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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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  1. I just read that they are no longer allowing adults to ride the Pteranodon Flyers with out a child again. They had been letting adults ride during that first and last hour of the day in the park, for a short period.  I know it was a trial/test, I guess go see if adults would be interested.  Has anyone heard if it was successful and will the start allowing people without kids ride?  

  2. I just discussed this with a ticket agent at Universal the other day, because I want to buy a Power Pass now 2016 but use it next March 2017. I was told that's fine, I asked about the two days get one free tickets as well, those are date specific so, no I can't get them. They also told me if I get the power pass and want to upgrade because the black out dates fall when we're coming, upgrading is not a problem.
  3. Next Orlando visit countdowns...

    375 days or 1 year, 10 days for my Husbands 50th Birthday
  4. Universal Orlando Photography

    Love all the different signs
  5. Toothsome Chocolate Factory

    Chocolate deserts please
  6. Next Orlando visit countdowns...

    Well I was hopping to be going back in March of 2017 but looks like that's not happening now. Friends are getting married in Mexico so all vacation money now must go to that. I am so happy for them and I am looking foraward to the wedding which is going to be very posh and over the top, but I really wanted to ride Hulk and see all the new stuff ☹️☹️☹️. So I will live vicariously through you all until 2018. So lots of pictures and stories please.
  7. Sapphire Falls Resort: Rooms - photos, details, & more

    Looks very inviting
  8. Where to eat breakfast before EPA?

    We buy muffins and fruit to keep in the room to have when we get up so we don't have to stop on the way to the park. Publix is right up the road a great place to get supplies.
  9. Fridge question

    I was at HRH in February and there was a fridge in the room. We were on the sixth floor. Standard room. Hope this helps. Have fun
  10. All in one place

    Personally I have always gotten a rental car. Love hertz cheap if you get it through AAA even for just a day, and you can pick up and return at HRH.
  11. Next Orlando visit countdowns...

    Not sure when were coming back.
  12. All in one place

    Thanks for the catch, I made the change.
  13. Hi all, not sure where to post this. I have spent the last two years going through all the pages and reading helpful hints on this site and on other sites, asked questions and compiled answers, not only from my trips but others. And recently a friend was interest in going to Universal so I sat down and but all my notes together for her. I thought I might be helpful for others as well so I have added it here. Hope it helps. Visiting Universal Studios Orlando: There are three choices of Airports to fly in to: § Orlando which is the closest to the Park, a 20-25 min drive § Tampa which is on the West coast and is an hour and 15min drive to the park § Jacksonville which is on the East coast and is the furthest at around a two-hour drive Flying one way into one airport and out of another can save you money you just have to be willing to fly early or late. Worth checking Car rentals are optional or you can rent a cab as well as take the shuttle § Car Rentals can be expensive depending on if you are going to keep the car the whole time. I recommend-Book though AAA if you have them you get a 20% discount also you want to make sure that it is a Hertz car. There is a car return at the hotels at universal and it is Hertz. Doing this will save you parking fees if you choice not to go off property the whole time that you are at the park, you will not need the car. § The cabs range in price around $45.00 and up (I have not used this method of transportation and am going on what I have read) § The Shuttle to and from the airport to Universal is $35.00 each way per person (all prices are subject to change) Parking is $20.00 a day at the hotels and $27.00 if you Valet per day. You can come and go as you please you use your room key to get in and out of the parking lots. (All price subject to change) There are Four on Property hotels and a fifth one being built. All hotels are Loews owned and operated. They are teared the top teared are § The Portofino Bay Hotel– Italian villa style and about a 15min walk from the entrance to the parks, it is a 9min boat ride, but the boats can take time to get back and forth. Three swimming pools, one is Adult only. And they have a Spa on site. There are multiple restaurants also. § The Hard Rock Hotel – Rock and Roll décor, there is one pool and this is the party hotel there is happy hour by the pool daily. It is a 5min walk to the entrance of the parks and it takes longer by boat about 7min. There are four restaurants at the hotel (the staff could not have been nicer and helpful) 1. Join the Hard Rock Rewards club the points can be redeemed to help pay your bill, get you upgrades, and other free things. § The Royal Pacific Resort – is a South Seas experiences with the tropical feel. There is one pool and this Resort is very small children and family friendly. It has just been remodeled and updated. The restaurants are nice two of them are Emeril owned. It is about an 8-10 min walk to the parks and a nice 6min boat ride. If you stay ask to be in tower 2 it is near the parks and tower three is near the pool and restaurants, tower 3 is pet friendly. These three hotels all include express passes with your stay, an $89.00 per person, per day value. § Sapphire Falls Resort – is being built and will be right next to the Royal Pacific Resort, it opens July 2016 § Cabana Bay Beach Resort – is the retro-themed geared for moderate and value priced, it has family suites and kitchenettes. There are two pools, a lazy river, bowling alley (which I have been told is pricy) and lower end restaurants. You can walk to the park but it will take about 30min or you can take the shuttle. These two hotels do not offer the power passes; they must be purchased separately. My advice is to visit the Universal website and look at the room before making your choice. Ticket Choices and Prices: Prices are notorious for going up in February, also if you here that Disney has raised their prices Universal is usually not far behind. Check for deals like the buy two days get one free, ect… There are Single Park tickets which I do not recommend, the park-to-park are the ones that will allow you to ride the Hogwarts Express and go back and forth, so look to those as the tickets to buy. Unless you are planning to visit more than one time in a year then consider the year passes. There are three tiers: § Power Pass – the cheapest, it is about the same a 4-day park to park ticket. There are Black Out dates so be very aware of when you want to be in the park. You can get discounts at the Loews hotels if available. Discount on Blue Man Group tickets, $239.00 plus tax per person § Annual Pass - Mid range ticket, NO Black Out dates, free parking if you stay off property and use the park lot, discount on food, merchandise and specialty items, Discount on Blue Man Group tickets, you can get discounts at the Loews hotels if available. $334.99 plus tax per person. § Premier Pass- The most expensive, but you have NO Black Out dates, you can get discounts at the Loews hotels if available. Discount on Blue Man Group tickets. Free parking if you stay off property and use the park lot, discount on food, merchandise and specialty items. Free Halloween Horror Night Tickets, Free City Walk club access (you will get this if you stay at an onsite hotel) Universal Express Pass (you will get this if you stay at an onsite hotel) 8 free bottles of water. $479.99 plus tax per person. When you get your tickets ask for the coupon book it has percentages off at certain restaurants in the park and City Walk, also percentages off merchandise. Good to have. Coupon books can be picked up at the park stores right inside the gates of the park, these books are free just ask the cashier for a couple. You can also receive some discounts with American Express at the park, on food and merchandise; you just have to ask for it. Joining clubs such as the Hard Rock Rewards club has small benefits because it is based on points but it is still worth getting, The Fins Up club is Jimmy Buffett and offers free App coupons and free Birthday desserts. Loews Hotel group has a point based club as well the only Hotel not part of the club is the Hard Rock because they have their own rewards card. Once you decide on dates, book your flight or drive down, make your hotel reservation and order your tickets, the next step is a list of things to get before you go to the hotel. This is the stop between the airport and the hotel. Publix grocery store at the intersection of Kirkman and Conroy which is right past the entrance of Universal Studios, you will also want to stop at the Walgreen, also at the same intersection if you need alcohol, if not Publix has wine and beer. List for the room: (suggestions to save money) Sunscreen Band aids Ponchos Snacks: trail mix, breakfast bars, breakfast rolls/Danish, fruit, water, poncho (cheaper at Publix than in the park) any other edible. (Mini fridges are available in each room for free) Bottled water get a six pack Aspirin/Motrin you will be sore from all the walking (take two pairs of tennis shoes and alternate) If you are a big coffee drinker like me get a box of K-cups for the hotel room they give two but that is never enough for me. Once you get to the hotel and check in, you will go to guest services and they will help you print out your park tickets and Fast Passes. Get a lanyard for the ticket and Fast Pass makes all the difference, you do not want to be pulling it out of your pocket every time you go on a ride also you don’t want to take the chance of losing it. You will hear Universal Studios Orlando referred to as USO and Islands of Adventure as IOA The fastest way to Harry Potter World- Hogwarts is through Seuss Landing and the Lost Continent. Make sure to go through the castle and see everything. This area is in Islands of Adventure. IOA The new Harry Potter World- Diagon Alley is through New York and San Francisco, Make sure to stop and listen at the brick entrance for the sound of them moving like they did in the movie. The Harry Potter areas do not use the Fass Pass so be prepared to wait at some rides. But during that time look around and enjoy all the little touches they added. Single rider lines move fast and are worth it. Visiting the shops: Whatever you buy you can have sent back to your room and it will arrive the next day in your room. This is a great service because it means you don’t have to carry stuff around. (As long as you are staying at one of the Loews properties) A must see is Ollivander’s Wand Shop, the show is cute (go to the one in Diagon Alley if you are going to buy one more choices there). Just wonder into every shop there is so much to see and due don’t expect to do it all in one day have fun and enjoy. For food in the park: The Three Broom Sticks in Hogwarts – IOA Is fun and if it’s nice on the back patio to sit out on in the evenings if the weather is good the view is wonderful. The food is not bad. The bar is fun, the pumpkin juice is best from the tap and not the bottle. Also their long Island Ice Tea is amazing. They also have two beers that are brewed just for them and only sold there. The Hogsmeade – USO is nice but seems to close, there is also the Hoping Pot for drinks and a quick pastie with a couple of benches to sit at and there is also the Florean Fortscue’s ice cream shop which is a must stop the Strawberry peanut butter ice cream is wonderful. (the Earl Grey Lavender is good to) Honeydukes candy - IOA for chocolate frogs and fizzing wizzbees and the chocolate caldron cakes are so good. The pumpkin pasties are like pumpkin pies. Finnegan’s in USO in the New York section; there food is not bad and their beer prices are decent and they have a happy hour. Also splitting food will help save money. And you get some big portions. Thunder Falls Terrace in IOA in Jurassic World area, I have read their food is good and the ½ chicken plater is best split because it is big. Mythos Restaurant is considered to be one of the best in the parks. It is in the Lost Continent - IOA (I have not eaten there so this is based on the opinions of others) Also do not see the shows in the Lost Continent there not good it is the only bad thing I can say about Universal is that they need to get rid of this area. The Crescent Moon Bakery – IOA is a great place to get a pastry and coffee or some fresh fruit. This is near the entrance of the park across from Starbucks. Trip Adviser rates: The Kitchen Restaurant at the Hard Rock Resort (near the pool) very high they have drink specials as well as a killer desert. The breakfast buffet is $19.50 pp but is said to be very good. I have eaten here and its OK it reminds me of TGI Fridays but pricier (my opinion) Three Broomsticks – fish and chips received rave reviews, and the ½ a chicken is good too Thunder Falls Terrace 4 out of 5 stars Sal’s at the Portofino Bay Resort – good Pizza, we ordered and ate it back at the HRH San Francisco Bakery in USO – good apple pie and big sandwiches. Duffs Beer Garden –USO – good place to take a moment and have a beer and enjoy the view and the people watching. Also good place to watch the Cinematic Spectacular Tacos at the truck in Simpsons area are very good The food at the Simpsons food court is not bad but it is big. City Walk has all kinds of restaurants from Burger King, Panda Express to Emeril’s and Margaretville and the newest restaurant is the NBC sports and beer garden. (the sports bar has good apps) City Walk is across from the entrances of the park and is a short walk from the hotels also. They are open until 2am. There is also shops and movie theater and mini golf. Photo Connect Star Card: is so worth it one day is $59.99 and three days is $89.99 you buy the package on line or when you get your tickets but it gives you photos of you on the rides and in the parks and you can download the pictures when you get home and print them out. You also get some printed at the park as part of the package. Do this when you go with Nancy you will be so happy that you did. NOTE: - 18% gratuity is add automatically to almost every bill at the resorts. Make sure to look at the total. Re-Fillable Coke cups $12.99 and these can be used at the Free-style machines there are coke cups that are $9.99 but it will cost you .99 every time you re-fill. You must recharge the Free-style each day for $5.99 a day. § Orlando Informer is a great web site to give tips and let you know when the park will be busy § Secret entrance to the park is right next to the Blue Man Group auditorium but does not open until 10:00 am. § Check on google for Universal Studios Orlando Apps If you stop in at AAA they have maps of Universal that give you the layout of the parks and the hotels which is good reference to have first time around. Make sure to take a small phone charger with you it is so worth it.
  14. 2016 Let's lose it together challenge year!

    Well I lost 2 pounds in the last 10 days, which is not bad considering that I have only walked the dog as exercise and watched what I ate, so all in all I'm happy. Though I really need to get *** together and exercise.