Friday, January 3, 2014

Orlando, United States [II]

For my second visit to Orlando, I've decided to visit the theme parks of UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA and UNIVERSAL'S ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE, having known two Walt Disney World parks in the first trip.

Method of the trip? The same of the first one. An entire weekend visiting the mentioned theme parks, with round trip transportation to Orlando, accomodation in a medium category hotel with breakfast included and the respective entrance tickets.


The outward journey was exactly like the last trip, so I'll get to the point narrating my journey being in UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT. I was travelling with a group of people, visiting the same parks as I'll do. We get into a bus parking and then we got up there. The guide gives us the usual recommendations, and then everyone can go on its own. After using some stairs, the lobby entrance is seen.

This is the bus stop near the parks, where the bus left us.

In the lobby entrance, there is a very original "chilling" zone.

This is the main entrance. Through these tourniquets you can access to both of the parks.

Passing the tourniquets to get inside, there is a large hall (with automatic belt inclusive) where you get first into the UNIVERSAL CITYWALK. This is a component of the UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT, that functions as a shopping and entertaining center, like an outdoor mall previous to the two theme parks ahead.

A view of the restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

This is the cinema building.

This is the information center for visitors, to get guides and maps.

Here you can see a Cinnabon stand and the Quiksilver store.

In this picture you can see PastamorMarket in the lower level and Starbucks Coffee in the upper level.

A landscape of the central square, where a 360widescreen is very well noticed with digital advertising.

Historically, Universal Orlando was established in 1990 as a solely theme park, in direct competition to DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS, from WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT. Later, UNIVERSAL'S ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE was incorporated, opened in 1999 as a sister theme park of the division. Some time after, the two parks were connected with the construction of the UNIVERSAL CITYWALK complex, and the three in conjunction, along with the nearby hotels in the place, will conform properly UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT, becoming the second's biggest touristic resort after WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT.

Another view of the central square where Fossil store is seen.

The Universal Studios Store, just can't be missed.

This is the restaurant and night club Latin Quarter.

Next to the previous one is the night club The Groove.

This is Emeril's Restaurant, a restaurant of a famous chef in United States, named Emeril Lagasse.

Here in this picture, the restaurant and night club 'Bob Marley - A tribute to freedom', accompanied by a statue of the legendary Jamaican singer.

UNIVERSAL CITYWALK has some stores, restaurants and night clubs, for the leisure and entertainment of the visitors, even before entering the parks and after leaving them at the end of the day.

Here is the restaurant and night club Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, where usually at nights there are many live bands.

On the restaurant outdoors there are many wooden colorful chairs

for those who like to seat and drink their cocktails outside. So chill.

This amphitheatre faces to the artificial lake between the two parks.

Just between the two parks through a pedestrian walk there are Hard Rock Caf

and NBA City Restaurant, which are the most biggest restaurants inside the complex.

The complex takes the same concept of the commercial complex in Los Angeles, the UNIVERSAL CITYWALK HOLLYWOOD, although this one is more larger and its architecture has a classic Hollywood concept, in comparison to the Orlando one that is smaller, and its architecture has a futuristic concept.

Fa ade of the Tommy Bahama store.

In certain places you can look for some ministores who sells a variety of souvenirs.

One of the most attractive restaurants: Nascar Sports Grille

with Nascar vehicles included.


Having walked around the CityWalk, I've decided to go to the first park to visit in the day, in this case UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA. The theme park itself is dedicated most to the well-known American entertainment industry, particularly movies and TV series.

Almost to the entrance of the theme park, the globe with the Universal letters, official logo of the famous cinema studios.

A large arc with the Universal Studios Florida logo gives welcome to the theme park.

Once you've entered in the park, you can feel the vibe in the place

while you approach to the tourniquets.

Making similarity with EPCOT CENTER of WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT, the theme park was structured by then in six zones, located around a large lagoon and the tour goes in clockwise direction: PRODUCTION CENTRAL, NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO/AMITY, WORLD EXPO, WOODY WOODPECKER'S KIDZONE and HOLLYWOOD. Each zone has attractions, shows, characters meet-and-greet, themed restaurants and stores.

Passing the tourniquets, you can see the kiosks and the stores

as well as the caf s, restaurants and taverns.

The 'Studio Audience Center' in the picture it's not what it looks like. Just there are optional lockers for the visitors, restrooms and a ATM.

Around the theme park there are a lot of these stores, and to be honest, it worths to buy something for you in one of these.

I take my map which I took from the information center and I started to guide myself in to visit the first zone, in this case PRODUCTION CENTRAL. This zone contains a diversity of scenarios based in many of the considered movies of all the times, that are the attractions as well.

By then, there were the attractions 'The Boneyard', 'Shrek 4-D' and 'Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast'. Of the three, 'Shrek 4-D' is still active today, while the remaining two had been closed for brand new attractions, and there are five today inside the zone. In this time I just get into the Shrek attraction, that was very cool.

A view of the attraction 'Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast'.

In front of it was the attraction 'Shrek 4-D'.

This is the 'Donkey's Photo Finish' at the end of the attraction, for those who like to buy the auto-picture taken inside the attraction.

One of the restaurants, 'Monsters Caf '.

In this picture you can see the lot of people walking around.

Casually in my way I could see the famous "Mystery Machine" van of Scooby Doo & Friends. I couldn't miss this picture.

Walking ahead, the following zone was NEW YORK. It represents (at least in its architecture) to New York City, past and present. Keeping with the attractions based in highest-grossing films, there are 'TwisterRide It Out' and 'Revenge of The Mummy: The Ride', and there were 'The Blues Brothers Show' and 'Delancey Street Preview Center'.

Entering in the zone, you can notice the changes in the setting.

Watching the landscape, you can see the architectural styles that New York City had.

This one in particular remind me the building of the journal where Clark Kent, alias Superman, used to work.

I think this would be a replica of the city's public library, but I don't know if it looks like this nowadays.

It was like being in a piece of New York

with a lot of history behind, in the most representative city of the country.

In this zone, I've decide to take a ride in 'Revenge of The Mummy: The Ride', where images footage and special effects based in the film THE REVENGE OF THE MUMMY. The ride was quite fine, you can get involved around the movie during the attraction, so it's very well done.

Here is the attraction 'Revenge of The Mummy: The Ride'.

The entrance to the attraction itself.

Somewhere near there was an audience watching a performance in a small stage and I get there to see who they were.

When I'm realized, it was another one of the attractions: 'The Blues Brothers Show'.

Here I am taking a rest in front of an arcade inside the zone.

Another view of the resembled New Yorker architecture before leaving the zone.

There were additionally many restaurants in the zone, but I wasn't hungry yet, so I'd rather move on. Keeping forward in my tour, the next zone was SAN FRANCISCO (it wasn't hard to imagine the setting of the zone in consequence).

Four attractions were available in the zone in that time: 'Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue', 'Earthquake: The Big One', 'Jaws' and 'Fear Factor Live'. Of the four, the first and the last one are still active today, the second was replaced the following year for a brand new attraction. In fact, there are comments that the attraction was closed many times because of design problems with the attraction itself. It's one of the few attractions that lasted short in the park. And the third one is been replaced right now for a new attraction that is actually in construction.

Here is the entrance to the attraction 'Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue'.

I could take this picture in middle of the performace, even though I didn't enter.

Through the restaurants inside the park, hamburgers are just never missed, and this is just one of the many.

The setting of the zone resembles the architecture of old-fashioned San Francisco.

A seafood restaurant (at least another kind of food).

The outdoor design of the restaurant is very original, and you can feel that you're in a coastal city.

There's something I didn't mentioned, by the time the zone was previously named SAN FRANCISCO/AMITY. This is because additionally to the San Francisco-themed area, there was an Amity-themed area, resembling the town of the movie franchise JAWS, where it was the attraction 'Jaws' as well. Now the Amity section is been demolished, and then the zone was renamed to SAN FRANCISCO.

This is the entrance to the attraction 'Earthquake: The Big One'.

Walking through the Amity section, you can notice it's like a typical American old-fashioned coastal city.

There are many stores and places to eat, so you can make your choice.

Here is the entrance to the attraction 'Jaws'.

A picture of one of the ride boats in which the tour is made.

There is a picture of the fa ade of the attraction 'Fear Factor Live'. In this one I couldn't get in because the entrance line was very large.

Talking about the attractions of this part, I took rides on the attractions that are now closed today, 'Earthquake: The Big One' and 'Jaws'. The first one consisted in experience an 8.3 (in Richter scale) earthquake inside a subway wagon, while the second one consisted of a boat ride, and during the ride there were recreated scenes of the Jaws films using robots and live special effects. The rides were good, but there was no such high impact.

The next zone, WORLD EXPO, its based like its name in world expositions of the twentieth century, using architectural influences from the '60 s to nowadays. Here is only one attraction called 'Men in Black: Alien Attack'. Originally, there was an additional attraction, but it was used to add it to the today new zone SPRINGFIELD, where I could see the area of the now attraction 'The Simpsons Ride'.

Here it's seen the attraction 'Men in Black: Alien Attack'.

A curious refreshing zone, sponsored by Cola-Cola, very useful for sunny days in the summer season.

Hot dog stands are never missed. In United States they are in every single place.

This is the poster announcing the now open attraction 'The Simpsons Ride', by then.

In this kiosk, cartooned portraits of yourself are made, in full color, so you can buy and take them with you.

When the hunger came, I've decided to enter in this international food court.

Continuing the journey (and after having lunch), the next zone to visit is exclusively for children, in this case WOODY'S WOODPECKER KIDZONE. It's also the zone with most attractions than any other zone in the theme park. By then there were the following attractions:'Animal Actors on Location!', 'E.T. Adventure', 'A Day in the Park with Barney', 'Fievel's Playland', 'Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster', 'Curious George Goes To Town' and 'StarToons Character Meet and Greet'.

The fa ade of the attraction 'Animal Actors on Location!'.

The poster of the zone I was visiting.

In this store there are lots of items based in a wide variety of cartoon characters, including the one's of the attractions properly.

This is the entrance to the attraction 'E.T. The Adventure'.

Being there I'd rather to walk around the zone, none of the attractions were of my interest, because of the fact that they are for children. However, I could say that the zone is very well themed, and for sure any kid would have a lot of fun in there.

This is another store, dedicated exclusively to Barney & friends.

Next to the previous store, the entrance to the attraction 'A Day in the Park with Barney'.

A view of the attraction 'Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster'.

The entrance to the attraction 'Curious George Goes To Town'.

Straight ahead the setting was changing once again for the last zone to visit, in this case HOLLYWOOD. Its fundamentally the resemblance of many of the famous and stylized filming sets of many of the classic movies of the American film industry. Its conformed of the following attractions, all of them still active today:'Universal's Horror Make-Up Show', 'Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time', 'Lucy: A Tribute' and 'Mel's Drive In Concert'.

Almost at the entrance of the zone, it's CafLa Bamba, a sort of hotel reconverted in a restaurant.

There is the attraction 'Universal's Horror Make-Up Show'.

The attraction 'Mel's Drive In Concert' works as a restaurant with continuous live music, focusing on '70 s hits.

An old-fashioned black Chevrolet, very cool and original.

A view of the zone itself, with outstanding buildings from many styles and influences.

Another old-fashioned car, this one in pink, often used in that time.

As a curious detail, all the sidewalks of the zone functions like halls of fame, where many stars of some actors, actresses, directors and other Hollywood celebrities can be seen. There is also many stores and variety restaurants, each one of them with an original touch.

Another view of the stores and restaurants available in the area.

If you see the sidewalks, there are detailed the stars in a kind of hall of fame.

Another old-fashioned car, in turquoise.

Here is the attraction 'Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time'.

This entrance leads to the attraction 'Lucy: A Tribute'.

This is a portrait of many of the multiple characters that Lucille Ball performed on her TV career.

From the attractions available in the zone, I visited 'Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time' and 'Lucy: A Tribute'. The first one I liked it a lot because of the well made setting. It consisted of many scenarios, making a sort of plot using special effects, actors and allegoric video footage, all based in the film TERMINATOR 2. The second one was most an honorific exhibition to the life and career of Lucille Ball. I've enjoyed a lot with her when I used to watch her shows on TV, most of all 'The Lucy Show', that I used to watch with my mother when I was a kid, and it was very pleasant to remember her once again in that attraction.

Here I'm chasing the flood of people going to the exit.

Outside the park, there was the sidewalk straight to the show of 'Blue Man Group'.

With this view to the central lagoon, my visit had ended for the day.

After the last attraction, you get back to the starting point, that was the exit at the same time. I made a short walk after getting back to the entrance of the resort, and then in the bus parking I've waited for the bus that will be carry me to the hotel where I'll be guested for the night.

Being honest, in this time I was guested in a hotel comparatively much better than the other one in the first trip when I went to WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT. This hotel was called QUALITY INN PLAZA. A good thing was that there was a buffet breakfast included (as I could read in the restaurant bulletin), an aspect that I consider is a great plus in a hotel.

After leaving some stuff in the room, I've decided to go out for dinner, having seen many restaurants available in the way near to the hotel. That moment I've chosen T.G.I. Friday's, because I knew it in advance, and I really enjoyed it. After dinner, I walked around the hotel facilities to know it more better, and finally locked up in my room, I've gone to bed to take a full rest for the next day.


On Sunday morning, after sleeping very well, I got ready and I took my loaded buffet breakfast in the hotel's restaurant. Some time later, with my belongings with me, I made check-out in the hotel reception, and then I just have to wait for the transportation. Taking advantage of the available time, I took some pictures of the hotel itself for the memories.

This the main building of the hotel rooms, preceded by a nice garden.

Behind that fence, the pool area.

A view of one of the lobby halls.

This was the restaurant where I took the breakfast previously.

Outside the hotel, the advertisement of itself.

I was very suprised with this building on the other side of the sidewalk that was "upside down". It deserved the picture.

The bus came for me and then we'd gone to UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT once again, to visit the second theme park, ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE. The guide man gave the usual recommendations, gave us the tickets, left us in the parking, and then once again every one on their own. The entrance procedure was the same as the previous day, so I'd just gone straight to the park entrance.

This stoned lighthouse highlights the park's main entrance.

The tourniquets section it's very original.

Then inside, the structure of the theme park is a mixture of many settings.

You can see various types of architecture: modernistic, country, stoned buildings, Arabian touchs. And the combination of them all, really works.

All the stores and restaurants seen are of the first "island", named Port of Entry.

And then, the adventure begins.

Islands of Adventure was consisted by the time by six "islands", going over them in clockwise order: PORT OF ENTRY, MARVEL SUPER HERO ISLAND, JURASSIC PARK, TOON LAGOON, THE LOST CONTINENT and SEUSS LANDING. Actually there is a seventh "island" between JURASSIC PARK and THE LOST CONTINENT, called THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER, that will be connected to the future zone of LONDON/DIAGON ALLEY of the theme park UNIVERSAL STUDIOS FLORIDA, currently in construction.

PORT OF ENTRY is the first "island" visited by default (there are some pictures that you must have seen until this point). Fundamentally is consisted of many stores and restaurants for every one. For this theme park, I wanted to make things a little different, and instead of going over the islands in the original order, I've decided to go over them in inverse order, because I wanted to leave a rollercoaster located in the second island for the end of the tour.

Some of the stores are themed and other ones are very original.

When you see places like this, you can see that imagination has no limits.

Not to be missed these kiosks selling iced drinks, mostly for the summer season.

A brief view of the rollercoaster which I'll be talking about later.

The next island I've visited (the last one in the original order) was SEUSS LANDING. It's the most childish island of the six, and has attractions, restaurants and stores based on the children books of author Dr. Seuss. As attractions in this island are: 'The Cat in the Hat', 'The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride', 'One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish', 'Caro-Seuss-el', 'Oh, The Stories You'll Hear' and 'If I Ran The Zoo'.

The entrance to Seuss Landing island.

Quickly it's seen how curvy and colorful is everything around the island.

Even the restaurants are based in any Dr. Seuss' book, like the one seen in the picture.

At the back of the picture, next to Cats, Hats and Things store, it's seen the attraction 'The Cat in the Hat'.

Here is seen the attraction 'One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish'.

One more store based in another of the author's books, with a tower more leaned than the Pisa one.

The island is characterized for being very colorful and full of curvy lines, for those who know the children's books of Dr. Seuss, it's the most unique characteristic of him. As I wasn't going to ride any attraction, I'd rather continue my way.

The setting was changing to a rocky, most enigmatic one. Crossing a bridge I've entered to THE LOST CONTINENT island (the fifth in the original order). The island is dedicated to the myths and legends of the Ancient Era, and it was divided in three sections by the time.

A first section, named Lost City, it's like a Greek-Roman city in ruins, and contains mostly a restaurant, some stores and a attraction: 'Poseidon's Fury'. I had the opportunity to enter in the attraction and it was quite good in my opinion; it recreates the ancient rivalry between the brother gods Zeus and Poseidon, making use of a plot and a diversity of live special effects.

Thsi statue gives you welcome to the island at the another side of the bridge.

It really gives you the impression of being in a lost city like Atlantis, with a setting like this one.

Poseidon's trident like emerging from the ground. It looks spectacular and it's outstanding.

Here is Mythos restaurant, awarded with many prizes for its quality of service.

This sign anticipates the attraction on this section: 'Poseidon's Fury'.

The attraction is held inside this structure that seems to crumble down, but it's just a setting.

A second section, called Sinbad's Bazaar, recreates an ancient Arabian market, with another variety of stores, restaurants and two attractions: 'The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad' and 'The Mystic Fountain'. In this section I just looked around and then I move forward in my tour, while I was noticing some kind of bad weather.

Walking through, you can notice the section changes.

In this store, were selling items related with the heraldical coats of arms with Spanish, Portuguese, English, Scottish, Welsh and Irelandish last namesBut I didn't find my last name >:-(.

Here is the fountain, proper of the attraction 'The Mystic Fountain'. Really I had no idea of what this attraction was about.

This gate leads to the attraction 'The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad'.

Walking by the stores and restaurants, you feel like you're really in a ancient Arabian market.

In this store you can have a hand tattoo with non-magnetic ink, very similar to those made in India.

A third section, called Merlinwood, was a kind of enchanted forest. Specifically had a tavern and two attractions: 'Dueling Dragons' y 'Flying Unicorn'. I took a ride in both of them: the first one, two intertwined inverted roallercoasters, left me shocked by the height and the adrenaline (I enjoyed a lot despite it was raining); the second one was more a simplistic rollercoaster.

This is Enchanted Oak tavern, that is no longer existing, so this picture stay in memory.

This is the entrance to the attraction 'Dueling Dragons' (today called 'Dragon Challenge').

Near there was the attraction 'Flying Unicorn' (today called 'Flight of the Hippogriff').

This unicorn statue was near the attraction, and I've decided to take a picture of it.
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