Posts Tagged ‘Universal’

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)

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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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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)

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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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Photo Gallery: Sneak Peek at new CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks Coffee

by on March 15, 2014

Universal Orlando CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery Starbucks

The new CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery is now open, and Starbucks is coming soon. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando’s overhaul of its eateries accelerates this week as the new CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks Coffee locations open to the public. Over the weekend, I was invited behind the barrier to check out the new new franchise locations.

CityWalk Cold Stone Creamery

First, I sampled Cold Stone Creamery, which features hard-packed ice cream customized with “mix ins” and blended on the namesake cold stone.

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Photo Update: Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Garden Bridge Construction

by on March 14, 2014

Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Garden Bridge is under construction (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Garden Bridge is under construction (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Last month, I brought you pre-construction photos of the pedestrian path that guests of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort will use to walk from Universal Orlando‘s newest hotel to CityWalk and the theme parks. Since then, I’ve received exciting new details on designs for the Cabana Bay Beach Resort Garden Walk, which will eventually supercede the existing sidewalks in the area.

The walking path on the north (westbound) side of Hollywood Way will have to serve temporarily for guests unwilling to take the provided shuttles buses during the hotel’s initial opening phase. The walk, which I documented in a video, is entirely navigable at this time with the exception of a crosswalk and traffic signal at the final intersection, which could be easily added before Cabana Bay’s first guests arrive at the end of March.

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Complete Guide to Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 UPDATED

by on March 12, 2014

Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 guide

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Grand Celebration starts on Feb 8, 2014.

Today we tackle one of my favorite theme park topics: the annual Universal Studios Mardi Gras Grand Celebration. Universal Studios Mardi Gras holds a special place in my heart because, back in the late 1990s when I worked in Universal Studios Florida’s entertainment department, I was a talent supervisor for the parade, and got to walk with it nightly. (I’ll never get “Iko Iko” or “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” out of my skull.) So I’m thrilled to share Touring Plans’ complete guide to Universal’s bead laden bacchanalia, bringing you all the info you need to laissez les bons temps rouler!

[UPDATED 3/12/14: Scroll down for late-breaking news on the Mardi Gras extension and rescheduled Robin Thicke concert!]

Background

Mardi Gras originated in the religious observation of “Fat Tuesday” (the literal translation of the name), which is the day before “Ash Wednesday” on the Catholic calendar, and the start of Lent’s 40 days of dietary restrictions. People would bid “farewell to flesh” with a “carnivale” where they would indulge in the meat and drink they were about to forswear. Mardi Gras is the New Orleans, Louisiana, variation on this tradition — which is echoed in other cities from Venice, Italy to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Over the centuries, the religious significance has been stripped away, and most Mardi Gras revelers attend for strictly secular reasons — namely, epic quantities of booze, beads, and bare breasts. About 20 years ago, Universal took a look at the festivities and said, “This will make a fine family friendly event,” and amazingly it is — minus the bare breasts, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic; much as Universal partnered with Macy’s for its holiday parade, Universal engages Blaine Kern Studios, the same company that’s been building floats for the real deal since 1947, to create the park’s parade platforms. And musicians and recipes imported from the Big Easy add to the French Quarter feel. Of course, the real Bourbon Street doesn’t have concerts from big-name recording artists after each parade, much less a high-speed roller coaster cruising by in the background.

 

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons To Check Out Universal’s Mardi Gras 2014

by on February 22, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six Reasons To Check Out Universal’s Mardi Gras Grand Celebration. The Universal Orlando Resort knows how to throw a party and Mardi Gras is their wildest celebration of the year. Universal’s Mardi Gras brings in big name musical acts, authentic New Orleans food, and a party atmosphere like no other and on top of it all the price is included in the price of regular admission.  If you need more reasons than that to attend, here are an additional six.

Please remember to click on any picture to see the full size version.

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Daughtry (photo courtesy of Chad Evetts)

# 6 – The Concerts

The music acts that Universal books for the Mardi Gras Grand Celebration are second-to-none in the theme park concert world.  While the Epcot Flower Power series of concerts will be featuring acts like Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Village People and Chubby Checker – people  you may have literally heard a thousand times before – this year’s Mardi Gras concert lineup includes a mix of classic and contemporary artists. Daughtry, Barenaked Ladies, Weezer and The Roots are just a few of the musical acts that will be headlining this year’s event. There’s also country stars like Gavin Degraw, classic rock groups like Foreigner and Lynyrd Skynryd, and even a Christian rock band with Skillet. Whether it’s Nelly, Collective Soul, or Huey Lewis and the News, you can pretty much count on Universal delivering an act you want to see perform.

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Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 Parade Video and French Quarter Food Photo Gallery

by on February 19, 2014

Opening night at Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 parade food (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

Opening night at Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

Fat Tuesday may not arrive until March 4, according the the Catholic calendar, but Mardi Gras is already in full effect at Universal Studios Florida. Opening night on February 8 of Universal’s Mardi Gras 2014 celebration included a concert by American Idol star Daughtry, and the premiere of new Jules Verne-themed floats in the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade. Even intermittent rain didn’t diminish the considerable crowds who came out for Mardi Gras 2014‘s damp debut, though slick streets did ground the stiltwalkers.

Derek Burgan will be back in the coming weeks with a couple Mardi Gras-themed “Saturday Six” columns, but until then I wanted to bring you a virtual taste of the festivities.

First, a quick correction to our earlier Complete Guide to Mardi Gras. The original parade route map published on Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Parade page was incorrect (it has since been fixed). The parade actually makes a loop, entering and exiting at Esoteric Gate near the Horror Make-Up Show. Here is the corrected map (click to enlarge; the Mardi Gras Parade route is the red dotted line):

Mardi Gras Parade Map

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Universal Orlando Cabana Bay Pedestrian Bridge Construction Begins

by on February 11, 2014

Cabana Bay pedestrian bridge

All photos by Seth Kubersky

The first phase of Cabana Bay Beach Resort opens on March 31, 2014, and while Universal Orlando‘s first value-priced hotel will have plenty of amenities (like a 10 lane bowling alley) it won’t have water taxi transportation to the theme like the original three Loews-operated resorts. Universal will provide bus transportation from Cabana Bay to the main parking hub, but many guests will find it quicker and more convenient to walk to the attractions. In order to accommodate them, construction began last week on a new Cabana Bay pedestrian bridge, which will permit safe passage across Hollywood Way at Adventure Way.

 

This bridge sparked a bit of controversy in Orlando last year when the city council voted to fund the project’s $9 million dollar construction cost from a special taxing fund in the name of “public safety.”

Universal Orlando Cabana Bay pedestrian bridge

This corner will soon be the site of Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay pedestrian bridge.

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Video: New Beetlejuice Show Debuts at Universal Studios Florida

by on February 11, 2014

Universal Studios Florida's new Beetlejuice show video February 8.

Universal Studios Florida’s new Beetlejuice show opened February 8.

“It’s showtime!”…again at Universal Studios Florida, as a brand-new Beetlejuice show debuted on February 8, barely a month after the previous version of Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue closed in early 2014. The new production still teams up updated incarnations of Universal’s Classic Monsters with the “ghost with the most” (originally portrayed by Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s 1988 supernatural comedy) for a rock ‘n’ roll karaoke concert.

The newly revamped version brings back Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, and the Wolfman, along with their eponymous host. Added to the mix are Cleo and Phantasia, feminine reinterpretations of the Mummy and the Phantom of the Opera, along with two pairs of backup dancers in ghoulish getups. Naturally, all the music has been changed up, and now focuses on 1980′s vintage pop, including the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” The Romantics’ “What I Like About You,” and The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian.”

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Universal Dining: Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort

by on February 11, 2014

TchoupChop_SignI’m a big fan of all three of Universal’s on-site hotels but the Royal Pacific Resort is definitely my favorite. Even though I have been going to the hotel for years, I have always eaten my meals at the parks or at CityWalk. After having a terrific breakfast buffet experience at the Islands Dining Room earlier last year, I realized I needed to start checking out all the eateries at the Royal Pacific. First I tried lunch and drinks at Jake’s American Bar, followed by the Royal Pacific’s Character Breakfast (also at Jake’s). In January of this year, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop made some major changes by bringing in a new chef de cuisine, Ryan Vargas, and completely updating their lunch and dinner menus. Seth Kubersky wrote an article on the TouringPlans blog recently that explored the new menu, and that sealed the deal for me. I needed to try Tchoup Chop ASAP.

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