Universal Orlando Resort

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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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of December 9

by on December 7, 2017

Winter is coming early with a cold front all across the eastern United States, including Florida. This week debuts a new Marvel character dinner at Islands of Adventure and Blue Man Group is performing a special autism-friendly show.

Weekly Crowd Levels

The weeks between Thanksgiving and just before Christmas are one of the quietest times to visit the Orlando parks and our crowd calendar shows that. Enjoy the low wait times and have a warm Butterbeer for me.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love The Christmas Season at UNIVERSAL!

by on December 2, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Reasons We Love the Christmas Season at Universal! When it comes to the Universal Orlando Resort and holidays, the one which they are most associated with is Halloween. Each year Universal’s signature event – incredibly popular Halloween Horror Nights – somehow becomes even bigger. Many theme park guests would associate the Christmas holiday with Disney. With Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, Candlelight Processional at Epcot, and all the amazing decorations at various resorts (including the Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House and the massive Christmas tree at the Wilderness Lodge,) WDW is loaded with festive Christmas spirit. However, over the past few years Universal has quietly put together a great Christmas package as well.

(photo by Mike Sperduto)

Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite holiday offerings at Universal, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

During most of the year, no theme park can touch The Mouse when it comes to in-park shows. Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, and even Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage are crowd pleasers of the highest order. When the calendar hits December, Universal brings out some big guns that deliver in a major way. The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is a must-see stage show presentation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and it combines elements of both the beloved animated version along with the Jim Carrey live-action film. Meanwhile Seuss Landing becomes decorated to the nth degree, and you may even run into Whos in the land putting out even more decorations!

The Grinch. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who. (photo by Brandon Glover)

“Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas Come this way”

The Grinch and Whos sing Welcome Christmas. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of December 2

by on November 30, 2017

I’ve finished the Thanksgiving leftovers and put up the decorations–it’s Christmas time! This week we’re looking at one of the quietest times of the year at Orlando theme parks, travel options between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, and more!

Weekly Crowd Levels

The weeks between Thanksgiving and just before Christmas are one of the quietest times to visit the Orlando parks and our crowd calendar shows that. Enjoy the low wait times and have a warm Butterbeer for me.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview – Week of November 25

by on November 23, 2017

The holiday bustle has begun at Universal Orlando with Thanksgiving break crowds, new holiday offerings, and peak season pricing. This week we cover the debut and widespread praise of the new Christmas offerings and answer another question pulled from the Mail Bag. Oh, and I hope you remembered to set the oven to the new temperature for the turkey.

Weekly Crowd Levels

Thanksgiving break is over and we are entering the quiet period before the Christmas vacation rush. Now is a great time to visit the parks as queue wait times are low, parks are not crowded, weather is pleasant, and Christmas events are running.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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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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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love SEUSS LANDING at Islands of Adventure

by on November 11, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Seuss Landing! One of the original six islands that comprised Islands of Adventure when it opened in 1999, the whimsical Seuss Landing created an entire land from the works of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. With the area’s over-the-top designs and bright colors, Seuss Landing faithfully recreates the fantastical worlds created in treasured books such as The Cat in The Hat, The Lorax, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Seuss Landing. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

For me personally, the works of Dr. Seuss worked in many ways like the best of The Muppets. Children like the fun characters and easy to understand stories, but underneath that there was another level that was targeting adults paying attention. Whether its skewering commercialism with the Grinch or showing the importance of environmentalism with the Lorax, Seuss was decades ahead of his contemporaries in using children’s stories to teach valuable lessons. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of Seuss Landing, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The High the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride

One of my favorite attractions in all of the Universal Orlando Resort is The High In the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! Extremely reminiscent of one of my favorite Disney rides – the Peoplemover – guests board trains and ride along an elevated track. This allows for some extremely great views of the park. Even better, there are actually two different ride experiences depending on which track you choose to take. To top it off, the ride goes through the Circus McGurkus Cafe Stupendous quick service restaurant. Disneyland has Blue Bayou overlooking Pirates of the Caribbean, EPCOT’s  Garden Grill lets us look down into Living with the Land, and Universal has the Trolley. What we really need is more rides that go through restaurants (after this article please sign my petition at Change.org).

It is also worth noting that the ride is based on the Dr. Seuss story of The Sneetches, and it could not be more relevant with today’s society.

The Hight in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! (photo by Michael Carelli)

Trolley riders get a chance to see Hulk roar by in the distance. (photo by Michael Carelli)

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of November 11

by on November 9, 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.

Hello everyone! Have you all bought your discounted Halloween candy in bulk yet? I might have stock piled three bags of Fun Size Snickers bars for the chocolate apocalypse. This week Universal is also doing their own sale, taking down all the Halloween Horror Nights 27 scare zones, and setting up for their new Christmas decorations.

Weekly Crowd Level

This week is the lull before the storm as we head into the debut of the brand new Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on November 18th and the crowds of the holiday season.

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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Universal Orlando Resort Preview — Week of November 4

by on November 2, 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.

Hi again! It’s Daylight Saving Weekend! Don’t forget to roll your clocks back one hour on Saturday night — which means an extra hour of sleep, which means you’ll be up and ready to hit the parks early Sunday, right????

Weekly Crowd Level

Detailed crowd level information can be found here.

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love PORT OF ENTRY at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

by on October 28, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six Reasons We Love PORT OF ENTRY at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. One of my favorite places at either of Universal’s two theme parks doesn’t have a single attraction or show. Port of Entry is the first official “island” you experience when walking into Islands of Adventure (IOA) and I consider it the best entry area of any theme park in North America. The layers of detail throughout the area transports guests into a world that never existed, yet somehow feels completely real.

The Pharos Lighthouse. (photo by Michael Carelli)

You have passed the gauntlet of photographers and are now entering the fabled Port of Entry. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The journey through this exotic land starts before you even hit the park, as the impressive Pharos Lighthouse stands tall outside the gates and the wonderful Ocean Trader Market theme plays in the background. I love the short walk from the Royal Pacific Resort to the park as this charming music grows louder the closer I get.

Once through the turnstiles, guests pass by the archway which promises “The Adventure Begins” and they generally make a beeline to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or quickly head over to the Hulk Coaster and Spider-Man at Marvel Superhero Island. With this edition of the Saturday Six we are going to make a plea to you, Dear Reader, to slow down on your race to the rest of the park and take a moment to take in the immersive land Universal Creative has delivered with Port of Entry. We are going to look through some of our favorite things and let’s kick off the countdown with…

# 6 –  The Love Birds

Sitting together along the walls of Port of Entry are two love birds.  These two birds actually took me a while to find myself, and I have combed over the Port of Entry many times. I had asked Team Members about them and even went to Guest Services and you would have thought I asked where the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was in the park. No one had any idea what I was talking about.

While I won’t spoil the fun in discovering where they are, I actually stumbled upon them when checking out another item on this list (there’s your only hint.)  There is a “coo-ing” playing over speakers in their area, and once you see them you’ll wonder how you missed them for so long. I would imagine this is a detail that 99.44% of IOA guests never notice, and that’s what I love about it. The term “Disney Difference” gets thrown out a lot when it comes to detail in theme parks, and while some may be wondering where the Disney Difference went at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I think they will find it in spades at IOA.

The Love Birds of IOA. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

# 5 – “Main Street Windows”

Getting a window on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom is one of the highest honors one can achieve at Walt Disney World. Whether it’s Disney family members Elias and Roy Disney, Imagineers Mary Blair and John Hench, or management like Lee Cockerell and Frank Wells, having your name in tribute on one of these windows is a theme park equivalent to having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except that they are much harder to attain and actually mean something.

Universal also pays homage to the people who helped create their resort in a variety of ways at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios FLorida, including window tributes. This particular window in Port of Entry is for “Codiga Adventures” and is referencing David Codiga, a former Executive Vice President of Universal Creative. Mr. Codiga’s most recent project was the High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas, the world’s tallest ferris wheel.

Codiga Adventures – referring to David Codiga, one of the architects of Islands of Adventure. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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