Category Archives: Universal Studios

Starlog Archives: T2 3-D

When it comes to theme park attractions, 3-D movies don’t tend to be headliners.  They are a staple of Orlando theme parks because of their high capacity and the fact that they allow guests to sit down and enjoy some A/C in the hot Florida sun.  This year, one such attraction celebrates 20 years at Universal Studios Orlando.  Many would argue that for the past two decades, T2 3-D has been the best 3-D movie to be found in central Florida.  That’s probably because James Cameron oversaw the development of the attraction himself and the result was far more ambitious than any 3-D movie before or since.  The cast from the second Terminator movie reunited for this theme park-only sequel which continues to entertain hot, tired guests.

The September 1996 issue of Starlog magazine included an incredibly detailed account of the attraction when it was new.

Read the rest of this entry


Universal Orlando’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong Preview

Skull Island Reign of Kong

Something big (and hairy) is coming to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park this summer.  US Today spilled the beans on some top secret details on Universal’s newest (and possibly scariest) Orlando attraction.

*spoilers for the new ride*

Read the rest of this entry

NBC Preview of Skull Island: Reign of Kong


This summer, Universal is opening a new King Kong attraction at its Islands of Adventure theme park.  Over the weekend, NBC aired previews of the ride during a presentation of Peter Jackson 2005 remake of the original movie.  If you missed it, someone was kind enough to post it on YouTube.  We’ll take a look after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry

Universal Dining: Three Broomsticks


Travel is not a science. The best-laid plans can turn out impractical, and sometimes the best experiences are those you could never actually plan for. A successful traveller knows the value in being willing to break from the established game plan based on the actual circumstances. On the other hand, there are reasons for doing that intense pre-trip research and planning. You’re not supposed to miss the Golden Gate Bridge if you go to San Francisco. You shouldn’t miss the Space Needle if you go to Seattle. If you go to Disney World, you take a picture in front of the castle. It’s just what you do. Now I’m not going to put Three Broomsticks on the level of these icons, but I’m trying to make a point here. As great as so many things are in locations like San Francisco or Seattle or Disney World, there are signature spots or experiences that define them, and when it comes to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and dining, Three Broomsticks is that thing.
Read the rest of this entry

Underrated Universal: Dragon Challenge


The Universal theme parks in Orlando are completely in thrall to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, right? Just throw something up and slap Hogwarts or Gringotts on it and people will practically throw their money at you, right? Well, not exactly. Ever hear the three most important things about real estate? Location, Location, Location.
Read the rest of this entry

Staying at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.53.59 AM

The Universal hotel resorts in Orlando, Florida offer a range of appealing benefits to guests who stay there. These include the advantage of locations close by the popular Universal theme parks, with convenient complimentary transportation, quality on-site shops and restaurants, early entry to the parks, and even (for the more expensive resorts) the inclusion of the express pass for most attractions at the complex’s theme parks. For several years, while these benefits were certainly tempting for me, the price point attached to Universal’s resorts had been prohibitive, motivating me to stay elsewhere during both of my previous visits to the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks.

For me, that meant flying in to the Orlando airport and renting a car so I could drive to an off-site hotel and then drive to the huge parking deck adjacent to the parks and CityWalk each day of the trip. It also meant gaining admission to the parks an hour later than on-site guests and paying extra for the Universal Express Pass if I wanted to make waits in most attraction lines shorter. I researched the pricing for the resorts and passes multiple times without ever feeling like the expense was within my grasp. I also never felt like any of the resort theming I was seeing featured by Universal on line was on the level of the best at Disney, with most of what I saw just reminding me of a really nice hotel. Then 2 years ago, Universal opened up their Cabana Bay Beach Resort and a lot of my objections to staying on site there disappeared. Finally, this March, my family and I spent a long weekend at Universal’s parks and spent our evenings in one of their resorts.
Read the rest of this entry

The Leaky Cauldron – Lunch and Breakfast


One of the things Lebeau and family had fewer opportunities to experience than I did when they visited Universal on Father’s Day prior to their Disney cruise this past summer was the variety of food offerings. In the interest of offering the most complete coverage we can here at LeBlog, I’m presenting some of my thoughts on the eateries I had a chance to try while my family and I were in the Universal parks in late March. I visited the Hot Dog Hall of Fame in CityWalk for lunch one day and experienced dinners at Mythos and Lombard’s.

Today I’m going to talk a little about the primary meal destination in the relatively new Diagon Alley area in the original Universal Studios theme park. Come along, won’t you?
Read the rest of this entry

10 Things at Universal Orlando That Could Have Been Better


Okay, let’s get two things out of the way right off the top. Number one: My family and I had a really good time at the Universal theme parks in Orlando this spring. Take a look at my article 10 Things I Loved about Universal Orlando’s Theme Parks for a little bit about that. Number two: Despite the top photo, I’m not here to moan about how it rains a lot in central Florida. I’ve been to Disney World and Universal enough times to be over that. It rains there. That’s not the fault of the folks at the theme parks. I was just looking for a less cheery top photo and thought that one would suffice.

Even though my recent trip to Universal Orlando was great, things can almost always be better, can’t they? Well that’s what I’m here to discuss. I’ll rank them backwards from 10 (the least offensive thing) to 1 (the thing I disliked the most). Come along if you like!
Read the rest of this entry

10 Things I Loved about Universal Orlando’s Theme Parks


My family and I recently spent a few days in Orlando at Universal’s theme park and entertainment complex, and there is plenty to like when a large company puts so much effort into drawing big crowds in with lively, exciting, and immersive attractions and environments. There are some obvious examples that people who have only thought about visiting Universal are probably already aware of. First and Foremost, there’s the twin Harry Potter lands. Also, there’s the expanded Simpsons area of the original Universal park. With a truly impressive group of properties like Shrek, Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Men in Black, and their legendary set of classic monsters to choose from, Universal has created a crowd-pleasing destination. This list will mostly avoid the more obvious examples of the attractions which pull people into the parks by the millions each year. Mostly. There will be little to no coverage of the new Diagon Alley area here and we’ll be sticking to the theme parks exclusively, so that means nothing about CityWalk or the resort where we stayed. You’ll have to wait for information on those topics in later posts.
Got it? Let’s begin!
Read the rest of this entry

Hot Dog Hall of Fame at Universal’s CityWalk


Ten days before my trip to the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Lebeau posted a preview of a new dessertery coming to Universal called the “Toothsome Chocolate Factory” which will feature crazy varieties of ice cream sundaes. Unfortunately, it is not scheduled to open until long after my return from Universal. We did discuss some of the things I might see that Lebeau and family didn’t have a chance to experience in their visit to Orlando back in June. One thing that came up was the CityWalk Hot Dog Hall of Fame and the menu did manage to elicit some enthusiasm for some of us, so I figured why not give it a look-see and report back to you guys?
Read the rest of this entry

Universal Orlando Unveils Toothsome Chocolate Factory & Savory Feast Emporium

Toothsome Treats Chocolate Factory

A new restaurant in Orlando is a common occurrence.  I don’t typically devote a post to such an announcement.  But the new Toothsome Chocolate Factory & Savory Feast Emporium coming later this year to Universal’s City Walk is sure to capture the imagination of anyone out there with a serious sweet tooth.  Regular readers know, I take my desserts seriously, so let’s dig in!

Read the rest of this entry

Lebeau Family Trip Report 2015: Universal Studios

Universal Globe

For the last few years, our big family vacations have mostly involved going to Walt Disney World.  Last year, we made a special trip to check out Disney’s latest additions in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.  At the airport on the way home, we got into an elevator with a guy carrying a clipboard with the Universal logo on it.  He asked if we enjoyed our trip.  We said we had.  Then he asked if we got to visit “the fun place” and tapped his clipboard.  We said we hadn’t because the girls were still a bit young.  He chuckled and said, “Those are good Disney ages.”

This year, I wanted to do something different.  For one thing, Disney wasn’t offering anything new.  But we were also getting a bit tired of the typical Disney World vacation which is simply exhausting.  I didn’t think the girls were old enough for Universal, so I looked into a Disney cruise instead.  Over the course of planning the trip, we allowed a little time in Florida both before and after the cruise.  When I realized that the day before we boarded the ship was Father’s Day, I decided to spend a day at Universal to get a taste of what we had been missing. Read the rest of this entry

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

This summer, we visited Universal Studios Orlando.  Our trip included a stay at Universal’s latest hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  This moderately priced hotel opened in 2014.  Like Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the hotel consists of family suites and regular hotel rooms.  Also like a Disney hotel, Cabana Bay has a strong unifying theme.  Price-wise, the hotel falls roughly between Disney’s value and moderate categories.  Unlike Universal’s three deluxe resorts, Unlimited Express Pass to the theme parks is not included and there is no water taxi transportation.  Guests at Cabana Bay do receive one hour early admission to the popular Harry Potter sections of the Universal Parks which is a very valuable perk if you are going to Universal.

Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: