Posts Tagged ‘Universal Orlando Resort’

Observations from Halloween Horror Nights and Updated HHN24 Touring Plans

by on October 8, 2014

Hhn24 touring plans

Plan your Nights of Horror with our updated HHN24 touring plans (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Halloween in still three weeks away, but Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 24 is well underway, and as always the event — and therefore our HHN24 touring plan — is ever evolving. After experiencing the rain-soaked chaos of opening night, I returned on a precipitation-free Thursday without the benefit of an RIP guided tour or Express Passes.

The good news is that I was able to experience all 8 haunted houses, and both shows, before the evening ended even without those extra-cost line-cutting perks, but it wan’t easy. To update my previously published Halloween Horror Nights Survival Guide, here’s a summary of my recent observations, followed by an improved edition of my HHN24 touring plans to plot your escape from the evil of overstuffed queues.

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Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Changes Starting September 2 [UPDATED 8/30/14]

by on August 30, 2014

Early Park Admission Sign

Big changes are coming in September to Universal Orlando’s Early Park Admission perk (Photo by Seth Kubersky)

As the summer season comes to a close, we’ve gotten word of some upcoming changes to Universal Orlando Early Park Admission policies that are scheduled to go into effect early next month.

While no details have been officially announced, we’ve confirmed this information with guest service leads at both parks, and we believe the following modifications will be made to Universal Orlando’s early park admission perk (otherwise known as “early entry” or “early admission”) offered to guests at the resort’s four on-site hotels.

We will be on hand to report on the new procedures, and we will update the information on our Early Park Admission page as policy changes develop.

[Note: Universal Orlando has recently confirmed an update to the off-season early entry, see below for bolded changes]

Early Park Admission General Information

Universal Orlando offers admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas at Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade) and/or Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley) one hour before regular park opening. This perk is given for free to all guests staying at a Universal Resort Hotel. Guests with certain types of “vacation packages” (most commonly sold by Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations and involving both accommodations at a Universal partner hotel and theme park admission) are also allowed in early.

The turnstiles to the park(s) participating in early entry should open approximately 90 minutes before the official opening time. Both hotel and day guests will be admitted to the park, and each eligible guest will need to show his or her own room key to pass beyond the park’s entry plaza during the early admission hour. Guests not eligible for early admission will be held in an alternative area to await the official opening time.

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New Universal Orlando Two Day/Two Park Touring Plans

by on July 31, 2014

Universal Orlando two day/two park touring plans

2½ hours is considered a moderate wait at Gringotts! Be prepared with our new Universal Orlando two day/two park touring plans. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

If you are planning to devote a day of your vacation to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you’ll quickly discover that there is more to do at Universal Orlando’s park than can be covered in dozen hours. We’ve had a great response to our recently published Diagon Alley touring plan and one day/two park touring plans, which I encourage you to read if you haven’t already. But an even better way to experience everything Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure has to offer is with these new Universal Orlando two day/two park touring plans.

The good news for guests just now getting to Gringotts is that the ride is running much more reliably and with greater capacity than only a couple weeks ago; as a result, standby wait times are peaking in the morning at half their former 450-minute high-water, and dropping to 120 or less by late afternoon. There is still a rush to Diagon Alley every morning, resulting in a queue to enter London for early arrivers. But the return time tickets are rarely needed any more, and crowd control barricades around the area have been vanishing by lunchtime.

Note that these new two-day/two-park touring plans have been optimized to account for the recent reduction in operating hours, and should scale well with diminishing crowds as hours are reduced further this fall. As always, we’ll continue refining our plans using the latest data, and subscribers can edit and evaluate them for themselves by personalizing a copy of our premium plans. (Be sure to look for a link to Part 2 at the top of the plan, and make a copy of each part.)

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New Universal Orlando Wizarding World Two-Park Touring Plans

by on July 23, 2014

Gringotts Queue

Learn everything you’ve always wanted to know (but were afraid to ask) about visiting both Gringotts and Hogwarts with our new Wizarding World two-park touring plans! (photos by Seth Kubersky)

A few days ago, we published our newly updated Universal Studios Florida touring plans, which provide step-by-step instructions for tackling Diagon Alley and the crowds at the Gringotts bank ride with maximum efficiency. Those guides are now available as premium touring plans that can be copied and edited in Lines, with versions for Early Entry guests and for those staying off-site.

Today, we’re following up with the first installment of our most frequently requested touring plan: one-day/two-park plans covering both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These new plans cover both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. They feature all Harry Potter attractions (including rides on the Hogwarts Express in both directions) in a single day, and assume you have a Park-To-Park (Universal lingo for “parkhopper”) ticket.

[Note: If you caught the early edition of this post, you may notice that the touring plans have changed slightly. Using the latest data crunched overnight, we've tweaked the morning attraction order to squeeze in one extra attraction! Similar upgrades have already been made to the premium one day USF/Diagon Alley plans we've previously published. You're welcome!]
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The Magic Next Door: Universal Orlando Resort

by on July 12, 2014

Universal Orlando Resort: A Basic Primer for Walt Disney World Vacation Veterans

Friends, vacationers, locals… lend me your comically over-sized souvenir mouse ears! Most of you like the Walt Disney World Resort, and for good reason. But, dear reader, let me tell you about another place. A wonderful place. A place where you can squeal and fawn over little jellybean men in overalls and not feel weird because everyone else is doing the same thing. That place… is the Universal Orlando Resort.

 

Universal Orlando Resort

Copyright – Universal

There are some people out there who might tell you that there are Disney Folk and Universal Folk, and that never the two shall meet. But, dear reader… that just ain’t so. It doesn’t matter what your family is composed of or how much coffee you drink out of your oversized novelty Donald Duck Mug. If you like roller coasters, Universal Orlando Resort has something for you. If you like great food, the resort has something for you. If you like dinosaurs and wizards, swashbuckling and dancing, beach chairs and tornadoes… it has something for you. Below you’ll find a brief summary of the Universal experience, from the events it hosts to some very important ways it differs from the House of Mouse.

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PotterWatch: London Waterfront Lighting, Diagon Alley Return Tickets, Hogsmeade Transition, & Leaky Cauldron Food Preview

by on June 2, 2014

PotterWatch London Waterfront lighting Diagon Alley return ticket kiosks Hogsmeade transition

Welcome to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where time has turned purple… (photos by Seth Kubersky)

We’ve passed an important PotterWatch milestone this week: we’re most likely less than one month away from the public premiere of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. This update will examine some new lighting along the London Waterfront, the newly revealed Hogsmeade transition area outside the original Wizarding World, and some recently revealed Leaky Cauldron food and beverage details.

 

London Waterfront Lighting

I took a stroll along the London Waterfront outside Diagon Alley at “magic hour” to capture some of the lighting features throughout the area. Let’s start with a panoramic overview of the construction area:

 

This purple illumination on the King’s Cross clock tower confuses me. Perhaps it is some sort of magical effect, or an unfinished test? Time will tell…

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Theme Park Water Rides in Orlando

by on May 10, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Top Six Theme Park Water Rides in Orlando. Water rides at the parks, you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. We here at the Saturday Six happen to love them and are glad we have so many great ones to choose from in Orlando. These rides can be just the thing to cool you off on one of those Florida days where it feels like you are walking on the surface of the sun, and as a side benefit they can be incredibly fun! Today we are going to look at the top six and we’ll start with…

# 6 – Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (Islands of Adventure)

WATERRIDES_Dudley1

Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls (photo by Brandon Glover)

Located in Toon Lagoon in Islands of Adventure, Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls is based on the old Jay Ward cartoons which – like many of the characters in Toon Lagoon – have been mostly lost to time. This is unfortunate, as many of Ward’s creations (Aesop’s Fables, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Peabody and Sherman) were years ahead of their time, containing sophisticated humor and satire that children and adults could enjoy. While Ripsaw Falls is filled with the trademark humor (and puns) of the cartoon it is based on, thanks to budget and time constraints under which it was built, it doesn’t have the “wow” factor of animatronics or the immersive scenery that some other rides on this list brings to the table. What it does have is an amazing facade, several decent drops, and one great one at the end. The final drop of Ripsaw Falls can hang with any flume ride, but Ripsaw Falls doesn’t end there….

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PotterWatch: Piccadilly Circus Fountain Installed, Today Show Harry Potter Sweepstakes, and More.

by on May 8, 2014

PotterWatch Fountain Today Show Harry Potter Sweepstakes

The Piccadilly Circus fountain has arrived at Universal’s Wizarding World (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Orlando experienced some wild weather last week, but the torrential rain didn’t stop progress on Diagon Alley, as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando accelerates towards rumored soft openings at the end of this month. In today’s edition of PotterWatch, we feature the installation of the famous Piccadilly Circus Fountain in front of the the London Waterfront, and a new Today Show Harry Potter Sweepstakes starting next week.

 

Piccadilly Circus Fountain

The final major component of the London Waterfront, as featured in published concept art of the area, arrived recently, as a stunning replica of the Piccadilly Circus fountain was mounted in front of the Wyndham’s Theatre facade.

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Most Underrated Attractions and Shows at Universal

by on May 3, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers the Six Most Underrated Attractions and Shows at Universal. Let’s face, there is no shortage of great and memorable shows and attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort. We all have our favorites. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Transformers: The Ride 3-D are three stunning achievements in the theme park world. The Incredible Hulk and Revenge of the Mummy are two insanely great roller coasters. Men In Black: Alien Attack is hands down one of the most fun interactive shooters in Orlando . Even E.T., the oldest kid on the block, still has one of the most impressive queues ever built and a ride that – in my opinion – crushes Peter Pan’s Flight. But today we’re going to look at the most underrated shows and attractions at Universal. Six things you need to add to your Must Do list on your next trip to the parks. And we’ll start with….

 # 6 –  Universal’s Horror Make-Up Show (Universal Studios Florida)

horrormakeup1

If you’ve never tried Universal’s Horror Make-Up Show because you’re “not into horror,” let me alleviate your fears. I was in the exact same boat and put off this show for years until a friend of mine dragged me into it because they loved movie make-up. Turns out it is a fascinating look into make-up (and special effects) of horror films and is absolutely hilarious. There are two hosts of the live show and they spend much more time on “funny” than “scary” and throw in a whole bunch of pop-culture references for the crowd to enjoy.

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Universal’s Cabana Bay Transportation Guide

by on April 16, 2014

Cabana Bay transportation guide

When you get tired of relaxing by Cabana Bay’s pool, use this transportation guide to get to Universal’s theme parks (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the newest Loews-operated on-site hotel at Universal Orlando, only opened at the end of March, but if you’ve been following our coverage – from my mega-sized photo gallery from opening day to Derek Burgan’s Saturday Six devoted to the property – you may feel like you’ve already stayed there. One aspect of Universal’s first moderately priced hotel that many readers have asked for more information about is the transportation options available to guests of Cabana Bay. As you may have heard, Cabana Bay does NOT offer water taxi service like Universal’s original 3 luxury properties. So I spent a recent sunny afternoon testing various methods of getting from the hotel to the parks (and vice versa), in order to bring you this comprehensive Cabana Bay transportation guide.

Parking at Cabana Bay

Cabana Bay doesn’t offer valet parking, but that deficit is offset by a $10 daily self-parking rate for hotel guests, which is significantly cheaper than parking at the other Universal hotels. Parking lots ring the hotel, so you can park right alongside your room. Unfortunately, high parking rates for non-guests ($8 for 5 to 30 minutes, $20 for 30 minutes to 24 hours) make it expensive for locals to drop in and knock down some pins at the Galaxy bowling alley.

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