Abby’s Pre-Orlando Adventure

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Its nearly time…….

If you watch our bi-weekly Facebook Lives you’re bound to know that i’m due to go on a ‘Super Fam’ trip and in particular, how excited I am about it! Well it’s time and i’m finally leaving tomorrow to embark on what is sure to be the best trip EVER.

If you follow our Facebook or Instagram accounts you’ll be seeing loads of videos and photos from yours truly over the next week including all things Disney, Universal and SeaWorld. Before I start packing (yes I know I’ve left it very last minute) I thought I would give you guys a run-down of what my trip is going to involve.

Soooo.. I arrive in Orlando at 5pm -ish on Sunday and by 9.30pm i’ll be at Universals Halloween Horror Nights!! Nothing like throwing us in at the deep end aye?! I’m absolutely terrified but also mega, mega excited for this (I do feel sorry for the people who are going to have to keep picking me up off the floor in the houses though) The house i’m most excited for is SAW: The Games of Jigsaw, SAW hasn’t featured at HHN for 8 years now and i’m pretty eager to see what’s going to be involved this time around.

For the first few days i’m going to be staying at Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort which I’ve heard is very nice indeed. 😛 On my first full day i’ll be visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley, Hogsmede Village and Universal Studios. I’m absolutely buzzing to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – I’ve heard so many amazing things about it and I just can’t wait to see it all for myself and i’m especially excited for  Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™.

On to the next day.. On this day I will be visiting Volcano Bay in the morning and Universals Islands of Adventure in the afternoon, woooo!!! I can’t wait to ride Krakatau™ Aqua Coaster and teeny bit scared to do Ko’okiri Body Plunge™ I feel like this is going to be a fantastic morning and I can’t wait to get loads of snaps of the Volcano! For Islands of Adventure I’ve been warned not to wear white tops or any denim and this is because i’m bound to get ABSOLUTELY SOAKED on the water rides.. Hopefully it’s a warm day (oh I forgot to mention, the weather forecast for next week is BEAUTIFUL.) Oh i’m also very eager to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster We have a surprise evening with Universal on this day and i’m super excited to see what this is going to be, of course, i’ll keep you updated!

Day 4 is the day i’m most excited about… anyone who knows me will understand why. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to swim with a dolphin and now i’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to do it YAY!!! If you haven’t guessed already, i’ll be visiting Discovery Cove in the morning. I’m not going to lie there will probably be some tears buy hey, who cares it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity! After Discovery Cove i’ll be travelling over to Busch Gardens where I cannot wait to ride all the big coasters and ALL of the pressure is on me to ride Falcons Fury.. i’ve got this!

On day 5 i’ll be visiting SeaWorld in the Morning , Aquatica in the afternoon and back to SeaWorld for the evening! 😉 Very excited to ride Manta and Mako at SeaWorld as everyone in the offices always raves about how good they are. Especially excited to be lucky enough to ride them in the dark also! Psyching myself up for Ihu’s breakaway falls at Aquatica!

I’ll be staying over night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, ready for day 6.. On day 6 i’ll be visiting EPCOT in the morning and Animal Kingdom in the afternoon. Can’t wait to visit all of the different countries at EPCOT and i’m so buzzing for Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom, the reviews i’ve read about Avatar – Flight of Passage have all been great so I cannot wait to experience it for myself too.

On the 7th Day i’ll be off to Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, I am really looking forward to seeing Cinderella’s Castle, meeting all of the characters and getting to experience the iconic rides and attractions such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I also hope I get to watch Happily Ever After, could possibly shed a tear or two here as well!

On my last day I get to go SHOPPING at the Orlando International Premium Outlets and the Florida Mall, I’ve got all my pennies saved up for this I’m just hoping i’ll have enough room in my suitcase!! After that it’s home time 🙁 🙁

Only 1 more sleep to go and i’ll finally be off!! If you would like to follow my action packed week make sure you keep checking our Facebook and Instagram as i’ll be trying to post as much and as often as possible.

See you all soon!!

Smiles Included,

Abby

 

Mario Kart To Be Main Ride At Universal’s Super Nintendo World

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Yesterday Nintendo and Universal held a joint special event to chat a little bit about Super Nintendo World coming to Universal parks in the future, the first being Osaka Japan in 2020.

Although rumours and wish lists have been rife with suggestions for main attractions nothing had been confirmed until now….. a real life Mario Kart will be the main attraction at Super Nintendo World and will feature the

“world’s most advanced technology.”

Nintendo and Universal also revealed this video rendering of how they see the park

Assuming this is slightly accurate it looks like Super Nintendo World is going to be a lot of fun! Similar to Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, it appears that the iconic green tube will grant you access to the immersive World acting as a passage way from “normal” in to the Mushroom Kingdom.

The video also suggest that Mario will great visitors and if the rendering is to be believed the land will look like you’re inside a video game! It also gives the impressive of a multi level environment.

The next shot shows a pair of giant Piranha Plants guarding King Koopa’s castle. We’re thinking that perhaps the Plants will be animatronic similar to raptor experience at Universal’s islands of Adventure. The amount of photo opportunities is going to keep Instagram pretty busy 🙂

The end sequence of the video seems to suggest a sprawling World covering quite a few acres. No official word yet when Orlando will get its own Super Nintendo World but its definitely coming.

Smiles included…

Jamie

 

Universals Fast & Furious – Supercharged will Debut in Spring 2018!

Hey Thrill Seekers!

Universal have recently released some exciting news – especially exciting for me as Fast & Furious is my favourite film franchise EVER!!

The attraction is going to be called Fast & Furious – Supercharged and will open in spring next year.

You’ve seen the cars. You’ve seen the ction. And soon, you’ll be able to live it.

Back in 2015 Universal announced that a Fast & Furious attraction will be coming to Universal Studios in the future and we now have a exact-ish release time! Fast & Furious is one of the most successful film franchises of all time and this ride is  going to be one of Universals most action packed experiences!

 You’ll feel like part of the “Fast family” as you embark on a thrilling new Fast & Furious adventure that will put you right in the middle of the action.


The ride is set to fuse everything people love about the films with an original storyline and incredible ride technology. Universal have said that you will be able to check out some of the high-speed, supercharged cars you’ve seen in the films and that you’ll be immersed in the underground racing world made famous in the films. You will even get to explore the headquarters of Toretto and his team. “Then, you’ll board specially-designed vehicles for an adrenaline-pumping ride with your favourite stars from the films.”

This action-packed ride will take guests on a high-octane journey that fuses an original storyline, incredible ride technology, popular characters, exhilarating environments, nonstop action and, of course, high-speed cars. You’ll feel like part of the Fast & Furious family as they join Dom Toretto, Hobbs, Letty and Roman on a thrilling new Fast & Furious journey.

Fast & Furious – Supercharged will also feature the Virtual Line experience. If you haven’t heard of this before it allows you to select a time to ride in advance so you can wait in line, virtually, (not standing getting achy legs)  and allows you to enjoy other experiences throughout the park while the app queues for you.

I, for one, am absolutely bursting with excitement for this one! What do you think?

Smiles Included,

Abby

Are Universal Closing Dragon Challenge?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Who doesn’t love a bit of gossip?! I love it! When there’s rumours around, Jamie and I basically fight over them. I don’t know if you know, but there’s been rumours flying about for quite some time now about Universal looking to replace Dragon Challenge.

I for one am pretty upset about this because I love a roller coaster more than the dark rides and I think Universal should continue to have both amongst their parks. The majority of attractions at Universal Studios are 3D, including Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Shrek 4-D, Terminator 3D, The Simpsons Ride, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D and The Escape from Gringotts. Although I absolutely love these attractions, you just can’t beat a good old roller coaster like Rip Ride Rock It or Revenge of the Mummy.

Over at Universal’s Islands of Adventure (IOA), they have a bit of a mixture with a couple of 3D rides, a couple of coasters as well as my 3 favourite water rides: Dudley Do Rights Ripsaw Falls, Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges and Jurassic Park River Adventure.

Here is what my debate is about. Yes, ok, IOA have the Incredible Hulk coaster (which I absolutely love) but it’s always good to have at least a couple of coasters in a park! For starters, the Incredible Hulk coaster keeps you tucked into the cart whereas Dragon Challenge lets your legs dangle in the air..

 

I just love all coasters in general and all the adrenaline however if I had to choose I guess I prefer the coasters with my legs dangling. I feel like it’s a bit more daring!

In my opinion, technology has taken over and, understandably, the parks are making the most of all of their wonderful tech knowledge to wow their customers time after time but what’s wrong with keeping some of the old school coasters instead of replacing them. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing all of the new ideas that come along but I’m still adamant that the way forward is more about coasters.

Overall, if Universal do decide to close Dragon Challenge, I hope they replace it with another coaster rather than a dark ride. Theme parks definitely need more of these about!

What would you like to see replace Dragon Challenge?

Smiles Included…

Louise

Step by Step Guide to Virtual Line for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Soooo, Universal have just released a very handy step by step guide on how to use the virtual line for Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon – the first of its kind at Universal Orlando Resort!

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon opens tomorrow (April 6) at Universal Studios. The park is actually opening early for the event at 8am so if you’re out in Orlando don’t forget to set your alarms!!

Universal have updated their app and are encouraging you to download the app today to make sure you have the most updated version.

Below is the step by step guide that Universal have provided:

Step 1. Download the Ofiicial  Universal Orlando Resort App 

After you download the app, tap on the image of “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” from the home screen..

‘Once on the “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” attraction page, tap on Virtual Line and Reserve. The app will display up to eight times available for the day. Select how many are in your party, and your preferred return time.’

‘If Virtual Line is not available, you’ll proceed either directly into the attraction or into the Stand-By line, if available. The app is the simplest and easiest way to access Virtual Line, but kiosks are also available at the front of the attraction.’

After you select your return time, you can then go and enjoy other areas of the park.

Step 2. Begin Your Race Through New York Experience!

‘When it’s your return time, enter the attraction through the main entrance and receive a coloured Peacock Card. This is where your Race Through New York experience officially begins – the Peacock Cards are designed to move you through the interactive pre-show areas and on to the ride quickly.’

3. Keep an Eye Out for Your Colour
‘The lighting in the two interactive pre-show areas will change colors (along with the iconic NBC chime) to let you know it’s time to ride.

Once the room lighting matches your Peacock Card, you’ll be able to move towards the ride. If you’d like to spend additional time in any of the interactive pre-show areas, just check in with the nearest NBC Page Team Member whenever you’re ready to ride.’

Step 4. Entertainment You Won’t Want to Miss
‘Your Race Through New York experience begins with our two interactive pre-show areas. In the first area, you’ll experience the Memorabilia Hall. Here you’ll find scripts, props and suits worn by hosts of The Tonight Show since the opening of the show in 1954. The second area is themed like Studio 6B, where The Tonight Show is filmed.’

You’ll get to experience all of the following:

  • Replica special-guest couches from The Tonight Show with charging ports
  • Interactive desks with games and Thank You Notes
  • Live performance from The Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet
  • A special appearance by The Tonight Show mascot, Hashtag the Panda

Step 5. It’s Time to Race!
‘When your colour is called, it’s time to ride. Turn in your Peacock Card and receive your briefing from Jimmy Fallon and The Roots. After your briefing, sit down in the studio audience and buckle up for the race of a lifetime. You’ll fly through the streets of The Big Apple, zoom by iconic landmarks and see familiar characters like Sara from “Ew,” Jimmy in “Tight Pants,” and “Tonight Show” announcer Steve Higgins.’

There will always be a team member on hand to assist you if you have any questions about the Virtual Line or the attraction itself.

I’m very jealous of anyone who is getting to experience the opening of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon as there has been loads and loads of hype around it and it is set to be a pretty incredible experience!

If you get the chance to go on it before me then I would love to know what you think!!

Smiles Included,

Abby

 

Food, Glorious Food.. New Disney and Universal Menus!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So, Universal have released – intentionally or not – some big announcements regarding plans for a new hotel on the land that used to be home to Wet ‘n Wild, patents that point towards a new Harry Potter ride and now.. the menu for Volcano Bay!

Now we all know that Disney aren’t one to sit back and let anyone steal their thunder and are opening Pandora: World of Avatar on the 27th May – 2 days after Volcano Bays debut and they have recently released the extremely intriguing menu.

A couple of weeks ago we got an insight into the weird and wonderful foods that are going to be on offer in the Satu’li Canteen which is Pandora’s sole restaurant and even more interestingly the way in which you can customise and order your meals. There’s some pretty cool things in there such as Na’vi Blueberry Cheesecake – sounds lovely and looks even better! There are some cool takes on traditional dishes as well such as one from the childrens menu – ‘hot dog wrapped in dough’ this isn’t too different to a normal dish so it shouldn’t scare the kids away too much. 😉 You will also find a vast list of alcoholic beverages on the menu such as Avatar Sangria and Banshee Pinot Noir – Fancy :-p.

Take a look at the menu here:

In my previous blog I also took a look into the new system of how you can pre-order and pay for your meals via the app which I think will really help with the  queues. Thankfully, Disney have released the full menu with pricing so you can even start budgeting and deciding on what you want before you leave the country!

Guests to Disney have been able to begin making FastPass+ reservations for Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage from the 24th March.. These are expected to book up very quickly!

I’ve also been taking a look into Volcano Bays menu – we all know swimming makes you hungry so good food inside a water park is essential!

Looking at Universals blog, creating the menu has been a pretty large project in itself.

As a Research & Development Chef at Universal Orlando Resort, I’ve gotten to create some unique food dishes. But it was a whole other experience to help design an entire menu for our third park, Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Said Corporate Executive Chef Steven Jayson, who was very excited to elevate the food and beverage experience at Volcano Bay. ‘From the minute you arrive in the morning until well into the night, you’ll have more than 60 delicious options to choose from, from snacks to entrees to desserts.’

The dishes are all inspired by the islands of the South Pacific and there will be dishes such as Poke Poke Bowl, Mango BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, Island Chicken Salad, Glazed Hawaiian Ribs, Coconut Curry Chicken as well as refreshing cocktails and beers.. Yummaaay!

The dishes will be available to grab a taste of at the following dining locations around Volcano Bay:

  • Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club
  • Whakawaiwai Eats
  • Bambu
  • The Feasting Frog

If you’re a fussy eater or a little less adventurous with your food (a bit like Kelly here at OAT) then don’t panic!! All of your favourites such as chicken fingers, hamburgers and pizza will also be available.

Both menu’s are weird and wonderful – which would do you prefer?

Smiles included,

Jess

 

What Is UMA?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Big companies are constantly trademarking words and phrases, sometimes it means nothing at all…. however sometimes it gives us a glimpse at the future. We think Universal’s latest trademark filings might just be pointing towards its future…

The first trademark is Universal Pay (2 images);

Here’s what the trademark states –

i) Providing an internet website portal for the facilitation of financial transactions.

ii) Downloadable software to enable the user to make mobile payments; downloadable mobile device application software for managing, storing, and capturing credit card and debit card information; downloadable software for enabling processing of electronic funds transfers and payments; Interactive computer kiosks comprising of payment terminals for use in monetary transactions

Universal Messaging Assistant (4 images);

also know as;

UMA (4 images)

 

i) Providing a website featuring customised restaurant and hotel information and recommendations to users; Online restaurant and hotel reservation and booking services

ii) Providing a website featuring customised entertainment and theme park recommendations to users; Online ticket reservation and booking services for entertainment events and amusement park attractions

iii) On-line retail store services featuring tickets to theme parks, theme park attractions, and entertainment events; on-line retail gift shops

iiii) Downloadable computer and mobile application software for providing customised entertainment, restaurant, hotel, and travel information and recommendations to users; Downloadable computer and mobile application software for facilitating the purchase of theme park and entertainment tickets and merchandise; Downloadable computer and mobile application software for making restaurant and entertainment event reservations.

These trademark filings seem to suggest to me that instead of heading down the TapuTapu route for the rest of their parks that perhaps they’re looking to build an all-consuming app that incorporates the obvious ticket and fastpass option but also extends to restaurant/hotel bookings, merchandise purchases and interestingly, recommendations.

Could UMA be the future of Universal?

Smiles included…

Jamie

 

Jimmy Fallon Ride To Open With New Queuing System

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So we can now officially say that Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is going to open NEXT MONTH eeeekkk!

With a new ride comes a new way to tackle a challenge, a huge one being reducing queues inside the parks. Universal have recently been testing a Virtual Line system that is apparently going to be incorporated with the Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon which is due to open on the 6th April. They carried out some trial runs on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem recently and are of course going to be using a virtual line queuing system in Volcano Bay.

Universal have announced that the Jimmy Fallon ride will be the first to have a virtual line – with all of the hype surrounding this attraction i’m not surprised that Universal are looking for a efficient way to cut queuing times for visitors!

Basically, guests will be able to reserve a spot in the queue via the Universal Orlando Resort app or resort kiosks and then wonder around the park until they are notified to return to the ride where they, theoretically can then go straight on the ride without having to wait in any line.

If you’re as excited about this ride as some of us here at the OAT towers are then you’ll surely know what while Jimmy Fallon is in Orlando he is planning on taping the  Tonight Show episodes from April 3rd to April 6th. If you’re a huge fan then you could request tickets for the tapings however they did sell out in about 10 minutes! The guest appearances for the shows at Universal have not yet been announced.

What do you think about Universal trying different ways  to reduce queuing inside the parks for attractions?

Smiles Included,

Jess

Universal Release More Information On TapuTapu

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Soooo.. Universal have just released some more, exciting news about TapuTapu!

As you probably know by now, Volcano Bay, the new 30 acre home of incredible rides, creative and immersive environments, relaxing scenery and best of all the new technology that ‘eliminates the fuss and maximises the fun’ is now opening on the 25th May (3 months, 16 days, 6 hours, 5mins….. not that i’m counting or anything!)

Universal have just released the first look at the design of the new virtual queuing system that is TapuTapu.. It looks as though the waterproof bracelets will come in a variety of colours – my favourite is the aqua colour ;-P

“It will transform the way guests experience water theme park entertainment at Volcano Bay”

The TapuTapu will give guests to Volcano Bay the freedom to join ‘virtual lines’ and as Jamie described in his last blog about TapuTapu all you will need to do is walk up to the totem in front of the attraction you are wanting to go on and simply waft your wrist (the one with the TapuTapu on it 😉 ) and then a ‘return time’ will let you know when you need to return. This means you can go off and enjoy Volcano Bays four themes area’s while still in the queue. The clever little TapuTapu will then alert you when it’s time to head over to the attraction. – I’m wondering if you can join more than one ‘virtual line’ at once? Hmmmm..

Universal have also let us in on some more information regarding TapuTapu Play experiences.. This is where you can use your TapuTapu wearable to control and play with many things  throughout the park. This will include things such as streams of water squirting from whales or being able to shoot water cannons and unsuspecting guests floating down Kopiko Wai Winding River. The coolest one in my opinion has got to be the lights that you can control within the hidden caves!

Universal's Volcano Bay grand opens on May 25, 2017.

Every guest entering the park will receive a TapuTapu Wearable to use for the day – there will be no extra charge for these and you will be required to return them at the end of your day.

“No Long Lines,

Endless Fun.”

I’m sooo excited about Volcano Bay opening and I really don’t enjoy queuing so i’m equally as excited to try out one of the TapuTapu’s and chill out at Waturi Beach while my TapuTapu does all the hard work and queues for Krakatau Aqua Coaster for me! 😀

Don’t forget to buy one of our Universal 3 park Explorer tickets if you’re wanting to visit Volcano Bay!!

Smiles Included,

Jess

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Universal drop parking prices after 6.00pm

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We know as well as you do that parking at the theme parks can be a nightmare sometimes. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment realised that offering free parking with selected tickets would help them out and it seems Universal are doing their best to keep up now.

They have announced that if you arrive after 6.00pm you will no longer need to pay any parking charges. If you arrive before 6.00pm, you will still have to pay for your days parking i’m afraid  🙁

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With Universal CityWalk growing immensely, free parking after 6.00pm will make accessing CityWalk so much easier for guests. Universal CityWalk has a large variety of entertainment and restaurants making it a great place to spend your evening!

Parking at Universal covers access for guests visiting Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, CityWalk and soon to be Volcano Bay so this is going to make a lot of guests extremely happy!

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One event that won’t be included within this free, evening parking is going to be Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 🙁

Disney Springs has free parking so maybe this is why Universal have made these changes? Disney Springs is one of their largest competitors when it comes to evening entertainment, especially for tourists. Hopefully we will see some further changes across the board when it comes to parking!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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