Tag Archives: Universal Studios

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.


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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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Universal Orlando Reveals Highly-Anticipated Water Theme Park Details

A lush, tropical oasis unfolds before you, instantly transporting you to a little-known Pacific isle. In the distance, a colossal volcano rises above a sparkling beach, boasting majestic waterfalls by day and blazing lava by night.

Welcome to Universal’s Volcano Bay – a radically-innovative water theme park opening next year at Universal Orlando Resort. Spanning 28 fully immersive acres, Universal Orlando’s third theme park will be an entirely new kind of water theme park experience, giving guests even more to enjoy on their vacation.

At Volcano Bay, guests will discover a place like no other, filled with incredible thrills and relaxing indulgences. This one-of-a-kind park will combine exhilarating experiences with hassle-free convenience so families can get the most out of their vacation together. They won’t have to stand in long lines or wrestle with tubes before diving into the unique attractions found throughout the park. They can enjoy a variety of experiences, ranging from winding rivers and private, two-story cabanas to family raft rides and twisting body slides that launch guests above the water.

Guests will have the opportunity to explore four imaginatively-themed areas at Volcano Bay, filled with experiences ranging from daring to serene.

  • Krakatau:
    The 200-foot volcano, Krakatau, will lie at the heart of the park, inviting guests to venture through its hidden caverns and cascading waterfalls.

    • A state-of-the-art marquee attraction found only at Volcano Bay. More details will be announced later.
    • Three distinctive body slides found at the rear of the volcano, which start off with surprise doors that drop out from beneath guests:
      • Ko’okiri Body Plunge: A racing, 70-degree drop that will plummet 125-feet through the center of Krakatau. It will be the world’s first slide to travel through a pool filled with guests.
      • Kala and Ta Nui Serpentine Body Slides: Two intertwining slides where guests will fall freely along 124 twisting feet.
    • Punga Racers: A high-speed race through four different enclosed slides featuring manta-shaped mats.
  • Wave Village:
    Located at the base of Krakatau, Wave Village will be home to:

    • Waturi Beach: A sparkling, multi-directional wave pool where guests can swim, relax on the sand or indulge in private, one- or two-story cabanas.
    • The Reef: An adjacent leisure pool will provide guests with calmer waters and exciting views of riders speeding through the Ko’okiri Body Plunge.
  • River Village:
    Named for the peaceful river that snakes through it, River Village will feature unique attractions for the entire family, including:

    • Kopiko Wai Winding River: A gentle, winding river that will pass through the volcano’s hidden caves, featuring spontaneous water effects and special nighttime lighting.
    • Tot Tiki Reef: A whimsical toddler play area with spraying Maori fountains, slides and a kid-size volcano.
    • Runamukka Reef: A three-story water playground inspired by the coral reef overflowing with twisting slides, sprinklers and more.
    • Honu: An adventurous, multi-passenger raft ride that will soar across two giant, sloped walls
    • Ika Moana: A twisting, multi-passenger raft ride that will glide across bubbling geysers.
  • Rainforest Village:
    Exhilarating thrills await guests in Rainforest Village, including:

    • Maku: North America’s first “saucer ride” – sending multi-passenger rafts speeding around three saucer-shaped curves.
    • Puihi: A breath-taking multi-passenger raft ride that will plunge guests into darkness before bursting into a funnel and launching into a zero-gravity drop.
    • Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides: Two twisting, adrenaline-pumping slides that launch guests four- and six-feet above the water at the end.
    • TeAwa The Fearless River: An action-packed, racing torrent river where guests hang tight in their inner tubes amidst roaring, whitewater rapids.
    • Taniwha Tubes: Four unique Easter Island-inspired slides with rafts for single or double riders.
    • Puka Uli Lagoon: A tranquil pool where guests can swim and relax.

Volcano Bay will redefine the queue experience so guests can focus entirely on having fun and spending time together. Guests won’t even have to carry their own rafts up the slides.

Each area of the park will offer its own easy-to-access, resort-like amenities, such as concierge locations and lockers, so guests won’t have to stroll out of their way to get what they need. There will also be highly-themed restaurants and bars located throughout the park offering signature food and beverage options and impressive volcano views. Even more unique features of the park will be announced later.

Volcano Bay will be located within Universal Orlando, adjacent to Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The water theme park is just a short walk or ride away from Universal Orlando’s two additional theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, on-site hotels and Universal CityWalk.

Universal Orlando will soon introduce a brand-new, 3-Park Explorer ticket for guests where they can plan to experience the highly-anticipated Volcano Bay for travel dates beginning June 1, 2017. Tickets will soon be available through international web sites and travel professionals, and additional ticket options will be announced later.

When you stay in the heart of the fun and excitement at an on-site hotel, you’ll be within walking distance to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal CityWalk and Volcano Bay.

Choose from spectacular on-site hotels:

Prime Value – Stylish resorts with family suites and rooms designed for fun and affordability.

Preferred – Relaxing getaways offering the perfect blend of resort conveniences and amenities.

Premier – Beautiful escapes offering distinguished service, spacious accommodations, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

or find your perfect hotel in Orlando!


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Fast and Furious Thrill Ride Races Onto The Scene At Universal Orlando Resort In 2017

One of the most successful film franchises of all time will soon become one of Universal Studios Florida’s most action-packed ride experiences. Universal Orlando Resort announced today that Fast & Furious: Supercharged will join its incredible lineup of attractions in 2017 – continuing the unprecedented growth of the destination.

Guests will experience a high-octane journey that fuses an original storyline and incredible ride technology with everything that fans love about the films—popular characters, exhilarating environments, nonstop action and, of course, high-speed cars.

Led by film stars Vin Diesel (Dom Toretto), Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) and Tyrese Gibson (Roman), guests will feel like part of the “Fast family” as they embark on a thrilling new Fast & Furious adventure. They will be immersed in the underground racing world made famous in the films, explore the headquarters of Toretto and his team and even get to check out some of the supercharged cars they’ve seen on the big screen. Then, guests will board specially-designed vehicles and take off on an adrenaline-pumping ride with their favorite stars from the films.

Fast & Furious is Universal Pictures’ highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Since the release of the first film in 2001, the Fast & Furious series has become a cultural phenomenon. Together, all seven installments have grossed nearly $3.9 billion at the worldwide box office. The most recent film, Furious 7, was released in April and became the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time, with more than $1.5 billion in global box office. In addition, Universal Studios Hollywood introduced its own Fast & Furious—Supercharged this summer, which serves as the grand finale to its world famous Studio Tour.

Fast & Furious: Supercharged will replace Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue and Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Starring You! at Universal Studios Florida. Disaster will close on September 8, 2015 and Beetlejuice will close later this year to make way for the new attraction.


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King Kong Roars To Life At Universal Orlando Resort in Groundbreaking New Attraction

King Kong will rule at Universal Orlando Resort next year in the groundbreaking attraction, “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.”

The new attraction will open in the summer of 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – and will be an intense, all-new adventure brought to life in a dramatically themed environment. Skull Island: Reign of Kong will pull guests into a powerfully told story where they become part of the next generation of the Kong legend.

It begins as guests are transported deep into a wild and mysterious world, where their mission is to discover creatures of unknown origin – but where they are soon fighting for their own survival. Their journey will take them through an ancient temple inhabited by hostile natives, a perilous jungle ruled by prehistoric creatures, a foreboding underworld of caves concealing unspeakable terrors – and face-to-face with the colossal Kong himself.

Universal Creative is working closely with Peter Jackson, famed director of 2005’s blockbuster movie, “King Kong,” to immerse guests in this incredible adventure.

“King Kong is a Hollywood movie legend and a huge part of both our history and our future,” said Mike West, Executive Producer, Universal Creative. “He gives us the opportunity to tap into everything that makes our film history so special and everything that makes our theme park attractions so spectacular. We can’t wait to bring him to life in such an epic way.”

Known as “the eighth wonder of the world,” Kong has been called “the experience for which movies were invented.” Since first appearing on screen in 1933, “King Kong” has been re-made twice – each time on a tremendous scale – earning seven Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations.

And now – in even grander and more realistic form – the Kong story continues to grow. “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will open in the summer of 2016. More details about the mega-attraction will be released over time. Visit www.universalorlando.com/ReignofKong for more information.