Universal Orlando Resort

Hurricane Irma – September 9, 2017 Update

by on September 9, 2017

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 9, 2017, 9:00AM Eastern

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

Hurricane Irma hit Cuba and the Bahamas overnight. It will hit Miami and South Florida Sunday morning and is forecast to travel up Florida’s west (Gulf) coast.

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

Central Florida

Orlando International Airport will close at 5PM on Saturday. The airport is also on Twitter at @MCO. You should contact your airline for information on other cancellations.

Sanford will have its last flight out at 5:15PM and airport operations will cease at 7:30.

Expect much heavier than usual crowds at the airports as people leave Florida.

Parking garages at Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale are at capacity. This is no more onsite parking at these airports.

Tampa will close 8PM Saturday.

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

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Hurricane Irma – September 8 Update

by on September 8, 2017

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 8, 2017, 3:00PM EDT

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

Florida continues to prepare for Irma to make landfall. Current forecasts say the storm will hit South Florida Saturday with Central Florida seeing the worst of it late Sunday and early Monday morning.

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

Central Florida

Orlando International Airport will close at 5PM on Saturday. The airport is also on Twitter at @MCO. You should contact your airline for information on other cancellations. Expect much heavier than usual crowds at the airports as people leave Florida. Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports have also announced closures.

Parking garages at both Orlando and Fort Lauderdale are at capacity. This is no more onsite parking at either airport.

Tampa will close 8PM Saturday.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Hurricane Irma – September 7, 2017 Update

by on September 7, 2017

LATEST HERE

Last update – September 7, 2017, 7:00 PM

Florida continues to prepare for Irma to make landfall. Current forecasts say the storm will hit South Florida Saturday with Central Florida seeing the worst of it late Sunday and early Monday morning.

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

Central Florida

Orlando International Airport will close at 5PM on Saturday is operating normally, but advises travelers to contact their airlines to find out about any cancellations or delays. The airport is also on Twitter at @MCO. You should contact your airline for information on other cancellations.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of September 9

by on September 7, 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.

Special Note: Due to the ever-changing weather conditions with Hurricane Irma, park hours, crowd levels, weather, and more will change throughout this week. If you are going to be in the area, please follow the directions of local authorities to ensure your safety. Keep updated on the National Hurricane Center web site. Consider if you are able to cancel or postpone your vacation during this potentially life-threatening situation. For a brief summary of some information to know about Hurricane Irma, you can read our article here.

 

Weekly Crowd Level

 

Back to school can be such a beautiful thing at the theme parks! Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

Weekly Weather Report

It goes without saying, keeping on top of the forecast this week is not only important for what to wear, but for safety as well. Check out the latest weather forecast here.

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Hurricane Irma – News September 5, 2017

by on September 5, 2017

LATEST HERE

Updated 9-5-17 2:40

Thank you to Annette Johnson with Build A Better Mouse Trip for passing this on.

As Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma, Disney is allowing guests with trips in the next seven days that could be impacted by the storm to cancel without penalty. This doesn’t include any airfare that would have been booked as part of a package.

Update – According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal and SeaWorld both are allowing guests to refund or reschedule.

Be safe out there. We will update you with any news we hear.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center web site has a dedicated page for Irma.

 

One Night at Hard Rock Hotel for Two Days at Universal Orlando

by on September 5, 2017

I recently traveled with relatives who wanted to visit Universal Orlando for two days. To maximize that time, I decided to book a room for one night at one of Universal’s deluxe hotels in order to enjoy two days of Early Park Admission and Unlimited Universal Express.

The plan was basically this:

  1. Book the cheapest hotel room that will hold 4 adults and 1 kid (those who would use Universal Express).
  2. Arrive before park opening on check-in day to get Universal Express and enjoy Early Park Admission at one park.
  3. Check out early the next day in time to enjoy Early Park Admission at the other park.
  4. Use Universal Express wherever possible in order to breeze through attraction lines.

The plan mostly worked well, but weather and my group’s stamina prevented us from doing everything in the Universal Orlando parks during those two days. This article focuses on Hard Rock Hotel and the stay’s impact on touring the Universal Orlando theme parks.

Deluxe Queen Room

Hard Rock Hotel

There are several Hard Rock Hotel locations in the world. Like the other on-site Universal Orlando hotels, this location is run by Loews. (Hard Rock has its own Rock Royalty loyalty programs, so you cannot utilize the Loews YouFirst program here.) This is a resort-style hotel, with a snazzy pool, organized activities, several restaurants, a fitness center, and more.

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SATURDAY SIX: The 6 Lowest-Rated Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on September 2, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Lowest-Rated Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort! That’s right, this week we finish off our month long look at some interesting survey results courtesy of TouringPlans readers. Previously we’ve checked out the highest-rated rides, shows and spectaculars at Walt Disney World, along with The Mouse House’s lowest-rated attractions. Last week we checked out the best of the best at Universal Orlando, and this week we’re going to look at the other side of the coin. One thing to note is that there are some attractions that probably should have made this list – such as the Flying Fish Market show at USF – but they did not receive enough survey results to qualify. I was really surprised by some of these results, so let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Poseidon’s Fury

The outdoor facade for Poseidon’s Fury single-handedly justifies the existence of the Lost Continent area at Islands of Adventure. Stunningly huge and elaborately detailed, this is an example of what Universal Creative can do when not tied to a specific Intellectual Property. Poseidon’s Fury is a walkthrough experience that contains several of Universal’s most incredible special effects, the best of which is an surreal walk through a tunnel in which jets of water form the walls around you.

Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Various elements of the show can be corny, no doubt, but the final battle is fun to watch play out in a larger than life setting. There is nothing like Poseidon’s Fury anywhere else in the theme park world, and it is just the type of show that could be used over in Diagon Alley for the long rumored Ministry of Magic attraction that would go where Fear Factor Live currently stands.

While I would consider Poseidon’s Fury at the top of my list of most underrated attractions at Universal, I can see why some would rate it poorly. It isn’t until the water tunnel reveal and the last act before the show gets really good. The whole experience is a relatively passive one, especially for modern audiences. As we mentioned, the camp factor is also very high. You’re watching an epic battle between good and evil in which one of the characters is named Lord Darkenon (apparently Taser Face was already taken.)

Overall Score: 3.3/5

Poseidon’s Fury. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Poseidon’s Fury. (photo byMike Sperduto)

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of September 2

by on August 31, 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.

Labor Day weekend….the unofficial end of summer is upon us! Let’s make the most of the time we have left and get out and have some fun!

Weekly Crowd Level



Look at these beautiful crowd levels! Hello, back to school! Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

Weekly Weather Report

Check out the latest weather forecast here.

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SATURDAY SIX: The 6 Highest-Rated Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on August 26, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Highest-Rated Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort! This month we’ve taken the data submitted by TouringPlans readers after they have returned from their Orlando vacations to get an idea of what they liked – and didn’t like – during their trip to the parks. We started with the highest-rated rides at Walt Disney World, followed by the highest-rated shows and spectaculars. Last week we looked at the lowest-rated attractions at WDW and today we are going down the street to the Mouse’s chief competition, the Universal Orlando Resort. Now, two years ago the SATURDAY SIX commissioned a blue-ribbon panel consisting of some of the biggest names in the theme park community to rate Their Favorite Attractions at Universal. It’s going to be interesting to see what the “experts” chose compared to the average family, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey made its debut over 7 years ago and is pretty much the ride which forever changed the fortunes of Universal. The attraction’s Hogwarts Castle facade is impressive enough, but what really blew everyone away was the attention to detail in the queue. In fact, the queue of Forbidden Journey is so incredible that for a while there was a “castle tour” option where guests could walk the queue without riding the attraction. Universal used elements both from the Potter books and film series throughout the queue to create an amazing experience like no other. Creative nailed the “living paintings” concept and even had the debut of the Four Founders of Hogwarts, with the four having a conversation about the guests through their paintings. Fans of the Potter series get to walk through places such as Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor Common Room, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.

The ride itself has guests going through the greatest hits of the first several Harry Potter films, including a stop into the Chamber of Secrets, a fly through of a game of Quidditch, and even a run-in with Dementors. This is all done spectacularly through the use of live-action sets and screens that work seamlessly together to provide an experience like no others. The cherry on top of the sundae is the use of all your favorite Harry Potter stars both in the queue and in the ride.

Overall Score 4.3/5

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey queue. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of August 26

by on August 24, 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.

How on earth did the end of summer get here so fast?! Before the last bit of summer slips away, it is time to get out there and have some fun! Let’s go!

Weekly Crowd Level

Can we say back to school? Those crowd levels are looking good!! You can see the detailed crowds by park, and the show schedules here.

Weekly Weather Report

It’s still summer, and there’s a good chance of rain for this weekend, so before you leave the house don’t forget to check the latest weather here.

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