Tag Archives: Universal Studios

From Fantasy to Free-Falling: Orlando’s 10 New Summer Attractions

Named one of Travelocity’s Coolest Places to Go in 2018 for Family Travel and AAA’s Top Domestic Summer Destination, Orlando has a fresh lineup of thrilling attractions arriving this summer, giving travelers 10 new reasons to explore the destination, including those inside Orlando’s legendary theme parks, as well as beyond.

Attraction Tips and Deals

  • The destination’s only official visitor center, operated by Visit Orlando, offers deals, unbiased expert advice and Instagram-worthy photo ops for guests. The Visit Orlando center is located at 8102 International Drive in the heart of Orlando’s tourism district.
  • For those buying attraction tickets online, Visit Orlando is offering an additional 5 percent off already-discounted tickets from May 14 through June 10 by using promo code SAVE5 at VisitOrlando.com/tickets.

Movies and Fantasy Worlds Come to Life

  1. Universal Studios Florida will put visitors right in the middle of the action with the new Fast & Furious- Supercharged ride, based on the popular film franchise, where an after-race party turns into a high-speed race to escape a criminal cartel.
  2. Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens Toy Story Land on June 30, featuring two new attractions, along with new dining and merchandise locations. The rides Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers will take visitors right into Andy’s imagination as they join beloved characters in their adventures.
  3. Walt Disney World Resort will make Orlando even hotter with their Incredible Summer, featuring all-new character entertainment and special events. At Magic Kingdom, guests can party with The Incredibles’ Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible and Frozone, while Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord and Gamora team up with an alien band at Epcot to play tunes from those movies’ soundtracks.
  4. Madame Tussauds Orlando’s “Justice League: A Call for Heroes” will allow guests to jump in on the action as a loyal sidekick to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman starting May 25. Replica props and costumes related to each superhero character’s wax figure will provide an added dimension of authenticity and realism to the immersive experience.
  5. LEGOLAND Florida Resort put the pedal to the plastic when The Great LEGO Race opened on March 23. The thrill ride experience is the first VR roller coaster experience designed for kids, and features Lego minifigures, a rocket-powered surfboard and an espresso-fueled scooter.

Outdoor Adventures and Record-Setting Thrills

  1. SeaWorld Orlando debuts Infinity Falls this summer, a whitewater rapid adventure raft ride through a lost jungle. The journey will send guests through fountains and waterfalls before dropping 40 feet – a world record for a river raft ride – into churning whitewater.
  2. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark brings big thrills this summer with Ray Rush, featuring three ways to get soaked. First, water jets launch the raft in a burst of speed. Riders then spin through a water sphere before swooping across giant manta wings.
  3. The Orlando Starflyer, the world’s tallest swing ride, opens on International Drive June 1. At 450 feet tall, the ride offers open-air views of the destination for up to 24 guests at once, swinging them through the air at up to 60 miles an hour at top speed.
  4. Orlando Watersports Complex debuted Central Florida’s first Aquapark, which features a modular series of inflatable, interlocking climbing obstacles, pathways and slides for hours of watery fun. This water park also offers wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing, kneeboarding and waterskiing for children and adults.
  5. Nona Adventure Park promises to please thrill seekers and outdoor adventurers this summer, with rock climbing towers, an inflatable water park, a bistro and snack bar, a pro shop and the world’s first solar-powered water ski and wakeboard cable park.

The Orlando Destination
Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando – Theme Park Capital of the World® is the No. 1 family vacation destination and most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.


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A New Record for U.S. Travel: Orlando First to Surpass 70 Million Annual Visitors

Tourism officials announced today a historic milestone in the travel industry as Orlando became the first U.S. destination to surpass 70 million annual visitors. In 2017, 72 million visitors traveled to Orlando, an increase of more than 5 percent over the prior year, once again making it America’s most-visited destination.

Visit Orlando, the region’s official destination tourism and marketing organization, shared the number today at a special gathering of more than 1,000 tourism and community leaders.

“Our record-breaking year was achieved despite international headwinds and the statewide effects of Hurricane Irma,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. “In 2017, our destination launched new consumer experiences on a significant scale and our marketing efforts leveraged increasing consumer confidence in the United States. We also continued our focus on communicating the unique emotional connection visitors have with Orlando.”

“Orlando’s record-setting visitation affirms the city as a leader in the U.S. travel industry,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The success in Orlando is great, not just for this iconic destination, but for travel as a whole. As the U.S. overall looks to regain its share of the global travel market, this new milestone in Orlando is a welcome reminder of the resiliency of this industry.”

Orlando reached a host of new milestones in 2017 including:

  • Record number of U.S. visitors
  • Record convention attendance: The Orange County Convention Center welcomed an unprecedented 1.53 million attendees (+5.0 percent).
  • Record airline arrivals: Orlando International Airport became the busiest airport in Florida, with 44.6 million passengers (+6.4 percent).

In addition to the openings of new attractions, resorts and dining venues, Orlando’s visitation benefited from new and adjusted destination marketing strategies from Visit Orlando.

  • Domestically, Visit Orlando recognized the potential of the country’s growing positive economic indicators and increased marketing initiatives focused on U.S. audiences, with a special emphasis in the important Northeast region. Domestic visitation for 2017 grew to an all-time record total of 65.86 million.
  • Internationally, with several key markets facing uncertainties, Visit Orlando maintained its extensive marketing, brand and publicity programs to retain Orlando’s leading position as a top international destination, with 6.15 million visitors.
  • Swiftly addressing potential concerns after Hurricane Irma struck in September, Visit Orlando quickly launched initiatives to demonstrate how Orlando tourism areas rebounded. This was accomplished through social media and publicity campaigns that used authentic visuals of real guests, in real-time, enjoying and commenting on the status of the destination.

About Visit Orlando
Visit Orlando, The Official Tourism Association®, represents the most visited destination in the United States, with a presence in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents every segment of the area’s leading industry.


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There’s Something New for Thrill Seekers at U.S. Theme Parks and Water Parks in 2018

Record numbers of theme park visitors are preparing for thrilling and memorable new experiences as the unofficial theme park season opens Memorial Day Weekend.

According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ IAAPA Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook Report (2017 to 2021), in 2018 the anticipated U.S. theme and amusement park attendance estimate is 398.5 million and guest spending will grow to an estimated $23.58 billion.

Roller coasters are a big part of new development across the country this season, and an abundance of new rides and experiences—more than 70 according to an early 2018 IAAPA compilation—include water slides, kiddie rides and new themed lands.

“There really is something new for everyone this season,” said Susan Storey, communications director, IAAPA. “The industry is innovative and dynamic, and this year many destinations are debuting their own ‘spin’ on amusement park favorites, infusing speed and height with twists and turns and even unexpected ‘surprise’ elements. The best part is many of these experiences were created for the entire family—kids and adults—to enjoy together.”

According to park guest surveys, roller coasters remain the top-rated ride of interest to park guests, and 2018 will see many new coasters deliver big thrills, added Storey.

With 12 roller coasters, four giant swings, four towering rides and, many more unique experiences to excite visitors, parks across the country are ready for a season filled with fun. Family entertainment centers are a segment of the attractions industry that continues to grow and expand, offering an array of experiences from golf and go-karting to ziplines and trampolines. These traditionally smaller destinations provide a mix of activities designed for parents and kids to experience together. Families can also soak up the fun at the nation’s water parks, with many new water slides and water attractions making a splash all season long.

The list of new attractions is available at http://bit.ly/2G7DCOd

“Summer is synonymous with the attractions industry and our member facilities continue to create new and memorable experiences for their guests,” said Storey. “This year is truly an exciting one for the business of fun.”


For more I-4 travel information, visit www.i4exitguide.com, the Internet’s largest and most complete website devoted to Interstate 4. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit from Tampa to Daytona!

Traveling another route? Visit our growing family of exit guides: I-95 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit Guide and I-75 Exit Guide.

11 Little-Known Orlando Theme Park Experiences

To celebrate the unparalleled collection of unique experiences that can be found in Orlando, Theme Park Capital of the World®, the destination experts at Visit Orlando have compiled a list of some of the most unusual – and sometimes unknown – activities for visitors at its most popular theme parks. The tourism association is also kicking off a Uniquely Orlando Sweepstakes now through March 11 for consumers to win and create their own unique Orlando vacation at VisitOrlando.com/Trip.

Just a few of the lesser-known, off-the-beaten-path activities at the world-famous theme parks are below, with many more found on the tourism association’s website, VisitOrlando.com.

TOP 11 UNIQUE THEME PARK EXPERIENCES

  1. Get a Haircut at Disney
    Visit Magic Kingdom’s Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street, USA for a once-in-a-lifetime trim or even a whole new look. Welcoming all ages, the shop also offers a special First Haircut experience for little ones, complete with commemorative Mickey Ears and a certificate.
  2. Grab a Cold One with the Simpsons
    Grab a glass of Homer Simpson’s favorite beverage, with three varieties of Duff Beer available only at Universal Studios. Despite the running joke on the show that all three are the same beer, the real-life versions include Duff (a lager), Duff Lite (a light beer), and Duff Dry (a stout).
  3. Become Your Very Own AVATAR
    Create a personalized AVATAR as the ultimate souvenir at Disney’s Pandora: The World of AVATAR at Animal Kingdom. Guests can have their faces mapped and printed onto a Na’vi action figure, complete with blue skin and traditional garb, just like the aliens in the film.
  4. Pet (and Feed!) Sting Rays
    While the popular marine mammals like dolphins and sea lions may be more well-known, one of the most unusual animal encounters is feeding and touching the stingrays at SeaWorld Orlando. Guests of all ages – even tiny tots – can dip their hands directly into the pool, feel the velvety texture of the rays, and delight as the gentle creatures suck fish from their hands at lightning fast speed. (Don’t worry, the stingray barbs are trimmed, just like human fingernails.)
  5. Perform “Real” Magic
    Spell it out with the wave of a wand at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Objects suddenly move, water spouts and secrets reveal themselves throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade when visitors use one of the Interactive Wands available at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
  6. Meet The Pets That Went from Shelters to Stars
    Many people don’t know that SeaWorld also provides a home and second chance at life for dogs and cats rescued from animal shelters. Considered by many to be untrainable due to their high energy, these adopted animals now steal the stage – and fans’ hearts – as stars in the parks’ Pets Ahoy, a funny, fast-paced animal training show that also imparts a meaningful message to support local animal shelters. The cast of talented rescued animals includes dogs, cats and even ducks, and guests can personally meet some of these amazing “animal ambassadors” along with their trainers after the show.
  7. Dine with Princesses in Epcot, Too
    Join Disney princesses for Storybook Dining at the Norway pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase. While many visitors flock to Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle for princess dining, this lesser-known option includes a meal with several of the most-loved princesses in another, equally beautiful medieval castle.
  8. Send A Letter from Hogsmeade
    Send a real letter from Hogsmeade’s Owl Post at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Special postage, a Hogsmeade postmark and even unique wizardly stationary makes for a one-of-a-kind love letter, pen pal or postcard.
  9. Make Friends with Rescued Manatees
    Step behind-the-scenes and catch a glimpse of SeaWorld Orlando’s working manatee rescue and rehabilitation facility to learn more about the plight of these vulnerable animals that have been rescued from illness or injury in the wild. Guests can get a closer look at some of the water’s most gentle creatures – including calves, “teens” and adult manatees – all of which have been rescued and are undergoing treatment with the goal of successfully returning them back to the wild.
  10. Play I-Spy with Mickey
    Embark on a scavenger hunt for hidden mickeys, a famous “secret” of the Disney Parks. Everything from rides to décor and even walking paths at Disney properties feature subtle Mickey shapes, some easier to spot than others. While books have been published to help guests find them all, half the fun is in the discovery.
  11. Snap a Dinosaur Selfie
    A nearly-nine-foot-tall velociraptor awaits guests at Universal’s Raptor Encounter at Island of Adventure, perfect for a daring photo-op. With a reputation as the most “clever” dinosaur in Jurassic Park, these cold-blooded hunters are quite excited to meet outsiders, but don’t worry, they can’t escape their electrified paddock – probably.

SWEEPSTAKES

Enter to win the chance to experience some of these uniquely Orlando activities and more at VisitOrlando.com/Trip by March 11, 2018. Contestants of this sweepstakes simply share their family’s favorite Orlando memory to be automatically entered to win a dream vacation to Orlando, with the winner receiving:

  • Roundtrip air transportation to Orlando
  • Four (4) night hotel accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
  • Eight (8) one-day/one-park tickets of your choice for Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando
  • Five (5) day rental car from Alamo Rent-a-Car

The Orlando Destination
Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, Theme Park Capital of the World®, and most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.

About Visit Orlando
Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States and, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area’s leading industry. Visit Orlando is responsible for branding, selling and marketing the Orlando destination worldwide, and serves as the official visitor information source.


For more I-4 travel information, visit www.i4exitguide.com, the Internet’s largest and most complete website devoted to Interstate 4. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit from Tampa to Daytona!

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Orlando’s Good Eats and Holiday Treats: 2017’s Must-See Events for Fall and Winter

This fall and winter, there is more to see and do in Orlando than any other time of year. With numerous food and wine feasts, unparalleled Halloween thrills and merry holiday theme park events, the excitement in Orlando is warming up even as the weather cools down. For a full schedule of fall happenings, year-round events, insider attraction tips and vacation planning guides, go to VisitOrlando.com.

Orlando’s Food & Wine Feasts
The destination’s growing reputation for superb dining meets a seasonal surge of events for a food-lover’s dream vacation in the fall. From a month-long affordable fine dining program to theme park and resort smorgasbords, there are flavors for all palates through November.

read more…


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The Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017

Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel site, has just named the Best Amusement Parks for Families in 2017 – naming the best parks in the U.S., and sharing the year’s newest attractions and highlights for every age group.

“Amusement parks are one of the most quintessential summertime activities for families,” explains Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. “But for those traveling with family members of various ages – including kids-at-heart – finding a park that caters to thrill-seekers and the younger set isn’t always so easy. This list includes parks that successfully cater to both, and those that also have exciting new features for the 2017 season.”

Read more…


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Now Open: Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort’s Third Amazing Theme Park

A revolutionary water theme park has risen at Universal Orlando Resort – Universal’s Volcano Bay is now open.

The park’s first guests gathered inside the new water theme park to enjoy an authentic, South Pacific dedication ceremony commemorating the opening of Volcano Bay. The ceremony featured special performances by an array of authentic Maori entertainment, ranging from water dancers to “Haka” war dancers. The moment culminated with an eruption from the mighty 200 ft. Krakatau volcano – the park’s stunning icon.

Volcano Bay is Universal Orlando’s third theme park and the next chapter in the award-winning vacation destination’s evolution. Universal Orlando is part of the NBCUniversal Comcast family, which has invested significantly in the destination’s unprecedented growth. In just seven years, 25 new experiences – entire themed areas, attractions, restaurants, and hotels – have been added across the destination. Universal Orlando now has 5,600 rooms across its five (soon to be six) on-site hotels.

Volcano Bay was brought to life by Universal Creative – the same team responsible for bringing so many other groundbreaking experiences to life within Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Volcano Bay is a next-level water theme park – combining spectacular storytelling and incredibly immersive guest experiences with innovative technology exclusively designed for Universal to give visitors a fun-filled, hassle-free experience with their friends and family.

“Universal’s Volcano Bay sets a new standard on every level – from the attractions to how our guests experience them,” said Tom Williams, Chairman & CEO – Universal Parks & Resorts. “Our new water theme park is the perfect complement to the rest of our incredible destination. It provides our guests with spectacular entertainment experiences and innovative technology that helps them enjoy more of what matters most – connecting with each other and having an amazing time together.”


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Spanning 25 fully immersive acres and featuring something for everyone – from perfected relaxation to incredible thrills – Volcano Bay is unlike any other water park in world. It offers an immersive environment filled with unbelievable detail and innovative technology to enhance fun and remove hassles. Volcano Bay features:

  • More than 30 experiences including 18 unique attractions such as a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below and more.
  • The TapuTapu wearable – included with guest admission and specifically designed for use within Universal’s Volcano Bay. Features of TapuTapu include:
    • Virtual Line Access: TapuTapu allows guests to virtually wait in line for rides while enjoying other areas of the park. Their wearable will simply alert them when it’s time for their ride.
    • TapTu Play: Guests can enjoy many TapTu Play experiences throughout the park – like controlling streams of water spurting from whales in Tot Tiki Reef, shooting water cannons at guests snaking down Kopiko Wai Winding River, illuminating images in the volcano’s hidden caves and more.
    • TapTu Pay: Guests can make purchases throughout the entire park with their TapuTapu wearable, eliminating the need to carry cash, credit cards or a wallet throughout the park.
    • TapTu Snap/My Universal Photo Access: Guests can take advantage of special interactive photo opportunities and selfie-spots throughout the park as well as photo opportunities on Volcano Bay’s attractions. Their wearable will automatically link those photos to their account so that guests can view, share and purchase them at their convenience.
    • Locker Access: After renting their lockers, guests will be able to access them with a touch of their TapuTapu wearable.
  • Beautifully-themed dining locations featuring more than 60 delicious, South Pacific-inspired dishes – ranging from jerk mahi sandwiches to fresh island chicken salad to decadent chocolate pineapple upside down cake.

For more information about Universal’s Volcano Bay, visit www.universalorlando.com.


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“Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” Is Now Open At Universal Orlando Resort

Guests joined “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon to celebrate the grand opening of Universal Orlando Resort’s newest ride, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. The all-new ride takes guests on an action-packed race through the Big Apple against Jimmy Fallon himself, and completely immerses them in the world of America’s favorite talk show – “The Tonight Show.”

Jimmy Fallon kicked off the celebration with a New York-style ticker tape parade in Universal Studios Florida that featured tons of confetti, a custom float and beloved Universal Orlando characters. Joining Jimmy on the float were “Tonight Show” house band The Roots, announcer Steve Higgins, and an array of characters from the show, including Hashtag the Panda, the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet, and even Stepdad Gary from the popular “Ew!” sketch. The moment culminated with a countdown to the official opening of the attraction and a special ribbon cutting.


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“I’m happy. I’m grateful. I’m excited. This whole experience has been a real emotional rollercoaster simulator,” said Jimmy Fallon.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is the first ride at Universal Studios Florida to feature an all-new Virtual Line experience – allowing guests to enjoy other areas of the park while they “virtually” wait for their time to enter the attraction. For more information about “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” and the Virtual Line experience, visit the Universal Orlando blog at blog.universalorlando.com.


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Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay Releases More Details

In early summer 2017, a first-of-its-kind water theme park will erupt at Universal Orlando Resort – Universal’s Volcano Bay. It will be an innovative experience filled with incredible thrills and perfected relaxation. And on November 15, guests will have the chance to purchase tickets to experience it firsthand. Guests can receive a notification when tickets go on sale and updates about Volcano Bay by signing up for real-time email alerts.

Volcano Bay will span 30 fully immersive acres and feature a variety of experiences that range from daring to serene. Dozens of unique attractions will offer something for everyone, including a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below – and more. And the best part – guests won’t have to wait in long lines to enjoy any of it.

Krakatau Aqua Coaster will be the star experience at Universal’s Volcano Bay – combining innovative ride technology with water theme park thrills to take families on an unforgettable adventure through the park’s massive icon – the 200-foot Krakatau volcano.

Guests will board specially-designed canoes and propel downwards – and upwards – through the volcano’s interior peaks and valleys. They’ll twist, turn and plummet along dark passageways, be launched through sparkling waterfalls and so much more.

Universal’s Volcano Bay will debut a new technology, the TapuTapu wearable, designed to make the guest experience throughout the entire park as hassle-free and fun-filled as possible.

Even more details about TapuTapu and its unique guest features will be released soon. More details about Universal’s Volcano Bay will be revealed over time.


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“Skull Island: Reign of Kong” Is Now Open At Universal Orlando Resort

Excited guests gathered in Universal’s Islands of Adventure to help mark the official opening of Universal Orlando Resort’s newest mega attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

Skull Island: Reign of Kong brings the next generation of the King Kong legend to life on an unprecedented scale. The adventure begins as guests are transported deep into a mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin with the 8th Wonder Expedition Company, the research team leading the excursion. After braving ancient temple ruins and encountering hostile natives, they board a massive 40-foot-long, 17-ton expedition vehicle to navigate the increasingly foreboding terrain.

The specially designed expedition vehicle, which operates on a completely trackless ride system, takes guests deeper into the ominous island, where they soon find themselves in the midst of a brutal struggle between beasts of unimaginable size and ferocity.

Then, as those creatures turn on the expedition, there is an even more enormous, earth-pounding presence. It is Kong – in the flesh. Towering nearly three stories tall, he is so close that you can feel his breath and sense his emotion. But is he friend or foe?


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