Universal Studios Florida
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(4/15/18) Fast & Furious Now Soft Open (MORE...)
(4/12/18) What's Next? (MORE...)
(4/4/18) Night Show Construction Update (MORE...)
(2/17/18) Rip, Ride, Rocket... Valley (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Nothing is planned at this point in time...
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - DIAGON ALLEY Review!
Screamscape Previews Diagon Alley!! We’ve Got All The Details!
Screamscape Review Part II: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Screamscape Review Part III: The Hogwarts Express!
General Park News - (2/17/18) Oopsie... according to a report at Theme Park University the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster valleyed at about 2:30pm yesterday. For those not in the know, while this is a rare thing to happen, it is also not all that uncommon either, as some coasters, depending on their design, are more prone to this kind of issue, especially in the colder months, especially if a good gust of wind blows from the right direction. I'm sure Universal will get things back up and running in the next day or so.
(11/22/17) Screamscape was lucky enough to be invited down to Universal Orlando for a couple days to see a preview of their massive new Christmas holiday season entertainment offerings, featuring brand new additions and the return of some classics to both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks.
(2/10/18) For longtime Universal Studios Florida guests, you may remember the old Nickelodeon Studios facility that was at the park when it first opened. Once it closed down, not much was done with it for a good number of years until the Blue Man Group took over a portion of it for their show, but the rest lay dormant other than playing host to the occasional production inside Stage 19.
According to this article, the old closed Stage 17 building has completed a $1.2 million refurbishment project that begun in 2016 to create a new state of the art support building for production clients. Follow the link to get the breakdown on what the new facility has to offer production groups looking to shoot in Orlando.
The “Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” entertainment makeover spans from Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure over to Diagon Alley inside Universal Studios Florida as well. Just as you see in Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley has been decorated for the Christmas holiday season all over, and glows after dark from all the lights and lit-up garland strung all about. Stroll about the streets with a Hot Butterbeer in hand once you arrive, because the seasonal treat is not something you want to miss. You’ll also want to keep an ear out for the famous Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees show, as the singing group is now performing an entirely brand new show full of the most popular Christmas songs from the Wizarding World.
The fun continues outside of The Wizarding World where on select nights between Nov. 18 and Jan. 6, 2018, holiday music favorites, Mannheim Steamroller will perform for the crowds inside the park.
The big new addition for the year here is "Universal's Holidays Parade featuring Macy's" which is entirely brand new this year. This is not the same Macy's parade you may have seen at the park in the past... this is a full blown major nighttime spectacular parade the likes of which I don't think anyone has seen from Universal Orlando before.
The parade features several beautiful and highly detailed floats covered with brilliant lighting effects, themed to various popular characters from the Shrek, Despicable Me and Madagascar animated films. These are mixed in with live street performers as well as an assortment of all new Macy's balloon characters flying above you. Since this is a Christmas parade, it can't end without a special appearance from Santa at the end.
This new parade is sure to be a family favorite for years to come, something you’ll want to bring your family to see year after year.
(11/15/17) Universal Orlando has revealed a few more details about the Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter festivities which will open to park guests from Nov. 18 through Jan. 6.
"For the first time at Universal Orlando Resort, guests will be able to celebrate Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as part of Universal’s resort-wide Holidays event. As guests explore both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, they will be surrounded by uniquely themed Christmas decorations, and enjoy all-new entertainment created exclusively for the holiday season.
In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees will take the stage for a brand-new holiday performance that will include new songs like, “Nothing like a Holiday Spell” and “Accio Christmas.”
In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Frog Choir will join in on the festivities with three brand-new holiday songs, including, “The Most Magical Yule Ball Of All.” And as night falls, Hogwarts castle will illuminate with “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a breathtaking projection-mapping experience where guests will see incredible holiday moments inspired by the Harry Potter series on the iconic castle."
You can read even more details at the official Universal Orlando blog.
(10/14/17) Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time is now officially closed at Universal Studios Florida, which was also the first park to get this groundbreaking new attraction back in Spring 1996. It was later cloned to open in the Hollywood park in 1999 (and closed in 2012) and cloned again at the Japanese park in 2001, where it exists as the last remaining version of the attraction.
During my visit to the park a few weeks ago for Halloween Horror Nights I made sure to stop by and pay my last respects to the attraction. While you can't shoot footage during the film portion of the attraction, I did shoot some pictures of the Cyberdyne Systems themed queue and pre-show experience to share. Okay? SUPER!
(10/12/17) ParkPass has posted some new pictures from Universal Studios Florida this week showing off various changes that have taken place in the park as they get ready and begin to set up some infrastructure for the Holiday entertainment lineup, the closure of T2/3D, outside touches on Fast & Furious and even some work starting of the water barges from the Cinematic Spectacular.
(9/9/17) Universal Studios Florida has announced that the Terminator 2: 3-D attraction at the park will be closing down for good following the last performance on Sunday, October 8th. According to the media release they are working on a new "live action experience based on a high-energy Universal franchise" to replace it and open in 2019.
Once the pinnacle of what a theme park 4D Theater show performance could strive to be, T2:3D has been carefully balancing atop a bubble for the last several years, always the subject of rumor and speculation as possibly being the next attraction to close down forever. Looks like time finally caught up to it. (Time... get it?) Well, as the big man says, "Hasta La Vista Baby!"
On to the next big question though... just what will replace it? In live-action form no less? Really, if the park was going to axe a 4D Theater attraction, most of us figured Shrek 4D would be the next one to go just because the Hollywood version also shut down this year, though T2:3D's Hollywood counterpart closed down several years ago to make way for that park's Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction.
Off the top of my head... I kind of hoping the old T2:3D doesn't become a Pitch Perfect live show or something odd like the long rumored Saturday Night Live show concept. They did say a high-energy concept that was also a Universal franchise, so that rules out any kind of "The Walking Dead" theory out there, so what's left? Perhaps an official theme park tie-in to the new Dark Universe film universe would be fitting? If I'm not mistaken "Bride of Frankenstein" may be the next film from the Dark Universe slated to hit theaters... also in 2019. Hmmm...
2017 - Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon - (4/10/17) If you were following along with Screamscape on Twitter or Instagram this past week you probably caught onto our on-site footage from the grand opening of the Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon attraction at Universal Studios Florida that took place on Thursday.
I'll have a more in-depth review of the new simulator attraction later this week, which as the name implies, takes riders on a wacky Race Through New York in 3D. What I did want to touch base on at the moment is just a reminder that this is the first 100% virtual queue attraction at Universal Orlando, which does not feature a regular or stand-by line in any fashion. Guests must either first approach a kiosk located near the attraction to get a return time, or use the free Universal Orlando app to sign up for one. You then return to the attraction at the time given where you are given a colored card and enter what would normally be the ride's queue... if it had a queue... but instead you enter a museum of sorts, featuring moments and memorabilia from the history of The Tonight Show from over the years, with showcases installed for each of the show's hosts over the years. As I mentioned, there is no line, you are free to wander around and explore the first floor of the attraction building. Oh, and remember that colored card I mentioned? There are six different colors you can get, and every so often a color is called and everyone with the matching card can then proceed up to the second level of the attraction building.
The second level of the attraction is themed as a sort of giant "green room" waiting area for show guests, complete with plenty of big chairs to relax in, many of which with USB charging ports built in I might add, which is a very cool perk. There are also interactive desk stations you can play with (in case you want to send your own virtual Thank You card), as well as a stage area which is used for on-site performances by the Ragtime Gals singers or the Hashtag the Panda costume character. Like before, you simply explore and wait for your color to get called where you then proceed to the pre-ride boarding room for your safety spiel and final ride instructions.
Without going into any major spoilers, this is a large simulator attraction, where the rows you are divided into correspond with the rows of studio audience seats (aka: Ride Seats) you will sit in on the large motion platform. From what we were told, there are two separate theaters, each able to accommodate 72 guests at a time (6 rows of 12-seats across). With a ride experience that lasts about four and a half minutes, and if we guess they take about 90 seconds to reload and launch again, each theater can give 10 rides an hour, and with 2 theaters you are looking at a theoretical capacity of 1,440 riders per hour which isn't bad at all.
(4/5/17) Jimmy Fallon is at Universal Orlando this week and Universal has posted a video of Jimmy taking on the experience of the "Race Through New York" attraction himself for the first time. He seems legitimately blown away by seeing the whole thing brought to life. Check out the video below, and prepare for the official grand opening event to take place in the park on the morning of Thursday, April 6th.
(3/3/17) Good news for those of you in Orlando this week... Universal Orlando held employee preview rides on the new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday and then actually soft opened the ride to the public late on Thursday, following a second round of employee preview rides.
So far the first detailed report sent in from a reader said that they really liked the new ride. I asked for a brief spoiler-free report of the new experience and they were happy to send it in. As for the ride experience, while it wont compete with the "E" ticket likes of Gringotts or Transformers, our rider said Race Through New York was a solid "D" ticket attraction worthy of your attention.
As Universal claimed, the new experience is entirely free of a traditional ride queue. When it does open guests outside will sign up to wait in the Virtual Line and get a return time for the attraction if they are unable to go in right away.
The "queue line was very well made up. When you enter, you get a color coded card and when the lights in the room change to the color of your card, you proceed to the next room. You have 2 different area to wait in. One has different areas showing the Late Show through the years, from the beginning to now. The second room (editor note: themed to look like a green room) is where the monitors are, where you watch various clips from Jimmy Fallon and they have seating and interactive games to play while waiting on your color to be called. When your color is called again, you proceed to the boarding room, where you hear the safety spiel. After that, you go into the ride room."
The describe the ride room itself as being a large room based simulator experience, where the seats you sit in are set up to look like a studio audience. They didn't get an exact count, but they believe the ride platform had six rows of seats, possibly as wide as 12 guests per row, with a simple seat-belt restraint. The ride film is in 3D and riders were wearing the same style 3D glasses that are used on Escape from Gringotts. Again, they were not sure of the overall capacity, but they believe that there were at least 2, possibly 3, ride rooms within the building to help keep guests moving through.
"You are in a race through New York against Jimmy Fallon among the various highlights of NYC. Best part of ride was near the end."
(1/20/17) You can spot the first bit of released footage from the new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon ride in a video package posted to Twitter which includes information about entering a contest to win a trip to Orlando to ride it. You can check it out below.
On a related note, we did a little digging regarding the ride hardware itself and were told that the attraction building contains two very large simulator theater systems for added capacity. If the reports are true Universal Creative tapped DyMo Rides to provide the motion platform hardware for the new attraction as well. Early reports from sources describe the experience as being something simple and fun that the public should enjoy while using good company synergy tying in with The Tonight Show brand.
Below that you will also find one more Tweet, this one from Universal Orlando, who shows off some of the safety video Jimmy Fallon and The Roots shot for the new attraction as well.
Currently I'm told that Universal is testing the new Virtual Line system on the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction.
(1/18/17) Universal Orlando has confirmed that their new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon ride will open to the public on April 6th. In addition Fallon will be shooting the episodes of the Tonight Show from Universal Orlando from April 3 - 6.
The interesting news is that Universal has also confirmed that the attraction will open with their very first official "Virtual Line" experience. Guests will access the Virtual Line either through the free Official Universal Orlando Resort App, or through one of the kiosks located just outside the attraction entrance. Instead of standing in a line as you would on any other attraction, you will be given time to return to enter right into the attraction experience with no long wait.
Late 2017 - New Winter Parade - Rumor - (6/11/16) While there were rumors that Universal is planning to make a replacement for the Macy’s Parade winter event at the park, I’m told that the initial casting call for the Macy’s Parade has been posted in the park this week, so it looks like it will return for at least one more season, placing the new parade for Winter 2017.
(3/10/16) According to OrlandoInformer, Universal Orlando sent out surveys asking about possible new winter holiday entertainment concepts they are considering. As I mentioned last week, I believe the Macy's Parade is going away for good, so one of these ideas would likely be the replacement, as well as coming up with new ideas for other areas of both parks.
Ideas mentioned included new Harry Potter themed holiday ideas such as holiday version of the Frog Choir, a night projection show on Hogwarts castle, and even extra ticket / after-hours ideas such as a Yule Ball, Great Hall Dinners or other special night events in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Other ideas include glowing night parades, a Universal Holiday Parade (probably with existing park characters and IP), as well as getting opinions on the existing lineup and how it compared to the new ideas, or even alternate but similar ideas in the case of Grinchmas.
As Screamscape previously reported however, I’ve been told that the Macy’s Parade is very unlikely to return, as previous guest surveys indicated that guests were growing weary of it.
(2/26/16) Rumor has it that either this winter, or in 2017, Universal will premiere some kind of new winter parade experience that will serve as a replacement for the long running Macy’s Parade.
2018 - Fast & Furious - Supercharged - (4/15/18) If you happen to be planning a trip to Universal Orlando this month and were bummed that Fast & Furious wouldn't open until May, you may be in luck. Apparently the attraction has quietly soft opened for technical rehearsal periods. What this means is... it may not be open all day... it may break down a lot... but if things are going well and you check in on it while at the park, you have a good chance of taking a preview spin on the park's newest attraction.
(12/26/17) It's not even 2018 yet and Universal Studios Florida has already opened the new Fast & Furious themed "Custom Gear Shop" that will also serve as the exit to the new Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction when it opens in Spring 2018. You can find a few pictures of the new shop posted over at the Attractions Magazine website this week.
(11/4/17) Universal Orlando has released some new art and details about the new Fast & Furious - Supercharged attraction this week. For starters, the attraction is now set to open in "Spring 2018" which is a good sign that construction is proceeding well inside those walls as Universal seeks to bring their huge Fast & Furious film franchise to life for the Florida park guests. While this is based on the attraction that was first created for the Hollywood park's backlot tour, they report that there will be some modifications and additions made to enhance the new Orlando version that will be a self-contained adventure ride.
In addition to all the characters included in the Hollywood version of the attraction (Dom, Hobbs, Letty, Roman and Owen Shaw), two more are being added to the Orlando attraction: Tej (played by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Mia (Jordana Brewster). As with the film series, the cars are also featured stars here, and 15 of them will be on site for you to see and take pictures with... 12 directly from the films and 3 more created especially just for the Orlando attraction.
The list includes Dom's iconic Dodge Charger and Letty's Turbo Truck, and as this attraction will feature the same Virtual Line system as Jimmy Fallon's Race Through New York, I'd say it was a safe bet that most of these cars would be put on display just inside the attraction in a holding area, similar to the Tonight Show museum-like area on the first floor of Race Through New York. Guests will use the Virtual Line system through a mobile device running the Universal Orlando Resort App or by using a kiosk located near the attraction entrance.
According to the details from Universal you'll enter the attraction into the underground headquarters for the "Fast family", enjoy music from the films as various scenes play out around you, and travel through other places inspired by the film series like the "Family Room" and Tej's high-tech "War Room". Eventually you are "invited to attend a race after-party that can't be missed" and you'll climb aboard a custom party bus Tej has arranged to get you to the party. As always happens in attractions, something goes wrong quickly as the villain Owen Shaw is spotted heading your way... and the rest is history as you go on the adventure of a lifetime.
(10/20/17) OrlandoParkNews has posted a few new construction shots of the outside of the new Fast & Furious attraction set to open in 2018. One interesting item they noticed was a new sign by the entrance area advertising a "Single Riders" queue entrance. Not too long ago Universal confirmed the rumors that Fast & Furious: Supercharged would feature the same Virual Queue system that they launched with Race Through New York. However, the inclusion of a single riders line also seems to indicate that guests unable to make a virtual reservation or wait for one will also have the option to wait in real time in a single-rider line.
While we're on the subject of Fast & Furious, I don't think I've discussed much about what the ride will be like. Of course,you can expect that, much like Skull Island, the main portion of the ride experience will be a semi-clone of the immersion tunnel attraction built for the Hollywood park. Instead of riding in the backlot trams as you do in Hollywood, they'll also borrow the giant transporter technology from Skull Island as well for Fast & Furious.... except this time the giant trucks will be themed as giant party buses.
No word yet on who the driver will be however, as we know they have animatronics "driving" the trucks at Skull Island. There were rumors of some custom scenes that could be added to the start and end of the attraction to spruce it up, but last I heard most of these may have been cut. One that may still be included however may be some kind of gag with an explosion and flying cars towards the end that could put to use a couple of old props that may be familiar to guests who have visited the Hollywood park may remember that park's first Fast & Furious segment on the tour. For now we'll have to wait and see.
(6/7/17) Universal Orlando has announced that we can expect their new Fast & Furious - Supercharged attraction to open sometime in Spring 2018. They also confirmed a previous rumor that claimed that the Fast & Furious experience would also feature their new Virtual Line experience, just like Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon.
(6/22/16) Universal Orlando has made it official, the construction wall signs outside Fast & Furious: Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida have been changed to give the new attraction a 2018 opening date instead of 2017. You can see pictures of the walls posted to Facebook at Coaster Nation, along with a new hashtag #FastFuriousRide
(3/22/16) A new photo update of aerial construction photos over Universal Orlando was posted to ThemeParksAndTravels.com this week. Right below the top (second picture) they have several great shots of the old Disaster site, which has now been completely demolished behind the scenes, leaving only the San Francisco facade visible from the street.
Keep scrolling down and they've got more pictures of the old Twister building having the interior being completely gutted as well. What's interesting is that they have made some kind of new central foundation framework near the center of the building and have a cement truck in there pouring, so they have moved beyond just demolition work at this point.
(3/12/16) I’m still hearing that Fast & Furious: Supercharged may indeed have quietly been pushed back to a 2018 opening date. Why the delay? If this is all true, it may have something to do with a demolition issue involving some kind of “backstage issue”, perhaps involving the old Disaster attraction building. As we've seen from various photo reports online at other sites, a section of the old Disaster building was still standing, while everything else all around it has been leveled. From the look of things, this section of the building is also standing VERY CLOSE to the new Hogwarts Express elevated railway. UPDATE - I’m hearing that the Disaster building section (or at least what’s visible from the park) has just been taken down, but the rumor of a backstage issue could involve other issues, perhaps underground water, gas and power lines in the area that may need to be dealt with. So far I haven’t been able to get a confirmation from the park that it has been pushed back.
(3/10/16) I’m not 100% on this, but I’m hearing that the timeline to open Fast & Furious: Supercharged at Universal Studios Florida may have been bumped back from 2017 to now open in 2018. Can anyone else confirm? With Fast & Furious 8 to be released on April 14, 2017, it seems odd to push back the attraction an extra year and miss that synergy (and free marketing).
(2/17/16) The OBJ has posted a bit of info gleamed from a new work permit for Fast & Furious Supercharged that says Project 620 will be spending $1.48 million to install projection screens for the new attraction. This shouldn't be a surprise however, as the Hollywood version of the attraction is very dependant upon project effects to bring the actual film starts from the series to life in front of the guests. While we don't know just how similar the Orlando version might be to the Hollywood one, I'm sure they will share some of the same elements and technology.
(2/2/16) A great photo posted to Twitter shows that not only is the old Beetlejuice show theater gone, but the demolition crews have torn quite a bit of the old Disaster attraction building as well.
(1/23/16) Curious to see what's going on at Universal Studios Florida? Judging from the photos sent in by a reader this week, they wasted no time at all demolishing the old Beetlejuice show theater to begin work on the Fast & Furious Supercharged project.
(8/25/15) Just as it leaked out, Universal Orlando has confirmed that a new ride called "Fast & Furious: Supercharged" will be added to Universal Studios Florida in 2017, based in part on the attraction of the same name added to Universal Studios Hollywood earlier this summer. According to the description, it will feature an original storyline and new incredible ride technology, and while you wait you'll get to check out a collection of the high-speed supercharged cars you've seen from the Fast & Furious film series inside Toretto's HQ. Just as rumored, Disaster will close forever on September 8th, with Beetlejuice Graveyard Review closing later this year.
2018/2019???? - New Nighttime Lagoon Spectacular - Confirmed - (4/4/18) Universal hasn't had too much to say thus far about the new nighttime show they are working on in the park's lagoon, but according to various reports we've been hearing for the past month, the progress of the work on site in and around the lagoon is ramping up quickly, as they appear to be in the installation phase for all the new equipment. Hopefully the park will be ready to make their big announcement in the near future. But will it open this summer or later?
(10/11/17) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Universal's Cinematic Spectacular night show is now closed for good at Universal Studios Florida. It will be replaced by a brand new nighttime lagoon show "that will include new animation featuring characters from favorite Universal attractions, a new storyline, new music, lighting and special effects." The press release does not however mention a timeline as to when this new show will be ready to open. 2018? 2019? We'll have to wait for a confirmation.
2018?? - Despicable Minion Christmas - Rumor - (4/28/17) Rumor time… Minions + Christmas Lights… could this be a thing? I’m not quite sure at this time, but I’m hearing rumors of a future Christmas season holiday entertainment proposal for Universal Studios Florida that would take the concept of what would happen if Gru’s Minions were let loose upon the park to decorate for the Christmas season, with the result being something that might have put Disney’s former Osborne Lights display to shame.
While the park did just announce new a new parade for the holiday season in 2017, it could be possible to see a unique light display added over the next year or two to help add-on to the holiday fun and offer a new kind of holiday attraction they’ve never tried to do at Universal before.
2019?? - Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit Update - Rumor - (12/24/17) According to a reader, he was asked by Universal Orlando to take a survey the other day which revolved entirely around the kind of music you would like to hear on the Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit coaster. After years of hearing rumored plans to update the soundtrack options that went nowhere, it looks like Universal may be ready to take another crack at it. Of course, since the ride opened in 2009, there is a chance that they could be facing some kind of deadline as well, as often times deals to use certain media on attractions come in 10-year terms, so perhaps Universal may simply have to renew or sign new contracts for the advertised music tracks by 2019.
Regardless, nothing major seemed to be asked in a way pointing to one theme or genre is general, as I'm told the questioned asked were about all kinds of music options once again (Rap, Country, Electronica, Rock, Pop, etc...) with the survey wanting people to rank their preferences, as well as enter their favorite songs in each genre. They also asked some questions about what it would take to get you to buy the DVD of your experience, and if you would be more likely to buy it if it had the song of your choice on it.
So stay tuned... we could see some kind of changes take place on the Rockit sometime between now and 2019.
2020/2021/2022/2023 - Super Nintendo World / Pokemon - In Development - (4/12/18) With any and all legal hurdles regarding adding new theme parks out of the way this week (see the story here if you haven't already), and with Fast & Furious - Supercharged now conducting employee previews, with a Media debut set for May 2nd, many are now looking to the future and want to know... "What's Next?"
(11/23/17) According to a local news report initial plans for the first phase of Super Nintendo World have been submitted to take over the current KidZone location at Universal Studios Florida, which means site clearing would likely begin in the first quarter of 2018, which would then likely be ready to open sometime between mid 2020 and 2021. Based on the report however, it sounds like the areas represented would mainly be for just the rumored Mario Kart and Donkey Kong attractions, with future Nintendo themed attractions now rumored to be planned to go in as expansions to both Islands of Adventure and eventually to a possible 3rd park project on Universal’s new southern campus property.
Obviously we know a new coaster is coming to Islands of Adventure into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which I believe should be ready to open in 2019, but beyond that? Well... we've previously talked about what could be planned to do into the next park to be built, but some of that is in flux... and quite possibly the Super Nintendo Land project.
How much in flux? Possibly several years if they opt to move Super Nintendo Land to be one of the premier attractions of the next park, but now there is said to be some discussion about instead remodeling the current kids land in the Studios into Nintendo, Universal could have expanded their deal with Nintendo to instead bring the world of Pokemon to the Studios park in 2020. This is all a rumor so far, so stay tuned until we know more.
The timeline is a bit interesting as Universal Studios Japan is supposed to open their Super Nintendo World area first, and while initial reports say that the Japanese version is planned to be open in time for the 2020 Summer Olympic games in Japan, I’ve long heard rumors pointing to it possibly opening about 6 months earlier (Late 2019) to allow plenty of test and adjust as well as break-in time on everything before the Olympic crowds descend upon the park.
With a new attraction set to open in Islands of Adventure by 2019, it only makes sense for Nintendo to come to Universal Studios Florida in 2020 or 2021.
(7/10/17) According to one source we can expect to see some sections of the existing Kidzland at Universal Studios Florida begin to close sometime between very late 2017 and mid to late 2018 in order to begin clearing them out to make way for Super Nintendo World.
According to rumored projections, Universal may be shooting to have it ready to open around 2021/2022, with the first one to open in Japan by Summer 2020.
(6/21/17) I don’t know how much of the artwork is legit, and I don’t think all of it is, but a nice collection of some new and old Super Nintendo World attraction art has been posted to Disney & More this week. The one that sticks out fo rme isn’t the Mario Kart art, but the one showing off the Donkey Kong themed jungle area. While the lower area seems to contain a jungle themed play area, if you look in the top of the trees you’ll see a coaster track for that rumored Donkey Kong mine train coaster. In fact, look very carefully on the top left and you’ll see a mine cart jumping a gap in the coaster track, as described as being possible for the Boom Coaster ride patent. Look closer still and you can see the hidden arm coming off that mine cart and going down, where it looks to be attached to the true track for the ride, hidden from view below the riders, which is twisted into an arch, to allow the mine cart to appear to jump the gap in the faux tracks.
(6/17/17) About a week or so ago someone posted a layout map of what Super Nintendo World might look like when built at Universal Studios Florida... and the collective internet lost their mind. I can't say for certain the exact origin of this map, as it does look like it was professionally done, but from what I've been told from a few sources, this was simply an old simple proof of concept proposal and never intended to be built exactly as shown. This may have simply been a graphic used for the initial presentation to get Nintendo on board in the first place. (Note: I’m not talking about the map posted on Screamscape, which is a non-detailed version of how new buildings could go up in Orlando for it.)
The layout shown was one that was quite cluttered and really doesn't look anything at all like what we've been seeing in the official graphics from Universal thus far. Plus it looked like a good bit of the land was dedicated to smaller attractions, and even playground style structures, so bottom line... don't believe it. The map did have one thing right however, the location, where we can expect Super Nintendo Land to take over the entire KidZone area.
So time to recap what we do know about Super Nintendo World:
Multi-Level - According to comments made at the ground breaking, the lands will feature multi-level buildings and pathways, which does match up with what is being shown in the concept artwork.
Super Mario Kart - They have also confirmed that what is expected to be the primary major attraction will be one themed to Super Mario Kart. Not only is this a good choice for the action element that can be translated well into a ride, but the nature of the game also allows for the inclusion of a large number of Nintendo characters to be grouped all together.
So what about the other attractions? Well, there are only rumors so far, but the long standing rumor has been that Super Nintendo World will feature 3 attractions, or at least it will in the North American installations. There is always the chance that the one going into Japan may cutback to just two attractions due to space issues, or to allow for the inclusion of more themed shopping, dining and character interaction spaces, as the Japanese market really appreciates those kind of extras.
That said... it has been pretty clear thus far that the second attraction would have to feature the giant ape in the room... Donkey Kong. As a character, Donkey Kong is easily just as well known as Mario and the popular rumor has been about that Boom Coaster ride patent Universal filed for, with a mine kart theme that has the ability for the kart to appear to jump gaps in the track and lean to the side on two wheels, while really running on a hidden track system. As rumored before, this is expected to be something themed to the Donkey Kong Country game series.
The third ride concept? Well... not a lot has been said, and I really don't know if even the rumor going around was locked in as the final concept or not, so take this one with a grain of salt, but if the rumor holds true, the idea I kept hearing about was for a Yoshi themed interactive dark ride concept. Even better, for capacity sake, the one rumor suggested it would even be an Omnimover style ride system, something Universal really hasn't tried yet. Given that the unique feature of the Yoshi character in games is typically his ability to lash out with a long tongue and gobble up things and even spit some of them back out at targets, so you can see how this could make for a fun interactive style dark ride. Fair warning... this is just a rumor... but it sounds like a good choice to me.
As for the rest? Well, for wanting Metroid, Kirby, Zelda or even Pokemon themed stuff in the land, I just wouldn't expect it yet. Maybe for a Phase 2... or something that could even be used as a second Nintendo themed land in another park, as all those characters really live within their own pocket-universe, while I think we will see Super Nintendo World focus on the core characters that cohabitate within the primary Nintendoverse.
(4/10/17) A collection of new patent images filed by Universal have been found this week showing off an onslaught of imagery showcasing small car shaped ride vehicles riding through some interesting terrain full of strangely shaped objects, tubes (pipes?) and more, all the while surrounded by projector after projector that would surround the riders in some kind of active and living themed environment.
Sounds perfect for what Universal may be dreaming up for the proposed Super Mario Kart attractions experience that will be the staple of the new Super Nintendo Lands planned for the Japan, Hollywood and Orlando parks. You can find a nice collection of patent clips posted to InsideTheMagic.
Now don’t go anywhere just yet however, because an eagle eyed reader pointed out something interesting to me the other day... that the layout artwork for the Universal Studios Beijing resort includes an interesting feature no one had yet pointed out. While everyone is squinting over the layout of the new theme park and taking notice of other features like a water park or resort hotels, most haven't given the future site of the second park on the map much more than a glance.
But when you do, it quickly becomes evident that the park layout dropped into the resort map is actually a mirror image of Universal Studios Florida itself that includes all the major attraction buildings like Transformers, the outdoor concert stage, Escape from Gringotts, Men in Black, along with a leftover Disaster attraction building still in place. However keep looking and there are also three large new attraction sized building structures in place that would run from the area just past E.T., to the largest one taking up the space where the Parade Float storage building currently is, and then another filling in the space between there and leading up to the area just behind where The Simpson's ride is located. To make way the existing buildings (Barney & Friends) and kiddie play structures have been removed.
Given that this location is also rumored to be the most likely location for Super Nintendo Land I have to wonder if we have been given a possible preview look at what the layout of this new land may look like and just how large the proposed attraction buildings for the land's rumored three attractions will be. Just something to think about, in the meantime I've flipped the image the right way to represent USF's layout and highlighted the new area for your consideration as a visual aid. Of course, this is 100% pure speculation on my part... I just found it interesting that the existing park layout was copied in almost every way with the exception of this area. Just take a look at see what you think for yourself.
(12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
(2/26/16) The long rumored Nintendo themed land now looks to be locked in for Orlando in 2020. As Nintendo themed attractions are planned to first open in Japan in 2018 and Hollywood in 2019, look for Universal to take everything they learn from those first two versions to perfect the Orlando version, which will likely be the biggest one of them all.
While things are still in development, the land is expected to replace the current Kids Zone area, and feature at least two major attractions and possibly a number of smaller kiddie attractions, as well as a likely retheme of the existing Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse coaster.
(7/2/15) World of Universal reports that Universal has filed permits to build a Building 79B, described as a new 23,000 sqft warehouse building structure. The rumor going around claims that Building 79B would be a replacement for the current Building 79, also known as the Parade building warehouse which is used each year for Halloween Horror Nights as a home for one of the haunts each year.
While I’m sure Building 79B could and would be put to the same purpose, wherever they build it, another popular rumor says that since Building 79 bumps up right against the existing backside to the Curious George wet/dry play area, this could also be taken as a sign that the site may be put to better use as part of that new Nintendo deal that will bring attractions themed to the popular video game characters to the park, which would be a perfect theme to replace all of the park’s kiddie area.
(5/12/15) My initial gut reaction was to think that the new Universal / Nintendo partnership would likely be used as a possible way to retheme the Marvel comics themed island. However, as time passes, I'm hearing more and more than the actual intent for the IP is to completely replace the current KidZone attraction area, including Fieval's Playland, Barney, Curious George, and such. The fate of E.T. is unknown however, as it could easily be put under the knife as well, though many feel that E.T. is currently "untouchable" as the last remaining E.T. ride and nod to Universal's collaboration over the years with Steven Spielberg.
(6/27/13) I’ve mentioned it before, but the most likely new project coming to Universal Studios Florida once Diagon Alley opens may be a complete renovation and/or re-branding of the kiddie areas of the park. Curious George and Barney the Dinosaur are likely to be retired… and most certainly Fieval’s Playland will get a complete makeover along with rumors of a replacement for the E.T. ride.
What could replace E.T. you may ask? Well in Hollywood they replaced it with their own version of Revenge of the Mummy and in Japan the ride was replaced by the Space Fantasy indoor spinning coaster. So while I would like to think that Universal might try to reuse the massive E.T. building in a similar fashion, the actual rumor going around is that Universal may be in talks with Sony about bringing The Smurfs to Universal Orlando. In fact, one of our own readers was asked to take a survey in the past week which pitched new ride concepts based on The Lorax (for Islands of Adventure) and a “flying” dark ride concept based on The Smurfs that sounded very much like a plan to reuse the E.T. ride system
According to our source, the concept pitch for The Smurfs ride in the survey even mentioned having Papa Smurf say goodbye to the riders by name at the end of the ride… just like E.T. does. Universal has partnered with Sony to build an attraction before (Men In Black) and the Smurf village theme would actually be a good fit as a replacement for Fieval’s Playland as well. All rumors, surveys and concept pitches for now… but as Diagon Alley gets closer to opening we should know more about what the future may hold.
(11/15/12) While Universal Creative has their hands full right now with Transformers and then the Potter expansion, the early rumors for what could be next are already coming down the pipe. According to the latest buzz, the general plan right now is to overhaul the KidZone area in either 2015/2016. Expect Woody Woodpecker to say, but Curious George, Barney and Fieval may be given their walking papers. With the E.T. Adventure right in the middle of it all, it too may be either replaced or given an extensive overhaul.
???? - Diagon Alley Expansion - Rumor - (8/12/14) About.com Theme Parks has posted a very interesting bit of speculation regarding what might come as the next possible expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Our good friend Arthur Levine went on a guided tour of the new London / Diagon Alley area with Alan Gimore (Art Director for many of the films and for Universal’s Wizarding World projects). Alan led him to the big red british phone booths sitting on the curb just outside Diagon Alley and instructed Arthur to dial 6-2-4-4-2 (M-A-G-I-C) on the phone and he was suddenly connected with a phone recording from the Ministry of Magic informing him that the office was not open that day. Alan went on to tease that perhaps taking Muggles on a trip into the Ministry of Magic might be Universal’s next Potter themed attraction.
This would make a good deal of sense, especially since the current Fear Factor: Live show stadium next door was being eyeballed by Universal Creative as the most likely place to expand Diagon Alley in the future. Of course this is only a tease and perhaps a glimmer of something once talked about in a Blue Sky meeting about future concepts. At this point anything can still happen, but it does give the Muggles something to think about for the next few years.