My Universal Photos Program

What’s New with My Universal Photos

The Universal Orlando’s photo program (Universal Photo Connect, until July 11, 2016) has always been a tough experience. Visitors opting for the service are often subjected to a difficult time collecting, viewing and sharing photos of their happiest moments at the Universal Orlando Parks. It’s sad that unlike the more advance Disney PhotoPass service, the Universal’s photo program is quite a lacklustre affair for the user.

With such bizarre features, including short expiration times, not so friendly online system, and unexpected pricing models to name a few, there is only one conclusion to this – terminate the Program… and so did the Resort. Thanks to Universal Orlando as it finds its own special version of PhotoPass Memory Maker with the all new My Universal Photos program now.

With My Universal Photos guests can have either of the two different photo capturing services. First, is the 1-day Photo Package that includes one day of unlimited digital downloads of your pictures taken during the park day, and also include a themed lanyard and discounts of other photo products in the parks. This special photo package is exclusively made available for online purchase only, and is offered at $69.99 if booked in advanced.

Universal Photos

universal-photos

The 3-Day Photo package, on the other hand will facilitate you with the best of all the photo capturing features, downloading and discount services for three consecutive days, including a 4×6 print and a 5×7 or 8×10 print photo for free, and additional discounts of photo prints in the parks. The three day Package comes to you at $89.99 if purchased in advance.

The special lanyard on either of the package includes a card that needs to be scanned every time a park-photographer takes a picture. It can be also scanned once you had done with an attraction that has on-ride photo options like the one at the Harry Potter ride or at the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman for that matter. Moreover, when it comes to most memorable photo locations the Resort offers plenty of those. Truly, whether it’s Universal Studios Florida or the Islands of Adventure section of the Resort, photo op locations galore for Universal Orlando fans.

Given its popularity and importance as a record breaking theme park in Orlando, the launch of My Universal Photos is definitely a competitive move on part of Universal. The new photo program is quite similar to that of Disney’s PhotoPass system now. It has scope to reach out for more by adding a better option for the annual pass-holders as well. And I hope like Disney, Universal will be having its own version of expanded Memory Maker option for the pass-holders in the recent future.

rivers of light - disney animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom’s New Rivers of Light Is Still to See Its Day of Light

The nights at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Park are getting brighter with premium nighttime events and activities, but the sensational light show – Rivers of Light is yet to see its dawn. We have an ever-increasing number of Animal Kingdom lovers waiting to celebrate this specially -themed nighttime light show by Disney. Given the follow ups since the first announcement, the all new, one of a kind, exclusive nighttime spectacular is supposed to make theme park headlines about its grand opening by now. However, destiny suggests otherwise.

Today fans are more desperate to know the future of this yet to be launched nighttime attraction. Not that the imagineers are not serious about the project (ever since the first announcement is made) or in handling the preparations for its opening for that matter. But who knows the fate is already scripted. At present the launch of this attraction is confined to some unavoidable delays – might be some technical difficulties, or other internal issues, we don’t know what exactly the cause of this indefinite delay. As theme park lover it hurts to face such unfortunate situations in life. Truly, we have a favorite attraction being postponed until further notice, and sadly there is no new launch date announced as of yet.

When it comes to pending projects, Disney is the one with a long list of unfortunate attractions – future plans and expansions that had been announced with great anticipation only to be cancelled and lost later with nothing to be heard about it. They are history now and moreover, it’s seen that the poor attractions are being wiped out/vanished from the pages of the company’s website as well. Which is not the case with Rivers of Light though. Despite being elusive about its opening, it’s very much there, gracing the official Disney website page dedicated to it. Despite the fear, I hope Rivers of Light will come and definitely light up the skies of Animal Kingdom at night soon.

rivers of light - asian tiger

rivers of light – asian tiger

Rivers of Light is the highlight of the new 2016 summer offerings by Disney World Animal Kingdom. The company had revealed that Rivers of Light will be located at the Discovery River in the Asia section of the Park. The new nighttime show is based on an ancient lantern festival headed by two awe-inspiring storytellers. Beside the storytellers, there will be four animal spirits as well – an Asian Tiger, Tropical Turtle, Great Horned Owl and an African Elephant that keeps returning at different stages during the show to guide you on your journey through the Rivers of Light.

Volcano Bay - Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando: Volcano Bay Tickets on Sale Soon

Universal Orlando’s newest water-park offering – the Volcano Bay is yet to make its official debut, but for guests visiting the place next summer it’s time to collect the tickets already. The Resort is all set to bring out the tickets for visitors, traveling on dates starting June 2017. There will be a special 3-park Explorer ticket as well, offering access to Volcano Bay and the two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure).

Often referred to as Universal Orlando’s third theme park, Volcano Bay features a total of 18 exclusive attractions in four themed areas, spread over 28 acres of lush, tropical oasis. Named after the colossal volcano Krakatau, the first of the themed area is home to the towering 200 ft. tall Volcano itself and features first of its kind marquee attraction (detail and specification on this is yet to come). Also to be seen three body slides with surprise drops by the rear of the Volcano. It also houses the world’s only water slide experience that enables fans to travel through a pool filled with guests. The Ko’okiri Body Plunge that offers you an exhilarating 70 degree drop, 125 foot down through the volcano and guest pool.

Volcano Bay - Wave Pool

Volcano Bay – Wave Pool

Located at the base of the Volcano is the next themed area – Wave Village, features a multi-directional wave pool with sand beach namely the Waturi Beach with one or two story cabanas. Besides the leisure pool Reef makes a great view for guests wanted to stay away from the waves but don’t want to miss those crazy actions down the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.

Again the serene river portion of the Park is where the third themed area, namely the River Village is located. It features the Kopiko Wai Winding River that passes through the Volcano caves with breath-taking water effects and night-time display of lights. With play area such as Tot Tiki Reef, including tslides and kid-size volcano, this is one area that will attract families most.

Finally, with thrills such as Maku, the area under Rainforest Village is another exciting break for adventure ride lovers at Volcano Bay. Maku is North America’s first ever – saucer ride attraction that has rafting fans go speeding around three saucer – shaped curves. Rainforest Village also offers other rafting alternatives to guests such as the Puihi – the muOhlti-passenger raft ride with zero gravity drop. For the fearless few, TeAwa The Fearless River offers the perfect setting to keep the thrill get going. And once done with the rides and adventures just make your way over to Puka Uli Lagoon for a relaxing break.

Mako ride

The Mako Ride –Thrill Seekers Newest Pride

So you think you fear the shark, you don’t have to do that again. For now it’s time to conquer the underwater monster once and for all. Again, if you are a fan of it and love to admire the sea monster, then there is no better way to do that, other than visiting the SeaWorld Orlando Resort this summer. Thanks to the premier marine Resort, in creating such a unique ride experience right in the heart of the most exclusive section of the Park – I mean the area dedicated to the sharks, namely the Shark Wreck Reef.

shark wreck reef

shark wreck reef

Ride enthusiasts might have come across other bigger hyper-coasters in different parts of the country, but in Orlando Mako is the new hero in town. While it flaunts all the features of a true hyper-coaster, it’s certainly the fastest, tallest and longest attraction of its kind in Orlando till date. We know that the Orlando Parks never stop bringing in the best of thrills. There has never been a dull moment for thrill seekers. But the opportunity to get acquainted with such extremes of a ride in all departments – be it in height, speed and miles of daring tracks, including ample air-time, all in one single shark inspired coaster attraction. With Mako being officially launched now the much needed void of a super hyper-coaster is filled.

As the name suggest, the new SeaWorld Orlando ride is a true incarnation of the apex predator himself. Like the Mako shark the riders on-board the new coaster will conquer the oceans of the SeaWorld, surging through the waters, going up to a never-ending height of 200 ft. and down into the depth with a deadly drop at a killer speed of 73 mph. Truly, when thrill comes in such merciless designs, the result is an insane ride experience.

Almost 3 exhilarating minutes of speed, plenty of air-times, and goose bumps, the new ride is a test of senses. The sight of the huge coaster structure itself is enough to pump up your heartbeats. You may board the ride vehicle with your friends but nothing will prepare you for the most anticipated moments ahead. As it slowly start crawling up and up to a spine-shivering peak you might want to hold those precious breaths before that insane drop leaves you breathless for several minutes even after you and your friends have left the site.

shark conservation info

shark conservation info


During the ride the floating sensation is immensely felt by the riders. If you are a fan of speed and airtime Mako is just the right shot for you. And don’t forget at the helm of all this hair-raising and heart pumping initiative it’s the growing concern about the sharks and their struggling existence today.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Skull Island: Reign of Kong – All Set to Rule Universal Orlando this Summer

It has been quite a wait for the King Kong fans at Universal Orlando. Ever since the Resort had closed the Kongfrontation ride, expectations keep growing for a new and much bigger Kong attraction. But now with the construction walls down the message is loud and clear. Also given the latest developments, including sights of the giant ape staring at you, it seems the adventures that follow on-board the new ride are much more than just a bunch of terrifying experiences.

A look at the tall – towering door, or the sights of skulls and those dominating glimpses of Kong in his massive best (the huge rock formation) all seem to suggest only one thing – Kong Is back and yes the epic monster is hiding there somewhere in his strange home, namely the Skull Island.

King Kong attraction Universal Orlando

King Kong attraction Universal Orlando

If you are planning a visit to Florida this summer with Universal Studios Orlando in mind, then you must include the newest King Kong ride attraction as well. Located at the Islands of Adventure section of the Resort, the new attraction will have the legendary ape in its newest avatar welcoming guests for a ride experience like never before. Thanks to Universal Orlando in bringing back the Kong experience in such majestic style. Welcome to the Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

Though the walls are down and the entire structure is visible to visitors in complete, Universal is yet to release an official opening date for the most anticipated ride attraction. The only confirmation available is that it will open in summer 2016. For now a soft opening is expected soon. This is when the ride will be opened for a limited time for live-testing.

According to information available from external sources it’s believed that the newest ride adventure is almost six minutes long, taking riders to Skull Island, on-board a specially designed vehicle. Inside the Island guests encounters many surprises, including terrifying terrains, caves and strange creatures as enemies and not to forget the surprise encounters with the massive ape himself.

Among the many highlights of the new attraction, includes the massive and most impressive – first time ever Kong animatronics by Universal. Another most notable feature of the attraction is the queue. Often considered as a theme park hassle, the ride queues make life difficult for guests. But not for this time, as Universal has defied all conventions in taking forward the queue story to the next level. In fact the queue for the attraction is an important part of the Kong adventure itself. It plays a much bigger role and the use of technically impressive scareactors tells a lot in this regard.

Is the Universal Studios Park to Park Ticket Right for You?

Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios Park to Park Tickets

Many travelers are pretty much up to speed in the fact that Universal Studios in Orlando has two parks now. There is Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Both are owned by NBC and are giving Disney a run for it’s money. Even though Disney has four theme parks, Universal has been taking a big chunk of cheese away from Mickey for a good many years. Now that Universal has Harry Potter  lands in each of their parks, travelers have been blowing of the big tickets from Disney and spending a few more days at Universal’s two parks.

If you think about the two parks, Universal and Islands of Adventure, they are now connected by the all new Hogwarts Express Train. This is Universal’s version of Disney’s Monorail system that connects Magic Kingdom and Epcot. you can either travel between parks using the train or you can exit the park and walk to the other. Both parks are located on the same property and separated by only 200 yards. If you decide to take the train, you will need the Universal Park to Park ticket or as many call it a Universal Studios Hopper Pass.

Universal Studios Orlando Florida

Hogwart’s Express Train

If you are the type of traveler who likes to have unfettered access while on vacation, then the Park to Park ticket will be for you! Not only will it allow you to move freely between the two park but it will allow you to enjoy the Hogwart’s Express Train Ride which is an actual ride unlike Disney’s Monorail. This ride features some of your most favourite characters from the Harry Potter movies. It’s also a great way to cool off and travel like the student do on their way to wizard school.

Some people are just fine with not hopping and couldn’t care less about some stupid train ride for a movie they never saw. Well then the Universal Base ticket is the ticket for you. You can visit the park of your choice and spend the whole day there of you can leave and have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe for instance and re-enter back into the park you were in earlier. Whichever ticket you choose, you are sure to have a fantastic time while making memories that last a lifetime!

 

Orlando’s National Treasure Right Next Door at The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex

Travelers from around the world come to Central Florida everyday. Most visitors are not aware that Orlando has a very unique national treasure within an hours drive, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex. Mixed in with the Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, Kennedy Space Center was here before them all. When you say NASA to pretty much anyone on the planet, they understand what and where you are talking about. This was the place to be back in the late 1960’s as this was the place where we sent our brave astronauts to the moon,

The Kennedy Space Visitors Complex in Cocoa Beach, Florida is only about a 50 minute ride from the Orlando attractions. The entire experience can be visited in a day while some spend a few days engaged in their behind the scene’s adventures. If one was a science and space admirer, then there are a few very things one could do to make their dreams of spaceflight come true while staying here on good old terra firma. First and foremost the standard KSC ticket gets you pretty the whole shabang! This ticket will allow you to visit the welcome center where they have the rocket garden, IMAX-3D, Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit with the Shuttle Launch Experience as well gift shops and places to grab a bite to eat.

The next step of the adventure will take you on a restricted area tour that transports you by bus to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here you can stay as long as you like while observing a real life Saturn V rocket that is on display. Have you ever wanted to touch the moon? Here you can do just that. Touch the moon and talk with actual Astronauts about their experiences flying in space. If you are one of the lucky travelers on a special day of a rocket launch, the Saturn V building is the place to be. Check with the current calendar for these once in a lifetime opportunities!

If the general admission ticket is not enough, check out the upgrades and have lunch with an astronaut. Here you will have a buffet lunch all while listening to a guest astronaut speak of their space explorations. You can even ask that question you have always wanted to know about traveling in space! Next you can check out the KSC- Up-Close Tour or visit mission control at the KSC-Close Launch Control Center Tour. Whatever the experience is, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex has a little bit of everything for everybody.

 

Early Arrival to the Orlando Theme Parks for No Lines

I get the same questions every day from my guests traveling out to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. The question is, “How can we avoid the line at the parks”? The answer is short and sweet, get there early. If you get to the theme parks early, you will have accomplished the biggest task of your day. Getting there early before everyone gets there not only ensures that you won’t have to wait in long lines for the most popular rides, but it will also save you time from the hot Florida sun that will zap your energy level quick!

Most travelers like to wake up kind of early, stroll down to the lobby of their hotel or resort, have a cup of coffee, then head back up to get the rest of the family for breakfast. This takes up at least two hours in the morning and this does not even take in consideration the time needed to travel to the parks. Combine all of this with the crowds rolling in late and security checkpoint lines and bam, you are now in the thick of late morning traffic that everyone hates.

Getting there one hour before the park opens for example at Disney’s Magic Kingdom will not only give you a smooth and stress free experience, but will also get you a very special early morning performance from of all of Disney’s characters before being allowed into their park for the day. After the performance, greeters welcome guests in to enjoy Mainstreet USA for a short period before their rope drop. Many early morning guests then travel back to the top rides with no wait at all. One could ride at least four rides before really encountering any kind of real lines.

When it comes to the saying, “The early bird gets the worm”, this is exactly right when it comes to getting the most while at the theme parks. This method really works best for travelers who can get to bed early the night before and really try to hydrate the evening and morning before arriving at the parks. Waking up early really works best for travelers from Europe due to the time difference. A traveler from England has the clock on their side as they are five hours ahead of us, so the can wake up at 6 am and feel like they slept in until noon! Unfortunately this is not the case for us in the USA.

Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card – What Makes It So Special

Disney Parks Disability Access Service

Disney Parks Disability Access Service

Disney is committed to provide the most welcoming and friendly environment to its visitors. And the DAS – Disability Access Service Card is a true example in this regard. The Disney Parks DAS Card is indeed a unique effort on part of the company to ensure that the world’s most magical experiences are accessible to visitors with special disabilities as well. DAS is available at all Disney Parks in Orlando and in Disneyland California.

However, not all visitors with disabilities can have DAS. Such as guests whose disability is based mainly on the necessity of using wheelchair or scooter will not apply for DAS. They will either wait with the regular visitors in the conventional queue or can facilitate with a return time comparable to the current wait time depending on the attraction they have.

The special program is exclusively made available to visitors who really need the service – guests who are really un-fit to handle the conventional queue owing to special disability that includes not-apparent disabilities as well. The program will allot a return time comparable to the current wait time to guests with such disabilities. And the same is valid until redeemed. Guests are eligible for one active return time at a time. One can have another for the same attraction or any other attraction for that matter only after the redemption of the first. DAS can be used with other Disney services as well such as Disney FastPass+ Program.

In order to apply for a DAS Card one must visit the nearest Guest Relations locations. If you are visiting Disney World Orlando you will register for DAS in any of the guest relations office at the Main Entrance locations – City Hall at Magic Kingdom, The Guest Relations lobby at Disney Animal Kingdom, The Guests Relations lobby at Disney Hollywood Studios, and The Guest Relations lobby at Epcot.

Magic Kingdom City Hall

Magic Kingdom City Hall

Guest will go through a registration process where a photo of the guest is taken, valid park tickets need to be presented for each member so as to electronically associate the same with DAS. Those with annual passes can obtain DAS up to 60 days. One cannot apply for DAS prior to his or her visit. Everything on this is done after arrival on site at Guest Relations. If you think that DAS doesn’t addresses your specific disability concerns, then Guest Relation staff are always ready to discuss special accommodations for special circumstances such as people whose disability limits their visit duration or limit the available attraction options.

Catching Up With Universal Orlando’s CityWalk

If you have ever been out to Universal Studios CityWalk, you will probably remember that it was a pretty cool place to eat, dance and just be merry! Lately though, it has been under a transformation and for the better. The theme of CityWalk seems to be that of the old Downtown Disney entertainment district. People can come here after the parks and grab a bite to eat before heading home or back to their resort, or make it a special night out while visiting their night time clubs, watching a movie or having dinner and drinks.

The most visual transformation has to be the all new NBC Sports Grill & Brew. This was the old NASCAR Cafe that was such an eyesore. But now it is a shiny new jewel among CityWalk’s bustling new skyline. Here one can choose from over 100 beers all while catching sports games from around the world. The other day we were there cheering on some soccer team while drinking beers with our brothers from across the pond. This place is such a great opportunity to meet people from all around the world sharing a pint all the while!

If you are on the fly and need a quick bite to eat, try stopping by the all new Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Here you can taste all of the most famous hot dogs from every stadium in the good o’le USA. Try anything from the famous Chicago hot dog with all of the toppings or a steamer from New York, it doesn’t matter because this place has it all. You will not find any other location like this in Orlando. You can eat authentic shoestring fries and taste authentic topping like actual pinto beans for the famous Arizona dog or sauerkraut for you New York dog! This place even has brats so the menu is absolutely mesmerizing.

Lastly would be my little favourite, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. This little gem is for everyone who love sushi and burgers. Here you can dine on some of Orlando’s most delicious sushi and burgers of fuse them together and feast on their signature dish the “Burgushi®“. Trust me it is delicious especially when you wash it down with one of their 10oz exotic martinis. If martinis are not your thing try one of their signature hand spun milkshakes. If you can’t make up your mind, I recommend their Bento Box. This is a sampler of all of their most famous dishes but on a small sampler scale.