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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 602: Universal Holidays & Velocicoaster photo report posted!

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I like how they build a roller coaster in the same time it took them to built new lockers for Harry Potter.   

On Sunday I ventured out to the Universal Orlando Resort for a chance to see the new holiday offerings at the two parks. This year is a little different thanks to COVID-19, but Universal has still man

^Agreed. I think the newer Intamin lapbars are actually the best steel coaster restraint currently being produced. When comparing overhead lapbars on Taron and Blue Fire, I found the Intamin ones to b

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It's high time that Universal opened a section dedicated to cheesy SyFy flicks. Who wouldn't want to have their picture taken with Sharktopus?

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It's high time that Universal opened a section dedicated to cheesy SyFy flicks. Who wouldn't want to have their picture taken with Sharktopus?

 

I always thought it be cool for them to turn Twister into Sharknado. I would love a cheesy syfy area. Get on this Universal.

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This is one attraction that I've kicked myself for missing. I went to HHN for the first time with some friends years ago, and we walked into a holding area for the event near Kong, just when they announced "last ride on Kong for the night--no waiting." Unfortunately, we'd already surrendered our HHN tickets and couldn't leave the holding area.

 

But we did get to walk through Kong, as they were using it for a maze that night.

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I kind of hoped that the attraction would be an expansion to Jurassic Park. I am just not a big fan of King Kong and it seems that that character is getting old to me with lots of movie remakes, etc. I am just kinda bored of King Kong.

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It would be great to have another coaster in IOA... wonder if an indoor kong themed coaster would be a possibility. Originally, I thought the Jurassic Park expansion was going to be an amber mine coaster using the Gravity Group splinter concept based on rumors. The latest things I read now make it sound similar to Kong 360 3D... but that building looks huge (unless there are going to be multiple theaters within it).

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But we did get to walk through Kong, as they were using it for a maze that night.

 

Nightmare Creatures? That was my first ever visit to HHN and I'm pretty sure that was my first maze, even. Those were the good ol' days when they still let you through the haunts in small groups rather than a neverending conga line. I was 16. Holy wow, that was way back in 2000! Jack The Clown's first ever appearance as the mascot! Sheesh, I'm old.

 

The thing I remember most vividly was how much my parents loved me. Yeah, they put me in front of the group. The attendants opened those huge sliding doors to begin the haunt, I took two steps into the relentless fog and was quickly thrown into a screaming fit as a stilt walker came running up and got right in my face. That haunt was excellent!

 

As for Kong, I remember it in bits and pieces, but I was a bit of a wuss when I was a kid so I always sat in the middle and looked away from the giant monkey. That video makes me miss the old school Universal rides, though, when they weren't afraid to have fireballs explode right next to the riders. I still love the Universal parks but the new, mostly digital experiences aren't nearly as great as Kong, Earthquake, and Jaws were.

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But we did get to walk through Kong, as they were using it for a maze that night.

 

Nightmare Creatures? That was my first ever visit to HHN and I'm pretty sure that was my first maze, even. Those were the good ol' days when they still let you through the haunts in small groups rather than a neverending conga line. I was 16. Holy wow, that was way back in 2000! Jack The Clown's first ever appearance as the mascot! Sheesh, I'm old.

 

The thing I remember most vividly was how much my parents loved me. Yeah, they put me in front of the group. The attendants opened those huge sliding doors to begin the haunt, I took two steps into the relentless fog and was quickly thrown into a screaming fit as a stilt walker came running up and got right in my face. That haunt was excellent!

 

As for Kong, I remember it in bits and pieces, but I was a bit of a wuss when I was a kid so I always sat in the middle and looked away from the giant monkey. That video makes me miss the old school Universal rides, though, when they weren't afraid to have fireballs explode right next to the riders. I still love the Universal parks but the new, mostly digital experiences aren't nearly as great as Kong, Earthquake, and Jaws were.

 

Yep--2000 (first year of Jack's reign of terror).

 

One of our group was in a wheelchair, and she freaked out a bit because she couldn't see a ramp in one section due to all the fog (there were two levels, as I recall). So, I scouted ahead, while other people moved on and left us behind. I found the ramp, turned around, and saw a veritable army of the damned sneaking up on my two friends. It was hilarious.

Edited by cfc
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Alrighttttt, time for a quick This Or That! Incredible Hulk Coaster or Revenge of the Mummy? I got the chance to go to IOA and I liked the Hulk, but I didn't get the chance to go to USF. SO which do you guys prefer?

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IMHO based on the last time I was there, which was last week. I would put the Mummy way ahead of Hulk. Hulk was running like crap. Incredibly rough and fairly uninspired.

When I went on it last October, it was running a bit rough, but it wasn't THAT bad. That's probably because I'm so used to Scream at SFMM being rough. Now THAT'S a terrible-running coaster.

 

But as for the question, I kind of prefer the Mummy. There's more airtime and the theming is much better. I also like the launch more.

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We rode Hulk a few times last month and thought it was great. It wasn't rough at all.

 

We actually thought it was the best coaster at Universal orlando after Mummy. We actually liked every coaster at both Universal parks, they have a very good collection.

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http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2014-03-29/news/os-universal-cabana-bay-hotel-expansion-20140329_1_universal-orlando-hotel-rooms-cabana-bay-beach-resort

 

Universal Orlando has invested hundreds of millions of dollars during the past four years in attractions that have drawn throngs of new visitors to Central Florida.

 

Now, Orlando's No. 2 theme-park resort is trying to keep more of those visitors on its property.

 

On Monday, Universal will welcome its first guests to the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the first hotel built at Universal in more than a decade. The largest hotel under construction in North America, the retro, beach-themed Cabana Bay will be Universal's fourth hotel. Once the final phase is completed by summer, the hotel will increase the resort's inventory of rooms from 2,400 to 4,200.

 

Universal isn't done, however. Executives at Comcast Corp., which owns the NBCUniversal media-and-entertainment empire, say they plan to build more hotels in Orlando in the coming years — potentially quadrupling or quintupling Universal Orlando's current inventory.

 

Experts say Universal's aggressive hotel expansion threatens to take business from other hotels, particularly competitors that ring the resort and rely on Universal visitors to fill their rooms. Some hotel operators acknowledge they are worried.

 

"Once they get fully opened, I'm sure we'll see an impact, especially in peak season," said Jane Miller, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites on Major Boulevard, less than a mile from Universal. "I think we're all concerned because that's quite a bit of an impact on this area."

 

Universal would not make executives available for interviews. But NBCUniversal President Steve Burke told investment analysts last fall that the company's research shows travelers who stay at Universal Orlando hotels, operated through a joint venture with Loews Hotels & Resorts, typically spend an extra day or two in the resort's theme parks.

 

"We have far too few hotel rooms in Orlando," Burke said. "We've done a study that says we could have as many as 10,000 or 15,000 hotel rooms and still have occupancy that makes those rooms profitable."

 

In ordering more hotel rooms, Comcast is borrowing a page from the Walt Disney Co. playbook. Disney has built about 30,000 hotel rooms and time-share suites in the U.S. — 90 percent of them at Disney World — that allow the company to capture more of the total vacation spending by visitors to its theme parks.

 

Once merely a side business for its theme parks, hotels are now a major profit center for Disney. The company's U.S. hotels generated more than $2.2 billion in revenue last year — one in every five dollars produced by Disney's domestic parks-and-resorts operations.

 

"Universal has looked at Disney, and they see it's a very effective strategy. And they're trying to mirror that," said Scott Smith, an assistant professor who teaches lodging and revenue management at the University of South Carolina's School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

 

Universal is emulating Disney's hotels in another respect, too. Unlike Universal's first three hotels — all of which are marketed as "deluxe" properties with rates routinely exceeding $300 a night — Cabana Bay will offer the resort's first rooms with "value" and "moderate" prices. Rates at Cabana Bay, which ultimately will include 900 standard rooms and 900 family suites, will start at $94 per night for a suite.

 

Disney has made a similar push into rooms that target price-conscious consumers. Twenty-five years ago, only about 55 percent of the resort's rooms were in the value or moderate categories. Today, more than 75 percent of its rooms are in the cheaper categories.

 

As Universal adds more hotel rooms, it also threatens to siphon bookings away from Disney, whose domestic hotel occupancy slipped to 79 percent last year, down from a pre-recession peak of 89 percent. But Smith said Disney will be somewhat insulated because it targets slightly different core audiences than Universal.

 

"Disney gets smaller children, the pirates and the princesses. When you're a teen or tween, you really want to go to Universal," Smith said.

 

A Universal spokesman would not say when the resort expects to begin construction on a fifth hotel or what categories of rooms it plans to add. Universal has limited land available for expansion, though it added to its holdings last year when it bought about 50 acres under and near Wet 'n Wild. NBCUniversal owns Wet 'n Wild but hadn't owned the land.

 

"Our strategy is to offer our guests a great theme-park hotel experience with a great combination of unique benefits and price," Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said. "We also know our guests want different things from their hotel stays, which is why we are creating different-type experiences for them to choose from."

 

Universal isn't done adding attractions, either. Comcast says it plans to spend $500 million a year on theme-park capital spending during the next few years, an amount that should allow it to open major attractions each year at both Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood in Southern California.

 

And this summer, it will open the highly anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida — the sequel to its smash-hit original Harry Potter area at Islands of Adventure.

 

That makes some competing hoteliers optimistic that the market ultimately could absorb Universal's infusion of new hotel rooms.

 

"Orlando is the second-largest hotel market in the country, welcoming millions of travelers each year looking for a variety of experiences," said Frank Dolley, area general manager for Hyatt, whose properties include a Hyatt Place just outside Universal.

 

"We believe that the enhancements to Universal, especially the Harry Potter attractions, will drive more visitors to the Universal Studios resort area, creating benefits for all area businesses."

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Comcast says it plans to spend $500 million a year on theme-park capital spending during the next few years, an amount that should allow it to open major attractions each year at both Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood in Southern California.

 

That's kind of absurd…I'm really glad Comcast understands theme parks are a great business to be in if done right.

 

And before anyone can turn this into a "boo…Disney doesn't spend enough!", realize that the only reason Comcast has to spend so much money in the first place is because they have to catch up for years of not spending AND years of Disney spending to expand.

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Why does Universal keep saying things like "Disney gets smaller children, the pirates and the princesses. When you're a teen or tween, you really want to go to Universal" to the press?

 

Has Universal ever visited Disney? Their idea that teens and young adults don't enjoy Disney's product is laughable.

Edited by robbalvey
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^It was the professor guy who said that, but your point is still very valid: Disney World is definitely NOT just for kids wanting to live out fantasies. It's a resort with something for EVERYONE. Universal will never be able to match that.

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On Monday, Jacqi and I got the chance to check out Universal Orlando's newest resort hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Its an immersive throwback to the roadside motels of the 50s and 60s. When complete in June, the resort will feature 900 family suites and 900 standard guest rooms.

 

We think this will be a big hit for Universal. The resort has a great variety of amenities - bowling alley, food trucks, fitness center, beach activities, fire pits, lazy river (opening in the summer) - and has a very attractive price point. The attention to detail is spot-on. There are little touches everywhere you look, like Zest soap and Alberto VO5 Shampoo in the rooms, retro analog alarm clocks and vintage patterns everywhere - in bedspreads, shower curtains, carpets, railings and fixtures. If you're a fan of AMC's Mad Men - you will feel right at home. The Swizzle Lounge in the lobby features vintage drinks that Don Draper himself would be kicking back. The Bayliner Diner food court was large and felt very open. There were 4 large projection screens that featured vintage commercials and drive-in theater style intermission trailers.

 

The resort is not connected to Universal Orlando's water taxi system - but there is fleet of custom busses to shuttle guests back and forth from the Citywalk hub. Eventually there will be a walking path constructed as well.

 

Overall, Jacqi and I enjoyed it very much. If you like retro imagery - you will love the place. Thanks again to the Universal Orlando PR team and our host, Meredith for taking such good care of us. And congratulations to Universal Orlando on the opening of Cabana Bay.

 

Here is the full press release:

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 31, 2014) – Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort officially welcomes its first guests today. This brand-new value and moderately-priced property is the fourth on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort and evokes the classic, retro-feel of iconic beach resorts from the 1950s and 60’s.

 

Located on-site at Universal Orlando Resort, the new hotel is a destination within itself – featuring a stunning design with bold colors, retro-inspired architecture and sweeping vistas that transport guests back to a time of relaxation and endless family fun. Cabana Bay guests can experience incredible amenities throughout the hotel, including:

- Bowling a strike at the 10-lane Galaxy Bowl

- Channeling the godfather of fitness at the Jack LaLanne Physical Fitness Studio

- Racing down the iconic dive tower waterslide and splashing into a 10,000 square foot zero-entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard

- Enjoying a retro-themed specialty cocktail from Swizzle Lounge or Atomic Tonic

- Finding something delicious for the entire family at Bayliner Diner, a food court with something for everyone to enjoy including a salad bar, burgers, sandwiches, pizza, pasta and grab-and-go items

- And this summer, guests will be able to enjoy even more incredible amenities, including a second 8,000-square-foot zero entry pool, Universal Orlando’s first lazy river at an on-site hotel, The Hideaway Bar & Grill, and additional moderately-priced family suites and value-priced standard guest rooms. When complete, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will feature a total of 1,800 rooms – 900 family suites and 900 standard guest rooms.

 

Starting today, guests can stay in a family suite, which sleeps up to six people and includes a fold-out foam bed, kitchenette, a sliding partition for privacy, two flat-screen TVs and a bathroom with preparation spaces for three people at once. Cabana Bay guests also get exclusive benefits only available to on-site hotel guests at Universal Orlando, including Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens.

 

Rates for the family suites begin at $174 per-night, and can run as low as $134 per-night depending on the length of stay. Rates for the standard guest rooms – which will be available this summer – begin at $119 per night, and can run as low as $93 per-night depending on the length of stay.

 

“We’ve sought to create a special place where families can spend time together and create long-lasting memories outside of the theme parks,” said Russ Dagon, Vice President and Executive

Project Director, Universal Creative. “From the moment they step inside, families will be transported

back to a different, more relaxing time.”

 

“We are thrilled to finally welcome guests into Cabana Bay Beach Resort,” said Adnan Bizri,

Managing Director, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. “This is the perfect addition to Universal

Orlando’s already stellar line-up of properties, allowing families to continue a wonderful vacation

well beyond the theme parks.”

 

To learn more or to make a reservation, call 1-888-273-1311 or visit http://www.universalorlando.com.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is co-owned and managed by Loews Hotels & Resorts.

 

And now for some photos - this first set focuses on the main entrance and lobby areas:

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Cabana Bay's signature icon

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Cabana Bay's Roadside Marker

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The Lobby - the atrium is a reference to a classic Loews hotel lobby

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Another Lobby Shot

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Brightly colored tile of the front desk.

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The hip Swizzle Lounge is right inside the lobby just opposite the front desk.

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There were a few minions lurking around as we checked in.

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Just a few steps away from the lobby was a full service Starbucks - complete with a vintage coffee cup display and photos of Weeki Wachee Mermaids.

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Cool light fixtures were everywhere.

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Entrance to the Bayliner Diner Food Court

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Bayliner Dining Area with large projection screens - and Coke Freestyle machines.

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Cool mural at the far end of the dining area.

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Coke Freestyle cups using that same mural art.

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Coke Freestyle pricing - there were at least 9 Freestyle machines at the resort.

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In the back of the dining area, near the restrooms - they had these cool phone booth areas.

UOR_Cabana_16a.thumb.jpg.91e86a175b5da70bbbf63fce9369e228.jpg

Vintage cars parked outside the diner. They had 4 different cars from the era parked out front.

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Another shot of the diner, a vintage car and the hotel lobby in the background.

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And finally - here is the property map. Everything on the left side will open later this summer. Room and pool photos are next...

Edited by robbalvey
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