Universal Orlando Resort

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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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Can’t Wait To See in 2018

by on January 6, 2018

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2018! 2017 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world (in some ways literally.) Containing a wide mix of The GoodThe Bad, and The Ugly, 2017 delivered in some major ways, including Pandora: The World of Avatar and Volcano Bay. For the most part 2018 looks to be a transition year in Orlando, as Disney prepares for the oncoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Universal moves chess pieces around for Nintendo, along with a possible third theme park on all the land it bought over the course of the last several years. That’s not to say nothing is coming in the next 12 months. In fact some really cool stuff is coming to our theme park world. Here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…

# 6 – The “New” Old Port Royale at Caribbean Beach

Driving through Disney’s Caribbean Beach right now you’d think you had entered a war zone, but it won’t be long before the resort finishes its transformation. In 2019, the resort will offer a huge DVC location along with being the main hub of the Disney Skyliner transportation. This year Caribbean Beach will be bringing back a completely refreshed Old Port Royale. The massive refurbishment completely changes the look and feel of the original area, and will now be where guests check into the resort. Shutters will now offer waterfront dining, and the newly expanded Banana Cabana pool bar is going to be a great place to get a drink while you enjoy the Fuentes del Morro pool (one of the best themed pools at WDW.)

Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

Shutters at Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

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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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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2017 (No Matter How Hard We Try)

by on December 30, 2017

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2017 (No Matter How Hard We Try). With the new year upon us, it is time for another SATURDAY SIX annual tradition of looking back at some of the most “memorable moments” of the previous year. Now we already covered some of the great things that happened during the past 365 days, and some of the worst as well, so today let’s look at six theme park stories that fall into a different area. Events that are almost hard to believe actually happened, but we promise they did, and we’re here with the proof. So let’s kick it off with…

# 6 – That Time Disney Wanted To Change The Name of DHS

Believe it or not, a lot goes into the actual naming of our beloved theme parks. You may think, “it can’t be that big of a deal,” but in 1999 when Universal opened Islands of Adventure, it rebranded the entire resort as Universal Orlando Escape. Many potential guests were confused by the new name, not realizing Universal had opened a completely new park, and instead thought they had just added some new attractions to Universal Studios Florida. The mistake cost Universal dearly, and weren’t on solid footing again until a decade later with the opening of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently going through a massive changeover. Originally created in the late ’80s solely to cut the legs out from the coming Universal Studios Florida, the park has completely moved away from its opening day purpose of providing guests a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are made. The “new” DHS will a lot more like most other parks, just a collection of cool rides, all having absolutely nothing relating an overarching theme for the park. So late this summer a survey was conducted to gauge reaction on some possible new names for the park. Names such as Disney Kaleidoscope Park, Disney XL Park, and Disney Storyverse Park were offered as options.  These names may seem odd to you, Dear Reader, but there is an actual industry term for them: next level bananas.

(photo by @MickeyViews)

If this part of the survey doesn’t have you remembering back to the “Itchy & Scratchy focus group“, nothing will. (photo by @MickeyViews)

I could sign off on this one. (photo by Rob Yeo)

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of December 30

by on December 28, 2017

The holidays are underway at Universal Orlando, but we look ahead to the first few days of 2018. Toast the new year at Universal with EVE at CityWalk, enjoy one last meal at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, and see Blue Man Group with discounted tickets.

Weekly Crowd Levels


Holiday crowds are at Universal Orlando. Expect crowded park areas, long lines for food and drink, and long waits for attractions. See wait times and create touring plans in the Lines App for Universal Orlando.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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A SATURDAY SIX Look At Christmas Through The Magic of Movies!

by on December 23, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Christmas through the Magic of Movies! The SATURDAY SIX and movies go together like pepperoni and pizza, chocolate and peanut butter, and insects and lollipops (well, maybe not the last one.) We’ve done articles on Avatar, Star Wars, and even the Disney animated film library. This week we’re going to look at our favorite genre of Hollywood, Christmas movies. Every Thanksgiving we pull all of our Christmas stuff out of the garage, and among that junk those annual traditions is our treasured box of Christmas DVDs. Pretty much every night until Christmas itself you’ll find us watching timeless classics such as Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Elf, The Grinch Who Stole ChristmasEmmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite Christmas films, several of which have tie-ins to the theme park world we know. Let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Now That Disney Owns DIE HARD, A Few Changes May Need To Be Made To The Christmas Classic…

The Die Hard franchise is famously known for television stations working overtime on “creative” ways to coverup the movie’s curse words. With Disney now in charge of the brand, there’s a chance something else needs to be made more family friendly: the film’s liberal use of guns. Readers may remember it was just two years ago this very month when Disney began to remove all guns from property. This new mandate included bubble guns sold at the outdoor kiosks. So while we still may have the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade and the cold steel wielded by Jungle Cruise skippers, you won’t find any guns at the gift shops (they all went to the Outlets, and we mean all of them.)

With a little Disney Magic, we can make one scene in particular more “family friendly.”

Die Hard. (art by Matt Cleary)

Die Hard. (art by Matt Cleary)

# 5 – Meanwhile, Universal Prepares To Deliver A New Gift For Its Fans

Like Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story, each of us had that One Special Gift we always wanted growing up. For me, it was a Han Solo blaster.

For theme park fans, our precious theme park rides of years past have been pushed aside for 3-4 minute “experiences” that must be based around an intellectual property. On Christmas Eve, our silent wish will be for the rides we used to get.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of December 23

by on December 21, 2017

The Christmas crowds have descended on Universal Orlando Resort this week. Also, this is the last full week of operation of Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Royal Pacific Resort and the $45 Blue Man Group ticket offer. Grab some cookies, and let’s get planning.

Weekly Crowd Levels

If you must visit the resort this week, go on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the year in Orlando. Expect long wait times for attractions, long lines for food and drink, and crowded pedestrian areas. Please be patient and extra nice to Team Members this week as they handle the crowds.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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SATURDAY SIX: IN MEMORIAM Part 2 – A Look Back at Even More Things the Theme Parks Lost in 2017

by on December 16, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six MORE Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017. Last week on the SAT SIX we took our annual look at what the theme park world lost in 2017. This year was unlike most though, as we lost even MORE things that just couldn’t go unmentioned as several have played a huge role in our collective Disney and Universal vacations over the years. So grab a box of Kleenex and get ready to pour out a 40 for some dear old friends, starting with…

# 6 – Old Port Royale

Old Port Royale was the main hub of Caribbean Beach and contained a food court, arcade, large gift shop, and the table service restaurant Shutters. The food court had several different stations, all set up like a Caribbean port town market. The entire food court, including the large seating area across the way, was very colorful. The nearby Shutters restaurant offered Caribbean fare, and while it wasn’t destination dining for your average Disney guest, it was more than acceptable for those staying at the resort.

Currently Caribbean Beach is going through a massive renovation that will include a DVC building that will allow guests a view of Epcot’s IllumiNations nighttime spectacular. Old Port Royale will be returning during the summer of 2018, and when it does it will be the area where guests also check into the resort (which was formerly done at the resort’s Custom House.) The reimagined Shutters will be coming back as well, this time with waterside dining.


Old Port Royale food court.


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Universal Orlando Weekly Preview — Week of December 16

by on December 15, 2017

Hear that distant drum beat? It’s the sign the holidays are approaching (or are occurring, Happy Hanukkah) and with it comes cooler weather, increased prices, and terrifying crowds. This week we take a photo tour of the holidays at Universal Orlando, start a new segment “Small Universe”, and preview the week to come.

Weekly Crowd Levels

We’re entering Christmas season at Universal Orlando and the crowd calendar shows to expect long lines and crowded pathways. Make sure to pack your patience.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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Holidays Around the Parks: Universal Orlando Edition

by on December 13, 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to visit the theme parks – from a decorative standpoint that is. Last time I took you on a tour of Holidays Around the World at Epcot, but today we’ve taken a short trip up I-4 to check out the holiday cheer at Universal Orlando. Both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios parks have their own major attractions, with Seuss Landing transformed into Whoville, and the Macy’s Holiday Parade moving through the streets of Universal Studios. Oh, and there will be plenty of Potter along the way.

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