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Please note that as of March 2016 our forums have been discontinued. Join us in our Universal or Disney Facebook Communities. You can also check out our Universal vacation planning pages or blog for up-to-date information!
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    • 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.


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About magistra

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  • Birthday May 12

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    Harry Potter; French language, literature, history, and culture; Renaissance faires; Dr. Who; travel; reading; costumes/cosplay; Legos

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  1. Alan Rickman

    I just read that Alan Rickman was a graduate of RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which I had never heard of before. ( I'm American, what can I say?) I assume that this is what WADA is modeled after? ( Or vice-versa.) I feel like I just learned a secret about Rickman that no one in the Carkitt Market audience will know but I.
  2. TV show of choice

    I caught the first couple of episodes, and I'm enjoying it. But I do think they'really trying a little too hard to sex it up. It also feels rushed compared to the books, but it has kept my interest thus far. It is about a school of magic, but these are young adults, with young adult concerns and problems.
  3. General Potterhead Chatter

    Teefury is selling this beautiful Snape tshirt, with proceeds going to charity today: http://www.teefury.com/always?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=advertising&utm_content=always&utm_campaign=galleryfbad
  4. There is also a place in the Hog's Head by the barrel where you can hear the house elves working upstairs.
  5. You used to be able to see shadows of a house elf cleaning and an owl flying in the Three Broomsticks, but I didn't see them this last time. I hope it's a temporary problem. I would hate to see Universal failing to maintain or repair broken equipment or features as the park ages.
  6. General Potterhead Chatter

    Gorgeous! If only it were real! I must say that I enjoyed the cooler weather at Universal last week and would have loved to have a bit of snow!
  7. I was thinking the same thing. Ditto for butterbeer. But I think that having butterbeer and Celestina's hits readily available at Starbucks/on iTunes might diminish their appeal at the parks a bit. I could see some sort of special collector's edition record (in gramophone and record player formats) of her songs being sold in the parks, however. If they started selling those, I'd have to get myself a phonograph of some sort so I could play it! They'd have to sell Lupin's "Witchita Banana" and McGonagall's "Wizard Waltz" songs, too.
  8. Well aren't you adorable! And Celestina is fabulous as always.
  9. When is the Best Time to Make Be Our Guest ADRs?

    I recommend the BOG breakfast, preferably prior to park opening in the morning. The restaurant is just as beautiful for breakfast as for dinner, and you're in and out in no time without having to book exactly 180 days in advance.
  10. Be Our Guest Reservations

    I used the My Disney Experience website to book a pre-opening breakfast at Be Our Guest this January. Our reservation was for 8:10 am (although I believe there is a 30 minute grace period in case you get stuck at the gate), which was 50 minutes prior to the gates opening at 9am. The meal was quick serve, which means that you either order in line as soon as you arrive or order in advance online (using the My Disney Experience website or app). Once you find your table, an employee pushing a rolling cart finds you (by looking at your ticket) and gives you your food. Coffee and soft drinks are self-serve and are free with the meal, but milk and a few other things are extra and are delivered along with your food. A plate of mixed pastries (croissant, chocolate croissant, cinnamon roll, etc..) is brought for the family to share. The breakfast may not be as spectacular as the lunch or dinner, although I enjoy a good breakfast personally, but you get to eat inside of the Beast's castle, and you can get a reservation much more easily. Also, it gets you into the park that much earlier. Just be sure to ask for the Advanced Dining Reservations entrance line at the gates. And if you time things right, you'll be in line for your first ride before the first crowds hit the park.
  11. Doing Disney in 3 Days? Possible?

    I'm a Universal fan who just added 2 days at Disney (1 at Epcot, 1 at Magic Kingdom), and while I didn't see "everything," I thought I covered things pretty well. Of course, it's the off-season, so two of Epcot's most popular rides (Soarin', Maelstrom) were closed for refurbishment, which narrowed my options some. On top of that, I'm a wuss, so I didn't have the nerve to do Mission Space, Space Mountain, or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and it was too cold for water rides, which narrowed down my options even further. But by taking advantage of Fastpass+ reservations, breakfast reservations prior to park opening, and extended magic hours, I covered a great deal of what I truly wanted to see. Here's what we did in two days (1 day for each park): Magic Kingdom: Pirates of the Caribbean*, Peter Pan's Flight*, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train*, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Treehouse, Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents, Liberty Square Riverboat, It's a Small World, Under the Sea/Little Mermaid (twice), the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Buzz LIghtyear's Space Ranger Spin, PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, Barnstormer, Festival of Fantasy Parade, a bit of the Main Street Electrical Parade, plus a pre-park opening breakfast at Be Our Guest, lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern and character dinner at the Crystal Palace at 7:40 pm. (*Used FastPass+). We didn't do any of the Meet and Greets (other than Pooh and friends at dinner), and we didn't really do any shopping, so that actually left us with quite a bit of time to ride rides. Epcot: The Seas with Nemo & Friends*, Spaceship Earth*, Test Track*, Gran Fiesta Tour (Mexico), Living with the Land, lunch at Chefs de France, dinner at Biergarten restaurant, IllumiNations/fireworks show, and just generally walking around, looking at shops and sites. My daughter and her friend also did Misison Space (Green). We arrived a bit late because we transferred from Universal to Disney in the morning and had to check in to our hotel. At the end of the trip, I honestly felt like I could use an additional day at Epcot but that I'd more or less done everything at the Magic Kingdom that I wanted to do. More importantly, I'm glad I spent 2 1/2 days at Universal and only 2 at Disney, because Disney just doesn't have the draw for me that Universal does. Even my daughter's friend who is not really a Harry Potter fan said that Diagon Alley was the best attraction out of all 4 parks we visited. There's nothing in Disney that makes me feel like I could just live there the way Diagon Alley does. I will give Disney the prize for best parade, though. Their Festival of Fantasy Parade is outstanding.
  12. Just got back from Orlando. The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Celestina Warbeck are some of my favorite things to do at the parks. Unfortunately, only one of the two Tales (The Tale of the Three Brothers) was being performed. We ended up watching The Tale of the Three Brothers 3 times in a row in hopes that The Fountain of Fair Fortune would eventually be performed. We finally asked an employee about it, and she said it hadn't been performed in a while and thought one of the props might be in for repairs or something. Guess that's one of the drawbacks to visiting during the off-season. Unfortunately, the Universal app does say what times Celestina performs and what times the Tales of Beedle the Bard are being performed, but it doesn't say which one. One trick that I had forgotten from the last time I visited was that there is usually a large sack on stage at the beginning of the performance if they're going to perform The Fountain of Fair Fortune. I can't remember what color it was or where it was placed on stage, but I do remember it being there for performances in the past. Needless to say, there was no large sack on stage this trip. I love that they "select" which tale they're going to perform by catching, unrolling, and reading a scroll that magically pops out of the bucket, and I understand how openly posting the time each Tale is going to be performed might spoil some of the fun. But for heaven's sake, couldn't they put the exact tale on the app? I know they're always eager for people to download and use the app, and I'd certainly be more apt to use it if they'd tell me exactly which tale would be shown when. Not that I minded seeing the Tale of the Three Brothers multiple times. It's a beautiful story, and they had my favorite Beckett, Virg, and Sam performing all 3 times.
  13. Fire Whiskey

    Just tried Firewhisky myself at the Hog's Head. I found it delightfully smooth with just the right amount of cinnamon. It's strong, but not overwhelming. Wish I had tried that Firewhisky/Strongbow Cider concoction. Sounds delicious.
  14. The Owl Post has been converted into the new Shutterbuttons location. The old Shutterbuttons is closed, and the facade has been repainted pink and is now called Sugarplum's Sweets Shop. Presumably it will eventually be converted into a sweets/candy store a bit like Honeydukes.
  15. Honeydukes is now selling pumpkin pasties. It's about time! They're a bit like an apple fritter or turnover, but with a pumpkin blend. I bought one and split it for breakfast the next morning as we were heading to the parks for early access. It's not excessively sugary, so it works well as a quick breakfast item. The Honeydukes employee explained that they were planning to sell them in the Hollywood location, so they were trying it out in Orlando. I hope they keep it. As much as I like chocolate, I can only handle so many chocolate confections in one day.