Universal Orlando Resort

Unofficial Guide Reader’s Survey – Best Travel Agents 2016

by on June 1, 2016

TouringPlans logoThe results are in, and we want to thank you, readers, for helping us and your fellow Disney and Universal fans plan great vacations. We are so happy to bring you our Best Travel Agent recommendations for 2016.

The Methodology for Finding the Best Travel Agents

First of all, it’s important to know how we got this list. These recommendations come from you, not us. TouringPlans and the Unofficial Guide survey readers about their vacations and one (of the VERY MANY – really, thank you to everyone who takes the time to do this) sections of the survey concerns how the trip was booked. We ask if you’d consider the agent “an expert” on the destination you booked and if you’d recommend him or her to a friend. To make our list the agent has to have a statistically significant number of responses and 100% positive answers on one question and more than 90% on the other. That’s all there is to it. We don’t swing the votes. And this isn’t a “Top 15” list. If 50 agents had qualified, 50 would be listed. That only 16 out of 1900 agents listed in the surveys received qualified tells you a lot about the quality of work these people do.

We’ve published this list in the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World for years, but wanted to add it to our web site this year. Some of these agents we know, several we have personally worked with, and some are brand new to us. We hope this helps you find a travel agent if you’re looking for one. (You’ll notice that some agents and agencies have a relationship with TouringPlans in the form of complimentary subscriptions for qualifying travel packages. This has no bearing on the survey results.)

Finally, without further ado, we give you the Best Travel Agents for 2016, listed alphabetically by first name.

 

Best Travel Agents 2016

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – May 8 to 14, 2016

by on May 26, 2016

Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar Report

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Last week, crowds at Universal started out the week low on our scale and by the end of the week had risen a few points higher. This matched the pattern predicted by the Universal Crowd Calendar except that Friday and Saturday’s crowds were a couple points higher than expected. I don’t believe the spike at the end of the week is indicative of an influx of guests since the crowds have settled nicely in the days since.

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

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – May 1 to 7, 2016

by on May 17, 2016

Universal Crowd Calendar

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Last week, crowds at Universal Orlando stayed within reach of what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted until Thursday when we saw three consecutive days of higher than expected crowds. The good news is that park crowd levels never went higher than a ‘7’ making for excellent touring conditions. Guests who used a touring plan probably never noticed the crowds at all.

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

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 24 to 30, 2016

by on May 10, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Universal Orlando Resort continues to be the one resort that shows wait times within a reasonable distance of what we have seen historically in April. Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland are trending up sharply throughout April, especially during the week while Universal Orlando is showing the moderate wait times that we would expect for late April. However, wait times are still up at Universal Orlando as well, which each day last week coming in at or above what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted.

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

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Universal Orlando Photo Update May 9th, 2016

by on May 10, 2016

Welcome back to the long overdue return of our Universal Orlando photo updates.  Since so much has happened at the resort since our last update, this week’s update will primarily focus on the upcoming 2016 Sapphire Falls Resort, Skull Island Reign of Kong, and re-opening of The Incredible Hulk roller coaster.  We’ll also take a quick look at 2017’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, as well as the Tonight Show and Fast & Furious attractions.  Let’s get going!

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Vertical construction has really taken off at the Volcano Bay site, now that we’re just one year away from the new theme park’s opening date.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Marvel Superhero Island at Universal

by on May 7, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Marvel Superhero Island. This is a big weekend for Marvel. The critically acclaimed Captain America: Civil War hits the theaters in what looks to be a MASSIVE debut. We here at the SATURDAY SIX offices have been counting down the days since the movie was officially announced in October 2014. So to honor this momentous occasion we’re putting the spotlight this week on MARVEL. Despite Disney owning Marvel, the only* Marvel in Orlando right now is over at the Universal Orlando Resort. Now Universal inked their exclusive deal with Marvel back when no one wanted to touch the comic book company with a ten foot poll. Marvel had destroyed their own comic business by catering to speculators along with signing away their characters to awful movie deals out of their control. The recent Fantastic Four movie from Fox – the one that scored  9% on Rotten Tomatoes, wasn’t even the worst Fantastic Four movie ever made (this one is.) But that’s all in the past. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is better than ever (with a Pixar-like run of 13 good-to-great films) and Universal did the characters right over in Islands of Adventure. So sit back, watch your language, and let’s start our countdown with…

*that’s a looooooong story.

# 6 – MEET CAPTAIN AMERICA

We have to start off with the Sentinel of Liberty himself, Captain America. In the last 100 years Captain America has played an important part in our culture. His creators (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) made a character to fight the growing menace of Nazi Germany. The first Captain America comic book came out in December 1940, a full year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the time there was a segment of America that didn’t believe we should enter the war, but the very first issue of Captain American had our star spangled superhero socking it to Adolf Hitler on the cover, making it perfectly clear how Simon and Kirby felt. After World War II ended, the popularity of many superhero titles waned, with Captain America himself getting canceled by 1949.

In the 1960s, when Stan Lee and the rest of Marvel Comics were creating a whole new era of heroes with Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Iron Man, Captain America was brought back to lead the Avengers. We all know the story now, that he was a man frozen in time, literally, thawed out to lead Earth’s mightiest heroes. Captain America has been a staple of the Marvel comic book Universe ever since.

Remember those awful movie deals Marvel signed back in the day? Well Hollywood also made a Captain America movie, which of course: stunk (and that’s being generous.) The general consensus was that you couldn’t make a good Captain America film. The character was too square, too goody-two-shoes for a world which now wanted anti-heroes like Wolverine and the Punisher. Well, that all changed with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger. The sequel, Winter Soldier, is generally considered one of the best superhero films ever made (in Your Humble Author’s opinion, it’s not even close. #TeamCap)

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The First Avenger. (photo by Brandon Glover)

# 5 – CAP DINER

This may surprise you, because the overall food selection at Cap Diner may make you long for the haute cuisine available at your average counter service restaurant at the Magic Kingdom.  However, Cap Diner has two things going for it that make it a Must Do place for any Marvel fan.

The Million Dollar View. Cap Diner has a lot of seating both inside and outside, with most of the tables having an unbelievable look at the rest of Islands of Adventure. Here you can relax and look out into a picturesque setting that includes Hogsmeade Village, Mythos, and even Sneetch Beach over in Seuss Landing.

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Million dollar view. (photo by Brandon Glover)

It’s actually more of an Avengers restaurant than one based on Captain America. This actually may be heartbreaking for any Disney fan trying to find the loophole for any character not being used by Universal because there are so many just in this restaurant.  You have the big hitters like Thor, Iron Man and Ant-Man, but also a slew of Marvel characters that, up until recently, only hardcore Marvel Zombies would recognize, like the Black Knight. It’s absolutely incredible to see some of these characters outside of a comic book store. Imagine a Disney restaurant filled with characters from The Black Cauldron and Meet the Robinsons – that’s the level of depth the restaurant mines. This is a restaurant which features The Absorbing Man. ‘Nuff said true believers.

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Black Panther and Ant-Man inside Cap Diner. (photo Brandon Glover)

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Best Worst Attraction: Poseidon’s Fury

by on May 6, 2016

Maybe you’re looking to step a foot off the (extremely) well-beaten path to get away from the crowds. Maybe you have an appreciation for the under-valued (or a defiantly contrarian attitude, generally). Or maybe it isn’t your first rodeo, and you and your family need an injection of something different and fresh at the parks.

Regardless of the reason, it’s time for you to enjoy the smaller, more neglected, and – let’s be honest here – less-polished offerings that Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld have to offer. It’s time to experience the Best Worst Attractions.

Poseidon’s Fury

Park: Islands of Adventure
Location: The Lost Continent
Opening date: May 28, 1999

Poseidon's Fury's exterior, at Islands of Adventure

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 17 to 23, 2016

by on April 29, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Universal Orlando continues to be the most stable property when it comes to predicting crowds. Last week we saw wait times within a few minutes of what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted most days and when the park level prediction was off it was rarely by more than two index levels. Guests of Universal Parks experienced crowd levels near or below the midpoint of our scale most days, a nice respite from the busy Spring season which now seems to be finally complete.

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

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 10 to 16, 2016

by on April 21, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Other than slightly longer wait times than expected on Sunday, last week’s crowds at Universal Orlando were consistent with what the Universal Crowd Calendar predicted. One prediction missed by three levels while most other predictions were within one. Last week was a good sign for guests of Universal parks in April since crowds stayed at or below the middle point of our scale most days, making for easily manageable parks.

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

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – April 3 to 9, 2016

by on April 12, 2016

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

How Crowded Was Universal Orlando Last Week?

Last week, like what we saw across town at Walt Disney World, Universal Crowds were way busier than history would suggest for the week after Easter. Beginning this week we have added an indicator for what the crowds were during the equivalent week in the prior year. The Universal Crowd Calendar predicted that crowds would hit a few points higher than what we saw in 2015, in line with the increase in Theme Park attendance figures so far in 2016, but it still was not enough for last week. We haven’t seen post-Easter crowds like that at Universal since we started tracking them in 2009.

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

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