Abby’s Orlando Adventure, Part 1. Universal

Hey Thrill Seekers!

I’M BACK!!

I’ve been back a few days now – just about getting over the jet lag but still wishing I was in Orlando.. 🙁 I had the most AMAZING week out in Orlando and had the opportunity to do things i’ve only ever been able to dream of doing until now. I’m going to let you all know what I got up to over a blog or three.  😉 Today’s blog is all about what I got up to at the Universal parks..

So on the 17th September I made my way to Gatwick and met everyone (all 50 of them) at the check in desk ready to do my first ever long haul flight. The flight was fine and seemed like we were there in no time! We then travelled straight from the airport to Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort which is a really cool 1950’s retro themed hotel. After being shown to our rooms we met over at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – another one of Universals properties to have a welcome buffet and drinks. At dinner our lovely Universal host Liz gave us the opportunity to go over to Universal Studios to experience Halloween Horror Nights 27. Of course I opted to do this (partly because if i didn’t I would be mocked here at OAT towers) We hopped on a water taxi from Loews over to Universal Studios to experience the best Horror Night event i’ve ever been too! As soon as you walk in to the park it starts, there’s a scare zone after scare zone and so many houses to choose from. I done a mix of Rides and Houses that night, started off on Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It (Kayne West – Stronger, obvious choice 😉 ) – Wicked ride to do in the dark! Also rode TRANSFORMERS-3D, The Simpsons and Men In Black. TRANSFORMERS 3D was my first experience of a simulator ride and it’s safe to say I absolutely LOVED it! Now on to the houses, the first house I went in to was American Horror Story.. one word, terrifying. There is a video / sound clip on our Facebook page that I took whilst walking through the house and you can tell from that how scared I was and also how funny it is to be scared. The attention to detail in the houses is second to none, if you have the chance to go make sure you keep your eyes open the whole time to really take in all of the props and details! The second house I went in was Scarecrow – The Reaping. This house was more jumpy and I did fall over at one point from being scared – not my finest moment ;). The Scare Zones were also amazing and clever, my favourite Scare Zone was the Purge one as you just couldn’t escape! This was closely followed by the Scare Zone Roaming Hordes – Clowns with Chainsaws.. enough said. We made our way back to the hotel at around 1am to get some sleep ready for the next day.

On our first full day we made our way over to Universal Studios where we met our very own VIP tour guides who were going to be taking us around for the morning. We started off by heading in to Diagon Alley – the ‘wow factor’ when you walk in is exactly, if not more, how everyone describes it. We had a quick taste of Butterbeer – I loved this, I love all things sweet and this is definitely sweet, yummy. We then went on to do the Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, I also had a lot of expectations for this ride and it lived up to every single one of them, it’s just so lifelike and cleverly done. After this we met up outside Kings Cross Station, had a few photos with the knight bus and then made our way inside to board the Hogwarts Express. Oh another thing, when you are standing outside Kings Cross you will reeeeeaaaalllllyyyy feel like you are back in London! (let me know below if you know what I mean by this 😉 ) After walking through platform 9 3/4 we hopped in to a carriage.The journey on the Hogwarts Express was soo immersive and be sure to look both left and right throughout the whole journey. In what felt like seconds we had arrived at Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, another ‘wow’ moment as you catch a glimpse of Hogwarts Castle for the first time. We headed straight for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, probably my favourite of the 2 Harry Potter rides we did, I love the way the ride really puts you in the middle of the action. We then made our way back on to the Hogwarts Express to head back over to Universal Studios, it’s a completely different experience on the way back so make sure you pay close attention (and look out for a cool graphic to do with a tree out of the window side). As we entered Kings Cross earlier on in the morning one of our group had said ‘the only thing missing is a busker’ and as we walked out back in to Universal Studios after departing the Hogwarts Express there was a lady standing at the entrance playing the violin – Universal don’t miss anything do they!  We then got to do most of the iconic attractions in Universal Studios.. Minion Mayhem, Revenge of the Mummy (fantastic ride!!) and Jimmy Fallon were all great, every sense is tested in Jimmy Fallon and the whole experience beforehand is also brilliant. We also rode the Simpsons Ride, TRANSFORMERS 3D, Rip Ride Rock It (Fergie – Glamorous this time) and Men In Black again (well second time for me because i’d stayed out to do them the night before hehe) Men in Black is so much fun, especially when you beat everyone.. not gloating, promise. My favourite ride in Universal Studios, by a mile is TRANSFORMERS – 3D I just absolutely love it for so many reasons. After Universal Studios we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a hosted event at Cuba Libre by Visit Orlando – great fun. 🙂

On the second full day, after breakfast, we made the short walk over to Universals Volcano Bay. After collecting our Tapu Tapus we walked the short path (which is very cleverly located) and turned the corner to be face to face with the Volcano. It is so awesome when you first see it, I had a look around and everyone had just stopped dead to stare or take photos – great backdrop for any photos!! We then got to explore the park at our own leisure, I went on Krakatau Aqua Coaster, Ika Moana, Honu, Te Awa Fearless River, Puihi raft ride and the one i’m most proud of.. Ko’okiri Body Plunge. There wasn’t one slide that I didn’t enjoy here they all made me laugh out loud – that is all bar Ko’okiri which was the only attraction in Orlando I was scared to do before I went and admittedly, I was 10x more scared when I cane face to face with it. Not going to lie, it was the main thing I noticed when I first caught sight of the Volcano after walking in to the park. Ko’okiri features a 70-degree fall through a drop door and a 125 feet descent, to be honest it was sooo much fun I wanted to do it again but we didn’t have enough time! 🙁 Krakatau was also wicked, i’d worked myself up so much about Ko’okiri that i’d partly forgotten about Krakatau but it was so thrilling and the dips and drops are a lot bigger and much faster than I had anticipated. It’s definitely a must!! After Volcano Bay and a quick change of clothes we headed over to Universals Islands of Adventure and were told to not wear any denim or white tops.. if you don’t know then i’ll tell you, IOA is renowned for its water rides! We had planned to do the water rides last though (because we are smart like that) so headed straight over to the Hulk coaster – amazing and the launch is really something else, loved it! We also experienced The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Skull Island: Reign of Kong which is a wicked ride with a really cool surprise at the end (I wont ruin it for you). It was then time for the water rides.. We rode Jurassic Park River Adventure which was pretty cool and I sat at the back so didn’t get very wet.  We then opted for Popeye and Blutos Bilge Rat Barges which was hands down the most i’ve laughed on a ride, ever. You can sit in groups of 12 and you get DRENCHED. Luckily (well, for me) we didn’t have time to get on to Dudley Do-rights Ripsaw Falls but got to catch a glimpse of a few others getting absolutely soaked on it.. hehe! Once we were done at Islands of Adventure we headed back to Cabana Bay to get ready for our ‘surprise evening with Universal.’

#volcanobay @universalorlando amazing morning, conquered Ko’Okiri too!! 🌋💚

A post shared by Karl (@orlandoattractiontickets) on

Our surprise evening with Universal was incredible.. we had the whole of Volcano Bay to ourselves, yep you heard it right, the whole park! The lovely Universal had put on a delicious buffet dinner and drinks for us in one of the restaurants and just as we were finishing up our food, the minions walked in to have their photos taken with us! After our photo shoot with the minions we headed down to one of the bars by the Waturi beach for more cocktails and a live band, had a little dance and then we headed down to the beach to watch a fire performer and Waturi dancers, had some more photos taken in front of the Volcano – which changes colour and looks even more awesome in the dark! It was such a fantastic evening and I felt very lucky to be a part of it. After a few more drinks we walked back to Cabana bay for a game of bowling and a night cap. The evening at Volcano Bay concluded our visits to the Universal parks and what a ending it was!!

Overall, my top 3 rides / attractions from the Universal parks were:

3. Ko’okiri Body Plunge

2. The Incredible Hulk Coaster

1. TRANSFORMERS-3D.

What are your favourite Universal attractions?

Stay tuned for my next blog all about what I got up to at Discovery Cove, SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens! You can also take a look at the video below of me and Gavin chatting about what I got up to on the first part of my FAM trip. 🙂

Smiles Included,

Abby

 

How To Make Blue Milk From Star Wars

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Star Wars Land is coming to Orlando in 2019 and I for one cannot wait!!! Disney have promised an immersive experience like no other and part of that will be Disney’s Butterbeer competitor, Blue Milk!

What’s in Blue Milk?

Well its more than just milk and some food colouring, you’ll need;

  • 250ml Milk
  • 2 tablespoons of fat free yogurt
  • 1 banana (mashed)
  • a few drops of blue food colouring
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

OAT resident Chef Karl took time out of his busy schedule to put together this guide to making Blue Milk, enjoy.

If you try it let us know what you think and how you got on…

Smiles included…

Jamie

It’s Back! Hot Butterbeer Now Available At The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It’s the drink that separates people as much as marmite… Frozen, ice cream flavour or just the traditional drink our customers are split 50/50. You either love it or hate it…

Well perhaps Universals new offering will unite everyone, with a twist in the secret ingredients you can now purchase Butterbeer as a winter drink. Available at the Leaky Cauldron, The Hopping Pot and The Fountain of Fair Fortune all at Diagon Alley or at the Three Broomsticks or the Hog’s Head Pub in Hogsmeade, hot Butterbeer is ready to be served.

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To celebrate the launch Universal were giving away free samples to lucky guests who all seemed to enjoy the butterscotch flavoured beverage.

This isn’t the first time the hot version of the brew has been available, in January 2014 Universal tested the drink on the populous. The results must have been positive as its back with a bang.

Smiles included…

Jamie

Butterbeer Is The New Marmite

Hey Thrill Seekers,

One of Universal’s most lauded aspects when the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened was its attention to details from the streets you walk down to the food you’re served.

Nothing says attention to detail though more than Butterbeer, the Wizards drink of choice has been extremely popular since its launch, selling well over 1 million in the first 6 months of launch. Universal actually held discussions with J.K. Rowling to determine the taste and only placed it on sale once the author had given her blessing.

Described as being similar to American Cream Soda I recently took to facebook to gauge what our rawcus friends thought about it… to say the feelings are mixed is an understatement.

 

Of the 48 comments we have so far 17 were positive about Butterbeer, 15 were negative about Butterbeer and the rest I couldn’t really work out what they thought of it.

A real mix of opinions, it appears you either love it…. or hate it! The Marmite of the drink world! Are you a love it or hate it type?

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Universal’s Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Serves It’s 5 Millionth Butterbeer

It’s almost bedtime Thrill Seekers but I just heard the news that Universal Orlando has confirmed they have just served their 5 Millionth Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Butterbeer for all you muggles out there, is the popular non alcholic drink favoured by Wizards in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series. When Universal Orlando first got cracking on building the Wizarding World of Harry Potter they put together a creative team purely to design and replicate Butterbeer, J.K. Rowling herself had final say on the taste which is reminiscent of shortbread and sweet butterscotch.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret although some of us have had a go at replicating it and has proved so successful that recently Universal Orlando had to open a 4th Butterbeer serving location to meet demand!

To mark this special occasion Universal treated a 1000 guests to the wizards drink while at the same time perhaps setting a new Guinness World record for “Butterbeer moustaches”. 🙂

Rick Florell, senior vice president of revenue sales and the man who oversaw the making of Butterbeer said

We created an authentic taste experience for our guests to complement all of the immersive experiences The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would offer them. We new we had created something that tasted great and would be popular but have been surprised by just how popular.

Mmmm I can almost taste one now…

good night,

Jamie

Recipe For Butterbeer Cookies Harry Potter Style

Hi Thrill Seekers,

Are you missing the Wizarding World? Are you suffering from Post-Potter Blues?

Well if the answer is yes, perhaps these Butterbeer cookies can help!

Butterbeer Sugar Cookies 

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1 tsp butter flavoring
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, butter flavoring, and vanilla; mix until well-blended.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom. (The dough will be quite thick…you may need to knead in stray bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl by hand.)

Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4″ and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cutter. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Butterbeer Glaze
{This will cover 12 cookies…and I STRONGLY recommend doubling the recipe as you might want to put this in a shot glass and drink it straight.}

2/3 cup butterscotch chips (I used Guittard)
1/8 cup evaporated milk
1 TBSP light corn syrup
pinch coarse salt

Place all of the ingredients in a glass or metal bowl and heat over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler).  Stir occasionally, until melted and smooth.

Put the cooled cookies on a wire rack on a baking sheet.  Pour the glaze over the cookies and spread with an offset spatula.  If using the fondant house crests, place these on the wet glaze to adhere.

How yummy do these look?

If you do make them, please feel free to share the results on the Orlando Attraction Tickets facebook page.

regards,

Jamie

Butterbeer recipe just for muggles!

Ever wanted to make your very own Butterbeer!? Well now you muggles can mix up your own batch.

 Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup (8 oz) cream soda
  2. ½ cup (4 oz) butterscotch ice cream for the topping
  3. ½ tablespoon butter

Directions:

 1: Measure butterscotch and butter into a measuring jug. Microwave on high for 1 to 1½ minutes, or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely incorporated.

 2: Stir and cool for 30 seconds, then slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit.

 3: Serve in two coffee mugs or small glasses; a perfectly warm Hogwarts treat for two!

 4: Enjoy!

butterbeer recipe

How Much Money Does Harry Potter Make Universal Orlando?

Q: How much money does Harry Potter make Universal Orlando?

A: Well some of this question was answered on Friday when Universal Orlando released its quarter 3 results, and what cracking results they are as well, showing that the popularity of Mr Potter was well worth the Universal outlay.

Attendance increased by 36% for the three months ending Sept. 26 to 3.7 million people over the same period last year! and even more importantly visitors to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter couldn’t get enough of wands, broomsticks and butterbeer, as the company stated revenue was up 62% to $364 million. Operating profit more than doubled to $127 million and net profit rocketed to $97 million, a 162% increase.

Plus on Oprah recently JK Rowling spoke the words that Harry Potter fans and Universal Orlando alike had been waiting for… she might not be quite done with the series!!!…. $$$$$