Universal Orlando Photo Update May 9th, 2016

Welcome back to the long overdue return of our Universal Orlando photo updates.  Since so much has happened at the resort since our last update, this week’s update will primarily focus on the upcoming 2016 Sapphire Falls Resort, Skull Island Reign of Kong, and re-opening of The Incredible Hulk roller coaster.  We’ll also take a quick look at 2017’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park, as well as the Tonight Show and Fast & Furious attractions.  Let’s get going!

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Vertical construction has really taken off at the Volcano Bay site, now that we’re just one year away from the new theme park’s opening date.

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A large crane is onsite to assist with construction of the planned two hundred foot volcano that will serve as the park’s centerpiece.
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Large footers have gone up near the edge of the Cabana Bay resort hotel.
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A new concrete wall up separating Cabana Bay from Volcano Bay.
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The steel structure for the park’s namesake volcano is quickly growing taller and wider.
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The under-construction structure reminds me a lot of Expedition Everest when it was being built. Hopefully the finished product will look just as impressive!
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If I had to guess, I’d estimate the structure to currently be at 50-60% of its full height.
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Going off the concept art for the park, this concrete wall should be where the deep of the wave pool is located.
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Several slides have started to go up along the Turkey Lake Road side of the property. Both appear to be slides where riders will be seated in tubes.
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A new building that’s most likely going to be offices for construction as well as park operations, located just to the right of the slides in the last photo.
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More buildings being erected.
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A closer look at those concrete footers near Cabana Bay.
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Another set of footers near the half-complete slides.
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Across the street, Lowe’s Sapphire Falls Resort is having its finishing touches added ahead of its July opening.
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In addition to the parking garage being constructed next to Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay parking is being expanded with another two story garage. This matches the similar garage that’s been on the other side of the resort since day one.
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The Sapphire Falls towers appear to be nearing completion.
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The entrance to resort is located to the right of the two towers in the previous photo, facing the Cabana Bay entrance.
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Another tower flanks the right side of the entrance.
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I’m really excited about the lobby of the resort, as the resorts on either side of Sapphire Falls have stunning entrances.
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Resort details.
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There’s a construction elevator still in use on one of the incomplete towers. Hopefully we’ll see this removed soon and know that the guest elevators are working.
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More details.
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The view of the new resort hotel from the Cabana Bay Garden Bridge connecting the two hotels.
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A shot of the tower that will overlook one of the resorts pool areas.
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The backside of what will most likely be this pool’s bar.
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Pool themeing, as well as the still under-wraps water slide.
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Another shot of the water slide, and the under-construction walkway that will lead to it.
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A look at the empty pool.
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The resort’s exterior is very easy on the eyes and looks great against that ever-present Florida blue sky!
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The sidewalk that runs along Hollywood Way, from Cabana Bay to The Royal Pacific Resort, offers a view of just how much work is left on this side of Sapphire Falls.
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Still a lot of earth moving going on.
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A very picturesque view of Sapphire Falls and Resort Waterway from The Royal Pacific Resort.
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On this side of the resort, the towers look nearly complete, it’s everything else that needs a lot of work.
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A waterwheel detail, yet to be installed.
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Resort details.
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And we’ll end our look at Sapphire Falls with a shot of the resort’s second pool.
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Let’s shift our focus now onto what’s happening with the major attractions coming to the two theme parks.
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We’ll take a look at this year’s new attractions opening at Islands of Adventure.
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We’ll begin with the completed track at the new Incredible Hulk roller coaster.
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The brand new track looks great! While the ride layout is the same, this new steel has a fresh coat of paint that makes the ride look better than it has in years.
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The ride simply begs to be photographed!
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Walls are still up around the ride, including these near the rides entrance.
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The ride’s launch tunnels has been changed from purple to black, and will feature new effects when the ride opens. Also, check out that bird that happened to fly through the shot at the right time. He was in all three of the shots I took here, so he gets to stay.
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The ride station looks relatively unchanged after having several pieces of themeing removed early on in the ride’s refurbishment.
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Details at the base of the launch tunnel.
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Work beginning on a partial tunnel over the ride track near this guest overpass.
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And now let’s move back to the even more anticipated 2016 IOA attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
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Work on the ride is essentially complete and we should expect Team Member previews of the attraction any day now.
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Kong is the first major attraction to open at the resort since 2014’s Diagon Alley, and should draw massive crowds to Universal Orlando’s second theme park.
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A rockwork Kong looms over the ride’s entrance.
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Hard to photograph, but there are mister fans in place on the left side of the facade, meaning this will be where the bulk of the ride’s queue will be located. Expect long, hot, waits throughout the summer.
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“The Mess Tent” snack stand has appeared from behind walls and guests can once again purchase churros and lemonade from this refurbished quick service location.
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The menu, featuring foot long hot dogs, churros, pretzels, beer, and lemonade.
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The other tent, “Base Camp Provisions”s has yet to be brought from behind the walls. This will be the main merchandise location for the attraction.
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The attractions looms large as guests round the corner in Jurassic Park.
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It’s long been a tradition to take a peak over the “Kongstruction” walls from one of the lookout locations inside Camp Jurassic. Universal has put an end to this by closing off several sections of the area.
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Several sections of the rope climbing area are blocked off.
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Another closed off area.
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The line of merchandise for the new Skull Island attraction has been in stores at the resort for a short time. Everything from shirts, to coffee mugs, to keychains, lanyards, and Uni Minis.
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Several shirt designs have been created featuring the 8th Wonder of the World himself.
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Jumping over to the Studios, we’ve got a look at next year’s Race Through New York, Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction.
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We’re gonna see a lot more of this guy in the next year and beyond.
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Work on extending out the side of the building.
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No concept art has been released for the ride, so we’re left to guess as to what the final product may look like.
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The bathrooms on the left side of the building are quiet 90% of the time, but during concerts and other special events, they can get quite a line. Hopefully Universal is working on these capacity concerns.
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The backside of the building is obstructed by trees and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit supports. You can just barely make out the lack of walls back here.
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We’ll close out this week’s update with the project furthest from opening, Fast & Furious: Supercharged. The attractions replaces the Beetlejuice show and the Disaster attraction.
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There’s not a whole lot to see quite yet, as the ride won’t open until late next year, but we should see construction really kick in once 2016’s attractions open. This is where we’ll end this weeks update. Next week we’ll take a more complete look at the resort, with coverage of everything going on throughout the parks. We’ll see you next time!

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.

2 thoughts on “Universal Orlando Photo Update May 9th, 2016

  • May 10, 2016 at 9:36 pm
    Permalink

    Any word on when the Hulk or King Kong will open?

    • May 11, 2016 at 2:39 am
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      I expect both to open in July, maybe pushing in to August. Unfortunately Universal hasn’t given anything specific yet.

      Thanks for reading!

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