Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of August 19

by on August 17, 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.

Hello again! It looks like a great week to hit the parks, so let’s see what is in store!

Weekly Crowd Level

Oh so slowly, the kids are going back to school and summer is fading, as will the crowds by the end of the week.

Weekly Weather Report

What won’t be fading this week are the temperatures. Like a good scout, always be prepared and check out the most up-to-date forecast here.

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School Schedules and Crowd Levels

by on August 14, 2017

Ed. Note: We frequently get questions to TouringPlans asking how we make crowd predictions. This article provides insight into one of the metrics used when formulating predictions about park attendance.

It comes as no surprise that many families with school-age children take Disney vacations, and most prefer to take their children on vacations when school isn’t in session. To account for these attendance patterns, we track over 100 public school districts. This includes the 100 largest school districts in the country, the largest school districts in each state, and school districts that are close to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This covers 12 million students. That is more than 20% of all students enrolled in public education. TouringPlans spends a lot of time collecting the school schedules each fall and summer. We put in the effort because school schedules are one of the best indicators for predicting crowd levels. Collecting more school schedules has diminishing returns, however. We would have to collect 100 more school districts’ calendars to cover 5% more of the public school students.

National Center for Education Statistics
CCD public school district data 2014-2015, 2015-2016 school years
http://nces.ed.gov/ccd

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of August 12

by on August 10, 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.

It’s the middle of August, which means summer is slowly starting to wind down! If you are planning one last hurrah in the Universal Orlando parks, here’s what to expect.

Weekly Crowd Level

Oh so slowly, the kids are going back to school and summer is fading, as will the crowds by the end of the week.

Weekly Weather Report

Summer weather still changes rapidly and often, so check out the latest forecast here before your visit.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of August 5

by on August 3, 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.

Hello again! Time to check out what you need to know if you are visiting Universal Orlando Resort this week!

Weekly Crowd Level

Crowds are not dropping just yet…but Sunday sure does look like the best day to visit this week! If a crowd level of 9 intimidates you, create a customized Touring Plan for a stress-free day!

Weekly Weather Report

Weather in Central Florida in the summer changes rapidly – don’t forget to check out the latest forecast before you head out!

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of July 29

by on July 27, 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.

Before you wonder if you are having a case of deja vu…you aren’t, I promise! Yes, not much is different in the land of Universal Orlando, but let’s look at the details of this week so you can make the most of your visit!

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of July 22

by on July 20, 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.

Hi again! I’m back with your weekly Universal Orlando update. It’s the dog days of summer, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out and having fun at the parks.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of July 15th

by on July 13, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook Destinations. Storybook 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.

So you want to go to Universal Orlando, you say?

This week, you say?

Well you’re in the right place!! Each week, I’ll have the most important things you need to know, all in one place, to help you make the most of your time and have the most epic day ever!

Weekly Crowd Level

Overall, crowds will be pretty consistently summer-dense throughout the week. Do I hear a Sunday Funday calling??

Weekly Weather Report

It’s summertime in central Florida! You know the routine….scattered thunderstorms, they come and they go! *Disclaimer: though my name rhymes with weather, I am not in fact a meteorologist. So arm your smartphone with your favorite weather app (Dark Sky is my personal favorite) and check the forecast before you go!

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Volcano Bay and the Psychology of the Queueless Theme Park

by on July 11, 2017

The TouringPlans blog is pleased to welcome guest author Laurie Breen to share some insights about the psychology of the queueless theme park. 

Enjoying a theme park with no lines sounds like every theme park fan’s dream. But does the current iteration of the queueless theme park really translate into a better experience for the average park-goer?

With Universal Orlando’s new Volcano Bay water park, the global theme park giant launched its first “queueless” theme park. But did they miss the mark? It’s true, the lines are soooo long these days. As Jason Surrell, a creative director at Universal, explained to thestar.com, “We’ve known for years that waiting in line is one of the biggest dis-satisfiers in our guests’ day.” And of course, the pay-to-play line-cutting access offered by Express Pass goes against the egalitarian ideals upon which our great nation was founded. However, theme park queues serve many purposes within the operations of a theme park. By overlooking the psychological effects of standing in a line, as well as the way that people are accustomed to “touring” at a theme park, Universal may have thrown the cow out with the cattle pen.

Crowd Control vs. Chaos

 

Waiting in a queue may not be fun, but it is an orderly way to control crowds.

Queues act as crowd control, essentially designating a place for hundreds or thousands of guests to stand each hour as they progress through the line, waiting for their turn to ride on their chosen attraction. This takes crowd pressure off the walkways, stores, and restaurants, allowing the park to increase capacity while adding more fun attractions. Imagine that you are in a theme park store where 100 or 200 guests are shopping at one time, wandering around, slowly browsing what’s on offer — the store starts to feel very crowded and claustrophobic. But now imagine the Greenhouse at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey — in this space, each person is allotted a specific position to stand in and social norms dictate that people will line up in an orderly fashion. They (generally) maintain their place in line, they are all moving in the same direction, and they all keep a pretty consistent spacing between themselves and the next line-waiter. In this situation, a crowd of 100 or 200 people does not seem overwhelming at all.

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SATURDAY SIX: The 6 Best Gift Shops at Universal Orlando

by on July 1, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the 6 best gift shops at Universal Orlando! Until recently, gift shops were seen as a necessary evil at our favorite theme parks – annoyances that many guests either dreaded being herded through or mocked the existence of outright. One of the best gags in The Simpsons Ride involves the alien Kodos saying,

“Foolish Earthlings, don’t you know all rides must end near the gift shop?”

The Mission Statement of theme park gift shops. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Thankfully, over the past several years gift shops at both Universal and Disney have become better themed and well merchandised, and several have even started to incorporate interactive features for their guests. It’s almost unbelievable to say it, but just as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey became possibly the first attraction in the history of theme parks to have a queue guests wanted to spend more time in, gift stores themselves are becoming features of attractions that guests can actually look forward to experiencingToday we’re going to take a look at the best gift shops across Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Kwik E Mart

Despite the great joke mentioned above, the Simpsons Ride is one of the few attractions at USF that doesn’t exit into a gift shop. The Kwik-E-Mart, the ride’s merchandise location, is right next to the attraction and is filled with the high level of self-deprecating humor that is found throughout Springfield USA. Signs above the merchandise include sales pitches like, “Today’s merchandise at tomorrow’s prices!,” “These items won’t buy themselves!” There’s even a sign at the registers that has a call back to an episode of the Simpsons television show as it warns the cashiers not to take checks from various people including Chief Wiggum, Homer J Simpson, and Homer J Fong.

Kwik E Mart. (photo by Brandon Glover)

The walls and outside windows of the Kwik-E-Mart are laden with ads for products including Farmer Billy’s Choco-Bacon-Bars (“It’s like chocolate and bacon had a baby in your mouth!”) while the variety of actual Simpsons related products found inside includes t-shirts, hats, plush, comic books and more.

Outside the store there is a photo-op available with Milhouse sitting on a bench and one of USF’s most hidden gems, the Simpsons pay phone. On the side of the Kwik-E-Mart closest to the Simpsons Ride, there is pay phone mounted on a wall with the character Nelson next to it.  Nelson has a word balloon saying, “Answer the phone dingus…it’s for you.” Walking by this phone will trigger it to ring, and picking up the receiver will treat you to a gag line by one of the various Simpsons characters including Chief Wiggum, Moe Szyslak, and Bart Simpson.

Millhouse photo op. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

(photo by Hunter Underwood)

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Renting a Car for Disney World or Universal Orlando Vacations

by on June 20, 2017

Let’s face it. Planning and budgeting for transportation is one of the least exciting agenda items to check off on your vacation planning to-do list. Compared to the thrill and excitement of securing dining reservations, a resort stay, or park tickets, who really wants to spend their night analyzing rental car options? To make matters worse, booking a rental car can be a colossal pain in the neck. With so many different options, finding the right balance of convenience and savings can be hard. So here are some factors that I tell people to consider when renting a car for their Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort vacation.

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