If you can remember all of those summer vacations with mom and dad when you were a kid and having the time of your life, you had a pretty cool childhood. The vacations of the past can be re-lived and the memories can be passed down now to your kids at Universal Orlando Resort. Venturing off of the Disney plantation in Orlando, one can have a pretty kick butt, action packed vacation minus princesses and talking mice.
Universal has marketed itself as a vacation from the ordinary and for good reason! They have crafted a vacation destination for teens as well as adults but the little ones in the group have not been forgotten. This vacation destination has something for everyone and then some. Now with three parks to escape to, Universal has made their little slice of heaven a weeks plus long getaway!
The one great thing that I personally love about Universal Orlando is that they listen to what their guests want and their ability to offer ticket specials as they see fit. Currently they are 3 extra days free on select tickets and sold through licensed partners like The Official Ticket Center, a local ticket agency that has been in business for over 20 years. Universal Studios tickets and other seasonal specials like this are what can let a family of four take a much needed vacation at a pretty nice discount.
If there was a cherry on top of everything under their umbrella it would have to be their all new Volcano Bay water park. This in my opinion is the Disney water park killer. I have been to them all and Volcano Bay is by far my favourite. If you can’t afford that trip to Bali or Tahiti, this is the next best thing especially if you have a few of their signature drinks to get your mind into the game!
Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2018 is gearing up to be one of the best.
Along with an incredible line-up to the concert list on select nights the new merchandise is giving a musical feel.
Musical notes can be found on the front of the Unisex T-Shirt, surrounding “Mardi Gras Universal Orlando”. The new skull design for 2018 rocks the back of the T-shirt in a shiny finish.
The skull itself is crafted by musical inspiration. A guitar neck creates the bridge of the nose which goes into a guitar pick. A turn-table is in place of the eyes with piano keys in place of teeth.
You can also find the skull design on this year’s souvenir shot glass and bottle opener.
The lanyard for Mardi Gras 2018, gives a festive graffiti look in colors and design. Crowns, music notes, glimpses of the skull, and even trumpets are displayed across the black lanyard canvas.
When it comes to Mardi Gras and merchandise for this high-energy event, one thing can’t be left out – BEADS!
This year, there are beads by the dozens.
If you’re moody like me, we’ve got you covered—happy face on one side, sad face on the other.
Let the good times roll at Universal Orlando’s biggest party – Mardi Gras. Grab your new gear, eat a beignet, and join the festive parade every night.
Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando is bound to be a time you will never forget – you won’t want to miss this.
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.
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!
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.
Have you ever wanted to have a Krusty Burger and be able to wash it down with a beer from Moe’s Tavern? What if I told you that there was a real live place where you could do exactly that! The place I’m talking about is Universal Studios Orlando’s Springfield USA. Here you can rub elbows with Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie and even your most favourite side characters like Moe, Mr. Burns and even Apu at the Quickie Mart. Probably the best of it all are all of the delicious foods and treats that we have all watched time and time again on the television.
Universal Studios spared no expense when they created Springfield and my most favourite little dive has to be Moe’s Tavern. Here you can sit at the very bar where Homer spends most of his spare time at. The famous beer of all here is Duff beer. Nothing like a good cold Duff beer to start your day or if beer is not your thing try the Flaming Moe instead! It is just orange soda with dry ice, but is on par in sale to Harry’s Butterbeer. Here you can have your picture taken with Moe’s patron saint Barney Gumble who has a statue at the end of the bar.
By now you should be feeling pretty hungry so peel yourself off of your bar stool and walk to the back where you will find 4 counter service dining options. On of my favourites has to be Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Here you will find big o’le chicken sandwich platters with fries. Cletus’ is sure to fill the biggest of appetites. Also you will find The Flying Dutchman that serves up fried foods, Luigi’s Pizza and Lisa’s Teahouse of Horrors. Lisa’s would be the place for any vegetarians in the group!
If you’re the type of person who likes to sit outside and people watch while you eat, try out the local food truck fair at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck. Here you can grab a cold Duff’s beer and chow down on some tacos or nachos! If savory dishes are not your thing then I have just the treat for you. Lard Lad Donuts are famous in Springfield. Sit down and savor the taste of the Big Pink. This donut is about as big as a open man’s hand wide and about four inches thick of sweet decadent goodness! Tell Mayor Quimby I said hello!
If you have ever visited Universal Studios Orlando you most certainly have walked through Citywalk. Here is where Universal Orlando borrowed the idea for the very successful Downtown Disney now known as Disney Springs. The people at Universal knew that they had to have a place for their guests to play and dine when not in their theme parks. This business model served Disney very well and Universal made CityWalk their very own. Bringing heavy hitters like Jimmy Buffett and the world famous Hard Rock Cafe, Universal was poised for great success!
There have been some hits and misses over the years and Universal watched this very carefully. Taking out what was not working and replacing them with current original works like the all new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, NBC Sports Grill & Brew, Vivo Italian Kitchen and Red Oven Pizza Bakery. I guess the NASCAR cafe restaurant and NBA City did not work out as planned but with these replacements, they are sure to be big winners! I remember eating in the NBA City restaurant and was not impressed at all. I am personally glad that they got rid of that one. Very happy that Margaritaville made the cut!
CityWalk has always been a great place to party and eat at! With all of the new additions, Universal resort guests will never need to leave the resort grounds and I think this is what Universal had in mind for good reason. Keeping their guests there instead of at SeaWorld or Disney keeps the Benjamins in Universal’s pockets. At the end of the day, that’s what it is all about. Keeping that money in house in order to build bigger and better things for their guests. I can remember when it was just Universal Studios with no CityWalk and I am sure glad that they had the foresight to make this type of expansion!
The one thing I look forward to is the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. They said that they took steampunk era designs and incorperated it into their ideas. Should be pretty amazing. I imagine it as a Willy Wonka heaven on earth but not all sweets! I hope I’m right.
Have you ever wanted to stay at a resort that is at one of your favourite theme parks? Universal Studios Orlando has five at this moment with a few more on the way. After a busy day at the theme parks, the last thing you want to do is get on a crowded tram and climb into your sweltering hot car and drive back to your hotel room that you booked on some online search engine. The newest big thing in accommodations is the onsite resorts, especially the one over at Universal Orlando.
The people at Universal are very smart people and currently the trend is offer a great room plus admission tickets and dining and people will come stay at the resorts. Well this winning formula seems to be working as rooms are filling up for this summer fast. The coolest of all of the resorts there would have to be that all new Cabana Bay. Here one will find the comforts of the 1950 Florida beach scene. The goal here was to transport their visitors back in time to a place that was the tourist destination of North America. The other hotel that would be my second would have to be the Hard Rock. Located right next to Universal Studios, this iconic stay is just the place for younger families who loved growing up in the 1970’s and up.
Being the closest to the park comes in handy as you can just walk out back and jump on one of their water taxi’s and bam, you are at the front of the gates. Or even better walk out back and down a beautiful walkway along side the water and within 5 minutes, you are in the parks. Portofino Bay is also attached by water taxi and would be my third favourite resort. It is very beautiful and reminiscent of a European beach side resort. Beautiful, but not my favourite. I would have to take the Royal Pacific over the Portofino as I am a pacific rim kind of guy! Plus the Royal Pacific has some sweet eat stops like Emeril’s Chop Shop. This place is also connected by water taxi which make life so much easier at the end of the day. So next time you look online for that best deal, try calling up one of these places and ask what kind if discount packages they are offering.
You may have seen over the winter at Universal Studios in Orlando, The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster at Islands of Adventure was missing! Littey the whole super structure was dismantled and removed. The reason why was just revealed and it is going to be awesome. The new ride was an awesome ride to begin with but with all of the new Marvel movies being a huge success, it would have been a big mistake not to do a little redesigning and script rewriting! Probably the biggest update will be the que line itself. The riders will walk through a massive military base laboratory where the rider become the new lab rat of sorts in General Thaddeus Ross’s experiment. Here he will be doing tests that were pioneered by Dr. Bruce Banner. The hope here is that you will emerge from the test as a Super Soldier or something else entirely!
During you wait in the que line you will be able to see that actual gamma rays being sent into tubes that engulf the ride cars. Speaking of ride cars, there will be new ride cars! These new sleek state of the art cars are loaded with new lights, speakers and are designed after the latest military fighter technology. I have seen them and they are something right out of the movies! They still have the green paint but look a whole lot sleeker. When you get into your ride car, you will be put into a Gamma Core Tube in which you will be ejected out of and on your way to transformation!
The ride itself is the same but now you will be jamming out to some Fall Boy while riding the loops. The main goal was to give the rider the new experience but keep the ride that everyone enjoyed for years and years. Probably one of the coolest things is at the very beginning of the que line. They have a big statue of the Hulk holding a piece of the old track. This will be a big photo op for all of the riders getting ready to ride the ride. Can’t wait to ride it.
As many of you know already, Universal Studios Orlando has purchased Wet n Wild and is closing it at the end of this year. No one knows as of yet what they will do with the water park but one thing is for sure, something bigger and better is in the works, The new water park to take its place will be Volcano Bay and it will be on Universal’s own property next to their resorts. Many feel it was time for something new as Wet n Wild has been around forever.
New is good in the theme park business. It is what make travelers come back year after year. The other newest addition to open at Universal is Reign of Kong at Islands of Adventure. This is modeled after Peter Jackson’s movie and not the old Kong that was inside Universal Studios. Things like this make people want to come back. Ever since the addition of the two Harry Potter areas in their parks, travelers from around the world have been booking their vacations in order to immerse themselves into this world wide love of J.K. Rowling’s books. The theme parks have learned to give guests what they want and million dollar playgrounds are it.
Gone are the single ride rides and now it seems that full blown emersion is the new trend. Even getting to areas of the theme parks have become a ride into themselves. The new Hogswort Express in Universal’s Monorail. Guests get on at either park’s Harry Potter area and are transported to the next via train ride. It is not exactly a train ride but a attraction where you will see all of your favourite Potter friends and characters. Staying at the parks is now even more fun as their resorts have grown and carry some of the coolest places to stay in Orlando. The newest is Cabana Bay Resort. It is circa 1950 Florida beach style with all of the bells and whistles. You are greeted in the drive up guest check-in area by vintage 1950 cars and a lobby that goes straight back to the time of my parents. All this and more awaits you at Universal Orlando Resort.