Surprising news to say the least…
Universal Studios Florida’s famous Jaws attraction will be closing for good at the start of next year
The news was first broken by “The Jaws Ride” on Twitter and Facebook. The site has always been quite reliable when it comes to news and information revolving around the attraction. Several people also commented on their status confirming this report. One comment stated that the news was confirmed in an employee meeting this morning and that official confirmation should be released around 11 AM EST today.
UPDATE: Universal Orlando has officially confirmed the closure on Facebook. Here’s their official statement:
Hey fans, we want you to be the first to know… JAWS! and the Amity area will officially close on January 2 to make room for an exciting, NEW, experience we’re planning for you.
We know you love JAWS! and we do too. It has been an amazing attraction and after terrorizing the waters of Amity here at Universal Orlando for 20 years, it’s a VERY important part of our history. So, we’ve got a couple things planned to ensure we always remember and honor it. We know it’s hard to say goodbye, but we can’t express how EXCITED we are about the new, innovative & amazing experience we’re going to be bringing you.
Though the news may come as a surprise to many, there have been rumors revolving around an expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter taking Jaws’ place for months now. Not only that, but rumors of the ride simply closing in general have been around for months, if not years.
Jaws was one of the final classic attraction left at Universal Studios Florida following the closures of several attractions such as Back to the Future and Kongfrontation. The attraction also had its own land in the park making this news even more interesting.
At this time, there is no official confirmation on what will replace the attraction, but stay tuned for more updates on the closure.
Discuss the closure here.
Universal Orlando Resort’s Holidays event kicks off this weekend with holiday entertainment the whole family will enjoy. At Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure, the popular Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is brought to life in the heartwarming live stage show, “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular,” starring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville.
At Universal Studios Florida, the Macy’s Holiday Parade will fill the streets every evening with some of the same iconic elements seen winding through New York City each year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The beloved parade features colorful holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats and dozens of larger-than-life balloons. Mannheim Steamroller, the masters of Christmas music with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide, returns to the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios six times this year to play their memorable holiday hits for guests, performing on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18.
Also at Universal Studios, guests can enjoy special holiday-themed versions of their favorite shows, including The Blues Brothers Show and A Day in the Park with Barney, as well as nightly a capella holiday music in the nearby Holiday Village, which is filled with hand-blown glass ornaments, hot chocolate, a cookie decorating location and more.
This special holiday entertainment including the Mannheim Steamroller concerts is included as part of regular admission to Universal Orlando’s theme parks. To maximize the fun, guests can experience all holiday-themed activities at both theme parks with any annual pass, two-park or multi-day admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (*Note: Power Annual Pass is blocked out December 26, 2011 – January 1, 2012).
For more information on Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration and Florida resident offers, guests can visit www.UniversalOrlando.com/holidays.
Last month I finally did something that most haunt and or Universal fans would die for. I paid a visit to both Universal Hollywood’s and Orlando’s annual frightfest Halloween Horror Nights. Now while this was my first year for the Hollywood event that’s not the case with the Orlando event. I don’t consider myself by any means to be a master of HHN but maybe a veteran to a degree. My wife and I have been visiting the event every year in Orlando for over a decade. We have never missed a house or a scare zone. In total that’s right at 77 houses and 57 scarezones just from Halloween Horror Nights. I give you those stats to help you the reader understand my background for the event and what I have come to expect. But enough about me lets talk haunt.
The two events while similar to a degree since yes there both from Universal and there both Halloween Horror Nights are surprisingly different. Some of the differences were quite obvious while others were very surprising and welcomed. I felt like the two events could really learn from one another in the end.
The Hollywood event focuses on more of the movie, real character, or true stories if you will to tell there haunted stories. Not surprising considering it is in fact a real movie studio. The park takes full advantage of there movie studio background and pulls it off perfectly. They even have a very unique take on a highly themed scarezone using there backlot, but more on that later. Two things that really surprised us was cost and alcohol, or lack there of. Thats right Orlando haunt fans the Hollywood event DOES NOT SERVE ALCOHOL within the park! Now I understand why they can’t, but it was still really nice in my opinion to not have to deal with the drunks. As for the cost we really thought it was a bargain. For $60 bucks a person we got admission into the event, a souvenier lanyard, AND front of the line passes to all houses and rides. Yeah all that for sixty bucks and on a Friday night mind you. Also we really enjoyed the front of the line passes here. The park was packed and we never waited more than 5 minutes. We found the park layout to be great except for the lower lot. Holy crap thats a change in elevation. In order to get from the upper and lower lot you have to take a ride on 4 escalators, and were not talking mall escalators here folks. It takes the better part of 15 minutes to travel down to the lower lot. The last and probably biggest difference was the house locations. There are no soundstage haunts here so you can kiss those incredible facades good bye. The Hollywood event utilizes make shift structures and queue house locations and while its not a huge deal the loss of the large facades does take away from the overall feel of the houses theme especially after seeing some of the facades that come from the Orlando event.
The Orlando event sticks to original content for most of its haunts and zones. Year after year there creative team focuses on all new themes and stories for there haunts to tell. And year after year were blown away with there creativity and imagination in regards to scaring you the guest. Some of the major differences you will see in the Orlando event is overall budget. Its obvious this event has a larger one. The houses here are more elaborate, the event itself is larger, and offers more to do. This year proved the house theory as well. Now while the event is lucky enough to use sound stages for some of the haunts, every house no matter what location was beyond realistic. As for some of the negatives, the event itself is more expensive. Even with heavy discounts for roughly $100 bucks a head on your average night you get admission and front of the line express use for all major attractions within the event. This is $40 dollars more than the Hollywood event and while the ticket says express its anything but now a days. They oversell the “limited” pass causing lines in some cases to exceed over 30 minutes. In all my years the longest I ever waited in an “express” line in Orlando was 40 minutes. I went to the Hollywood event on a Friday night and the longest I waited was 3-5 minutes and that included walking time. But on the positive side of admission prices are the large amount of frequent fear options. These passes allow you up to 20+ nights of admission for less than $1oo bucks. Another negative for the Orlando event is the sheer amount of alcohol thats present. Now I’m not saying take it away as I usually have a few beers over the course of the event. What I am saying is if you make alcohol so easily accessible there is consequences. While security is decent it doesn’t stop the idiots from showing themselves.
As far as the ride offerings are concerned ehh its almost a draw. The Simpsons are identical so that’s a draw. The Mummy in Orlando is so superior to the Hollywood version its sad. Upon the fog and pitch black ending of the Hollywood version my wife and I looked at each other and said WTF was that?! I will say that the queue in the Hollywood version was nice and there steered away from the lousy story told in Orlando. And the backwards section in HW was pretty cool. But again the Orlando version while not perfect in anyway dominates Hollywood. Now the final ride in each parks corner is Jaws in Orlando and Jurassic Park at Hollywood. Jaws at night is a very cool experience and I highly recommend you try it if your at the park after dark. But the Hollywood version of Jurassic Park river adventure is clearly the winner here. The ride has more dinos than the IOA version and feels much more complete. The contents of the ride building alone embarrasses the Orlando version. So while each park offers a superior version to one another in the end it comes to a draw.
Alright for what everyone is actually reading for, house and scarezone reviews. I will grade each house using three categories and then award points from 1 being the lowest to 5 being the highest. The three categories are atmosphere, scares, and creativity. Now remember these are my reviews and yours could and probably would be very different. At the end I will rank in order from bottom to top my favorite houses and zones from both events combined. So lets get started shall we.
In no particular order!
Eli Roths Hostel: Hunting Season (Hollywood House)
This haunt might have been one of the most gory houses ever at HHN. The sheer amount of gore involved in torture scenes and remnants of disemboweled bodies was staggering. The houses themeing of being in a house of torture was excellent and felt like a scene in the movie. The scares however were lacking and we felt the gore to be repetitive and to a point overused. During our visit we were able to go through twice.
Alice Cooper: Welcome to my Nightmare (Hollywood House)
This was quite the surprise as we were not expecting much. I mean come on Alice Cooper, really? We were met with great visuals, awesome puppets, and great scares. The house was quite long as well which was something a few of the Hollywood houses shared. The house was the total package and makes you wonder what the hell happened to Alice to give him Nightmares like this. Keep having them though as they provide great haunts.
Saws and Steam into the Machine (Orlando House)
Finally the Jaws queue has a house to be proud of, when it comes to theming. The small facade seen here is a lot like what you will see at each Hollywood haunt for those who want and idea of facade size in Hollywood. While the theming on the inside is awesome and it tells a great demented tale of torture and death. It lacks largely in scares but shared a creative side of special effects that hasn’t been seen before. Major props to the water wall suit guy thing. Visited this house 4 times during the event.
The Thing (Orlando House)
Wow talk about a letdown. The house had a nice facade which really allowed your mind to wander into the set of the movie. It also had some great special effects with the large alien in the roof being a nice touch. But the entire house really lacked the wow factor and overall feeling that some of us older Horror Nights fans expected from a Thing sequel or prequel. The first house was amazing and is to this day in my top 3 favorites of all time. It did have some good scares but how many people did you need walking around with the thing prosthetic on there face? Again not a bad house but the first Thing was much better and the Hollywood version, well we will get to that later. 4 runs through this house.
Scream (Hollywood SZ)
Upon entry into the park you are greeted with the parks first and worst scarezone Scream. I know its an entry area and your kind of limited but it was weak. There was some pretty nice eye candy dancing on poles but thats besides the point. Were not here to stare at women in seductive clothing. They have children you know. Alright my wife walked away, SO HOT like I just wanted to grab a beer and watch!
Atmosphere: me 5 my wife 1
Klownz (Hollywood SZ)
This was a great SZ that incorporated some pretty demonic clowns. The ringmaster was awesome and the overall feeling to the zone was chaotic and very very energetic. I give major props to the scareactors here as they took it to another level as far as being interactive and ganging up on groups of people. I noticed during my visit they made it there mission to scare everyone and not just the teens.
Reapers (Hollywood SZ)
Well this one better be good. After your long escalator ride from the upper lot the Reaper SZ greets people upon entering the lower lot. This is a very busy area considering its size. The actors had the energy but where was the environment? It was thrown together literally inbetween the entrance of JPRA, Mummy, and two haunts. These guys had to rely on each other for scares so props to the actors but you were doomed before I got on the escalators.
Your luck has run out (Orlando SZ)
What the hell was this? Its not about quantity Universal its about quality. You really lose the authenticity when the same character is viewable in 12 areas from one viewpoint. This was the problem with Carnival of Carnage and its houses. It was kind of dumb to see Freddy times 3 in one room. Kind of sad that this was the icons only representation.
Acid Assault (Orlando SZ)
The zone was ok, it kind of felt small for the area it was to represent. The projections were a nice touch and added an overall depth to the zone but again it just wasn’t clicking.
The Wolfman: Curse of Talbot Hall (Hollywood House)
I kind of expected this to be along the lines of the Wolfman house from HHN 19 in Orlando. Which would of been great I mean that house while short was awesome. However it didn’t come close. This house utilizes the House of Horrors haunt that is used the other 11 months of the year. I used to be on the bring a full time haunt to Orlando, I used to be. This house was boring and the theming was obviously for Frankenstein and Dracula. I did like the costumes they used though.
Rob Zombies House of a 1000 Corpses (Hollywood House)
As a fan of the movie I was stoked to visit this house. I’m glad to say I was not disappointed. The 3-D was very well done and disorienting. Capt Spalding in the first room was casted perfectly and just saying he scared the crap out of me. This was another house that had great length giving it time to depict all the main characters. The house is twisted and up until a certain Orlando house this was the best 3-D house ever done.
The InBetween (Orlando House)
Without a doubt this was a sleeper hit with many fans including myself. Much like the House of a 1000 corpses in Hollywood the use of 3D effects within here were very impressive. For those who didn’t know this was the spinning tunnel house this year by the way. Anyways though the demon characters mixed with impressive lighting effects and the 3D aspect made for some very intense scares. The entire house was alive with explosive actors and creative design. If you were not a fan of 3D houses before the InBetween probably changed your mind.
The Forsaken: (Orlando House)
When I heard a pirate themed haunt would be on the way I immediately was excited. I thought to myself well I wonder what took so long for this one to come off the bench. The wait was well worth it. I will admit at first I was undecided on this house. The lack of a facade didn’t bother me as the hurricane scene more than made up for it and is without question one of the best scenes ever at Halloween Horror Nights. I didn’t much care for the green eyes as it did give away the actors posistion in most cases but the actors adapted and made it work. The projection effect and bungy actor at the end were a great touch but the titled walkway on the “ship” was very creative and clearly shows they still have new tricks up there sleeves.
7 (Orlando SZ)
This was a good scarezone with some amazing scareactors. I thought for sure this zone was going to be a dud. I just couldn’t really understand how it was supposed to be scary or good for that matter. But to my surprise by adding in the seven deadly sins, great scareactors, and a constant Marilyn Manson soundtrack it really just kind of clicked. In a crap year for zones this one wasn’t all that bad.
Zombieville (Hollywood SZ)
ZOMBIES!!!! This was a great scarezone that had great energy and a lot of fog. So much fog that you really couldn’t see where you were going. The overall feeling of the zone though was chaos and a true feeling of a zombie outbreak. Can’t really give it to much of a creative score as it is a zombie zone thats been done numerous times.
Freakz (Hollywood SZ)
The stilt walkers were pretty good as were the costumes and overall designs but it just wasn’t scary in my opinion. Not a bad zone but compared to Klownz and Zombies it couldn’t keep up.
Grown Evil (Orlando SZ)
Giant Bat people on stilts and ghillie suits how can this not be scary? The zone was compact and active and the actors really tried to feed off of it each other. The costumes were pretty cool and the overall atmosphere was probably the best of all the zones this year. But in the end it was too short and lacked on scares.
Canyon of Dark Souls (Orlando SZ)
Based on memory the Canyon of Dark Souls might be one of the shortest SZ’s ever created. It was only about 40-50 ft long and it was one walkway. I will say they had some great costumes and actors that packed quite a punch in a small area. But I can’t help but feel there was a missed opportunity for this zone. I wish it would of been in a larger format with more routes. For those who remember something very similar to this has actually already been done. At HHN 14 at IOA the rock work in front of the Flying Unicorn actually had actors that blended into that same rock work creating the same scares under a similar setting.
Nightmaze (Orlando SZ)
Alright who tried to recreate an aspect of Run but cut the budget? I want to say this zone was SAD, I mean I almost felt bad for the actors of this zone as they literally had nothing to work with. I mean nothing to work with, fog, black fences, and white lights thats it. Like I said I wanted to say it was sad BUT the actors saved this zone from being one of the worst created. I got more scares in this zone than all the rest combined. They adapted better to there surroundings than any other zone or house at both events. If there was an award for best cast I almost would have to give it to them based on performance. To the actors GREAT JOB!
The Terror Tram Scream 4 for your life (Tram Ride Hollywood)
The Terror Tram in reality is really just a glorified scare zone that takes the better part of an hour to complete. You begin by boarding the massive tram section where your host explains to you that there is 4 horror films being filmed on the backlot including a STAB movie based on the Scream franchise. On your way to the Stab-a-thon things begin to go wrong and your dropped off in the backlot next to the Grinch set and greeted by 15 or so chain saw actors. After the Grinch set your journey continues as you pass the bates motel, the psycho house, and you walk the entire war of the worlds plane crash set. In between these you pass through numerous empty areas of bushes and props where actors are hiding. Now while walking the back lot is cool for a noob I can see how this would get old fast. It is a lot of walking and continuing up and down hills and rough terrain. The sets themselves are cool but scary ehhh not really. After your death march you board back onto the tram where your guide is murdered on the way back before your dropped off. My main problem is there is really no tie to Scream aside from a few ghostfaces walking around here and there. It was just a bunch of randomness with no story. The best part aside from experiencing the back lot was the guys in ghillie suits that did a great job of getting a few scares here and there. I just felt like this was supposed to be the main attraction at the event as its unique, based off the main attraction at the park, and due to heavy advertising about how its a MUST SEE. In the end it fell short and never really made us feel immersed or made us Scream.
The Thing Assimilation (Hollywood House)
Again this house wasn’t as good as the Original Thing house from Orlando of years ago. But this was without a doubt the superior Thing house of both events. Now while it lacked the more elaborate set like in Orlando’s thing house this year it delivered more so on the scare side of things. We really liked the facade and thought it was one of the best ones there. We also really enjoyed the actors and puppeteers that were within the house. While the placement of some of the actors using large prosthetics could of been changed as they all seemed to use the same cut out of the wall tactic there use of there suits was awesome. They really were into there roles and even if you knew it was coming it still scared you. This was my wife’s favorite house at the Hollywood event and second favorite among the two combined. I can’t blame her as our only walk through was extremely good and was very scary. Our favorite scene was the near miss from the semi truck.
Winters Night the Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetary (Orlando House)
This house instanly gets the award for greatest facade entry this year if not ever. The entire house was amazing in detail and story. You literally felt as if your walking through a cemetary. The large open sets combined with cold tempatures, and great special effects made this house a treat just to walk through numerous times. The only fallback for this house was the scares or lack there of. It just wasn’t all that scary which was a bummer. All in all though this was a prime example as to why Universal are the masters of theming these amazing haunts.
Nightengales Blood Prey (Orlando House)
This was the house I was looking forward to the most as anything regarding the older wars peaks my interest. The entry and facade were great as you truly felt you had been dropped into a warzone. For me this house started off strong and then just lost its spark as the event went on. It started off as a favorite and then fizzled out towards the back of the pack. The Nightengales were cool but just after a few times through just lost it. I feel like part of it was they didn’t have as many hiding spots as other houses and where were the soldiers at. In a war you need two sides and it just kind of left nightengales hanging for the second half of the house. Also the special effects here were good but easily missed taking away from the house greatly. Of all my visits through this house NOT ONCE i mean NOT ONCE did I witness the soldier being torn in half. Again a good solid house but it could of been great.
La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas (Hollywood House)
Our final house at the Hollywood event and without a doubt the best one here in my opinion. The facade was awesome and the entry into the church or school house I can’t remember really set the tone. Unlike the other haunts here that relied on tight walkways this haunt had wide open corridors which haunts came from any direction. It really felt like you had been dropped into a Mexican village and at some points you thought you were outside. While this house was the shortest of all the haunts in both parks it packed a mighty punch from the moment you walked in to the moment you ran out. During our two visits to this house we were assaulted with a scare onslaught that nearly brought my wife down several times. It was an amazing house that I wouldn’t mind seeing Orlando taking a stab at.
Death Drums (Orlando Show)
Holy crap what was this? I watched all of about 5 minutes of this and walked to the nearest scare zone for some entertainment. If your a drummer or really just like a good beat then you probably would be all about this but the other 95% of people were not.
Nevermore the Madness of Poe (Orlando House)
Let me start off by saying I am not a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t dislike him by any means but again just not a fan so I didn’t know what to expect going into this haunt. After saying that though I kind of wanted to go out and read some of his work after this house. This house was mesmorizing. You were a witness to not only Poe’s stories but the madness that was his life. The house had amazing detail throughout that really made you feel you were in the stories. My favorite room was the fall of the house of Usher. The one guy in on the platform would get me every time. My wife got one of the best scares ever from the Tell Tale Heart room from the dude hanging out of the boo hole. This was my wifes favorite haunt throughout both events and while not my favorite it was in the top three thats for sure. A great house on all levels!
H.R. Bloodengutz Presents Holidays of Horror
This house which was located in the Disaster extended queue was a house that I was not expecting to be good. I just didn’t see how this was going to work, I mean holidays, haunted house, comedy, theme show? It was all just to much, I didn’t think it would have an identity. Boy was I wrong. This house delivered each and every time I went through. The holidays were well represented by great actors and some fantastic special effects. From the Arbour tree to the nuke at presidents day the whole house delivered for each special day. The atmosphere it created along with its creative use of scares and special effects made this a true winner and one of the best haunts among both events. Oh and HR will you push the red button please?
12. Your luck has Run Out
10. Canyon of Dark Souls
9. Acid Assault
6. Acid Assault
5. Grown Evil
3. Terror Tram
14. The Wolfman: Curse of Talbot Hall
13. Saws and Steam into the Machine
12. The Thing (Orlando)
11. Eli Roths Hostel Hunting Season
9. Rob Zombies House of 1000 Corpses
8. Alice Cooper Welcome to my Nightmare
7. Winters Night Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetary
5. The Thing Assimilation (Hollywood)
4. The InBetween
3. Nevermore the Madness of Poe
2. La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas
1. H.R. Bloodengutz
Yeah thats right I chose La Llorona as the best in Hollywood and HR the best in Orlando and overall. Both of these houses delivered in all three categories consistently and provided more horror and fun that all of the others. Yeah if you were to tell me these were going to be my favorites in early September I would of laughed and walked away but here we are.
Well thats it for the reviews in closing I want to say how great both of this years events were. All of the hard work the creative teams, actors, and vendors put into this event is not overlooked or underappreciated. Year after year the event grows stronger and stronger with more and more fans being made with each passing October night. Thank you to all of you and I look foward to seeing what you have in store for us next year. Also I want to say the amount of photos I took was pretty light as I did not have a low light lens with me. So excuse the small amount of photos.
The U.S. Marine Corps., Santa Claus and the 80th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade Help “5 Towers” on CityWalk Ring in the Holiday Season with Hundreds of Thousands of Glistening Lights and a Gigantic Christmas Tree to Benefit “Toys for Tots”
The U.S. Marine Corps., joined by Santa Claus in conjunction with the Hollywood Christmas Parade , helped “5 Towers” on Universal CityWalk celebrate the festive holiday season as the new high-tech, outdoor concert arena came alive with the sights and sounds of cheerful holiday music, choreographed in unison to hundreds of thousands of twinkling LED lights illuminating the venue, for the debut performance of CityWalk’s “Holiday Lights Spectacular.”
U.S. Marine Corps representatives and Iraq war veteran, Sgt. Marquis Young were given the honors of illuminating CityWalk’s Christmas tree as “5 Towers” new Holiday Lights Spectacular glistened with hundreds of thousands of LED lights, transforming the outdoor area into a visually dynamic, over-the-top multi-media experience.
Following the tree lighting ceremony and Holiday Lights Spectacular, the L.A. Gospel Choir, Richard Marx, Jimmy Bennett, Jasmine V, Jack Wagner and Australian pop sensation Cody Simpson, among others, performed on “5 Towers” outdoor concert stage for a taped segment that will later appear on the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
The event benefited the U.S. Marine Corps. “Toys for Tots” program, and Universal CityWalk will make a donation of toys to the drive.
Holidays at CityWalk will continue through Dec. 31 and admission is free. The Hollywood Christmas Parade airs Dec. 12 on the Hallmark Channel.
Hundreds of Universal Studios Hollywood Employees Fan Out Across Los Angeles to Volunteer at Five Charitable Projects As Part of Theme Park’s Annual “Day of Giving” Program
Good program for a good cause. Complete release after the break.
This year’s “Day of Giving” adds a new and exciting dimension to the “Operation School Bell” outreach efforts as the 150 homeless, young recipients will embark on a field trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, the host site for the new school wear exchange. The day-long activities for these youngsters will also include a visit to the theme park and lunch!
Official Press Release:
ORLANDO, Fla. (October 14, 2011) – There’s no better place to enjoy the Holidays with your family this year than at Universal Orlando Resort. It’s the only place you can come face-to-face with The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville, watch a cheerful holiday parade filled with big, colorful Macy’s balloons and sing along to the classic sounds of the season as you stroll through a holiday-trimmed theme park with your loved ones.
The Holidays fanfare runs from December 3, 2011 through January 1, 2012, offering guests incredible entertainment themed for the season at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
At Islands of Adventure, adults and children alike will be entertained when the popular Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is brought to life in Grinchmas. Guests can see the live stage show featuring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville with an original recorded musical score by Mannheim Steamroller. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet The Grinch and the Whos, and on select dates, purchase a spot at a special character breakfast with the mean, green one himself.
At Universal Studios, the Macy’s Holiday Parade will celebrate its 10th Anniversary of partnership with Universal Orlando by filling the streets every evening with some of the same iconic elements seen winding through New York City each year at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The beloved event features colorful holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats – including one specially-designed to commemorate the 10-year milestone – a tree-lighting ceremony by Santa Claus and dozens of larger-than-life balloons. The Macy’s Holiday Parade also welcomes select park guests to participate in the procession as real balloon-handlers guiding the helium giants, a truly unique and exclusive experience to Universal Orlando.
Returning this year with more concerts than ever before is Mannheim Steamroller – the masters of Christmas music with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide. The acclaimed musical group will take to the Music Plaza stage in Universal Studios six times this year to play their memorable holiday hits for guests, performing on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18.
Also at Universal Studios, guests can enjoy special holiday-themed versions of their favorite shows, and nightly a capella holiday music in the nearby Holiday Village, which is filled with hand-blown glass ornaments, caramel apples, hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and a cupcake decorating location.
The celebration continues at Universal Orlando’s three on-site hotels – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort – all of which will glisten with holiday decorations. Hotel guests will be immersed in the spirit of the season with tree-lighting ceremonies, special musical performances, holiday pool-side “dive-in” movie presentations and holiday buffets and dining events. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel kicks off the season on Friday, November 25 with ‘Holiday Harbor Nights’, a wine tasting, food and jazz celebration on the piazza, along with a tree lighting ceremony. Hard Rock Hotel welcomes Santa to The Kitchen restaurant on Fridays in December and Loews Royal Pacific Resort rings in the new year with a family-friendly dinner and celebration.
All holiday entertainment – including the Mannheim Steamroller concerts – is included as part of two-park or multi-day admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. There’s never been a better time to start a new family tradition at Universal Orlando’s Holidays event, as guests can take advantage of a special holiday vacation package:
‘Tis the Season for Holiday Offers
Holidays Getaway Package • 3 night stay at a Universal Partner Hotel
• 2 day base ticket for both theme parks, one park per day
• Complimentary scheduled transportation between the hotel and theme parks
• PLUS early park admission to experience Islands of Adventure and more
Starting at $249 per adult, tax inclusive
*Upgrade to on-site hotel (starting at $509 per adult, tax inclusive) and receive complimentary Universal Express access to skip the regular attraction lines – a FREE benefit of up to $87 per person, per day
For more information on Universal Orlando’s holiday celebration and offers, guests can visit www.UniversalOrlando.com/holidays.
Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango, stars of Syfy Channel’s TV show “Ghost Hunters,” will host a Q&A and autograph session this Thursday, October 6 at Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights 21.
The “Ghost Hunters” Q&A session begins at 8 p.m., followed by the autograph session at 9 p.m. at Pantages theatre, located in the Hollywood area of Universal Studios. Access to the Q&A and autograph session are included in regular admission to Halloween Horror Nights 21 on Thursday.
“Ghost Hunters” has become one of the highest rated reality shows on Syfy Channel. The popular show follows Gonsalves, Tango and a group of real-life paranormal researchers as they track down the presence of paranormals across the country.
With 19 nights remaining through October, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights is the nation’s best and most intense Halloween event. Guests confront extreme Halloween entertainment that cannot be experienced anywhere else. This year, they scream as they come face-to-face with a horrifying “thing,” panic as they are hunted by savage banshees, feel chills as they are surrounded by fiendish creatures from a third dimension – and watch in paralyzing fear as Lady Luck transforms from a tempting seductress to a bloodthirsty beast.
For more information on the “Ghost Hunters” appearance and Halloween Horror Nights 21, visit www.halloweenhorrornights21.com.
We were able to make it out to Universal Orlando on Thursday, September 29 and check out Universal’s Unmasking The Horror Tour. For those unfamiliar with this tour, you are taken through three haunted houses with the lights on, for about 30 minutes each, and get to see all sorts of awesome visual effects, some awesome back story that you normally would not be able to get, a lanyard included with admission, and take photographs to your hearts content. We definitely did just that. Here our some shots of Winter’s Night, Nevermore: The Mandess of Poe, and The Foresaken.
If you would like to book an UnMasking The Horror Tour, Unviersal offers 3 different type of tours this year, ranging from $55-$225. To book your tour, visit their official site here. If you enjoy Halloween Horror Nights, we highly recommend this tour.