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Orlando Informer Weekly Dispatch: May 25 – 31, 2014


Orlando Informer Weekly Dispatch

OI Universal Center updates

Greetings, vacation planners! Prepare to UPGRADE YOUR ADVENTURE to Universal Orlando with our Weekly Dispatch. This is a summary of all the latest Universal news and activity on our site. Please note that these updates are listed from newest to oldest:

5/31 – Later today we’re off to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure for our weekly tour of the parks. Follow us on Twitter to see every single one of our photo updates broadcast live from Universal Orlando Resort (and you can send questions and photo requests to us via Twitter too), or catch a few highlights on our Facebook page. See ya at the parks!

5/30 – It was only a few months ago that we were happy to inform you that Universal’s Coke Freestyle cups could also be used as classic souvenir cups, which allowed guests to refill them for 99 cents at locations without Coke Freestyle machines. Well, it seems Universal had a change of heart. Starting this week, the two programs are completely separate again; Coke Freestyle cups can no longer be used for 99-cent refills. To learn more, check out our updated Refillable cups, popcorn buckets & Coke Freestyle page.

5/30 – Diagon Alley briefing: This week has passed without any major developments for those waiting to plan their visits to the new Wizarding World. Most notably, we still don’t have an official opening date for the new area, which has created two camps of thought: either Universal is going to give very little notice of the grand opening in an effort to keep crowd levels down that day, or they still don’t know when that day will be. To learn more, continue this briefing in our Complete guide to Diagon Alley (see the May 30 news update). Then stay on top of the very latest developments in the Diagon Alley or vacation planning sections of the OI Forums.

5/29 – Following the March 4 pricing increase for general admission, on May 29 Universal raised the prices of its annual passes:

Power Pass – was $199.99, now $214.99
Preferred Pass – was $279.99, now $294.99
Premier Pass – was $419.99, now $434.99
*Prices above are for kids and adults, and they do not include tax.

As you see, the prices went up approximately $15 for each pass, which, admittedly, is a small increase considering how much Universal’s general admission 2-Day Park-to-Park ticket went up earlier this year ($146.99 to $175.99, a 20% increase). So the fact remains: a Universal annual pass continues to be one of the best values offered at Central Florida’s theme parks.

Learn more on our Universal Snapshot page or discuss in the OI Forums.

5/27 – Yesterday a new Diagon Alley sweepstakes kicked off, this time sponsored by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Each day you have the opportunity to enter, and like the TODAY Show sweepstakes we just went through, your actual answer doesn’t affect your chances of winning (in other words, you don’t have to have the right answer). You can go to the sweepstakes page, you can talk about it with us in the OI Forums, or you can start from the beginning in our Complete guide to Diagon Alley.

By the way, we were contacted by one of the winners of a Diagon Alley grand opening sweepstakes. To see what she had to share with us, check out this post in the OI Forums.

5/27 – Portofino Bay is the only on-site hotel at Universal Orlando with rooms that feature balconies – however, these are few and far between. Rooms with balconies cannot be reserved in advance, but, starting recently, they may be offered as an upgrade at check-in: $15 extra per night for a “Juliet” balcony and $30 extra per night for a full balcony. You can see images and learn more in the OI Forums, or visit the OI Universal Center to learn all about Portofino Bay Hotel.

5/27 – Cat in the Hat inside Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure now has a height restriction: 36 inches, and children between 36 and 48 inches must be accompanied by a supervising companion. This comes after a rumored guest incident earlier this year caused Universal to reduce the ride’s considerable spinning down to a sway. To learn more about this attraction and read real guest reviews, visit our Cat in the Hat page.

5/27 – Review & Win Weekend update: thanks to everyone who submitted reviews over the weekend – in all, we added nearly 400 new reviews to our pages, making the OI Universal Center that much stronger of a planning resource for all our readers. Wondering who won? We’ve announced the winners in this blog post! PS. Just because our contest is over doesn’t mean you can’t still share your opinions about Universal’s rides – learn more.


New on the Orlando Informer Blog

Along with our encyclopedia of Universal Orlando vacation-planning information, our weekly blog posts also provide you with an entertaining and informative way to learn more about everything there is to do in Orlando. Here are our new posts:

Real guest reviews of Universal Orlando: Even more amazing reviews submitted by our fans (and last weekend’s Review & Win contest winners announced!)

Duplo Valley: Making LEGOLAND Florida the very first theme park for the entire family

Piecing together Diagon Alley’s grand opening date: Everything we know right now

Cinematic Spectacular Dining Experience: VIP treatment for Universal’s evening lagoon show

THE BIG 5: Most expensive merchandise at Universal’s theme parks

Universal Studios *Hollywood* trip report – May 2014 (Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Super Silly Fun Land, Wizarding World construction & more)

Rumor round-up for May 30, 2014: New details about Gringotts, limiting the Hogwarts Express, and the latest intel on wands, drinks & shops

Gringotts overflow queue.
The bad news? You’re going to spend hours here. The good news? It’s a secret.


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Rumor round-up for May 30, 2014: New details about Gringotts, limiting the Hogwarts Express, and the latest intel on wands, drinks & shops

Special needs are Universal: Diagon Alley attraction requirements, expectant mothers rider’s chart, Team Members continue to impress us

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Lisa Murphy
Lisa Murphy
May 31, 2014 1:03 pm

We are heading there as we speak for our first trip! Yeah!

About Taylor Strickland

Taylor Strickland is the owner of Orlando Informer, the internationally awarded independent resource for guests visiting Orlando. In this position, he leads the website's overall direction and day-to-day operations, working with a team of writers, editors, developers, and producers.

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