Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Taylor Strickland

      (IMPORTANT) What's next for our community   03/24/2016

      Today we're excited to announce the start of our new Facebook group: Universal Community by Orlando Informer. We're also announcing we're closing our forums. This is probably the hardest decision I've made so far with Orlando Informer. This week marks the 2nd anniversary of our forums. Monday will mark 2 years from when I first applied to work with Orlando Informer. I was entering a pool of over 50 applicants, didn't meet the requirements, and didn't think the odds were very high that I'd get the position of Forum Moderator. It never even crossed my mind that not only would I get the position, but that position and these forums would be the start of being able to do what I love as a fulltime job. At its core, our forums have always had two goals: A ) Help families receive specific answers to specific questions, feedback from folks who have been in their shoes, and help them maximize their investment into their vacation. B ) Build a community of people who love to visit Universal, with a foundation of respect and tolerance. I can speak for our entire team on our forums (both past and present), especially our Community Manager @Chuck Plagmann, when I say that we have devoted hours of time every day of the year working towards these two goals. We feel that we've made major strides towards both of our goals, but see the opportunity to help a significantly greater amount of people plan their vacation and add on to our established (and amazing) community. Unfortunately, as time goes on, forums like ours have a tendency to slow down and be replaced by social media. It's the cycle of life for forums. We believe that this Facebook group is the logical next step for our community. Our forums and the content within will remain browseable for the foreseeable future, however you will not be able to submit new content. Our Facebook group, Universal Community by Orlando Informer, will be curated by our same team that ran the OI Forums. @Chuck Plagmann and I will be on the group daily to provide insight and help families plan their vacation. @debi will be monitoring for any Special Needs questions. Our (very talented) authors, like @Marc N. Kleinhenz, will be on the group to talk about their latest articles and your feedback. Finally, @Park Beast will even be dropping by from time to time to talk about our weekly podcast. You can access our Facebook group by searching "Universal Community by Orlando Informer" or visiting UOR.community from any webbrowser. We know this is a substantial change from our forums, but are hopeful you'll be willing to give it a shot. Additionally, we're launching a Facebook group for Universal Hollywood: "Universal Community by California Informer" or visit USH.community. This is the end of the forums, but it is just the beginning of our community. One thing we consistently hear from members of our forums is how different our community is from some of the others found online. We are committed to maintaining this reputation in our Facebook group. I have met a countless number of people, many I call friends, from our OI Forums. I know real bonds (and even relationships) have resulted from the time spent on these forums. I'm looking forward to seeing these bonds develop and new ones form on our new outlet. Please know that this decision was not made lightly or without considering the amount of time many of you have spent on here. I fully believe this is the next step forward to growing our community and helping as many people as possible have the best trip to Universal. I'm looking forward to interacting with everyone for many years to come. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with feedback -- taylor [at] orlandoinformer.com See you on the Facebook Group, Taylor P.S., Unlimited likes on Facebook, you can thank me in advance.

Dan Hatfield

OI Founder
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited


About Dan Hatfield

  • Rank
    Premier Poster
  • Birthday 11/01/1976

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Orlando, FL
  • Interests
    Helping folks plan amazing vacations.
  1. It is with both joy and sadness that I announce my departure from Orlando Informer effective today, and I introduce the site's new owner: Taylor Strickland (also known as PWT!). Over the last two weeks of December, I was offered and accepted a position with another organization, which will require my family moving back to our home state of Minnesota in the near future. Given this reality, I knew it would be impossible for me to continue my daily involvement with the site. When I informed our contributors about the pending closure, Taylor stepped forward and asked if he could have the opportunity to continue the site under his leadership. I happily agreed. The selling of the site and my departure from it was an incredibly difficult decision for me. I started Orlando Informer in early 2011, the same year that Rosie and I had our first child, Noa. In many ways, the creation and growth of Orlando Informer has been completely interwoven into the start and growth of my family. Indeed, many of you have been with us for our most important moments. What's more, it's likely that I've put in well over 10,000 hours building what you see today (along with the countless hours put in by Marc, our editor, and all of our blog contributors). And, as a result of our work and and your support, the site has grown tremendously. Here's a look at what Orlando Informer has done starting from scratch just four years ago: 2011 pageviews: 618,000 2012 pageviews: 1.9 million (216% increase) 2013 pageviews: 5.5 million (189% increase) 2014 pageviews: 16.8 million (205% increase) The stat that really blows my mind: it took us 14 months to get our first one million pageviews. Nowadays we do that in three weeks. Some important questions and answers as we go forward: What will happen with the site? I officially end my updates today. Over the month of January, Taylor will be reorganizing the site's blog posts and vacation planning content onto a new platform. During this time, everything on the existing site will remain in an "as is" state. At the end of January, the site will be switched over to a new server, the old site will go away, and Taylor's updated version of the site will go live. (Updates will be posted on the forums and social media during the transition.) What will happen to the forums? They will remain open and running as usual. Feel free to join the community! What are you doing for work after Orlando Informer? Given the higher profile of the site, my partners and I have decided it's best to keep my future plans private. But what I can tell you is that my new position falls outside the realm of theme parks, and as I mentioned before, my family will be moving back to Minnesota. Will you be involved at all with Orlando Informer going forward? Training for my new position begins immediately, so, going forward, I won't have an official role with the site. But I'll probably check in on the forums every now and then, and I'll be a resource for Taylor as he starts the site's new chapter :-) I want to take this moment to thank our all our fans and contributors for your support through the ups and downs of the past four years. Orlando Informer started with nothing but my desire to help families plan their visits to Central Florida, and with your support and contributions, I'm proud to now pass on to Taylor one of the most popular Orlando theme park websites and truly the world's best destination for Universal Orlando vacation planning. Driven by Taylor's own passion for bringing the best of Universal to our community, I'm confident that the future of Orlando Informer is as bright as ever. With much love and appreciation, Dan Hatfield
  2. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #28 http://www.orlandoinformer.com/universal/bumblebee-mans-taco-truck/
  3. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #27 Last night at dinner...
  4. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #26 Some of our adventures in New Orleans' French Quarter yesterday: That last photo was taken at Margaritaville, that's Jimmy on the right
  5. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #25 Mike, who produces our OI Minute videos, put together a separate personal video highlighting his recent visit to Universal. Enjoy!
  6. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #24
  7. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #23 "Happy New Orleans" from Noa
  8. NEW BLOG POST Escapology Orlando: An in-depth challenge, a bonding experience, and I-Drive’s newest must-do adventure
  9. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #22 http://www.orlandoinformer.com/universal/knockturn-alley/
  10. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #21 Made it to New Orleans...
  11. Because the parks almost always starting letting guests in about 15 minutes before the published time, it's actually quicker to go through the IOA turnstiles (assuming you're near the front of the line). The first guests through the turnstiles typically beat the first guests arriving via the Hogwarts Express. Keep in mind that you'll want to check up on Early Park Admission as you get closer to your travel dates. Depending on exactly when you're traveling in April, it's possible that Hogsmeade will be open for EPA. PS. I agree, it can be very confusing - especially since Universal doesn't officially publish what park will be open for EPA and when (unlike how Disney publishes precides schedules for Extra Magic Hours). Universal's official stance is that one park will be open, or possibly both, and check on-site when you arrive.
  12. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #20 Friendly reminder: Now through January 3, both Universal parks are opening at 8:00am for general admission, 7:00am for Early Park Admission. The holiday crowds are here too, with all days between now and the end of the year marked as ‘busy’ or ‘very busy’. To ensure a successful holiday visit, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of all the free expert advice we have published in the OI Universal Center, our free touring plans, and our Insider’s guide to the Wizarding World. If you have questions, we have our forums! Looking for on-site photo updates over the next week? I'm traveling to visit family in New Orleans, so be sure to follow our good friend Chuck on Twitter - he'll be on-site a few times once he gets back home
  13. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #19 In case you missed this from our visit to I-Drive yesterday afternoon: Our Yard House review posted earlier this year: http://www.orlandoinformer.com/2014/yard-house-orlando-review-photos/
  14. Is Q-Bot available year round?

    Just a quick clarification: Q-Bot may not be offered during the busiest days of the year, like peak Spring Break and the week between Christmas and New Year's. I think this is simply because the parks are so busy that Universal can make more money selling Express Passes. But, other than a week or two of the busiest crowds, yes, Q-Bot is available year-round.
  15. The "Good Morning" Project

    Good morning #18 Really enjoyed Mike's video this week! http://forums.orlandoinformer.com/topic/2142-video-series-the-orlando-informer-minute/?p=90578