Nov 01 2015

Vacationing Thrifty at Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando was pretty crowded this summer — skirting the edge of record attendance. Between the massive Harry Potter attractions in Diagon Alley, the Minion Madness that never ends, and all the other attractions, it’s no surprise — it’s irresistible! But Universal is also, sadly, expensive, especially if you don’t know how to save as you’re planning. Let us help with a few money-saving tips.

Understand Your Ticket Prices
Universal Orlando’s summer rate this year was over a hundred dollars for a single day — an extra $50 if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two parks. And recently, the aggressive discounts that Orlando offered to compensate for the poor economy have backed off. Today, you have to have a military discount, or be a Florida resident, or be a AAA member to get a regular discount — and just to complicate things, many services that offer tickets also tack a number of hidden fees onto the process, looking to make an extra buck. Be sure you get tickets that don’t cost you anything other than what they have to in order to get you through the gate.

Stay Off-Site Unless You Get a Deal
It is, under certain circumstances, possible to get a deal on an in-park hotel that makes it good thrift to stay in Universal Orlando — but only under certain circumstances. Most of the time, it’s wiser to save some money and stay off-site…especially if you can get a hotel that offers free transport to the park.

Bring a Backpack or Rent a Locker — and Supply Yourself
If there’s any chance the weather will change — like, it gets dark for example — or that you’ll go on one of the many rides that will end up with you getting damp or splashed at some point, you’re going to want some spare clothes. If you know you’re going to be in the park all day, bring some bottled water. Sunscreen, Band-Aids, whatever you might need at an unexpected moment, it pays to have either with you in a backpack or nearby in a locker. The other option is to buy what you need — a Universal Studios sweatshirt for $35, bottles of water for $4, sunscreen for $10, and so on. Bad idea! If you’re truly thrifty, you can pack snacks, too — Universal only bans food that must be refrigerated or heated.

Vacationing at Universal Orlando is always an awesome experience — but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Be clever, and maybe you’ll be able to come back that much sooner!

Oct 25 2015

2016: A Good Year For Universal Orlando Tickets

There’s a lot of things that your Universal Orlando tickets will get you into next year. If you’re planning a vacation sometime in 2016 or beyond, let us whet your appetite…

Skull Island: Reign of Kong is going to be Universal Orlando’s newest Islands of Adventure experience. An immersive, multi-dimensional attraction will take you on an expedition into the jungle of the 1930s, seeking massive, prehistoric predators…and more!

The Loews’ Sapphire Falls Resortis already taking reservations for summer 2016. A tropical lagoon with a massive waterfall forms the centerpiece of this fifth hotel inside the Universal grounds. Not only will you have shuttle access to Universal, but you’ll also be able to access the park by water taxi — just in case the swimming and sheer aquatic beauty wasn’t enough for you.

Fast and Furious: Supercharged opens in early 2017 — a high-speed, immersive attraction that will take you into the adrenaline-fueled world of underground racing made famous in the movie franchise. Explore the headquarters of Dom Toretto and his team, and feel the speed as only a Universal ride can deliver.

Volcano Bay is going to be one of the greatest additions to the value of your Universal Orlando tickets in the foreseeable future — a massive, 53-acre water park. The first water park ever opened on Universal grounds, Volcano Bay is promised to make visitors “completely reimagine what it means to be a ‘water park’,” say Universal executives.

Of course, if you’re expanding your vacation beyond just Universal Orlando, you’ll find several other new developments in the next couple of years.

  • The Pandora area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is opening in 2017, offering visitors the chance to take a “Flight of Passage” through the world of AVATAR.
  • Epcot Center is opening a new Frozen ride called “Frozen Ever After” that takes guests to Arendale’s Winter Festival — in early 2016.
  • SeaWorld’s new hypercoaster, Mako, is as shark-themed as the name suggests. Makos are the fastest sharks in the sea, and this ride will whip you around up to 73 miles per hour! Opening in summer 2016.

Yes, a few older rides will have to close to make room for some of these — but all things considered, the value of your Universal Orlando tickets is only climbing with every passing year. Enjoy!

Oct 18 2015

The Best Attractions at Universal Studios Orlando

This isn’t one of those lists where we try to rank the best attractions at Universal Studios Orlando — that’s going to depend way to much on your age, gender, tastes, and age. Nope, this is just a no-particular-order list of what you need to see when you visit Universal Orlando — and why.

E.T. Adventure
The only original Universal Studios ride that is still in operation — if you remember the words “penis breath” being gently rebuked by a laughing mother and bicycle silhouettes against the full white moon, this one is for you. The ride actually puts you on ‘bikes’ and sends you sailing across the scenes of the movie, ending with a twist — a visit to E.T.’s home planet, which looks like Jim Henson had a psychedelic experience, had Bob Ross paint it, and then asked a foam rubber company to bring it to life. So basically spot-on accurate to the movie.

Revenge of the Mummy
If you’ve ever ridden on the California classic coaster Space Mountain, you might think you know what the roller-coaster-in-the-dark experience is all about. You’re wrong, unless you’ve also ridden Revenge of the Mummy, which intersperses the darkness with amazing glimpses of massive sets designed to make you feel like some sort of hyperkinetic Indiana Jones (OK, well, Brendan Frasier) exploring an ancient Egyptian ruin. And just on the off chance that you aren’t a Brendan Frasier fan, this is exactly the ride for you…because in this case, in the end, the ‘good guy’ dies.  Proper.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Diagon Alley, a subsection of Universal Studios Orlando, genuinely feels like its own miniature world, unique and fully-formed. Every element of the architecture, from rooftops to pavement, is just a little bit off — enough that you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. Smack dab in the middle of it is the Escape from Gringotts…experience. You can’t call it a ride; it’s easily the single most immersive experience offered at any modern theme-park. Even waiting in line is epic, as mystical bank tellers and magically-animated newspaper headlines keep you engaged until you get inside. Then, inside, the train cars can (and do) split up, rotate a full 360 degrees, and otherwise put you fully engaged into a story of Harry and friends battling Voldemort’s forces as they attack Gringotts bank. It’s so good, they have special mechanisms in place to keep people from coming back through too quickly. Just ponder that. 

Oct 11 2015

6 Hotels to Book Alongside Your Universal Studios Tickets

When you’re planning your Universal Studios Orlando vacation, the two fundamental lodging options are on-site, where you can walk to the rides but will pay significantly more, or off-site, where you will have to take a bit longer to get to the park, but can save a decent chunk of money. The biggest problem with off-site is paying for parking and taking the time to drive — but a hotel that offers a free shuttle to Universal Orlando is the happy medium that can make the most of a vacation. Make the reservation at the same time that you buy your Universal Studios tickets, and you’ll be ready. Here are our suggestions for family-oriented rooms with good prices and free transport:

Celebration Suites
Just a few miles from Universal, the lauded Celebration Suites offers a heated outdoor pool, a game room, an in-room kitchen (or Continental breakfast), and rooms for up to 8 people.

CoCo Key Hotel
Right there on the famous International Drive, the CoCo Key is, as you might imagine, an island-themed resort that has its own water park. The rooms only go up to 4 people each, but up to 3 kids below 18 (!!!) stay free!

Doubletree at Universal Studios
Smack dab at the entrance to Universal Studios, the Doubletree Hotel awaits. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and the breakfast buffet is excellent (as are the three other restaurants). The rooms hold up to four.

Holiday Inn at Universal Orlando
The Holiday Inn also has a branch directly outside Universal Studios; this one offers an outdoor pool and kitchenette in each room in addition to the on-site dining options. Suites can hold up to 8 people.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa
Several miles south of Universal, the Lake Buena Vista is a little further away than most on this list, but is also a little less expensive — a great price-saving reservation to pair with your Universal Studios tickets. Rooms sleep up to 10 people, and there’s both on-site restaurants and kitchens in each suite.

Quality Suites – The Royale Parc
The Quality Suites can house up to 8 people in a suite, and while they’re not the closest place to Universal, they do offer one surprising (and useful!) benefit that no one else does — a free, full, hot breakfast to wolf down before you get on the free transport to Universal. That’s convenience!

Whichever you choose, we’re confident that getting a free ride to the park is the most economical and most effective way to enjoy Universal Studios Orlando.

Oct 04 2015

Universal Orlando: A Food Adventure

There are so many reasons to love a trip to Universal Orlando — the rides, the characters, the luxury. But there are some reasons you might not be anticipating…like the food. Yes, the food at Universal is just as much a part of the experience as the adrenaline and the exploration. In some cases, the food is adrenaline — and in many cases, it is definitely exploration. Here’s what we mean:

The Lollipop King
Ever wanted to eat a bug, but were too afraid to try? Do you think you might be able to succeed if the bug was encased in banana-flavored sugar? What if it were a scorpion?  Yep — the Revenge of the Mummy Gift Shop offers up actual scorpions embedded in ‘amber’ that just happens to be made of candy. And because the arachnoid’s chitinous carapace has been encased in candy, it tastes just like (fake) bananas…or so we’ve been told.

The King Donut
In the bottom level of the Hard Rock Hotel, there’s a shop called Emack and Bolio’s, and it features a donut so large a six-year-old could wear it as a bracelet. Six dollars of dough and honey glaze (or chocolate frosting) is enough to put a diabetic in a coma at thirty paces — or feed a family of four enough to send them sugar buzzing around the Universal Studios until halfway to lunchtime.

The Rocky Road Candy Apple
At the Port of Entry in the Island of Adventure, the Crescent Moon Bakery, there’s a treasure to be unburied — a massive granny smith apple! Buried under a layer of caramel, a layer of chocolate, a layer of pecans, a layer of marshmallows, and then another layer of drizzled chocolate and caramel, it waits for a suitably adventurous explorer to dig deep enough to reach the tart, lovely fruit.

Epic Gummy Bears
The San Francisco Candy Factory, ironically found at Universal Orlando rather than in California, produces gummy bears that are more than four inches tall and clock in at 350 grams (12 1/3 ounces). If you’ve ever wanted to eat 70% of your RDA of carbs in a single item, this is the one you want — 280 of those 350 grams are pure sugar. Noms!

The Kitchen Sink Challenge
Speaking of the Hard Rock Hotel, if you’ve ever wanted to be famous for 15 minutes, try training for a few weeks in competitive eating before your trip to Universal Orlando. That way, when you sit down and hand over $40, you, too can take on The Kitchen Sink: a huge hamburger laden with bacon, cheese, and chipotle horseradish aioli; a side of fries big enough to feed most grade schoolers all by itself; and a three pound piece of cake including seven layers of different kinds of cake, each with its own complementary frosting and sprinkles. One person has defeated the Kitchen Sink thus far…will you be next?

Sep 26 2015

Nintendo Fans, Get Your Universal Orlando Tickets Now!

Universal Orlando Resort had a killer announcement just recently — they’re going to be adding a pile of Nintendo-themed attractions to the Universal series of parks. Now you can hit up Harry Potter, Despicable Me, and then head on over to high-five Mario and…and what?

Well, that’s kind of the rub, innit? Nintendo has been notoriously protective of its IP, with the infamous characters only rarely making appearances outside of strictly Nintendo-controlled events. The series of bombs that was the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, Captain N the Game Master, Kirby: Right Back Atcha, and F-Zero: GP Legend (yes, all of those did actually air in English at some point between 1990 and 2004) probably taught them a lesson they didn’t care to repeat.

But with Nintendo on the ropes in the console market due to stiff competition from the X-Box and PlayStation lines — and the console market itself on the ropes due to stiff competition from the Japanese ‘indie masters’ movement and the mobile gaming market in general — the game giant is seeing the writing on the wall. They’re going to have to exploit their characters, worlds, and memes in other ways, and to Nintendo fans — and in this case, fans of Universal Orlando, that means we win!

Universal has stated outright that they expect their Nintendo attractions to be “as popular, if not more, than the Harry Potter set.” They’ve also confirmed that, while Universal Orlando made the original announcement, this won’t be a one-park wonder: there will be Nintendo attractions at Universal Orlando, Universal Hollywood, Universal Singapore, and Universal Japan.

Characters and worlds that will definitely be making an appearance include Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Link, Zelda, Fox McCloud, and Kirby. There’s no say yet whether any of the bad guys other than Bowser (and Donkey Kong, who is both pro- and ant-agonist in different contexts) will make an appearance, but this poster for one hopes in earnest to see a few other villains — Ganondorf, for example, or Ridley — at the park.

Universal definitely understands the allure of the bad guys (everyone remembers Kongfrontation, right?) The only question that remains is whether Nintendo will get in the way, or get out of the way and let Universal do what Universal does best: build amazing experiences.

Sep 19 2015

Time Management at Universal Studios Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando is one of those magical places where time doesn’t seem to pass — until suddenly it’s dusk and you hear the call: ‘The Park is Closing in Fifteen Minutes!’ What happened to your day? There was so much more you wanted to do! Don’t let that be you — with a bit of proper prior planning, you can get through a lot more of your list than you would if you just came in blind. Here’s what you need to do to get the most of Universal Studios:

Buy Your Tickets (and Everything Else) in Advance
Don’t wait in line for your tickets at the park gates — what a waste of time! Have your tickets purchased before you get on your plane (or however you’re getting to Orlando). Better yet, have your hotel room reserved, your important meals planned out if not pre-purchased, and — most importantly — buy your swag first. There’s nothing like the aggravation of blowing two hours of potential amusement time watching your children flirt with the gift shop. The swag is usually cheaper outside the park as well.

Visit on an Off Day — and Month
Universal Studios operates on a pretty well-defined schedule of business. Summer break, major school holidays, and weekends — a Park Jedi craves not these things. If you want to spend less time watching your soles bake to the concrete and more time screaming and pointing, come midweek in the first two weeks February — after the Christmas folk have stopped coming but before it threatens to get warm enough for the Alaskans to wear shorts — though really, any time that isn’t the peak times mentioned above will do.

Schedule Your Day According to the Shows; Fill In with Rides
At Universal Studios Orlando, the rides run open-to-close except for maintenance and upgrades — but the shows happen at specific times and places. That means that you can (and should) make a list of which shows you intend to see on which days — but you can hit up the rides any time you feel like it. The first shows generally don’t start until the late morning, so you can totally get there, bust hiney over to Minion Mayhem (Diagon Alley on your second day), then down to the Lower Lot to do that whole scene. Come back up and do everything else just in time for your first show –this avoids using the elevators, which by themselves can take 10 minutes of your day.

Sep 12 2015

Starter Tips for Maximizing Your Universal Studios Tickets

ORLANDO — home of the nation’s best theme parks, water parks, and attractions. The rides alone in the nation’s funnest city would take the better part of a month to experience if you did them eight hours a day (and that’s not counting the time waiting in line!) You only need a few things to enjoy places like the Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Epcot Center, and Universal Studios: tickets, some spare cash, some comfy shoes, a few days’ time, and the desire to enjoy awesomeness. That said, you can achieve an even greater level of enjoyment if you follow a few simple tips:

Be Early

The parks might not open until 9, but the crowd starts gathering at 8:45. If you want to be the first in line for the highest-traffic rides (Escape from Gringott’s, Minion Mayhem), you have to have your Universal Studios tickets in hand, be the first in line at the front gate, and then you have to make a beeline straight for the ride you want. Save the lower-wait rides for later and be happy knowing that you saved yourself an average of 45 minutes by being clever with your timing.

Get a Hotel with a Shuttle

Staying off-park is often a great deal in terms of money, but if you set yourself up to have to wake up, slam breakfast, and start driving, you’ll have a lot harder of a time implementing our first tip. Hotel shuttles usually cost either nothing, or $5 — less than one-third the cost of parking. The only wrinkle is that you have to be very careful not to miss your hotel’s final pick up, or you’ll have to take a taxi — and lose every dollar’s advantage that you just gained.

Don’t Hesitate to Go Solo

If someone in the family wants to go on a particular ride and they’re the only one, check for a ’singles line’ — most rides have one, and they tend to move much faster than the group lines. If you can’t identify a singles line, ask the attendant — they’ll either point it out, or keep you in mind for the next car that has an empty space. The rest of the family will appreciate not waiting around, and the solo will get the ride they want.

Keep those Universal Studios tickets close by, keep your alarm clock on your nightstand, and pack a quick breakfast, because if you heed our tips, your days at Universal Studios are going to be packed, stacked, and all that!

Jun 23 2015

SeaWorld Orlando’s NEW Mako Ride Is More than Just a Screaming Delight

Sink your teeth into SeaWorld’s unrivaled new coaster, Mako™. Arriving summer 2016

Sink your teeth into SeaWorld’s unrivaled new coaster, Mako™. Arriving summer 2016

It seems there is no end to the amount of thrills we can have as a theme park fan. And when it comes to the world-famous rides in Orlando, Florida, the thrill gets even more aggressive and inspiring with every new addition to the list here. The coming of the all new Mako Coaster is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated theme park offerings in this regard. The one-of-a-kind shark-inspired coaster at the Florida SeaWorld Park definitely takes our excitement to the next level.

Whether it’s the hills so tall or the jaw-dropping fall, the new Ride surely justifies the fancies of all thrill lovers from across the globe. Opens in the summer of 2016, the Mako brings to life the tallest, fastest and longest ride experience ever in Central Florida. Indeed it takes guests through a 200-foot-tall hyper-coaster that drops at a speed of about 73 mph and runs along a daring 4,760 feet of steel track that features multiple tall hills and never-ending air-time.

Inspired by the fastest living shark of all times, the new Ride is seen as a unique mix of fear, thrills and fun. Like the apex predator from the ocean, guests onboard the unique coaster will surge through the water at top speed with extreme jumps and deep drops like never before. And to top up all that is the unique 48,000-watt surround-sound system with its awesome score that keeps changing as the coaster dives you around. Right from the station to up the lift hill till the end, the music makes the ride even more special as it follows you throughout the most daring coaster-tracks that SeaWorld Orlando has to offer.

The Mako Shark is one of the deadliest breed of sharks that terrorizes the oceans. They are known for their aggressive hunting skills powered with an unmatched speed and the ability to change course in no time. It’s this uniquely agile and daring nature of the marine predator that forms the core of the new Ride. Once onboard you go chasing prey like the killer shark himself. From the coral reef and out to the open ocean, it’s truly a daunting ride adventure only SeaWorld Orlando can offer.

Unlike many other great rides there is no such up-side down element on the new Ride. Nor are there any inverted twists where the legs keep dangling from the coaster cars. In fact it’s all about speed and relentless airtime that will unleash the disastrous Mako in you. For all the coaster enthusiasts out there, I think the Mako is a perfect opportunity to experience the extremes of weightlessness like never before.

Orlando vacations are always expensive. And tickets play a major role in influencing the same. But there are many other options available to help you stay on budget. And I suggest you to visit the authorized agents and brokers for some real savings. If you are looking for discounts on your Disney Tickets and passes to exclusive Orlando attractions and events, including discount Sea World and Universal Studios tickets and other special theme park packages you can also consult WDW recommended Kissimmee based ticket Re-Seller – The Official Ticket Center

May 29 2015

Disney World Accommodations: On-Site Vs Off-Site

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

There are preferences and there are needs specific to individuals and families that determine whether a particular choice is better over the other. I think the same is true to the Disney World Lodging options as well. For some guests the decision of staying at an on-site property is more convenient, others think the off-site lodging alternatives make much better vacation deals. Either of the choice has its own advantages and disadvantages. So it’s recommended to plan out accordingly and choose the one that meets your specific vacation needs.

I’m a great fan of WDW (Walt Disney World) Resort, and it would be really special for me if I can enjoy the place in accordance with my specific vacation needs. I know that planning is essential, and along with tickets and transportation, accommodation plays an important role in deciding the fate of a Disney World Vacation. In deed it’s our choice of stay (On-Site or Off-Site, at a Disney owned property or at a hotel or villa outside the Resort) that determines the kind of vacation experience we are going to have.

Often the word convenient is associated with all the decisions taken in favor of on-site lodgings at Walt Disney World today. In fact guests staying at an on-site hotel have the advantage of extra perks, such as the Magical Express that takes care of your Airport to Disney World resort or hotel transportations, the Extra Magic Hours (that offers exclusive park hours for resort staying guests only), including Free Transportation facilities between the Parks and WDW hotels. Moreover, being a part of the Resort itself, the on-site (Disney owned and operated) lodging options seem to score an edge over their off-site counterparts when it comes to proximity, themes and the favorite dining plans as well.

On the other hand, the off-site accommodations – be it a luxurious hotel, villa or a vacation home for that matter can be very handy in many special ways. First they are mostly cheaper than a Disney owned hotel room or suite and as such help you save more on your vacation. Also staying at an off-site property is seen as a great opportunity, especially if it is not only the WDW that you are looking for. Unlike the on-site lodgings, the hotels and vacation homes outside the Resort offer much better access to other Orlando attractions as well. In fact the prospects of including Universal Studios or the SeaWorld Parks in the vacation will only doubles-up the excitement.

Whether it’s on-site or off-site, choosing the right vacation-stay is important. Families with special interest need to analyze certain factors prior to finalizing their choice of hotel. Specific vacation essentials such as the size of your budget, the total number of members and kids included in your family, hotel amenities you are looking for and more are to be considered when deciding the hotel or lodging facility.

Orlando vacations are always expensive. And tickets play a major role in influencing the same. But there are many other options available to help you stay on budget. And I suggest you to visit the authorized agents and brokers for some real savings. If you are looking for discounts on your Disney Tickets and passes to exclusive Orlando attractions and events, including discount Sea World and Universal Studios tickets and other special theme park packages you can also consult WDW recommended Kissimmee based ticket Re-Seller – The Official Ticket Center