Once Christmas is over, it’s time to plan your vacation for 2013. If you’re planning to visit Universal Orlando Resort, “Universal Orlando 2013” by Kelly Monaghan and Seth Kubersky is a great tool for navigating Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, as well as the CityWalk entertainment district. I recently received a review copy, and it was a very useful read.
Sure, there’s lots of planning information online, but it’s nice to have a reference tool you can carry with you and flip through to easily find what you’re looking for. The guidebook is nicely broken down into sections on the two parks, CityWalk, and the resort hotels. It also has a list of nearby offset hotel options.
Besides being packed with information, I think it’s a nice tool for taking notes before and during your vacation. If you’ve got a family, the kids can go through the book with you, making notations on their must-do attractions. Then it becomes a keepsake if they write their impressions on the pages during their vacation. I did that with Walt Disney World guidebooks on my early Orlando trips, and it’s fun to read my impressions of rides and attractions back then and to have a book that includes now-defunct rides that I once enjoyed.
The book is a great way to narrow down what you want to research in more depth, too. It puts the whole resort at your fingertips so, for example, you can narrow down the rides of most interest to your family. Then you can look them up online for photos, YouTube videos, etc.
I like the fact that this book covers CityWalk in such depth. I’m an expert on the theme parks, but I don’t spend nearly as much time in the entertainment district so I don’t know much about the nightclubs and even some of the restaurants. The book gave me an excellent overview and taught me some things I didn’t know.
If you’re not familiar with Universal Orlando Resort yourself, scour the book for entertainment options on days you might skip the parks or leave early, like miniature golf, the movie theater, and the wide variety of stores.
You’ll get plenty of coverage of the parks, too. The book covers not just rides and shows, but also dining options, ATM locations, and even games. The only area in which I would have liked to see more coverage is Halloween Horror Nights, since I’m a rabid Halloween fan, but that almost be a book on its own, and it changes completely every year.
The book’s only limitation is the same issue shared by all other print media: the parks are continually changing. Late this year, Universal Studios Florida announced a Transformers ride for 2013, and it also has “mysterious” construction in the old Amity/Jaws area. The book addresses the Harry Potter rumors for the latter section and what the new area is likely to include, but there will probably be an official announcement sometime in 2013.
If you want a trusty guide for your 2013 Universal Orlando Resort trip, grab a copy of “Universal Orlando 2013.” It will help you with pre-planning and also make a helpful go-to guide while you’re in the parks and at your hotel.
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