Last week was the Inaugural Minions 5k at Universal Studios Hollywood. Originally only supposed to take place on Saturday, the event was so popular that they had to actually do two 5k's, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
We were invited out to cover the event early Saturday morning (good thing I was still on Orlando time). As somebody who's run over 40 half-marathons and 6 marathons, it was odd for me to be on this side of the race, but equally as fun!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to Universal Studios Hollywood!!
Never have seen the sun rising on the sign, it was kind of cool.
The racers getting ready, there were probably about 6-7 "waves" of runners. They did an amazing job making sure the course wouldn't be overcrowded.
Run that way!!
Even the Minions were excited to race
And of course, they were out at the start
Check out some highlights of the race start and finish. We definitely did more video than pics.
The atmosphere at the finish was amazing
A look at the medal, very nice. And it's animated, you can spin it (totally should have done a .gif).
This was just the first race, Universal will be holding a Jurassic themed race in November, we'll definitely be running/covering that one as well. As soon as details are released we will for sure be sharing them.
Last week I was out in Orlando for a training conference. As luck would have it, the most inexpensive conference hotel happened to be Cabana Bay. So I figured I'd take advantage of my surroundings to explore some of the non-park offerings of the resort.
I had hoped to head into the parks one day, but given that I only had a few hours on one of my days it wasn't meant to be. But I had a great time exploring what the resort has to offer away from the parks. Let's check it out!
Written by Gregg Condon
After taking the red-eye from LAX I arrived at Cabana Bay around 7:30am last Monday. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to check in that early but that turned out to not be an issue at all. I was able to check in, get something to eat and head up to the room to take a bit of a nap before my first training session at 1:00pm.
The first day of the trip was obviously catching up on sleep, but I did make my way to/from the Convention Center for some pre-conference sessions. I utilized the I-Drive Trolley on the first day since there was no shuttle on Monday. It took me a couple of trips to figure out where the closest place to catch the Trolley was from the hotel. Something that won't be a problem when Universal opens their two new hotels (more on that later).
The first day I took a bus to CityWalk, then a boat to Portofino (as I thought the easiest place to catch the trolley was at the DoubleTree).
On the way back that afternoon, I took the shuttle back to the DoubleTree but made my way to the Water Taxi by way of the Hard Rock.
I then transferred to the next WaterTaxi to Sapphire Falls. Which meant I was able to get Water Taxi POV for pretty much the entire route. Check it out below, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
LOVE the spiral staircase at Sapphire Falls
The trek back from Sapphire to Cabana was a bit longer than I anticipated, but after a day of traveling and training, it was nice to stretch the legs a bit.
Love the Cabana Bay merchandise!
Also made sure to take advantage of the free-refill cup for the duration of my stay. This came in very handy as I ate more meals in the hotel than outside of the hotel.
Morning two, as I headed out to the shuttle to OCCC.
The hotel shuttles didn't quite fit my conference schedule on Tuesday, so it was back on the Trolley. Which allowed me to get a couple of good looks at the two new Universal Hotels (and I figured out that the actual closest trolley stop was here and not the DoubleTree).
I know some are asking why I didn't just Lyft/Uber (trust me, I did), but I always love exploring a city on foot. It just gives you a different feel.
After a bit of a rest in the room, I met up with Sean from California, Florida, European Coaster Kings for dinner at Cow Fish and a visit to both Fun Spots. But that's a different update. =)
Day 3 was about a 12 hour day at the convention center, but I did take the time when I got back to do a bit of a tour of the hotel.
I ate breakfast, dinners and snacks pretty much exclusively at Bayliner Diner, I was very impressed with the food choices and the staff was spectacular.
The pool area's are kind of amazing. If it was a different kind of trip I can imagine spending a lot of time in the lazy river.
What's up Volcano Bay
Cabana Bay Lobby
I didn't realize that the hotel had interior and exterior corridor rooms, I had just asked for "whatever is available" when I checked in.
So if you have a preference, be sure to request it. Personally, I was happy to have a room with an interior corridor, away from the pools as that's not what I was there for.
My last stop before heading up to the room to pack was the store to do some shopping. They had Hagrid's merch out.
I was very tempted to buy this hat, but have a rule that I don't wear merch until I can ride the ride.
Plus, I prefer fitted hats. I wish more parks would have them as an option.
Phone cases in a variety of styles
And of course, lots of Magical Creatures
Thanks Cabana Bay for a fantastic stay.
I was totally blown away by Cabana Bay. I knew I would love it, and it's retro style, but I wasn't sure how much. Sure, I wasn't really there for relaxing and enjoying the hotel, but even as a conference goer it fit the bill.
We're talking about a family trip to Orlando in the near future, definitely think Cabana Bay will be where we stay for our Universal portion.
Stay tuned later this week for additional updates from both Fun Spots and SeaWorld Orlando where we discover there are still good people in the world.
It's been a few weeks since our last Universal Studios Hollywood update, and if the progress of work going on around the park is any indication, we're going to have to start doing more of them.
The park is starting to remind us of 2015 when the entire upper lot was being worked on for Springfield and Wizarding World. But this time there are three major projects happening on the upper and lower lot. Let's take a look!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Our first stop most days is of course Wizarding World. We got into the park right at opening and had about a 15 minute wait for Forbidden Journey.
Usually we just do single rider, but sometimes we go for the full experience.
It was a perfect day at the park, didn't get too busy until about 1 or 2 (as we were leaving).
We of course had to get some Butterbeer. What's your favorite kind?
Most of the people in our group hadn't done Kung Fu Panda yet, so we had to give that a visit. Really enjoy it.
Now that Lunar New Year is over they are doing some work in Universal Plaza. Not sure if it's just general refurbishment or if they're doing something for the next event.
Let's first take a look at "Unannounced Project #1" (or is this Unannounced Project #2). We have a hard time keeping track. =)
The pictures seen from the upper lot don't do the size of this area justice.
But on the lower lot, you can get a feel for just how big this addition is.
There is actually more room here than you might think.
A crane on-site can only mean one thing ... vertical construction.
As you can see they are starting to go down before they go up.
One of the walls is already taller than the tram.
Jurassic World is really starting to take shape, you can see the T-Rex on the outside very clearly now.
The most interesting thing though is this new build down near the former maintenance pool. Not sure if this is an extension of the ride or they're just re-doing this part of the backstage area.
But as you can see, there is a LOT going on in this area.
Further on the tour, Jaws is getting some love.
Back on the upper lot, "Unannounced Project #2" is getting bigger with each visit.
Alright all, that's gonna wrap it up for this update. As you can see, many new exciting things are coming to the park. They didn't move all those soundstages for nothing.
As for when these projects will be "officially" announced, your guess is as good as ours. They just officially announced the new coaster in Florida, and that opens in less than 4 months. So even though we all pretty much know what the construction is for, we think it's more fun to keep calling them "Unannounced #1 and Unannounced #2" for the time being. Kind of like Thing 1 and Thing 2. =)