in Diagon Alley, Dennis Nedry’s Barbasol can in Jurassic Park and more. Today we are going to look at six more details that even guests who has been to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure several times may not have noticed. Remember that clicking on any picture will bring it up in full size, keep your head on a swivel, and let’s start counting down…

# 6 – Back to the Future’s Doc Brown in The Simpsons Ride queue (USF)

There is absolutely nothing we like better in new attractions then when they pay tribute to the ones that they replaced. We love the hidden Nautilus in the rock work of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom, referencing the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride that was formerly in the area. Revenge of the Mummy in Universal Studios Florida has several images of King Kong during the ride, a tribute to Kongfrontation. In 2008, The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride, but it actually created a backstory for the change and put it inside the queue.

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Doc Brown and the “Institute of Future Technology” (facade for Back to the Future: The Ride)

If you stand in line for The Simpsons Ride, you will notice televisions throughout playing classic clips from The Simpsons from episodes in which the family went to theme parks. But mixed in with the old videos are several pieces of new material, including one clip explaining how the Institute of Future Technology (the facade for Back to the Future: The Ride) became Krustyland (the facade for The Simpsons Ride.)

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 12 to 18, 2015

by on April 21, 2015

Two weeks ago the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted crowd levels that ended up being too low indicating that post-Easter / Spring Break crowds were larger than expected. So, it follows that last week’s crowd levels were lower than expected, a sign that the spread of Easter and Spring Break visitors may have been one week shorter than the Universal Crowd Calendar expected.

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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The Best Dessert and Breakfast at Universal Orlando

by on April 20, 2015

We’ve already taken a look at the best full-service and counter-service restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort. Now it’s time to take a step back from the bigger picture and dive into the scrumptious details, considering some of the best individual meals instead of a holistic dining establishment.

And it just so happens that these best of the best dishes at the ever-expanding resort are probably ones that you’d normally – and tragically – pass by, making this spotlight all the more necessary.

Let’s tuck in.

Dessert: Cinnamon Berries

NBA City

Image © Universal

If you would normally eschew NBA City during your rounds at Universal CityWalk, we could hardly blame you. The first location of a proposed chain that never really managed to take off, the restaurant features bland décor and, should current scuttlebutt prove true, an incredibly short lease on life (Universal is currently in the midst of booting all older or under-performing venues from CityWalk and replacing them with more original – and more intriguing – fare).

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Universal Orlando Tests Mardi Gras Guide App

by on April 19, 2015

Universal Orlando test of a Mardi Gras Guide app could hint at the future of theme park events, for good or ill… (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Easter has been over two weeks, but Universal Orlando‘s annual Mardi Gras celebration only came to an end on Saturday night. Universal Studios Florida’s final parade and concert played on April 18th to a packed park under overcast skies, unlike the previous week’s rain-soaked washout. But in addition to flying beads and Trey Songz’s bass beats, Universal tossed out another surprise to its fans, testing a new Mardi Gras Guide app for smartphones on the party’s last night.

I began by downloading The Official Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Guide App to my iPhone 6 Plus. The app became available on April 15, and can still be downloaded for free (though it doesn’t do much now that the event has ended).

When the iOS Mard Gras Guide app opens for the first time, you’ll be asked to approve access to various services. Interestingly, there is no request to access the camera, which will become an issue later…

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 5 to 11, 2015

by on April 14, 2015

The Universal Crowd Calendar predicted a flatter range of crowd levels last week but what we saw was a more up-and-down pattern. The ‘up’s fell on Monday through Thursday while the ‘down’s fell on Sunday, Friday and Saturday.

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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Menu Monday: The Specialty Drinks at Hog’s Head Pub at Universal Orlando

by on April 13, 2015

Amid the bustling streets of Hogsmeade Village at the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is a dark, dank pub tucked alongside the Three Broomstick restaurant. Here weary Muggles queue up to order a cup of Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, or non-alcoholic cider. However, Hog’s Head Pub is also home to a variety of specialty adult beverages making it one of my favorite places to visit whenever I am at Islands of Adventure. The menu of specialty beverages is not published, you simply need to ask your bartender or you can read this handy dandy list. Prepared to get your mouth watering…

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Events That Will NOT Be On Any Theme Park Calendar

by on April 11, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Events That Will NOT Be On Any Theme Park Calendar. We here at the Saturday Six offices are huge fans of the special events that take place in Orlando. Whether it’s admiring the topiaries at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival, screaming during Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, or enjoying Santa and the rest of the Christmas parade during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, there seems to be something to enjoy every part of the year. But today we’re going to go in the other direction. We’re going to take a look at six events which we won’t be seeing anytime soon, starting with…

# 6 – Night of Juggalo at the Magic Kingdom

Each year Disney holds its Christian music celebration, Night of Joy, in the Magic Kingdom, but what about other types of music? What about the Insane Clown Posse? The Night of Juggalo event would be a weekend celebration that would totally change up the Magic Kingdom. During the party, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique would offer tattoos and piercings with their offerings. Instead of LeFou’s Brew, Gaston’s Tavern would serve Faygo from its taps. And the Dapper Dans would use their four part harmony to sing tunes from the songbook of Psychopathic Records. It’s an event that no party goer will ever forget, no matter how many counselling sessions they go to.

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The Insane Clown Posse playing in front of Cinderella Castle. WHOOP WHOOP! (And seriously, how DO magnets work?!)

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With Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J in charge, rules will be a bit more “relaxed” during party nights. We all miss Flash Mountain, right?

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More Metal Detectors Installed at Universal Orlando Roller Coasters

by on April 10, 2015

universal orlando metal detectors

Be prepared for enhanced security screenings at more of Universal Orlando’s biggest thrill rides. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Remember a few weeks back when Universal Orlando stirred up social media park-stalkers (present company included) by installing electronic security screening devices — a.k.a. metal detectors — outside Universal Studios Florida‘s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster? Well, hold onto your hat (but NOT your phone, keys, or coins) because UOR sprained the interwebs again with yesterday’s introduction of more metal detector screenings at Islands of Adventure‘s Incredible Hulk Coaster and Dragon Challenge.

As of April 9, 2015, all Universal Orlando guests wishing to ride the resort’s major outdoor roller coasters must deposit all loose and metal objects in a locker before entering the queue. Mandatory airport-style security screenings, including walk-through metal detectors and handheld scanning wands, will be used to ensure that no prohibited items — specifically phones, keys, coins, cameras, and selfie sticks — are carried onto the attractions.

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