Posts Tagged ‘Universal Orlando’

NBC Sports Grill Brew Replacing NASCAR at Universal CityWalk

by on April 30, 2015

NBC Sports Grill Brew

The new NBC Sports Grill Brew is bound for the site of Universal CityWalk’s former NASCAR restaurant. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Since late last year, the entire theme park community (ok, just Derek Burgan) has been mourning the closure of the NASCAR Sports Grille, and eagerly awaiting news of what’s next for the former restaurant’s prominent footprint along the promenade of Universal Orlando‘s CityWalk. After months of watching NASCAR’s slow-motion demolition, we finally have evidence confirming rumors that an NBC Sports themed restaurant would be the new replacement. User “CatCatCat” on the OrlandoUnited.com forums was the first to share a new State of Florida business license filing that lists “NBC Sports Grill Brew” as the new eatery’s name.

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Universal Orlando Tests Mardi Gras Guide App

by on April 19, 2015

Universal Orlando test of a Mardi Gras Guide app could hint at the future of theme park events, for good or ill… (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Easter has been over two weeks, but Universal Orlando‘s annual Mardi Gras celebration only came to an end on Saturday night. Universal Studios Florida’s final parade and concert played on April 18th to a packed park under overcast skies, unlike the previous week’s rain-soaked washout. But in addition to flying beads and Trey Songz’s bass beats, Universal tossed out another surprise to its fans, testing a new Mardi Gras Guide app for smartphones on the party’s last night.

I began by downloading The Official Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Guide App to my iPhone 6 Plus. The app became available on April 15, and can still be downloaded for free (though it doesn’t do much now that the event has ended).

When the iOS Mard Gras Guide app opens for the first time, you’ll be asked to approve access to various services. Interestingly, there is no request to access the camera, which will become an issue later…

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More Metal Detectors Installed at Universal Orlando Roller Coasters

by on April 10, 2015

universal orlando metal detectors

Be prepared for enhanced security screenings at more of Universal Orlando’s biggest thrill rides. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Remember a few weeks back when Universal Orlando stirred up social media park-stalkers (present company included) by installing electronic security screening devices — a.k.a. metal detectors — outside Universal Studios Florida‘s Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster? Well, hold onto your hat (but NOT your phone, keys, or coins) because UOR sprained the interwebs again with yesterday’s introduction of more metal detector screenings at Islands of Adventure‘s Incredible Hulk Coaster and Dragon Challenge.

As of April 9, 2015, all Universal Orlando guests wishing to ride the resort’s major outdoor roller coasters must deposit all loose and metal objects in a locker before entering the queue. Mandatory airport-style security screenings, including walk-through metal detectors and handheld scanning wands, will be used to ensure that no prohibited items — specifically phones, keys, coins, cameras, and selfie sticks — are carried onto the attractions.

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Photo Gallery: 2015 Universal Orlando Spring Break Crowds

by on April 7, 2015

The Easter eggs have all been hunted, and the Passover seder plates are put away, but the 2015 spring break crowds have not yet departed from Orlando’s attractions. While wait times over the weekend weren’t quite as bad as initially predicted, it’s still been a very busy holiday week at Universal Orlando, as Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure both experienced their heaviest attendance since New Year’s Day. In case you weren’t brave or foolish enough to experience Easter Week in person, here is a photo gallery of Universal Orlando spring break crowds to give you a virtual taste of last week’s madness.

Universal Studios Florida Spring Break Crowds

You know its going to be a busy day at USF when the temporary turnstiles in between the entry gates are in use.

Universal Orlando spring break crowds 2015

Spring break crowds descended on Universal Orlando last week. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

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Menu Monday: The Food of Universal Mardi Gras

by on March 23, 2015

New Orleans, the Big Easy, is known for many things. Jazz, art, voo doo, and of course tantalizing Cajun cuisine. Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is a popular annual event, but not necessarily because of the special food and beverages offered during this special time of the year. Yet, if you head to Universal Orlando to take part in Mardi Gras, your experience isn’t really complete if you don’t let your taste buds in on the fun.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is held each weekend from the beginning of February to mid-April (specific days and dates vary by weekend) and personally it is one of my favorite things about visiting Universal. The fun is definitely saved for the afternoon and evening. It’s touted as “Florida’s Biggest Party.” While this is one heck of a marketing claim, it isn’t too far off the bulls-eye, in the eyes of this Florida Native. I’ll confess, I am not a fan of most of the in-park counter service food offered here at Universal, but I will say some of the better quick style food can be found during Universal Mardi Gras.

Twisted Taters

What is this creation? Read on.

 

 

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Universal Studios Florida Photo Update: Mardi Gras, Furious 7, and Garden of Allah

by on March 19, 2015

Spring break is shifting into high gear at all theme parks right now, and Universal Orlando is no exception. If you don’t feel like struggling through the crowds, come take a virtual tour with me in today’s Universal Studios Florida photo update, featuring a look at construction on Garden of Allah Villas, the new Furious 7 car display, and last weekend’s Mardi Gras concert.

Garden of Allah Villas Construction

The Garden of Allah Villas complex between Hollywood and KidZone is still behind construction walls, behind which is what permit filings describe as a “NBCUniversal Media Lab.” Leave your thoughts in the comments as to what exactly that means.

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Updated Universal Orlando Content Now Online to Celebrate Upcoming Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando

by on March 16, 2015

I’ve written tens of thousands of sentences in the nearly 5 years I’ve been working for The Unofficial Guide and Touring Plans, but this one is the most exciting: The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando, our first stand-alone guidebook dedicated to the home of Harry Potter, is on its way!

Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando

The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando is on its way! (Not to scale; book not shown actual size).

The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando is available now for pre-order, and is listed on Amazon.com with an August 11 release date. If you know The Unofficial Guides and Touring Plans from our Disney coverage, you may be wondering, “Why create a guide for Universal Orlando?” Well, as the author (along with co-authors Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa) of the new book, I’m glad you asked!

The short answer is that we listen to our readers, and we watch where people are spending their vacation time and dollars. Ever since the opening of the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, and especially since the debut of Diagon Alley in 2014, interest in and attendance at Universal Orlando has exploded. Every day, more and more Central Florida visitors are choosing Universal as their primary destination, or at making it a significant sideline.

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Menu Monday: Cowfish at Universal CityWalk Orlando Review

by on February 16, 2015

Cowfish Logo

Cowfish Logo

 

Disclosure: Please note that while we were not compensated for our meal, we were seated at Cowfish by management after my husband spoke to someone at corporate office.

Despite the fact that we’ve been driving down the road to party it up at Universal Studios Orlando for nearly eight years now, it’s hard to pry my husband and me away from our beloved outdoor bars and into restaurants. Hey, we like to people-watch… how else would I be able to snobbishly judge passersby on the nerd culture displayed on their clothing? So we were a little disappointed to hear that one of CityWalk’s newest establishments, the sushi-burger fusion place Cowfish, had nixed its outdoor bar food service literally the day before we arrived. Typically, that’s how you get lazy, food-obsessed locals to swear vengeance on your establishment… hey, my name isn’t Inigo Montoya, I take my vendettas where I can. Cowfish’s menu had come so highly recommended, however, and from so many different people, that we had to give it a try. Turns out, it’s a good thing we did, since Cowfish is really, really worth the trip. Enough that we went twice just to tell you about different things!

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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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