Universal Studios Florida
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/6/16) Construction Update (MORE...)
(4/2/16) Universal Studios Florida Holds Opening Event for Hello Kitty Store (MORE...)
(3/22/16) Fast & Furious and Race Through New York Construction (MORE...)
(3/12/16) Fast & Furious Delay Rumor (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Disaster & Twister - NOW CLOSED for new attraction construction
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - DIAGON ALLEY Media / VIP Preview 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 - (5/6/16) The latest construction pictures from Universal Studios Florida showing off the future site of the Race Through New York and Fast & Furious rides has been posted by OrlandoParkNews.
(3/1/16) Lots of demolition work is still taking place inside Universal Studios Florida, as crews remove the Twister and Disasters attractions. The latest photos can be found over at OrlandoParkNews.com this week. The work on the old Twister building is interesting because you can see right through the building now, as one of the large rear walls appears to have been completely removed.
(2/26/16) Screamscape did some gazing into our crystal ball regarding the future of Universal Orlando’s theme parks, and while some aspects aren’t perfectly clear, we did get the basic masterplan that they are shooting for over the next five years. Scroll down to see all the details known about the future attractions ahead for Universal Studios Florida as well as for Islands of Adventure.
(1/11/16) A photo update from Universal Studios Florida has been posted by OrlandoParksNews.com showing off all the different construction walls set up all around the park for various projects, ranging from the new Race Through New York attraction, Fast & Furious Supercharged and even a new building going up across the pathway from the entrance to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
(11/27/15) After being on the block for possible removal for so long, it looks like Comcast has a soft spot for Terminator 2: 3D at Universal Orlando. I remember shortly after Comcast took over, the live portion of the show which was showing signs of age received some funding to fix up and repair those ageing elements. Jump ahead to this week and out of nowhere T2:3D has now put a brand-new pre-show video experience into play at the show's extensive pre-show experience room that details new technology products like "Eyes in the Skies" drones, Project Angel, and even Genisys, mixed in with some of the old footage. Be warned though, the old funny contact lens part that allowed NBA star Shaq to make perfect free-throws has unfortunately been replaced with a new soccer segment instead. The video appears to have also dropped some of the more ominous sounding musical score from the SkyNet / Cyberdyne promo that I was always fond of, in favor of a more friendly sounding. While you can check out the video below I'm hearing that there may be more upgrades on the way coming to the main show experience in the near future.
2016 - Hello Kitty shop - NOW OPEN - (4/2/16) While the store has been quietly soft-open for a short-time now, Universal Studios Florida held a grand opening event for their new Hello Kitty shop this week which features not only the typical Hello Kitty branded merchandise items you would expect, but also specialty sweets at the Hello Kitty Sweet Yummy Shop, some unique "home goods" as well as a meet & greet area with Hello Kitty herself.
(2/24/16) According to the local reports, the Hello Kitty Store inside Universal Studios Florida has opened this week.
(8/20/15) It has been confirmed that the Lucy Tribute display at Universal Studios Florida has been closed, and I’m told from sources that this will become the site for the new Hello Kitty store. In other fun news, Universal Orlando has posted a new 360º POV ride video of the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster. It’s perfect for a little VR fun if you have a Google Cardboard headset handy to use with your mobile phone.
(7/24/15) According to one source, the future Hello Kitty store coming to Universal Orlando may take over the current spot of the Lucy Tribute walk-through exhibit near the front of the Universal Studios Florida park.
(6/9/15) Sanrio and Universal Parks & Resorts have announced a partnership that will see a Hello Kitty interactive retail store added to the Universal Orlando Resort later this year, and a second one to open in the future at Universal Studios Hollywood.
"This will mark Hello Kitty's official retail debut at theme parks in North America and offer specialty merchandise including stationery, home goods, apparel, accessories and collectibles. The majority of merchandise will be devoted to Hello Kitty; Sanrio properties Chococat®, My Melody®, Badtz-Maru®, Purinand Keroppi® will also have a presence. Hello Kitty confectionery and specialty co-branded Hello KittyUniversal park-exclusive products will also be available."
While the exactly location at Universal Orlando wasn't mentioned, the site will feature photo ops, a meet and greet with Hello Kitty herself, and an area to create custom souvenir versions of Hello's Kitty's signature bow.
Hello Kitty has had a relationship with the Universal brand for some time now through the Universal Studios Japan park which not only features a Hello Kitty shop, but even the Hello Kitty's Cupcake Dream ride, which is like a cupcake themed tea-cups style flat ride, where each cupcake has a "frosting" shaped roof over the spinning riders.
Late 2016 or Late 2017 - New Winter Parade - Rumor - (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.
2017 - Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon - Under Construction - (12/9/15) An interesting picture showing off demolition work taking place to the outside of the old Twister attraction building was posted to Twitter. I don't know if this was done simply to remove the Twister themeing from the gift shop facade, of if they are planning on removing more of the soundstage itself, or if they will simply re-theme the exterior.
(7/28/15) For months now I've heard rumors claim that some kind of new attraction that would be themed to "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" was in the works to replace Twister in the near future. To be honest... all this time the concept has never made a lick of sense to me... as I was just having trouble trying to even fathom what kind of attraction Universal could come up with that would be entertaining and fun, while themed to the concept of an evening talk show.
(12/4/15) A few pictures of the themed construction wall around the former Twister building to promote the new Race through New York starring Jimmy Fallon have been posted to Behind the Thrills. Meanwhile one of our readers noticed while riding the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster that much of the old Twister outdoor queue area has already been demolished.
(11/23/15) According to the latest pictures from USF posted to OrlandoParkNews, the construction walls are already up around the Twister building, now that it is closed. Meanwhile they give us a quick look at the other construction walls up around Disaster and the former NBA City restaurant out in CityWalk.
(10/28/15) The latest Universal Orlando attraction announcement didn’t come from Universal themselves, but rather through the star involved with it… Jimmy Fallon.
And before you ask… yes… this is the replacement attraction for Twister that has been rumored forever… though the rumor mill went silent on the project shortly after the announcement of the Fast & Furious attraction coming in 2017 to replace Disaster.
On Tuesday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon announced a new attraction to be called “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” would be coming to Universal Studios Florida in 2017. The park’s existing Twister attraction will close for good on Nov. 2nd to make way for it.
The attraction will be themed around the “outrageous celebrity races” that take place from time to time on Jimmy’s version of The Tonight Show. As guests, you’ll make your way into the experience from the park’s New York street sets and into Studios 6B to attend this “very special taping” of the show where Jimmy challenges the audience to the ultimate race through the streets (and skies) of New York City.
2017 is really stacking up to be a huge year for Universal Orlando, as it will see the opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark, an expansion of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, as well as a new Fast & Furious: Supercharged themed attraction just short walk across the same park.
Immediately the first and pretty much only concept to leap into my head was the second chapter of the infamous "Luxor Trilogy" or "Secrets of the Luxor Pyramid" of attractions built into the famous Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas when it opened. The second chapter attraction was called "Luxor Live" and invited guests to sit in the audience of a live talk show being shot... except it wasn't live at all. Through some projection magic behind a practical set, the actors you are watching live on stage were really just projections. If my memory serves, Luxor Live was the first of the three acts to be closed down due to poor guest satisfaction and the small theater venue was soon turned into a small live performance venue instead.
Still, the rumors of a Jimmy Falon / Tonight Show attraction have persisted, and all the while, no one able to come up with any reasonable speculation as to just what kind of attraction it could be. Until today...
A new post to ThisIsInfamous may have nailed it on the head... or at the very least came up with a far more entertaining concept that I've been able to. You can read their complete theory by following the link, but in essence, they see the Twister building being gutted and turned into something more like a medium sized version of a Soarin style flight simulator system, but themed to being "Inside the Mind of Jimmy Fallon". So yes... this could be seen as a mix of "Inside Out" meets "Soarin"... but at Universal Studios Florida as we go through a day in the life of Jimmy Fallon as he prepares to step out onto the stage of The Tonight Show.
Again... this is just a rumor... but it gives me a better idea of what to think about while we await the announcement from Universal Creative about their latest pet project.
2017/2018?? - Fast & Furious: Supercharged - Confirmed - (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.
While on the subject of Beetlejuice... there was a new rumor sent my way earlier today, claiming there is a rumor that Bettlejuice may not be gone forever. The popular undead and playful spirit could possibly return as part of a rebooted show that would take over the Fear Factor theater venue. Again... this last part is just a rumor, but you never know.
(8/25/15) I'm not sure how true this all is, but people claim to have found a not-yet launched page for the Universal Orlando Blog that was apparently set to go live at midnight that would announce that a new version of the Fast & Furious Supercharged ride would open at Universal Orlando in 2017, replacing the Disaster attraction as well as the Bettlejuice show theater, with Disaster set to close down as early as September. Our friends at Behind The Thrills have a pretty good write up on how the page was discovered and then quickly hidden behind a passworded firewall, but we'll have to wait and see if this comes true with an official announcement.
(3/3/15) With Kong all-but confirmed at this point for Islands of Adventure, many may be wondering what the future could hold for Universal Studios Florida. Certainly the rumor mill has churned out plenty of new ideas, as well as rumored existing attraction on the chopping block for new replacement ideas. Today I’ll add one more to the mix in the form of a Fast & Furious themed attraction.
The Hollywood park has been getting a lot of preview buzz for their new Fast & Furious: Turbocharged attraction that will open later this year, and according to Hollywood rumors the studio side of things intends to make up to three more films before retiring the franchise. So it stands to reason that the Orlando parks could very well get a F&F attraction in the next few years. Earlier rumors suggested that they could try to copy the basic idea being used for the Hollywood attraction, but I’m also hearing a new rumor suggesting that a new kind of ride could also be under consideration.
2019 - The Secret Life of Pets - Rumor - In Planning & Development - (2/26/16) Looks like this is likely going to Islands of Adventure and not replacing Shrek 4D, but things could change. For now, head over to our IOA page for the latest news and developments.
2020 - Nintendo Land - Rumor - (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.