We know you’ve enjoyed following the adventures of the Unofficial Guide authors through our books and blogs, but did you ever wonder what it takes to become a member of our team? While we are all cooped up inside waiting to get back to covering the attractions, we thought we’d share with you our “origin stories,” and today you’ll hear the tale of yours truly: Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando author Seth Kubersky.
Currently, all theme parks, cruise lines, and other attractions are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We at The Unofficial Guides hope all our readers and their loved ones, as well as all attraction employees, remain healthy and safe. Without intending to trivialize the current crisis, we will continue to post positive stories about the parks, in hopes of bringing their magic into your home as a welcome distraction during these trying times. For the latest updates, read our guide to cornoavirus and the theme parks.
Although I’ve lived in Orlando for nearly a quarter century, my backstory begins 1,000 miles to the north in suburban New Jersey. I grew in a middle-class family for whom vacations were a luxury, but my parents saved up for a trip to Walt Disney World once every four or five years, starting in 1978.
Since I wasn’t quite 4 years old at the time, I don’t have many clear memories from that first visit to the Vacation Kingdom, which at that time consisted of only the Magic Kingdom and a couple of hotels. But five years later, we returned to Florida, and I was blown away by the experience, especially the then-new EPCOT Center.
After that, I became obsessed with learning everything I could about theme parks, which in the pre-internet age meant hours in the public library with reference tomes like Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow. I also discovered the early editions of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and began collecting them year after year, creating multi-day touring plans for imaginary vacations.
Follow-up visits in the summers of 1988 and 1992 only cemented my love of Central Florida’s attractions, and after graduating from the College of William and Mary with a theater degree in 1996, I drove a U-Haul down to Orlando looking for employment at the theme parks.
I’d been in town for a few weeks, going through multiple rounds of job interviews with Disney, when I walked into Universal Studios Florida’s hiring center one afternoon and exited a few hours later as a Level 5 Entertainment Technician.
My first assignment was at the Ghostbusters Spooktacular, where I sat in the special effects control booth during the show’s final months of operations.
From there, I transferred to the newly opened Terminator 2: 3D attraction, where I helped John and Sarah Connor jump from the ceiling and assisted Arnold as he mounted his motorcycle. I also spent time at A Day in the Park with Barney, where I got to hear “I Love You, You Love Me” about a dozen times a day.
Eventually, I transferred from the regular attractions over to Entertainment Production, where I supervised talent for the Mardi Gras parade, stage managed Halloween Horror Nights haunted houses, and coordinated entertainment for special events around the opening of Islands of Adventure.
In 2000, I left Universal for a decade-long detour into database programming, but I never let go of my love for the parks—or my annual passes. I began commenting on articles posted on Jim Hill Media and soon I was invited to contribute some stories of my own. Within a few years, that led me to paid writing gigs with the Orlando Weekly (where I continue to cover arts and attractions) and the Intrepid Traveler guide books.
Finally, my career came full circle in 2010 when I met Bob Sehlinger during the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. After swapping theme park stories over sushi, he invited me to join the Unofficial Guide team, beginning with the 2012 Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.
I’m currently working on my 10th annual update as co-author of that volume, along with the new editions of our Las Vegas and Walt Disney World guides. And the highlight of my work has been authoring The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando, which is currently in its fifth edition.
Even though I’ve visited all the attractions countless times, and been behind the scenes of many of them, the theme parks still haven’t lost their magic for me. And although I admit a certain fondness for Universal Orlando, I appreciate all the resorts on both coasts for their unique offerings and can’t wait to get back to covering them for you soon.