Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – October 26 to November 1, 2014

by on November 4, 2014

Even less crowded than the week before, last week at Universal was a good week for crowds. We saw park levels in the bottom half of our scale all week.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Menu Monday: My Dinner at VIVO

by on November 3, 2014

entrancevivoWhen I made it over to Universal Orlando Resort for the first time a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised at the close proximity of the parks and the CityWalk area. I knew that I should sample some food from the CityWalk area, and through some research I thought I should go to VIVO.

openkitchenVIVO Italian Kitchen just opened up in June as part of CityWalk’s new renovations and additions. (Other restaurants recently added are Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, and The Cowfish.) VIVO promotes itself as “modern Italian cuisine,” and the decor of the restaurant really promotes that. It feels very contemporary inside, with an open layout and lots of light.

I really enjoyed the modern decorations here, and it was a great setting with which to relax after a long day of touring around Universal. It was classy, but I didn’t feel under-dressed, either.

barI was seated near the bar, and the two bartenders working waited on me. I have worked in the food industry before, and know that sometimes servers would prefer to wait on tables of two or more guests instead of a solo diner, but the bartenders were very nice and didn’t try to get me out the door as soon as possible. One of them had a nice conversation with me about Halloween Horror Nights, which he had just attended the night before.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Menu Monday: The Cowfish Orlando Now Open at Universal CityWalk

by on November 3, 2014

First Look Cowfish Orlando now open

Take a first look inside Cowfish Orlando, the new sushi & burger restaurant at Universal’s CityWalk (photos by Seth Kubersky).

I’ll admit it: I was skeptical. When I first heard that The Cowfish — the North Carolina-based restaurant concept combining sushi and burgers into “burgushi” — was coming to Universal Orlando, I didn’t have much hope for the fishy fusion, even if it did involve two of my favorite foods. But now, after eating at Cowfish Orlando on its first night of “soft opening” to the public, I’m sold! Enjoy these Cowfish Orlando photos from our first look inside the sure-to-be-popular eatery, which should now be open daily at CityWalk.

Cowfish Orlando Exterior

Cowfish occupies both a portion of CityWalk’s ground level real estate between Red Oven Pizza and VIVO, and the second story site where the complex’s original Starbucks Coffee once sat. The look is clean, colorful, and a bit whimsical, with massive representations of the restaurant’s namesake animals.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – October 19 to 25, 2014

by on November 3, 2014

Our predictions performed well last week, with only two estimates missing by more than one index level. Crowds remained low as they have been the past few weeks with no crowd park reaching a crowd level above ’5′.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX Special Edition: A First Timer’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Horror Nights

by on November 1, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a special one as we present: A First Timer’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Horror Nights. Today is the last day of Halloween Horror Nights, the Universal Orlando Resort’s signature event, and one of the absolute best reasons to plan a vacation to Orlando this time of year. 2015′s HHN looks to be even better as it will be the 25th anniversary, and we already know that HHN icon Jack Schimdt will be returning. While many guests are used to the offerings of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, there are more than a few who are skittish about putting their foot into HHN to test the water. So I reached out to Joseph Matt of Parkscope.net, as he recently returned from his first ever HHN, and he is here to share six tips he learned from the experience. Take it away Joe….

A First Timer’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Horror Nights

[Horror] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.” -Clive Barker

Halloween Horror Nights is intimidating. For my first year to HHN I was a little nervous, and it didn’t help that several Orlando blogs, Orlando United, and my friends had hyped up the event to a point where #OperationScareJoe became a ‘thing.’ However, my anxieties and worries were largely unfounded. I had a blast, and cannot wait to go back for more HHN. As this year’s event closes this weekend, I will cover my top tips to surviving the event next year.

1.) Pick Several Nights and Split Them With a Day in the Parks

Eight houses, four scare zones, several open attractions, and two shows. Easy as pie, right? Wrong. During my trip The Walking Dead never dipped below 90 minutes and John Carpenter’s Halloween hovered at 60 minutes. How does one beat this? Pick multiple nights to attend and split that with a day visit to the parks.

SS_HHN_purge_HTF

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. (photo by Hate to Fly)

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Photo Gallery: Cabana Bay Garden Bridge Construction Update

by on October 29, 2014

Cabana Bay garden bridge construction

The Cabana Bay garden bridge and walking path is nearing completion at Universal Orland (photos by Seth Kubersky).

It’s been several months since we last stopped by our new favorite retro-modern hotel, Universal Orlando‘s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, so the other afternoon I took a stroll around property for a Cabana Bay Garden Bridge construction photo update.

 

Ever since the moderately priced property opened this past summer, Cabana Bay guests’ transportation options have consisted of buses to the parking hub, or a 10 minute walk along the unglamorous north side of Hollywood Way.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Kongstruction: Project 340 Vertical Construction at IoA

by on October 28, 2014

Kongstruction Project 340 vertical construction

Kongstruction gets serious as Project 340 vertical construction begins at IoA (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Thanks to the TouringPlans #Everywhere project, I recently spent nearly two weeks away from Universal Orlando, which is an eternity given the rapid pace of construction at the resort. Most notably, the mysterious construction zone behind Islands of Adventure‘s Jurassic Park was (when I left) just a formless plot of earth, but now holds the foundation for a enormous future edifice. Attention Kongstruction watchers: Project 340 vertical construction has started in big way, as structural steel for a massive new show building has been erected for a yet-unconfirmed Skull Island attraction.

Here is a gallery of photos depicting recent progress on the upcoming ride, which is rumored to combine indoor/outdoor dark ride elements with 3-D screens to ressurect King Kong, Universal Studio Florida’s original icon. Leaks suggest this building may become the massive facade of an ancient jungle temple.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – October 12 to 18, 2014

by on October 24, 2014

Resort-wide crowds at Universal Orlando remained flat at a level ’4′ from Sunday through Thursday last week although Islands of Adventure consistently sees crowds one or two levels lower than its Universal Studios counterpart. Shortened park hours on days when Universal Studios hosts Halloween Horror Nights still seem to have little effect on average daytime waits. Crowds during the day are about the same whether a nighttime party is scheduled or not.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report – October 5 to 11, 2014

by on October 19, 2014

Crowds at Islands of Adventure lagged behind Universal Studios most of the week with only one day where the two parks reached the same level on our scale. Halloween Horror Nights continue to draw large crowds of (mostly) locals to the Studios on certain evenings although wait times in the parks tend to be unaffected during the day.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

This Ain’t Disney World! – Planning a First Visit to Universal Orlando

by on October 15, 2014

The scenery may be beautiful, but the line is VERY long.

The scenery may be beautiful, but the line is VERY long.

On our first visit to ‘the other Orlando park,’ my oldest daughter and I attended a viewing of Universal’s Horror Make-up Show. During the show, the volunteer, a nice woman ended up covered in red-dyed corn syrup. The hosts threw a towel out to the woman and called after, “That’ll be $14.50!” We all laughed, but knew it wasn’t exactly distant from the truth. Certainly, we knew most of the major differences between Disney World and Universal Studios. We weren’t, however, expecting to encounter such a myriad of differences between the two parks. Hopefully, some quick research, a planned touring plans itinerary, and this article can help you get a quick overview of what to expect at your first visit to Universal Orlando Resort.

The parks are over a small area. Really small. If you could walk through a few buildings, you could easily get back and forth between the parks. We could see Dr. Doom from our window at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. You can also take Hogwart’s Express between the two parks at any time, too. I’d avoid going during the surge of the middle of the day, but make certain to go both directions, so board at Hogsmeade Station, as well. Each ride is a bit different. The walk wasn’t quick, but it was awfully close.

Don’t, however, mistake close for convenient. I could see the park, but our walk to the entrance was about fifteen minutes each day along a winding path that seemed to close back over itself. We ended up walking to and from the parks every day, but getting through Universal can’t always be done quickly.

The queue and exit line for every ride can be pretty long, if they are needed or not. The line to get onto Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure is filled with beautiful pieces, the Triwizard Cup, banners for each champion, and VERY few people. Most of the occasions we were on the ride, it was essentially a walk-on. The theming was much better than I had expected, but the walk was LONG. The wait may have been longer for Flight of the Hippogriff than it was for Dragon Challenge. The queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was long, as well. It was filled with stations throughout Hogwarts, talking paintings, and myriads of setup. Perhaps the rides were purposefully trying to delay our boarding, but on multiple occasions, I wondered why I STILL had to walk through tons of labyrinthian mazes to get on the Seuss High in the Sky Trolley ride. The exit for Ripsaw Falls, I felt like I had mistakenly gotten back in line for another ride. Even the pathway between our hotel and Islands of Adventure I felt like it had carved out a purposefully winding path to throw off our pace. Each day, my pedometer on my iphone killed its battery. I never had an accurate step count, but I was well above 15,000 steps.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print