Universal Orlando, for the first time in nearly two years, posted an increase in visitors (even slightly ahead of their 2008 numbers). Thanks to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal posted strong numbers even though the last month of their quarter was in June and that’s when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened. The Orlando bed tax which had been on a slide, regained momentum in both occupancy and rate increases in June adding up to an increase of 9% in tourism tax collections. June was the first month since February 2010 where year over year tourism taxes increased from 2009.

Universal Orlando mostly matched Disney’s price increases of last week. Notably it did not raise the price on its most popular ticket option – a two day ticket with park to park privileges. That ticket stayed the same at $145.00. As the summer tourism season winds down, Universal elected to keep Florida resident tickets purchased on-line the same.

Walt Disney World opened a new restaurant in EPCOT Center at the Italian Pavilion a casual family style restaurant. The interior is decorated in sleek Italian fashion. I predict it will be the most popular theme park restaurant in Orlando. So book reservations for Via Napoli soon and enjoy. Disney will also start selling tickets for its candle light processional starting August 26th. The candlelight processional is a long standing holiday tradition at Walt Disney World. Originally it was at the Magic Kingdom, but about a decade ago, they moved it to Epcot Center. The dinner package has some added benefits including guaranteed seating for the candlelight processional and a dedicated area for viewing fireworks. Call 407-WDW-Dine to book this truly uplifting event.

Last week a sting was conducted on Hwy. 192 netting five arrests for fraudulent ticket sales of Disney, Universal and Sea World tickets. Hopefully this new enforcement in Osceola County will lead other unscrupulous ticket sellers to ditch the garish signage on Hwy. 192 screaming they buy left-over days on your tickets.