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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love JURASSIC PARK at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on June 20, 2015 3 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love JURASSIC PARK at the Universal Orlando Resort. With Jurassic World becoming a worldwide smash (the first film ever to take in a half a billion dollars in its opening weekend. To put that number in perspective, the last Jurassic Park film, Jurassic Park III, made $368M in it’s entire six month theatrical run) we figured it is high time to cover one of our favorite areas in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Jurassic Park. While the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man has been the critic’s darling since the day it opened in 1999 and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter completely changed Orlando tourism when it debuted in 2010, Jurassic Park has always been my favorite “island” in the park. Why? Several reasons, and today we’re going to count them down for you starting with….

# 6 – Jurassic Park River Adventure

Jurassic Park River Adventure hits a lot of great beats for me and it all starts with the attraction being a boat ride. From the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom to Living with the Land and Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros in Epcot, if it’s a boat ride, it’s probably one of my favorite attractions in the park. Our journey on JP River Adventure begins by passing through the iconic Jurassic Park gates and proceeds to give a Jungle Cruise-like leisurely ride while enjoying some larger-than-life dinosaurs. As theme park rides will do, “something goes terribly wrong” and we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a raptor attack and surprise, you’re NOT the alpha. In fact you just may be dinner. It is during the second half of the ride when the tension gets amped up, highlighted by the incredible T-Rex animatronic and a huge drop to cap off the ride.


Splash down at the Jurassic Park River Adventure. (photo by Mike Sperduto)


“Open Paddock 9!” (photo by Jeff Kyle)

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of June 19, 2015

by on June 19, 2015 4 Comments

In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

I have the Kleenex all ready to go. I’m going to see Inside Out this weekend. Are you going too? I’ve heard that it’s a super emotional movie. I don’t know that I’m ready for all the tears.

Let’s get to this week’s articles! Speaking of Inside Out…it’s time to rank your favorite Pixar movies (what is your ranking?), also speaking of ranking, we taking a look at the ranking of every single Disney movie ever, plus more!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors


Frank Oz attended his first Star Wars Weekends and this article goes into detail about his experiences in Hollywood. Oh and don’t miss watching the video that goes along with it too!

This thought-provoking article came out this past week…is Disney pricing out the middle class family? What are your thoughts on this clearly hot-button topic?

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8 Ways to Celebrate Universal Orlando’s 25th Anniversary

by on June 19, 2015 2 Comments

It’s the first theme park for which I have memories of all the excitement and fanfare of its opening days. Universal Studios Florida was the fifth major theme park to open in the Orlando area, 25 years ago on June 7, 1990. Although the anniversary day has come and gone, and the special concert series is coming to a close, there are still ways to celebrate Universal Orlando’s 25th anniversary.

25th Anniversary decorations

Admittedly the decorations are not as over-the-top as many of us would have hoped or imagined, but it’s still a nice touch to see the banners at the entrance of Universal Studios Florida as well as along Production Central and the Hollywood Backlot. These are essentially the same as what can be seen during Mardi Gras or the celebration during the holiday season. They are nice and the emblem is simple and classy.




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2015 Frozen Summer Fun Starts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on June 19, 2015 2 Comments

2015 Frozen Summer Fun

Chill out with Olaf and friends during the 2015 Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

Frozen first hit movie theaters in the fall of 2013, but legions of fans (and Disney’s entertainment department) don’t seem ready to “Let It Go” anytime soon, as we enter a second annual season of Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We were on hand for the the first day of festivities, which will celebrate the CGI snow princess and pals every day through September 7.

Frozen Royal Welcome Parade

The first Frozen Summer Fun attraction I attended was the new Frozen Royal Welcome, which runs twice a day (currently 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). It isn’t quite a full fledged parade on the scale of Paint the Night, but boasts far better production values than the typical Hollywood Studios motorcade we’re used to seeing at special events. Read the rest of this entry »

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever June 18, 2015: A Tale of Two Studios

by on June 18, 2015 24 Comments

Universal Studios Florida

Take a Best Week Ever tour of Orlando’s two Studios theme parks. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Back to life, back to humidity…

Barely a week ago I was basking in the temperate glow of the Happiest Place on Earth, and now I’m once again enveloped in Orlando’s hot, moist embrace. What better way to celebrate my homecoming than with a visit to two of Orlando’s favorite theme parks with “Studios” in the name? (Okay, they’re also the only two.)

We’ll start with some random observations from around Universal Studios Florida, and then take a ride down I-4 to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the first day of Frozen Summer Fun.

Universal Studios Florida

The day I picked to visit Universal Studios Florida was predicted to be a 7 on our crowd calendar, but actually came in at only a 4 (part of a trend of lower actuals at Universal Orlando last week). Even so, there was a healthy flow of visitors entering the resort as I arrived in late morning.

I missed Universal Studios Florida’s actual 25th anniversary on June 7th because I was busy visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, but I still picked up a couple of these commemorative 2-Park Guide Maps for my collection. You can snag one for yourself at either Universal Orlando park through June 20th.

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Disneyland’s Paint The Night Parade Review

by on June 17, 2015 7 Comments

How does Paint the Night stack up? Find out in this review from the upcoming Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016 (Photos by Seth Kubersky).

It’s been nearly a month since Disneyland debuted its new Diamond Celebration nighttime entertainment, and by now several members of the Touring Plans team — including Seth Kubersky and Guy Selga — have had a chance to experience the new productions from multiple angles. Over the coming days, we’ll be sharing a preview of the new 60th Anniversary updates that we’re including in the upcoming Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016. To start off, here is our newly released Paint The Night parade review:

Paint The Night

Author’s rating: 5 stars

Paint The Night Description and Comments

Disneyland’s newest nightly parade, Paint The Night (Author’s rating 5 stars) is patterned after the processional that debuted at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2014, and was duplicated (with a few new additions) as part Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary entertainment additions. Inspired in part by the original Main Street Electrical Parade, these brand-new floats are covered in 1.5 million LEDs. Each float represents a classic Disney or Pixar film, as scenes from from Monsters Inc., Cars, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and (wait for it…) Frozen are brought to life by a cast of over 75 performers, who bounce down the route to the upbeat soundtrack of Wreck-It Ralph’s “When Can I See You Again?” by pop artist Owl City (your kids will know who that is). Keep an ear out for musical nods to “Baroque Hoedown,” the old Electrical Parade’s synth-tastic theme song.


These super-bright displays go far beyond earlier nighttime pageants, and include character puppets with digitally animated faces, a tractor trailer full of floating 3-D designs, and a kinetic Sorcerer’s Apprentice sculpture whose twisting motion defies description.

In our opinion, Paint the Night is one of Disney’s best nighttime parades ever, and is not to be missed.

Paint The Night Viewing Tips

On nights with two scheduled Paint the Night parades, the first performance will start at ‘it’s a small world,’ travel past the west side of the Matterhorn, go clockwise around the Tomorrowland side of Central Plaza, head down Main Street, and then circle Town Square counter-clockwise. The second performance will begin at Town Square and run the route in the opposite direction. Most guests watch from the Central Plaza or from Main Street. The viewing area in front of ‘it’s a small world’ will fill up last so we recommend checking there if you need a spot. Keep in mind this is a new parade for the 60th Anniversary Celebration and has already proven very popular with guests. On busy days you may need to devote over 1 hour of time to make sure you secure a good spot for the parade.


The parade route will fill up will fill up a couple of hours early for the first showing, so we recommend grabbing a spot for the fireworks, and then immediately taking a spot for the second performance of Paint the Night. Any spot along the parade route will offer the same experience so you shouldn’t worry if you can’t see the parade on Main Street. And since all the floats and many of the puppets are exceedingly tall, you shouldn’t have to be seated right up front to have an excellent view.


Once the parade has started, count on gridlock all along the route, especially on Main Street. And since all the floats and many of the puppets are exceedingly tall, you shouldn’t have to be seated right up front to have an excellent view. Due to aggressive crowd control restrictions on the sidewalks, you’re best off entering or exiting the park via the backstage breezeways (if open) or Emporium shops.


If you can’t make it to see Paint The Night in person, enjoy this video of the complete show shot by Guy Selga:



What do you think of Paint The Night? Share your own review in the comments below!


Universal Crowd Calendar Report – June 7 to 13, 2015

by on June 17, 2015 1 Comment

History shows us that wait times at Universal Orlando Resort in mid-June should fall somewhere in the highest portion of the Universal Crowd Calendar’s ‘1’ to ’10’ scale. Last week, crowds at Universal fell short (in some cases, well short) of what the Universal Crowd Calendar expected. We expected lots of ‘8’s and ‘9’s but saw mostly ‘6’s and ‘7’s.

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

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – June 7 to 13, 2015

by on June 17, 2015

Last week, with the only exception of Tuesday, the crowds at Disneyland Resort were within one level of what the Disneyland Crowd Calendar predicted each day. The average crowd level was a ‘7’ which means that summer season is nearly upon us. Once it arrives fully, crowd levels will stay near the top end of our scale (7 or higher) every day until Labor Day in September.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – June 7 to 13, 2015

by on June 17, 2015

Wait times at Walt Disney World last week stayed very close to the levels predicted by the Disney World Crowd Calendar, especially at Magic Kingdom. Last week was the first week in a while where all seven days saw crowd levels in the upper section of our scale, a sign that summer crowds are beginning. Disney Hollywood Studios continues to stand out as a park going through some crowd flow changes. Wait times there are spiking higher than history would suggest for this time of year which is likely due to the elimination of some high capacity attractions like American Idol Experience and Backlot Tour. With so few headliner attractions remaining, wait times are going up – especially when one of them breaks down as if often the case with Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 6/17/15

by on June 17, 2015 3 Comments

Welcome back to another edition of Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes! The place for all your small, yet important Disney news! It has been a while again since I’ve had news like this to report, but the desk is full of small pieces of paper again, so I figured it was about time to clean off the desk and get the news to you! So, let’s get right to the good stuff!

  • Attention those planning 2016 Walt Disney World vacations! 2016 WDW vacation packages will be released on June 22.
  • Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom is now open during evening Extra Magic Hours.
  • Beginning on July 3, Tony’s Town Square Restaurant will serve guests continuously from 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. as opposed to offering separate lunch and dinner meal periods. The menu will continue to feature Italian specialties including pizza, pasta, and salad.
  • Beginning this week, the bats on Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be offstage for anywhere from 4-6 weeks while the exhibit is refurbished. During the refurbishment, the area will be inaccessible to guests. The Wilderness Explorers bat badge will continue to be distributed in the breezeway outside the exhibit.
  • The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort has new breakfast and lunch hours. The breakfast buffet and a la carte will run from 7:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.  The breakfast buffet only will be available from 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. Finally, lunch begins at 12:00 p.m.
  • At Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, beginning on July 5, the fitness center, salon and Casitas leisure pool will be closed for maintenance.  During this time, guests can visit the feature pool and the other two leisure pools at the resort. Additionally while the work is being completed, a temporary fitness center will be set up in the Casitas area. This refurbishment work is expected to last until October 12.
  • Guests staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will be able to experience poolside service from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily at the Lava Pool Deck and beach.  Guests can choose to enjoy cocktails, flatbreads, sandwiches, kid’s meals, desserts and more delivered right to their spot in the sand.

That’s it for this edition…thoughts?