America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks: No. 4 Universal Studios Hollywood

Amazing Parks Universal Hollywood! Universal Studios Hollywood opened in 1964. The park welcomes 9.1 million visitors annually.

Amazing Parks Universal Hollywood
Photo via Universal Studios Hollywood

Do you love movies? If so, Universal Studios Hollywood is for you! The magic of movie-making comes to life at the park, which combines the quintessential Hollywood movie experience with  theme park attractions and shows.

Photo Via Universal Studios Hollywood Archives

Universal Studios was one of the first movie studios in Hollywood when it opened in 1912. Shortly after opening the studio began offering tours. Admission was five cents and included a boxed lunch.

Amazing Parks Universal Hollywood
Photo via Universal Studios Hollywood

In 1964 the movie studio launched as a theme park which included stage shows, stunt demonstrations and a petting zoo. The theme park is made up of two levels, the Upper Lot and the Lower Lot. Just like in Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood includes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and CityWalk.

One of the most popular attractions in the Los Angeles area, Universal Studios Hollywood features rides and amusements based on some of the most popular scenes and characters from film and television.

Amazing Parks Universal Hollywood
Photo Via Universal Studios Hollywood

The Upper Lot

The Upper Lot is a mix of old and new Hollywood. Here you’ll find the Studio Tram Tour and Mel’s Diner. You will also find 3D and 4D simulator attractions and DreamWorks Theatre.

The world-famous Studio Tram Tour gives you a behind the scenes look at the magic of making movies. It takes you through the back lot featuring sets and props used in many films. The tour also includes rides on two attractions.

Photo Via Universal Studios Hollywood

The Upper Lot is also where you will find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Simpsons themed Springfield U.S.A.

This area is full of attractions, interactive experiences, gift shops and restaurants.

The Lower Lot

The Lower Lot is a much smaller area but includes just as much adventure! Revenge of the Mummy and Jurassic World call the Lower Lot home.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This area of Universal Studios Hollywood opened in 2016 and includes six shows and attractions, 2 dining locations and 9 gift shops.

Photo Via Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal CityWalk Hollywood

The three block area is full of entertainment, dining and retail shopping. There is a 19 screen movie theater, dance parties and an interactive outdoor concert venue. 

The CityWalk area opened in 1993 and offers 32 dining locations, 23 gift shops and 4 shows and attractions.

Filming and Celebreties

If you’re a big movie fan and celebrity spotter, a couple of weeks before your park visit, check the official website to find out which celebs will be filming. “Extra” with Mario and “Tanika & Renee Live!” are often filmed in front of the Globe Fountain on weekdays.

Photo Via Universal Studios Hollywood

Celebrities don’t appear every day, but when filming, their times and locations are listed on the schedule. “The Voice” is filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you want to attend a taping, you can find tickets here. It is best to attend on a day you are not visiting the theme park because tapings and check-ins are time-consuming and have dress codes.

Universal Studios Hollywood paved the way for other Universal theme parks throughout the world including Orlando, Japan and Singapore. You will find a full day of action-packed entertainment all in one place:  thrilling Theme Park rides and shows, a real working movie studio, and the area’s best shops and restaurants CityWalk. Universal Studios Hollywood is a unique experience that’s fun for the whole family.

Although there are no “on-site” hotels, there are several partner area hotels that offer vacation packages. The packages will include early admission to the theme parks.

Did you have the chance to read America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks – The History of Amusement Parks where you can learn how it all started! Also, don’t miss:




America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks: No. 3 Universal Orlando Resort

Ride the movies! That’s what Universal Orlando Resort is all about.

Amazing Parks Universal Orlando
Photo via Universal Orlando

Amazing Parks Universal Orlando

The Universal Orlando Resort is made up of several distinct areas/parks. Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay Water Park and CityWalk.

Like the WDW resort properties, Universal Orlando Resort is more than one single theme park – it’s more of a resort destination. Universal offers an APP to help you plan your stay. You can set alerts for ride wait times and order meals. The property offers 7 on-site hotels for visitors to choose from. Staying on-site also offers certain benefits like early admission, priority seating and Express Pass.

Amazing Parks Universal Orlando
Photo via Universal Orlando

Universal Studios Florida

The park opened in 1990 and welcomes 10.2 million visitors each year.  There are 8 lands at Universal Studios Florida. Each land boasts interactive experiences including 4D rides and simulators. Movie franchises have a huge presence and include Harry Potter, Fast & Furious, Transformers, Men in Black and Shrek. For the little ones to stay entertained, there’s Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, Curious George and Barney’s Backyard.

Universal Studios offers 30+ dining locations throughout the park, 15+ attractions/rides, over 15 entertaining shows, and you can shop til you drop in more than 35 stores.

Kids play areas and character encounters make Universal Studios fun for the entire family!

Photo via Universal Orlando

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Thrilling roller coasters, Marvel superheroes and Harry Potter make this sister park a must see!

Island’s of Adventure opened in 1999 and welcomes 9.6 million visitors per year. This area offers 17+ attractions and shows, 25 dining spots and 26 gift shops.

Universal Studios is where you “ride the movies” and Islands of Adventure is the spot to truly experience them. The park is full of state of the art thrill rides all themed to big entertainment entities.

You can explore Hogwarts; escape a killer T-Rex; and brave the wrath of Doctor Doom. There’s plenty of excitement for the little ones too with interactive play zones and live stage shows in Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon.

Amazing Parks Universal Orlando

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spans across both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. It is an absolutely magical experience. This land opened in 2010 and offers 5 shows and attractions, 5 dining areas and 14 gift shops.

Amazing Parks Universal Orlando
Photo via Universal Orlando

Universal Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay opened in 2017 and welcomed 1.5 million visitor it’s first year. The park includes 19 attractions, 6 dining locations and 2 gift shops.

Volcano Bay is inspired by Polynesian Islands and cultures, offering  a carefree island lifestyle to relax in. Plunge down water slides, relax on the beach or chill out in a private cabana.

Photo via Universal Orlando

Universal CityWalk

CityWalk opened in 1999 and offers 25 dining spots, 8 gifts shops and 11 entertainment venues. This entertainment and retail district is the perfect spot to visit before or after visiting the parks.

Guests must pass through CityWalk to enter Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure. You can start your day before entering the parks with breakfast or end your evening with a concert. The most popular show, the Blue Man Group, is also at CityWalk. 

Did you have the chance to read America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks – The History of Amusement Parks where you can learn how it all started! Also, don’t miss:

Amazing Parks Universal Orlando




One of Universal Orlando’s Newest Resorts Now Accepting Reservations for 2019 Opening

OK. It’s still a little more than a year away but anticipation is great and Universal Orlando Resort fans are counting the days for this newest and the MOST AFFORDABLE hotel option coming to Universal!

The design is being referred to as “Universal’s Endless Summer Resort” because of it’s surfing and beach theme that will have families thinking they are at a beach resort (actually will be two resorts).

Universal Orlando Endless Summer Resorts
Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

The Endless Summer Resorts represents an new category for Universal’s on-site hotels – value resorts. They will be the most inexpensive rooms offered by Universal Orlando Resort. Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the new Aventura Hotel are considered Prime Value resorts being located closer to the theme parks and offering direct access to Volcano Bay. 

Endless Summer Theme

The Endless Summer actually consists of two different hotels: Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites. Surfside Inn and Suites will consist of 750 rooms and will open in August 2019. Dockside Inn and Suites will be huge with 2,050 rooms and will open in phases throughout 2020. 

The Location

Surfside Inn and Suites is being built on a 64-acre piece of land that was once Wet ‘n Wild Orlando. Wet ‘n Wild Orlando was purchased by Universal in 1998 and closed and demolished in 2016. The location is approximately a five-minute bus ride from Universal Orlando theme parks. Surfside Inn and Suites will occupy the land that was the Wet ‘n Wild park itself, while the Dockside Inn and Suites will occupy the space that was the water park’s parking lot and offices. 

Dining

All we know so far is that Surfside Inn and Suites’s will include at least one poolside bar, a food court, and possibly a coffee bar.

Most Recent Press Release

The most affordable hotel option at Universal Orlando Resort is now accepting reservations. Opening in August 2019, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites will be the first hotel in the destination’s new Value hotel category, with rates starting at less than $100 per night. It will offer a hotel option for families looking for theme park thrills, exclusive benefits and a seamless Universal Orlando vacation experience at the destination’s most affordable rates.

Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Brought to life by the award-winning Universal Creative team, Surfside Inn and Suites will offer nightly rates starting at just $73 for a seven-night stay and $85 per night for a four-night stay in a standard room. The hotel will feature 390 two Bedroom Suites that sleep six and start as low as $111 per night for a seven-night stay.

Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

“This hotel checks every box – quality, family-friendly suites and exclusive benefits that only come with staying in one of our hotels at a value that is simply unmatched in Orlando,” said Vince LaRuffa, Senior Vice President of Resort Sales and Marketing at Universal Orlando Resort. “With the addition of this new Value hotel category, we now offer a hotel for every style and budget.”

Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Guests at Surfside Inn and Suites can take advantage of exclusive Universal Orlando hotel benefits to enjoy an epic vacation, including:

  • Early Park Admission – allowing them to breeze into one of Universal Orlando’s three amazing theme parks an hour before everyone else
  • Complimentary shuttle bus transportation to and from the theme parks and Universal CityWalk
  • Destination-wide charging privileges with their room key
  • Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to their hotel

Families needing a bit more room will find it easy to relax in the spacious 2 Bedroom Suites, which sleep six comfortably and feature a kitchenette and separate bath and vanity areas. It’s the perfect home-base for families of any size to experience all that Universal Orlando has to offer.

Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

The 750-room Surfside Inn and Suites will feature a relaxed and fun surf vibe with beach details woven throughout the experience. It will be the destination’s seventh hotel in partnership with Loews Hotels & Co.

Sister property Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites will add 2,050 rooms and suites when it opens in 2020. Both hotels will be located minutes away from Universal Orlando’s three theme parks – Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay – as well as its dining and entertainment complex – Universal CityWalk.

To book a stay at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, visit UniversalOrlando.com or call 800.BE.A.STAR (232-7827).




Visiting Orlando and Someone Gets Sick! Oh No! What Do You Do?

As much as we plan and prepare and worry and fret, one thing we all know about a family vacation – expect the unexpected. When you are planning your dream vacation to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, you never plan on a family member getting sick while you are there.

medical concierge orlando

Many visitors travel from other parts of the country or other parts of the world that don’t normally experience the extreme heat and humidity that is common to the Orlando/Florida area during the summer months. This heat and humidity can cause all sorts of health concerns for even the healthiest of individuals. Even when visiting during other times of the year – stuff happens! Someone comes down with a cold, you trip into your resort room twisting your ankle, your child falls and breaks an arm (don’t laugh – this happened to me!) you eat something that just doesn’t agree with you.

We all know there are emergency medical facilities that we can drive to or taxi to. We all know that sometimes you just don’t feel good enough to leave your hotel room. Drum roll please . . . enter The Medical Concierge®

The Three P’s of Vacation Planning

When planning a trip to any of the Orlando theme parks, especially during the hot and humid summer months, it’s important to remember the three P’s:

Preparation

  • Bring with you common over-the-counter medications in TSA-compliant packaging: pain relievers, decongestants, cough syrups, motion-sickness pills. All of these items are available for sale on the theme park properties but at a cost much higher than you will pay at home
  • Stay cool! Many people underestimate the power of the Florida sun. Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, finding shade or wearing hats, and applying sunscreen regularly will keep you moving throughout the day
  • Most attraction areas in Orlando allow guests to bring snacks and other food with them. Healthy options, like watermelon, carrot sticks, and celery, can put back the nutrients lost during the day. Bring and drink lots of water.
  • Don’t wear new shoes. Blistered feet on a theme park vacation can ruin everything!

Pacing

  • Theme Parks are exciting places, especially when it’s your time to ride the latest thrill ride or catch up with your favorite character. But too much hustle from place to place can drain you quickly.
  • One loop just around the walking perimeter of the Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando can be several miles. Take advantage of seating opportunities or take in a show experience to give everyone—especially little ones or senior citizens—a break from the exploration.
  • Parents and adult family members like to enjoy the specialty cocktails exclusive to the parks. But too many at a time can cause problems with digestion and other important functions of the body. Slow down and enjoy responsibly!

Physician

  • Should health issues arise, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the family fun for the trip
  • One convenient option available at the front desk of most hotels on and off the Theme Park sites is The Medical Concierge
    • Preferred Medical Provider for Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and over 123 hotels and various tour operators, travel assistance companies, and vacation homes
      • Minutes away from Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort in the heart of Greater Orlando
    • Accepts domestic and international Insurance
    • Services
      • Team of Board Certified, Florida-licensed pediatric and family practice physicians
      • Administers urgent care in the comfort of visitor’s hotel rooms, vacation homes, event venues.

About The Medical Concierge 

Founded in 1980, The Medical Concierge gives guests 24/7 medical assistance directly in their hotel or at the company’s medical clinic steps away from Universal Orlando Resort. From high-grade equipment like in-room X-rays and ultrasounds, free transportation to the clinic, and quick access to medications and testing directly from the board-certified and licensed physicians, The Medical Concierge and specialist partners strive to take care of everything, so guests and their families can take care of getting better.

The Medical Concierge has established itself during the last four decades as the preferred medical provider for the most storied hospitality companies in the Orlando operating area, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, and nearly 123 other hotel and vacation home properties.

Domestic and international travelers across the nation and around the world have found comfort with The Medical Concierge, the preferred Medical Provider for over 123 hotels and various tour operators, travel assistance companies, and vacation homes. The Medical Concierge works closely with international travelers, providing translation services and direct insurance billing to keep their vacations stress-free. Healthcare assistance is available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with medically trained staff available to answer your call, address your concerns, and assist with selecting and scheduling the service best suited for your medical needs. Should circumstances present you with a need for urgent care services while in Central Florida simply look for the gold bell of The Medical Concierge.

After contacting The Medical Concierge, the medical personnel will assess your medical needs and assist with options that accommodate your medical concerns or requirements. You will be assessed by phone using your description of symptoms. The staff will then schedule one of their physicians to come out to see you at your hotel, resort, or vacation home any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients are typically seen within 2-2 1/2 hours of being scheduled.

After a doctor arrives on site, they perform tests, diagnose, and treat you. Medications are prescribed and dispensed within the room, eliminating the need to find a pharmacy. Follow-up visits are performed within 24 hours if deemed necessary.

Cost & Insurance

The Medical Concierge takes most insurance and if necessary will provide you with a medically coded receipt. Their self-pay prices are set with a traveler’s budget in mind as they strive to provide the most value for your dollar.

In-Room Services

Typical services provided during a resort house call include:

  • Breathing Treatments
  • Dermabond Wound Closure
  • Diabetic Evaluation
  • Influenza Screening
  • IV Therapy
  • Laboratory Testing
  • Mobile X-Ray & Ultrasound
  • Prescription Service

Medical equipment can be rented, scheduled in advance, and delivered to your hotel:

  • Bath Safety Equipment
  • Motorized Scooters
  • Portable Oxygen
  • Wheelchairs

If you would prefer to see a physician at one of their private urgent care clinics, you can schedule an appointment. They have clinics conveniently located throughout the greater Orlando area just minutes from major attractions.

Typical services provided at one of our clinics:

  • Chiropractor
  • Dental
  • Dermatology
  • OB/GYN
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic
  • Psychiatry

Getting sick while on vacation in Orlando doesn’t have to ruin your entire trip and have you traveling all over Orlando in a taxi – The Medical Concierge to the rescue! Hide this number away in your wallet on your next trip just in case: 855-932-5252




Do You Use the Universal Orlando APP?

Most of us know when we visit that other theme park in Orlando that is run by a mouse to use their APP for planning, helpful tips and necessary information. Until recently, I had no idea that Universal Orlando had a similar APP you can use. It isn’t as large and doesn’t do as much as the other one many of us use, but I would bet with time it will expand and be an even better tool for Universal Orlando visitors than it already is.

Universal Orlando App
Photo Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Whether you’re still planning your trip or already there, the official Universal Orlando APP is a must-have. It can be downloaded for either your iPhone or Android device.

Here’s what you can use the APP for:

1. Virtual Wallet

With the app’s Virtual Wallet you can purchase and redeem park tickets, Universal Express passes and have them handy and available in one convenient spot on your phone.

TIP: You can set up your TapuTapu wearable as a payment method when visiting Universal’s Volcano Bay.

2. Interactive Maps

Find your way around without going in circles with the APP’s detailed Interactive Maps. You can set filters for all of the park activities and offers to help you find what you need – including restrooms.

TIP: You can also view ride wait times, showtimes and dining venue hours.

3. Favorites List

With the Favorites List on the APP, you can create an itinerary with your favorite top attractions. Set alerts for when the wait times are low!

TIP: You can even view all of your itinerary items on a personal itinerary map.

4. Parking Reminder

Oh no! Where did we park the car? The APP lets you set a parking reminder to find your car by section, level and row.

5. Updates and Special Offers

With the APP, you can receive all the latest updates on attractions, schedule changes, special offers and special events.

The best part is the Official Universal Orlando Resort APP is FREE for you to download. Get it now for  your iPhone or Android device and start planning!