With Transformers now open and thrilling N.E.S.T. recruits, Universal is moving furiously to complete its Springfield expansion. And, we take our first look at what the family suites at Cabana Bay Beach Resort will look like.  MiceChat had the opportunity to speak with of the creative minds behind Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Springfield USA!  So grab your decidedly orange Flaming Moe, and a Lard Lads doughnut, as we bring you the latest from the Universal Orlando Resort.

CABANA BAY BEACH RESORT

Lowe’s Hotels and the Universal Orlando Resort are entering the value hotel market next year with the opening of Cabana Bay Beach Resort.   This hotel will have an almost authentic 1950’s feel with modern amenities, and family suites, that will help redefine what “value” means to people who are accustomed to staying at an onsite resort.

While Universal might classify Cabana Bay as a “value” resort, it will have amenities, that no other value property in Orlando has.  The pool area will feature a lazy river, and a white sand zero entry pool.  Guests will have access to a bowling alley, and pool side movies at night.

MiceChat took a peek at a model for the hotel rooms, and from the look of the model rooms, you get a real feel for how comfortable and chic this property is going to be.

IMG_9711

IMG_9714

IMG_9726

IMG_9727

IMG_9729

IMG_9739

 

Cabana Bay will feature Cocktails and Mocktails for guests who want to lay by the pool and let the hours fly by. IMG_9749

IMG_9750

IMG_9754

IMG_9755
That’s Cabana Bay in the upper left.

IMG_9768

 

MiceChat spoke with VP of Universal Creative, Russ Dagon, about Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  Russ has led the development of the Royal Pacific Hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and last year’s Despicable ME: Minion Mayhem

MiceChat: Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a much different hotel from the hotels you have developed in the past, what do you want the guest experience to be at Cabana Bay?

Russ Dagon: This property is really about family, this is about the drive-to family vacations.  Growing up, we loaded up the station wagon, and drove  for hours to get the family vacation destination.  That is what this is intended to be about, the family all spending time together, and all in one room.  At this property, a family of 6 is in one room, you’re all in one room experiencing it together.  There is nothing here that is over the top for adults, or over the top for children.  In our bowling there is something for Dad to do in there, and the kids will enjoy it too.  The same works for our pool, and at our restaurant.  You move through our resort as a family.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort opens March 2014, but guests can already book now, by going directly to Universal Orlando’s website.

SPRINGFIELD

Over at Universal Studios, the park just opened it’s mega attraction for the summer, but it isn’t over yet

Springfield USA has opened it’s Fast Food Blvd, but Duff Gardens and the INTERACTIVE Kang and Kodos Twirl N’ Hurl spinner are still under construction and will be debuting sometime this summer.

Sideshow Bob Greeting Guests

As part of the additions to Springfield USA, Universal introduced 2 new walk around characters to the park.  Sideshow Bob and Krusty the Clown now greet guests.  These characters are big, yellow, and adorable!  Guests have been lining up to get their photos with these two bozos.

IMG_9857

IMG_9865

IMG_9869

Once Springfield opens, there will also be some static characters for guests to pose with, so keep an eye out for Chief Wiggum, Duff Man, Milhouse and more.

Interview with Chef Steven Jayson about Springfield

When Springfield USA opened its first phase with an amazing variety of food, we knew right away, the man behind it was Chef Steven Jayson, the genius behind Butterbeer.  We were lucky enough to talk to Steven Jayson about the process of bringing the food of Springfield USA from the Simpson’s to life.

MiceChat: We have already drunk a small fortune in Flaming Moes, and we’ve just got to know what the creation process was like for this drink?

Chef Steven: A couple of the drinks we have created over the years here at Universal start out with you saying “what is this?” And then you try to just work through it.  With the Flaming Moe, the name kind of dictated a little bit to the idea, of flames, smoke, that there is something going on when you hand it to the guest.  You see this action going on.
And we had to develop the vessel, and to accommodate this action.  Working through the flavor profile, when you have millions of visitors you want to come up with something mainstream that the average guest is going to enjoy.  We didn’t want it to be alcoholic, because then everyone 21 and under would not be able to taste it.  It had to be for all ages, and it had to be fun, interactive, and give you the flaming option!

MiceChat:  One thing you notice when you eat here is the variety of food. Was it difficult to develop a menu of this size?

Chef Steven:  We have a lot of variety, and let me tell you, when I left LA after meeting with Matt Groening, Gracie Films and Fox, and they didn’t shoot down one idea, I was on that plane thinking “how am I going to do all these things?” And we are managing it, and it is all selling!  Guests are buying everything!  It is cool that we hit the nail on the head!

MiceChat:  The surprise dish for me was your calamari. When I think of Theme Park calamari, I think of fried rubber that I have to chew through.  But your calamaris is soft and moist?  How do you do that?

Chef Steven: There are two types of Calamari you can use, most places will serve the calamari, that is combination of the tentacles, and maybe some of the calamari steak.  Mine is 100% calamari steak.  The reason why I use it, even though it is more expensive, is because it is nice, firm and you can run that calamari through a jaccard meat tenderizer, and now you have this beautiful firm white piece that we marinate, bread it and it is delicious.

IMG_9831

Interview with Ric Florell

MiceChat also had the pleasure of speaking with Ric Florell, who is the VP & GM of Resort Revenue Operations at Universal Orlando, and we took a peak at his “Simpson’s Bible” that were the scripts from all the Simpson’s Episodes in seasons 1 – 10.  And, just looking a simply the sticky notes, you can see how much research, care and love was put into bringing Springfield USA to life.

IMG_9788

 

IMG_9781

IMG_9784

IMG_9809

IMG_9811

MiceChat: How long has Springfield USA been in development at Universal Orlando?

Ric Florell: We have been working on this intensely for the past year, a large chunk of the early days was research (4 – 6 month).  There are people who just know this, and people love it.  The other thing we learned was when we began to share this with people, they light up, and they instantly tell you what they like, and what they wanted to see.

MiceChat:  What do you want guests to take away when they leave?

Ric Florell:  That they have been to Springfield, and that they have been inside this fiction.

And from what Universal Orlando has showed us so far, it truly does feel like you have taken a trip to Springfield USA.

We do have one last surprise to share with you about the Kang and Kodos Spinner.  While some people might have written off this attraction when they found out it was an “off the shelf ride,”  Mike West at Universal Creative shared with us that this ride will be interactive, and that guests will be able to hit targets, by flying up or down, that will trigger effects, gags, and interactive elements on the ride!

So be prepared to spend sometime riding the Twirl N’ Hurl and then relax with your Krusty Burger and your Flaming Moe, while you watch the construction of Diagon Alley across the lake!

UNOFFICIAL UNIVERSAL ORLANDO PODCAST

The Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast is back with two episodes this week. One a traditional look at the universal parks . . . and the other is a special Transformers Grand Opening show.  You won’t want to miss either of the two shows below!

UUOP Special edition Transformers Grand Opening Celebration:

 

UUOP # 59 – The latest news and rumors from Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood:

And that’s our update for this week. Do you find the design of the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort interesting? Planning to spend some time with the Transformers this summer? Ready for your first Flaming Moe? Let us know in the comments below.