Posts Tagged ‘Universal Orlando’

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Now at Islands of Adventure Only

by on January 23, 2015

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission IOA

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission policies have changed once again. (photo by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome back to the never-ending saga of Universal Orlando Early Park Admission procedures. As of January 20, 2015, Universal has yet again adjusted the popular perk offered to their on-site hotel guests. Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which allows eligible guests into the resort’s most popular area one hour before the general public, is now restricted to only Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.

A quick recap: IOA offered early entry hours from the time the first Harry Potter land opened in 2010 until last year. Once Diagon Alley opened last summer, both parks opened for early park admission until the summer season ended, at which point only Universal Studios Florida was opened. This made sense, as most guests are primarily interested in the new Diagon Alley, and early park admission was the best time by far to experience Escape from Gringotts without a lengthy wait.

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2015 Celebration of Harry Potter Schedule and Autograph Session Information

by on January 16, 2015

Celebration of Harry Potter schedule and autograph information

Plan your Celebration of Harry Potter weekend with event schedules and autograph advice.

If Dani’s recent blog post about Universal Orlando‘s upcoming Celebration of Harry Potter event inspired you to attend, you’re probably looking for some hard information on the weekend-long fan convention kicking off at Universal Studios Florida on January 30th. Fear not, muggles, because we’ve found the full details on the Celebration of Harry Potter schedule and autograph session information to help you snag some face time with your favorite wizarding stars.

 

Celebration of Harry Potter Basic Information

The Celebration of Harry Potter, scheduled for January 30 through February 1, 2015, brings Harry Potter fans together with the actors and artists who helped create the blockbuster franchise. Similar to sci-fi and comic book conventions held around the country, the Celebration features panel discussions and question & answer sessions where guests can see some of the series’ stars in person, and possibly get an autograph. Confirmed participants in 2015 include Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). Paul Harris, the choreographer who created “wand combat” for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, will also attend to lead popular masterclasses in wizard dueling.

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How to Enjoy Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter Celebration 2015 without a Special Package)

by on January 14, 2015

TouringPlans is happy to welcome Dani Dennison-Perez to the blog. Dani also writes for Orlando Informer and ThisFloridaLife.

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2015 is on the horizon. Potterheads, Muggles, and everyone else are anxiously awaiting its arrival much like young little witches and wizards waiting their turn to cross onto platform 9 ¾ for the Hogwarts Express on their first trip to Hogwarts. This event officially debuted last year and seems to be a new annual tradition (we hope). This year’s A Celebration of Harry Potter will take place January 30 – February 1, 2015.

Much in the same vein as Disney’s Star Wars Weekends, A Celebration of Harry Potter brings together celebrities from the movies, special shows and Q&A sessions, and exclusive exhibits. What’s more, it brings in a nice hefty revenue stream for Universal Orlando and Loews Hotels as vacation packages with special benefits are sold at a mind baffling rate. But what if you weren’t able to snatch up one of those enticing packages? You can still find ways to revel in the celebration.

Last year I decided not to purchase any of the packages and went about the whole thing very casually. No planning, no forethought, just showed up…. And I got nothing accomplished (though I still had fun). Here now are my tips, just keep in mind, this is based on my experience last year. Some things may be changing this year, but I am confident the same tips will apply.

Photo credit: Universal Orlando

Photo credit: Universal Orlando

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Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2015 Concert Line Up

by on January 12, 2015

Mardi Gras at Universal. ©Universal

Mardi Gras at Universal.
©Universal

Universal has released its 2015 Mardi Gras Concert line up. All 16 concerts are held at the Universal Music Plaza Stage and are included with admission to Universal Studios Florida park. The outdoor stage is located along between the Despicable Me and TWISTER attractions. Concerts are held rain or shine, and viewing spots (there are no seats) are secured on a first-come, first-served basis. There is an ADA viewing located at the far right side of the stage.

The schedule is:

Universal Orlando Mardi Gras 2015

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One-Day/Two-Parks; A Universal Orlando Trip Report

by on December 17, 2014

The gate to the Studios.

The gate to the Studios.

…in which our intrepid couple travels outside the Disney bubble and lives to tell about it.

Step 1 – Transportation from Walt Disney World to Universal and Park Tickets

While planning for a particularly long vacation to Walt Disney World, my husband and I decided to squeeze in a day over at Universal Orlando Resort to try out a one-day / two-park touring plan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Instantly we were faced with the question, “How do we get there?” We were planning on taking Disney’s Magical Express from the airport and would not have a car while on vacation. Would we dare to use the public transportation and hop a bus? We had seen a harrowing,(although hilarious) YouTube video of a British couple who took this route. It didn’t work out so well for them, and they splurged for a cab ride on the way back. Yes, busing was out of the question. We were on a time limit and didn’t have the three hours it took these poor folks just to get to the park. Well, with rental car and busing out of the question, that left us with a taxi.

We did our homework and priced up the fares using the Mears Transportation website. It didn’t seem too terrible, and this is really what we were leaning towards, until I read in the fine print that even if stuck in traffic, the meter is running. We wanted to be on the roadways during rush hour traffic. This probably was not a good plan either. Well, what to do? Do we just forget about Universal? No! Where there is a will, there is a way. And after more research we discovered that some of the travel agencies that sell tickets also sell transportation packages. Now we’re talking!

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Photos: Kongstruction Project 340 Progress Update

by on December 14, 2014

Construction — or as we say here, Kongstruction — for the officially unannounced (but increasingly obvious) Project 340 continues to advance at an amazing rate. As you can see below in my latest Kongstruction photo update, the framework for this new ride’s show building is beginning to loom large over the land of Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure.

Kongstruction project 340 progress update

Kongstruction progress is full steam ahead at IOA’s Project 340 (photos by Seth Kubersky).

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Video: Cabana Bay Garden Bridge Now Open at Universal Orlando

by on November 8, 2014

Cabana Bay garden bridge open

Cabana Bay’s garden bridge is now open to pedestrians, and we’ve got the POV to prove it. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

It seems like only yesterday that we were wondering when the new pedestrian walkway and garden bridge connecting the Cabana Bay Beach Resort with the rest of the Universal Orlando Resort would open. Well, wait now more, because it looks like The Cowfish wasn’t the only thing Universal quietly debuted this month.

The Cabana Bay garden bridge opened recently, and even though the walkway between the hotel and CityWalk isn’t yet fully landscaped, I wanted to capture the following POV video to give you a feel for this new path’s potential:

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Menu Monday: The Cowfish Orlando Now Open at Universal CityWalk

by on November 3, 2014

First Look Cowfish Orlando now open

Take a first look inside Cowfish Orlando, the new sushi & burger restaurant at Universal’s CityWalk (photos by Seth Kubersky).

I’ll admit it: I was skeptical. When I first heard that The Cowfish — the North Carolina-based restaurant concept combining sushi and burgers into “burgushi” — was coming to Universal Orlando, I didn’t have much hope for the fishy fusion, even if it did involve two of my favorite foods. But now, after eating at Cowfish Orlando on its first night of “soft opening” to the public, I’m sold! Enjoy these Cowfish Orlando photos from our first look inside the sure-to-be-popular eatery, which should now be open daily at CityWalk.

Cowfish Orlando Exterior

Cowfish occupies both a portion of CityWalk’s ground level real estate between Red Oven Pizza and VIVO, and the second story site where the complex’s original Starbucks Coffee once sat. The look is clean, colorful, and a bit whimsical, with massive representations of the restaurant’s namesake animals.

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Photo Gallery: Cabana Bay Garden Bridge Construction Update

by on October 29, 2014

Cabana Bay garden bridge construction

The Cabana Bay garden bridge and walking path is nearing completion at Universal Orland (photos by Seth Kubersky).

It’s been several months since we last stopped by our new favorite retro-modern hotel, Universal Orlando‘s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, so the other afternoon I took a stroll around property for a Cabana Bay Garden Bridge construction photo update.

 

Ever since the moderately priced property opened this past summer, Cabana Bay guests’ transportation options have consisted of buses to the parking hub, or a 10 minute walk along the unglamorous north side of Hollywood Way.

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Kongstruction: Project 340 Vertical Construction at IoA

by on October 28, 2014

Kongstruction Project 340 vertical construction

Kongstruction gets serious as Project 340 vertical construction begins at IoA (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Thanks to the TouringPlans #Everywhere project, I recently spent nearly two weeks away from Universal Orlando, which is an eternity given the rapid pace of construction at the resort. Most notably, the mysterious construction zone behind Islands of Adventure‘s Jurassic Park was (when I left) just a formless plot of earth, but now holds the foundation for a enormous future edifice. Attention Kongstruction watchers: Project 340 vertical construction has started in big way, as structural steel for a massive new show building has been erected for a yet-unconfirmed Skull Island attraction.

Here is a gallery of photos depicting recent progress on the upcoming ride, which is rumored to combine indoor/outdoor dark ride elements with 3-D screens to ressurect King Kong, Universal Studio Florida’s original icon. Leaks suggest this building may become the massive facade of an ancient jungle temple.

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