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Born and raised in the land of sunshine and dreams-come-true, Dani has always had a passion for tourism and hospitality. She is a proud Orlando native who loves sharing her hometown with others. With work experience in theme parks, hotels, and reputation management she brings this background to her freelance writing endevours. Follow her adventures on Twitter at @thisfloridalife.

Top 6 kid-friendly beverages at Universal Orlando

We don’t call ourselves the Sunshine State without good reason – it’s hot here! Universal Orlando offers plenty of ways to cool off and beat the heat, but one of my favorites is to grab a frosty beverage. There are so many fun choices that are great for both kids and the young at heart. […]

REVIEW: Strong Water Tavern Rum Tasting at Sapphire Falls Resort

I remember one of the first pieces of concept art for Loews Sapphire Falls Resort I ever laid eyes on featured the Strong Water Tavern. I knew then and there a visit here would be compulsory for me. With a little help from the Orlando Informer team and our friends at Loews, I had the distinct pleasure […]

Planning a Universal Orlando birthday vacation of a lifetime

There is no better destination than Orlando to celebrate a special occasion, especially a birthday. With ten major theme parks, plenty of attractions, and hundreds of well-appointed hotels, you can easily find a perfect place to celebrate your occasion. One mother recently pulled off an unforgettable surprise birthday trip for her son. During her trip […]

Orlando theme park community comes together standing strong

Note from the Editor: This is by far the hardest article I’ve ever had to publish on our site. However, when Dani pitched the idea, there was no way I could turn her passion down. Our entire team at Orlando Informer is devoted to counteracting this senseless attack on our Orlando community however possible. As […]

6 unexpected Disney touches at Disney Springs

The three year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs is essentially complete. The most recent, and perhaps most talked about, addition is Town Center. This new area is the topic of much discussion because its main feature is a large selection of retail stores that are commonly found in many upscale shopping areas throughout […]

Details and secrets of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Universal Orlando

It’s so easy to change your latitude and attitude at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe at Universal Orlando. Perched near the entrance of Islands of Adventure, you can quench your thirst for a tropical getaway simply by setting foot inside this Parrotheads’ paradise. I can safely say that were it not for Universal Orlando’s Margaritaville Cafe […]

Upcoming changes to MyMagic+ at Walt Disney World

Change is the only constant thing in life. It’s been nearly five years since MyMagic+ first began to change vacationing at Walt Disney World forever. Whether that change has been a good or a bad thing may be a source of debate for many more years to come. Naturally, any project of this scale is […]

2 new additions to Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2016

One of the most wonderful times of the year is upon us. Universal’s Mardi Gras 2016 is here and with it comes a few new additions including new food and new parade floats. The concert line up for 2016 has already proven successful, and many great headliners will rock the park in the coming weeks. […]

6 reasons you must visit SeaWorld’s Bands, Brews, and BBQ

Note from the editor – February 26, 5:18pm: SeaWorld just announced now through March 6, guests who purchase in advance receive a $20 discount off SeaWorld’s single-day ticket, along with a free 5-ounce craft brew and warm sample of pretzel bites. Single day tickets are $79, plus tax. Annual Passholders can also receive this offer by […]

Hello Kitty store now open at Universal Orlando

I’ll be the first to admit, I just did not see the big deal about Hello Kitty and the other Sanrio characters. Then I set foot in the brand new Hello Kitty store at Universal Studios Florida and I think I get it now…. sort of. To the dismay of long time Universal fans, the I […]

6 new must-try snacks at Universal Orlando

An epic vacation requires some epic fuel. Thankfully Universal Orlando offers an epic variety of food and beverage to suit all tastes. This includes lots of snacks and drinks that are perfect for a little pick-me-up any time of day.  And to make things even sweeter, Universal Orlando has recently introduced a few new snacks […]

Avoid making these 7 mistakes at Universal Orlando

When you’ve made the decision to visit Universal Orlando it is exciting, but can also be a little intimidating. There is so much to do and if you are unfamiliar with this dynamic destination it can be overwhelming. Keep in mind you’re going on vacation, not prepping for brain surgery, just have fun. Don’t take […]

Holidays 2015 at Universal Orlando have begun!

Christmas time is here and now the holidays at Universal Orlando have finally begun. Orlando is absolutely incredible this time of year; each theme park gets into the action in their own special way.  Universal Orlando’s holiday celebration is very special and unique, offering holiday cheer in a way that only Universal can. Though these […]

How to enjoy Universal Orlando when you’re a thrill ride whimp

The thrills are alive and well in Orlando. SkyPlex and its towering SkyScaper roller coaster have been approved for development. SeaWorld will debut Mako, the longest, fastest, yadda yadda coaster in Orlando. But of course, Universal Orlando still reigns supreme with its impressive collection of various thrill rides. The day I became an annual passholder […]

5 things Universal can learn from Disney

In a previous OI Blog post I shared 5 things that Disney could learn from Universal. It’s only fair that I turn the tables. After all, one of the best places a business can look for inspiration is the competition. Disney is the reason theme parks as we know them exist. Walt Disney World is […]

5 attractions Star Wars fans wish Disney would make a reality

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a saga was born, changing the world of epic, blockbuster movies forever. In 2012 When The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm Ltd we fans of both Disney and Star Wars rejoiced and then waited….and waited… and we’re still waiting. Star Wars Land has yet to […]

5 things Disney should learn from Universal

It all started with Disney. Were it not for Disneyland, theme parks as we know them would not be. For so many fans and guests, the Disney Parks are the undisputed champions of theme parks. But, like all corporations and organizations there are some things that Disney could learn and improve upon. In fact they […]

3 Reasons Universal fans MUST watch Sharknado 3

It’s corny, ridiculous, and one of the silliest, hilarious things to ever grace modern television. The Sharknado series has put the SyFy network on the radar screens of many viewers who might not otherwise give the network any notice. The latest installment, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! takes place primarily in Central Florida, with Universal […]

Explore Port of Entry’s many secrets

It beckons. With rich earth tones, exotic plants and fabrics, whimsical architecture, and an enchanting melody, Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure is an imaginative destination. Enter the large, curving metal gates and explore one of the most unique and creative theme park entrances in the world.   The entrance area is a crucial […]

14 great places to eat, 1 location

If I could give just one dining tip to Orlando visitors, I think I‘d have to go with making Restaurant Row a culinary must-do. Tucked in between the attractions area and the edge of the residential area sits Orlando’s Restaurant Row, a two-mile stretch of Sand Lake Road that is a foodie’s dream come true. […]

How to combine a cruise with your Orlando trip

An Orlando vacation is pretty incredible in itself, but there’s a way to take it to uncharted territory. With Orlando’s ideal location in the middle of Florida (we don’t call it Central Florida for nothing!), it is easy to get to one of the nearby cruise ports and head out to the high seas for […]

Diagon Alley revisited

When the world first heard the roar of the Gringotts dragon and gazed upon the stunning scenery of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, it was difficult for each of us to not be awestruck. However, now that the grand opening confetti been swept away from the streets and our own perceptions, […]

5 best tips for selecting the perfect hotel

Every hotel is different. In fact, as a hotelier, I like to say that finding the right hotel for you is liking finding your spouse. Every guest is different, and not every hotel is going to fit the needs of each guest. In order to find the right hotel to fit your needs, it takes […]

Five more of Universal’s top adult beverages

It’s no secret that Universal Orlando offers a plethora of experiences that are perfect for adults who want to get away for a while. One of the favorite ways for adults to kick back is to have a cold, refreshing adult beverage. There’s so many wonderful choices, the possibilities are almost staggering. That’s why we […]

History of the New York backlot at Universal Studios Florida

I have always found it interesting that the New York City skyline can be seen from the entrance to an Orlando theme park based on a movie studio in California. However, as one of the last few remaining areas of Universal Studios Florida that is themed after a real city, the New York backlot is […]

Top 5 wide-open spaces to relax at Universal

Spending the day at Universal Orlando Resort can be both exhilarating and tiring. During a busy day of excitement, it is important to take breaks and recharge yourself. There are some beautiful places dotted throughout both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure that offer lovely vistas and ample room to spread out and relax. […]

5 most expensive buys at Universal

In this edition of THE BIG 5, we explore the riches that can be found inside some of Universal’s merchandise shops. My ventures through these stores proved to be eye-opening and full of new entries onto my personal wish list. So come along and dream with me as we drool over some of the coolest […]

Orlando’s most overlooked attraction

Orlando is known for many things, but, until recently, it hasn’t always been known as a culinary destination. Which is a shame – Orlando has lots of unique cuisine to sample and colorful neighborhoods to visit. Thankfully, Orlando Food Tours makes it fun and easy to explore one of the city’s best neighborhoods and try […]

Top 5 outdoor bars at Universal Orlando

One of the defining characteristics of Universal Orlando is that it offers many more adult-oriented distractions than the Mouse House. The atmosphere of both Universal theme parks – and the nighttime entertainment magnet known as CityWalk – is exciting and energetic. Seen as both a pro and a con depending on who you ask, Universal […]

Visiting Diagon Alley for the First Time

It has been over a half a year since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley’s enchanted brick wall first opened for the world to experience. I often find myself craving a weekend visit as I muddle through the work week. So when the last-minute opportunity to visit with someone who hadn’t been […]

Top five ways to start AND end your day at Universal Orlando

With all the excitement, adventure, and thrills to be had at Universal Orlando, it’s hard to find a better place to spend your vacation day. But an important part of making that day all it possibly can be is ensuring that it starts off the right way – with all your ducks in a row […]

Best of CityWalk 2.0

  Universal Orlando’s CityWalk district is now home to many new dining experiences, making it better than ever. Now that these new establishments have been in business for some time, we can evaluate the lineup – although I should note that it’s difficult to actually rank each new addition against one another; each has its […]

Riding a Mardi Gras float: Best rush outside of Bourbon Street

Editor’s note: This article was originally published a few years ago, but since nothing has changed we’re republishing this for the Mardi Gras 2015 season. We knew the moment we became Annual Passholders that we would make the most of Mardi Gras event nights at Universal Orlando. Starting off with a bang, we signed up […]

5 Best Bars at Disney World’s theme parks

Over the years, so many high-quality bars and lounges have sprouted up throughout Walt Disney World that they almost make the hefty admission price into the parks worth it. I’m unashamed to say I have lots of experience in Disney’s bars and lounges, both in the theme parks and the resort hotels, and I’m going […]

Top five New Year’s resolutions every Orlando visitor should have

A New Year is about to dawn, and many people are contemplating how they want to improve themselves in the coming year. How about resolving to have a better Orlando vacation? It is important to research and plan, but there are decisions you can make – resolutions, if you will – that will ensure you […]

CityWalk’s next generation, wave three: Bread Box and Hot Dog Hall of Fame

They’ve finally arrived, just in time for summer. The spectrum of dining options at Universal CityWalk continues to broaden as Bread Box and Hot Dog Hall of Fame have now officially opened. I recently visited CityWalk in order to try out both of these new casual dining options. First up, my dining companions and I […]

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade is still as magical as ever: Visit again for the first time

As the world prepares to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, it’s time to remind ourselves of the true magic that is created at Universal Orlando. We are on the brink of what will be sheer fandemonium, just like four years ago, when Hogsmeade first came into the world. There is someone in […]

Orlando for beginners: How to survive hurricane season

Hurricane season is upon us in the Sunshine State of Florida – six wonderful months of diligently watching the weather forecast to see if the tropics have started churning another big storm. Here’s what you need to know if you are planning a trip to Orlando during hurricane season (June 1 through November 30).   […]

CityWalk’s next generation, wave two: Menchie’s, Harry Potter, and the all-new Universal Studios Store

The evolution of Universal CityWalk continues. This week marks the opening of one new treat stop, a totally revamped merchandise store, and a two-month celebration of Harry Potter. I stopped by one recent evening to check out these latest additions and was impressed with how they continue to add to the energy of Universal’s shopping/dining/entertainment […]

Guide to FastPass+ at Walt Disney World: Unlimited FastPass reservations now open to all guests

Update – April 28, 2014 Starting today, Monday, April 28, guests can select more FastPasses once they are in the park and have used up (or have had the arrival window pass on) their initial three FastPass+ reservations. Simply go to one of the kiosks located in each of the Walt Disney World parks to […]

Celebrate Mardi Gras like you mean it: Our favorite ways to party before the parade & headlining concert

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration is definitely the most kicking “Nawlins” party outside of Bourbon Street. No doubt you’ve heard all about the big parade (with some gorgeous new floats this year!), and Universal usually manages to book some big-name talent each year for their headlining concerts. But if you think that’s all there is […]

Outdoor kitchens at the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival: Try the returning dishes and all the new flavors

The big news for this year’s Flower & Garden Festival at Epcot is the return of the delightful food and beverage booths, which are now called “outdoor kitchens.” Get ready to welcome spring with a beautiful floral feast for the eyes and a flavorful feast for your taste buds! I headed out to the opening […]

A guide to loyalty programs at Universal Orlando: Earn free meals, movies & hotel amenities

One of the advantages that Universal Orlando has over Walt Disney World is the number of establishments on property that are popular national and worldwide brands with loyalty programs. Even if you only dabble a little, these loyalty and reward programs can add a lot of value to your vacation. As a member of a […]

Dick’s Last Resort now open in Lake Buena Vista: Eat, drink & laugh at a restaurant like no other

When you hear the name Dick’s Last Resort, your imagination is left to wander. If you are familiar with the brand, then you know you can expect a great time full of laughs and smiles – and a belly full of great food, too! Dick’s Last Resort is now open in Lake Buena Vista, and […]

Our top tips for combining a cruise with your Orlando trip for the best vacation possible

An Orlando vacation is pretty incredible in itself, but there’s a way to take it to uncharted territory. With Orlando’s ideal location in the middle of Florida (we don’t call it Central Florida for nothing!), it is easy to get to one of the nearby cruise ports and head out to the high seas for […]

THE BIG 5: Universal’s top five desserts that will delight your taste buds

One of the many joys of visiting theme parks is indulging in sweet treats you might otherwise resist. In this edition of THE BIG 5, I take your sweet tooth on a journey through Universal Orlando’s best desserts. And please note: for this countdown, I stuck with desserts that can be found in the two […]

A new spin on Chevy’s Fresh Mex gets its start in Orlando

The Crossroad Shopping Plaza in Lake Buena Vista, near Walt Disney World, is a popular place to find affordable, quality dining. Over the years many enhancements and new businesses have come to this shopping plaza while one staple has remained strong for many years: Chevy’s Fresh Mex. Now the time has come for Chevy’s to […]

From MEN IN BLACK to Springfield USA: The sci-fi & silly details of World Expo at Universal Studios Florida

At first glance, World Expo may seem to be one of the few areas inside Universal Studios Florida without the heightened level of detailed theming featured in other areas of the park. While it certainly is true that the amount of little details and theming is stronger in the Hollywood and New York backlots, there […]

UCF Knights march into Magic Kingdom: Complete coverage & priceless parade viewing tips

What phrase do you immediately hear after the Super Bowl has just completed? Why, “I’m going to Disney World” of course! On special occasions, a triumphant athlete, sports team, or celebrity is often invited to parade through Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This past weekend it finally time for Orlando’s hometown heroes, the University of […]

Beyond the parks: Nine new ideas for celebrating New Year’s Eve in Orlando

From Universal Orlando’s legendary CityWalk celebration to the excitement and magic in Disney’s theme parks, there is no shortage of memorable ways to ring in the New Year here in Orlando. But don’t think the theme parks are the only happenin’ hot spots when midnight rolls around on December 31 — there’s so much more […]