Posts Tagged ‘IOA’

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever January 28, 2016: Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Update

by on January 28, 2016

Early park admission universal Orland

Indulge your sweet tooth in this Best Week Ever update of Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando (photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

 

I hope you set your alarm clocks this morning, because this Best Week Ever is up and at ’em before daybreak to enjoy one of my favorite theme park perks. Early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is usually restricted to Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests, but throughout January annual passholders were allowed to join to early morning crowds on weekdays. At the same time, Universal has made some tweaks to the way this popular option operates, so this past week I awoke ahead of the sun to bring you the Universal Orlando Early Park Admission update.

First, the big news about Universal Orlando Early Park Admission is that it is currently offered at Universal Studios Florida only. For most of 2015, Early Park Admission was offered only at Islands of Adventure during off-peak times, and at both parks during peak holiday periods. Early in 2016, Universal returned off-peak Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida only. While communications from Universal have been inconsistent about the future EPA calendar, we currently expect Early Park Admission to remain at Universal Studios Florida only until the Easter/Spring Break peak season.

Here are some other Universal Orlando Early Park Admission updates:

  • When Universal Studios Florida opens for Early Park Admission, only Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and the attractions inside Diagon Alley (including Escape from Gringotts) are regularly open. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and Transformers may also open early if the crowds warrant, but they were not operating early during my recent visit.
  • When Islands of Adventure opens for Early Park Admission, the Hogwarts Express usually begins operating 30 minutes before Universal Studios Florida officially opens. However, when Universal Studios Florida open early, the first Hogwarts Express train depart only a few minutes before IOA’s opening hour.

 

Got all that? Great! Now, let’s take a morning stroll around the parks.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 24, 2015: Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay

by on December 24, 2015

Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation

Take a vicarious Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay with Best Week Ever (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

After my recent visit to New York City, I didn’t want my holiday vacation to end…and here at Best Week Ever, it doesn’t have to! Thanks to an amazing annual passholder discount, I was able to enjoy a single night Universal Orlando Star Wars staycation at Cabana Bay Beach Resort and celebrate the opening of The Force Awakens in CityWalk IMAX style. Don’t be jealous, because I’m bringing you all with me in today’s photo-filled recap.

 

I checked into Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort on Thursday, December 17, amid the festive retro decorations in the value-priced hotel’s Mad Men-esque lobby.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 3, 2015: Black Friday at Universal Orlando

by on December 3, 2015

black friday universal orlando best week ever

The day after Thanksgiving has become one of America’s most important secular holidays, as young and old celebrate capitalism by camping out for dirt-cheap televisions. I was also out there shopping on the big day, but in true Best Week Ever fashion I spent my Black Friday at Universal Orlando among the vacationing throngs.

I started my Black Friday shopping with a major purchase by renewing my Universal Orlando annual pass. After disconts, my Premier pass costs just under $1 per day. That’s a lot more than it was when I first became a passholder 15 years ago, but still a great value considering how quickly the parks has been adding new attractions.

 

Once inside Islands of Adventure, I was greeted by the still-jarring sight of the Incredible Hulk Coaster…or rather the lack thereof.

 

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Universal Orlando Photo Update: September 22, 2015

by on September 22, 2015

Welcome back to another photo update around the Universal Orlando Resort. This week we’ll start things off with a look at the installation of the sign on the exterior of NBC Sports Grill Brew. Over at the Studios, the archway has been decorated for Halloween Horror Nights. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for HHN coverage this week since there’s plenty of new props and merchandise to look at. Over at Islands of Adventure, we’ll take a look a look at King Kong and a Toon Lagoon shop under refurbishment. All that and much more, so let’s get going.

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Welcome to Universal Orlando.

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The facade of NBC Sports Grill Brew is now finished.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever September 3, 2015: Universal Orlando Update

by on September 2, 2015

In case you hadn’t heard, a little project I’ve been working on for most of the past year was finally published recently. Ironically, I’ve been so busy writing about Universal Orlando, and giving interviews about the book, that I haven’t had time to actually enjoy the resort in weeks. So, on the eve of my extended absence from Florida, I took one last Best Week Ever look at some Universal Orlando updates, including a couple attractions that won’t be around by the time I get back.

Universal Orlando is currently offering Early Park Admission to all Annual Passholders on weekdays in September. So my day started bright and early, before Islands of Adventure’s 8 a.m. opening. There’s no time at the parks quite as peaceful as pre-opening on a beautiful morning!

 

 

Only IOA is currently opening early entry, so the iconic lighthouse was my first destination.

 

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Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Now at Islands of Adventure Only

by on January 23, 2015

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission IOA

Universal Orlando Early Park Admission policies have changed once again. (photo by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome back to the never-ending saga of Universal Orlando Early Park Admission procedures. As of January 20, 2015, Universal has yet again adjusted the popular perk offered to their on-site hotel guests. Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which allows eligible guests into the resort’s most popular area one hour before the general public, is now restricted to only Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.

A quick recap: IOA offered early entry hours from the time the first Harry Potter land opened in 2010 until last year. Once Diagon Alley opened last summer, both parks opened for early park admission until the summer season ended, at which point only Universal Studios Florida was opened. This made sense, as most guests are primarily interested in the new Diagon Alley, and early park admission was the best time by far to experience Escape from Gringotts without a lengthy wait.

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

by on December 21, 2013

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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 Dining: Backwater Bar at Islands of Adventure

by on November 16, 2013

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Backwater Bar

During my most recent visit to Islands of Adventure a friend and I decided to eat lunch at the Backwater Bar, which is part of Confisco Grille. I’ve eaten there a few times before and wanted to give it another try, as it’s what I consider to be the best bang for your buck restaurant in IOA.  The best part about eating in the Backwater Bar is that you don’t have to wait for a table; you can just walk up to the bar and order food along with a wide array of drinks. Guests can eat at the bar or sit at one of the few tables inside the bar space. There is also a large patio outside with covered tables where guests can enjoy their drinks on days with favorable weather. You may notice the large signage out front that includes what appears to be an ad for the Seagram company. Many guests don’t realize that Seagram owned Universal Studios in the late 1990s, when IOA was built.

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The actual Backwater Bar

If you’re looking for a fine adult beverage in IOA, look no further. Backwater has a few draft beers as well as a variety of bottled beers and a full selection of top shelf liquors. There are daily specials on margaritas and other mixed drinks. Whenever I see Shock Top on draft, I have to have it. It has a smooth citrusy flavor and comes with a slice of orange; and because it comes with an orange, that means its good for you, right? Pressing on…

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