Universal Orlando 2012: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure

Universal Orlando 2012: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure

4.1 6
by Seth Kubersky
     
 

A WHOLE NEW KIND OF MAGIC!
Harry Potter recreates his Wizarding World at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando adds powerful sorcery to a collection of cutting-edge attractions that make other theme parks look mousy. This book is your completely unbiased unofficial guide to all the fun, all the thrills, all the secrets, all the best deals.

UNIVERSAL

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Overview

A WHOLE NEW KIND OF MAGIC!
Harry Potter recreates his Wizarding World at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando adds powerful sorcery to a collection of cutting-edge attractions that make other theme parks look mousy. This book is your completely unbiased unofficial guide to all the fun, all the thrills, all the secrets, all the best deals.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA
"Live the Movies" at the original movie studio theme park. Home of . . .

Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit

The next generation of Aaargh!

The Simpsons Ride
It's the Krustiest Place on Earth.

Revenge of the Mummy
Ancient curse meets indoor coaster.

Horror Make-Up Show
You'll never see a show like this at Disney!

ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE
The theme park for the twenty-first century. Home of . . .

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
And you thought your broomstick was cool. The new state-of-the-art in a totally new kind of thrill ride. Mind the Dementors!

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
A dizzying 3-D ride through a comic-book New York.

The Incredible Hulk & Dragon Challenge
The biggest, brawniest, scariest roller coasters in Orlando.

AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!

Get the low-down on CityWalk, the hot restaurant and nightclub district that put Disney's Pleasure Island out of business.

Learn how to live large in luxury and skip the regular lines in the theme parks when you stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This great little guide sums up pretty much everything and anything that you'll want to know about visiting Universal Orlando.
-Joey Inigo, Mouse Info, October, 23, 2011

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781887140942
Publisher:
The Intrepid Traveler
Publication date:
11/16/2011
Edition description:
11th Edition
Pages:
302
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In 2007, Universal Orlando rocked the attraction industry by announcing a partnership with Warner Brothers and author J.K. Rowling to bring her mega-selling series about a United Kingdom conjuring academy into three-dimensional reality. Insiders speculated that securing the notoriously reticent Rowling’s cooperation (in a deal that granted her unprecedented levels of artistic control over the project) could be the kind of coup that might finally allow Universal to beat Disney at its own game.

After three years of eagerly observed construction, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter premiered to the public on June 18, 2010, in a star-studded opening ceremony that was broadcast globally. Millions of Potter-maniacs, whose money helped make the books and films into a $15 billion dollar franchise, held their breaths in anticipation. Could this new section of Islands of Adventure possibly live up to the wonders they experienced on page and screen? Well, the verdict is in, and it is a resounding “Yeeesss!”

From the moment you step under the stone archway into Hogsmeade Village (beneath a sign reading “Please Respect the Spell Limits”), you will be completely enveloped in this enchanted universe. The word “immersive” is ubiquitous in the themed-entertainment business, but nowhere else on earth is its application more apt. When you walk into the Wizarding World, you don’t feel like you’ve just entered another area in an amusement park; you’ve seemingly been transported into the charmingly archaic Scottish hamlet where Harry and his friends relax on winter holidays, down to the worn cobblestone streets and sparkling snow-capped eaves. Everywhere you look, from the Hogwarts Express train belching steam to the exquisitely detailed storefront windows, you’ll find an overabundance of exacting detail that makes this area – which was carved from the former “Merlinwood” section of Lost Continent, as well as some previously unused nearby acreage – seem far richer than its 20-acre size might suggest. Simply put, this is the most visually dense attraction in any park, Mouse-made or otherwise, with the possible exception of Tokyo DisneySea in Japan.

Universal may have somewhat oversold the scope of the expansion by initially referring to it as a “park within a park.” The area is similar in size to the other “islands,” and no separate admission is required. And return visitors to IOA will remember the area’s re-purposed roller coasters, which may explain why they always have less of a wait than the other Potter attractions. Still, the area is enormously popular, with dedicated Potter devotees waiting hours in the hot sun just to enter their hero’s home.

However, the Wizarding World’s greatest asset is also its Achilles’ heel: the authentically intimate scale of the streets and stores. Unlike many other oversized epic fantasies, the Potter books and films depict a more human-scaled world of congested markets and narrow alleyways. Confines here are just as cramped as Rowling imagined, which is great for preserving the illusion but poor for pedestrian management.

On busy days, in order to keep this compact area from being overwhelmed by eager visitors, Universal distributes free timed entry tickets from electronic kiosks located in Lost Continent and Jurassic Park (consult the 2-Park Map for details). Use the kiosk touchscreen to select the number of guests in your party, then return later with the resulting ticket during your assigned entry time. There may be a line for the ticket kiosks, but it typically moves swiftly. Alternatively, except on the most crowded days, you should be able to enter without a timed ticket by early evening, when crowds are thinner and nighttime illumination makes the area even more entrancing.

If you aren’t already a Potter-head, you’ll want to pick up at least the first few novels or films to better appreciate the area, which is currently focused on the first four “years” in the seven-book series. Even if you’re merely a Muggle with no prior Potter interest, the beauty and wit you’ll find here may inspire you to start reading once you return home.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Next-generation dark thrill ride
Time: About 30 minutes for the tour, 4 minutes for the ride
Our Take: The best theme-park ride in the Western Hemisphere

As you emerge from Hogsmeade and round the corner, you’ll catch sight of an awe-inspiring vision: the majestic spires of Hogwarts Castle, home to the ancient school where Harry and his schoolmates learn the ways of wizardry. Perched high atop a craggy cliff face, the edifice is actually an empty shell perched atop a massive camouflaged show building, but thanks to clever use of forced perspective it appears even larger and more imposing, if less colorful, than Cinderella’s digs down the road. Pass between the school’s stone gates (which mystically glow with the attraction’s name at night) and enter the castle dungeon to begin your adventure.

Tip: Duck into the first cliff crevice for a glimpse behind the scenes. Forbidden Journey is actually comprised of two attractions in one. The first is the queue, cleverly disguised as an elaborate walking tour of Hogwarts, which has opened its doors to non-magical Muggles like yourself for the first time in its ten-century history. (For serious continuity nerds, your visit occurs on a day “frozen in time” outside of the Potter canon, sometime between the events of Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince.) Waiting in line is rarely considered entertainment, but here is the exception; with more details and effects than most entire attractions, this surpasses Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure as America’s most impressive holding pen. If you were to walk slowly through the queue with no one ahead of you, examining the artifacts and watching all the effects, it would take almost 30 minutes. The production values are high enough that even those uninterested in the ride should still experience the castle tour.

Tip: Universal Express Plus is not valid on this attraction, but there is a non-rider experience offered which includes almost all of the normal line’s magical effects, including a private portrait gallery, with little or no wait. Ask the first attendant you encounter inside the castle for the “castle only tour.” …

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

The tour begins in the dungeon, . . .

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Meet the Author

Seth Kubersky is an author, artist, and entertainment professional who has been based in Orlando for fourteen years. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Seth began his career at Universal Studios Florida, where he was a technician for the Ghostbusters , Terminator, and Barney shows, and an entertainment supervisor for Mardi Gras parades, Halloween haunted houses, and other special events. He has been interviewed as a “theme park expert” on Rudy Maxa’s satellite and broadcast radio shows. As an independent theater producer, Seth has worked on stages across Central Florida, from dinner shows and Fringe Festivals to the Shakespeare Center and Centroplex. His arts & entertainment opinion column “Live Active Cultures” appears in each issue of the Orlando Weekly alternative newspaper.

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Universal Orlando 2012: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
BNFANW More than 1 year ago
This clearly written and well organized guide allowed us to get the most out of our visit to Universal Orlando. I recommend it highly to anyone going there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Purchased this guide book after reading reviews and being unhappy with the coverage of Universal in other books. We are planning a one day blitz of both parks this summer and really wanted to get a good plan in place. Especially appreciated the information for Harry Potter attraction since I have heard this attraction can get extremely busy.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is great if all u want to know about are the restaurants. I was hoping for more itineraries.