Universal optimistic despite economy's ups and downs


Citing Orlando's durability as a family destination and the appeal of a handful of new and pending attractions, officials at Universal Orlando Resort said 2009 and 2010 should be good years despite the uncertain economy. Still, they are planning to extend several existing promotional offers and roll out a brand-new one, to help ensure steady bookings.

Early birds get worm

Clients who book a vacation package through Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations for 2009 enjoy the new Early Park Admission policy at Universal Studios Florida. Under the policy, guests booked on packages combining hotel and theme park admission will have access to three of the park's premier attractions one hour earlier each day than the general public.

(In 2009, Universal Orlando will also offer its Stay Four, Play More promotion, whereby guests staying at least four nights at one of the three on-site Loews Hotels properties get two free, seven-day adult theme park passes, and its Eat Meals Deals, under which guests eat as much as they like for one price at select park food outlets.)

The Early Park Admission promotion, available seven days a week from Jan. 1 to Dec. 21, will offer early access to the existing Shrek 4-D and Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast attractions as well as Universal Studios Florida's latest ride, the Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit "multisensory roller coaster," upon its spring 2009 debut.

Coasting through 2009

The new ride will be "a great way to get a head start on all the day's excitement at Universal Studios," said Scott Zimmerman, senior manager of sales communication and product development at Universal Orlando.

According to Universal Orlando, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit will represent "high-tech, customizable, multisensory entertainment" and will be the world's most technologically advanced roller coaster.

ORLANDO-SimpsonsRideUniversalTraveling at speeds of up to 65 mph over track rising as high as 17 stories, the coaster will skirt the southern perimeter of Universal Studios, traveling from the Jimmy Neutron attraction, over the CityWalk lagoon and back.

Riders will be able to customize their experience by choosing what song will play while they're on the coaster. LED boards in queue lines will display song options from five genres: classic rock, rap, country, pop and disco.

When the ride is over, footage from the ride can be compiled into a take-home music video.

Universal officials are hoping to duplicate the success of the Simpsons Ride, a popular new park attraction that debuted earlier this year. It is based on the long-running animated TV series.

More on tap

Meanwhile, ground has been broken at sister park Islands of Adventure on the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter "theme park within a theme park," to open sometime in 2010. The "fully immersive, themed land" will enable guests to visit locations found in the J.K. Rowling books and Warner Bros. films, including Hogsmeade village, the Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts castle.

For more, call (407) 363-8000 or visit www.universalorlando.com.


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