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Universal Orlando 2015: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure

Universal Orlando: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure 2015 was 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.

The first edition was published in March 2000 and it has been revised each year, the 2015 edition is the 14th edition with around 30 extra pages.

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. The latest edition includes details about the new Diagon Alley attractions.

The 2015 edition is written by Kelly Monaghan. Previous editions have included Seth Kubersky.

Kelly Monaghan is no stranger to Florida and is also the author of SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica: Orlando’s Salute to the Seas and After Disney: The Other Orlando, published in 2009 and 2012 respectively as well as a contributor to The Other Orlando blog. 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 336 pages with a few black and white maps and about 40 photos. In earlier 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.

Format: Paperback
Page: 336 pages
Publisher: The Intrepid Traveler
Date: January 7, 2015
ISBN: 1937011399
Size: 9.0 x 6.0 x 0.7 inches

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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), access for the disabled, visiting with babies and emergencies, park opening and closing times, parking and ticket options.

Note that Universal Orlando: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure has not been updated since 2015

It can be picked up very cheaply but if you want the latest information on the newer attractions then The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando written by Seth Kubersky is probably a better bet.

All the ticket options are explained including the latest prices for one day tickets, passes and the Orlando FlexTicket (no longer available). 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 a number of on-site luxury resort hotels and these are covered in detail as well as the newer moderately priced Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

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.

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.

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