The Second Annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Begins tomorrow at Universal Orlando Resort
Beginning tomorrow, fans from around the world will come together to celebrate Harry Potter’s adventures at the second annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter.”
Hosted by Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros., this three-day event will allow fans to enjoy incredible experiences from Q&A sessions with some of their favorite Harry Potter film talent to exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and more.
A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort will include unforgettable experiences, such as:
·Q&A sessions with film talent and other special guests, including Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Michael Gambon (AlbusDumbledore), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood)
·A special opening event on Friday evening starring the Harry Potter film talent, MinaLima, and award-winning artist KazuKibuishi and more.
·A live duelling demonstration and wand combat masterclass hosted by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, featuring the world’s only Wand Combat choreographer, Paul Harris
·Alive demonstration with award-winning illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, who will be drawing some of the Harry Potter characters on stage in this interactive panel hosted by Scholastic.
·Alook behind the scenes of the graphic props of the Harry Potter films with graphic designers, MinaLima
·A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo with unique and interactive exhibits from Warner Bros., Pottermore, Scholastic, MinaLima, Harry Potter: The Exhibition and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, including the opportunity to try on the Sorting Hat
·Special kids’ discussions and interactive experiences such as an exciting duelling demonstration and wand combat masterclasswith Paul Harris, an interactive ‘Dance Like a Beauxbatons and Battle Like a Durmstrang’ experience, as well as Harry Potter film trivia
·Park guests can enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and TheWizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida plus the iconic Hogwarts Express that transports guests between the two lands if they have a park-to-park ticket
Access to select events within “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is included in regular admission to Universal Studios. Admission to panel events will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Universal Orlando Resort is again partnering with Warner Bros. to host the second annual A Celebration of Harry Potter event from January 30 to February 1, 2015.
Harry Potter fans from around the world will once again come together to spend three days celebrating the Boy That Lived’s story!
While All general admission park guests will have the chance to experience the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo, attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent, and visit the all-new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley you will have to wait in lines for the presentations and manage your time at the Expo. However the Team Members at the Universal Orlando Resort were super helpful!!!
If you want to make sure that you get the opportunity to attend all the presentations and want the chance to attend exclusive events, a limited number of exclusive event vacation packages—including annual passholder packages—will go on sale at noon (EST) on August 21.
These packages offer hotel accommodations, theme park tickets, and exclusive benefits including:
An exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
Last year, these packages sold out within days!!! So if you want to be in the center of this celebration, make sure to set your alarms for noon (EST) on August 21, or buy your general admission theme park tickets for those dates now!
Enter Gringotts bank beneath the massive fire-breathing dragon at the far end of Diagon Alley. Inside Gringotts you’ll walk through the bank’s grand marble lobby and see goblins hard at work. Then, get ready to take a journey through cavernous passageways that lead deep underground as you climb aboard Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
This new, multi-dimensional 3D thrill ride puts you right in the middle of the action as you face the bank’s stringent security measures while navigating the perilous underground vaults. You’ll encounter Harry, Ron, and Hermione along the way, but you’ll have to evade the wrath of malicious villains Voldemort™ and Bellatrix as well as trolls and other creatures who stand between you and a safe return to Diagon Alley.
The Hogwarts Express will take guests between the two parks of the Universal Orlando Resort (admission to both parks is required to ride on the Hogwarts Express) in a way that you had never imagined.
This will be the first time that Muggles are allowed to board the famous train that’s such an important part of the Harry Potter™ stories. Guests will travel on the iconic steam engine through the urban outskirts of London to the charming village of Hogsmeade, replicating one of the memorable elements of Harry Potter’s school life. The Hogwarts Express connects the two locations in the two theme parks.
There is a menagerie of shops coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley! I don’t know which one I am the most excited about!
See a wand choose a wizard at Ollivanders wand shop. Pick up magical jokes and novelty items at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Find all your wizardwear needs at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. Bring home a furry, feathered, or scaly creature from the Magical Menagerie™. Search for supplies at Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. And gather all your gaming gear at Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Practitioners of the Dark Arts will find everything they need down the gloomy Knockturn Alley, featuring the infamous shop, Borgin and Burkes.
New Vacation Package Available Now for Travel Beginning June 29 –
Giving Guests the Opportunity to Experience the Incredible New Land
Universal Orlando Resort is announcing an all-new exclusive vacation package giving guests the opportunity to enjoy this year’s most anticipated theme park experience: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. Travel for the vacation package begins June 29.
The new travel offer starts at $135 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for a four-night stay on-site at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and includes multi-day Park-to-Park tickets to experience both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As part of the vacation package, guests will enjoy access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, plus exclusive benefits like Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. They will also receive a specially themed Welcome Parcel delivered to their doorstep.
Additional vacation package details can be found below.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Exclusive Vacation Package
The Wizarding World of
Harry Potter Exclusive Vacation Package
~ Starts at $155 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for travelJune 29 to Aug. 16
~ Starts at $135 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for travelAug. 17 to Oct. 2 and Nov. 30 to Dec. 18
– 4-night on-site hotel accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – an all-new hotel inspired by the iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 1960s
– 3-day Park-to-Park tickets
– One breakfast per person at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and the all-new Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley
– Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme parks open
– Special themed Welcome Parcel
– Complimentary on-site transportation to both theme parks and Universal CityWalk
– Book by July 31
– Upgrade to one of three AAA Four-Diamond deluxe on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort to receive complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip the regular lines at select attractions in both theme parks all day (a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day)
– Vacation package also available at Universal Partner Hotels
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida will double the size of the Harry Potter experience offered at Universal Orlando Resort – expanding it across both of Universal’s theme parks. Guests will pass through London and the iconic brick wall archway into Diagon Alley – a bustling, wizarding hub within a Muggle city. The new land will offer one-of-a-kind adventures where guests can:
Experience the next generation thrill ride – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – where guests are propelled into a pivotal scene from the final Harry Potter book and film
Stroll along the streets of Diagon Alley and stop inside well-known shops like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Magical Menagerie and Quality Quidditch Supplies
Experience the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley
Witness the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC
And, just like in the books and films, guests can ride the iconic Hogwarts Express to travel between King’s Cross Station in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure. The scenic, breathtaking journey will transport guests through the British countryside as they encounter magical creatures and familiar Harry Potter characters.
In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which opened in 2010 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, guests can experience Hogsmeade village and Hogwarts castle – which houses the groundbreaking Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction.
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Details, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Construction, and Today Show Sweepstakes Details
It is really imagine that the London Embankment of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley will soon welcome guests as they prepared to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.
Earlier today the Universal Orlando Resort revealed some photos and video that shared some details about Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts that are amazing.
In Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts riders join Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they break into one of the most guarded places in the wizarding world, Gringotts Bank, to retrieve a magical object that will help defeat Lord Voldemort. It is going to be like jumping into the movie, and I have goosbumps just thinking about it!!!
During the attraction you will be able to tour Gringotts bank and pass through the marble hall where you’ll see goblins hard at work, race through a labyrinth of underground Gringotts vaults, and encounter the villainous Death Eater, Bellatrix Lestrange, as she attempts to send you to your doom
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory attraction that has thrills integrated with revolutionary technology.
The attraction utilizes 360-degree themed sets, 4K digital high-definition animation, state-of-the-art 3-D Infitec projection systems, and live special effects with appearances by beloved characters to create breathtaking moments from the Harry Potter books and films.
“Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will change the way you think about theme park attractions,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative. “We’ve created an entirely new type of ride that propels guests into the story like never before, and guests will remember it long after their visit to Diagon Alley.”
Working closely with Stuart Craig and his production team, Universal’s Creative Team has built an attraction that looks beyond amazing.
The things that I am most excited about seeing are the 60 foot, firebreathing Unkranian Ironbelly dragon that will sit atop Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Diagon Alley, the goblin animatronics, and coming face-to-face with He Who Must Not Be Named.
No opening date has been set for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, but we will definitely let you know as soon as we do!!!
Until then make sure you are tuning into the the Today Show from today until May 18, 2014, because they are giving away 25 trips to be at the Grand Opening! You can find all the information you need about the contest here!
And if that’s not enough to keep you excited, here are a few pictures that I snapped yesterday of the London Embankment construction. The work that they are doing is gorgeous!!!
Universal Orlando Resort Reveled New Details About The Magical Journey Guests Will Experience Aboard The Hogwarts Express
Universal Creating First-Ever Experience that Will Allow Guests to Actually Ride
the Iconic Train Between London and Hogsmeade – Just Like in the Books and Films
Reading the Harry Potter Series of books the one thing that I always wanted to do was to walk through to Platform 9 ¾ to board the Hogwarts Express, and now Universal Orlando is releasing more details about this experience coming to the Parks later this summer.
This is going to be a ground breaking experience, because for the first time guests will be able to hop aboard this interactive ride between the two world of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The Hogwarts Express will connect the new land in Universal Studios Florida with The WizardingWorld of Harry Potter – Hogsmeadein Islands of Adventure – allowing guests with park-to-park admission to enjoy a real journey aboard the iconic locomotive.
Once you are in your cabin, storytelling will be taken to the next level through state-of-the-art animation and special effects coupled with live action.
Can you imagine…
· Being transported from the Muggle world to the wizarding world as you pass through the brick wall at King’s Cross Station to arrive at Platform 9 ¾
· Watching in amazement as the Hogwarts Express pulls into the station – its billowing steam and authentic whistle beckoning you to hop aboard
· Sitting in one of the train’s cabins with your family and friends and actually riding the Hogwarts Express – just as your favorite characters did in the Harry Potter films
· Looking outside your cabin window and enjoying a scenic, breathtaking journey through the British countryside as you encounter magical creatures, some of your favorite Harry Potter characters…and even Dementors…
And since you will be traveling between Hogsmeade and King‘s Cross Station in London, the two trips will be completely different!
Guests aboard the train’s cabins will be able to watch out of their windows to see as your magical journey plays out. Some things you will be able to see along the way are Hagrid pulling alongside the train on his flying motorbike, Buckbeak the Hippogriff swoop gracefully over the black lake, the Weasley twins on brooms and up to their usual antics, and the Knight Bus swerving through London traffic. I’m sure that there will also be a ton of great surprises along the way, too!
Here are some sample animation grabs that you might see out of your window.
Continuing on their comittment to creating a detailed and authentic experience in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Creative Team at Universal Orlando has been colaborating with Warner Bros., Stuart Craig, and the production team from the Harry Potter Films. They have been diligently working to produce a family-friendly ride that is authentic, even down to the paint colors and whistle.
It is important to keep in mind one key thing about the addition of the Hogwarts Express. If you are going to ride on the Hogwarts Express you’ll need Park-to-Park Admission to board in either King’s Cross Station or Hogsmeade Station. Or you can visit either land with a Single Park Admission Ticket without access to the Hogwarts Express.
We can’t wait to continue to bring you coverage of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley expansion at the Universal Orlando Resort! So make sure you keep up with our latest adventures and pictures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!
With the start of a new year and with so much going on after the holidays, I thought it would be a great time to restart our Week in Review and play a little catch up on this week’s highlights and news from the Orlando and Central Florida Attractions and Venues!
Week in Review – December 30, 2013 to January 3, 2014
Walt Disney World Resort
The Disney Parks Blog announced a new contest where you can win a 5-day/4-night vacation for four to either the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort.
We’ve just launched disney.com/resolutions where Disney celebrities are sharing how they plan to resolve to spend more time with family in 2014. A new video will be uploaded everyday in January.
On disney.com/resolutions, we are also awarding a vacation-a-day from December 31, 2013 through January 31, 2014! So enter every day for your chance to win because this is the year to spend more quality time with the people you love most. Good luck!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open only to individuals, who are, as of Entry, legal residents of, and physically located within, the 50 U.S., D.C., Puerto Rico or Canada (excluding Quebec) and who are not Minors. Sweepstakes starts 12:01 AM (EST) on 12/31/13 and ends 11:59:59 PM (EST) on 1/31/14. Click here for Official Rules.
With Walt Disney World Marathon weekend right around the corner, runDisney was everywhere when they released details about the Limited Edition runDisney 2014 New Balance shoes!
I don’t know about you, but I am so excited for everything that is coming to the Universal Orlando Resort!!!
January is Passholder appreciation month at SeaWorld Orlando, and they are offering some great deals!
Bring a friend for FREE! SeaWorld® Orlando Pass Members receive a friend for free ticket*. Online registration is required. Valid for one single-day admission by January 31, 2014. Register Now.
Double Your Discount**
Save 20% on dining in all of our cafeteria-style restaurants
Save 20% on merchandise in our gift shops
*Pass Member must be present for guest to gain admittance. Free ticket offer valid for active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year and FL Platinum Pass Members. Not valid for Fun Cards, Teacher’s Study Passes or Friends & Family Passes. Free ticket is non-transferable, not for resale and may be revoked for misuse.
**Offer only valid between Jan. 1-31, 2014. Must present active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year, or FL Platinum Pass to receive savings. Not valid with any other discounts or offers. Not valid on All-Day Dining offers. Merchandise offer valid for in-park purchases only.
The Circus is coming to town!
Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus LEGENDS is coming to the Amway Center January 9-12, but Monday the circus train rolls into Orlando. Fantastic photo opportunities will be available as the Ringling Bros. pachyderm performers parade to the Amway Center.
The Ringling Bros.animal performers will unload at 8:00 p.m. and walk beginning at 8:30 p.m. Animals will unload at railroad tracks near 1035 W. Amelia, then travel east on Amelia, south on North Hughey Ave., then west on West South St. and enter the GEICO Garage behind Amway Center. (Note: route and time are subject to change without notice.)
Tickets are still available and start at $16. Ticketmaster service charges and facility fees not included. All seats are reserved. Tickets are available atwww.ringling.com or www.ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone:407-440-7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.
If your house is anything like mine, you have watched the trailer for ‘The LEGO Movie’ four times daily and I was excited to see that they are going to be having a weekend of activities in February!
February 8 & 9, 2014 Enjoy fun for all with activities to celebrate “The LEGO Movie”, the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO adventure featuring an all-star cast and set to open in theaters February 7. Guests will enjoy a special movie-themed building activity, movie-themed scavenger hunt in Miniland USA and meet and greet sessions with costume characters Emmet and Wyldstyle, who play leading roles in this epic movie.
Busch Gardens Tampa
January is also Passholder appreciation month at Busch Gardens Tampa!
Double the Fun – Bring a Friend for FREE
During January, Pass Members can bring a friend for free! Online registration required. Limit one free ticket per active Pass Member. Offer valid between January 1-31, 2014. Other Restrictions Apply. Log in now to register your friend’s ticket and learn more about this limited time offer.
Triple the Savings – 30% off merchandise, food, and beverages
All month long, Pass Members get 30% off merchandise, food and beverages when you visit the park! Offer valid between January 1-31, 2014. Other Restrictions Apply.
Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex
A Falcon 9 rocket is targeted to lift-off during a dramatic SpaceX launch scheduled for January 3, launch time is subject to change but the launch window of 5:05 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. EST. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests may view the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or special areas at the Visitor Complex.
Launch viewing from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, located in Kennedy Space Center, includes live mission control commentary and is available for Visitor Complex guests for $20 plus the cost of admission. Admission to the Visitor Complex is $50 plus tax for adults and $40 plus tax for children 3-11. Bus boarding for the Apollo/Saturn V Center begins at 3:15 p.m.
Launch viewing, featuring live mission control commentary, also is available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is included in regular admission.
Harry Potter Stars James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, and Evanna Lynch
to Appear at A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort
3-Day Event to Feature a Harry Potter Tribute, Cast Member Q&A’s,
Wand Combat Masterclass, Pottermore Demonstrations and More
Harry Potter film stars James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Evanna Lynch are slated to appear at “A Celebration of Harry Potter” – a special event hosted by Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the feature films. Creative talent also set to appear includes KazuKibuishi, the award-winning artist who recently re-imagined the Harry Potter book covers, and Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina ofMinaLima, who established the visual graphic style of the Harry Potter films.
From January 24 – 26, 2014 at Universal Orlando, fans will enjoy unforgettable experiences – including a Harry Potter Tribute on Friday night, a Harry Potter Expo, panel discussions with film talent and crew, and more. Additional details about “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be released early next year.
Access to “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is included with regular theme park admission or with an annual pass. Those without an annual pass can experience the full offering with a 3-day park-to-park ticket. Admission into panel events will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Event Details
A CELEBRATION OF HARRY POTTER PANEL DISCUSSIONS
The panels will be held in a theater-style setting and will include discussions and Q&A’s with Harry Potter film talent and crew. Admission into the theaters will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Specific panel times will be released at a later date.
A Harry Potter Tribute
“A Celebration of Harry Potter” will kick off with a special evening event starring several cast members of the Harry Potter film series and award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi, who recently re-imagined the Harry Potter book covers for Scholastic and beautifully captured pivotal scenes from the enchanting Harry Potter stories. Guests will enjoy film clips, Q&A sessions with cast members, and get a glimpse of new details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, opening summer 2014.
My Life on the Harry Potter Film Set: Talent Q&A’s
Actors from the Harry Potter films share what it’s like to work on a major motion picture and be part of film history.
Duelling Demonstration & Wand Combat Masterclass with Paul Harris
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter will present a spellbinding masterclass with the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris. Paul choreographed the epic battle scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and will be on hand to teach you the technique behind wielding a wand.
Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima
Graphic designers Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina from the studio MinaLima will discuss their ten-year involvement in establishing the visual graphic style on the film productions of Harry Potter and present some of the iconic props they created for the films, including the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler.
Bringing the Harry Potter Films to the Theme Park – Set and Prop Design of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Harry Potter film and theme park Set Designer Alan Gilmore and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Prop Master Eric Baker will present a look at how ideas move from the books to screen, and then become real-life theme park experiences.
Go Behind the Scenes of Pottermore.com from J.K. Rowling
Pottermore’s Creative Director gives an exclusive insight into the creation of Moment artwork for Pottermore.com, and a look at the next installment of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Plus, get ready for an exclusive reveal as he shares his favorite upcoming new entry from J.K. Rowling.
A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Expo Booths
The Harry Potter Expo will be held inside a Universal Orlando soundstage and will be open to guests throughout the weekend. The expo will include booths and exhibits that will give guests deeper insight into the various manifestations of the Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition
Guests will get an up-close look at the artistry and craftsmanship that went into creating the iconic costumes that have appeared throughout the Harry Potter film series. They will also have the opportunity to get sorted into Hogwarts houses during a Sorting Hat experience.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
This interactive experience will feature a duelling presentation by the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris.
Limited edition artworks and reproductions based on original prop designs will be on display, including iconic pieces, such as the Marauder’s Map and the Daily Prophet. A selection of original graphic props from the films will also be on display, and on-hand to meet guests will be Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.
Pottermore from J.K. Rowling
Go behind the scenes of Pottermore.com from J.K. Rowling. Find out how Moments from Harry’s story are created from the first sketch to the final splash of color, get an exclusive look at artwork that has not yet been released, and experience Pottermore.com for yourself – defeat your opponent in a wizard’s duel or try your hand at brewing magical draughts and potions.
Celebrate the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and share your message about what Harry Potter means to you. Award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi, who recently reimagined the Harry Potter book covers, will be signing posters at limited times throughout the weekend.
United States Postal Service
Guests can check out the limited-edition Harry Potter collection of 20 new Forever stamps, featuring images of Harry Potter, the extraordinary boy wizard, and the adventures he encounters with the friends, heroes, villains and creatures that make up his world. Also, see collectible products featuring the stamps, meet the stamp art director, and get special cancellation postmarks commemorating this celebration.
While I am still putting together a lot of my final ideas for a larger post on icFlorida about yesterday’s Universal Orlando CityWalk Announcements (You can find the Press Release here), I wanted to take a moment to look at my initial reactions to what we were shown.
1. Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
I had a lot of A-ha moments during The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley presentation! Originally I looked at how close the construction of Diagon Alley was to Universal Studios Florida, and I always wondered why it had to be so close to the existing park. And yesterday, when they spoke about how Diagon Alley was wedged into London everything clicked for me! And while I am positively giddy about riding on the Hogwarts Express, given the detail that is going into the streets of Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron (especially the ceiling) I want to camp out now! The current Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of my most favorite places in any theme park, and I am beyond hopeful about Diagon Alley!
2. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is going to be everything that you wish a Walt Disney World ‘Value’ Resort would be! The resort will have 900 Rooms and 900 Family Suites at opening with a fun 60’s retro feel. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will also boast several large pools for each section of the resort, dining options, high-energy bowling alleys, and more at a manageable walking distance to the parks. I love fun resorts, and with the proximity to the park this ‘Value’ resort really has value.
3. The Cowfish / The Hot Dog Hall of Fame
The Cowfish and The Hot Dog Hall of Fame that will be coming to Universal CityWalk are fun and quirky! The Cowfish is a mix of sushi and burgers in a fun environment (there will be tablets in the Sushi Bar for people to surf as they sit under Pop Art), and the result is ‘Burgushi’ which include sushi rolls created using burger components and sandwiches created using sushi elements. The Hot Dog Hall of Fame boasts signature Hot Dogs from around the country and a Mustard Bar with custom mustards created from a partnership from the National Mustard Museum. If you love Hot Dogs, how can you not be excited about this restaurant coming to Universal Orlando CityWalk? Amid Bars and themed restaurants, I am looking forward to the fun options and atmosphere that these two locations will bring to the mix of CityWalk!
4. Starbucks / Menchies / Cold Stone Creamery
While I would have loved to see all original offerings at the Universal Orlando CityWalk announcement, I have to say that choosing to expand the Starbucks presence and adding Menchies and Cold Stone Creamery to CityWalk make more sense and go with the ‘best in class’ mind-set that is going into the renovation of Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. Starbucks moving downstairs and into a larger space that will be filled with seating (Yay!) and innovative touches is a win for everyone, because it is more accessible and adds another location to grab a quick breakfast at the parks which has always been an issue with my family. Menchies and Cold Stone Creamery are solid yogurt and ice cream places that are family favorites, which is important when you have a little (or big) kid who needs a treat after a long day in the theme parks!!!
5. Antojitos / The Red Oven / Bread Box / Pranzo
And now we come to the unique restaurants that are coming to Universal Orlando CityWalk! Antojitos is a going to be more of a culinary journey than passive restaurant experience. The themed facade of Anotjitos is where you start your trip to cantinas, street carts, and markets of Mexico for tapas-style dining with authentic Mexican food.The Red Oven is open now, and amid an modern Italian atmosphere you can find a huge variety of brick oven pizzas and salads. The Bread Box will feature hand made breads and sandwiches with fresh ingredients to capture the feel of the Deli of your childhood or movies! Pranzo will feature modern Italian foods and hand made pastas. The common thread between the variety of restaurants is that there will be a focus on using only fresh ingredients, that are hand-made, and sometimes even created as you watch. While I am a HUGE Mythos fan (aren’t we all though…Universal butter, bread that you can’t stop eating, and delicious dishes), I always find myself wanting more of a fresh feel to my meal. So beyond beautiful decor, I am excited to find these kinds of foods offered in a Theme Park Area.
I will admit that the shop-a-holic in me really wished there was more on this front, I am excited to see what the new Universal Studios Store will offer! The design will also boast more interactivity and fresh design elements. It is a great place to catch those souvenirs that you said you would go back to pick up that you might have forgotten.
With all these locations opening as the first phase of a Universal Orlando CityWalk revitalization by June of 2014, it makes me really excited to see what phase 2 is going to bring besides me spending more time there!