Posts Tagged ‘Grinchmas’

Dani’s Best Week Ever December 8, 2016: First Universal Orlando Visit in 20 Years

by on December 8, 2016

Experiencing a theme park for the first time is an eye opening experience. If there is any downside at all to being a frequent theme park visitor it is that the excitement and thrill of the first time quickly gives way to the comfort of the familiar. But really, that’s not actually a problem is it? This weekend I had the privilege of taking my mother to Universal Orlando for her first visit in 20 years. This day in the parks together is one of the best days I ever had in a theme park in my entire life, especially now that Universal Holidays have begun!


Good morning, Universal Studios Florida

It is a rare occasion in which I find myself in a theme park in the morning, but since this would be my mom’s one and only visit to Universal Orlando I wanted to make sure we got as much done as possible. When we arrived to CityWalk something told me to check at the Concierge booth across from Cinnabon to see if they could print my mother’s will call ticket.

I’ve found that the services provided at this Concierge booth depend on the specific skill set and willingness of the team member working at this location. On this occasion the team member kindly obliged and printed off my mom’s ticket, and explained that the ticket system was down at the parks so the lines at the ticket windows and Guest Services were quite long. Sure enough when we made it to the entrance we saw such sights.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort for December 22, 2013 (Antojitos, Blues Brothers Christmas, NBA City)

by on December 24, 2013


Antojitos concept art

This week Universal NOW‘s Brandon Glover and I went to the Universal Orlando Resort to experience Grinchmas and see the latest construction work at CityWalk and Universal Studios Florida. We also wanted to see the Blues Brothers Holiday Show. We had heard a lot of great things about this show and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. Spoiler Alert: it does, but more on that later. Lastly, we were determined to finally go into NBA City and check out the legendary Towering Cheesecake dessert.

Our first stop was the upcoming Mexican restaurant Antojitos.  Earlier this month, Morgan Crutchfield was at the Universal press event that detailed the upcoming dining venues including Antojitos. Her writeup of the event details all the upcoming restaurants in the massive CityWalk renovation, including concept art for each.


Antojitos, the former home of Latin Quarter

The above picture was taken on a Friday and the one below was taken on Sunday. Universal is using a lot of color on the outside of this restaurant. I personally don’t like it. The overuse of color is perfect in Seuss Landing, but – to me – just seems out of place in CityWalk.  I think the front of this restaurant looks gorgeous and all the wacky colors just take away from it. Maybe I’m alone on the island on that one though. I am looking forward to trying the restaurant out as I’m a huge fan of freshly made guacamole and quality Mexican food.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Reasons We Loved Universal’s 2013 Holiday Celebrations

by on December 21, 2013


A vile monster with a brain full of spiders and the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile. Also pictured: The Grinch

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Reasons We Loved Universal’s 2013 Holiday Celebrations. While Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) has become the premier Halloween event in Orlando, many people don’t realize that Universal’s Christmas offerings are pretty good, as well. Disney raises a high bar with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the Osborne Family’s Spectacle of Dancing Lights, but Universal’s offerings of Grinchmas in Islands of Adventure and Macy’s Holiday Parade in Universal Studios Florida are two unique events which – unlike HHN – can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Grinchmas transforms Seuss Landing in IOA in almost every way possible, with new characters appearing within the area, a new stage show, and decorations seemingly on everything (and we mean everything). Meanwhile, USF displays gigantic balloons throughout the park, has several incredible musical offerings, and delivers the goods with the signature Macy’s Holiday Parade. There is a lot of stuff to choose from, but today we’re going to narrow the list down and look at our six favorite things from this year’s holiday celebration.

(Remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size.)

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Universal Orlando Holidays: Your Complete Guide to Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade

by on December 12, 2013

While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, and other seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World seem to get the lion’s share of publicity this time of year, visitors to Orlando shouldn’t overlook Universal Orlando‘s holiday offerings. Universal Orlando holidays might not have quite the nostalgic lure of Mickey’s merrymaking, but Universal’s options are every bit as expertly produced, and have the benefit of all being included with regular park admission (unlike the extra-cost “hard ticket” nighttime parties at the Magic Kingdom).

Universal Orlando’s holiday lineup, which kicks off the first weekend each December (unlike Disney, which starts Christmas almost before Halloween is over) and continues through the Saturday after New Year’s Eve, consists of two main components, described in detail below.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort for November 27, 2013 (Christmas decorations, construction, Red Oven Pizza Bakery)

by on December 1, 2013

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express, the first ever attraction that travels between two separate theme parks

Time for a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort. Seth Kubersky covered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley in his photo update earlier this week, so check out the first edition of his PotterWatch 2.0 for construction updates, rumors, and pictures.

Universal still has not released on any dates on when  the Potter area will open, but we may have been given a little bit of a hint earlier this week thanks to an interview with Loews hotels chairman Jonathan Tisch. While talking to CNBC (which you can watch here), Tisch said that the upcoming 1,800 room Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal would be:

“The largest hotel under construction in the world outside of China. Phase One will open April 1, 600 rooms. The rest of the hotel by June, when Harry Potter 2 opens.” – Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels Chairman

On the Universal website, Cabana Bay is having “preview pricing” that ends on June 14, 2014. That’s another red flag that they expect demand to go up in June. Here’s an example of what type of savings you can get for a Family Suite at Universal compared to Disney. I booked out a room from April 12-18 for 2 adults and 4 children at both Cabana Bay and Disney’s Art of Animation resort. The cheapest room at Cabana Bay was $232.00 a night, compared to the cheapest room at AoA at $498.76. After taxes, this particular week at Cabana Bay would cost a family $1572.06, while AoA would cost $2992.53.

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