Universal Orlando Resort

The 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas

by on December 24, 2015

Everyone has their favorite Christmas traditions. For some it’s a dramatic reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, while for others it is the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story. Many of us enjoy reading the famous poem 12 Days of Christmas, even going so far as to figuring out how much all those items would cost (imagine if they were bought at a theme park!) This year we are starting a new tradition on the blog with a look at the 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas. Get close to your loved ones, slip on an ugly sweater, drink a big sip of egg nog, and let’s begin with…

TWELVE CLOSED ATTRACTIONS

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This is a busy time for the Disney Dump as many attractions have been added to the pile. A great time to invest in construction walls though!

ELEVEN BANISHED BUBBLE GUNS

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Guns have been completely banned from Walt Disney World, even the bubble guns.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 24, 2015: Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay

by on December 24, 2015

Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation

Take a vicarious Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay with Best Week Ever (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

After my recent visit to New York City, I didn’t want my holiday vacation to end…and here at Best Week Ever, it doesn’t have to! Thanks to an amazing annual passholder discount, I was able to enjoy a single night Universal Orlando Star Wars staycation at Cabana Bay Beach Resort and celebrate the opening of The Force Awakens in CityWalk IMAX style. Don’t be jealous, because I’m bringing you all with me in today’s photo-filled recap.

 

I checked into Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort on Thursday, December 17, amid the festive retro decorations in the value-priced hotel’s Mad Men-esque lobby.

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – December 13 to 20, 2015

by on December 22, 2015

How Did The Universal Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

How Did The Universal Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

Except for Saturday at Universal Studios, the Universal parks stayed at or below the middle point of our scale every day last week. The Universal Crowd Calendar did a good job predicting the crowd levels most days with only a few misses.

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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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Twenty: Potion of the Gods at Mythos

by on December 20, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

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

DAY TWENTY: Potion of the Gods at Mythos (Islands of Adventure)

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Potion of the Gods at Mythos.

Mythos in Islands of Advneture just may be the most well themed restaurant in all of Orlando, and imagine what that is saying. The outside of this humongous building looks to be chiseled out of rock, with waterfalls and giant stone men throughout. Inside, Mythos offers a menu that is certainly a long way away from your standard theme park hamburger and chicken fingers, and at almost shockingly low prices compared to what you normally will find at in-park table service restaurants. But we’re not here to talk about the Mediterranean meatballs or the daily risotto, we’re here to talk drinks, and we’re going to recommend the signature drink at Mythos: Potion of the Gods. Served in a glass fit for Zeus himself, this drink includes a whole lot of alcohol, but served with plenty of juices to help it go down easily.

Ingredients: Malibu, Captain Morgan, Triple Sec, Razzmatazz, orange, cranberry & pineapple juices with a float of Bacardi 151.

(Full disclosure: I have nothing but high praise for Mythos, but it is not everybody’s cup of tea. Take for example the world famous Disney Hipsters, who compare Mythos to Applebee’s).

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Potion of the Gods souvenir goblet.

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Themed butter. We truly are #blessed.

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SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2015

by on December 19, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2015. As theme park fans, we’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. However, as much as we are looking forward to the upcoming Star Wars Land at Disney and Universal teaming up with Nintendo, it wasn’t all good news. This year we had to say goodbye to some old friends. In the case of Captain EO, we had to say goodbye again.Today we pay our respects to some of those that we lost in the past year, starting with….

 # 6 – Twister… Ride It Out!

Alas poor Paxton, I knew him well Horatio…

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“I will remember you…” – Sarah McLachlan (photo by @DrewOfOU)

Friends, Brazilians, Annual Passholders, lend me your ears. I come to bury Twister…Ride It Out! not to praise it. The evil that C Ticket attractions do, lives after them. The good is oft interred with their flying cows. So let it be with Twister. The noble Jimmy Fallon hath told you Twister was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault. And grievously hath Twister answer’d it. Here, under leave of Jimmy Fallon and the rest, — For Jimmy Fallon is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men, — Come I to speak in Twister‘s funeral. Twister was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Jimmy Fallon says Twister was ambitious. And Jimmy Fallon is an honorable man.

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Twister…Ride It Out! (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Another attraction joins the great big theme park in the sky. (photo by @DrewOfOU)

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Eighteen: Hog’s Tea at the Hog’s Head Pub

by on December 18, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

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

DAY Eighteen: Hog’s Tea at Hog’s Head Pub (Islands of Adventure)

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Hog’s Tea at the Hog’s Head Pub. (photo by Brandon Glover)

When Universal opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village in 2010, it changed everything. It is one of the most immersive lands ever built. It has an attraction with a queue guests actually want to spend MORE time in. It even has another attraction in which merchandise actually chooses the guest (Ollivander’s wand experience may go down as the most ingenious theme park attraction of all time).  But one of the biggest game changers is that Hogsmeade made it almost a prerequisite that new lands must come with a themed drink component. Butterbeer was such a smash hit that sales of it are rumored to have fully paid for the entire Wizarding World within six months. But it wasn’t the only new drink that opened with Hogsmeade, as Pumpkin Juice, Pumpkin Fizz, and Hog’s Head Brew also made their debut.

One of our favorite drinks in Hogmeade is Hog’s Tea. One of the strongest, most potent drinks in all of Universal Orlando, Hog’s Tea is basically a Long Island Iced Tea (a combination of vodka, gin, rum, and tequila mixed with sour mix and soda). What makes the Hog’s Tea better than your average Long Island Iced Tea is that instead of cola, iced tea is used. Traditionally, raspberry tea is used but you can also choose sweet tea or unsweet tea (which makes the drink pretty tart). 

Ingredients: Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, sour mix and sweet tea.

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The Hog’s Head pub in Hogsmeade Village. (photo by Dani)

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The Hog’s Head.

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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Sixteen: Pear Cider with Firewhisky at Leaky Cauldron

by on December 16, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

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

DAY SIXTEEN: Pear Cider with Firewhisky at Leaky Cauldron (Universal Studios Florida)

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Pear Cider with Firewhisky at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. (photo by Brandon Glover)

To celebrate the release of the trailer announcement for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we ourselves are heading back into the Wizarding World. Today we make a stop in Diagon Alley and try the Pear Cider with Firewhisky found inside the Leaky Cauldron. While the Wizarding World has blessed us Muggles with some fantastic beers such as Dragon Scale and Hog’s Head Ale, Blishen’s Firewhisky is our first taste of liquor enjoyed by wizards and witches. Known for filling one’s body with courage, Firewhisky can be purchased as a single shot, a double, or as we recommend: mixed with pear cider (you can’t go wrong having it with apple cider either). Here’s a toast to Alastor Moody, Cedric Diggory, Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks and all the great people we have lost over the years but will live forever in our hearts.

Ingredients: Pear cider, Blishen’s Firewhisky, and a pinch of magic.

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Our fearless editor Megan Stump in front of the actual Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley.

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New Wizarding World of Harry Potter E-Guide — Free to Subscribers

by on December 16, 2015

Cover_iPadWe know that there are a lot of Harry Potter fans out there as evidenced by the millions upon millions of people who have read the books and seen the films. This immense popularity led, of course, to the creation of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort. While we have always covered the Wizarding World on TouringPlans.com, we have decided to go a step further to help those planning a Universal Orlando visit.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter E-Guide was designed with many different readers in mind. For those completely unfamiliar with Harry Potter and all of his exploits, the guide will give you all of the necessary background to help you understand just how amazing the Wizarding World is. Alternatively, if you have read the Potter books an embarrassing amount of times (as I have), the guide is full of little details that you’ll want to seek out. Anyone in between those two extremes will also enjoy it, although I admit that I’m a bit biased.

The best part about the Wizarding World E-Guide? It’s included with your TouringPlans Universal Orlando subscription! Simply go to our TouringPlans eBook page and click the appropriate link. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up for only $5.95 and that gets you a full year of our time-saving Universal Orlando Touring Plans, decision making Crowd Calendar, and the in-park mobile app Lines (not to mention this fantastic new E-Guide).

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – December 6 to 12, 2015

by on December 15, 2015

How Did The Universal Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

How Did The Universal Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?

Universal Orlando Resort continues to be the best choice for world class theme park entertainment and low crowds in the latter half of 2015. Wait times were near the bottom of our crowd scale all week except for Saturday where we saw a slight surge.

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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25 Drinks of Christmas – Day Ten: 5 O’Clock Somewhere at Margaritaville

by on December 10, 2015

We’re back with everyone’s favorite theme park advent calendar: a daily countdown of our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld building anticipation to the Big Day. 

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

DAY TEN: 5 O’Clock Somewhere at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (Universal CityWalk)

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5 O’Clock Somewhere at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. (photo by Brandon Glover)

After a recent upgrade, Universal CityWalk is now the home to a Murderer’s Row of fantastic restaurants. The Cowfish, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Antojitos, Vivo and more have made it almost impossible to choose where to eat. However, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville – one of CityWalk’s original tenants – is one of our favorite dining experiences. The menu is loaded with great foods (including the extremely popular Cheeseburger in Paradise, Volcano Nachos, and Chocolate Hurricane) but you cannot find a better place on property to have a drink. There is a lot to choose from, but we are going to recommend the 5 O’Clock Somewhere. Named after a hit song by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett, the drink features a lot of rum, but is easy to drink because of the sweet fruit taste. Sitting outside, enjoying the Florida weather, listening to live music and drinking a 5 O’Clock Somewhere? It doesn’t get any better than that.

Ingredients: Margaritaville Silver Rum and Paradise Passion Fruit Tequila, BACARDI 151 Rum, orange and pineapple juices with sweet & sour and a splash of grenadine. Served on the rocks.

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The Porch of Indecision at Jimmy Buffett”s Margaritaville, just steps away from Islands of Adventure. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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