Posts Tagged ‘Universal Orlando Resort’

Quick-Service Universal Dining Plan Price Increase

by on December 26, 2013

Universal Dining Plan price increase

New Universal Dining Plan Quick Service pricing as of yesterday (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando quietly delivered a lump of coal to guests this holiday week with a stealthy Universal Dining Plan price increase affecting their new Quick Service prepaid food program. The Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service program, which replaced the former all-you-can-eat Meal Deal earlier this year, formerly provided adults with one quick-service entree, two beverages, and two snacks for $18.99.

Yesterday, I noticed that all of the parks’ signage advertising the Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service, the price has increased by $1 to $19.99, and the snack allotment has been reduced from two to one. The children’s plan for those age 3-9 is unchanged.

Universal’s web site about the dining plan was temporarily disabled yesterday, but now it is back online with a new PDF detailing the table service version of the plan; we’ll keep an eye out for updated fine-print on the quick service plan, and share it with you when available.

Universal Dining Plan handbill from early December with old pricing.

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Construction Photos and the Gringotts Vault Key

by on December 20, 2013

Universal Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley construction Gringotts vault key photos

The key to Gringotts Vault 722 has arrived… (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome, wizards and muggles alike, to the latest installment of TouringPlan’s PotterWatch (we’ve dropped the “2.0″ for simplicity’s sake), your regular expansion update on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. This time we’ll take a look at Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront facade, and hear the tale of the Gringotts Vault Key.

Diagon Alley Construction Photos

First, here are the latest photos of construction on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, taken at “magic hour” for our first look at the facade with some of the scaffolding removed:

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Universal Orlando Holidays: Your Complete Guide to Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade

by on December 12, 2013

While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, and other seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World seem to get the lion’s share of publicity this time of year, visitors to Orlando shouldn’t overlook Universal Orlando‘s holiday offerings. Universal Orlando holidays might not have quite the nostalgic lure of Mickey’s merrymaking, but Universal’s options are every bit as expertly produced, and have the benefit of all being included with regular park admission (unlike the extra-cost “hard ticket” nighttime parties at the Magic Kingdom).

Universal Orlando’s holiday lineup, which kicks off the first weekend each December (unlike Disney, which starts Christmas almost before Halloween is over) and continues through the Saturday after New Year’s Eve, consists of two main components, described in detail below.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort for November 27, 2013 (Christmas decorations, construction, Red Oven Pizza Bakery)

by on December 1, 2013

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express, the first ever attraction that travels between two separate theme parks

Time for a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort. Seth Kubersky covered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley in his photo update earlier this week, so check out the first edition of his PotterWatch 2.0 for construction updates, rumors, and pictures.

Universal still has not released on any dates on when  the Potter area will open, but we may have been given a little bit of a hint earlier this week thanks to an interview with Loews hotels chairman Jonathan Tisch. While talking to CNBC (which you can watch here), Tisch said that the upcoming 1,800 room Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal would be:

“The largest hotel under construction in the world outside of China. Phase One will open April 1, 600 rooms. The rest of the hotel by June, when Harry Potter 2 opens.” – Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels Chairman

On the Universal website, Cabana Bay is having “preview pricing” that ends on June 14, 2014. That’s another red flag that they expect demand to go up in June. Here’s an example of what type of savings you can get for a Family Suite at Universal compared to Disney. I booked out a room from April 12-18 for 2 adults and 4 children at both Cabana Bay and Disney’s Art of Animation resort. The cheapest room at Cabana Bay was $232.00 a night, compared to the cheapest room at AoA at $498.76. After taxes, this particular week at Cabana Bay would cost a family $1572.06, while AoA would cost $2992.53.

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Video: Red Oven Pizza Bakery Now Open in Universal Orlando CityWalk

by on November 17, 2013

Red Oven Pizza Bakery Universal Orlando CityWalk Opening Day Video

Opening day at Red Oven Pizza Bakery

Stormy Central Florida skies couldn’t keep Orlando from welcoming a little piece of Italy to town today (Saturday, November 16, 2013), as the new Red Oven Pizza Bakery opened at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. The new quick-casual al fresco restaurant replaced Pastamore’s counter-service market, and offers a new moderately priced alternative for upscale pizza and salads at Universal Orlando.

This afternoon we were among the establishment’s first day of paying customers, and returned with the following footage to give you a first look. We’ll return to Red Oven Pizza Bakery soon for a full review, but our first impressions were very positive. All the ingredients — which include house-sliced prosciutto and hand-pulled mozzarella — tasted fresh, and the pizza crust had the perfect amount of chew and char.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort: November 8, 2013 (CityWalk and Islands of Adventure Construction)

by on November 12, 2013

After a much-needed five day break from the Universal Orlando Resort, on Friday afternoon (November 8, 2013) I ventured to UOR to make my first post-Halloween observations. And since we are talking about the same swiftly-expanding resort that built Transformers and Springfield USA in a matter of months, there are already noticeable new construction changes in both CityWalk and Islands of Adventure since Derek Burgan’s observations earlier in the week.

Let’s start with an exciting new signal of progress: white smoke emerging from the Red Oven Pizza Bakery smokestack.

Observations universal orlando resort construction November 2013

White smoke? We must have a new pope in CityWalk!

Inside, staff members were preparing for an employees-only test service.

Rumor holds the quick-service restaurant may open for business as soon as Tuesday, November 12.

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Universal Dining: Mama Della’s at Loews Portofino Bay (Photo Review)

by on November 4, 2013

Mama Della's photo review

The chickens welcome you to Mama Della’s!

With Bice, The Palm, and two Emeril’s — not to mention Pat O’s, Jimmy B’s, and Mr. Gump’s — the Universal Orlando Resort packs in more name-brand dining options per square foot than anywhere else in Orlando, including the sprawling Downtown Disney. With so many restaurants within steps to each other, a few are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Last month I returned to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel for a photo dining review of Mama Della’s Ristorante, one of my favorite underrated eateries inside Universal’s hotels.

Mama Della’s is located on the lowest level of Portofino Bay Hotel’s waterfront plaza, between Sal’s Market Deli and Trattorio del Porto. You can self-park at the hotel, and the restaurant will validate; or park in Universal’s main garage and take a scenic water taxi from CityWalk.

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Observations from Universal Orlando Resort: October 16-20, 2013

by on October 23, 2013

Over the past week, I logged over 18 hours and 40,000 steps (thank you, iPhone 5S motion sensor) exploring what’s new at the Universal Orlando Resort. To save you the shoeleather doing the same, here’s a super-sized photo essay of my observations from Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventures and Halloween Horror Nights between Wednesday, October 16, and Sunday, October 20, 2013.

I started the evening of 10/16 with a lap around Islands of Adventures to see what guests purchasing the Scream Early ticket option experience.

Here’s a look at the future Starbucks inside Islands of Adventure’s Port of Entry. This area is the equivalent of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A., but I haven’t heard any controversy in the online community over this mermaid invasion

Another Starbucks? Where are the torches and pitchforks?

No official word yet whether this will be an indoor location or a walk-up counter only.

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Universal Orlando Merchandise Video Review: Interactive Marauder’s Map from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

by on October 19, 2013

All those who have seen or read the Harry Potter stories have probably wished they had a magical Marauder’s Map to surreptitiously surveil their kids or co-workers. Since opening in 2010 with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando‘s Islands of Adventure, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods (located at the exit of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride) has stocked souvenir Marauder’s Maps that, while handsomely detailed, are decidedly inert.

As of a couple weeks ago, Filch’s has begun selling a new electronic interactive version of the Marauder’s Map that is exclusive to Universal Parks and the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. The new maps, which retail for $59.95, feature light-up footsteps and sound effects that are triggered by a “magic” wand.

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Observations from Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 23: October 4, 2013

by on October 9, 2013

Okay, I admit it: I’m spoiled.

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!

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