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Video: Antojitos grand opening at Universal Orlando CityWalk

February 7, 2014
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Universal Orlando’s CityWalk is undergoing a major transformation at the moment, with more than a half-dozen new eateries scheduled to open in the next few months. On Wednesday, February 5, the Antojitos grand opening event celebrated the official debut of Universal’s latest restaurant with free-flowing “authentic Mexican” food and drink for the media. The...
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Photo Gallery: New Islands of Adventure Starbucks now open

February 4, 2014
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Photo Gallery: New Islands of Adventure Starbucks now open

Nothing starts a day of scream-inducing simulator rides off right like an expensive cup of super-sweetened coffee, amirite? Recently, I brought you the first sneak peak inside the new Islands of Adventure Starbucks, which replaced the funnel cake stand near the front of the park. The baristas are now open for business, and I’m...
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Photos: Fashion Square Mall construction for Hershey’s Ice Cream Shake Shoppe Arcade and Starwood Hotel

January 31, 2014
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Photos: Fashion Square Mall construction for Hershey’s Ice Cream Shake Shoppe Arcade and Starwood Hotel

The Fashion Square Mall has clearly been fading for the last few years, with the number of empty storefronts inside seemingly increasing every month. (Billy Manes wrote a bit about that in our “Highway 50 Revisited” cover story, December 2011.) But two major Fashion Square Mall construction projects — Hershey’s Ice Cream Shake Shoppe...
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Photo Gallery: Antojitos opening night at Universal CityWalk

January 30, 2014
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Photo Gallery: Antojitos opening night at Universal CityWalk

Attention tequila afficiandos: the new Antojitos authentic Mexican restaurant at Universal Orlando CityWalk is now open for business. Last night, the replacement for Latin Quarter opened to the public for the first time, after weeks of press previews and employee training. I was one of the restaurant’s first dinner patrons, and I’ve brought back...
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First Look inside new Islands of Adventure Starbucks

January 21, 2014
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First Look inside new Islands of Adventure Starbucks

Disney fans went ballistic last year when Starbucks baristas invaded Main Street U.S.A. at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, but there’s been comparative quiet over the expansion of Seattle’s most ubiquitous beans at Universal Orlando. Last night, I got a sneak peak inside the new Islands of Adventure Starbucks, which replaces the funnel...
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First look at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley without scaffolding

January 17, 2014
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First look at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley without scaffolding

Barely two years ago, Universal Studios Florida shuttered their beloved Jaws ride, and today fans got their first unobstructed view of the mega-attraction that replaces Amity village. Overnight, Universal Orlando unveiled the London Waterfront, giving us a good look at the facade that conceals The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley without...
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Photo Gallery: Crazy post-Christmas crowds at Orlando theme parks

January 6, 2014
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Photo Gallery: Crazy post-Christmas crowds at Orlando theme parks

2014 is nearly a week old, and Christmas 2013 may already seem like a lifetime ago. But according to Orlando’s theme park holiday crowds, the festive season has only just barely ended. Thanks to the holidays falling mid-week last year, the peak tourism season was extended through Sunday, January 5. As a result, Central...
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Video: Happy Purple Hippo arrives at Universal Orlando’s Holiday Parade

December 8, 2013
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Video: Happy Purple Hippo arrives at Universal Orlando’s Holiday Parade

Walt Disney World had long dominated the local market on holiday merrymaking, but Universal Orlando has spent a decade or building a respectable stable of secularized seasonal entertainments. Universal's guests can see Christmas celebrities like the Grinch (starring again in his Grinchmas musical celebration at Island of Adventure) or Santa Claus, who closes out...
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Video: IAAPA 2013 Highlights and Photo Gallery

November 22, 2013
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Video: IAAPA 2013 Highlights and Photo Gallery

IAAPA 2013, the annual International Association of Amusment Parks and Attractions convention, wraps up this afternoon at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. You can read about my top seven IAAPA 2013 highlights in next week’s editon of Live Active Cultures, but in the meantime here are some video highlights from the expo: You should...
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Urban Art Museum debuts on Mills Avenue

November 19, 2013
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Urban Art Museum debuts on Mills Avenue

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, the first outdoor artwork in Orlando’s new Urban Art Museum was unveiled at 932 North Mills Ave. The backlit metal wall sculpture was created by artist Marcos Cruz, with technical assistance from Abbott Electrical, and fills a formerly filthy 9″ wide gap between Tako Cheena and Saya Couture. The...
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