Posts Tagged ‘Islands of Adventure’

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 28, 2016: Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Update

by on January 28, 2016

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Indulge your sweet tooth in this Best Week Ever update of Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando (photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

 

I hope you set your alarm clocks this morning, because this Best Week Ever is up and at ’em before daybreak to enjoy one of my favorite theme park perks. Early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is usually restricted to Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests, but throughout January annual passholders were allowed to join to early morning crowds on weekdays. At the same time, Universal has made some tweaks to the way this popular option operates, so this past week I awoke ahead of the sun to bring you the Universal Orlando Early Park Admission update.

First, the big news about Universal Orlando Early Park Admission is that it is currently offered at Universal Studios Florida only. For most of 2015, Early Park Admission was offered only at Islands of Adventure during off-peak times, and at both parks during peak holiday periods. Early in 2016, Universal returned off-peak Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida only. While communications from Universal have been inconsistent about the future EPA calendar, we currently expect Early Park Admission to remain at Universal Studios Florida only until the Easter/Spring Break peak season.

Here are some other Universal Orlando Early Park Admission updates:

  • When Universal Studios Florida opens for Early Park Admission, only Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the attractions inside Diagon Alley (including Escape from Gringotts) are regularly open. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Transformers may also open early if the crowds warrant, but they were not operating early during my recent visit.
  • When Islands of Adventure opens for Early Park Admission, the Hogwarts Express usually begins operating 30 minutes before Universal Studios Florida officially opens. However, when Universal Studios Florida open early, the first Hogwarts Express train depart only a few minutes before IOA’s opening hour.

 

Got all that? Great! Now, let’s take a morning stroll around the parks.

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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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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 3, 2015: Black Friday at Universal Orlando

by on December 3, 2015

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The day after Thanksgiving has become one of America’s most important secular holidays, as young and old celebrate capitalism by camping out for dirt-cheap televisions. I was also out there shopping on the big day, but in true Best Week Ever fashion I spent my Black Friday at Universal Orlando among the vacationing throngs.

I started my Black Friday shopping with a major purchase by renewing my Universal Orlando annual pass. After disconts, my Premier pass costs just under $1 per day. That’s a lot more than it was when I first became a passholder 15 years ago, but still a great value considering how quickly the parks has been adding new attractions.

 

Once inside Islands of Adventure, I was greeted by the still-jarring sight of the Incredible Hulk Coaster…or rather the lack thereof.

 

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2015

by on November 26, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2015 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Selfie Stick Ban at Walt Disney World

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no_more_selfie_sticks_pamphlet_sethIf you noticed any #Millenials or narcissists wearing black armbands this summer, it was because after banning selfie sticks on Disney attractions earlier in the spring, Walt Disney World completely banned the use of selfie sticks at the parks. Seemingly out of nowhere, the edict came down right after another high profile news story of Disney California Adventure’s California Screamin’ roller coaster being stopped mid ride because of a guest using a selfie stick. On June 26th, WDW guests were given a pamphlet at the parking plaza explaining the selfie stick ban, signage was displayed on the walkways to the parks along with bag check explaining the new policy.

The selfie stick ban was definitely a controversial move to be sure. Universal had earlier become more strict on preventing selfie sticks on rides, but Disney outright stopped people from even entering the park with them. Now we joked earlier about only kids and narcissists using them, the truth is that selfie sticks have become increasingly popular across almost all demographics. While people using selfie sticks inside the parks can be a nuisance, they were starting to become a serious safety factor on attractions. You may have seen what is called an Envelope of Protection as Imagineers test out the attractions. This device makes sure that all the attractions are safe for every rider, basically simulating the possible reach of every guest in the ride vehicle. This is why while it may seem like your may lose your arms in Space Mountain if you hold them up during the ride, but in actuality you are nowhere close to hitting anything. What the Envelope of Protection doesn’t take into account though, is guests holding on to anything that extends their reach.

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Universal Orlando Photo Update: September 22, 2015

by on September 22, 2015

Welcome back to another photo update around the Universal Orlando Resort. This week we’ll start things off with a look at the installation of the sign on the exterior of NBC Sports Grill Brew. Over at the Studios, the archway has been decorated for Halloween Horror Nights. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for HHN coverage this week since there’s plenty of new props and merchandise to look at. Over at Islands of Adventure, we’ll take a look a look at King Kong and a Toon Lagoon shop under refurbishment. All that and much more, so let’s get going.

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Welcome to Universal Orlando.

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The facade of NBC Sports Grill Brew is now finished.

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Theme Park Related Comic Books

by on September 19, 2015

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Theme Park Related Comic Books. To steal a phrase from Forrest Gump, comic books and theme parks go together like peas and carrots, especially Disney. In fact, the Disney characters that we love to meet in the parks so much starred in their own comics going back all the way to 1940. Despite switching publishers several times over the years, Disney comics continue to be produced today, most recently by Marvel and IDW Publishing. To celebrate the launch of their new line of Disney books, IDW has been releasing variant covers on all their Disney titles focusing on the theme parks.

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Epcot themed covers.

These covers are absolutely amazing and done by the artists Derek Charm, Amy Mebberson, and James Silvani. We are going to spotlight these variant covers throughout the article because we love them so much, but the SATURDAY SIX itself is going to look at comic books over the years whose stories have dealt with theme parks directly. So sit back, relax, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

COMICS_mickeyandgoofy# 6 – Mickey and Goofy explore the Universe of Energy (1985)

This is more than likely the one book on the list which most readers have seen because it was a giveaway at Epcot back in 1985. The comic features Mickey Mouse and Goofy exploring the Universe of Energy pavilion, better known today as Ellen’s Energy Adventure. From the attraction’s beginning up until 2004, Exxon was the sponsor and the comic is little more than propaganda for the fossil fuel industry.

The comic starts with Mickey and Goofy in the Universe of Energy pre-show and boarding the ride vehicle. These are my favorite parts of any theme park comic book. Forget the story, I just love seeing the landmarks and attractions drawn on the page. The pair even travel into the portion of the ride with dinosaurs, which made me very happy. Mickey and Goofy then spend the rest of the book talking about the history of energy consumption, how we currently get fuel, and what we can do in the future. In one great scene from the book, as Mickey describes to Goofy that gas could become expensive if we were cut off from foreign oil again, Goofy fears the day of gas sky rocketing to $1.27 a gallon. I wonder what ol’ Goof would think of $5.99 a gallon gas near the Disney Outlet Store?

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Mickey Mouse references the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis. Hey Kids! Comics!

While some lip service is paid to finding alternate sources of energy, the book is mostly focused on highlighting the true heroes of industry: people who drill for oil. Drilling in Alaska, drilling off a ship, deep sea oil platforms, basically anything Exxon is involved in. In another wonderful scene, Mickey shows Goofy a map and explains how a pipeline leads oil from Prudhoe Bay in the northern part of Alaska down to Valdez in the southern part. Hmmmm, the Exxon Valdezwhere have I heard that before? In the end, this is a comic book about learning, which – for kids – is like getting socks for Christmas.

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Refillable Mugs at Universal Orlando – Worth it or Wasted?

by on August 28, 2015

One of the first things I noticed that was different at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld versus Walt Disney World is the refillable mugs inside the theme parks. What I didn’t realize until after my first few months of becoming a regular Universal Orlando visitor is the substantial variety of refillable mug programs available throughout Universal Orlando. There’s four options just in the theme parks themselves, then there’s two different programs at the Universal hotels, and finally two programs inside CityWalk, oh and none of the programs can be combined. So in hopes of helping you navigate through the busy waters of all the refillable mug options I’d like to share the details of each option. I’ll also give my stance on if I think each mug is worth it or wasted.
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In the theme parks

Character mugs – $15.99 /  $0.99 refills

Wasted: If you or your child is a big fan of a specific character then the character mugs might be a good value for you. Personally, I think their clunkier size make them impractical for repeated, every day use. However, they certainly are unique and add to the fun of being inside the theme parks.

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Regular refillable cup and Black Transformer mug – $8.99 / $0.99 refills

Worth it: If you are an Annual Passholder or will be visiting for an extended amount of days, the basic refillable cup is a good deal. The $0.99 refills are not limited to the day of purchase, so you can easily get your money’s worth considering one fountain soda is $3.19. If you use the refillable cup more than 3 times you’ll have spent your money wisely. There are also a good amount of food and beverage locations throughout the park to snag your free refills. The downside is the refills are your basic fountain drink variety, not the fancy smancy Coke Freestyle flavor selection.

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Video of New Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show at Islands of Adventure

by on June 16, 2015

The cast for IOA’s new Sindbad show greets young fans after their first show. (photos and videos by Seth Kubersky)

After over a month-long hiatus, the new Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show has debuted at Universal Orlando‘s Islands of Adventure, and we have exclusive video of the entire first performance of the refurbished production.

Sindbad fans out there (both of you) may be wondering what’s changed with what can charitably called Universal’s most problematic production. While the show’s spectacular set has received a sparkly paint job and some new props, nothing has been radically changed on the visual side.

Of course, the scenery was never Sindbad’s big problem. It’s the shallow, self-referential script that was always the source of our issues with the stunt show, and (for better or for worse) the dialogue has remained about 90% unchanged.

Before we get to the main event, one element definitely is all-new. Ten minutes before showtime, an “assistant stage manager” selects a few volunteers from the audience to act out the story. Here’s a complete video of the opening day preshow:

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Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure Is Reborn

by on June 8, 2015

I’ll never forget that feeling of fear and excitement as I sat in the movie theater and watched the massive T-Rex break free and step down onto the soggy earth in Jurassic Park so many years ago. When Islands of Adventure opened 16 years ago, this exciting and frightening world was made real. Over the years, as Islands of Adventure has evolved, the Jurassic Park island has changed, and perhaps lost a little of it intriguing nature. After all, the boy wizard’s original domain now neighbors this mysterious jungle. It’s hard to stand out when you’re next door to the destination that changed theme parks forever.

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Now that Jurassic World is about to escape into the theaters, many have hoped and wondered if Island’s of Adventure’s Jurassic Park will receive some upgrades to coincide with this next generation movie. Already there have been a few updates that have breathed a bit of new life into this land, though there is certainly potential for more to be done. Let’s explore the wilds of the jungle and see how Jurassic Park is being reborn.

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New Raptor Encounter Now Open at Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park

by on May 27, 2015

New Raptor Encounter Islands of Adventure Jurassic Park

Take a dino selfie at the new Raptor Encounter in Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park (photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

While Disney was loudly kicking off their Coolest Summer Ever promotion with bicoastal 24 Hour parties, Universal Orlando quietly opened a new attraction over Memorial Day weekend with little fanfare, as the new Raptor Encounter debuted in the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure. Conventional wisdom says that, while Universal makes excellent thrill rides, Disney dominates the meet and greet experience. But much like the Transformers meet and greet in Universal Studios Florida, this innovative dinosaur photo op flips that expectation upside down.

The new Raptor Encounter is located outside of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, in an unused area that was formerly the entrance to Triceratops Trail, a long-defunct walkthrough attraction. Guests approach a fenced-in holding pen that has been built to contain a live velociraptor, who has been trained just well enough to pose briefly for photographs between snaps and screeches.

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