Universal Orlando announces Mardi Gras concert lineup

Universal Mardi Gras concert lineup

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Ne-Yo and Blake Shelton are among the headliners just announced for Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras this spring.

The 2011 Mardi Gras celebration happens on weekend nights Feb. 12 through April 23 at the Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s the concert lineup:

  • Feb. 12: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Feb. 19: The B-52s
  • Feb. 20: KC & The Sunshine Band
  • Feb. 26: Pitbull
  • March 5: Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • March 12: Foreigner
  • March 18: Neon Trees
  • March 19: Thirty Seconds to Mars
  • March 25: OneRepublic
  • March 26: Blake Shelton
  • April 1: Sean Kingston
  • April 2: Ne-Yo
  • April 9: Lifehouse
  • April 16: The Beach Boys

Universal’s Mardi Gras also includes a nightly parade with floats designed by Blaine Kern Artists in New Orleans, and, of course, lots and lots of beads.

A “French Quarter” street party serves up cajun food and musicians playing blues, jazz and zydeco.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is included with regular theme park admission to Universal Studios Florida – no separate ticket is required for the concerts.

Harry Potter park serves up 1 millionth Butterbeer

Harry Potter Butterbeer - 1 million sold

It’s not just a beverage, it’s an experience. That’s the word from Universal Orlando Resort, which said today that the company has sold 1 million Butterbeers in its Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The creamy-smooth concoction is a favorite drink in the Harry Potter books and movies, and it’s also a favorite at the theme park, where guests will wait in ride-sized lines to buy a cup. Last year, a fourth location selling the drink was added to the theme park to alleviate some of the lines.

There’s no alcohol in Butterbeer. It’s a sweet drink, which Universal says tastes of shortbread and butterscotch. I liken it to a cream soda. You can get both cold and frozen versions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park where the Wizarding World is located.

There are lots of do-it-yourself Butterbeer recipes out there online, but Universal’s is secret. In fact, the company says it has put special security procedures in place to keep it that way.

To celebrate the 1 millionth Butterbeer, Universal passed out 1,000 free ones on the streets of the Wizarding World.

Universal ride that caught fire will be closed for weeks

Universal ride fireDudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls water ride will be closed for several weeks following a fire at Islands of Adventure on Saturday night.

The Universal Orlando ride will be closed to repair the damage, and to undergo seasonal maintenance, according to Universal. Ripsaw Falls had already been scheduled to be closed for maintenance in a couple of weeks.

About 5:30 Saturday evening, the ride and surrounding Toon Lagoon area were evacuated when clouds of black smoke started billowing from the ride’s roof. Forty firefighters called to the scene had the fire under control in about 30 minutes and completely out in about an hour, officials told the Orlando Sentinel.

No guests were injured in the fire, though a few were evaluated at the theme park’s first aid station.

The rest of the Islands of Adventure theme park remained open during and after the fire.

The exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Fire erupts at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure

A ride – a water ride, of all things – caught fire at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure on New Year’s Day, causing the evacuation of a section of the theme park.

The fire happened around 5:30 p.m., according to Central Florida News 13. No injuries have been reported.

Fire at Universal OrlandoUniversal Orlando officials evacuted the ride, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, as well as the surrounding Toon Lagoon area.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. According to witnesses at the scene, the ride fire started on the roof.

“My source tells me a vendor truck next to the ride caught fire. A tree spread the fire to the top of the ride,” according to Brian J. Smith on Twitter.

Smith tweeted the photo used here and attributed it to his sister, a theme park employee.

Ripsaw Falls is one of Islands of Adventure‘s original rides. It opened with the theme park in 1999.

The ride remains closed, the rest of the theme park will be open during its previously announced operating hours.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster reopens at Universal Studios Florida

The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster is open once again at Universal Studios Florida, after being closed for maintenance on Sept. 15.

Universal has been mum on exactly what maintenance was being performed. The coaster’s German manufacturer – Maurer Sohne – issued a memo on Sept. 2, advising that all coasters similar to the Rip Ride Rockit be shut down immediately because of a flaw in the coupling bar that holds the two trains in the ride cars together.

At the time of the ride’s closure, Universal said that they had already dealt with the manufacturer’s advisory.

The Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster boasts the tallest lift hill in Orlando, at 167 feet. It has a number of unusual design features, including a vertical loop that rolls the ride cars around so that riders are not upside down at the top of it. The coaster officially opened on Aug. 19, 2009.

The ride features individual speakers in each seat and the ability to “choose your own soundtrack,” from a list of 30 songs by artists such as the Black-Eyed Peas, No Doubt, Beastie Boys and Evanescence. There are also a number of hidden tracks for the Rip Ride Rockit that aren’t on the official song list.