Universal Orlando Photo Update 9-16

Welcome back to another photo update around the Universal Orlando Resort.  This week we’ll start things off over at Cabana Bay with a look at the progress on 2016’s Sapphire Falls resort hotel, and 2017’s Volcano Bay water theme park.  We’ll take one of our last looks at NBC Sports Grille Brew before its early October opening date.  Inside Universal Studios, there’s some last minute Horror Nights prep, as well as a plethora of meet and greet characters.  We’ll round this week’s update out with a peek at construction on next year’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong.  All that and much more, so lets get started!

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Sapphire Falls construction is slowly but surely climbing, with more cranes on site than you can shake a stick at.
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On the other side of Cabana Bay, structural steel is being placed underground for the massive volcano and water systems at Volcano Bay. Universal just recently announced two 200 room towers that will be added to Cabana Bay and placed between the current resort, and the under-construction water park.
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The NBC Sports Grille Brew sign has been added to the wall of billboards that greet guests upon entering CityWalk.
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Exterior work is nearly complete at the new restaurant. The last major component to be added will be marquees on each side.
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The restaurant will have no shortage of TVs, both inside and out.
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This week they finished installing the giant building-length screens. Shouldn’t be too long now until we see them start testing.
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No sign of what will be hung here, on the far left side of the facade.
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Last minute touch ups.
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This view is already gone, as crews moved in overnight and added the Halloween Horror Nights overlay to the front of the park.
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The walls that we’ve had an eye on near Despicable Me and the side gate into the park have been pushed back several feet, most likely to accommodate Horror Nights queues.
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The covered sign for Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem.
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Park crowds were pretty light seeing as we’ve hit the meat of the offseason. Expect things to stay light for the next month or so.
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The daytime version of the HHN: Icons Horror Nights scare zone. Most of the props for this zone will be rolled out between the time the regular park closes on event nights, and the beginning of Horror Nights that evening.
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The four displays each carry a banner with a different past Icon.
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The stage for “The Carnage Returns” stage show has received new signage since last week.
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Covered directional signage that will be used during HHN.
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A new statue has been placed out front of the recently added NBC Media Center.
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This years signage design for the food and beverage stands, featuring Jack the Clown.
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The covered sign for “The Purge” haunted house.
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“The Walking Dead” signage.
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Several animals from the “Animal Actors: Live on Stage” show were out meeting guests.
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This was one of the dogs that played the titular character in Marley & Me.
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Doc Brown meeting guests next to his 2015-bound DeLorean.
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Two souvenir glasses for sale outside Moe’s at Duff Gardens.
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Back inside Springfield, the facade for “Insidious” looms through the trees.
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The facade for “The Purge” doesn’t look like much yet, hopefully they add more details by Team Member preview night tonight, the 16th.
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Another unique meet and greet was with these three MiB agents in front of the ride’s gift shop.
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The ride recently received a refurbished sign, with colors that pop.
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A quick hello to Jake the dragon, high atop Diagon Alley.
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A new food and beverage cart has been added to the Carkitt Market area of the land, featuring chips, fruit, Pumpkin Juice, and a small selection of canned beer.
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Last Monday was the final day of operation for “Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Starring You!” They wasted no time in taking the ride’s sign down.
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Street Beetz, a breakdancing group, was performing in San Francisco today.
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More details added to the snack stand that’s a part of the “All Night Die-In: Double Feature” scare zone.
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If only they were open for business. Who could pass up those prices?
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Window screens were added on the second floor, adding a touch of realism.
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The screen, which will show film clips.
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The “Straight Outta Food” Truck freestyle rap show that we took a look at last week has been moved just off the main path in San Francisco.
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The signage for the “Run: Blood, Sweat, and Fears” house.
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The transport bus’s signage had been covered for this weekend’s “Rock the Universe” christian music festival. It has since returned.
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I’d expect to see these license plates up for charity auction after the event is done.
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The Blues Brothers police vehicle joins an HHN prop cop car in New York.
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An acapella singing group was performing on the steps of New York, with the men taking turns serenading this lucky guest.
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New signage has been added to stage in the scare zone.
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Signage for the “Asylum in Wonderland” house.
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“An American Werewolf in London” signage.
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A sign for “Freddy vs Jason” in front of the “Twister: Ride it Out” attraction.
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Here is a very intriguing photo. In the background we’ve got the Aftermath gift shop for Twister that is closed while it’s transformed into a Halloween Horror Nights shop. A lot of people are thinking this is signaling the end of the Twister attraction sometime during the Horror Nights season. We’ll wait and see. The group in front of the building features some very interesting figures. Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative, Bill Davis, President and COO of Universal Orlando, and Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, were leading a large group of businessmen through the park. Many are saying this is either: A, a group of Nintendo representatives scoping out the park for attractions based on their legendary properties, or B, a group from the recently announced Universal Studios Beijing on site to see what they can expect at their park. Either way, big things are happening with Universal, both here in Florida, and around the world.
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Because of the gift shop closure, Twister was exiting out its emergency side doors.
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Since the park had special guests in town, they pulled out all the stops with meet and greets all over Production Central. First up we’ve got Shrek and Princess Fiona.
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Minions!
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Vector, villain of the first Despicable Me.
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Gru and the Girls.
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The Simpsons.
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All of Mystery Inc.
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Even the Blues Brothers were out.
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The Studio Band was out playing classic Universal themes.
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Popeye and Olive Oil biked over to join the fun.
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Betty Boop.
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The recently displaced Lucy.
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And we’ll end it with park mascot Woody Woodpecker, and Winnie.
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AMC CityWalk looms large over NBC Sports Grille Brew.
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Closing the same day as Disaster, The Incredible Hulk has begun it’s extended refurbishment. The attraction won’t return to operation until next summer.
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Confisco’s underwent a recent facade refurbishment and has come back looking great.
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The characters have finally returned to the meteor strike in Marvel Super Hero Island.
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Walls are already up around much of The Incredible Hulk.
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A large portion of the ride’s lockers have been converted into paying phone charging lockers. $3 per two hours.
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The remaining regular lockers have all been disabled.
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And we’ll end this week’s update with a look at construction on Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
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New logos have been added to the construction walls.
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The ride’s entrance featuring a likeness of the ape himself carved into the rock.
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New details along the top of this section of showbuilding.
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Spray paint along the back wall of the facade.
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And that’ll do it for this week’s update. Be sure to leave a comment below and get in touch with me on Twitter, @Triggernel. We’ll see you guys next week.

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Trygve Nelson

Tryg is a new resident Florida after moving from Minnesota at the end of 2013. You'll find him at all of the parks quite often, as he puts his annual passes to all the major Orlando theme parks to good use. Most comfortable with a camera in his hand, he's been a huge theme park fan ever since finding the ValleyfairZone fan forums back in 2006. His love of theme parks grew through many trips to parks all throughout the Midwest, with occasional trips to Orlando. In the past he’s worked as a scareactor and grown an appreciation for the Halloween season.

One thought on “Universal Orlando Photo Update 9-16

  • September 17, 2015 at 12:41 am
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    No comment on Skull Island being sold to Warner Brothers? I just find it odd now with the ride mid-construction.

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