Universal Buy’s More Land And Clears The Way For A New Theme Park

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It’s a good time to be associated with Universal Orlando Resort, as an employee told me yesterday

It’s great to work for a company doing things

And its hard to disagree! Universal are currently at the forefront of everything theme park related so much so that rivals have been accused of straight up copying.

So the news coming from Florida that Universal yesterday not only purchased 100’s of acres of additional land but also the deed of restrictions that would have blocked Universal’s master plan probably wasn’t welcomed.

According to the Orlando Sentinel,  deeds filed with Orange County on Thursday showed the transfer of land from Georgia businessman Stan Thomas to Universal’s subsidiary, SLRC Holdings LLC. How much Universal paid for the additional land and the exact acreage haven’t been confirmed but by the looks of the map below it’s a lot.

Pic credit: (Adelaide Chen/Orlando Sentinel)

An email sent by Universal SpokesmanTom Schroder stated;

We are excited about our plans for this area, and we are looking forward to sharing more at the right time. We also look forward to working with our neighbors in the area and our partners in the community as we move forward.

Universal now have access to 500+ acres of land and are free (local government permitting) to do whatever they like with it. For me I think its pretty clear that Universal are build a resort the introduction of 1 or even 2 new parks would make them much more of a match for Disney.

I believe its pretty certain that one will have a large Nintendo presence or could just be a dedicated park. If this is the case the next big battle could be for more IP.

What would you want to see at a new Universal park?

Smiles included…

Jamie

Halloween Horror Nights tickets now on sale!!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

YES! Its still March and we have Halloween Horror Nights tickets on sale can I get a WOOOHOOO!

This year there’s been a change to the ticket offered for HHN so drum-roll please…

NEW FOR 2018:  Halloween Horror Nights Flex Ticket

This ticket will allow you entry into 2 HHN28 dates that fall on and between 14th September 2018 – 2nd November 2018 (Saturdays are excluded).  This ticket will allow you into Universal Studios on select HHN event nights from 6.30pm until park close. If you’re a true thrill seeker and would prefer to make a day of it, to enter the park before 6.30pm you will still need your Universal 3 Park Explorer ticket  .

Having had the opportunity to visit Halloween Horror Nights for the first time last September I really cannot recommend it enough. I have never laughed so much whilst being terrified at the same time! Universal Studios will be transformed into a nightmarish labyrinth of haunted houses, outrageous live shows, and electrifying scare zones while an army of mutants, monsters and maniacs roam the darkened studio streets.

Things you should know…
  • Halloween Horror Nights™ are scary! We do not recommend this ticket for children under 13.
  • Please do not wear masks or costumes as you will not be refused entry.
  • The Halloween Horror Nights™ Event begins at 6:30 pm and closing times vary.

The Halloween Horror Nights Flex Ticket will be sold between March 29, 2018 and June 6, 2018. The Halloween Horror Nights event begins at 6:30 pm and closing times vary.

Screams Included,

Abby

* please note that this ticket is a special offer ticket and is not included in any other special offers or promotions.

What’s Happening This Christmas At Universal Orlando Resort

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Is it ever to early to talk about Christmas?

Last year Universal knocked Christmas out of the park and this year is going to be no different. Today Universal confirmed that many of last years favourites are making a return and the festivities will officially begin on November 17, 2018, until January 6, 2019.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Last year saw the very first projection mapping experience on Hogwarts Castle and it was AMAZING. This amazing experience will be returning and that’s not all at the Wizarding World. At Hogsmeade you can take in the festive décor, listen to the Frog Choir sing holiday themed songs and grab a Hot Butterbeer.

At Diagon Alley you’ll be able to immerse yourself in stunning holiday decoration and witness s the talented Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees sing their holiday hits.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is returning to the streets of Universal Studios Florida. This colourful parade fills the streets with music, confetti, and some of your favourite characters, including the Despicable Me Minions, Shrek and Fiona, King Julien, the Penguins of Madagascar, and more!

And, of course, there’s a visit from Santa as he rides high in the sky on a beautiful float, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.

Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Aso making a return is Grinchmas. Hear the tale of the Grinch and help the Whos down in Whoville save Christmas during a wonderful live stage show. Sing along to all your favourite songs and get into the Grinchmas spirit.

Seuss Landing will also be decked out for Christmas by the bustling Whos as they get their final preparations in order for Christmas.

Mannheim Steamroller

Fan-favourite the Mannheim Steamroller will also be returning to perform live on the Music Plaza Stage. Their performances will take place on select night during the months of November and December.

Christmas is only 279 days away so you better start planning 😉

Smiles included…

Jamie

 

Universal Launch a new skill for Amazon Alexa

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So Universal have recently launched a new ‘set of skills’ for Alexa which will provide information such as;

 

  • Wait Times
  • Show Times
  • Park Hours
  • Points of Interests (Restrooms, Restaurants, Guest Services, etc)

It is definitely the way forward for holiday planning, if you’re at home planning out your days and you can’t remember what time Volcano Bay closes then all you’ll have to do is ask Alexa ‘What time does Volcano Bay close on…..’

To enable the skill on Alexa, visit the skills section of your Alexa App or Amazon.com or say, “Alexa, open Universal.” Once enabled, Alexa will be ready to assist. All you have to do is say, “Alexa, open Universal” and you’ll have access.

Pretty cool huh?

Smiles Included,

Abby

Top Doughnut Picks from Voodoo Doughnuts coming to City Walk this Spring

Hey Thrill Seekers!

It’s not long now until Voodoo Doughnut opens at City Walk. Voodoo Doughnut have built a very large following around the U.S and the world due to their doughnuts being very unique, yummy and their use of weird and wonderful ingredients in each doughnut. From the unusual names like Grape ape to Oh Captain, My Captain you’re bound to find one to suit your taste, especially as there are more than 50 types to pick from.

To help you plan ahead, Universal have constructed a list of their top 5!

1. Voodoo Doll

This doughnut has become synonymous with Voodoo Doughnut. The idea for the signature creation was thought of well before the first Voodoo Doughnut shop opened its doors, but it took a while to find the right “doll pin.” Once the creators found the perfect pretzel, the rest was history. Filled with raspberry jelly, covered with chocolate frosting and topped with a pretzel stake, this is the perfect doughnut to post to Instagram to make all of your friends and family jealous.

2. Portland Cream

Not only is this one of the first doughnuts that Voodoo Doughnut created, but it is also a tribute to the city of Portland, the shop’s first location. This creation is filled with Bavarian cream and topped with chocolate and two frosting eyeballs.

3. Grape Ape

This doughnut was almost cut from the original Voodoo menu but after customers made an impassioned plea, it quickly became a fan favourite. A few fans have even gotten a tattoo in honour of the vanilla frosted doughnut covered with grape dust and lavender sprinkles.

4. Bacon Maple Bar

Covered with maple frosting and bacon on top, this doughnut is perfect for those who love savoury mixed with sweet.

5. Oh Captain, My Captain

For the cereal lovers out there! This doughnut is covered with vanilla frosting and sweet and golden breakfast cereal with a fruity twist.

If none of the above tickle your fancy then check out all of the Doughnuts that can be found at Voodoo Doughnut: (i’ve put our favourites in bold)

Cake Doughnuts
Raised Doughnuts – Rings

Abby’s Annual Halloween Horror Night Predictions

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Yep its that time again where I try to guess what this years Halloween Horror Nights houses will have in store for us. Last year I got 3/6 correct which I was pretty happy about to be honest.

Last year I had the privilege of attending HHN for the first time and it was INCREDIBLE. I feel as though it has also given me an advantage for this blog.  This year I’m confident of beating my previous score and if I’m correct HHN28 is going to be awesome.

Stranger Things

We thought this might make an appearance at HHN27 after Universal big cheese, Mike Aiello, expressed his love for the show on twitter, however due to time constraints (they start working on the following years Halloween horror nights as soon the latest one starts) we feel this might make an appearance this year.

With 2 seasons under its belt and no sign of viewer fatigue we’re guessing that a Stranger Things house will cover the events on season 1 & 2, so expect Demogorgans and a girl with a nosebleed. 

Likelihood: 8/10

IT

One of 2017 most anticipated remakes and although it split audiences it still raked in $700 Million  on a budget of just $35 Million proving that there is definitely a strong fan base there.

IT feels like a very obvious choice for me, the theming is right up Universal’s alley and I can see the house moving from scene to scene easily. Also last year we didn’t see a house with a resident clown so maybe it’s time to step up the clown antics at HHN or could the recent uproar of working clowns vs scary clowns affect this?

Likelihood: 9/10

American Horror Story 

One of the highest rated houses from HHN27 and HHN26 (and my personal favourite) could well return, American Horror Story season 8 is rumoured to be hitting TV’s in the Autumn and will centred around either lust or violence (following the 9 circles of hell.) In 2016 the house featured Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel. Last year it featured Asylum, Coven and Roanoke with their biggest floor plan of the year (you can hear me screaming my way through the 4+ minute house here. ) I think it’s obvious that we would see Cult featured this year!

Universal obviously have a working relationship with FX and the creators of AMS and as Walking Dead’s popularity falls I think American Horror Story is in a good position to become a HHN regular.

Likelihood: 8/10

Five Nights at Freddy’s 

Now this one’s a bit of a hail Mary but bear (excuse the pun) with me. For those who don’t know Five Nights at Freddy’s is a computer game about a security guard looking after a Pizzeria at night, during the night the animatronics come to life and are hell bent on killing stuff.

Here’s the reason we think this could have a chance. Chris Columbus of Harry Potter, Home Alone  and The Goonies fame has signed on to direct a film based on the computer game. The Studio making the film? Friends of Universal, Blumhouse. Who you might remember had a house last year based solely on their horror franchise.

The only thing that makes us doubt ourselves is the timing, the announcement that a film was in the pipeline only happened a few days ago. So perhaps we’re looking at HHN29?

Likelihood: 3/10

Titans of Terror

In Hollywood last year they were blessed with the Titans of Terror, yep Jason, Freddy and Leatherface. We’re thinking that perhaps these classic horror icons might make the trip east to appear at HHN28.

Here’s what Hollywood said about the house;

Fall victim to the silver screen’s most deplorable killers, whose affinity for bladed weapons, redefined the horror movie genre as slasher films: Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) wielding his iconic chainsaw, Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) brandishing his relentless machete, and Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) swiping his trademark glove armed with razor blades.
The new maze will be an assault on your sensibilities as you descend into the forbidden realms of these iconic horror monsters and discover the place where these depraved legacies were born.

Likelihood: 6/10

The Purge

Okay, bear with me on this one. I know that the Purge franchise is very popular and featured as a scare zone in 2014, a house in 2015, didn’t feature in 2016 and was back as a scare zone in 2017. It works extremely well in a scare zone  BUT there’s a new Purge film set to be released this year called ‘The First Purge’ (also known as Purge: The Island) which will be a prequel that will focus on the events that lead up to the very first Purge event. So with all loose ends tied up, a beginning, middle and end it could be upgraded to its own house again.. I hope so anyway!

The Purge was by far my favourite Scare Zone of HHN27 and I could imagine it to be a very adrenaline pumping, high energy house that can now also tell a story.

Likelihood: 6/10

Now this one is not included in my predictions as such, it’s more of a wish.. and that is the idea that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter could be incorporated in HHN. How? I hear you ask… Let me explain..

Death Eaters Attack Diagon Alley.

This has already happened at the Japan park, what’s to stop it coming to Orlando?! In Japan guests saw Death Eaters attack Hogsmeade so for Studios if this were to ever happen it would have to take place in Diagon Alley as HHN only features in Universal Studios.

In Japan, as night fell the cheerful world of magic transformed into a world of darkness as the Death Eaters appeared wearing black hoods and masks enabling guests to come fact to face with the followers of Lord Voldermort

This is a very far-fetched idea and I’m pretty sure JK Rowling wouldn’t allow for the Wizarding World to be part of HHN but I think it would be amazing!

Likelihood: 0/10

So there you go, my predictions for Halloween Horror Nights 2018 are out there.. none of these have been confirmed by Universal.

What would you like to see come to HHN this year?

Screams included…

Abby

NEW Nighttime Light Show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I’m sure Gavin and I jinxed this. 🙁 The minute we finished OAT Live Universal announced a new nighttime Light show at Hogwarts Castle!

Grab your wands and robes because an all new projection mapping experience called The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is coming to Universal and will have guests celebrate all four houses in all their glory by transforming Hogwarts Castle with special effects, music, lights and much more.

Each of the four houses – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and HufflePuff will ‘wrap itself around the castle’ as they showcase their pride in their own unique ways in time with the moving music from the films. This will definitely give me goosebumps (maybe even a tear 😉 )

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is set to debut on Wednesday 31st January through to Monday the 5th February as well as from Wednesday the 7th February through to Monday 12th February. Universal have said that additional dates will be announced later so don’t fear if your holiday date isn’t above. Guests to A Celebration of Harry Potter (27th and 28th Jan) will get to see a preview too! (lucky Gavin!)

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Caste looked absolutely A-MA-ZING so if it is (and it will be) as fabulous as this then guests are in for a right treat! Just picture it now.. Hogwarts lit up in your house colour, wand in hand, soundtrack blaring, tear in your eye… Ahhh! 😀

Who’s going to Universal in Feb and will get to see this?!

Smiles Included

Abby

Universal Confirm Mardi Gras Details

Hey Thrill Seekers,

IT’S MARDI GRAS time… whoop whoop etc

From the 3rd February until the 7th April Orlando Attraction Tickets customers can get their PARTY on with GRAMMY Award-winning rapper, Macklemore; international superstar and recording artist, Sean Paul; and Billboard “Hot 100” pop group, Fifth Harmony, as they take the stage in the Music Plaza at Universal Studios.

As well as amazing live music guests can enjoy dazzling festival krewes, see stunning float designs during the nightly parade and taste mouthwatering Cajun-style bites.

Check out the full line-up:

Feb. 3: Sean Paul
Feb. 10: The Beach Boys
Feb. 17: Kelsea Ballerini
Feb. 18: Andy Grammer
Feb. 24: Macklemore
March 3: 311
March 4: Phillip Phillips
March 10: To Be Announced
March 11: Fitz and the Tantrums
March 17: Foreigner
March 18: Fifth Harmony
March 24: To Be Announced
March 25: BUSH

Plus the  sounds of the Bayou to The French Quarter Courtyard:

Feb. 3 – Feb. 20: Free Agents Brass Band
Feb. 21 – March 6: Naughty Professor Brass Band
March 7 – March 20: New Breed Brass Band
March 21 – March 31: Young Pinstripe Brass Band
April 1 – April 7: Dirty Bourbon River Show

On top of music and of course the bead catching, Universal are upping their parade game and introducing 6 new floats  based around a celestial feel. The nightly constellation-themed parade will feature dancers, colourful stilt performers and 12 handcrafted floats.

Check out these designs;

Taurus

Virgo the Maiden 

Scorpius 

Andromeda

Orion the Hunter

Serpentarius

It looks like Universal’s Mardi Gras is going to be bigger and better than ever!!!

Remember: Entry is free with any Universal tickets purchased from Orlando Attraction Tickets.

Smiles included…

Jamie

Universal Begin Construction Of New Wizarding Attraction

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Ever since Universal confirmed that Dragon Challenge would be closing we’ve been patiently waiting for an announcement for what would be replacing the well loved coaster.

We’ve speculated, you can read it here, and at the time the link looked solid however on Saturday we were informed about a reddit thread that might be shedding even more light on what we can expect at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

User Miker_Incredible (according to himself) is an active employee of Universal Orlando Resort and had this to say;

black supports have arrived and footers have been poured for the new Wizarding World roller coaster. It seems like it is going to be a suspended/inverted coaster, as the support-to-track connectors are “underneath” the support structure.

Hmm interesting. The revelation that the coaster would be a suspended/inverted type has led to speculation about exactly what the ride could be. The major theory which is supported by quite a few bloggers, is that Universal are looking to build something similar to Arthur at German theme park Europa Park.

ARTHUR is an inverted-spinning dark ride roller coaster which has been praised for its theming (Universal are all about the theming).

Riders are suspended beneath the steel roller coaster track in one of nine, 12-person vehicles. The 550-metre-long (1,800 ft) attraction features a theoretical hourly capacity of 1,600 riders. The ride features seven scenes both inside and outside the show building. Unlike most roller coasters, Arthur – The Ride does not require gravity for movement, instead it is powered by motors inside the trains. It begins with a spiral lift hill. The ride features animatronics by Life Formations and Heimotion, as well as other 4D effects such as water, wind and scents

The Arthur coaster is made by MACK rides and recently won the THEA Award for the Best Ride System. Arthur is most definitely a family ride with some thrills which does kind of fit the little information we’ve had from Universal. Take a look at this video to see what we might expect…

We’d expect Universal to ramp up the thrills a little bit but the mix of dark ride and coaster with both an indoor and outdoor experience does feel right.

We’ll keep you updated when we learn more…

Smiles included…

Jamie

Universal Hint There’s More To Come In 2018

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Happy New Year!!!

2018 is expected to be another amazing year for theme parks in Orlando with Disney opening Toy Story Land, SeaWorld opening Infinity Falls and Aquatica introducing us to Ray Rush.

Today though Universal have dropped a little hint at what we can expect from them in 2018. On top of Fast & Furious Supercharged set to open in Spring 2018, they’ve stated we can expect information about;

The previously-announced ride replacing Dragon Challenge in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Yep with Dragon Challenge now totally gone from Islands we’ll be waited with baited breath about what Universal will be replacing it will.
An additional projection mapping experience at Hogsmeade castle

The Christmas spectacular was so popular it makes sense that Universal might be looking to add a permanent show.
Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular being replaced

We knew this was happening but we’re yet to find out what will be replacing Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular.  Rumours state it could be a movie themed show.

Something new going in where Terminator 2: 3D was

Yep we knew this was being replaced, what it is we’re not sure. Rumours seem to suggest a high octane IP. Some are guessing Jason Bourne…

A new venue coming to Universal CityWalk where Element was

Nope, I know nothing about this one.

Our expanding hotel collection

2 hotels are expected to be built on the old Wet n’ Wild land. We’ll get confirmation soonish I’d imagine.

The continued global expansion of our partnership with Nintendo. Our sister park in Japan has already broken ground on Super Mario World; I’m sure you can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Pretty self explanatory… we just have to wait to see if we can get involved in a massive Mario Kart simulator (we think its a yes).

We’ll keep you posted when we learn more.

Smiles included…

Jamie