Harry Potter

Universal Orlando Preview — Week of January 13, 2018

by on January 11, 2018

Autobots, roll out.

We are in the middle of winter in North America, but Universal is turning up the heat by announcing an amazing Mardi Gras concert line up. This week we also cover what activities guests can find at resort hotels, The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle coming to Islands of Adventure, and a new character breakfast at Sapphire Falls.

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Universal Orlando Preview – Week of January 6, 2018

by on January 5, 2018

Orlando is letting out a collective sigh as the holiday and marathon season comes to a close. Crowds are receding and decorations are being packed up all around the resort. Universal is looking forward towards A Celebration of Harry Potter, Mardis Gras, Fast & Furious Supercharged, and beyond.

Universal Orlando recently teased more announcements this year:

  • New nighttime show in Universal Studios Florida and nighttime projection show on Hogwarts Castle
  • Replacements for Dragon Challenge and T2:3D
  • CityWalk additions
  • What’s up with Nintendo?

2018 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting time for the resort.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of November 18

by on November 16, 2017

Hello everyone, it’s my favorite time of the year: Thanksgiving! My turkey is purchased and I’ve assembled a spreadsheet of the start times and temperatures for each dish. At Universal Orlando it’s full steam ahead to Christmas as their holiday entertainment begins this Saturday, November 18th.

Weekly Crowd Levels

With Thanksgiving this week groups are traveling on vacation to Orlando. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday are the busiest days with this coming weekend being the lightest on crowds. Saturday begins Universal’s new Christmas offerings, so expect locals to come out to see the new shows and parade. Additionally our own math wizard Fred Hazelton crunched the numbers and found that crowd levels at the Orlando parks are larger than normal for November.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of October 14

by on October 12, 2017

The Universal Orlando Preview is brought to you by Storybook Destinations. Storybook Destinations specializes in Disney and Universal travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.

So you survived Friday the 13th….sounds like you deserve some playtime!

Weekly Crowd Level

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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SATURDAY SIX: Wizarding World Merchandise Straight Out of the Harry Potter Movies

by on April 29, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Wizarding World Merchandise Straight Out of the Harry Potter Movies! We all have our favorite parts of Universal’s Wizarding World. Some love the world class attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Others love the incredible shows like Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. Of course, pretty much everyone loves BUTTERBEER. However, one aspect of the Wizarding World’s immersive theming isn’t discussed as much as everything else, but it is just as important to the overall experience. Merchandise. Now, that may sound crazy at first. In fact, it’s something that both Spaceballs and The Simpsons have made fun of, but in the case of the Wizarding World it’s something real. Muggles walking out of Diagon Alley are loaded down with bags because Universal has delivered on items straight out of the films. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite pieces of merchandise and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Ron and Harry Sweaters (Madame Malkin’s)

Our first piece of merchandise comes from, appropriately enough, the first Harry Potter film. In Sorcerer’s Stone, Mrs. Weasley sends sweaters to Ron and Harry for Christmas. It is a nice moment in the movie because Harry has unbridled glee just when he discovers he is actually getting presents. In Diagon Alley, you can get your own Ron or Harry sweater at Madame Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions.

Ron and Harry sweaters. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Ron wears his sweater from mum in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Harry is only seen wearing his sweater in this deleted scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

While in Madame Malkin’s, another piece of clothing to add to your wardrobe is the sweater Neville Longbottom wears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. This is the same sweater Neville wore while giving his heartfelt speech before drawing the Sword of Gryffindor on Lord Voldemort.

Wearing this Neville Longbottom sweater and you too may feel like you can “spit fire.” (photo by Brandon Glover)

Neville Longbottom in one of the most courageous moments of the entire series in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.

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Harry Potter Christmas Experience Announced for Universal Orlando

by on April 13, 2017

I think it’s the Gospel of Luke that, in chronicling the birth of Jesus, quotes Lysanias of Abeline saying “Verily, I say unto you, this day shall be commemorated with a totally awesome video projection show. And maybe dragons.”

Universal Orlando fulfilled that millennia-old prophecy today by announcing a new, Harry Potter-themed Christmas event for its two theme parks. The new event will run from November 18, 2017 through January 6, 2018. It includes new holiday decor and food adapted from the Harry Potter novels, plus a new nighttime video projection show – also inspired by the books – to be displayed on Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure. The video projection simulation looks promising in the video. And Universal does a pretty good-to-great job with the food offerings in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, so new menus are something to look forward to as well.

The announcement also includes updates to Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. My favorite part of the whole announcement is where Macy’s is referred to as “the global leader in balloon entertainment.” I had no idea there was an official ranking system for this. I’d like to see the belt that the title-holder gets to wear. If you happen to be sitting in spots 2 through 10, now you know what you’re up against.

TBT: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2015

by on November 23, 2016

Greetings! TouringPlans.com Blog Manager Brian here to welcome you to the continuation of TBT: Throwback Thanksgiving week here on the blog. All this week we will be revisiting a few wonderful Thanksgiving-related posts from the past. This wonderful entry from 2015 highlighting the six things that Derek Burgan gave thanks for during that year.

Make sure you come back Thursday at 9:00am for this years items to give thanks for!

 

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2015 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Selfie Stick Ban at Walt Disney World

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no_more_selfie_sticks_pamphlet_sethIf you noticed any #Millenials or narcissists wearing black armbands this summer, it was because after banning selfie sticks on Disney attractions earlier in the spring, Walt Disney World completely banned the use of selfie sticks at the parks. Seemingly out of nowhere, the edict came down right after another high profile news story of Disney California Adventure’s California Screamin’ roller coaster being stopped mid ride because of a guest using a selfie stick. On June 26th, WDW guests were given a pamphlet at the parking plaza explaining the selfie stick ban, signage was displayed on the walkways to the parks along with bag check explaining the new policy.

The selfie stick ban was definitely a controversial move to be sure. Universal had earlier become more strict on preventing selfie sticks on rides, but Disney outright stopped people from even entering the park with them. Now we joked earlier about only kids and narcissists using them, the truth is that selfie sticks have become increasingly popular across almost all demographics. While people using selfie sticks inside the parks can be a nuisance, they were starting to become a serious safety factor on attractions. You may have seen what is called an Envelope of Protection as Imagineers test out the attractions. This device makes sure that all the attractions are safe for every rider, basically simulating the possible reach of every guest in the ride vehicle. This is why while it may seem like your may lose your arms in Space Mountain if you hold them up during the ride, but in actuality you are nowhere close to hitting anything. What the Envelope of Protection doesn’t take into account though, is guests holding on to anything that extends their reach.

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TBT: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2014

by on November 21, 2016

Greetings! TouringPlans.com Blog Manager Brian here to welcome you to TBT: Throwback Thanksgiving week here on the blog. All this week we will be revisiting a few wonderful Thanksgiving-related posts from the past. Starting us off is this gem from 2014 highlighting the six things that Derek Burgan gave thanks for during that year.

Make sure you come back Thursday at 9:00am for this years items to give thanks for!

 

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2014 was a great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning, to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, I ask that Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Disney and Universal Merchandise is Better than Ever

It wasn’t long ago, that the only merchandise people were buying at Universal were Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts. Over at Disney, almost every single store, whether in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney, was selling the same generic”Disney Parks”stuff. A seismic shift started to occur in 2010, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, and blew the doors off everyone’s projections in the area of merchandise and Butterbeer. Guests were now walking out of Universal with house robes, wands and chocolate frogs in hand. This success was then repeated throughout both of their theme parks, with unique and exclusive items found everywhere you looked, from the EVAC action figure at Transformers gift shop, to the faux girl scout cookies in Despicable Me’s Super Silly Store, to my personal favorite – The Film Vault –  a whole new store focusing on retro merchandise.

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Jungle Cruise merchandise found at the Marketplace Co-op in Downtown Disney. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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SATURDAY SIX: The Six Best Queues at the Universal Orlando Resort

by on October 1, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Queues at the Universal Orlando Resort. If there is one thing all theme park fans can agree with, it’s that we hate lines. Even people who aren’t theme park fans often return from an Orlando vacation with a similar thought: theme park lines are the worst. Thankfully our Disney and Universal overlords have spent the last decade completely transforming the queue experience. Disney, putting Billions into MyDisneyExperience and FastPass+, are attempting to get guests to spend less time in lines (in hopes that we have more time in places where we spend money.) Universal has gone in a slightly different direction, creating queues that guests actually want to spend more time in. The concept of “feeling rushed” in a theme park line may seem incomprehensible to anyone who has waited an hour in the Florida humidity for it’s a small world or suffered through the mind-numbing banality of the Soarin’ queue, but believe it or not, it’s true.

But which of Universal’s queues are the best? We polled some of the biggest names in Universal fandom (including Seth Kubersky – author of the Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando – Orlando United, Parkscope, the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast and more) and have tabulated the results. So sit back, look out for the neuralyzer at the end, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Men In Black: Alien Attack

The queue for Men In Black: Alien Attack checks off several items we consider crucial to having a good queue, not the least of which is that you are in air conditioning for a long time. That may seem like a minor thing until you’ve almost experienced the sensation of melting while waiting outside for The Simpsons Ride or Rip, Ride, Rockit. It also recreates several areas that many guests will fondly remember from the first Men in Black film. But one of our favorite parts of this queue is that you can actually experience it hands on with a tour of the Immigration Room. Guests aren’t guaranteed this opportunity, but after riding you can ask a Team Member if you can take a tour. This will allow you some unbelievably great photo opportunities, along with a chance to see so many incredible details that Universal Creative has put into this room that the average guest will never see.

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Immigration room at Men In Black: Alien Attack. (photo by Travis Terrell)

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Men In Black: Alien Attack. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Men in Black: Alien Attack. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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The Weapons Room. (photo by Travis Terrell)

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Celebration of Harry Potter 2017

by on August 19, 2016

Universal Orlando's A Celebration of Harry Potter returns for 2017. Image ©Universal

Universal Orlando’s A Celebration of Harry Potter returns for 2017. Image ©Universal

Hello, Muggles! Universal Orlando has announced its dates and vacation package prices for a Celebration of Harry Potter 2017. This very popular event happens January 27-29, 2017, at Universal Orlando resort. Folks who purchase a vacation package will have access to ticketed events other attendees will not.

There are many ways to experience this event from buying the whole vacation package, to including it in your already scheduled Universal vacation, to experiencing it as a day guest. For the most part, the Harry Potter activities are concentrated in Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.

Here is some of our previous coverage of a Celebration of Harry Potter:

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