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A Day At Universal Studios Orlando At Universal Orlando Resort

Travel With Rick takes us all around the incredible Universal Studios Florida at Universal Orlando Resort to visit Minions, the Simpsons, Transformers, and even The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley!


It’s Time For ‘A Celebration of Harry Potter’

Harry Potter film stars Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Evanna Lynch are slated to appear at the second annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter” – a special event hosted by Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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The event allows fans to celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the feature films. Creative talent also set to appear includes Paul Harris, the world’s only Wand Combat choreographer, Kazu Kibuishi, illustrator of Scholastic’s re-imagined Harry Potter book covers, and Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina of MinaLima, who established the visual graphic style of the Harry Potter films.

“A Celebration of Harry Potter” will take place from January 30 – February 1, 2015 at Universal Orlando. Fans will enjoy three days of incredible experiences, including Q&A and autograph sessions with Harry Potter film talent, special discussions and demonstrations with creative talent, and access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo – where fans can enjoy the Sorting Hat experience, pose for a photo in a recreation of the iconic Great Hall set and celebrate their Hogwarts house pride in an interactive Pottermore exhibit.

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Guests can also experience Harry Potter’s world for themselves by visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the all-new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Vacation Package guests and those with a park-to-park ticket will also be able to board the iconic Hogwarts Express and enjoy a unique journey as they travel between King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station.

Access to “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is included with regular theme park admission or with an annual pass, with admission to certain activities being granted on a first-come, first-served basis. While most of the activities for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be open to all Universal Orlando Resort park guests, guests who purchase the exclusive event vacation package will enjoy certain special benefits and reserved sections for the discussions and demonstrations.

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“A CELEBRATION OF HARRY POTTER” DISCUSSIONS AND DEMONSTRATIONS”

Discussions and Q&A sessions will be available featuring Harry Potter film talent and crew, with special demonstrations and discussions for kids. Admission into discussions and demonstrations will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Specific times will be released at a later date.

Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Discussion
Enjoy a fascinating and interactive Q&A session featuring some of your favorite actors from the Harry Potter films. Discover what it was like to work on the most successful film franchise in history.

Duelling Demonstration & Wand Combat Masterclass with Paul Harris
Pick up your wand and take part in a live duelling masterclass, hosted by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, featuring the world’s only Wand Combat choreographer, Paul Harris. Paul choreographed the epic battle scenes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and will be on hand to teach you the technique behind wielding a wand.

Creating The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Alan Gilmore, Art Director for the Harry Potter films, will explain how he and his team brought the world of Harry Potter to life from the fiction to the films, and eventually in the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. In addition, hear firsthand from Universal Orlando’s Entertainment team how live shows in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were created, as well as some of the hidden “secrets” and innovative interactive elements contained within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima
Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, from the graphic design studio MinaLima, will share insights into their role as Graphic Prop Designers for more than a decade on the Harry Potter movies. They will discuss and show some of the iconic props they created for the Harry Potter films, including the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler, amongst others. Still immersed in all things Harry Potter, they will also talk about their recent involvement in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Illustration of Harry Potter with Kazu Kibuishi
Award-winning illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, who reimagined the Harry Potter book covers for Scholastic, will be drawing some of your favorite Harry Potter characters live on-stage in this interactive panel for all ages.

This year’s “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will also include kids’ discussions and interactive experiences such as a special duelling demonstration and wand combat masterclass with Paul Harris, an interactive ‘Dance Like a Beauxbatons and Battle Like a Durmstrang’ experience, as well as Harry Potter film trivia.


Special Ticket Offer For Military At Universal Orlando

For a limited time,  eligible service members can purchase a 1-Day Park-to-Park Ticket and get 2 days FREE. That is three days enjoying both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida for the price of one.

Universal Orlando Resort celebrated Veterans Day with a special in-park parade featuring its Veteran Network

Here are all of the details and ticket purchasing info:

  • Who is eligible? This special military offer is valid for purchase by active duty, reservist military and retired military service members, Department of Defense employees and/or spouses with valid military photo ID.
  • How many can I purchase? Eligible service members may purchase up to 6 tickets with this offer.
  • When is this offer valid? This offer is available for purchase now through November 30, 2014, and tickets must be used in full by December 14, 2014.
  • How do I use this offer? Tickets are activated at either Universal Orlando theme park, with the eligible service member required to be present with a valid military photo ID to activate the ticket. Admission is valid for up to 14 days from first use.

In addition, active duty and retired military personnel can make it a special vacation or long weekend by adding a stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort with a discounted vacation package.

Universal Orlando Resort celebrated Veterans Day with a special in-park parade featuring its Veteran Network

Special military vacation package rates include the 1-Day Park-to-Park Ticket with 2 Days Free and 3 nights at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort starting at $269 per adult, tax inclusive with valid military identification.

This ticket offer and special vacation package can be purchased by visiting participating Base ITT/LTS offices.

Have any questions about this offer or any Universal Orlando Resort Military offers? Contact your Kingdom Magic Vacation’s Travel Planner Today!


Top 5 MUST DO’s At Universal Orlando’s New Diagon Alley

Florida News - June 19, 2014

With the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort,  we thought that we would share our, not to be missed, Top 5 Must Dos At Diagon Alley:

5.  Have a Meal at The Leaky Cauldron

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Not only is the Leaky Cauldron an iconic location from the books/films, it’s a great place to share a meal with your muggle/wizard friends and family!  We strongly suggest the Guinness stew!

4.  Cast A Spell With Your Interactive Wand

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Located throughout Diagon Alley (and also now in Hogsmeade) you can cast your own spell at certain spots and the buildings and decorations will actually animate!  You can purchase your interactive wands at Ollivander’s Wand Shop which is a must do in itself!

3.  Spend Time in Weasleys Wizard Wheezes

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Fred and George Weasleys’ colourful shop offers a cornucopia of magical jokes, tricks and toys including Pygmy Puffs, U-No-Poo, Skiving Snackboxes, and more.  make sure you take time to look at all the details located within Weasleys’ – it’s remarkable!

2.  Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour 

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Are you a fan of Butterbeer?  if so, you will really enjoy the ice cream version.  You may also try any of the other incredible flavors of frozen perfection like clotted cream, earl grey and lavender, and even chocolate chili.  There are also more traditional flavors as well as some continental breakfast items.

1.  Harry Potter and  the Escape from Gringotts

Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts

Once you enter Gringotts bank (under the massive fire-breathing dragon) you meet with several of the Gringotts tellers who usher into the most breath-taking 3D ride we have ever been on.  It was incredible in the movie and even better at Universal Orlando Resort!

Honorable Mention – Ride The Hogwarts Express

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If you have a Park-to-Park admission ticket, you can pass through Platform 9 ¾ and board the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station in London, located inside Universal Studios Florida theme park, and travel to Hogsmeade Station, located inside Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park (right next door to Universal Studios). Or you can ride the train in the other direction! It’s truly an amazing experience.

Those are our Top 5, we would love to hear yours!


Relive Harry Potter Films at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk AMC Cineplex

You’ve probably heard that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley is opening on July 8. And having spent time in this amazing new land, we can tell you that it is simply breathtaking…the iconic locations seen in the films have been replicated and expanded beyond what I could ever imagine.

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So if just thinking about Harry Potter or looking at all the images from Diagon Alley has you itching to go back and watch all the films, AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX at Universal CityWalk is showing all eight of the films on select dates through mid-July.

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Be there when Harry is chosen by his wand at Ollivanders, inadvertently turns up in Knockturn Alley for the first time or faces dark forces during the epic Battle of Hogwarts—all on the big screen. It’s a great way to get ready for your own adventure and experience the films that inspired The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Show Times & Dates:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Tuesday 7/1 – 1pm & 7pm
Wednesday 7/9 – 1pm & 7pm
Thursday 7/17 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Wednesday 7/2 – 1pm & 7pm
Thursday 7/10 – 1pm & 7pm
Friday 7/18 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Thursday 7/3 –1pm & 7pm
Friday 7/11 –1pm & 7pm
Saturday 7/19 –1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Friday 7/4 – 1pm & 7pm
Saturday 7/12 – 1pm & 7pm
Sunday 7/20 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Friday 6/27 – 7pm
Saturday 7/5 – 1pm & 7pm
Sunday 7/13 – 1pm & 7pm
Monday 7/21 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Saturday 6/28 – 1pm & 7pm
Sunday 7/6 – 1pm & 7pm
Monday 7/14 – 1pm & 7pm
Tuesday 7/22 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Sunday 6/29 – 1pm & 7pm
Monday 7/7 – 1pm & 7pm
Tuesday 7/15 – 1pm & 7pm
Wednesday 7/23 – 1pm & 7pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Monday 6/30 – 1pm & 7pm
Tuesday 7/8 – 1pm & 7pm
Wednesday 7/16 – 1pm & 7pm
Thursday 7/24 – 1pm & 7pm


Universal Orlando Keeps Pace with New CityWalk Openings

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CityWalk, the nightlife entertainment area at Universal Orlando Resort, is in the midst of a partial 2014 makeover that is helping the attraction keep pace with the rush of new Universal guests expected for this summer’s openings of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios theme park, and the nearby 1,800-room Loews Cabana Bay Beach Resort on the Universal Orlando campus.

Tom Schroeder, the vice president of corporate communications for Universal Orlando Resorts, introduced some of the restaurateurs involved in the entertainment area’s new look at a CityWalk event during the recent media preview of the upcoming opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

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CityWalk is the entrance to our resort and this year alone we are adding eight new venues,” said Schroeder. Among the new additions is Antojitos, a newly-opened Mexican restaurant that replaced the previous Latin Quarter. The restaurant, with the friendliest staff we encountered during our days at Universal, turned into a winning margarita-and-taco bar Cinco de Mayo-style fiesta during a brief media visit that we were reluctant to end. Already established at CityWalk is Red Box Pizza, which is located close to the CityWalk movie complex. Another is the Hot Dog Hall of Fame, soon to open on a site that was formerly the Galaxy Bar.

A third new restaurant is Vivo, a lively and upscale Italian restaurant that has already taken over the location of the former Pastamore Restaurant. A popular yogurt bar called Menchies is the place to create your own yogurt dessert, an attraction that replaced a former TCBY yogurt store. Opening soon is a unique dining concept called Cowfish, a “sushi burger bar” that has established its name in North Carolina as the place where diners can order sushi or burgers or a popular combination of both from the “Burgushi” menu. Yet another new concept is the Bread Box, a new take on the old neighborhood sandwich deli that replaces the former Cigarz cigar bar.

Steve Schussler, the culinary creator of Hot Dog Hall of Fame, said his outdoor hot dog stand, featuring baseball stadium style seating, will offer nine different hot dogs, 12 types of mustard and five kinds of buns for “best hot dog experience you have ever had.” Preview guests munched on Coney Island dogs, Chicago dogs, Boston dogs and several others that will soon be seen all over the CityWalk plaza. No opening date, however, was announced for the Hot Dog Hall of Fame.

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Guests Want “Authenticity”

Ric Florell, the senior vice president and general manager of resort revenue operations at Universal Orlando Resort, explained the thinking behind the changes at CityWalk. “At CityWalk we needed more focus on what guests wanted,” he said. “The Latin Quarter, for example, was successful but guests were telling us that instead of a Pan-Latin American concept an authentic Mexican Restaurant would be the next step up. Authenticity is very important to our guests.”

Florell noted that Red Box Pizza has already gained popularity for the specially imported Italian tomatoes and flour that have become signature ingredients of the pies on the menu. As for Cowfish, Florell described Universal’s excitement at discovering the hottest new food concept in North Carolina, a restaurant that eliminates the conflict between family members who want a traditional burger menu and those who want more diet-friendly sushi fish items.

“We are taking advantage of new things opening in our parks,” said Florell, noting that he is also responsible for the new Leaky Cauldron Restaurant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, with its contemporary take on traditional British pub items including Ploughman’s Lunch, Fisherman’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, Fish ‘n Chips, Sticky Toffee Pudding and English Trifles.

“I’m surprised I don’t weigh 800 pounds,” said Florell with a laugh. “We are dedicated to all-natural ingredients and new food concepts are showing up in my office every day.”

Universal management promised that many of those new and “authentic” food concepts will be appearing at Universal CityWalk as the Universal Orlando Resort continues to grow in the months and years ahead.


Universal Announces Grand Opening of Diagon Alley

diagon-announcment Start planning your summer now because soon you’ll be able to experience more of Harry Potter’s adventures than ever before! Find out what awaits inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort, including your chance to ride the Hogwarts Express! Don’t miss the LIVE WEBINARS from Universal Orlando Resort where you can get sneak peeks of the new Diagon Alley!  Click To Find Out More


Universal Releases Food and Beverage Selections for Diagon Alley

Universal Orlando Resort revealed details about the variety of new food and beverage options which will be available in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, opening this summer at the Universal Studios theme park.  From traditional British favorites like Bangers and Mash to ice-cream with unique flavors such as Chocolate Chili and Sticky Toffee Pudding, guests will savor all-new dining experiences created exclusively for the new land.

Diagon Alley Food and Beverage

Universal Orlando’s culinary team has gone to great lengths to ensure the food experience in Diagon Alley is as authentic as possible.  After years of studying the books and films; gathering inspiration from British pubs; developing authentic recipes with imported ingredients from England; and holding countless tastings, Universal’s culinary team, in collaboration with Warner Bros., has created an incredible variety of new foods and beverages the whole family can enjoy, in environments inspired by popular locations from the Harry Potter series.

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Guests can stop inside the Leaky Cauldron, the popular wizarding pub and inn where they will be greeted by the savory smells of traditional British dishes such as Bangers and Mash (traditional roasted  sausages with creamy mashed potatoes), Fisherman’s Pie (salmon, shrimp and cod baked together under a potato crust), Toad in the Hole (traditional sausage baked into a Yorkshire pudding and served with onion gravy), Fish and Chips, and the Ploughman’s – a feast of English cheese, crusty bread, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, Branston pickle and a Scotch egg). Guests can also sip on new draught beers created exclusively for the land – Wizard’s Brew and Dragon Scale – and enjoy popular drinks, like Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer, as well as new beverages like Fishy Green Ale and Tongue Tying Lemon Squash.

Project 722Further down Diagon Alley is Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, the same ice-cream shop where Hagrid bought Harry a chocolate and raspberry ice-cream with chopped nuts in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Stepping inside the whimsical and colorful shop, guests can indulge in more than 20 tantalizing and unique ice-cream flavors including Earl Grey and Lavender, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate Chili, Clotted Cream, Salted Caramel Blondie, Apple Crumble, Strawberry and Peanut-Butter, Orange Marmalade and even a soft-serve ice-cream flavor of Butterbeer. Also available will be a variety of fresh pastries, scones, tarts and sweet cakes.

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In Horizont Alley – a street branching off Diagon Alley – guests can enjoy delicious elixirs from Eternelle’s Elixir of Refreshment. The available elixir selection at this cart includes Draught of Peace, Babbling Beverage, Elixir to Induce Euphoria and Fire Protection Potion. By adding these magical elixirs to Gillywater, guests will see their drink transform before their eyes and experience delightful flavor surprises.


Universal Orlando Reveals Details About The New Hogwarts Express

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Universal Creating First-Ever Experience That
Will Allow Guests to Actually Ride the Iconic Train

One of the most memorable and exciting experiences from the Harry Potter series will come to life at Universal Orlando Resort this summer. 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…

Since the very first Harry Potter film, every fan has dreamed of taking the same classic journey Harry Potter did aboard the Hogwarts Express. And this summer – they will get to live it.

Universal Orlando revealed never-before-released details about the Hogwarts Express experience that will debut as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – the all-new, magnificently themed land opening this summer. The train will connect the new land in Universal Studios Florida with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure – allowing guests with park-to-park admission to enjoy a real journey aboard the iconic locomotive.


Never before has this been done – creating an actual train ride experience to connect two spectacularly themed environments. The Hogwarts Express experience combines powerful storytelling, live special effects, lifelike animation and state-of-the-art technology to take riders on the journey of a lifetime. Guests will enjoy two completely different experiences depending on whether they’re traveling to Hogsmeade or London.

Once seated in the cabin, guests will be able to look out their windows as an incredibly authentic and magical adventure unfolds before them. They’ll see Hagrid come 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, the Knight Bus swerving through London traffic – and other special moments and surprises.

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Universal’s Creative team has been working closely with Warner Bros., Stuart Craig and the production team from the Harry Potter films to create a sensational Hogwarts Express experience that the entire family can enjoy. The Creative team has gone to great lengths to ensure the experience is true to the books and films. Everything about the train is authentic – from the paint and the materials used to build it….all the way down to the whistle.

Park-to-park admission is required to experience the Hogwarts Express journey from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley (located in Universal Studios Florida) to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure).


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