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---- THE LATEST NEWS ----
(11/25/2023) The Return of the Green & Red Coconut Club (MORE...)
(11/12/2023) Universal Orlando Launches Facial Recognition Entry at Both Parks (MORE...)
(11/7/2023) Universal Orlando Quietly Raises Ticket Prices (MORE...)
(10/20/2023) Universal Orlando Rolls Out 2023 Holiday Entertainment Details (MORE...)
(10/15/2023) Universal Orlando Now Testing Facial Recognition At Park Entry (MORE...)
Volcano Bay Rehabs - These dates are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as refurbishments are subject to change.
Punga Racers - NOW CLOSED through Nov. 26
Click Here to read the full Screamscape review of Halloween Horror Nights 29
VOLCANO BAY IS NOW OPEN - Read the official Screamscape Review!
LOWES Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando - Read the official Screamscape Review!
General Resort News - (11/25/2023) Apparently the Red Coconut Club in Universal CityWalk has been given a new Christmas holiday makeover to replace the previous Halloween makeover. The site was relaunched as the Green & Red Coconut Club for the 2022 holiday season, and it looks like they’re about to do it again this year. So far I haven’t seen anything official from Universal just yet about when it will open, so keep your eyes peeled when passing nearby.
(11/12/2023) If you are visiting the Universal Orlando theme parks this holiday season, take note of how your experience entering the parks is changing this year. Universal has now installed their new facial recognition scanner terminals at the entry of their Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks. This has resulted in the removal of the old traditional turnstile entry points, and serves as a replacement for the old biometric finger scanner system as a way to improve the entry process. We’ve been reporting for quite some time now that Universal was going to use this technology from day-1 at their new Epic Universe theme park, and that they’ve already had it in use in China since they opened Universal Studios Beijing.
For now use of the facial recognition system (or Photo Validation as they call it) is optional, but as they move forward, I would expect that it will soon simply become part of the normal experience. For those who refuse to use it, the inconvenience factor of standing in a line (possibly a long one) just to show your photo id and proof of admission to a human is likely to be enough of a deterrent to entice you to use the new system.
As for the future, the use of the system at the Beijing park links your face to not only your admission ticket, but also to virtual queue systems at the attractions and can even be linked to your credit card for food and merchandise purchases. While much of how the system will be implemented into the new Epic Universe park is still unconfirmed, early reports claim that the central hub of the new park that runs between the parking lot and the Helios hotel might remain as a free access area. Meanwhile admission into the central hub attractions, such as the Starfall Racers roller coaster, as well as access through the portals into the four themed lands would make use of this new facial recognition system. Admission into the attractions for those without admission will be refused, and for those who slip past the scanners, I’ve heard that there will be team members automatically alerted by the system who will find them and direct them to the exit until they purchase an admission ticket.
(11/7/2023) While the amusement news world has been focused on the Six Flags / Cedar Fair merger, Universal Orlando quietly raised their ticket prices. While the old price for a one-day / one-park admission previously ranged from $109 to $159, the new price is now between $119 and $179. A One-Day / Two-Park ticket is now $174 to $234, an increase of between $10-20 from the previous prices.
(10/20/2023) Universal Orlando has unveiled their 2023 Holiday Season plans for the theme park resort, that will take place from Nov. 17th through to New Year’s Eve. Of course, over in Universal Studios Florida this means the return of the “Universal Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s” featuring custom floats themed to hit Universal characters like Shrek, Madagascar and Despicable Me, mixed in with some real balloons from the Macy’s New York parade. The park will also feature free concerts from holiday season favorites, Mannheim Steamroller, on December 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th.
Over in Islands of Adventure, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwards Castle projection show will return after dark, with extra holiday decor and entertainment offerings throughout the Wizarding World, led by holiday shows from the Frog Choir and over in USF in Diagon Alley, Celestine Warbeck and the Banshees. That’s not all for Islands of Adventure, because once again Grinchmas will return, with the mean-green one being large and in-charge of the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular live-stage musical.
Oh… and keep your eyes peeled for the new “Holiday Tribute Store” as well as the seasonal return of Earl the Squirrel.
(10/15/2023) While we’ve been telling you for quite some time now that when Epic Universe opens it will feature an admissions system that will use facial recognition software at the various entry points to determine who belongs in the park and who doesn’t. Now it seems that some of the first test units have arrived and are being tested out over at Islands of Adventure, and I’ve been hearing it is coming to the Studios as well, if it hasn’t already. Look for signage in place describing the new system as a Photo Validation system that should scan and admit guests into the park far more quickly than the old fingerprint scanner.
(10/13/2023) With Universal Orlando now deeply focused on the construction of their new Epic Universe theme park, one might be wondering what they will do to continue to draw attendance at the main Universal Orlando resort parks between now and then. So far, it sounds like 2023 has been a pretty good year for Universal Orlando, but so far the only big draw that is officially on the drawing board for 2024 is the Dreamworks land at Universal Studios Florida. If you follow our rumors, then you also know that it seems that the same park appears to be working on a large-scale new night show on the lagoon as well, but that has yet to be announced.
From what I’m hearing, Universal Orlando is also a little concerned that it may not be enough to prevent an attendance decline in 2024, combined with the worry that many potential guests may opt to hold off on a visit next year to wait for Epic Universe to open in 2025. Universal has apparently aired those concerns in their latest guest survey they are emailing out where they float a number of possible ticket and resort hotel deals to see what would entice guests to still visit in 2024.
Options being considered range from packages with free tickets for kids, free food with a number of nights in a resort, and even heavily discounted vacation packages for visits in 2024 if you also pre-book a visit to Epic Universe in 2025. As I said, this is just ideas floated in a survey, so there are no special offers available at this time. Still, Universal has made some fantastic offers in the past, so when the time is right, I’d count on seeing some really special offers for visits next year.
(9/9/2023) Would you believe that the Orlando Airport’s is now home to an official Halloween Horror Nights “Scare Zone” store selling HHN 2023 merchandise? According to a post at Blooloop the temporary location is located on third floor of Terminal B and will be in place now through November 4th.
(9/4/2023) Universal Orlando has an awesome new ticket offer that is sure to peak your interest. With the purchase of a 2-Park / 3-Day ticket, Universal is adding an additional 2-days free to the pass, giving guests 5-days of access to their parks for the price of just 3-days. The basic offer allows you access to just one park per day, but Universal also has upgrade offers to turn it into “Park-to-Park” tickets giving you access to both on the same day (as well as access to the Hogwarts Express), and there is also another upgrade offer to add access to Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark as well.
The only hitch is that you have to use all of your days within a window of 8-consecutive calendar days. Follow the link to see all the official details.
(6/24/2023) Who doesn’t like to try new drink flavors when they come out? While often you might discovery that they could be sub-par to your standard favorites, the fun is in trying to variety with friends while they are available. To this end, Universal Orlando and Coca-Cola have teamed up to offer a selection of mystery flavors you can try to find across the resort this summer.
According to WDWNT the Coca-Cola Secret Menu items list includes flavors like Blood Minute Maid Orange Boba Spritz, Zero Sugar Chocolate Berry Blast (made with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar), Krakatoa Blackberry Fizz (made with Sprite) and Watermelon Spritz (made with Sprite). Some are available in select locations, others are available from the various Coca-Cola Freestyle machines you may encounter across the resort and theme parks. Follow the link to learn more about where you can find each one.
(5/23/2023) A quick word of warning to anyone visiting Volcano Bay… according to a post from Zooder Loopers, the virtual queue system on the park’s Krakatau Aqua Coaster, a highlight attraction, has been turned off. The kiosks where you would normally scan your Tapu Tapu wearable have been covered up and a temporary warning sign has been placed outside the attraction entrance stating “Test in Progress” and that the attraction is operating only with a stand-by queue. Wait times witnessed ranged from 45 minutes up to a brutal 95 minute wait in the hot Florida sun.
I’m not sure if this is really some kind of “test” to see how long the lines at the park’s attractions would be without the virtual queue system, or if there is simply a temporary problem with the kiosks at this one attraction.
(5/18/2023) Universal Studios is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Jurassic Park this summer at their theme parks. At Universal Orlando you already know you can enjoy an entire Jurassic themed land in the Islands of Adventure park, featuring the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride and the awesome VelociCoaster. Your dining experience in the Thunder Falls restaurant will also be updated with the addition of new some themed food items such as the Prehistoric Raptor Wings and Coconut Cajeta Churro.
They have also confirmed that the Jurassic Park Tribute Store will open in Universal Studios Florida on May 26th, featuring a themed retail experience (including new 30th Anniversary merchandise) as you travel through Jurassic history, passing through a series of themed rooms.
The experience will extend into CityWalk as well, as you can give the new Great Movie Escape room experience a try, which offers a Jurassic Park and a Back To The Future themed escape room experience. If you are visiting June 9, 10, or 11 there will also be Jurassic Park screenings in the Universal Cinemark theater.
(4/22/2023) Universal Orlando annual passholders, pay attention. The theme park resort announced some price increases are now in effect for the top-two tiers of annual passes for both Florida Residents and non-Resident pricing.
For Florida Residents - the Seasonal and Power Pass prices remain the same at $324.99 and $379.99, however the Preferred Pass is now $529.99 (up $90), and the Premier Pass is now $789.99 (up $150).
For non Residents - the Seasonal and Power Pass prices remain the same at $424.99 and $474.99, however the Preferred Pass is now $629.99 (up $90), and the Premier Pass is now $904.99 (up $150).
(2/1/2023) Is Universal Orlando working on their own aerial drone night show? A few Screamscape readers spotted the drones testing in the night sky this week over Universal Orlando, and Amusement Insider even posted a brief video which you can see below. Various shapes and patterns were being tested, including what looked like a swimming fish. Of course, this doesn’t mean any of this will be part of any future show, they may just be testing out a proof of concept to see what such a show would look like when viewed from select locations.
(1/7/2023) Universal Orlando is now involved with the plan to build a SunRail route from the Orlando Airport to the Orange County Convention Center. Universal has pledged to contribute 13 acres of land to be used to connect the route and build the Convention Center Station, as well as said they would support the operation and maintenance of this station. Of course this only makes sense, as the same station will also be able to service Universal’s new Epic Universe theme park now under construction right across the way from the convention center.
The plan will make it very easy for both residents and tourists alike to travel between the two areas, as well as being able to remove some unnecessary vehicle traffic from the congested highway between the airport and tourist corridor. For now they have named this new expansion as the “Sunshine Corridor”.
Halloween Horror Nights 2023 - (10/1/2023) For locals who like to visit Halloween Horror Nights over and over, Universal Orlando has been selling a ‘Frequent Fear Pass’ over the last several years. Various reports have commented on just how crowded this year’s Halloween Horror Nights has become, and seemingly to confirm this fact, Universal Orlando announced on Sept. 28th that sales of Frequent Fear Passes for the rest of this year’s event have officially stopped.
There are NO MORE!
As HHN fans know, the event only gets more crowded as we enter the second half of the season in October, and while Frequent Fear Passes have previously sold out, they’ve never sold out this early before. This kind of puts the future of the Frequent Fear Pass itself on notice as something Universal will have to consider either phasing out entirely, or greatly increasing it in price in order to keep attendance levels under control.
(8/25/2023) A teaser about the return of the “Dead Coconut Club” experience in CityWalk has been spotted inside Universal Studios Florida. According to the teaser in the window display of the Pantages Theater building, this years theme will be “Revenge of the Dead Coconut Club 3D”. Look for the Citywalk club to open to the public starting on September 1st.
If that wasn’t enough, Universal has also confirmed that for the first time Death Eaters will be on the loose inside Diagon Alley during Halloween Horror Nights! They’re on the hunt to find others willing to swear loyalty to the Dark Lord.
(8/14/2023) Universal Orlando has launched an interesting sort of combo event that is half food tasting and half Halloween Horror Nights preview, that will only happen between now and the start of Halloween Horror Nights.They call it the “Taste of Terror” event, which comes at a very high price ($135.99 per person), but it includes unlimited themed food and drinks (including alcohol) for two hours in a themed environment set inside Soundstage 33. While you can eat whatever you want, the items are given out in small format ‘sample’ form, but serve as a preview of the actual food items guests will be able to purchase at Halloween Horror Nights itself once it kicks off.
You can see a great video showing off many of the dishes and the display area posted by Theme Park Insider, and what this really reminds me of is exactly the same kind of pre-HHN food & drink service Universal Orlando typically would put on for the media before setting off on RIP Tours of the park’s haunts for the rest of the night. In fact, the video itself was shot during a media preview of the Taste of Terror event itself ahead of the public opening.
One important thing to remember however… you can’t attend the Taste of Terror event unless you have also purchased park admission in one form or another, like through a regular day pass or annual pass. So the already costly nature of the special tasting event is in addition to your cost of admission making this a very pricey bit of fan service. That said, so is cost of taking a Behind the Screams tour, or the HHN R.I.P. tours, so this fits right into that demographic they already know so well.
(8/6/2023) In a fun note to the fandom of The Last of Us video game series, it has been confirmed that the voice actors who played Joel & Ellie from the video games have recorded new dialog tracks that will be used for The Last of Us maze at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights this fall.
(7/30/2023) For those wanting to have the complete Halloween Horror Nights experience at Universal Orlando, you may want to consider booking a room at one of their hotels. Having been forced to drag my near lifeless body back to my room at the end of the night on more than one occasion after a successful HHN run, knowing that I was staying on site and only a short bus or boat ride away was a great comfort.
Occasionally there are other fun HHN related bonuses to staying on site and this year will be no exception with some exclusive extra experiences. According to the press release, “And for the first time ever, the fog has spread to all eight of Universal Orlando’s hotels with exclusive activations and experiences for hotel guests inspired by this year’s event, including Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort’s exclusive “Chucky’s Twisted Playground” photo illusion experience based on the USA and SYFY series, plus, the Universal Monsters Gallery of Legends lobby photo opportunities in all other hotel lobbies and more.”
Universal does offer some good HHN packages that include a stay in one of their resorts, so drop by the official website and see if you can find something to tickle your fancy.
(7/29/2023) It has been pointed out to me that this will not be Dr. Oddfellow’s first appearance at Halloween Horror Nights. It seems the Dr. Oddfellow character first appeared way back at HHN 10, where the character was introduced as part of the origin of the clown prince of HHN, Jack the Clown. Legend has it that Dr. Oddfellow owned the carnival where Jack got his start in the world, and when Jack’s murderous urges began to get the better of him and the police were catching on, Dr. Oddfellow killed Jack and hid his corpse, along with the bodies of his victims within a “House of Horrors” attraction for many years, before he sold off the Carnival’s attractions piecemeal to a variety of new owners.
As I understand it, Jack’s body was trapped inside a large Jack in the Box toy, which was eventually bought as part of a collection of props by Universal Studios. An unsuspecting crew member apparently turned the crank and released Jack from the toy themed tomb at HHN 10, unleashing his now immortal spirit that has since influence so many of the Halloween Horror Nights events in the years that followed.
This year’s “Dr. Oddfellow: Twisted Origins” haunted house is expected to feature the re-telling of some of this story, including the origin of Jack Schmidt. The resulting experience could very well allow guests to witness the supernatural re-birth of Jack himself.
(7/28/2023) Universal Studios has announced three more haunts are coming to Halloween Horror Nights in the Hollywood and Orlando parks this fall.
The Exorcist: Believer - Based on the new film being released in theaters this Friday, October 13th from Blumhouse and Morgan Creek Entertainment. “In this new chapter, guests will be transported to a bustling street market in Haiti, where an innocent purchase of a strange folk doll with three eyes leads to the opening of a demonic portal, the awakening of sinister spirits and the subsequent disappearance of two 12-year-old girls in the U.S. The girls are found three days later with no memory of what happened to them. After the girls begin to exhibit unsettling behavior, it soon becomes clear that only an exorcism can save them – and everyone who comes in contact with them, including unwitting guests, is suddenly at risk of losing their souls.”
Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count - Based on the hit USA & SYFY series and the original films, Chucky: Ultimate KilL Count “casts this killer doll as the star of his very own haunted house for the first time. A true sadistic killer, Chucky has been mired in the agony of disrespect he feels from his peers at not being taken seriously. Thus begins his quest to turn his haunted house into a living slaughterhouse by killing every person who enters.”
Universal Monsters: Unmasked - This is the rumored “Paris” themed edition of the Universal Monsters Haunt for HHN. Universal Monsters: Unmasked will take you 60 feet below the famous “City of Lights”, into the dark underworld that lies beneath. “Deep within the Catacombs, Universal’s most notorious creatures – The Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and his deranged alternate personality Mr. Hyde, and Dr. Jack Griffin, aka The Invisible Man – also lie in wait as they bide their time and seek vengeance against guests after the opening of the Catacombs to public visitation. These desperate and dangerous fiends have become filled with a rage toward guests navigating the twisted tunnels of their underground labyrinth home. It is here, in the darkness, where they hunt these trespassers and where the sounds of guests’ screams will go unheard.”
As an added note: Universal with be working with renowned musician, SLASH, to create an original score for Universal Monsters: Unmasked.
More details about five other original concept haunts were released for the Orlando event:
Dr. Oddfellow: Twisted Origins - “A demented, late-night circus led by an evil ringmaster and notorious icon looking for human souls to fuel his dark intentions”
Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate - Yes… a horrific twist to a tale that should be familiar to Universal Orlando fans, bringing to life the eternal battle between Fire and Ice!
YETI: Campground Kills - “Blood-soaked campgrounds deep in the trenches of mountains where vicious, bloodthirsty monsters have returned with a vengeance.”
The Darkest Deal - Guests learn that selling your soul for fame and fortune will get you fate more than what you bargained for.
Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings - Encounter a colonial cult who will slaughter anyone who refuses to worship the Bloodmoon.
Details about five Scare Zones in Orlando were also released: all with ties to this Dr. Oddfellow character, who is likely to be set up as the icon for this year’s HHN. The list includes:
Dr. Oddfellow’s Collection of Horror - “Come face to face with the devious legend who is promising immortality for those who dare to enter”.
Dark Zodiac - Cower in fear as the signs of the zodiac come to life where Dr. Oddfellow uses his powers to transform the zodiac signs into horrifying creatures.
Jungle of Doom: Expedition Horror - “Dr. Oddfellow’s twisted and bizarre experiments combine elements of nature and animals to create vicious jungle creatures looking to satisfy their cravings”.
Vamp ‘69: Summer of Blood - “Attend a music festival crashed by bloodthirsty vampires let loose by Dr. Oddfellow”.
Shipyard 32: Horror Unhinged - “Stumble upon Dr. Oddfellow’s crates and cages that once housed monsters of all kinds who have escaped in pursuit of chaos”.
Also new in Orlando this year will be the new Nightmare Fuel Revenge Dream live show, a new Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store themed as a comic book store, exclusive themed food and beverage items in the park along with the return of the Dead Coconut Club in CityWalk.
Regarding this new Dr. Oddfellow character… we haven’t seen him yet, but the press release described this as “the long-awaited emergence of Halloween Horror Nights legend, Dr. Oddfellow, and a dark, resurrected story that delves into the haunting history of Universal attractions past.”
(7/14/2023) Universal has confirmed that they will bring the events of Stranger Things Season 4 to life for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights in both the Orlando and Hollywood parks. Now we can experience what it was like to come face to face with Vecna as the battleground is set for the final showdown for our reality.
(7/8/2023) Horror Nights Nightmares has posted an updated version of their popular HHN Speculation maps for the Universal Orlando and Hollywood parks. While some of the mazes are identified by symbols rather than names, this is typically a sign of a home-brewed creation from the Universal staff, but as far as what I’m hearing, the maps are fairly accurate at this point. Oh… and some of those icon mazes? They may really surprise you when they are finally revealed.
As a reminder, the only things confirmed so far for both events are the mazes themed to Chucky and The Last of Us. As far as what is speculated so far, the use of MEGAN in both parks as a scare zone style area does make sense in lew of a themed maze. I’m also not surprised to see another Universal Monsters themed maze, and I’m really hopeful that we will get to see the return of Stranger Things to relive the epic events of Season 4. As for the return of the Exorcist… I’m unsure if this is a replay of the former HHN Exorcist maze or if this will actually tie into the new 2023 Exorcist movie set for release in October. I see Evil Dead Rise listed for the Hollywood park and not Orlando, which is kind of a shame, as the maze was rumored to have been built in Orlando for 2022 and then rethemed as something else at the last second when the film’s release was delayed.
Take a look and see what you think so far!
(6/15/2023) While it may be the start of the Summer season, that also means that the various Halloween announcements from parks will start rolling out on a regular basis, leading into the Haunt season. Universal Studios confirmed a popular rumor a few hours ago with the announcement that a Haunt themed to "The Last Of Us" video game (not the series, but the Playstation game) will be coming to Halloween Horror Nights this year in both Orlando and Hollywood.
While Season1 of the series was a little light on the "clickers", you will be entering the game universe where they are plentiful. "Fight to survive" as you travel through the remains of Pittsburgh with Ellie and Joel.
(4/29/2023) Halloween Horror Nights appears to be ready to finally kick off announcements of what is to come this fall, starting with an epic teaser of sorts that they’ve posted to both the Hollywood and Orlando Instagram and Twitter feeds. What you will find is is a 10 minute video that starts off with a podcaster talking about “the legend of HHN” and what happens to those who go alone. There are hints about how the “signs are everywhere, hiding in plain sight, if only you know where to look”.
It is interesting to note that she is wearing an HHN 25 t-shirt, and while the Hollywood event stopped the use of numbers on their event promotion long ago, HHN 25 in Orlando was an epic milestone event hosted by fan-favorite icon, Jack and sidekick, Chance, who then took over as host Icon for HHN 26. About a minute into the video the podcaster gets distracted by something heard of sensed in the room with her, outside of camera view and at that point the video gets weird. The next nine minutes turn into a mix of static and video glitches, with occasional odd noises and imagery you get flashes of through the static. Lettering… what may be faces staring back at you, possibly music being played backwards or very slow… it’s all a bit out there as you stare intently at your static filled screen, straining to find a sign of what is to come.
Oh, and don’t worry… there are no jump scares. So I’ll stop that bit of disappointment right away as I think most of us were expecting Jack to pop in outta nowhere blatantly with a “boo!” or something.
No, the clues here are hidden deep and very vague intentionally. At the same time, if this is a sign of the level of gameplay we can come to expect from HHN this year, then I look forward to seeing how far down the rabbit hole this will go. This very much has the potential feels of how HHN was promoted long ago, full of mystery, hints, puzzles and even an overlying storyline of its own, featuring an icon character who would lay the ground and tie everything together under a bigger umbrella. It has been several years since we’ve seen HHN come out swinging in this fashion, as past years it has turned more into a series of big IP house announcements,back to back, ending with a final announcement that would group the remaining non-IP haunts and scare zones as the final push.
So stay tuned… I think we could be in for a very special ride this year and the HHN rumormill has already been very active with a huge number of possible rumors of what we may see this year. Of course there is Chucky… that was already confirmed for 2023 way back in November of last year. But as for what IPs may come this year, the jury is still out. Evil Dead Rise? The Last of Us? M3GAN? Knock at the Cabin? How about more Stranger Things? Or are you wanting to see The Walking Dead one more time as the series comes to a close? Of course Universal Monsters is a given in some form as well. What will make the cut is never as final as you might think, as things also have a habit of changing in the final months, so I’m going to wait a bit for the blender to slow down a bit. In the meantime… enjoy the next 9 minutes of static, which in itself could perhaps be a throwback to Poltergeist, but that simply may just be overthinking it.
(2/5/2023) Our good buddy Erik Yates (formerly: Behind the Thrills) has come out of retirement to post a fun bit of Halloween Horror Nights speculation about what we might see coming to this fall’s annual Universal horror-fest. Erik and I used to have long private conversations about exactly this kind of thing each year, which was always fun to see what really happened and what things that were obvious to us were overlooked for one reason or another by the creative powers that be.
At this point the only truly confirmed addition to Halloween Horror Nights is the return of Chucky, with both Hollywood and Orlando events to bring Chucky to life, inspired by the events of the new Chucky TV series.
So what does Erik think is in the pipeline? A lot of things we’ve talked privately about, as well as things I’ve mentioned on Screamscape before as being canceled or delayed from last year’s event, plus a lot of fan-favorite things that people have been dying for. Things like Evil Dead Rise, The Last of Us, IT, Stranger Things, M3GAN, returning Universal Monsters chaos and more! Lots of possibilities out there, and reasons why they may or may not happen, so follow the link and check it out!
(11/2/22) Halloween Horror Nights may be over, but the crew isn’t messing around for 2023, because they’ve already announced the first new haunt for next year. If you caught it on social media, Halloween Horror Nights is proud to announce that an all new haunted house themed to “Chucky” will be featured next year in both the Orlando and Hollywood events.
2022/2023 - New CityWalk Developments - (12/11/2022) While I’m not going to post any spoilers about the experiences within Universal’s Great Movie Escape, we have heard that guests move through a series of different themed rooms as part of the experience, and that this isn’t your typical Escape Room style experience where you get 1 hours to escape. We have been sent a series of promotional images from Universal to share showing off some of the high quality themed rooms you may visit.
(12/4/2022) Universal Orlando is set to open their brand new escape room attraction on December 9th. According to articles, tickets are now being sold online for Universal’s Great Movie Escape, which features two themed escape rooms, one themed to Back To The Future and the other to Jurassic World.
Expect to pay a bit of a premium for these escape games however, as tickets start at $49.99 per person, but you can book online right now.
(11/20/22) One of our readers dropped into the opening night of the Green & Red Coconut Club and shot a quick video whiling walking around the new seasonal addition to Universal CityWalk. It’s funny to see how they even kept and re-themed some of the left-over Halloween decor to fit in with the Christmas cheer theme.
(11/19/22) Universal Orlando has confirmed the rumors about the debut of the “Green and Red Coconut Club”, which will be open in CityWalk on select nights between now and January 1st, 2023. “An imaginative seasonal transformation of the existing Red Coconut Club, The Green and Red Coconut Club offers immersive retro holiday décor and themes in every corner of the venue, including a cozy family living room complete with a traditional fireplace full of presents and rustic décor, a special area with tons of holiday figurines, and more. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment and a selection of new, holiday-inspired cocktails and mocktails.”
(11/5/22) Screamscape sources tell us that the success of the “Dead Coconut Club” concept in Universal CityWalk over the past two months during Halloween Horror Nights season may have put the Saturday Night Live / Comedy Club concept for the site on indefinite hold once again. Apparently the addition of a low priced theming overlay to the closed nightclub location along with a creative menu of holiday themed beverages (and collectible tiki glasses) mixed with some fun and theme appropriate live entertainment proved to be a huge hit for Universal Orlando.
You know the old saying, “Money talks” and from what I’m told, the Dead Coconut Club endeavor became a surprising highlight of income from the Halloween Horror Nights season. With what would be classified as a minimal investment to the location, it became highly profitable over the 2-month run, and now Universal management is looking to double-down and find a way to repeat this success all year long. But Halloween is over and it’s time to put the Monsters characters away for the next 10 months, so what’s next for the Red Coconut Club?
Earl. Yes, I said Earl. Earl the Squirrel, an experimental character and original Universal Orlando creation who became beloved by guests during last year’s Holiday season as he took over the theme of the Tribute Store for the holiday season and came to life as a walk-around character. The mention of the Tribute Store is no accident either, as the concept itself has become a runaway success for Universal throughout the past few years and now Universal is looking to apply this same concept to the Red Coconut Club going forward.
The Halloween decor will come down from the “Dead Coconut Club” and be replaced with an assortment of Christmas holiday season decor, along with Earl as the icon, and become the “Green & Red Coconut Club” for the remainder of the year. Assuming this concept maintains guest popularity status, look for it to transform once again in early 2023 into some kind of Mardi Gras theme, and then into some kind of Summer Celebration theme (they’re still working on it…) before returning for service as the Dead Coconut Club once again for HHN in September as a celebration of the Universal Monsters.
Or at least this is the business plan for the next year going forward. The continued use of the Universal Monsters is very important, as we’ve seen Universal Orlando experiment with a number of Universal Monsters concepts over the past year. While the Monster Cafe restaurant was closed to make way for an upcoming Minions concept, we’ve seen Universal use the Monsters theming as a Tribute store concept of its own in the Revenge of the Mummy gift shop during the ride’s lengthy rehab in 2022. Management has been experimenting with the various ways to use, market and sell the Universal Monsters to the modern day audience ahead of the opening of an entire Universal Monsters land at the Epic Universe theme park in 2025. According to the tale, management wasn’t expecting much from the Dead Coconut Club and were bowed over by the success and guest response to the project that was clear as of the very first weekend.
(6/18/22) After being rumored for several years now, Universal Orlando finally confirmed a few days ago that “Universal’s Great Movie Escape” will open this Fall at Citywalk. The new escape room experience will feature two adventures when it opens, themed to Juassic World and Back to the Future. The new attraction logo has already been added to the front of the former Groove nightclub location.
(5/8/22) Screamscape sources tell us that the Universal themed Escape Room attraction is still in the works for CityWalk, but has experienced some project delays. They are still hoping to get it open just before the end of the year if they can.
(1/15/22) Is Universal Orlando taking the next step to opening their own Escape Room attraction inside the former Groove nightclub location? Apparently work permits for a “Project 235” in CityWalk have been filed to begin work on “Phase 2 Interior and Exterior Renovations” following a previous work permit that was for “Interior Demolition”.
For years now we’ve been following the breadcrumbs that indicated Universal was working towards opening their own highly themed Escape Room attractions, which opens the gates to a lot of fun possible ideas in terms of themes. While anyone can make their own custom themed Escape Rooms, only Universal could bring you Escape Room concepts themed to classic Universal IP’s like Back to the Future, Jurassic World, Jaws and many more.
Even more interesting might be the chance to bring back concepts from retired Universal Orlando attractions. For example, think back to Back to the Future: The Ride and how Doc was trapped in his lab while Biff took the Time Machine for a joy ride. Care to relive this experience, but from inside Doc’s Lab? Who’s ready to escape from the Jurassic Park Operations Center during the original “incident” where the dinosaurs got loose? Or in a fun cross-over, escape from the underwater tunnels (at SeaWorld??) under siege from a giant shark as seen in the climax of Jaws 3. Well… maybe not the SeaWorld part, but the idea could be a lot of fun regardless.
(12/16/21) Remember those rumors about how The Groove was gone for good and soon to be replaced by a new Escape Room style experience? Last we heard was that work to transform The Groove would be the first of the new projects to get moving, and this now seems to be the case. A construction wall is now up around the entrance to the building and The Groove sign has now been removed from the building.
(10/23/21) In an article that goes over some of Screamscape’s latest rumors for upcoming CityWalk projects, Orlando Weekly adds a great point that I missed. The rumored “Beer Garden” we heard that was on-deck to replace the current Legacy Store could very well be a new “Wubei Craft Food and Beer” location. Universal developed this new upscale beer garden concept to open first in CityWalk at the brand new Universal Studios Beijing complex and if it proves to be a hit, it would be easy to see Universal bringing a clone or a similar concept to Florida.
Orlando Weekly also recalled how Universal had been dreaming about ways to bring a beer garden to CityWalk for some time now. Guest surveys in 2017 that also included ideas for the rumored Escape Room concept, also described a concept for a German themed beer hall that could have taken over the Emeril’s location. Instead we saw Emeri’s become the awesome BIGFIRE restaurant with a bar that focuses on specialty Whisky, Bourbon and Vodka cocktails, so dropping a fancy Beer Gardens next door sure wont take anything away from that.
(10/10/21) Universal fans, take the time to enjoy the “Legacy Store” in CityWalk while you can, as I’m told that it is only temporary and will eventually make way for another new concept. If the rumors are true, Screamscape has heard that the Legacy Store will eventually make way for some kind of new “Beer Garden” themed eatery. More on this as we find out.
(10/3/21) Remember that rumor about the next projects coming to CityWalk at Universal Orlando? Screamscape sources tell us that they are indeed moving forward with plans to add the rumored Escape Room and Comedy Club attractions there. We don't have a timeline however, and it seems very possible that one may open before the other at the moment, with the Escape Rooms taking the lead here. We did get a fun note about the Comedy Club concept however, as our source confirmed that Saturday Night Live theming would indeed be involved in that project, which may be partly the reason it could take a bit longer to bring to life.
(8/31/21) Is another wave of new projects being planned for Universal Orlando’s Citywalk? According to a Screamscape source, this may very well be the case, which means plans may be underway to shutter a few old Citywalk locations to make room. But what if I told you that the locations may have already been closed, shut down during the early days of the pandemic, and have yet to reopen?
Currently the Red Coconut Club and The Groove are both closed until further notice. The official Universal Orlando App only lists them as being temporarily closed, but you really have to know where to look to find any mention of them at all on the Universal Orlando website right now.
While plans are always subject to change, our source tells us that the plan right now would be to transform the Red Coconut Club into a new Comedy Club of some kind, while The Groove will be transformed into some kind of high-end Escape Room attraction concept. For long time readers, these plans may sound a little familiar. We’ve heard on and off for years now that Universal Orlando had been looking into ways to get into the Escape Room business where they could use their various IPs as official themed for the games. Back in 2018 Universal went so far as to file trademark paperwork for the name, “Universal’s Great Movie Escape” with the description of use being used for “Entertainment services in the nature of escape room attractions.” A quick fact check… Universal still owns the active Trademark to this name even now.
As for the Comedy Club… ever since NBC joined with Universal Studios there has long been a desire for the theme park resort to somehow add some kind of attraction that could make sure of the Saturday Night Live comedy brand. As such, more than a few comedy clubs and comedy themed attraction concepts have been drawn up and shelved over the years in an effort to scratch this comedic itch. While I’m not saying for sure that they may use the SNL branding for the final product, Universal has done a lot of research into the concept of adding a comedy club to Citywalk over the years for possible use in other locations, including as an alternate concept for Citywalk’s Rising Star location. And another quick note… for those wondering, while The Groove and Red Coconut are currently listed as closed, Rising Star is open for business, so it isn’t going anywhere.
So the next time you’re walking through Citywalk, it may be worth keeping an eye on these two locations, because it seems change is coming.
2024/2025 - New Universal Pop-Culture Celebration Event - Rumored To Be In Development - (9/16/2023) Consider this a long term rumor about a concept that was in development by Universal to create another popular festival style event at Universal Studios Florida to take place sometime in the late spring following the Mardi Gras event until the start of the Summer season in June.
Currently the Universal Orlando resort has a pretty stacked slate of projects to fill their calendars. Following the busy summer season they’ve got Halloween Horror nights taking over all of September and October, the annual Christmas holiday events in both parks running from mid November through to New Years, followed by Mardi Gras in early to mid spring. According to the long term rumors from Screamscape sources, the parks may be looking to fill that last gap between Spring Break and Summer, and the early inspiration for this may have come from Japan.
Over the past several years Universal Studios Japan has put on a series of successful events featuring temporary attractions and displays throughout the park under the “Universal Cool Japan” event banner. The event celebrates an ever changing slate of Japanese Pop Culture icons including live action monsters like Godzilla, popular anime characters, Japanese video game series worlds and characters, and even the occasional musical performer. Universal Cool Japan blends a bit of digital fantasy and the wacky worlds of anime with a touch of Kaijui and horror influence to create a mega event all of their own that has developed a strong following.
According to my sources, Universal Orlando is looking to create their own such event that could premier as early as Late Spring 2024, but will do so by creating one made up entirely of American themed pop-culture themes, including some rumored throwbacks to Universal’s own film and theme park history. The popularity of the annual Tribute Stores in the park over the past few years has served as a test of sorts to determine things that really are popular with Universal guests.
While I don’t know everything that Universal has up their sleeve for this proposed event, the idea is to bring back some interesting iconic characters and themes, not only from Universal’s back catalog, but some themes that were once popular parts of the early Universal Orlando experience. Early concepts talked about bringing some characters back to the park for live performances, such as Bettlejuice’s Graveyard Revue on a stage, or to have the Ghostbusters roaming the park in Ecto 1. Anyone else remember the live street performance where the Ghostbusters would chase down Bettlejuice who in return would possess them and make them dance to songs like “Day-O”? How would you feel about the chance to experience a return of Back To The Future: The Ride? Just not inside the original attraction building (The Simpsons) but instead a temporary setup using the simulator bays of Race Through New York? Want to experience the terror of Jaws in a new throw-back attraction? While Universal can’t bring back the old Amity Island area, I’ve heard it has been pitched to re-program the Fast & Furious immersive tunnel scene to create a virtual shark attack sequence.
The end result is to create a special event that is a fun throwback to celebrate popular characters and film characters from the past that once had a tie to Universal Studios theme parks in one way or another. This could also result in the displaying of a lot of classic vehicles from Universal attractions making appearances for guest photos, which is something Universal has always done well with long-term displays of vehicles like the BTTF Delorean, Jurassic Park jeeps, the Blues Brothers squad car, Mystery Machine and more. I’ve already mentioned Ecto 1, but what about some fun 80’s Universal throwback vehicles like KITT or the A-Team van or a little Miami Vice vs Fast X? It’s all for fun… but with Universal Creative being heavily focused on finishing up the Epic Universe theme park by 2025, it sounds like Universal’s live entertainment creatives may be ready to try something new and fresh in the near future.
Future Expansion Thoughts - (12/18/2022) With the first North American version of Super Nintendo World set to open in Hollywood in February, followed by an expansion of the original in Japan the following year and then a full sized clone as part of Universal’s Epic Universe park in 2025, you may be wonder what’s next in development for Universal and Nintendo?
Previously a number of projects were rumored to have been discussed and some initial designs worked up that were to spread out and use other Nintendo related IPs, with the lead projects seemingly attached to Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda games. Some kind of Pokemon attraction was long rumored for Universal Studios Florida a long time ago, back when the first Super Nintendo World was just starting design and construction in Japan, but before things got too far along, all the spin-off North American projects were said to have been put on hold by the corporate office. They already knew they were dedicated to make new lands/attractions in Hollywood and Orlando at this point based on the Super Nintendo World coming to Japan, but wisely they wanted to see how actual guests would react to the first one before committing to other projects based on Nintendo’s other non-Mario based IPs.
All has been fairly quiet on the Pokemon side of things ever since, though there has been a persistent rumor claiming that the amazing Spider-Man dark ride at Universal Studios Japan would close at the end of their current IP contract period and be transformed into some kind of Pokemon or possibly even Detective Pikachu themed dark ride. Considering that the first Detective Pikachu film was deemed enough of a hit that a sequel was announced as almost a sure thing by Legendary Pictures before the first one even opened in US theaters, converting the urban environment inside and out of the existing Spider-Man attraction building in Japan would be an easy fit. So perhaps the next question would be… could this same thing happen in the US parks?
The closing of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure, as things currently stand, isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, as the current Marvel IP deal Universal has locked in place for as long as they want to pay for it does come with some interesting caveats. The way it has been explained to me is that the deal actually requires Universal to maintain the entire Marvel themed land in its entirety… so in other words, Universal isn’t allowed to close down just Hulk or the Spider-Man ride and keep the rest of the land. The deal is essentially an all or nothing deal, and the removal of any one of the original attractions would be cause for the entire deal to collapse as a violation of the terms.
This is why we’ve only seen Universal upgrade and/or rebuilt the existing attractions exactly as they they were created. Spider-Man was upgraded with all new and improved animation and improved projection technology, but the story of the ride was kept exactly the same. The Incredible Hulk coaster was re-built exactly as a clone of the original, with only minor thematic improvements made to the trains and queue experience that still kept the same basic concept of the original story for the ride. Even Doctor Doom’s Fearfall went through some mechanical updates and upgrades over the past few years (remember when the crowns were removed from the towers?) only to be put back together to offer the same ride experience as before. So essentially the entire Marvel Super Hero Island is locked up like a time-capsule and unable to make any additions or major changes without the approval of Marvel… and with Disney now owning Marvel, you know that isn't ever going to happen. So Disney is just biding their time and accepting payment from Universal each year for the use of what they have, knowing that eventually one day Universal will drop the land once they are done with it and Disney will get full theme park rights to Marvel back again.
So coming back to Epic Universe once again, the question is, should Universal keep all of the various Nintendo IP’s in the Epic Universe theme park, or should they be be planning to following the Wizarding World exactly and drop different Nintendo based IPs as new attractions and lands of Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure? Without a doubt spreading out the Wizarding World attractions between the two existing parks has proved to be a huge hit with guests and been a very profitable venture for Universal Orlando, so much that we’ll see a third Wizarding World as part of Epic Universe.
With that in mind, I’d think it would be only a matter of time before Universal pulled out some of those old plans and looked into eventually dropping other Nintendo IPs into Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Since Universal isn’t likely to build another similar ride system in Universal Studios Florida, as they already have Transformers, it sounds like the fate of Pokemon may be locked up until Spider-Man’s days are over or they come up with an entirely new concept. This leaves Nintendo’s other major IPs open for development, such as Metroid and Zelda, but between them Zelda is the one most likely happen. We know Universal Creative has already roughly designed a couple of Zelda based concepts in the past, and is rumored to be sending out some guests surveys right now just to feel out their audience about the idea of building a land or attraction(s) based on the Legend of Zelda IP.
So what was Universal looking to do previously? As I said, they had a couple of ideas in the fire at different points. One was simply a conversion of an existing Island of Adventure attraction… Poseidon’s Fury. The idea would have seen a new front entrance placed in front of the existing attraction, bringing guests into a castle building that would eventually lead them down into the the dark cavern passageways below the castle, which would really just be the existing entrance pathway into Poseidon’s Fury. From here the basic attraction concept would have been exactly the same of Poseidon’s Fury, leading guests from chamber to chamber for a live-action walk-through adventure story, including the unlocking of a magical doorway and passenger through the water vortex that would lead to a final epic battle sequence between Link and Ganon in the main show chamber. So yeah… same attraction, just some new theming and plot.
Another concept Universal dreamed up is kind of neat and was going to take advantage of some new ride hardware patents they filed for a few years ago. The gist of the hardware was that guests would enter the attraction as your typical slow-moving boat ride themed to the world of Zelda. The ride experience ahead would be anything but that, as the boats would be designed so that they could perform some interesting manuverse we haven’t seen before on a boat ride. This includes the ability to encounter some kind of obstacle in mid-stream that could cause your boat to rotate and begin flowing down the river backwards or even sideways. This could also involve the possibility of loading onto some kind of unseen underwater trick-track that could cause the boat to slide down a small hill sideways, perhaps with a change of direction at the bottom. The biggest trick of them all however would have been the transformation of your “boat” ride into a flying vehicle.
Imagine this as the set-up… your boat would encounter a villain, creature or obstacle that would knock you off-course, and instead of moving down the peaceful waterway, you find yourself rapidly approaching the edge of the biggest waterfall you’ve ever seen. This is no flume drop… this is a straight down plunge to your very doom, and there seems to be no way to avoid it, so hang onto your loved ones and prepare for the end. Unknowst to the riders, and hidden behind their view, your boat has now been placed directly under a new track system up in the dark rafters, and a device that may look something like a set of rotating fork-lift arms attached to the track will quietly drop from the ceiling and insert those forks into slots built into the base of your boat. Just as riders think they are going over the falls, instead the boat would magically lift up into the skies and enter an entirely new portion of the ride experience as you fly over the magical land of Zelda.
Now that sure sounds like a fun ride concept to me… but again… where to put it? Should Universal add Zelda to Islands of Adventure or somewhere at the original Universal Studios Florida theme park?
(8/3/19) Universal’s EPIC UNIVERSE was announced as the name of their next theme park coming to Orlando. All information and history about the rumors and development of this project have now been moved to an official EPIC UNIVERSE page for future reporting. Head on over and check out our complete breakdown about what was announced and what we think we know about this new park based on all concept artwork compared to the various rumors. (CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE NEWS ON EPIC UNIVERSE)