Universal Orlando Resort Doubles Harry’s Magic

UO2015_cover copyUniversal Orlando 2015:
The Ultimate Guide To The Ultimate Theme Park Adventure
, 14th edition
by Kelly Monaghan
Published: January 2015
ISBN: 978-1-937011-39-0
336 pages • 6″ x 9″
16 pages of color photos • 5 maps
Trade paperback original
Printed in the U.S.A.
List price $16.95 — NOW JUST $10.17!

Universal Orlando Resort Doubles Harry’s Magic

ORLANDO, FL (Jan. 1, 2015) – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort now has some serious competition. From The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

It’s not a magic trick, but a mega-million-dollar expansion of the phenomenally popular Harry Potter franchise. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, has joined the original Wizarding World, now dubbed The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, next door in Islands of Adventure.

The two Harry Potter “lands” are magically linked via the Hogwarts Express, departing from Platform Nine and Three Quarters in Kings Cross Station. It’s a first-time-ever theme park to theme park ride.

Diagon Alley features yet another thrill ride mash-up, something of a Universal trademark. “Escape From Gringotts combines a roller coaster dark ride like Revenge of the Mummy, with 3-D screens like Spider-Man, and massive sets to create an altogether unique thrill ride experience,” says author Kelly Monaghan. “It manages to be both intense and family friendly.”

Monaghan has divulged all the Potterly details and more in Universal Orlando 2015: The Ultimate Guide To The Ultimate Theme Park Adventure (The Intrepid Traveler, $16.95), the 14th edition of the popular series.

“We grabbed our wands and explored both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventures,” says Monaghan.

Universal Orlando is ever changing and Monaghan fills us in on everything else that’s new and wonderful.

Universal Orlando Resort’s first budget hotel option, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, evokes road trip memories of the 1950s with its retro-space-age design.

Cabana Bay joins the three elaborately themed luxury hotels — Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific — that are located within easy walking distance of the theme parks and offer their guests the VIP perk of front-of-the-line access to the rides in the parks, a perk Walt Disney World can’t match because of its sheer size. Yet another Loews resort hotel is planned: Caribbean-themed Sapphire Falls is expected to open in summer 2016, bringing the total number of onsite hotel rooms at Universal Orlando to 5,200.

Universal Orlando is being constantly updated and Monaghan has explored all the attractions, including Transformers, The Ride – 3D.

“Universal has taken the popular Transformers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and, well, transformed it,” says Monaghan. “The ride track is similar to the Spider-Man ride over at IOA, but to fit it into the space available, the ride vehicles take an elevator ride to a second floor for part of the experience and I defy anybody to figure out when that happens.”

There’s no doubt that the theme parks are a foodie’s paradise. From Duff Beer to Butterbeer and from Krustyburger’s “The Clogger” to the bangers and mash at the Leaky Cauldron, Monaghan sampled it all.

“It just had to be done,” he says.

And there’s more… Monaghan offers a heads-up on the new fusion sensation, The Cowfish, whch opened at press time. “Burgers and sushi. What more could you want?”

As always, there’s current information on admission prices and plans, as well as the best information on the resorts and their amenities.

It’s all in Universal Orlando 2015: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure. 

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Universal Orlando 2015

Move over, Mickey! Harry Potter's Diagon Alley and Escape From Gringotts, the Hogsmeade Express, and Cabana Bay Beach Resort are here.