Universal Orlando 2013: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure
Universal Orlando: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure 2013 is the first book solely dedicated to the Universal Studios theme park resort in Florida, rather than being tacked on to one of the many guide books about the Walt Disney World Resort or Orlando.
Page: 264 pages
Publisher: The Intrepid Traveler, 12th edition
Date: November 16, 2012
Size: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
The first edition was published in March 2000 and it has been revised each year ever since, the 2013 edition is the 12th edition.
With the opening of Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando became a strong competitor to Walt Disney World and this book covers both the original Universal Studios Florida theme park, the second Islands of Adventure theme park and the CityWalk entertainment complex. New for 2011 was a section on the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter and this is further updated for 2012/13.
The 2013 edition is written by Seth Kubersky and Kelly Monaghan. Previous editions have been written by Kelly Monaghan who is no stranger to Florida and is also the author of SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica: Orlando’s Salute to the Seas and The Other Orlando: What To Do When You’ve Done Disney and Universal, published in 2009 and 2007 respectively as well as a contributor to The Other Orlando blog (see below). Seth Kubersky has also collaborated on previous editions of Universal Orlando.
As the title suggests this book focuses on the two Universal theme parks in Orlando, Central Florida but it also covers CityWalk and the resort hotels and is one of the best books on Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando has 264 pages with a few black and white maps and about 40 photos. In previous editions they were just black and white but now there are colour photographs as well. What it lacks in illustrations it makes up for in content.
The book is divided into seven chapters; an introductory overview, followed by one chapter for each of the two theme parks plus a chapter on CityWalk, the Universal Resort hotels, other local hotels and dining at a glance, a summary of all the restaurants and cafes.
For those who have not been to Universal Orlando before, the introduction “Planning Your Escape” sets the scene with a background history of Universal, information on the best times to go, the weather month-by-month, getting there (with or without a car) without a car, access for the disabled, visiting with babies and emergencies, park opening and closing times, parking and ticket options.
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All the ticket options are explained including the latest prices for one day tickets, passes and the Orlando FlexTicket. There is also a description of how the Universal Express system works and how to get the best out of it.
The two main chapters on Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure take up nearly half of the book and cover everything you need to know such as special seasonal events, lockers, shopping and eating.
Each restaurant is rated for price range along with the details of times, venue, seating and the type of menu you can expect.
Each of the rides and shows are described in great detail (some run to over two pages) and are rated for entertainment value, a one liner “Kelly says” synopsis and there is also an idea of how long each of them will take to help you plan your day. There are also loads of tips about best lines when there is more than one queue, best seating areas, best time of day to visit, photo opportunities, height restrictions, PG rating etc.
There are also a list of Academy Awards (not to be missed attractions) and Runners Up if you are strapped for time plus great touring tips with two suggested one-day touring plans for each park, one for adults and one for families with kids.
The chapter on CityWalk covers each of the restaurants and fast food outlets plus the entertainment venues; i.e. The Blue Man Group and Hard Rock Live. There is also lots of useful information on the nightclubs and shops.
Universal Orlando boasts three on-site luxury resort hotels and these are covered in detail. There are details on the types of rooms and suites, room rates and facilities like golf, tennis, salons and spas. The on-site restaurants are rated in the same was as those in the parks with budget price ranges and menus.
The other two chapter cover brief details of a dozen local resort hotels that are within walking distance of Universal plus a summary of over 80 dining establishments with details of where they are, style of dining, type of cuisine and budget.
This edition of Universal Orlando has been updated with changes at CityWalk, further details on the new successful Happy Potter attractions and there is also a website blog, The Other Orlando, where can you get the very latest updates.
Note that most guide books are re-published annually so you can often pick up a bargain if you don’t mind the previous edition.