Orlando   November 2019

Nothing like having a work conference just across the street from Universal Studios Orlando. Listen and learn during the day, and walk over to the theme parks at night. This year the Live 360 Conference was a combination of Visual Studio, SQL, Infrastructure and a couple of others. Since our database person was going to the same conference for the SQL, and I was going for the Infrastructure it made it a breeze to find someone else to grab a beer with.

Universal has 4 Hotels on a connected waterway with free boat rides to the Universal "CityWalk". The CityWalk is large area with multiple restaurants and bars. It does not require any theme park tickets and connects to both Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. I'm sure the intent was to have the feel of each park be very different, I found the differences to be subtle.

Tickets will run you about $120-$170 a day depending on if you get the "park hopper". Buying tickets in 3 day packs can lower that to $80$100 a day. Be very careful when purchasing online because there are multiple gotchas for "in state resident pricing" and single park vs park hopper pricing. As I was planning on being there for 7 days, but only for a couple hours every evening, the best option was the season pass. $325 with tax, Park Hopper, valid for a year.

The parks do close earlier in the winter, but with virtually no lines you can see a lot in 2 hours a night.




Harry Potter

Pretty much the state of the art in theming. Both of the areas look and feel like you have walked onto the set of the movies. Where else can you walk around the corner and literally see a 30' tall fire breathing dragon? Some of the best sites in the parks are actually hidden away in the lines for some of the thrill rides. If the line wait is short, I highly recommend just walking through the Forbidden Journey ride for the wonderful theming alone. You can always just say no to getting on the ride at the last minute.


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Simpsons

A Smaller themed area, but having a Duff's beer at Moe's is a must


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Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium

Why yes, this place is over the top, and yes, you really should go. The food, service, and deserts are top notch. They even have some wandering actors in costume to keep you entertained while you wait for your table.


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