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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.

eXo

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  1. Toothsome Chocolate Factory

    Am I the only one that finds the word "Toothsome" somewhat annoying? Odd that the WWE rumorswept in right before this announcement. The last time I was at citiwalk we stopped in for a drink at Margaritaville and ended up at a table next to several well known wrestlers. What with their developmental show and training facilities just down the way in Winter Park, it makes sense for them to establish a presence in the themepark districts. It leads me to think a WWE facility is likely still going to happen, just not in this exact location.
  2. First off, everything still points to the Nintendo license being used to revamp the kiddie section at Universal. An entire gate dedicated to this and other video games.... that is highly unlikely. The only way I can see that playing out is if the rumored third gate's theme is "high tech". If they went with a futuristic/high tech theme, then video games could obviously fit in with that. Considering this is the year of consumer end VR and Universal's penchant for simulator rides, there actually may be something to this. On the other hand, just ask Disney about the challenges of trying to run something with the name "Tomorrowland". Time moves faster than the parks can, and anything billed as being 'high tech' is bound to be dated in the not too distant future. I also don't think we will be seeing anything remotely close to three new parks. If the new land is indeed developed as part of their themepark business, then I would expect to see a third gate surrounded by 2-4 resort hotels. I'd expect them to leave room for a 4th gate expansion sometime way down the road. Anything more than 4 gates begins to pass the point of actually generating new guests. Disney has also run into this issue. Very few families go on vacations that are longer than a week. 4 gates + a water park is 5 days of plans, easily. Some would argue you could even spend more than a single day at any of the parks. So at this point, Universal already has enough for people to do to capture their entire week long vacation. A 5th gate, in general, is not going to get folks to actually extend their trip. At that point it creates choices between Universal parks, which doesn't benefit them financially. Besides, it's not about how many gates there are, it's about the quality of the existing gates, and how much there is to do. When people talk about a 5th Disney gate it always sort of stuns me, as they need to put money into their existing parks before anyone worries about the potential of a new one. Luckily they are starting to do this, but they still have a very long way to go.
  3. Skull Island: Reign of Kong

    So what exactly happened with this. It's been nearly a month and there has been no testing. I get being off by a little, but it seems like someone gave you some really bad info on that front.
  4. Fear factor

    Beetlegeuse'show is gone and not coming back as far as I know. There is also zero confirmation of a phase three Potter at this time, just wild speculation and wishful thinking. Fear Factor Live is still running 9 months out of the year (3 months down for the Bill & ted show around October). So unless they announce something between now and February, FF Live will still be running when you attend.
  5. Skull Island: Reign of Kong

    In suppose work has primarily moved to the inside as progress on the outside has really slowed down. From October 14' through March 15' it was astounding ho quickly the building and facade went up. But over the last 6 months the mural has ever so slowly been filled in and a handful of other additions have been completed on the outside. Maybe by next Spring, when the opening date is within a few months we will finally see the outside come to completion.
  6. Thanks for sharing that video. I've lost count of how many times I've watched it!
  7. Volcano Bay first details

    On the other hand, I hope so. I've made no secret of the fact that Toon Lagoon is my least favorite section of the park. The theming on Ripsaw Falls is especially bland (and this is coming from a fan of Rocky & Bullwinkle... maybe being a fan I had higher expectations). I find a majority of the queue to be on par with a Six Flags ride. Small corridors with circus colored paint jobs and nothing to look at, read, or watch. The one exception is the room with the mounted heads. The ride itself has many sections that are unthemed as well. For ever section you pass that has a little scene or character doing something, there are 4 times as many sections with absolutely nothing to look at. Your just floating by in your log with water sloshing all over your feet. The raft ride (bilge rat barges) is much more interesting to ride by the simple virtue that it snakes through a populated part of the park. But the ride itself is just a soak fest. Maybe when I was younger or on a boiling hot day I'd appreciate being absolutely drenched, but wet jeans + walking only adds up to ridiculous chafing combined with squishy shoes and socks that never dry. Combine that with lame characters like Cathy (oh no, she is a weak female who had a hard day at work and drowns her sorrows in ice cream... god I hate her) and a veritable cavalcade of other forgettable characters and I can't help but fee like it is easily the worst land at Universal. I'm not the biggest fan of the theming on Marvel Island, but at least it's got solid rides. And while the rides don't get me al fired up at Seussland, at least that place has awesome theming. All Toon Lagoon has is a bunch of water, over priced ponchos that don't do anything to protect you from the water, and characters like marmaduke.... when is the last time you saw a kid get excited about marmaduke? Or Archie? Or any other character on the sorry excuse for an island. Sorry. I take any and all opportunities to bash that place. I'll go on record as saying I that if I was forced to spend a day in either Toon Lagoon or Woody Woodpeckers play zone, I'd pick the woodpecker.
  8. Should I ride the Rip Ride Rockit?

    Wife and I rode it when we visited last HHN and decided afterwards we wanted the ride dvd. COme to find out, the camera in our cart was broken. So the lady at the booth took us up the back stairs and put us back on the ride without waiting in line. Another great ride, we head down to buy the dvd and... again, that cam was broken too. So they take us back up and we do it again with no line. Cam was broken again! They offered to take us up again, but wife did not want to do it 4 times in a row. We came back the next day and they ran us through it again and, believe it or not, the bloody camera was broken. At this point I am amazed that anyone can buy a dvd at all, because people all around us are previewing their videos and some are buying them, yet every bloody time we ride it is a black screen w/ no video. This time they took us back up and put us in the front car. The manager came over and told me they ran all the cars after hours the night before to mark all the working cams so they could get the broken ones repaired. Nice thing about the front cam is it is centered, so it framed both of us equally, where-as the other cars have it offset (to the left I believe), which sort of favors one person over the other. Anyways, the point of the story is we rode it 5 times on that trip, and it was an extremely smooth ride each and every time. The music simply makes the whole experience a little more personalized. It's not the most exciting coaster I've ever been on, but it's a solid ride and we had zero issues with the restraints. Anyone worried about the restraints should c heck the number of people who have fallen off the ride. Hint, it is less than one.
  9. Back to the future day

    reverse image search found this link wildphantom: https://www.80stees.com/products/back-to-the-future-10-21-2015-t-shirt
  10. Highly doubt they would reskin hulk with BttF. That really starts screwing with the island themes, as well as giving up one of their marvel properties. If they intend to hold on to Marvel island, they can't cut rides from it. The question as to where something like this could fit is definitely interesting though.
  11. Thanks Chuck. I had meant to ask about people's experiences with all of the activities (Macy's Day Parade and Grinchmas show), so I really appreciate you bringing them up. It's hard to get a feeling for the parade from the little pictures they have on the website. I may need to scout youtube as I'm sure there are some videos online worth checking out.
  12. I'm taking the little ones to Orlando for the first time this December. Due to their ages the majority of this trip will be at Disney, however never having been to Orlando around the Holidays, I was curious about the Christmas shenanigans over at Universal. We have one day that is unplanned and I'm debating on heading over to universal for the day so the kids can check out Seuss Landing, Despicable Me, and all that. In looking over the activities I saw the character breakfast but was surprised by the reviews. The reviews mainly seem to rail on the food... but really, for $15 a person, I don't expect much. I am more interested in the character interaction itself, but I can't really find any reviews that talk about that. Has anyone here experienced this?
  13. 35 Disney Facts

    That "fact" is a little backwards. Yes, there is a suite inside Cinderella's Castle, but no, Walt did not build it as an apartment for himself. He did plan on putting an apartment up there, but it was never built. Essentially, it was an empty space for several decades. The space was finished out for the Year of a Million Dreams promotion, which had the grand prize of staying in Cinderella's suite. There is a gallery of pictures inside the suite here: http://parks.disney.com/cinderella-castle-gallery Every so often folks ask how they can stay there, and the answer is to win one of these contests. I suppose if your famous enough and have the cash they might work something out with you, but there is no legitimate way to reserve the room. I've always wondered about the logistics of it. I mean, staff would have to be on hand all night to assist the guests if they needed anything and presumably to prevent them from leaving and wandering around the themepark. In middle school we got to sleep over night at Sea World in San Antonio in the shark tank room (so cool seeing that tank when all the lights are out... the shark's eyes are so reflective that any source of light glows in them. The only light in the room was from the red exit sign, so you could look up and see this red dots floating by occasionally.). Anyways, at one point I had to use the restroom, so I got up and had to walk a decent distance in the park to find one. It was so strange walking through Sea World in the middle of the night all alone. We were near the dolphin tank and I could hear an occasional splash over there. So based on that experience, I have always been curious about what it would be like to stay in the castle. I wake up at 5am every day, so I guess if you woke up at 5am there you would just have to sit tight until they decided you could leave. Just an interesting thought exercise to imagine staying up there.
  14. Jurrasic Park Hatchery

    Everytime I have been, the JP Visitors Center has been less dinosaur and more broken. Well, the last time I went I just skipped the building due to previous experiences. But I distinctly remember the first time I ever visited IOA (it was the first time I had been to a themepark, with all my prior experience being at amusement parks, like Six Flags). The Port of Entry seemed so awesome, but then i looked up and saw the iconic visitors center from across the water. It was simply awesome seeing that for the first time. Being a big fan of Dr. Suess we took our time exploring that island (at the time they sold more souvenirs than just Thing 1 and Thing 2) and then moved into what used to be the full lost Continent experience. In the back of my head though, I knew what I was waiting for - the visitor's center. So when we came across the JP gate with the torches blazing and the music blaring... that was the moment I felt like a little kid again. I don't know what I expected at this point, but I guess I thought the large building probably houses a ride. At the very least I expected maybe a giant T-rex skeelton with the iconic banner above it. So I was a bit disappointed when I found dinosaurs for kids to climb on with broken periscopes that were supposed to mimic what it was like to see out of their eyes. I just watched a youtube video of the visitors center and didn't recognize *anything* I saw. Have they refurbed that building or is my memory actually that bad?
  15. The Blurring of Islands

    That was an interesting article. I do feel it could have touched on the orphan known as Lost Continent however. The park map you show and the way your article is written suggests that Lost Continent simply became Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, but we all know there is half an island sitting in front of Potter that isn't even referenced on the left side of that map along with the other Islands. It does get a label and its own color, but really, what we are looking at is a sliver of what it used to be and a sliver of what the other islands are. They were quite clever over at USF in adding Diagon Alley and using London as a facade to keep the city-feel of USF. But then you start looking around and you realize that the MiB ride is just sort of its own thing now that the 60's style world fair area is gone. And Springfield has been introduced as its own fictional city. Unless one is a park aficionado or very keen on the maps, do you even realize that the park is split into cities? Does one realize that Richter's Burgers are there because this area is supposed to be San Fran and that the buildings over by the mummy (previously Kong and ghostbusters) represent New York? In other words, I think USF is an example of IOA if we fast forward 10-15 years. There are remnants of a theme there with occasional attempts to stick to the original idea, but for the most part - what ride fits where dictates the rest of the equation. At this point USF might as well be a generic studio backlot with generic house fronts and generic city scapes. The notion of hard and fast boundaries between specific cities seems pretty much lost at this point. I would be rurpsied if the same thing didn't happen at IOA over time. The prime difference being IOA went further and introduced these giant gates to signal to the guest they are entering a new island. When, not if, Marvel and Toon Lagoon get gutted, I believe it will be in sections. By doing so, the original nature of them being separate islands will likely be lost in lieu of miniature islands (a la Skull Island)