NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/5/16) Universal Orlando Taking Reservations For Sapphire Falls (MORE...)
(2/1/16) New Sapphire Falls Construction Photo (MORE...)
(1/27/16) Volcano Bay Slide Pieces Update (MORE...)
(1/22/16) Universal Orlando To Build Tram Road To Service Volcano Bay (MORE...)
Click here to read the full Screamscape review of Halloween Horror Nights 25!
General Resort News - (1/14/16) A quick construction status video running all around the Universal Orlando resort was posted to YouTube showing off the progress on Incredible Hulk, Skull Island, Fast & Furiouis and Race Through New York.
(1/7/16) Universal Orlando has announced the 2016 Mardi Gras Concert lineup:
Feb 6 - Hunter Hayes
Feb 13 - Diana Ross
Feb 14 - Barenaked Ladies
Feb 20 - Nate Ruess
Feb 27 - Fall Out Boy
Mar 5 - Kool & The Gang
Mar 12 - The Fray
Mar 13 - Adam Lambert
Mar 19 - Shawn Mendes
Mar 20 - 3 Doors Down
Mar 26 - REO Speedwagon
Apr 2 - T-Pain
Apr 9 - Jessie J.
Apr 16 - Yandel
In other news, if you notice any odd signs of new construction starting soon in the Universal Orlando employee lot, it seems they have filed out paperwork to expand the employee parking structure. Follow the link to the Orlando Biz Journal for all the details.
(11/10/15) Universal Orlando has posted a preview video for this year's New Year's Eve party at CityWalk that looks to be a blast. The party will feature DJ M-Squared, fireworks, admission to six nightclubs, six unique party zones, unlimited gourmet cuisine and a midnight campagne toast, all included with your ticket. Check it out below.
(11/4/15) Halloween may be over, but Behind the Thrills speculates a bit about what Halloween Horror Nights 26 may bring us in 2016, along with the already confirmed dates for next year's run.
(10/7/15) Universal Orlando has decided to follow Disney's lead and raised the price of parking to $20.
(9/23/15) According to this news story, there is now a plan in place as part of the I-4 revamp plan under way as it passes Universal Orlando to build a pedestrian bridge that will go across Kirkman from Universal Orlando towards the small grouping of hotels across the street. While the city is in talks with the private corporations in the area, including Universal, in order to fund the long-term care and maintenance of this project, I find the timing of this news also interesting.
Why? Because over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing talk of Universal looking into buying property across Kirkman for the resort’s future expansion plans, and I have to imagine that this could also tie into their future plans for the Wet ‘n Wild property site as well somehow down the line. Stay tuned… because it looks like Universal isn’t done growing.
(9/7/15) Universal Orlando has filed a lawsuit against Orange County and Condo association next to their Wet 'n Wild property, claiming that the two have allowed development that causes stormwater to drain into Sandy Lake, the manmade lake that is owned by Wet 'n Wild.
(8/5/15) Universal Orlando has announced the dates for A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016, which will take place on January 29-31st, 2016.
(6/17/15) Universal Orlando has announced that they will be closing down the famous Wet 'n Wild Orlando waterpark on December 31, 2016. It is sad to see what is commonly known as the birthplace of the modern waterpark experience close, but it will be replaced by Universal's Volcano Bay, which promises to offer a "next-generation" experience as a "water theme park that reimagines what it means to be a water park."
Ongoing 2015 / 2016 - Citywalk Renovations: Phase 2 - Under Construction - (11/2/15) If you haven't had a chance to try it yet, Universal has posted a video showing off the grand opening and inside look of their new NBC Sports Grill & Brew at CityWalk in Universal Orlando.
(10/7/15) Universal Orlando quietly opened the new NBC Sports Grill and Brew restaurant to the public for the first official customers on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile one reader did sent in three pictures of the menu so you can see what you can expect and what the price-ranges area.
(10/3/15) According to a picture sent in from last night (Friday), the new NBC Sports Grill & Brew at CityWalk appeared to be open and packed. Though they said there were no tables available, so it could have been a private event. Matching up somewhat with that last theory, another reader who tried to get in earlier that day was told by a guy guarding the door that they wouldn't open to the public until Tuesday.
On a side note, the giant basketball player statue and signage on the closed NBA City restaurant was also removed in the past few days. With the NBC Sports Grill ready to open, looks like they are ready to turn their focus on renovating the NBA site next. I've got to wonder if the old Cheesecake Factory rumor will still hold true.
(9/29/15) As one of our readers was hanging out in CityWalk waiting for the start of HHN to begin on Sunday, they witnessed a large group of trainees leaving the new NBC Sports restaurant in CityWalk, all carrying away “playbooks”... aka: training manuals. They managed to quiz one of them about when it would open and was told that they were hoping to open to the public in about two weeks.
(9/23/15) A reader sent in some great pics of the new NBC Sports Grill & Brew location at CityWalk, which is looking like it is nearly finished and could open within the next few weeks, or whenever they are finished training the staff.
(6/6/15) Following the announcement from Disney that they plan to open a retail/dining location called The NBA Experience as part of Disney Springs, Universal Orlando confirmed on their social media platforms that they had decided not to renew the lease of the existing NBA City restaurant in CityWalk in order to "reate an exciting, enw concept for that space" that will be announced in the near future. NBA City will close forever in late August, probably just in time for CityWalk to open their new NBC Sports Grill & Brew location.
Screamscape has been reporting that NBA City was expected to be the next site to close for months now, and while we don't know exactly what Universal Orlando has planned a few interesting concepts have been sent to us previously as rumored replacements for NBA City. While older rumors once mentioned the site as a possible WWE themed restaurant or Hall of Fame attraction, the latest rumors were indicating that the CityWalk location was being seriously considered for building a large Cheesecake Factory location, which would be the only one in the primary tourist corridor of Orlando. There are only two Cheesecake Factory locations in the Orlando area, with the closest being north of Universal at the Mall at Millennia area. So far Universal has been coming up with fantastic new ideas to transform and enhance CityWalk for the future, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for this location.
(6/2/15) Universal Orlando released the full details regarding NBC Sports Grill & Brew, the latest new restaurant opening at CityWalk this Fall.
“The world’s first-ever NBC Sports Grill & Brew is coming to Universal CityWalk – bringing an entirely new level of sports-dining experience. Opening this fall, the all-new restaurant is designed to reflect the excellence and excitement of NBC Sports’ award-winning coverage.
The new restaurant will combine a sophisticated and stylish setting with wall-to-wall sports coverage, a specially created menu that includes all your favorites and more – and an amazing beer selection.
A massive HD stadium screen more than 100-feet wide will tower over guests as they enter the restaurant. Searchlights will span the sky. And then – as guests enter – the real MVP experience will begin. Food will be prepared on open kettle grills set where everyone can watch the action. And every fan will have the best seat in the house thanks to nearly 100 HD TV screens that will be playing a constant stream of live sports content and in-depth sports coverage.
And no sports dining experience is complete without the perfect beer. NBC Sports Grill & Brew features more than 100 unique selections, ranging from craft beers to regional brews to an exclusive draft you can only find at the restaurant.” A video showing off the new site has been embedded below.
On a side note regarding the AMC Universal 20 theater, several of our local readers have also noticed the closure of some theaters in the multiplex, and one even wrote the theater about it to find out a little more. According to the letter back from the theater, “Thank you for contacting AMC Theatres. We appreciate your interest in Universal City Walk 20. We are hoping to have the other auditoriums open by the end of June. We experienced unexpected maintenance issues which initiated an interest in taking a closer look at the entire theatre for possible upgrades.”
(12/1/14) We’ve got a new rumor for you about another long-standing CityWalk location that has been rumored to close for quite some time. I speak of NBA City, the basketball themed restaurant to the left of the Hard Rock Cafe which has been the subject of many new restaurant rumors over the years. According to the latest whispers it may finally close down for good in early 2015 and be transformed into a new Cheesecake Factory location. Putting one of these into CityWalk wouldn’t be a bad idea at all, as there are only two in Orlando and both lie essentially outside the mainstream tourist corridor, with the closest being at at the Mall at Millenia area I believe, and none anywhere along the I-Drive corridor or down near Disney. We’ll just have to wait and see if this holds out to be true or not.
2016 - Sapphire Falls Resort - Under Construction - (2/5/16) Universal Orlando has begun accepting early reservations to their new Sapphire Falls Resort for dates starting with July 14, 2016. If you reserve between now and May 31st, they are offering a special $150 dining credit if you book at least a 4-night length of stay between July 14th and Dec 31st, 2016. Keep in mind that the actual opening date of the resort is still fluid and can open earlier if they are ready to do so, the July 14th date is just a solid date that they feel comfortable with enough to start accepting early reservations. They’ve also posted a new promotional video that features a lot of concept art for the new resort.
(2/1/16) Thanks to a reader for sending in a new picture of the Sapphire Falls resort construction taking place at Universal Orlando.
Looks like they still have a ways to go to get this one up and running for Summer 2016.
(10/21/15) A reader staying at Universal Orlando managed to get a couple of very good shots of the new Sapphire Falls Resort under construction, which I've added to our collection. Check them out.
(10/3/15) I forgot to post these, but when I stayed at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort for Halloween Horror Nights two weeks ago, I had a great view of the construction site for the new Sapphire Falls Resort, which is rising very quickly into the sky. Check out great photos.
(8/5/15) While Universal Orlando still has not been willing to comment on the issue of having Universal Express access for guests of their new Sapphire Falls Resort, a reader did call the reservations hotline who did confirm that Universal Express would NOT be an included amenity for the Sapphire Falls Resort. While checking rates for rooms, it also seems that while Sapphire Falls is in the same "Preferred" tier as the Royal Pacific, the current room rates for Sapphire Falls are being priced at about the mid-point price between the room-rates for Royal Pacific and Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
So why no Universal Express pass for Sapphire Falls? Certainly this seems to be the reason why the room rates are cheaper than the Royal Pacific, but couldn't they just add it in and charge the same rate as Royal Pacific? According to one Screamscape source, Universal's first three on-site resort hotels were not just a partnership between Loews and Universal, but apparently included Hard Rock as a minority partner as well. According to this tale, the Universal Express amenity is somehow tied to this deal with Hard Rock as an exclusive amenity of those first three resorts: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. So as long as Hard Rock remains as an active partner, we may never seen Universal Express offered at any other Universal Orlando Resort project.
(7/30/15) I've got a few more details about Universal's new 1000-room Sapphire Falls Resort. A new description of the resort issued mentions a number of new features guests will be interested in:
"Guests will be captivated by a vivid retreat that evokes a free-spirited, Caribbean sense of ease with a modern yet timeless feel. The unforgettable island escape will feature Universal Orlando’s largest on-site, zero-entry pool at 16,000 square-feet, with two white sand beaches, a water slide, cabanas and a fire pit. Dining options will include Amatista Cookhouse, a Caribbean-inspired restaurant with open exhibition kitchen and outdoor dining; Strong Water Tavern, a destination lobby lounge offering daily rum tastings and a tapas-style menu; Drhum Club Kantine, a poolside bar and grill serving a menu focusing on fresh fish and specialty tropical cocktails; New Dutch Trading Co., a quick-service marketplace; and 24-hour room service. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will be a Preferred on-site hotel."
Now about that last part... Universal will be reclassifying their resorts with the pending launch of the new Sapphire Falls Resort. The Hard Rock Hotel and Portofino Bay Hotel are being classified as "Premier" level resorts. Sapphire Falls will join with the Royal Pacific Resort in the new "Preferred" tier, while the Cabana Bay Beach Resort will remain as the resorts sole "Value" level resort.
What is odd however, is if you look at the list of guest benefits for Sapphire Falls, it lists Early Park Admission, water taxi and shuttle bus service to the theme parks and CityWalk, comp delivery of merchandise purchased to be sent to your hotel, charging privileges with your room key "And more!". While the "And more!" leaves things open, I've got to point out the one curious and very important benefit not listed here... Universal Express access to the attractions. Currently Universal Express is listed as a benefit to guests of the Royal Pacific Resort, which will join the Sapphire Falls in the "Preferred" tier, and Universal Express is a benefit for all Universal Resort guests, except those staying at the Value level Cabana Bay Beach Resort. So I guess the question is... can the Universal Express program handle the impact of another 1,000 rooms to be added to the service without negatively impacting the program.
I've asked Universal for some clarification on this subject, but so far I haven't heard anything back yet, so I can only assume that either the "And more!" will include the addition of Universal Express for the Sapphire Falls guests, or perhaps consider the idea that Universal Express stands a chance of being dropped as a benefit for Royal Pacific guests sometime next year and reserved only for those staying at Premier level hotels. Hopefully Universal Orlando will be able to clarify the issue in the near future.
(7/23/15) While the opening is still a year away, Universal Orlando has opened up reservations for their new Sapphire Falls Resort online, and is pricing it at the same rates as their wonderful Royal Pacific Resort. From what i see the earliest date available right now is July 14th, 2016.
(7/8/15) Things are progressing quickly over at Universal Orlando's Sapphire Falls construction site. Check out a great photo of the towers already rising quickly into the sky as posted on Twitter here.
(4/29/15) Special thanks to a reader who sent in two great shots of the Sapphire Falls resort construction site this week.
(3/13/15) A couple of new pictures showing off the progress being made already at the Sapphire Falls Resort construction site were sent in this week.
(9/10/14) Universal Orlando pulled a huge surprise rabbit out of their hat a few hours ago with the surprise announcement of their 5th on-site resort hotel project with Loews. As we saw in the earlier permit filing, this one will go in right across the street from the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort, filling up the available space between it and the Royal Pacific Resort.
They call it the Sapphire Falls Resort, and it is a beauty to behold! This should add another 1000 new rooms to Universal Orlando’s line-up as well as featuring a 131,000 meeting/special event space. If that wasn’t enough, it will be connected via an air-conditioned / covered bridge to the Loews Royal Pacific Resort who’s own special events area is being renovated and expanded in 2015. Mix them both together and your special event can take up to 272,000 square-feet of room.
Enough about that though, lets look at the concept art of the Sapphire Falls Resort itself. Beautiful buildings, inspired with a mixture of old Caribbean stone-architecture with modern resort towers, set in a lush tropical hideaway atmosphere. The lobby will feature floor to ceiling windows offering views out to the postcard blue water outside along with a towering waterfall that will run down into a large lagoon area, where Universal Orlando’s boat taxi service will come to pick you up for a cruise to CityWalk.
The resort will feature a unique pool with a waterslide, cabanas, a sand beach, poolside bar & grill, a full service restaurant inside and much more. This looks nothing short of amazing… and it’s just not fair, because I already had a hard time picking which one of Universal’s resorts is my favorite, and this one looks just as fantastic as the rest. Maybe more so! I certainly know where I’m going to be staying in Summer 2016!
(8/12/14) The Orlando Sentinel has confirmed that documents filed last week with Orange County indicate a “notice of commencement” for excavation work to begin soon on the property were Universal has previously filed plans to build a new 1,000 room hotel between the Cabana Bay and Royal Pacific.
(6/26/14) Parkscope discovered an assortment of new Universal Orlando permits filed with Orange Country this week relating to exanding the number of hotel rooms Universal has on-site with their partners at Loews Hotels. The most interesting of which is what they discovered on-tap for a 5th hotel property, to be located right between the Royal Pacific and the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
This new property will feature 1,000 rooms along with a meeting/convention space that will be connected to the existing facility at the Royal Pacific by a bridge. The placement of this new resort will also allow guests to opt to either walk to CityWalk down the same pathway currently under construction for the Cabana Bay guests, take a bus at what appears to be new bus stop on the convention center side, or cross over to Royal Pacific itself and take a boat to CityWalk. Another interesting item is that despite the fact that this hotel will have a separate car entrance across the street from the entrance to Cabana Bay, it is also referred to on one page of the documents as the “ROYAL PACIFIC RESORT FIRST ADDITION”. If this last bit holds true, then I guess we already know the basic theme of how this will end up looking. I took the liberty of placing the overhead layout of the new expansion over an aerial image of the property, so you can see how it all fits together.
2017 - Volcano Bay / New Waterpark - (1/27/16) A new video from Mako Madness dropped by Wet 'n Wild to shoot a quick video of the Volcano Bay waterslide pieces sitting on site this week.
(1/22/16) I forgot to mention this last week, but early building plans filed from Universal Orlando now show that they intend to build a dedicated "tram road" that will run from the southern parking garage along a path close to the freeway to shuttle guests from there to the new Volcano Bay waterpark. I'm guessing that some of this will be a reconfiguration of the existing roadway built for the seldom used Southern parking toll plaza that will run guests over to dedicated shuttle stop south of the new Sapphire Falls Resort. From there guests will pass through an underground pathway under Adventure Way to get to the waterpark itself.
While I'm sure Universal will likely just run buses along this route, similar to how they transport guests from Cabana Bay to Citywalk, the narrow pathway here would also be ideal for some kind of dedicated light rail / trolley system that could be sure and give it some personality.
While on the subject of Volcano Bay, a couple of pictures showing off the big collection of new waterslide pieces over in a Wet 'n Wild storage lot can be found on Twitter.
(1/21/16) Screamscape has been told that a bunch of new light green, blue and yellow waterslide pieces were spotted in the Wet 'n Wild parking lot yesterday. Looks like some of the first slides for the new Volcano Bay park have finally arrived, but not sure when they will be ready to put them up. We hope to see photos of these soon.
(11/12/15) In an article about how the price of parking in Orlando has jumped from $15 to $20 at most of the major theme parks, hitting an almost taboo level of pricing, the article mentions an interesting factoid about Universal’s new Volcano Bay waterpark. According to the plans submitted to the city, guests intending to visit Volcano Bay will be asked to park in Universal Orlando’s two giant parking structures, along with the guests going to the two theme parks and CityWalk. From there they will “take a tram” over to the waterpark itself, so for everyone wondering, it seems there will be no on-site parking at Volcano Bay itself.
(5/28/15) Universal Orlando confirmed this afternoon that Volcano Bay will be the name of their new waterpark to open at Universal Orlando in 2017.
According to the blog posting by Universal Creative Big Cheese, Mark Woodbury, "This is one of the most exciting projects we have had the opportunity to be part of because Volcano Bay will completely redefine the water park experience for our guests.
The park will feel as if it is set in picture-perfect tropical islands, formed by a massive volcano – and it will have something for every member of the family. It will feature radically-innovative attractions, peaceful moments of relaxation and an experience that we hope will change the way guests think about water theme parks."
As Screamscape readers have seen, construction has already begun on this project just South of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
(4/23/15) According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal Orlando's new on resort property waterpark, Volcano Bay, will open in Fall 2016.
(3/18/15) According to the OBJ, Universal was given approval from the South Florida Water Management District to go ahead with Project 533... the new waterpark.
(2/16/15) ParkScope has posted a new image of the rumored Volcano Bay waterpark site as taken from a permit application. The drawing is a bit vague to me, with various structures here and there on the site, though I can make out what clearly looks like a slide tower and slides at the bottom of the image.
(1/21/15) A little more information about Universal Orlando's waterpark seems to have leaked out in the form of a new permit document uncovered by ParkJourney and posted to their Facebook page. This one is interesting because it refers to itself as an Administrative Master Plan and is filed under the name "Universal Project N",
The descriptive below still refers to Project 533 however, and it also says that the 34 acre site will feature approximately 13 "resort amenities" that will range between 20 and 200 feet in height. The 200 foot height limit also seems to tie in nicely with Screamscape's previous rumor that the park may be themed to resemble a large volcano, which should be quite stunning and massive looking as it is located next to the I-4.
(1/12/15) Today let's delve into the mysterious new Universal project under construction to the south of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, known officially as Project 533 on the various permit paperwork filed with the county. While nothing has ever been confirmed, this project is widely considered to be a new on-site waterpark for the Universal Orlando Resort. A few trademarks have also been filed over 2014 with names like Volcano Bay and WonderSea Island that many assume are attached to this project as either possible names for the park, or perhaps as names for themed lands within the park.
According to Screamscape sources the new Universal waterpark project will be unlike any other waterpark seen before. In addition to being designed as a collection of highly themed environments with unique themed attraction, I've heard rumors about it having some kind of nighttime show in the evening (possibly with pyrotechnics of some kind). I've also heard rumors of a possible "indoor section" of the waterpark that would allow for more comfortable year-round operations on the cooler winter days as well as a place for guests to go in the summer when a typical summer lightning storm passes through in the afternoon. On top of this, I'm hearing about it potentially being a more premium waterpark experience that will put RFID bands on all park guests for not just cashless purchases, but to also offer a queue-free park experience allow you to hang out in the wavepool, lazy rover, catch some rays or chill at the bar until your time to slide.
With words like Volcano and Island being tossed around so far in the trademarks, a Pacific Island theme (much like the nearby Royal Pacific hotel) seems to be the most likely overall theme for the park. I have to admit, it would be very interesting to see a giant fake Volcano built right alongside the I-4 right there, helping block the view of the outside (non Universal) world from the rest of the waterpark, as well as serving as quite the attention getter to all the tourists passing by. Hopefully we'll find out more soon as the Universal Orlando resort moves to take things to the next level once again.
(12/4/14) What appear to be more permits and plans to build a new waterpark (Project 533) on Universal Orlando property have begun to leak out through ParkScope, detailing the possible future use for the 53-acre property directly South of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The listed timetable for the work permits is November 2014 through to November 2016, though that could possibly just be the window of time START work with this permit, and not to finish it.
(7/3/14) Is Universal Orlando still hard at work designing a new themed waterpark experience? While the general thought was that any plans to build their own waterpark went out the window once they fully purchased Wet ‘n Wild, but the rumors of continued development are still very strong. ParkScope may have uncovered another piece of the puzzle this week by finding a new Trademark filing by Universal for the name, “Volcano Bay” sent in on June 26th.
This would be fitting, as one of the rumored themed for a Universal themed waterpark was to build it around a large fake Volcano mountain structure that would give them a reason to add fun chaotic elements of themeing to the park’s slides and attractions. Steam vents, pyro and mist projection screens full of virtual flames. According to the filing, they name is intended for use in “Amusement park and water park rides”, “entertainment in the nature of a water park ride”.
2017 - Cabana Bay Beach Resort Expansion - Confirmed - (9/1/15) Universal Orlando dropped another bomb of an announcement a few hours ago... one that I had actually heard about being more of a long-term plan than something immediately pending, but Comcast is pushing pull steam ahead to grow their new theme park business.
So what is it? A large expansion to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort was announced earlier today, as proof that the hotel's retro concept has been a huge hit. A pair of new hotel towers will be built on the South side of the property near the end of the Continental and Americana Towers that will add 400 more guest rooms to the property (for 2,200 in total I believe), some that promise to offer incredible views of Universal's new Volcano Bay waterpark. Both the new room towers and Volcano Bay are expected to be complete by 2017.
(4/16/15) I’m not sure how much I’m buying into this at the moment, but the latest rumor coming the Universal Orlando campus claims that once the new Sapphire Falls Resort is finished in 2016, work crews may turn their attention towards an expansion of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort that could see a pair of towers added onto the ends of the Americana and Continental wings that would feature rooms with views facing the Volcano Bay waterpark. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Nintendo Attractions Deal - (6/27/15) During this year’s E3 gaming convention Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto was asked a bit more about his dealings with Universal to bring the world of Nintendo to life. His comments were centered around Mario and the Mario universe, saying that they’ve had discussions about Mario has a character, the world and Nintendo’s vision for it all, conveying to all to Universal Creative so they can turn “it into something that could exist within that park.” With Mario as Nintendo’s flagship character icon, it is no mystery that any land or attractions build around the Nintendo universe would begin with Mario.
(5/7/15) Talk about a strange piece of news to wake up to this morning, but Nintendo and Comcast have announced a new agreement that will see the worlds and characters from Nintendo video games brought to the Universal Parks & Resorts in both America and in Japan. While they have no details of how this may be realized, or what park may get it first, they did say that Universal will create “spectacular, dedicated experiences based on Nintendo’s wildly popular games, characters and worlds.”
So while adding some kind of Nintendo game themed attraction or land to Universal Studios Japan is almost a no-brainer, how to add them to the US parks may be a bit more tricky. The Hollywood park is fairly land-locked and has been moving heaven and earth (literally) to bring the world’s of The Simpsons, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Fast & Furious to life, all within the same general time-frame, which means Hollywood may be the last stop for Mario and friends to land.
Future Projects - BREAKING (12/23/15) According to this news report the huge property deal to sell over 450 acres of property to Universal Orlando has been completed, according to comments made to the Orlando Sentinel from an attorney to represents Colony Capital, who was selling the property. Universal Orlando was not willing to comment on the sale.
Everything I've heard so far is clear about one point... that Wet 'n Wild will be closed down at this point, and you can probably expect some of the bigger/newer slides added to the park over the last decade (Disco H2O, Brain Wash, Aqua Drag Racer, and The Storm) to be moved over to the new park as well as Phase 2 additions if they are still in good shape.
(12/4/15) The news is all in a tizzy this week about the idea that a third major Universal Orlando theme park could be on the way down by the convention center. A couple of major points were also make amid the various reports... that the majority of the land they would be buying is ALREADY zoned for theme park use... and quite a bit of it is already zoned to allow structures as tall as 400 feet. Sounds like a perfect fit, doesn't it?
(12/2/15) Surprise! It came to light on Tuesday afternoon that Universal Orlando now has an "option to buy" the 474 acre property off Universal Blvd, just north of the Convention Center's North Concourse. If this all sounds familiar... it should... because Universal Orlando once owned this property along with the rest of the nearby land all around here which was purchased from Lockheed Martin years ago and underwent a large clean-up effort to make it suitable for development. Vivendi, who owned Universal near the start of the 21st century was facing some dire financial problems at the time and opted to sell off all this property that was once earmarked for future Universal Orlando theme parks, golf courses, and resort hotels.
With that in mind, it would be great to see Universal Orlando retake this segment of the property, which is pretty much what's left over that hasn't already been developed by others over the last decade.
(2/17/15) I've been promising to discuss this for some time now, so lets address the elephant in the room. If Universal opens a brand new waterpark... what will become of Wet 'n Wild?
So what will happened to the Wet 'n Wild Property? As you can see from the two maps I've attached, the ammount of property Universal now owns over by Wet 'n Wild is far larger than just that taken up by the waterpark itself. Put together, Universal actually has more than enough property over here to build yet another massive resort property, which is exactly what the rumors are claiming that they may be prepared to do. So far the plan seems to hinge around not only adding another Universal resort, but also one that would have a mini-CityWalk area of it's own.
From here things get interesting... because once they go this route, I've heard that they are on the look out for other properties to purchase. In fact... according to one source they would love to gobble up several of the smaller properties on the other side of I-Drive, because this would give them property on both sides of I-4, which would only help them link the main Universal Orlando property to any new developments they place on the Wet 'n Wild property.
(9/12/13) The Orlando Sentinel reports that NBCUniversal President and CEO Steve Burke told investors that their studies of the Universal Orlando resort shows that they could have between 10,000 to 15,000 hotel rooms on site and maintain a profitable occupancy rate. Much like the Walt Disney World expansion in the 90s, they believe that a built-up of on-site hotel rooms will also increase attendance and profitability at the theme parks.
Currently Universal Orlando has 2,400 rooms between the three existing resorts (Portifino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel and the Royal Pacific) and jump to 4,200 rooms next year when the Cabana Bay Beach Resort opens. By comparison to Walt Disney World’s 26,000 rooms, this isn’t much, but if Universal Orlando were to aggressively double or even triple the number of rooms they have on site, I’m certain this could certainly send a shockwave that would be felt by Disney’s own occupancy rate.
In addition, Burke says that parent company Comcast will accelerate the pace of new rides and attractions at the parks, as recent investments have been paying off. Attendance at Universal Studios Florida has been up close to 20% since Transformers opened in June. NBCUniversal will elevate Capital Spending to almost $500 million this year… a figure that the the Sentinel notes will likely because the company’s new baseline, as the goal is to now open a new attraction every single year at both Universal Studios Hollywood and at the Universal Orlando Resort.