Hogwarts Comes to Hollywood

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
June 2, 2015
Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood
Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood

The words "press conference" don't exactly send a chill of anticipation up our spines most of the time, but today's announcement by Universal Studios Hollywood is the exception: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a 3D-HD experience that will be the centerpiece of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in California next spring.

The new Wizarding World, essentially a theme-park "land" of its own, is of course modeled after the popular attractions at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Japan, but the president of Universal Studios Hollywood, Larry Kurzweil, promises a "new, compelling experience" that will be the "next chapter" for the franchise.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey will take visitors soaring over Hogwarts, a Quidditch match, a dragon's attack, and a Whomping Willow. The ride will blend robotics, filmed action sequences, and special effects. Guests will don Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles before being swept along an elevated track. The new Wizarding World will also boast a family coaster, "Flight of the Hippogriff," and an array of Potter-themed refreshments at Three Broomsticks, Hog's Head pub, and Magic Neep and Butterbeer carts.

WE WANT TO KNOW: Have you visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando? Are you looking forward to checking out its Los Angeles cousin next year?

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading
FamilyTheme Parks

Meet The Fastest Roller Coasters in the U.S.

This article was written by Nicole Rupersburg and originally appeared on Fox News Travel. There’s nothing more American than a ride on a roller coaster, and the U.S. has some of the best in the world. American engineers are constantly designing more interactive and hair-raising experiences: The Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey offers the world’s highest and biggest drop, and Full Throttle at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California has the world’s biggest loop. But it's no secret that Americans have a need for speed, and that's as evident in our roller coasters as it is anywhere else. Strap yourself in and secure all loose items: These are the 10 fastest roller coasters in the U.S.  10. Xcelerator, 82 mph Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif. With a 1950s Grease and greaser theme, Xcelerator looks way more innocent than it is. Using a hydraulic launch to rocket you from zero to 82 mph in 2.3 seconds, this rockin' coaster shoots you straight into the air and back down again at a 90-degree angle for one minute and two whole seconds of pure adrenaline. 9. Goliath, 85 mph Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, Calif. This hypercoaster features a 255-foot drop into an underground tunnel, which you will take at 85 mph, followed by another drop of 185 feet. During this 3-minute ride through ancient ruins, you'll experience weightlessness as well as a g-force of 4.5 g. The ride is closed while awaiting a new lift chain, but you can keep yourself occupied until it reopens with the new Twisted Colossus wood-steel hybrid coaster opening this spring. 8. Phantom's Revenge, 85 mph Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa. This modest amusement park in Pittsburgh's burbs has a wicked surprise in store for you: Phantom's Revenge, a 1-minute and 45-second ride that features a 232-foot drop and a top speed of 85 mph. It might be "America's Favorite Traditional Amusement Park" since 1898, but Kennywood is definitely keeping up with the times. 7. Titan, 85 mph Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, TexasNot just a hypercoaster, but a hyper twisted coaster, Titan drops you 255 feet, then twists you through not one but two mind-warping 540-degree spirals, then continues through banked turns at 85 mph on the 5,312-foot track, for a grand total of 3 minutes and 20 seconds. 6. Intimidator 305, 90 mph Kings Dominion, Doswell, Va.We have now crossed the 90 mph threshold with Intimidator 305. This one-ups the ante not by a little, but by a lot: Not only does it reach a top speed of 90 mph, but it also has a 300-foot drop at an 85-degree angle. 5. Millennium Force, 93 mph Cedar Point, Sandusky, OhioThis coaster is so huge, it created a whole new coaster category: the giga-coaster. This 300-foot, 93 mph monster gets you up its first hill quickly with an elevator cable lift system, then drops you down at an 80-degree angle. And that's just the beginning of this 2-minute thrill ride. 4. Fury 325, 95 mph Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.The brand-new Fury 325 is the world's tallest and fastest giga-coaster. Taller than the Statue of Liberty, this "hornet's nest of rebellion" is 325 feet tall, goes 95 miles per hour and has a staggering length of 6,602 feet. That adds up to a ride time of 3 minutes and 25 seconds. 3. Superman: Escape from Krypton, 100 mph Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, Calif.Maybe not quite faster than a speeding bullet but still pretty damn fast, Superman: Escape from Krypton shoots you from 0 to 100 mph in seven seconds flat, straight up 415 feet in the air at a perfect 90-degree angle—backwards. After experiencing weightlessness for 6.5 seconds, you plummet down at 92 mph. You don't have to be the Man of Steel, but you'll certainly want a stomach of steel for this one. 2. Top Thrill Dragster, 120 mph Cedar Point, Sandusky, OhioGet ready to have your face peeled off and don't forget to re-collect your innards on your way out. Top Thrill Dragster, one of only two strata coasters in the world, features a hydraulic launch that shoots you through the time-space continuum from a dead stop to 120 mph in four seconds, straight up into the sky 420 feet and twisting straight back down again. It will be the worst/best 17 seconds of your life. 1. Kingda Ka, 128 mph Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.Better bring a change of underwear for this one. Kingda Ka, the other stratacoaster, is the tallest, fastest, most insane roller coaster in North America, as well as the world's tallest and second-fastest. (The 149 mph Formula Rossa in the United Arab Emirates is the world’s champ.) The King, also using a hydraulic launch, shoots riders out at 128 mph in 3.5 seconds to a height of 456 feet at a 90-degree angle, and back down in a 270-degree spiral, followed by a 129-foot camel hump hill, presumably to allow your brain time to register what just happened before you return to the platform. Honorable mention: Goliath, 72 mph Six Flags Great American, Gurnee, Ill.At a top speed of 72 mph, Goliath at Six Flags Great American is no match for the top 10, but it does have the distinction of being the world's tallest, fastest and steepest wooden roller coaster. And that definitely deserves mention. More from Fox News Travel: Children now dictate where they want to go travel All-you-can-fly Surf Air: Is private jet travel finally worth it? Harmful bacteria may be lurking in your single-serve coffee machine Marijuana-infused coffee pods hit store shelves


Top Family Travel Spots on Maryland's Eastern Shore

I recently wrangled some of the closest people in my life for a travel adventure along Maryland's Eastern Shore. Bringing together multiple generations in today's busy world is a challenge in itself, but add in a group of tech connected, urban worker bees and it gets more complicated. The fact that we were filming the adventure for Budget Travel and the upcoming PBS TV series, Travels with Darley, meant we were bringing along a full film crew, which made for even more challenging scheduling. We pulled it off and loved our time along the Eastern Shore! Our group consisted of my two best friends Ellen Schmidt of Baby Meets City fame (and her daughters, Vivian and Millie ages 3 and 5) and Chad Davis. We all hail from the Washington, DC, and New York City areas, meaning the Eastern Shore was just a train ride and car ride away. To make matters easier, we secured a campsite by the beach for our RV in Assateague State Park, a useful jumping off point to explore nearby Ocean City, Berlin, and, of course, Assateague Island. If you've always wanted to take a road trip adventure and are wondering where to go, keep reading for ten top spots along Maryland's Eastern Shore that are accessible and fun for your family or travel group. Cow to Cone Ice Cream Farm A great family destination, Chesapeake Bay Farms (4111 Whitesburg Road, Pocomoke City) was one of our favorite stops. This pretty, diverse dairy farm produces a multitude of yummy ice cream flavors right on the farm. It takes a little less than 40 minutes to drive from Assateague Island National Seashore to the farm. If took me a bit longer, as I was driving an over 26-foot RV and on vacation... why rush! The farm's donkeys, horses, cows and adorable puppy, keep kids entertained, engaged and enjoying rural life both before and after ice cream. Best of all, the ice cream is delicious, and even better in a homemade waffle cone while rocking on a peaceful front porch. Creative flavors include espresso ice cream with chocolate covered coffee beans, fresh blueberry, strawberry shortcake, princess pink and beyond. Berlin For a small town, Berlin offers a lot to do, especially for families. After walking Main Street, our group enjoyed a lesson in glass blowing at Jeffrey Auxer Designs. Millie made three ornaments, a truly memorable vacation memento. Jeffrey himself gave us glass blowing instruction and tips. He has a lot of experience teaching kids, something you definitely want when you have a child nearing an over 1,000° F furnace! His work is beautiful, so even if you don't take a lesson in glass blowing, his shop is worth a visit. While Ellen and her girls went to the Berlin playground, we adults headed over to Burley Oak Brewery (10016 Old Ocean City Blvd.) for a special tour and tasting with owner and brewer Bryan Brushmiller. Being an entrepreneur and someone who enjoys supporting small businesses, I liked hearing Bryan's story of losing his job and following his passion from brewing in his garage to his beautiful, sustainable brewery. We taste tested the Happy Pale Ale and finished just in time to see how popular Burley Oak is with locals and travelers alike. The place was hopping on Saturday at around noon when we departed for lunch and to taste some of Berlin's sweet side. If you want to sit outside or just enjoy some local farm to table food, try lunch or dinner at Blacksmith Bar & Restaurant (blacksmithberlin.com, 104 Pitts Street). Our group sat outside in the shade enjoying rock fish tacos topped with fresh pico de gallo, homemade hummus and Caesar salad sprinkled with zesty parmesan. Another top lunch pick is Drummer Café at the historic Atlantic Hotel (2 N. Main St., Berlin). The Islander sandwich will definitely keep you full until dinner with its fresh roasted turkey. Seafood lovers may gravitate toward the grilled wild salmon BLT. A must-have dessert when visiting this cool, small town is the peach dumpling, the official dessert of Berlin. The Berlin area was once the home of major peach orchards, and the peach dumpling celebrates this sweet legacy. Stop by Baked Dessert Café (4c Bay Street) to get your fix. After you've done all of that, relax. Berlin may have a lot to do, but one of the best things to do while you're here is kick back and take in the ambience of this cool small town. (Berlin was voted Budget Travel's 2014 Coolest Small Town in America.) The OC (that's Ocean City) Being from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I have a soft spot from boardwalks and know that they can be great excursion for kids. With haunted houses, arcades, amusement park rides, candy galore, and more, what's not for a kid to love! On the Ocean City Boardwalk, stop by Dolle's Candyland (dolles.com, 500 South Atlantic Avenue), a family-owned candy shop that has been making candy for over 100 years. You have to try the saltwater taffy (chew carefully), which comes in surprising flavors including root beer, peanut butter, cinnamon, lime and molasses mint. Kids will love some of the rides along the boardwalk, including a giant Ferris wheel and the carousel at Trimper's Amusement (S. First Street and The Boardwalk), a family-owned boardwalk fixture that has been welcoming riders since 1912. While riding the carousel is mainly an activity for kids, we adults hopped on to "supervise", marveling at the craftsmanship and detail on each of this mounts on this historic merry-go-round. I rode by Millie, who chose a horse. We went around a few times before walking down to stroll along the beach, another must-do when in Ocean City. Assateague Island One of the highlights of my trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore was exploring Assateague Island. This barrier island close to Berlin and Ocean City has stunning beaches, extensive bird watching and awesome wild horse viewing. This is a place where you need to unplug, play in the waves and take a deep breath, something that can be hard to do in our modern, busy world. As Millie and Vivian screamed in delight, running back and forth in the crashing waves under blue skies and beautiful sun, it made me want to take a step back to my own childhood. I remembered how much fun I had growing up at the beach and why these types of memories are so important for all of us to cherish, even in adulthood. We had spent the morning taking a nature hike with National Park ranger Nick Clemons. There are a variety of walking and hiking trails in Assateague Island's National Park. We chose a trail through the marshland, where Nick took us to a "secret" beach and then in search of horses. Some of the better spots to find horses are near the campsites and parking lots where humans make their mark. There are graphic signs in the bathrooms on the island, showcasing the bruises and welts past visitors have garnered after getting too close to the Assateague horses. Rumored to have landed on the island after a shipwreck, these horses are pony-sized, but radiate a toughness often in found horses living on their own in sometimes harsh environments. Having spent many years riding and observing horses, part of my own passion and my job as the host of the Emmy-winning Equitrekking TV show, I would compare the Assateague horses to some of the horses I've observed on Ireland's wild West Coast in Connemara or in the mountains of Wales: hardy, independent, and beautiful. If you visit Assateague Island, consider camping out to get the full experience. You can bring a tent or park an RV at campsites in the State Park, which offers warm showers and some electric hookups, or enjoy more primitive camping on the National Park side, but book early, as these coveted spaces fill up quickly. We built a campfire beside our RV right by the beach on the State Park side, roasted s'mores and watched the sun set and the moon rise on our special family adventure. St Michaels I had heard about St Michaels famous charm long before my visit. This beautiful seaside town makes for a great romantic getaway with or without the kids. Shop for unique, nautical themed gifts for you or your pet in the heart of St Michaels before cracking crabs at The Crab Claw (thecrabclaw.com, 304 Burns Street). This restaurant offers the quintessential Maryland Blue Crab feast right by the water. You can walk right from The Crab Claw into the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (cbmm.org, 213 N Talbot St.), where dedicated master shipwrights, apprentices and volunteers are restoring wooden boats and keeping the history of the Chesapeake Bay and its watermen alive. Admission is free for children under the age of six. Adults pay $15 for a two-day pass. Kids and adults may like climbing to the top of the Hooper Straight Lighthouse for views of the museum campus and St Michaels. Tilghman Island We hadn't originally planned to visit Tilghman Island, but are so glad that we did. After a scheduling change, which frequently happens on film shoots, we drove the short twenty minutes from St Michaels, crossing the Drawbridge over Knapps Narrows that takes you away from cell phone reception and the modern world and onto Tilghman Island. I went into the Tilghman Island Country Store to use their landline to call Captain Wade Murphy Jr. (skipjack.org, 21308 Phillips Road, Tilghman), who has the Rebecca T. Ruark, a stunning skipjack that dates back to 1886 and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. A third-generation waterman, a skipjack ride with Captain Wade is worth the trip to this island. If you don't have time to take a boat ride, just talking with Captain Wade and hearing his stories is worth a trip. We also recommend taking a walk around Dogwood Harbor, where multi-generation waterman still bring in their daily catch and where Captain Wade keeps his skipjack.   Kent Island Kent Island is a place that many people pass over on their way to the Eastern Shore. Located right beside the iconic Bay Bridge, this island is worth a stop, whether you want a break from the drive at one of the island's many waterside restaurants or to take in nature. I decided to do both, riding bikes along the Cross Island Trail and eating lunch at Bridges Restaurant (bridgesrestaurant.net, 321 Wells Cove Rd, Grasonville) by the water. The Cross Island Trail is part of the American Discovery Trail, a coast to coast recreational trial that spans the District of Columbia and 15 states. Passing through marshland, forests and along the former rail bed of the Queen Anne's Railroad, this six mile trail is an interesting and easy ride. If you want to take in views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from a beach, make sure to include the Terrapin Nature Area at the start of the Cross Island bike trial. If you're traveling to Kent Island, go fishing. I went out with Captain Andrew Aus of Maverick Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing (fishmaverick.com, Tel. 443-988-8020) from the Queen Anne Marina. I've done a fair share of fishing around the world and this was the best, probably because I caught a really big fish. I usually think of fishing as serene, but it was truly exciting and challenging, as I tried to reel in a 40.5 inch, almost-30-lb Rockfish. A professional outfit, Captain Aus and his crew are not messing around on their fishing adventures. They know the Bay well, having grown up there fishing, and will give you the ins and outs of the Bay health, where to find the best fish and an all-around great day on the water. Distances on the Eastern Shore aren't great, but the diversity of scenery and experiences is, making it a great pick for a road trip, especially if you're bringing along the kids. About the author: Darley is the host and producer of Equitrekking, the Emmy-winning PBS TV series, and currently in production on Travels with Darley, coming to PBS and viewable online now in short form on Budget Travel and AOL . Follow her adventures on the road on Twitter @DarleyNewman and Instagram @DarleyNewman.


10 Memorable Mother’s Day Brunches

This article was written by Kristine Hansen and originally appeared on Fox News Travel. Move over, Champagne and fluffy omelets: Some Mother's Day brunches are ditching tradition for eclectic offerings. Today's moms want a table with an ocean view, or a buffet inspired by the regions of France, or a live musical performance across the room, or a chic tea in America's wealthiest zip code (hello, 90210).  From Mediterranean to Mexican, from farm-to-table to fancy, here are some options from coast to coast (and Hawaii, too). Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa Fort Lauderdale, Fla. With the ocean as a backdrop to this 16-acre waterfront resort, pre- and post-brunch plans suddenly swing into action. After you've noshed in the Ocean Ballroom (with an ocean view, of course)—catered by Riva, with a-la-carte options like South Florida huevos rancheros to Florida wildberry oatmeal pancakes, plus two buffet options and bottomless mimosas—put the whole family on jet-skis or kayaks. All water-sport rentals come with a reserved beach chair and umbrella on the shore. Inn and Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe, N.M. Tap into mom's spiritual side with this iconic Santa Fe experience. On top of all the edible frills—flutes of Champagne matched with a massive brunch buffet featuring New Mexican accents like sweet chili grilled chicken)—the Yepa Family of the Jemez Pueblo will bless her. The event takes place in the inn's Zuni ballroom and outdoor garden, enabling good flow throughout the day for a large group. To work off the brunch, peek into art galleries along Canyon Road. Kachina Southwestern Grill Westminster, Colo. Eclectic Mexican fare has found a home in this Denver suburb, and Mother's Day is no exception. Touting a Wild West theme, the brunch menu takes lots of detours with the palate, culminating in dishes like chocolate-chili beignets and achitoe grilled chicken breast with cherry-chocolate mole and tequila cherries. The meal kicks off with refreshing glasses of hibiscus or cantaloupe/thymeaguas fresca and ends on a sweet note: mini chocolate cola cake with pepita crunch, honey-lavender caviar caramel sauce. Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa Honolulu, Hawaii Park mom on the Veranda, just a few steps away from the oceanfront, for the lavish Mother's Day brunch and sample Hawaiian specialties like ahi and tako poke, or dim sum such as steamed ha gow, plus farm-fresh choices like Big Island tomatoes at the made-to-order omelet station. A charcuterie and cheese spread, along with brunch staples such as blueberry-orange granola pancakes, rounds out the meal. There's even a roasted suckling pig with bao buns and plum sauce at the carving station and a dessert table flaunting Hawaiian flair (haupia-pie tiramisu, anyone?) Basin Harbor Club & Resort Vergennes, Vt. Views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks make this five-star farm-to-table spread even better. The brunch buffet—folding in breakfast and lunch choices that rely upon ingredients from a dozen local farms—is served in the resort's main dining room, where jazz musician Jenni Johnson performs for diners. Restless kids enjoy tot-friendly activities led by The Big Blue Trunk. Post-brunch, take the whole family out for retro lawn games on the 700-acre resort's lawn. Montage Beverly Hills Beverly Hills, Calif. Listen to live jazz as you enjoy the special Mother's Day Tea at the posh Parq Bar. Artisan teas are poured into hand-painted porcelain china, and small bites—and desserts like orange-creamsicle profiteroles and pina-colada shortbread—are prepared with love by the kitchen's pastry and culinary staff. After tea, coax mom into Spa Montage Beverly Hills to take advantage of the hotel's "In Gratitude" 150-minute treatment (rose-petal facial, manicure and pedicure). Milwaukee Art Museum Milwaukee, Wis. Tucked into the museum's Quadracci Pavilion, designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, Lake Michigan's pretty blue waters are on the other side of the glass. All moms get a mimosa on the house, and the food spread includes delicacies like a cheeseboard (this is Wisconsin, after all), a carving station, fresh fruit andcrudités, a made-to-order omelet station and plenty of traditional egg and meat dishes. Tea sandwiches are incorporated, too, for an artsy touch. Le Village Buffet, Paris Las Vegas Las Vegas The memory of what you eat in Vegas doesn't have to stay in Vegas. Food stations and made-to-order dishes at the hotel's Le Village Buffet celebrate France's five provinces, all the way down to the dessert table, which features macaroons and vanilla-bean crème brulee. Even kids can find something to love here, like truffle macaroni-and-cheese and savory crepes inspired by Brittany, ensuring everybody leaves happy. Adalya New York City If mom is always hot to visit the newest eatery in town, take her to the year-old Adalya in Gramercy Park. If it's nice out, sit on the patio, where she'll be greeted with either Champagne or sangria on the house (or the "Mediterranean Momma" cocktail), followed by a Mediterranean menu with eclectic picks. The new brunch menu features Turkish Breakfast for Two (hardboiled eggs, olives, Jerusalem salad, olive oils, marmalades and manchego and feta cheeses). Or opt for apple cinnamon pancakes. American Q/B Resort & Spa Orlando, Fla. It doesn't get any more rustic than grabbing your food off the bed of a vintage truck. That's the deal at this boutique hotel, which opened last fall. All moms get a free glass of sparkling cider with an edible rose. During brunch, enter mom in a drawing to win a two-night stay, a couples massage or dinner at American Q. Post-brunch there is the option to relax at B Indulged AVEDA, the hotel's spa, which boasts a zero-entry pool and treatments like a stress-fix mani and pedi that weaves in calming lavender and clary-sage aromas. More from Fox News Travel: We tried Tim Horton's Nutella pastry: Here's the what we thought Panera to cut 150 artificial additives by 2016 Asia cruises: Why it may just be your best bet Ryanair flight to London takes off without toilet paper


Travel Is _________.

Here at Budget Travel, every week is "travel and tourism week," but we are psyched that May 2 through 10, 2015, it's officially National Travel and Tourism Week. Sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association, the weeklong celebration focuses on our fave industry, which directly generates more than $900 billion each year.. All week, you'll see lots of activities and announcements from regional tourism boards (just two examples include Spokane, WA, which is taking the opportunity to remind everyone of its fabulous Bloomsday and Hoopfest celebrations, and the state of Mississippi is touting its 511 number, which provides travel and road information). We unblushingly recommend that you celebrate by diving into some of Budget Travel's comprehensive coverage: May we suggest "Where to Go in 2015" and "10 Awesome American Summer Vacations to Book NOW" to get started? And this year's National Travel and Tourism Week's theme is near and dear to our hearts: Travel Is _____________. How would YOU fill in the blank? I'll go first. For me, Travel Is... exploring the world with my wife and two daughters. You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NTTW2015.