Hey Thrill Seekers,
This is the interview I’ve been most excited about, we’ve been trying to get an interview with Paul for a couple of years now but our schedules never seemed to sync up. Mainly because Paul is extremely busy. As Director of Sales for the whole of Europe and now Asia Paul is constantly on the go, so I’m delighted he managed to give us some of his precious time.
The interview took place late last year, and what you’ll notice when you read on is how knowledgably and enthusiastic Paul is for his product.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Name: Paul Kelly
Who do you work for?: Universal Orlando Resort
What’s been the highlight of the year (2014) for your company?: Three highlights actually! 2014 has been an incredible year for Universal Orlando Resort. First, we have opened our fourth on-site hotel: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. It’s our debut moderate class property and is themed on the 50’s and 60’s era giving it a very cool look and feel. There are 900 standard rooms and 900 family suites, which sleep up to six guests and also have a small kitchenette. There are two amazing pools, a lazy river and 10-lane retro bowling alley. All guests also receive Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The second highlight has been the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at our Universal Studios theme park. This second land is the follow up to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade that opened back in 2010 at Islands of Adventure just next door. With the opening of Diagon Alley, guests can now immerse themselves in even more of Harry’s world including Knockturn Alley, Gringotts Bank – home to the ground-breaking signature attraction, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – and meet the Knight Bus conductor. Visitors (or should that be muggles) can also eat in the Leaky Cauldron and try Butterbeer ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. Interactive wands have been introduced to both Wizarding Worlds so guests can now cast spells at dozens of designated areas. And get this, we have also built the Hogwarts Express train that will take our guests with multi-park tickets between Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station in ‘London’ and Hogsmeade Station at Hogsmeade Village, with the journey offering different experiences each way. Keep an eye out for the chocolate frogs!
Finally, our CityWalk entertainment area has seen eight, yes eight, new venues open including three really cool restaurants called Antojitos (Mexican), Vivo (Italian) and The Cowfish (think Sushi meets burgers!) as well as an amazing hot dog take out place, sandwich, ice cream and frozen yogurt shops and a completely refurbished Universal Orlando merchandise store. Oh, and not forgetting, a brand new Starbucks!
What’s been the highlight of the year (2014) for you?: Attending the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley preview event where many of the stars from the Harry Potter films were present. I was also there for the Cabana Bay Beach Resort grand opening where The Beach Boys put on a superb live performance. Two very special occasions, lots of great memories.
What can we expect from your company in 2015?: Excitingly we’re celebrating our 25th anniversary next year. Universal Studios officially opened its doors to the public on June 7th 1990. Watch out for what will be happening to mark this milestone. Beyond that, we have already announced that our fifth on-site hotel will open in the summer of 2016 which will be called Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. A 1,000 room Caribbean themed resort which will complement our existing hotels perfectly, so stay tuned for more information on that.
Make a 2015 prediction…: More exciting news to come from Universal Orlando Resort
Best Theme Park ride/attraction of 2014?: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts just takes theme park ride experiences and technology to another level.
Best Theme Park/attraction food of 2014?: The Cowfish and Vivo at CityWalk for dinner, however after a night out experiencing the many bars and clubs at CityWalk you have to try the Hot Dog Hall of Fame.
Best Theme Park/attraction tip?: Stay on-site at Universal Orlando Resort. Choose Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Royal Pacific Resort and get complimentary Universal Express Ride Access (jump the queues at most of the attractions in both parks) PLUS you get Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an hour before the theme park opens. Staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort gets you Early Park Admission. All hotels have loads of other excellent benefits.
Best kept secret in Florida?: Some of the special events at Universal Orlando Resort such as Mardi Gras, Grinchmas and my personal favourite, Halloween Horror Nights.
An awesome insight from one of the UK’s top brass, a really big thank you to Paul for taking the time to speak to us. As the interview above really drives home Universal Orlando Resort has a massive 2014 and 2015 seems set to be another amazing journey with in my opinion the hottest theme park entity at the moment.