It's a Great Big Beautiful World! Let's Discover it Together

Showing posts with label Universal Orlando. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Universal Orlando. Show all posts

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Destination Universal Orlando!

Home of some amazing attractions, experiences, and themed adventures, Universal Orlando is a fabulous vacation option. Check out the attached video to see how they're doing things in the current environment as the covid pandemic hits the one-year mark.

There's so much to see and enjoy while maintaining the social distancing stuff too. I love helping guests discover the worlds of Harry Potter and so much more at Universal Orlando! 
Want to talk about booking your family's Universal vacation? Call, email, or message today!  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thank You, Jimmy Fallon, For Recognizing Our Worth!


“Of course I use a travel agent. Travel agents get you the best rooms and the best rates. I was friends with a travel agent growing up in Saugerties, NY; I’ve used a travel agent my whole life. I don’t even know how to book my own trip.” - Jimmy Fallon

I enjoy his positive enthusiasm and energy with his show. He cracks me up many times with his different sketches and ensemble musical bits, and when I saw this in an article promoting the new "Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon" attraction opening at Universal Orlando this spring, I was delighted. It's always nice when people recognize the value and service that TA's provide. DIY really is for crafting projects like you see on Pinterest - not for experiences utilizing potentially thousands of your hard-earned dollars. Professional Travel Agents are like your own travel concierge and work hard to ensure you have a fantastic experience and really do treat every trip request as if it were for their own family (at least I do). Thanks
Jimmy Fallon
for the shoutout! Those of us in the industry appreciate positive comments like this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cancun Is Calling While the Snow is Falling

To my midwest peeps... The temperatures continue to drop, and the snow is falling turning our area into a wintry playground. If that gets you down, call us to help you get some vitamin sea instead! Whether you're thinking of an all-inclusive resort, a cruise, a Disney or Universal visit, or simply a vacation rental by the ocean, at Cruise Planners, we are your land & cruise experts and can help you "seas" the day and beat the pending old man winter blues. Winter is just beginning. Let us help you plan a great getaway for January or February when the cold is at its worst! Call 317.776.1733 or visit our website at We'd love to help you find the perfect winter getaway.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - You WILL Get Wet

Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls in the Toon Lagoon area of Islands of Adventure, at Universal Orlando Resort is one of my favorite log flume attractions ever, simply because this attraction was truly designed to get you wet.  And in the Florida heat, that can be such a welcome refreshment.  I first rode it in 2007, and loved it then, and love it now.  Being a Rocky & Bullwinkle Show fan helped a bit, to be able to understand the various thematic elements, sight gags and overall inherent humor of the attraction - but that is by no means necessary to be able to enjoy it.  All in all, this water adventure is just good clean fun! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Featured Foto Friday - Unusual Occurance at the Wizarding World

This was a happy, but unusual sight to see recently at the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction at Universal Orlando's hottest addition to its' Islands of Adventure theme park, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  A 10 minute wait time just didn't seem possible after all of the online reports of multiple hour wait times... but then, I was at the resort in the off-season, too (very early February)... give it a few weeks til the spring break season kicks in and that 10 minute wait will once more be but a dream.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

stopher's stuff - Tile, Awards and More

This past week has seen me spending a lot of time in the bathroom.  No, I haven’t been sick, nor do I have weak kidneys. Rather I’ve been working on floor tile - putting in a new floor in our rental property.  The last time I did floor tile was about 6 years ago, when I redid the floor in my own house’s master bathroom.  It’s a time-consuming job, but very rewarding to know that you can do it yourself.  My dad first showed me how to do flooring many years ago in the house that I grew up in, as we redid rooms numerous times through the years.  I’ve done vinyl, ceramic, laminate and parquet floors multiple times through the years.  I may not be able to repair my car, but I can redo floors, and I like that. 

Other notable things that happened this week include replacing a vehicle that we’d had for 12 years, painting, designing posters & graphics for the business, and receiving another certification – this time from Universal Parks & Resorts.  I am once again thrilled to share the news of a new certification.  

And then there was the annual spectacle and celebration of film last night with the 85th Academy Awards telecast.  I still have fond memories of my days long ago working at the Los Angeles County Music Center, (when the Oscars were hosted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), and I worked as an usher.  It was a fun time of my life, and watching it on tv brings back some of those fun memories.  My favorite film, and second favorite both won several awards…did yours?

Monday, February 11, 2013

stopher's stuff - Universal Reflections

While on my recent sojourn to Florida and the Caribbean, I enjoyed a day at Universal Orlando Resort – well, actually PART of a day, not the entire day.  I was there specifically to complete the on-site portion of the Universal Specialist Program for travel professionals.  Another program designed to better understand the destinations that we sell, and thereby boost our individual business for a particular destination.  The Universal program includes an online and an on-site portion… I’d completed the online portion last summer.  Now it was time for the on-site. 
The last time I had been to Universal Orlando was in 2007, with my family.  On that trip we’d stayed at the Nickelodeon Suites over on World Drive, near Walt Disney World.  This time I was staying at Walt Disney World at Disney’s Old Key West Resort – and was going solo.  I arrived at the Universal Orlando parking garage in my rental car at around 8:50 am, knowing the parks opened at 9 am.  My plan was to visit Islands of Adventure first, and then head over in to Universal Studios Florida afterwards.  By the time I got to the park entry, passing through the CityWalk area, and enjoying looking around to see what was the same and what was different from my last visit, it was a little after 9 am. 

As a park, Islands of Adventure hadn’t changed a whole lot, with one large exception… and entire new land had been built… the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Though I will say that new land itself, wasn’t all completely new, as part of The Lost Continent was area was given up for this new land.  The Wizarding World boasts two different roller coaster experiences that were existing attractions, simply re-purposed for the Potter theme.  Dragon Challenge was formerly known as Dueling Dragons – and Flight of the Hippogriff was formerly known as The Flying Unicorn

Full disclosure time – and go ahead and let your jaws drop in disbelief if you so choose – but I have never read a single Harry Potter book in my life.  Nor have I seen any more than about 20 minutes of one of the films when it aired on television.  That’s it.  I am not a Potter fan, nor do I plan to become one.  But I did have interest in seeing the land for myself.  I wanted to know what I sell, and be able to answer questions that my clients might have.  So when the opportunity to visit the parks presented itself, I jumped at it.  And I will say, that even though I am not a fan, and I do not know the different storylines or backstories behind the various elements of the land itself – it was beautiful .  And I believe, very well executed.  The folks at Universal Creative apparently got it right, because I definitely heard a lot of “high praise” from guests all around me, oohing and ahhing at the various shops, backgrounds and scenic elements throughout Harry’s community.  I knew some of the characters from magazine articles and conversations with friends, but the backstories... no.

The Hogwart’s castle that they created, which sits high atop the feature attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was simply stunning.  I loved it for its beauty and grace as a thematic element to the land.  Many of the folks at Universal Creative were once Imagineers for Disney, and were certainly trained well in the art of the show, and the theatrical immersion that comes across so well in many theme park environments.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter definitely comes across well in its immersion.

Now to get to the actual attraction, and my experience with it - I had read and heard many things prior to my visit, including get there as quickly as possible in order to minimize the wait time, otherwise expect a very long line.  I did just that, and was pleasantly surprised to see just a stated 10 minute wait.  Now the reality is my wait time was a little less, since I got into the Single Rider line, but in the end, it turned out to be more, simply because it took me about 10 minutes just to finally decide to ride it after I stood inside the center of the queue area watching the video which demonstrates what the ride technology actually does.  Let me just state emphatically that I love roller coasters, and I don’t mind many different spinning rides (though Mission: Space at Epcot did make me very nauseous) – but I’m not one to jump up and down about being turned nearly upside down…backwards.  And that’s what the video was showing.  So hemmed and hawed for a while, trying to decide what I would do.  Ultimately my curiosity won out, and I did go on the attraction.  However – I will say – that as an attraction, it did not in the end make me nauseous – but I just didn’t like it.  I didn’t care for many of the thematic elements included, nor did I care for how very dark and foreboding the overall attraction was.  I can see how fans of the series might enjoy the attraction, but I didn’t.  And that’s okay.  It just means there’s one less person to be in line ahead of you the next time I’m in the Islands of Adventure park.  Oh yes, and one more thing... with my apologies to the die-hard HP fans out there... I didn't like the Butterbeer either.  

Pretty much everything else about Islands of Adventure was the same as my last visit.  Although The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman over in Marvel Superhero Island had been updated, and I was sure to ride that one to see how it was different.  I really enjoyed that one, just as I did the last time I rode it nearly 6 years ago.  I wish that Disney had an attraction similar to it, as it really is a cool attraction.

Over in Universal Studios, more has changed since our last visit, as the new Transformers attraction is getting closer and closer to completion.   Since our visit, the Jaws attraction has closed, and the real estate it once sat upon is currently under construction bringing a “bridge” between the two parks with some sort of Harry Potter connection (I’ve read about it online, but don’t recall exactly what it will be at the moment - something having to do with a Hogwart's Express or something to that effect);  Back to the Future The Ride made way for The Simpsons Ride; Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit  debuted; and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem replaced the old Jimmy Neutron ride.  PLUS they have a cool new nighttime water & laser show on the central lagoon called Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular, which I might have enjoyed seeing had I stayed there until nightfall.  It looks really cool, though I know I would stand there comparing it to World of Color at Disney California Adventure way too much.   

While in USF, I did enjoy the Lucy: A Tribute exhibit (I have been a die-hard Lucy fan since I was a very small child...and now my kids are as well.  We love watching "I Love Lucy" every Sunday evening with our dinner, going through episode by episode, as they were originally shown on tv all those years ago).  I also had a nice piece of pizza at Louie’s Italian Restaurant in the New York section, but I really didn’t ride anything.  I had no real desire to. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit looked really cool, and in retrospect I wish I had ridden it, but alas, I did not.   While I really like the backlot feel of the New York and San Francisco sections, I must admit I don’t care for Universal Studios Florida as much as I do for Universal Studios Hollywood.  The Hollywood park is different, in that it sits inside an actual, functional, movie studio whereas the Florida park only simulates one.  Plus I have an affinity for the Hollywood park, as I worked there in high school – it was actually my first paying job back in the summer of 1987.  So for me, USF just falls a bit flat.  Of the two Universal Orlando parks, I much prefer Islands of Adventure. 

Alright, I’m going to call it quits for now, but will write more about my Florida adventures in the next installment of stopher’s stuff.

Until then make it a great week! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

stopher's stuff - What a Wonderf-ful Week it Was

What a WONDER-ful week it was this past week.  I had such a great time onboard the Disney Wonder, and look forward to sharing lots of information, photos and more about the ship, and the experience soon.  I just got off the ship yesterday morning, and today am headed over to Universal Orlando for some first-hand experiences with both parks, as I haven't been to either one since 2007.  It'll be nice to see how Islands of Adventure has changed since Harry Potter came to reside in that park.  Plus seeing some newer attractions and experiences that have been added to Universal Studios since I was last there too.  Be sure to check back soon for more on the beautiful ship, the Disney Wonder! 

As always, thanks for reading along.  Until next time...