Tag Archives: theme parks

Sneak Peek: Universal Orlando’s Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show like us, Central Florida! They REALLY like us!! So much so that Universal Studios Florida gave Jimmy and the guys a permanent summer home in the park, where Twister used to Ride It Out! (Rest in Peace, Bill Paxton.)

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon may officially open on April 6 but we have a sneak peek for you NOW! This new attraction (and virtual queue – more on that later!) will give guests the ultimate “Tonight Show” experience as they get up close and personal with the show’s most hilarious segments before taking off on a wild and action-packed race through New York City against Jimmy Fallon! See what Jimmy thinks of this below…

To celebrate Race Through New York’s Grand Opening, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” will be returning to Universal Orlando Resort to tape new shows on April 3rd – 6th! Details on celebrity guests will be released very soon so keep an eye peeled Jimmy’s website. Unfortunately tickets for these shows and their monologue tapings are already sold out. But! You may possibly see Jimmy around Orlando. Remember, WrestleMania 33 is right around the corner!

Upon entering, guests will make their way through an meticulously themed 30 Rockefeller Plaza lobby – brass fixtures, signage, NBC Pages, red rope, and all!

TGS with Tracy Jordan is on the 60th floor, not the 6th. Say hi to Liz for us!

Once inside, you will see windows set with a slew of NBC and The Tonight Show memorabilia including tributes to past Tonight Show hosts; Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and present host, Jimmy Fallon.

A note: Thank You, Jimmy Fallon, for loving Beefy King as much as we do!

It’s easy to get distracted in the lobby but don’t forget to stop by the lobby desk and pick up your NBC feather, brought to you in living color! This laminated feather is very important (and no you don’t get to keep it), but the color is even more so. Remember that state-of-art queue stuff I mentioned earlier? Here’s where it comes into play…

Ever wonder why NBC uses a peacock as its logo? In 1956, the National Broadcasting Company’s programming went full color and the logo stuck!

Now that you have your feather, look up! See the lights? Hear the chimes? When the first floor lobby lights change to whatever your feather’s color is, that’s when you’ll move up stairs to the second floor holding area, much like being an audience member at an actual show taping. Keep an eye and ear peeled. You will see/hear these things again.

 

The second floor is MAGIC. Why? You will be so entertained and distracted, you won’t feel like you’re waiting! You can take a #selfie with #HashtagThePanda! Nifty interactive desks will challenge users of all ages to cool games! Have a seat in Club Studio 6B and catch a live show from the Ragtime Gals or watch through some of the funniest moments from the last three years of The Tonight Show! You can even charge your phone while you sit comfortably in air conditioning!

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will be the first attraction at Universal Studios Florida to feature an all-new Virtual Line experience, allowing guests to spend less time waiting in line. (Note: The Virtual Line system is accessible via the Official Universal Orlando Mobile App or at kiosks located outside the attraction entrance.)

Now to the real fun! Your color is up and it’s time for you to proceed to the studio entrance! Hand your feather card to the NBC page, and you’re in! Don’t forget your shades…

You are now at the stage door, waiting to get into Studio 6B to board the world’s first-ever flying theater, which seats up to 72 audience members, for the race of a lifetime. But of course, safety first! The Roots will help Jimmy out with this. (Only The Roots can make safety precautions sound THIS cool.)

At this point, Jimmy challenges you (the audience) to a race against him and his lightcycle-esque Tonight Rider. During this race through the streets of New York City, to the moon and back, you’ll encounter iconic landmarks from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building to everything in between. And if you’re REALLY paying attention, you will notice a few easter egg tributes to attractions past.

Check out this fun behind the scenes video of Jimmy with his tight pants (with his tight pants on), as a Ragtime Gal, and as Sara (and Gary!) from EW!

What did I think of the ride?

Universal Creative and the scenic folks always go above and beyond when it comes to aesthetic. This ride is no exception. From the 30 Rockefeller Plaza lobby downstairs, to Club Studio 6B upstairs I really kind of felt like I was inside that ginormous Comcast Building in New York City! Browsing the props, actual stage pieces, and other memorabilia from generations of NBC and Tonight Show history was very cool.

The ride itself was really fun… but basic. Were there very cool sensory elements to it? Yes! Were there clever tributes to King Kong, Jaws, Back to the Future, Twister, and more built in? YES, although it may take a few of rides to catch them all. But the glasses and the ride experience? I don’t know what I was expecting in terms of a new ride but, I guess I expected more… technological envelope pushing.

I will say, the concept behind what is essentially a simulator ride was remarkable. Well thought out theming and queue experience, a great gift shop; you should absolutely experience this attraction when it opens. How can one NOT have fun when it cones to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon?

I’ll close with a ProTip I got when I first experienced this ride a few weeks ago: Be sure to stay and watch all the Ragtime Gals’ sets! They’re super funny and actually, really good! The Fallon clip shows in between are also great. You may have to hang around until your color is up again, depending on your timing, but it will SO be worth it!

 

Top 5 Interaction Programs at SeaWorld Parks

Guest writer Kaylin Williams shares the Top 5 BEST Interaction Programs & Tours SeaWorld Parks have to offer

Follow Kaylin on Instagram & YouTube @BlessedByTheOrcas

So, we all love up close animal encounters right? Imagine swimming with beluga whales, shaking hands with sea lions, feeling a penguin’s feathers on your fingertips, and being immersed in a whirlwind of awe and basking in a wave of education. Interested? Well good news for you, SeaWorld is one of the few places in the world to offer such interactive experiences, for they’re rare opportunities.

I myself, have participated in various programs SeaWorld has to offer and I’m going to give you the lowdown on some of the best edu-taining programs, Top-5 style. (Note: I am only going to list programs that I have personally participated in, for I have no jurisdiction to talk about other programs such as the Grand Adventure Tour or Behind the Scenes Tour since I have not partaken in those programs myself.)

#1. The Beluga Interaction Program:

This program is offered at all three SeaWorld parks, it is my favorite interaction I’ve done so far. In this completely immersive experience you get to work side-by-side with a trainer. You get to put on a wetsuit and get in the 62℉ salt water with one of the most interesting, rare and mystical ocean dwellers. This program includes hands-on interaction and learning through trainer talks. I did mine with Imaq and Natasha the belugas!

Wanna see for yourself? Link to video: https://youtu.be/_1XJXHBJC2E

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#2. The Sea Lion Interaction Program:

This program is offered at SeaWorld San Antonio, it’s a very immersive experience for ages 7 and up! Get on your wetsuit and swim with one of the loudest, most playful and agile animals in the marine environment. You get to lay out and relax, tote around and just have fun with one of the most dog-like sea mammals our there. I did mine with Digit and Dylan the sea lions!

Wanna see one for yourself? Link to video: https://youtu.be/xkH9P7xfTzo

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#3. Dolphin Touch/Interaction Program:

So far, I’ve only participated in the Dolphin Touch Program and I’ll be doing the interaction this summer! This touch program is a 5-10 minute long program of fun facts, hands-on rubdowns, feedings and a couple behaviors with either an Atlantic Bottlenose or Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin. I did mine with Donely the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin.

 

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#4. Penguin Tour/Penguin Up-Close Tour:

This program sure does break the ice! Ever wanted to touch a penguin without the frozen tundra temperatures? Then this program is just right for you. Enter through the back of the polar exhibit (Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin or Penguin Encounter depending on which park you are planning to visit) and meet a penguin face to face! Touch hand to flipper with one of the most popular polar birds, from Rockhopper and Chinstrap Penguins, to Gentoo and King Penguins, every species has its own flare. You can even take a peek into the exhibit itself and feel, listen and smell. I met Jenny, the 2-year-old Rockhopper Penguin.

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#5. The Beluga Tour:

This program is on the less expensive side of the Beluga Interaction Program. This program takes you backstage where you can meet a white whale from the dry land — no wetsuits necessary! Take a look at all the different whales, get background information on each individual and learn about the anatomy, behavior and training techniques SeaWorld uses with their Beluga Whales from a trainer. I did my melon rub with Imaq!

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So there it is. The top 5 programs that I have personally participated in and know you’ll enjoy! I hope you have a chance to partake in these programs so you too, can learn about these beautiful animals and how to help make this world a cleaner, safer, less polluted and overall, better world for both animals and us humans.

More information available at http://seaworldparks.com.

 

 

Article and photos contributed by guest writer Kaylin Williams.

 

Top 5 Animal Interactions

by Kelly Green, a.k.a. SeaWorld Mommy

Want to have a wild time in Central Florida? Get up close and personal with some of the natives (and transplants) who live here.

1) Discovery Cove, Orlando
There are so many unique interactions inside Discovery Cove by SeaWorld, we’re calling this a five within a five!

  • Snorkel with the fish & rays! Grab your best snorkeling set and dive into a reef-like oasis. For those who aren’t scuba-certified, it’s a chance to rub “elbows” with huge sting rays as they gracefully glide past you, swimming in and out of the schools of tropical fish. Little kids, too, can enjoy swimming in the Grand Reef, though squeals have been heard when a big, dark cartilaginous fish glides by. OK, adults have been known to jump a bit the first time, too!
  • Swim with a dolphin! There are only a handful of places where you can swim with dolphins, that don’t require a cruise ship first. Visitors can add on this experience which includes some interaction time, a “ride” where, to be precise, the dolphin swims, and you pretty much just hold on, and a kiss!
  • SeaVenture! Ever see those iconic underwater diving helmets? At SeaVenture they hoist those bad boys onto your head, and you descend the ladder for your walk-through underwater tour. Divers hand you a variety of cool creatures to examine (I held a sea urchin), and you “walk” up to the glass with sharks on the other side. Bring your underwater camera. Because of the angle, it looks like you’re right in there with them!
  • Bird Aviary! Speaking of photo ops, the birds perched atop a loved-ones arm (or head!), is a must-see/do. Three separate chambers are home to birds of every color and description. Tip: Go when you first arrive when you’re in your street clothes. The birds are ready for breakfast, and you’ll be able to take photos of the family before you’re all in matching dive suits. Spoonbill selfie, anyone?
  • River Otters! You can’t actually swim alongside the river otters (and if you take a close look at their sharp little claws as they speed through the water, you’ll realize this is a good thing!), but you can swim next to them with a glass wall between you that sure makes it LOOK like they’re right next to you!

Discovery Cove is SeaWorld’s boutique water park. Listed are the five within a five, but trust me… There are loads more!

2) Safari Wilderness, Lakeland
Since Safari Wilderness is right here in Central Florida you might not think it’s possible to have a little piece of Africa or Asia in our midst, but off the beaten I-4 path is a bumpy jeep ride where you’ll see zedonks, kudu, AND water buffalo that will eat right out of your hand! Note: Don’t freak out watching your small child’s hand so close to that enormous mouth! The tour lasts about 90 minutes, and if you’re so inclined, you can add on the lemur experience and take a stroll inside their habitat, too. You’ll also have the option of a camel ride! Seriously! Right here in Central Florida!

3) Wild Florida, Kenansville
Wild Florida hopes visitors see Florida the way it used to be 1,000 years ago… in its natural un-developed condition. Being “out in the middle of nowhere” sure makes that easy, yet surprisingly they’re only 45 minutes from Orlando’s theme park central. Guests can take an airboat ride to view Florida’s natural ecosystem , then explore the park where you’ll find a petting zoo (we saw a goat about 2-minutes old on our visit) as well as both Florida native and world-famous animal species. Some animals even wander around (like the peacock that seemed overly-interested in our afternoon ice cream).

Through the end of this summer you can add on an interaction with baby bobcats that will be the highlight of your visit, I guarantee! Duke and Duchess are two of the cutest kittens I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Just like their domesticated cousins they like to tousle with their friends, pounce on bystanders in their way, and pat their paws hesitantly into pools of water (then saunter RIGHT over you with their wet paws!). For $20 per person you can add on this experience, that’s not to be missed.

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Other exciting animal encounters include visiting with the Two-Toed Sloths, Porcupines, or the Silver Fox. How often do you get to say you’ve pet a porcupine?!

Want more? Sign up for Keeper For A Day where you get to actively participate in preparing food for the animals, plus enjoy private interactions, or maybe the Half-Day Adventure Package that includes an airboat ride, tours, lunch, hands-on alligator demonstrations.

4) Busch Gardens, Tampa
Though giraffes have the same number of neck vertebrates as humans, their surprisingly large ones allow them to tower above guests on the Seringetti Safari at Busch Gardens, even over the guests riding on the open- air jeep-type vehicle. We recently took the tour and couldn’t get over how friendly they were. I have fed them before, so I DID remember how loooong their purple tongues are! Bring your appetite for adventure. The giraffes will bring their appetites for lettuce. Note: Have gobs of space on your camera to take pics, or just buy the ones their skilled photographers take. You’re going to want lots!

5) Gatorland
Want to hold the state’s iconic reptile? You know, without the threat of being nibbled on, I mean? Gatorland is home to over 1550 gators and crocodiles, and guests have the option of holding one or, as part of the “Adventure Hour” experience even feed them while standing a few scant feet from their enormous jaws. Beware: You might be surprised HOW close your child was to them when inspecting your photos later!

Want to combine gator holding with go cart/amusement fun? Visit FunSpot on International Drive, where Gatorland has opened a mini-version of their attraction right inside called Gator Spot (admission is just $6 per person). They showcase alligators up to 12 feet including the extremely rare leucistic (white) alligator. Critter holding ops are available. Last time I was there I had a snake around my neck and a gator in my arms while my son held both a baby gator and a lizard!

Would you like to interact with the gators from afar without leaving your hotel? That can be done, too. Gaylord Palms Resort features the “Best of Florida” exhibit, home to 15 juvenile alligators and 30 native species of turtles as part of a 10-year partnership with Gatorland. We’ve been there when the handlers were out so we got to hold a baby alligator before hoping off to Cypress Springs Water Park. Insider tip: All summer long (2015) Kids eat free at Villa de Flora, MOOR, Wreckers, Sora and Old Hickory.

 

Nintendo Attractions Coming to Universal Orlando Resort!

In what is probably the most exciting news this year, Nintendo announced last week that it would be partnering with Universal Parks to bring its popular characters and worlds to life.  WOW!

As a longtime Nintendo fan I’m still trying to put into coherent words just how excited I am for this and based on the way my Facebook and Twitter blew up after this, I’m not alone.  No specific details have ben announced and the press release simply stated that “the immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s most famous characters and games.” 

Even though this is easily a few years off, fans can’t help but speculate about what’s to come.  Will it be a full land in the park or will it just be a couple of rides?  Will they build everything from the ground up or will they repurpose existing rides? What franchises will they use and how deep into their catalog will they go?  Will it be at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure? Will different Universal parks around the world get exclusive attractions? If so, I will absolutely be traveling to as many as possible.

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Link from The Legend of Zelda is heading to Orlando now!

Their press release also states Nintendo has created remarkable and imaginative worlds filled with captivating stories and beloved characters. Now, for the first time, those stories and characters will be brought to life in entirely new ways – only at Universal theme parks.” To me that sounds like it’s going to be it’s own land. If so, take a second to think about the amazing job they did creating the world of Harry Potter or Springfield from The Simpsons.  Now take that and apply it to Nintendo properties. In a few years we could be walking around Mushroom Kingdom or Hyrule!

Cyberbullying towards Aspiring SeaWorld Trainers from Anticaps?

Cyberbullying towards Aspiring SeaWorld Trainers from Anticaps?

By: Kaylin Williams

Hard to believe? Think again. Kids from ages of 10 all the way to 18 and older kids who are aspiring to become SeaWorld trainers are receiving death threats from Anti-Caps on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc…

I’m an avid Instagram user and I’ve personally gotten multiple death threats like, “You want to work for PoolWorld? Well, you deserve to get dragged under and killed like Dawn Brancheau did.” I’ve also gotten attacked just for simply talking about SeaWorld at my own school. I also remember seeing a post to the Blackfish Film Facebook page of my article (Link to “The Truth About SeaWorld Parks:The Blackfish Backlash”) where an anti-cap said “The Kaylin Williams scribbling is quite insipid, it’s honestly depressing that kids and teens get sucked into the SeaWorld brainwashing epidemic”.

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People go to crazy extents just to tear a kid’s dreams apart. The idea that you have to be in your 20’s to know the truth about SeaWorld needs to be debunked. I’m here spreading the truth, and i’m only 16 years old! There are kids and teens who have done their own research and spread awareness about SeaWorld and the Blackfish backlash going around. People are misinformed, that is becoming more and more apparent. The other day I was talking about Blackfish with a kid that had seen it and wanted my input on the film, and from across the room this girl shouts “SeaWorld is awful! They beat the whales with buckets and they only use those whistles hurt their ears!” Where are these horrendous accusations coming from? These claims aren’t even made in Blackfish itself.

There was even an account I was following on instagram of this aspiring trainer, a young girl who had a HATE account made about her. The account was based around screenshots of pictures on the girl’s account and hating on her, including a long list of followers. This girl had to report that account, delete her own, start a new account and put her account on private! This is uncalled for.

Another incident happened over halloween. A woman dressed up like a zombie Dawn Brancheau, and her baby boy as a killer whale. How disrespectful is that? To glorify the death of someone like that? Unacceptable. Can you imagine how Dawn’s family would’ve felt seeing that? Disrespectful.

Kids, teens and adults should not be scrutinized, torn down or given death threats and wishes. Let kids be kids, teens be teens, and adults live their lives. These keyboard activists need to learn when they’ve gone too far. People shouldn’t be trashed like this, when chatting up SeaWorld with a pro-cap, anti-caps need to be respectful, don’t trash talk or use foul language. Be thoughtful, and courteous to others please. Make this world a friendly place.

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas
Article I wrote for former SeaWorld trainer, Kyle Kittleson: http://marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/
Articles I wrote for Central Florida Top5 can be found through this link to the first one I wrote: http://centralfloridatop5.com/2014/05/17/the-truth-about-seaworld-parks/
Thank you for your time and consideration! It means a lot!
And have a Whale of a day!