Thursday, May 30, 2013

Full Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride POV at SeaWorld Orlando

Video courtesy of

Universal Studios - Orlando Memorial Day

Our family went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on Memorial Day.  We got there after noon and thought it would be incredibly congested but the crowds, while substantial, weren't too bad. I'm not sure if everybody was at the beach but it should have been busier for Memorial Day.  We wondered if the economy and government furloughs have taken their toll and people were hesitant to travel.  The longest wait we had for any one ride was about 30 minutes.  If you've been to Central Florida theme parks you know the waits can be over 2 hours in the summer.  Since schools up north haven't let out yet it may be just the Florida/Georgia crowd and the heavy tourism hasn't struck yet.

Universal Studios is always a fun day.  I'm showing some shots I took of all the new construction.  Up top is the train station for the Hogwart's Express I mentioned in a previous article.  This will connect Universal Studios with Islands of Adventure and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (2-park pass required).  Above is Krustyland, the Simpson's Ride which will soon be surrounded by the new Springfield setting.

We had a great day.  Temperatures right now in Florida are hovering around 75-89 degrees but in the next few weeks temps will soar into the mid 90's and the humidity will be higher than the temperatures.  When you come down use lots of sunblock and drink water continuously not just when you get thirsty.

Transformers is almost complete and should open in the next few weeks.  Right above the entry way pictured here a huge Transformer was just added this week.  I saw a photo of it on another blog this morning.  I only missed it by a few days so I'll have to include next time we go back.

When you visit Universal/Islands treat yourself to award winning dining either at the parks or on City Walk.  Reservations can be made at some but you want to make them more than 24 -48 hours in advance.  Visit for more information and enjoy your Florida vacation!

Last Note:  Here's the Autobot I was talking about.  He's 28 ft tall and 9 tons.  Cool..
(photo courtesy of Universal Studios)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Antarctica - Empire of the Pengiun at Sea World

On May 24th, 2013, Sea World's Antarctica - Empire of the Penguins opened to a thrall of summer masses excited to experience Sea World's newest attraction. Empire of the Penguins sits directly in the middle of Sea World Orlando.  The main attraction is the penguins world.  Visitors will enjoy a mobile simulator where the family can choose the type of ride they take while following the life of a penguin.  There are opportunities to disembark and walk among these creatures in their world while Sea World's top animal expert , Michael Boos, educates you about these arctic birds in 30 degree temperatures.  

Shop at Glacial Collections or visit Expedition Cafe for some of Sea World's great food.  Also, Sea World pass holders get 10% off on food and souvenirs.  

Visit  for free downloads and take the time to view the videos of the attraction and how it was made.  

Initial reviews from the blogosphere are good but, surprisingly, not stellar.  While visitors enjoyed it, many felt as though Empire of the Penguins didn't live up to the hype.  Some felt Sea World would have done better to add another roller coaster or thrill ride.  Others thought it wasn't much more than the original Penguin Encounter.  I must stress that everybody enjoyed it but some felt it fell short. 

I feel that Sea World, like Busch Gardens, has the added burden of keeping the focus of their parks on the wildlife they serve and specialize. Id doing so their focus is often on wildlife education as well as fun rides.  I think Antarctica is a superb attraction and offers something no other park offers.  In Central Florida, where the competition among major theme parks is major league, I think Sea World did a superb job.  Come down and see for yourself.

                                    (photos courtesy of Sea World Orlando)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Universal Studios Orlando Simpson's Land


                                               (photo courtesy of Universal Studios)

Universal Studios has been doing major renovations and construction over the last year.  In addition to Transformers and expansion of Harry Potter, the all new Simpsons-themed Springfield Street is almost complete.

The area will resemble Springfield, the Simpsons home town and will be centered on the Simpsons Ride.  The attraction will include Fast Food Boulevard where guests can visit the Krusty Burger, the Frying Dutchman, Bumblebee Man or Moe's Tavern. The newest ride is Kang and Kodos 'Twirl and Hurl', that should spin you out of your mind.  Walk the streets of Simpsons Land this summer and, if you like the Simpsons, you can enjoy the rides and eat food right out of the show.  Visit with the characters for photo opportunities and spend the day watching your kids have a great time.

Simpsons Land will open this summer. Universal Studios hasn't set a firm date but it will be soon.  I will repost when the date is set.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sea World Orlando - Events

This year at Sea World has a lot planned. In addition to all the park regular attractions Viva La Musica was a big success of Latin food, music, and culture. Coming up is Summer Nights that includes extended summer hours, night time shows, featuring Shamu Rocks, Clyde and Seamore, and roller casters under the stars.

In September, Jack Hanna, the world-renowned zoologist and Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, will host Jack Hanna Weekend where the whole family can get up close and personal with Jack, share his stories and wildlife knowledge, while learning about animals and the environment.

In October Sea World will host "Halloween Spooktacular" where the kids can join Count Von Count for a character breakfast. They can have fun at Penelope's Party Zone, go trick or treating, and participate in Sesame Street's Countdown to Halloween.

In December the family can enjoy Sea World's Christmas Celebration all month long ending with the always spectacular New Year's Eve Celebration at Sea World. Here you can enjoy one of the best fireworks shows seen anywhere.

Visit the website You can view park hours as they change throughout the year, what is happening now, and buy tickets or vacation packages all on the same site. Don't forget to book the pets. Sea World has on-site kennels so nobody has to be left at home. I always suggest visiting and comparing prices and packages with Orbitz, Kayak, Priceline, and the other mainstream vacation sites. Go with names you know. There are scams out there so stick with the established sites. Shop and compare to get the best rates for your family and enjoy your vacation in Central Florida.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Harry Potter Expansion - Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure

Universal Studios Orlando is at it again.  For months now there has been a tremendous amount of construction going on in both parks and now they have revealed what many speculated to be an addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The area pictured above is inside Universal Studios and will be called   "Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley".  It will be modeled after London and will have a major ride where visitors ride cars through a labyrinth of passageways populated with dragons and other characters based on Gringott's Wizarding bank from the J.K. Rowling novels.

There will also be shops and eateries like on the Islands of Adventure side and other novelties not yet revealed. Diagon Alley, located on the site of the old Jaws Ride, will be connected to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure by the "Hogwarts Express" train ride.

There has been so much interest and speculation about the expansion, The folks at Universal and Warner Bros. decided to release the proposed expansion to the public to boost interest in the parks.  The entire project is set to open sometime in 2014. Exact date to be announced sometime in the future.

Since the Harry Potter project will span both parks, it's likely visitors will need a 2-Park Pass to see the whole thing but it will be well worth it. Tickets and packages can be purchased on Universal Studios Orlando website.  Shop around and see what kind of deals you can secure from other travel sites as well.

Although an opening date hasn't been firmed up yet, the parks usually open newer attractions prior to the summer months to maximize visitor enjoyment so I'm going to venture a guess it will be ready in April or may 2014.  We'll see.