We’re heading into the home stretch of Universal Orlando’sHalloween Horror Nights 23, and if you plan on facing the undead hordes you’ll need a good plan now more than ever. Luckily for you, we’ve been on the ground every weekend of the event so far, and have recorded over 300 pieces of wait-time data for the haunted houses.
Here’s the final result: field-tested touring plans, designed to help you tackle all eight mazes in a single evening without the use of extra-cost express passes — provided you pick the right night to attend (Wednesday or Thursday are best, Saturdays are worst, and Sunday can be surprisingly busy), arrive early, and stay late.
On this episode, Jim Hill and Len Testa answer a viewer question about Lord of the Rings and Universal. Is Universal still trying to obtain the theme park rights? Where would a Lord of the Rings land be built? Find out in this week’s episode.
At first, this seemed like a no-brainer. Well, duh. A Chicken & Waffle sandwich ($10.99) from Cletus’ Chicken Shack and a Flaming Moe ($7.99) from Moe’s Tavern. My favorite theme park food item and a show, but after tax the total came out to $20.11. I quickly realized that I would have to get my thinking cap on for this one (plus I was informed from the Grand Poobah himself, Len Testa, that most guests would want more than that during an entire day at the park. I know what you’re thinking: Americans.)
In early November I’ll be going to my first ever character breakfast on Universal property, and it will be at Jake’s American Bar at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. After I made my reservation (through OpenTable), I realized I had never eaten at Jake’s. I consider the Royal Pacific my second home in Orlando but spend a lot of my eating time either poolside at the Bula Bar & Grille or in the lobby area at the Orchid Court Lounge. So on my most recent visit to the Universal Orlando Resort, I decided to hit Jake’s twice in one day to check it out.
Jake’s is located on the ground floor of the Royal Pacific and is right across from the Islands Dining Room.
(Remember, you can click on any picture to see the full size version)
Fried Sweet Potato Chips (Applewood Bacon and Cheddar)
# 6 – Fried Sweet Potato Chips
Located in the New York section of the park (or the Fall of Atlanta scare zone for HHN fans), you’ll run into the stand selling Fried Sweet Potato Chips as you’re queueing up for the Evil Dead house or on your long walk out of The Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City, or An American Werewolf in London houses. It was good to see waffle fries brought into the park, something that should be around all year. The two available toppings that are Applewood Bacon & Cheddar and Candied with Cinnamon and Marshmallow, the latter of which scares even me.
We went with the bacon and cheddar topping and found the serving size to be more than generous. While normally I prefer regular fries over sweet potato fries, the taste combination of the sweet potato and the toppings was definitely more flavorful than the regular fries would have been. It’s very filling, and – at $7.00 – it isn’t too bad a deal for the amount of food that you get.
Usually when people talk about Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida the first thing they mention (after the gore and booze) is the huge lines. But this year, I lucked out. So far, I’ve been on an “RIP” guided tour, attended during exclusive annual passholder hours and “Stay & Scream” early entry periods, and made full use of my “Rush of Fear” and “Frequent Fear” unlimited Express passes. As a result, I’ve been able to experience all eight of the event’s haunted houses at least five times each so far this season, with an average wait time of under 15 minutes.
All photos by Seth Kubersky
But last Friday (10/4/2013), I wanted to experience how “the other half” lives and see the event from the perspective of an ordinary guest. Is it possible to arrive at the front gate on a moderately crowded night without any special line-cutting passes and still have a good time at HHN? Let’s find out!
While walking through CityWalk on our way to the parks, the first thing we noticed was that the Endangered Species store has already become extinct. Construction walls are set up outside and the place has been gutted. This area now joins the old Pastamore Market counter service location and Latin Quarter as locations being completely remodeled. Word is the Endangered Species space will be used for Starbucks (which would move from the second level of CityWalk), the Pastamore location will become a new Red Oven brick oven pizza place, and Latin Quarter is rumored to be a new Mexican-themed dining restaurant.
Today we’re kicking off an ongoing series of Universal Orlando video tours with a look at the resort’s flagship hotel. The Portofino Bay Hotel is a AAA 4 Diamond-awarded luxury property managed by Loews Hotels that is a picture-perfect replica of the famed European original, down to the painted-on “trompe l’oeil” architectural details.
Enjoy this exploration of the Portofino Bay, and come back for more Universal Orlando video features in the future.
Every Friday on the TouringPlans Blog we bring you the week’s newest videos from our YouTube channel. Let’s get started!
Judging by the long lunch lines and the nearly impossible to obtain dinner reservations, it appears that Be Our Guest Restaurant has taken the throne as the most desirable dining establishment in Walt Disney World. While I personally don’t think the food is that great, it’s undeniable that the place is beautiful. In this video we take you on a tour of all three interior rooms of the restaurant.