Posts Tagged ‘Universal Studios Florida’

Universal Orlando Rumor Tour with HateToFly

by on January 14, 2014

Universal Orlando rumor tour with HateToFly

Regular readers of my PotterWatch blog series know that many of the juiciest details leaked about the under-construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida have come to us through HateToFly, a prolific poster on the Orlando United web forums. Over the weekend, I took a stroll through both Universal Orlando theme parks with the pseudonymous spy himself, and got the latest lowdown on the future of the resort. So grab a grain of salt and settle in for some of the hottest Universal Orlando rumors anywhere on the Internet.

Islands of Adventure

We began our walk at the lovely Sweethaven waterside, which is hidden in the back of Toon Lagoon at Islands of Adventure.

Conversations have recently reignited (after flaring up and sputtering out a year ago) about Universal acquiring the theme park rights to The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit from the Tolkein estate, which has been notoriously difficult to negotiate with. More than one source has speculated that the Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges whitewater rafting ride could be converted into the barrel escape from the most recent Hobbit film.

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PotterWatch: New Year’s Diagon Alley Construction Photos And Leaked Plans

by on January 8, 2014

Welcome to 2014, the year when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley will finally open at Universal Studios Florida! Without further ado, let’s launch right into our first set of Diagon Alley construction photos for the new year, followed by a Gringotts rumor and an amazing new online source of theme park dirt.

Diagon Alley Construction Photos

Here’s our usual photographic tour of the London Waterfront construction site, documenting the progress on the Diagon Alley facade as of January 4, 2014.

Diagon Alley photos

Panoramic view of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley (photos by Seth Kubersky 1/4/14)

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New Universal Studios Florida Interactive Exhibit may be coming to Garden of Allah

by on January 7, 2014

Universal Orlando Garden of Allah photo

Could Universal Studios Florida’s Garden of Allah become a new interactive attraction? (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

In recent days, Universal Orlando fan forums have been buzzing with rumors of an unexpected new attraction that may be coming to Universal Studios Florida within the next year. If the Internet chatter is correct, a new interactive walk-through exhibit may be installed in USF’s long-dormant Garden of Allah buildings.

We all know about Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley expansion coming this summer, and new dining venues were recently announced for CityWalk, but this latest potential addition comes as a surprise. The Garden of Allah are a cluster of Moorish revival-styled buildings separating Universal’s Hollywood Boulevard from the KidZone area. They originally housed the short-lived How To Make a Mega Movie Deal walk-through exhibit, followed by an AT&T At The Movies display. The venue has been dormant for over a decade, used mostly by the merchandise department for storage and training.

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Universal Studios Florida’s Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue Closed for Revamping

by on January 6, 2014

Universal Beetlejuice Graveyard Review last show

James Keaton as BJ in the final performance of the current version of Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue at Universal Studios Florida (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Not every theme park attraction can be a 5-star E-ticket, but every ride and show has someone who will mourn when it’s gone — especially the cast and crew who brought it to life. Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue at Universal Studios Florida might not have a top rating in the Unofficial Guide, but has earned a special place in some guests hearts, judging by the very vocal crowd that packed the final performance on January 4, 2014. Universal Studios Florida’s Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue closed after Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. for a complete reimagining, replacing the current version of the show that has been performed since 2006.

When the Beetlejuice show reemerges later in 2014 (date unknown), it will have an all-new script and song list, along with new performers. I’m told that only two members of the current cast had their contracts renewed to perform in the new production.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things in Orlando We’re Looking Forward To Seeing in 2014

by on January 4, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things in Orlando We’re Looking Forward To Seeing in 2014. 2013 was a great year to be a theme park fan. Just in Orlando we got the opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D and a huge Simpsons expansion in Universal Studios Florida, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin arrived at SeaWorld, while Disney introduced Princess Fairytale Hall and the incredible Tangled-themed bathrooms at the Magic Kingdom (along with starting a much needed overhaul on Downtown Disney.) But the good news is 2014 looks to be even better, yes, better. Here’s our list of the top six things we’re looking forward to the most over the next 12 months…

UOR_BREADBOX

Will Breadbox be CityWalk’s answer to the ultra popular Earl of Sandwicht at Downtown Disney? (Photo Courtesy of Universal Orlando)

# 6 – Universal CityWalk’s Expansion (Universal Orlando Resort)

In late 2013 Universal unveiled a massive reimagining of its entertainment complex, CityWalk. In fact, the new and improved CityWalk had already started with the opening of Red Oven Pizza Bakery in November, but little did we know how much more would be coming.

By the summer of 2014,  Coldstone Creamery (ice cream), Menchies (frozen yogurt), Bread Box (sandwiches), Antojitos (Mexican), Hotdog Hall of Fame, and The Cowfish (burgers/sushi) will be joining the list of eateries in CityWalk. Pastamore, which is shutting down this week, will also be reopening as yet-unamed Italian restaurant (rumored to be Pranzo) in which guests will be able to see their pasta made from scratch in front of them. Starbucks, currently on the second level of CityWalk, will also be moving downstairs and assume a more prominent position as guests make their way from the Universal parking garages to the theme parks.  Lastly, the Universal Studios Store will undergo a major retheming.

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Universal Orlando Park Map Adds Springfield Attractions

by on December 30, 2013

Universal Orlando has been sliding a number of surprises into visitors’ stocking this holiday season. First, I told you about the stealthy price increase recently enacted on the Universal Dining Plan — Quick Service. Then, Derek Burgan pointed out six things you only see at Universal during peak season. Today we’re bringing you a first glimpse at the new landmarks and attractions of Springfield U.S.A. as they are finally visually represented on the newest Universal Orlando park map.

Here’s how the Universal Studios Florida park map appeared until December 25, 2013:

 

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Universal Studios Hollywood Despicable Me Minion Mayhem opens April 2014

by on December 27, 2013

Universal Studios Hollywood Despicable Me Minion Mayhem April 2014

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem arrives at Universal Studios Hollywood in April 2014

Gru’s lovable yellow Minions have already wreaked Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida, and now we know when their popular Despicable Me simulator ride will arrive at Hollywood. According to the webpage for a contest sponsored by the retailer rue 21, at Universal Studios Hollywood Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem will debut in April 2014.

The new attraction, which replaced USH’s Terminator 2/3D attraction, is largely identical to the Orlando version, but features a much more elaborate facade depicting Gru’s home and neighborhood. Adjacent to the ride (replacing the Coke Soak area) will be Super Silly Fun Land, an amusement park-inspired playground with a “spinner” kiddie ride.

The addition of Despicable Me is the first of many changes coming to Universal Studios Hollywood, including the recent demolition of the revolving tunnel on the Studio Tour, the rumored addition of an expanded Simpsons area similar to the new Springfield USA in Orlando, and the eventual opening of a west coast Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Read the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland for complete info on USH, and keep an eye on this blog for future updates on the evolution of Universal.

 

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PotterWatch: Diagon Alley Construction Photos and the Gringotts Vault Key

by on December 20, 2013

Universal Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley construction Gringotts vault key photos

The key to Gringotts Vault 722 has arrived… (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Welcome, wizards and muggles alike, to the latest installment of TouringPlan’s PotterWatch (we’ve dropped the “2.0″ for simplicity’s sake), your regular expansion update on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. This time we’ll take a look at Diagon Alley’s London Waterfront facade, and hear the tale of the Gringotts Vault Key.

Diagon Alley Construction Photos

First, here are the latest photos of construction on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, taken at “magic hour” for our first look at the facade with some of the scaffolding removed:

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Universal Orlando Holidays: Your Complete Guide to Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade

by on December 12, 2013

While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, and other seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World seem to get the lion’s share of publicity this time of year, visitors to Orlando shouldn’t overlook Universal Orlando‘s holiday offerings. Universal Orlando holidays might not have quite the nostalgic lure of Mickey’s merrymaking, but Universal’s options are every bit as expertly produced, and have the benefit of all being included with regular park admission (unlike the extra-cost “hard ticket” nighttime parties at the Magic Kingdom).

Universal Orlando’s holiday lineup, which kicks off the first weekend each December (unlike Disney, which starts Christmas almost before Halloween is over) and continues through the Saturday after New Year’s Eve, consists of two main components, described in detail below.

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PotterWatch 2.0: Diagon Alley Construction Update and Rumors (12/8/13)

by on December 11, 2013

Universal orlando Wizarding world Harry potter Diagon alley construction

Dark of night can’t dissuade us from bringing you the latest Diagon Alley construction updates (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Construction on Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida‘s new Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion never sleeps, and so neither does PotterWatch, our ongoing series of updates on the Boy Who Lived’s anticipated arrival in Universal Orlando’s original park.

There’s been no noticeable progress on the Hogwarts Express since it completed its first test run, as reported in our last installment. Instead, let’s take a nighttime look at the London Waterfront, the facade that conceals Diagon Alley.

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