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(2/17/21) Universal Orlando Adds New Contact Free Payment System To Resort App (MORE...)
(2/13/21) Volcano Bay To Reopen In Two Weeks (MORE...)
(2/2/21) Blue Man Group Confirms Their Universal Orlando Run Has Come To An End (MORE...)
(1/24/21) Could The Blue Man Group Show Be Closed For Good? (MORE...)
(1/9/21) Universal Orlando Offering 15-Months For Price of 12 With Current Annual Pass Offer (MORE...)
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 - (2/17/21) According to reports Universal Orlando has added Universal Pay to the latest version of the theme park resorts official mobile app. This adds a new contact-free payment method for use across at the resorts and and theme parks for their guests.
(2/2/21) We reported on the rumor last week and now the Blue Man Group itself has confirmed that the Orlando show is no more. The group posted a thank you to the Blue Man Orlando cast, crew and staff for the over 6,000 shows they put on over their successful 14 year run.
(1/24/21) A good read can be found at Theme Park University this week where they speculate that the Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando is “unlikely to return”. Currently the Blue Man Group show has suspended operations ever since the theme park resort first shut down operations due to the pandemic threat back in the first half of 2020. When the theme parks opened again, the Blue Man Group show did not, as they are now owned by Cirque du Soleil who had shut down operations of all their productions across the globe in 2020.
The pandemic put a serious financial strain on Cirque’s operations and they were forced to furlough 95% of their workforce and soon filed for bankruptcy protection to keep the company from going under. In November 2020 it was reported that Cirque had emerged from bankruptcy following a bid to take control of the company by a group of their creditors. But what about the Orlando production?
According to Theme Park University, while the arrival of the Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando in 2007 was a major success at the time, but over the last few years they report that sellouts of performances were few and far between, with most shows only selling about half of the seats in the theater. Compared to a typical Cirque du Soleil show that requires a much larger cast and crew, the cost to put on a Blue Man Group show is only a fraction of what it costs to put on a Cirque show. So even with only half the theater full, the shows were still able to make a profit.
The interesting part of the report however claims that Universal Orlando is ready to take the theater back for something new in 2022. The building itself was originally created as part of the initial build of the Universal Studios Florida complex, and used as a Nickelodeon studio tour attraction and soundstage when the park first opened in June 1990. With building already built out as a functioning show theater, it would be quite easy for Universal to repurpose it as some kind of new show for the theme park, or put it to use for another extra cost show production not unlike Blue Man Group.
If this is true, it does make me wonder if the idea to retire the show’s Orlando run was something that came down from Universal management, or if it was brought up by Blue Man Group’s new owner, Cirque du Soleil. After all Cirque has a long standing deal with Disney, having run the La Nouba show at Downtown Disney for 19 years (1998 to 2017). Cirque also currently has an all new show called Drawn to Life that will replace La Nouba in the same theater on Disney property that is expected to open in 2021. If not for the pandemic, Drawn to Life would have opened in 2020. While I don’t know the details of Cirque’s contract with Disney, I would imagine that a Cirque owned company (ie: Blue Man Group) putting on another show in Orlando for Disney’s main competition would likely be frowned upon.
Now, I’m not saying anyone is in breach of contract by any means, as the Blue Man Group show at Universal was already in place long before Cirque bought BMG. The BMG show has every right to continue on and fulfill their contract with Universal. Regardless of it all, you still have to know that having the Blue Men out of Universal would make The Mouse sleep a little better at night.
So if all this is true… I am very curious what new plans Universal could be thinking of for the theater building. After all, the location of the theater is very close to the Shrek 4D and Despicable Me attractions, and if they want the site for the theme park, they could use it for something else from their Dreamworks or Illumination animation divisions. Universal Hollywood has a Secret Life of Pets attraction they are ready to open with the theme park this year, Universal Studios Japan also has “SING on Tour”, an show attraction themed to the animated film “SING”. But in a preview video for Universal Studios Beijing, there was a brief clip of a massive flying figure of Toothless with a rider on his back from the “How to Train Your Dragon” film series that was likely for some kind of production for the park. We know there was to be an entire land themed around How To Train Your Dragon built at Universal Orlando’s 3rd theme park project, Epic Universe, but since that park is now on hold, we’ve got to wonder if they might consider dropping a live show into one of the existing parks instead.
Again… no rumors here, just some fun speculation and “What if…” thinking. So what kind of show would you like to see take over the Blue Man Group theater at Universal Orlando?
(1/9/21) Universal Orlando is currently offering a special deal on their 2-Park Annual Passes. If you purchase one between now and March 31, 2021 an extra 3-months free are being added on to your annual pass… so in other words, you are getting 15 months for the price of 12 months. There are four different AP options to choose from, some with blackout days and some with other perks like free parking or including a ticket into Halloween Horror Nights so choose the pass that is best for you. There are also special prices for Florida Residents. Visit the official page for details.
(11/15/20) Park Hopping at Universal Orlando just gained a third option this week it seems. According to a tweet from Expedition Theme Park a new walk-way option to park hop between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida is now being offered for those who don’t want to wait for the Hogwarts Express, or venture out the of one path and walk through CityWalk to get to the other park and risk a wait of trying to get back inside a park due to capacity issues.
The entrance to the walkway at Islands of Adventure is in Suess Landing where employees check your passes before letting you pass into a pathway that goes backstage into the soundstage area between the parks that most Halloween Horror Nights fans are familiar with. The pathway access point inside Universal Studios Florida is down the pathway past Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, leading you under the brake run for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster.
I suspect we may only see this method used on dates where the parks are at risk of hitting capacity crowds, which is a great way to see Universal addressing the issue with a new option exactly when it would be needed by the guests.
(11/12/20) Universal Orlando has posted an amazing special ticket offer for Florida Residents. For $164.99 plus tax FL Residents can go online and buy a Two-Park / Three-Day ticket to Universal Orlando. The only other limitation is that you can only visit one park a day, so no park hopping. The special ticket will go on sale from Nov. 14 through to Jan. 3 and all three visits must be used by March 26, 2021.
(11/4/20) Looks like things are picking up again for Universal Orlando as the official website has now confirmed that the closed Portofino Bay Hotel will reopen to guests once again on December 1st, 2020. In addition Universal Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn & Suites will officially open for the first time starting on December 15, 2020.
(10/4/20) Universal Orlando has announced that they will be closing their Volcano Bay waterpark for the winter off-season starting on Nov. 2, 2020. This would be the first planned closure for Volcano Bay since it opened in 2017, and Universal says they will be performing a lot of annual maintenance during this first closure. According to the plan, they expect to reopen the waterpark by March 1, 2021, if not before.
In other news Universal Orlando is offering some free days to their theme parks as part of a new ticket promotion. With the purchase of a Two-Day Ticket now through Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Residents can get THREE FREE DAYS. In other words… get 5-Days of Universal Orlando theme park fun for the price of 2. That’s a hard deal to pass up.
For Florida Residents, they are also offering an special “Buy A Day, Visit Every Day Through Dec. 24 Free” pass offer. For Florida Residents only, good until Nov. 3, 2020, with the purchase of a 2-Park, 1-Day Park-to-Park ticket $164 + tax) you will get a pass good for unlimited visits to the parks through to Dec. 24, 2020. This deal can only be purchased online.
(9/7/20) Universal Orlando may be going through budget cuts and staff layoffs at the moment, but at the close of the summer season over Labor Day weekend I’ve been told that they had to close admission gates at all three parks (Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida and Volcano Bay) after hitting capacity on both Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully this bodes well for future attendance gains as we move through the fall and towards the normally very crowded winter holiday season.
(9/2/20) More sad news from Universal Orlando, as their hotel partner, Loews Hotels, has announced a series of layoffs taking place. Last week they announced 839 people at three of the resorts (Hard Rock, Portofino Bay and Cabana Bay Beach Resort) were being either “temporarily furloughed or laid off” and this was followed by a second announcement this week that another 1291 staff members at the Royal Pacific, Sapphire Falls, Aventura and the two Endless Summer Resorts were also being either furloughed or laid off.
They say that this is due to a substantial reversal in hotel bookings caused by the current trends of tourism in Florida caused by COVID-19 over the later half of the summer. I might also suggest that the cancelation of Halloween Horror Nights that runs throughout September and October could also be a major cause for the cancelation of existing bookings as well. The good news is that COVID-19 infection rates seem to be in decline at last and Universal has not yet stated what kind of offerings they will have for the holiday season to end the year. If we continue to see a downward trend in the pandemic, perhaps there may be time to see some recovery in the resort operations for the Holiday season.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying there will be anything close to a full recovery this year. In fact, the way things are going we are unlikely to see anything even begin to approach pre-pandemic levels until at least 2022. I suspect most parks will spend much of 2021 starting off the year still running at limited capacity restrictions and trying to increase those limits throughout the rest of that year, if they are able to, in direct response to how the battle against the spread of the virus continues.
This is going to be a long-term recovery effort, which is why Universal also pressed Pause on their new Epic Universe theme park project. On a related note, I wouldn’t expect to see any new life on that development either until at least 2022.
(8/19/20) As we mentioned in the last update, Universal has now launched day-specific ticket pricing, essentially going along with the same style ticketing concept that Disney has been doing for awhile. I’m not a fan… and while you can get some cheaper than normal tickets by visiting on off-peak days, it just makes visiting a park a little more complicated by locking you into a day in advance. Looking at the prices available right now, I can see a one-day / one-park ticket will cost you as low as $109 on a non-peak day, with other prices offered at $114, $125, $130, $135 and even $139 for the various dates posted between now and December 31st. If you just want to buy a ticket good for any-old day, then you simply pay the $139 price for a “Flexible Ticket”.
(8/17/20) From what I’m told Universal Orlando will be launching new date specific tickets starting on August 18th. As we’ve seen before, pricing will vary depending on the date(s) you are planning to visit. Since the new prices are not yet online yet, we don’t know if ticket prices will mainly go up from the current levels or if we may see discounted tickets for slower days to entice more guest visits.
(8/16/20) Universal Orlando has announced another interesting cutback this week. As of August 21st, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and the nearby Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will be “temporarily suspending operations”. All guests with existing reservations at either of those two hotels will find their accommodations moved to another one of the remaining hotels. At this time hotel operations have been consolidated at the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn & Suites.
Prior to this Universal had opened all of their previously existing hotel properties with the exception of the Portofino Bay Hotel. Universal is also said to have completed construction of the second half of the Endless Summer Resort, the Dockside Inn & Suites, but have yet to open it due to the pandemic and decreased demand.
The Sapphire Falls and Aventura resorts were always popular resorts with guests who would come to visit for Halloween Horror Nights, and since attendance at Universal Orlando is likely to decrease this fall with the cancellation of the annual Halloween event that was to begin in early September, it does make sense to scale back hotel operations at this time if occupancy rates are expected to be too low to maintain them all.
(8/3/20) Universal Orlando just dropped perhaps the deal of a lifetime for Florida Residents. They are calling it the “Buy A Day” promotion, and for the price buying a single day 2-Park admission ticket, you get a pass good to return as much as you want through Dec. 24, 2020.
Florida Residents can either buy a 2-Park, 1-Day pass for $164 or if you want to include access to Volcano Bay into the deal you can buy a pass for that for $193.
(8/2/20) According to local news reports Universal announced another round of layoffs on Friday, but the number of staff affected has not been made public. Going forward, while the new Epic Universe theme park has been on indefinite hold for the past few months, Universal confirmed that until the tourism market recovers they will be focused more on short term projects and the operations of their existing parks. As such, there will be some cuts to park operations, and some attractions will be closed for the time being.
The following attractions at Universal Studios Florida will now be closed: Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Kang & Kudos Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, and two shows: A Day in the Park with Barney and Fear Factor Live. Note that according to previous rumors, Fear Factor is thought to be closed for good.
The Following attractions at Islands of Adventure are now closed: Poseidon’s Fury and Storm Force Accelatron.
(7/30/20) It looks like Universal Orlando had some second thoughts about extending their hours. While we had heard rumors that the park hours might be extended going into August but a quick look at the online calendar shows Universal Studios Florida will cut back an hour and only be open from 9am to 5pm daily from August 2 through August 31st.
Islands of Adventure will be open the same length of time, but to help stagger things a bit that park’s hours will go to 10am to 6pm from August 2 through August 31st.
Volcano Bay will also move to a 10am opening time starting on August 10, closing at 5pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends that month, with no hours at all posted for Monday, August 31st.
(7/23/20) According to a post by AttractionsMagazine, Universal Orlando has updated their face mask policy to ban certain types of face coverings. The new regulations are similar to the ones that Walt Disney World put in place, requiring that face coverings:
Must cover nose and mouth and be secured under chin
Must fit snugly against the sides of the face and be secured with ear loops, or around the head
Must be at least two layers
Much like the Disney policy, this essentially bans bandannas tied around the head as well as the popular gaiters / buffs style, unless they consist of at least two layers of fabric. Currently Disney does not allow gaiter style masks. The one new addition that Universal has made to the mix was banning all face coverings with “exhalation valves”
(6/24/20) Sad news for Universal Orlando hit this week when it was confirmed that the company had been forced to lay off a number of their team members from various departments. Since Universal Orlando opened again, attendance has been said to be rather slow thus far. Steady… but slow, and even for those who are visiting, I’ve heard that guest per-caps are way down as well. It is said that the the loss of jobs is not just in Orlando, but jobs are said to have been cut at the Hollywood park as well.
(6/13/20) If you’ve been putting off a trip to revisit Universal Orlando, now could be the time if you love visiting parks with low crowds. According to all the reports I’ve been sent, the crowd levels at Universal so far are lower than expected, though keep in mind that guests have yet to begin traveling back to the Orlando area in the numbers they normally do. The majority of guests to Orlando typically would be flying in from all over the world and with air travel still very limited and even restricted from many parts of the world, some attendance decline is to be expected.
According to an interesting metric posted by Bloomberg, they report that the reported mobile phone traffic from the towers around Universal Orlando is currently only 20% of the level it was one year ago in June 2019.
Following along the same lines, apparently Universal has removed most of the previously posted blackout dates for annual passholders from Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.
(6/8/20) Our friends at Universal Experience have posted a new video update after visiting Universal Orlando this week, showing off the progress and changes made to the park since it has reopened, such as the all new version of the Raptor Encounter.
Another fun video that breaks down the changes you can expect (and tips on how to survive while wearing a mask) can also be seen in the second video below from VincentVision.
(6/5/20) With Universal Orlando now reopen to guests, one question some have been wondering is exactly how many people are they letting into the parks. While we don’t have an exact number, I’m told that Universal is attempting to keep the parks down to about 35% of their capacity at this time. While I haven’t heard anything about how things have been going with the general public on Friday so far, the comments I have seen about operations from the previous two days made it sound very much like, as I was anticipating, Universal is still trying to feel their way through the process. Being the first major park to open isn’t easy, and they are treading new ground here, so I was anticipating some difficulties and growing pains from the process of trying to figure out how to make things work in a pandemic. While I have not experienced the park myself, some comments did make it sound like the virtual queue system that was rapidly expanded to include several other attractions is still a bit rough around the edges, so be warned.
Some interesting things of note I have heard is that any attractions with pre-show experiences, especially the ones that would load guests into small tiny rooms for a time, are not currently using them. This means no pre-show room for The Simpsons, no fake Elevator down under Gringotts bank or to the MIB HQ and no ET saying your name at the end of the ride.
For those looking for something new to oggle, there is the massive construction site in the Jurassic Park area for the park’s new roller coaster, where new track seems to be rising daily right now. Nearby you’ll find an all new version of the park’s popular Raptor Encounter experience, though I’m hearing that the costumes being worn by the staff here seem to have swapped out the Jurassic Park logo for the Jurassic World logo, which does make one wonder if a swap-over of IP is in the works after all. One more change that might be popular in the Jurassic area is that the Pteranodon Flyers coaster (you know, the one where adults can’t ride without a child) is now loading only single riders on each car, so the ride is now open to all adults. Ride it while you can!
Oh, and for anyone wondering, the new Bourne Stuntacular is not yet open, but there are big signs and banners all around the building to let you know that it is coming soon.
(5/30/20) Universal Orlando has announced that they will begin to reopen select resort hotels starting June 2 as part of a managed and phased reopening plan. Look for the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific, Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and the Surfside Inn & Suites side of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort to open first.
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn & Suites will open at a later date. If you have existing reservations for either of these two resorts that will be affected by the current schedule, you will be contacted to modify these reservations.
All guests and staff will undergo temperature checks upon arrival and all team members will be required to wear masks in public areas during their shifts.
(5/23/20) Screamscape has been told that Universal Orlando has now confirmed that they will reopen to the public on June 5th (with preview dates for Team Members and Passholders taking place just before). The announcement indicates that Florida’s Governor has signed off on their plan to reopen, so now it is full steam ahead for Universal to make preparations to bring everything back online.
While I did not hear this the first time around, Universal has also confirmed that their reopening plans will also see the Volcano Bay waterpark reopen along with the two primary theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
All guests will have their temperature checked before being allowed into the resort, and if you are 100.4F or higher you will be turned away. All guests must wear face masks to enter and if you do not have one, Universal will have some available for purchase. Note that I was told that mask wearing will be required on the attractions as well, including the big coasters, so make sure your masks are tight fitting and secured.
Park capacity will be limited to prevent crowding and encourage social distancing, but they will not be requiring the use of any kind of online reservation system. Valet Parking service will also not be offered.
Interactive play areas will be closed in the theme parks (ie: the Curious George and Fievel playland areas) along with all single-rider queues and various water and mist elements in use on select attractions will also be turned off for the time being. I imagine that select attractions that are enclosed and very close quarters could also be closed for the time being… so combined with the water effects being turned off, I wouldn't be surprised if Poseidon's Fury stayed closed. They also confirmed that Virtual Lines will be in use at select attractions, but no list was provided.
(5/21/20) According to various reports a team from Universal Orlando made a presentation to the local government on Thursday afternoon with their plans to reopen the theme park resort. According to Screamscape sources, Universal not only believes that they are ready, but they are also hoping to be able to reopen before Disney and SeaWorld are ready. Please note that Universal will need to get approval from the Governor before they will be allowed to reopen.
That said, the plan they presented sounded like they want to open both of the main theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, starting on June 1st, but only for Universal team members as a sort of two-day preview / soft-opening practice. This will be followed by welcoming back Universal Orlando passholders for another two-day soft preview on June 3rd and 4th, before opening the park to regular guests starting on June 5th.
Attendance at the parks will be limited to a certain level well below normal, but it did not sound like they were planning on making all guests have a reservation ahead of time. All guests (and team-members) will temperature screened before entry, masks will be mandatory for all and social distancing will be enforced throughout the parks and attraction queues. I’ve also been led to believe that we may see Universal expand the use of their Virtual Queue system to most other park attractions. Previously it was only used on Race Through New York and the Fast & Furious Supercharged attractions.
I’m sure more information will be rolled out once the Governor signs off on the plan.
(5/9/20) Universal has sent out a survey to some guests and passholders which pretty much covers the entire field of questions to determine what they can do to make guests feel safe returning to the theme parks, and what steps guests may feel are taking things too far.
The survey also throws in some hypothetical questions with various reopening dates and operational / pricing scenarios just to get a feel for some interesting concepts. One question throws out possible reopening dates to determine how fast guests would return to the park, and the dates being thrown around seem to range from “Any time after May 31st” all the way out to December 1st. So far the early rumors suggest we could see at least one of the parks reopen sometime between early June to early July.
They also ask an interesting set of price questions, both including a scenario where one of the parks is open and the other is closed. All rides are open, with very limited capacity, and the park’s capacity is capped at at least 50%. I’ve seen one question ask about how you would feel visiting the park with admission was discounted to 50% off from the normal price, while another poses a similar scenario but asks how you would feel if the price of admission were increased.
Like I said, the questions are a bit “all over the place” but it is interesting to see how they are thinking of every possible scenario.
(5/7/20) An interesting tweet mentions that there may be plans to reopen restaurants in Citywalk at Universal Orlando starting Monday, May 11th.
(5/4/20) Universal Orlando has announced that as of May 1st, they have begun temperature screenings of all employees who enter the property. This screening applies to Universal team members as well as any vendors, contractors, and business visitors, and those with 100ºF or higher will not be allowed to enter and have to wait 72 hours before they can try again.
(4/26/20) Universal Orlando has filed a patent application for something really odd. From the look of it, it described a vehicle system that can take a ground-based transportation vehicle and secure it in one of two ways to an aerial gondola system where it will take to the skies. The images show either a way to attach a gondola hook to the roof of the vehicle itself, or to load the ground vehicle into a specialized gondola cabin for transport. I think I’d prefer the second method myself as just being more secure.
The idea itself does make you wonder just what Universal may be planning for their spread out Orlando properties going forward into the future.
(4/25/20) Universal Orlando’s CEO John Sprouls has talked a bit about what it will take to reopen the Universal Orlando parks. As mentioned elsewhere, the primary concern is to make guests feel safe in the parks, because if they don’t, they won't visit. Universal is still going over their options, but you can expect to see expanded use of virtual queue systems, limited attendance in the parks, and social distancing in place for everything. Staggered seating on rides is also expected along with increased disinfecting procedures in place throughout the parks. The park staff will be screened and must wear masks, and Universal is seriously looking into temperature checks on guests before they are allowed to enter the parks.
(4/19/20) Universal Orlando is apparently sending a survey out to former guests to see how they feel about different potential changes that might be made to the way the theme parks operate when they are allowed to open again. There are a wide variety of options they are asking guests to share their feelings about what they are comfortable with, what they would encourage and what changes they would have a problem with. The list includes ideas like:
Should all employees wear face masks?
Should all guests be required to wear face masks?
Should attraction seats be wiped down between each ride cycle?
Should a virtual queue system be put in place for nearly all attractions?
Should parades and night shows be closed for the time being?
Should indoor attractions and/or shows be closed for the time being?
Should all guests be required to pass a rapid results COVID-19 test before entry?
Should all employees take the rapid COVID-19 test before work?
Should guests and employees have to pass a temperature screening before entry?
Should park attendance be limited? If so to what point? 75%, 50%, or 25%?
The survey is long and asks a variety of other similar questions along with other ideas about possible changes that could be made to how paid parking is handled, how food is ordered and served, how sales are handled in the various shops and even floats the idea of temporarily stopping the current bag screening process to help move things along more quickly.
In the end, I think we can count on there being certain federal and state level requirements that will be put in place that all businesses will have to follow, but it is interesting to see that Universal is gathering guest feedback to determine how the public will feel about such a variety of possible changes. Following 9/11, many felt that guests would not stand for the new bag check stations for very long, but nearly 20 years later they are still in place and actually are something that many guests feel comforted and protected by while visiting the parks.
One final thought however… the idea of limiting attendance at theme parks has long been something talked about by theme park fans when they become frustrated by long lines. The simple truth is that parks rarely close their gates because they’ve hit an unknown “capacity” number, though it does happen to the big Orlando parks once or twice a year during major holidays like New Year’s Eve and sometimes on the 4th of July. While crowded parks are frustrating to guests, they do represent some of the biggest profit days for the parks, so they’ve had little reason to put tighter restrictions in place. Adjusting to a world where parks may have to limit their attendance for a time is an interesting thought that makes me wonder how they might want to financially adjust for this factor. In addition, what is the best way to make it actually happen? Do you just let guests pile in until the new limit is hit and turn everyone else away? Or would they require guests to use some kind of online advanced reservation system?
(4/13/20) According to information sent to Screamscape, Universal Orlando has sent out some survey questions to see how their guests would feel about adding another “month-long event that is similar in execution to Halloween Horror Nights but would feature popular stories from Science Fiction, Fantasy, Anime and Gaming.”
This concept should sound slightly familiar to Screamscape readers, as this sounds very similar in concept to the Universal Cool Japan event that has been taking place at Universal Studios Japan over the last few years, except that event is usually spread out over several months… often running from mid January through to May or so. Over the years Universal Cool Japan has brought various temporary mini-attractions to life themed around Japanese pop-culture IPs ranging from Godzilla, to popular Anime titles, along with video game tie-ins for Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy and Resident Evil.
Going back to the Universal Orlando survey, the idea here, much like Halloween Horror Nights, would be to put guests inside “houses, or multi-room sets, where each house would be a different story within the theme of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Anime and Gaming. Some of these stories might be familiar ones, and others could be unique creations of Universal Orlando’s creative team. The “streets” of the park would be transformed to include decor, character interactions and other activities related to the theme of the event.”
So think of this as a cross between HHN and Universal Cool Japan, done as a special ticket event. The survey throws up several IPs as well to judge which IPs would be most attractive to American park guests.
Movies: Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, Fantastic Beasts
Series: Westworld, Dr Who, Star Trek, Black Mirror, Game of Thrones, The Witcher
Games: Final Fantasy, Minecraft, Pokemon, Dungeons and Dragons, Fortnite, Legend of Zelda,
Anime: Dragon Ball, Death Note, Spirited Away, Attack on Titan, Naruto,
Volcano Bay News - (2/13/21) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Volcano Bay will reopen from winter refurbishment to guests on February 27, 2021. As before, attendance capacity will be limited each day as as Universal does not require the use a reservation system to get in, admission will be on a first-come basis, so arrive early.
(8/24/20) According to the local news the operations schedule for Volcano Bay will soon be changing. Starting in September the plans is to only open the Volcano Bay waterpark five days a week and to keep it closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting on Sept. 8, 2020.
(7/23/20) Special thanks to one of our readers who sent in pictures of the remodeled Punga Racers, now open as body slides.
(7/19/20) Anyone been to Volcano Bay lately? Screamscape sources tell us that the remodeled Punga Racers slides began testing with employees on July 16. As expected the change to the slide included adding an extended runoff to the end of the slide, however the bigger and more unexpected change was that the mats have been removed and this is now being used as a collection of body slides. I’d love to see photos if anyone drops by.
This change was also confirmed by the official website, the description of the Punga Racers has been updated and seems to indicate that it is now open. It now has a 300 pound weight limit and is described as, “A favorite among Waturi children, Punga Racers send single riders on a body slide down four lanes through underwater sea caves.”
(6/2/20) An aerial photo of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando has uncovered an interesting rehab taking place. If you look carefully in the lower half of the picture, just to the right of center, you can see that the bottom half and splash-down troughs of the Punga Racers mat slides have been removed entirely. The slides were closed for some time last year following an incident with a guest claiming an injury. Following the incident the weight restriction for sliders was reduced to the point that only small children were allowed to ride.
Since the splash-down troughs at the end appeared to be much shorter than other matt-racer slides on average, I can only guess that the slides are being altered to allow for a longer splash-down trough at the end.
(10/19/19) You may have seen it mentioned here or elsewhere, but over the summer Universal Orlando made another head-scratching change to one of the attractions at Volcanao Bay. Similar to the previous policy change on the Kala and Tai Nui drop pod slides which started out with a 300 pound limit and suddenly dropped down to 200lbs before coming back to up to 275lbs, a new weight limit restriction was placed on the Punga Racers mat racer slide over the summer.
Previously I don’t believe the slide had a weight limit restriction at all, but suddenly riders who have enjoyed the slide since it opened in 2017 were suddenly banned from riding along with anyone over 150 pounds, effectically making this attraction one for tweens, small kids and only the slimmest of adults.
Unfortunately, we now know the reason for this sudden change, as a 47-year old / 215 pound tourist visiting from New York who rode it with his daughters on July 11th, 2019 and was described as slamming head-first into “a wall of water” in the shallow splashdown end of the slide, snapping his head back which left him motionless and his entire body numb. According to the lawsuit now filed, he suffered from “severe spinal cord compression” that left him almost paralyzed, and he had to undergo surgery while still in Orlando to remove part of his vertebrae and get a partial spinal fusion between his C3 and C7 vertebrae.
Compared to other mat racer style slides, I do have to admit that the Punga Racers does stand out as being different from most as the splashdown run at the bottom is shorter than most. Once the lawsuit is settled, I would not be surprised if the slide is modified to increase the length of the run here in order to allow normal sized adults to ride again.
2019/2020 - Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - (3/15/20) Universal Orlando has posted an update to say that the opening of their new Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites that was to take place on March 17 is being postponed. Guests will reservations to the new hotel during March will be relocated to their sister property across the street, the Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites.
This only makes sense, as there is no reason to open a brand new hotel during the middle of this event.
(2/25/20) Universal Orlando has released some new images looking at their new Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites, now set to open to guests on March 17, 2020. The addition of the Dockside Inn and Suites will add an additional 2,050 rooms to Universal Orlando by the end of 2020 when the final phase is complete, bringing the total number of rooms at Universal Orlando up to 9,000. This new Value category resort features both standard rooms as well as spacious 2-Bedroom Suites able to sleep up to six people with rates starting as low as $79.00 per night when a five-night stay is purchased during a value season. Like the other Universal Orlando resorts, guests will get the benefit of early park admission and complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks, along with the comfort and quality that comes along with being a Loews Hotels property.
(11/12/19) Universal Orlando has announced that the first guests will be able to check into the new Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites starting on March 17, 2020. By the end of 2020 when the entire resort is complete, the Dockside Inn and Suites will add an additional 2050-rooms to the Universal Orlando Resort.
“With rates starting at just $85 per night, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort combines the quality guests have come to expect from a Universal Orlando hotel with an extra-affordable price point – creating an experience that is unmatched in the Orlando area. Plus, hotel guests receive exclusive benefits, including Early Park Admission, complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks and more, creating a complete and seamless vacation experience. Dockside Inn and Suites will become the destination’s eighth property in partnership with Loews Hotels & Co, offering Universal Orlando guests a hotel choice for every style and budget.”
(7/4/19) If you follow along with Screamscape on social media, you should have seen various videos of our preview visit to Universal Orlando’s Endless Summer Resort a couple of weeks before it opened to the public posted to our Facebook page and on our IGTV. I’ve reassembled that video footage along with a bunch of photos I took on site into an all new video tour of Universal’s new resort that has room packages priced so low you just can’t go wrong staying there. Given the quality that the Loews Hotels are known for, and the low-price point they are asking for their first value level resort, it would just be crazy to stay anywhere else along I-Drive.
I kind of think that Universal and Loews are making a point here as well, as the majority of existing resorts on International Drive are old resorts from the 70’s and 80’s who typically haven’t invested much into upgrading their properties over the years. It is safe to say that the opening of the 750+ room Endless Summer Surfside Resort is like a warning shot to the rest of I-Drive, with Phase 1 of the massive Dockside Resort (over 2000 rooms) across the street set to open in March 2020 followed by the rest Dockside by Fall 2020. The message? Time to up your game or prepare to surrender.
(3/22/19) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites will officially open on June 27th, 2019. The second phase, Endless Summer - Dockside Inn & Suites were also announced to open in May 2020. You can check out the brief preview video of the resort below.
(1/11/19) While Universal hasn’t even opened the “Surfside Inn” side of their new Endless Summer Resort, Universal did just send out an email to their mailing lists that included details about how to be on the first guests to stay at the Dockside Inn and Suites side (phase 2) ‘before anyone else’. According to the website, available dates for the Dockside Inn will start May 1, 2020.
(11/13/18) Universal Orlando has released the first images showing off how the guest rooms inside the Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites will look when the new resort opens in Summer 2019.
“From the vibrant color scheme to warm wood tones, guests will step into the free-spirited lifestyle of surf culture at Universal Orlando’s first-ever Value category hotel. Surfside Inn and Suites will include 750 guest rooms and 2 Bedroom Suites all boasting bright and beachy design elements. The 2 Bedroom Suites sleep up to six and include three queen-sized beds, a separate bedroom and a kitchenette area, making them the perfect home base for Orlando family vacations. With rates starting at less than $100 per night, Surfside Inn and Suites will introduce extra affordability to guests’ Universal Orlando vacations without sacrificing exclusive theme park benefits like Early Park Admission and resort-wide transportation.”
(4/6/18) Universal Orlando has officially announced the names and timelines for the new resort properties to be built on the site of the former Wet 'n Wild waterpark. The overall site for both resorts will carry a single theme and be called "Universal's Endless Summer Resort". Like all the other Universal Orlando Resorts, this will be another partnership with Loews Hotels, with the resorts broken into two sides... the Surfside Inn and Suites, which will open first in Summer 2019 to be followed by the Dockside Inn and Suites in 2020.
The resorts will offer "a relaxed and easy vibe", featuring plenty of surf and beach style themeing. Best of all, these two resorts will launch an all-new "Value" level hotel for Universal Orlando, with rooms starting as low as $73 a night. About half the rooms on the property will be 2 Bedroom Suites, which will start at $111 a night. Like the other Universal Orlando Resorts, free shuttle transportation to Universal Orlando is included as well as Early Park Admission perks.
(11/9/17) Universal Orlando has confirmed their plans to add two more hotels to their resort line-up… this time just outside the existing resort on the former site of the Wet ‘n Wild waterpark at the intersection of International Drive and Universal Blvd. The good news is that these hotels, while slightly off-site, will be high-value options for families looking to visit Orlando with room-rates starting at less than $100 per night.
Between the two hotels, there will be a combined 2,800 new rooms (including 1,450 2-bedroom suites) along with complimentary transportation from the resort to the Universal Orlando theme parks and Citywalk. One hotel will offer 2,050 rooms while the other will just be 750 rooms, and between the two there will be three pools, two food courts, coffee bars, fitness rooms and more when they begin to open in Summer 2019.
“Brought to life by the same Universal Creative team behind the incredibly-themed Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, these all-new options will be destinations unto themselves. Guests will enjoy the sun, surf and sand with a laid-back coastal feel. Towering exterior murals with vibrant and natural colors will set a free-spirited and beachy tone, inviting guests to hang loose throughout their stay.”
Halloween Horror Nights 30 - (10/31/20) Just a heads up for anyone dropping into Universal Orlando this weekend. Work was spotted the other night putting a Beetlejuice display up on the outside of one of the backstage buildings where the haunted houses are located and it has been said Bettlejuice was spotted being mentioned in the list of haunted houses on the Universal Orlando app early this morning.
It looks like a surprise third haunt experience has been added for guests this weekend as a Halloween present, so say his name three times (Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!!) and get yourself down to the park and you may get to see something very special and the haunted houses are supposed to close for good after Sunday, Nov. 1st.
(10/29/20) We’ve seen Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, you can now watch a POV of Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives, the second haunted maze experience open for guests this year, which will likely return in 2021 as well for Halloween Horror Nights 30.
(10/28/20) Universal Orlando has posted a new video featuring Universal Creative Development’s Mike Aiello, Senior Show Director Charles Gray and as a special guest, Greg Nicotero, Exec. Producer of The Walking Dead. The trio explore a haunted house built at Universal Orlando for the delayed Halloween Horror Nights 30 event and show some behind the scenes look at what goes into creating these attractions.
What’s interesting is the name of the haunt they are in is “Puppet Theater: Captive Audience” In the video they confirm this as the first official haunt that will be exclusive to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights in 2021.
I would assume that the 2020 preview haunts: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, will both return in 2021 as well, though possibly with some tweaks and improvements to plus them up in 2021 for anyone who got to see them in 2020.
Give the video a watch below and take it all in, because it is well done and really breaks down everything that goes on behind the scenes to bring these worlds of horror to life for us fans year after year. As they say… Halloween Horror Nights is FOREVER, so consider this just a taste of what is to come in 2021.
(10/20/20) Universal Orlando has released a POV walk-through video of their Revenge of the Tooth Fairy maze at Universal Studios Florida. Check it out below.
(9/23/20) Good news for Haunt fans… after a successful first weekend test run Universal Orlando is going forward with the #TeamHalloween festivities and will bring you free admission into the same two haunted houses build for HHN (The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy) all day long on Sept. 26-27, and then daily from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1, 2020. Just remember you have to use the Virtual Line experience on the official Universal Orlando app to gain admission, so grab your reservation ASAP when you arrive.
So how are the haunts? I’ve heard that they are both great fun, with the Bride of Frankenstein being the good fun you would expect, plus telling a story along the way, word is that the Revenge of the Tooth Fairy is simply epic and not to be missed if you only have time to enjoy one maze.
There are other fun Halloween themed festivities to enjoy as well, beyond the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store which you already know all about. Costumes are allowed during your visits, just review the online guideline here, Kids 12 and under can Trick-Or-Treat across Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and don’t miss the Bettlejuice Meet & Greet or the new Scarecrow Stalk, an all new scavenger hunt experience spread out across Universal Studios Florida to find 13 different custom-crafted scarecrows and skeletons to win a tasty candy reward! Plus there is no better time to drop into Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show, which is seriously one of the most under-rated original attractions left in the park that you don’t want to miss.
Now I just need to get my hands on one of those “Jack” doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in CityWalk. When else are you going to get the chance to gnaw his face off for a change?
(9/15/20) At long last Universal Orlando has finally confirmed that the rumored “Halloween Seasonal Experience Testing” will soon begin. The post confirms that guests to Universal’s two big theme parks will be given a chance to test two haunted maze experiences: Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein.
““We belong dead.” The last words of Frankenstein’s monster on that fateful night when his Bride rejected him. But his end was her beginning. Now the Bride is stepping out of the shadows to bring him back. And there’s nothing she won’t do as she sharpens her brilliance by experimenting on unsuspecting victims. The mate will have her monster. And the monster his mate.”
“The innocent traditions of the tooth fairy hide a darker ritual. All children must give up their baby teeth to the goblinesque tooth fairies or pay a gruesome price. Step into an old manor that has been overrun by yellow-clawed fiends who extract teeth by force. It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
You’ll have to line up in a Virtual Line to get access to the haunts when they open this weekend (Sept 19-20), and Annual Passholders can preview it all early on Friday, Sept 18. So far they are only listing this as an experience for these three days, but I’d expect more dates to be added once the initial test weekend is complete.
In other Halloween season news, Universal is also letting guests arrive to visit the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure in costumes this weekend. Follow the link to see the official guidelines for appropriate costumes. Over at Islands of Adventure the kids (12 and under) can also go Trick-or-Treating this weekend.
(9/13/20) For anyone wondering, the following screen capture has been going around online social media channels since yesterday evening claiming that the dance performance group, Academy of Villains, along with creators Christopher (Pharside) and Krystal (Phoenix) Jennings are now “no longer affiliated and are banned from Universal Studios”.
Unfortunately this comes as no surprise, as I believe it was in early August that members of AOV had come forward with accusations of abuse (emotional, physical and sexual) that took place.
I’m not going to comment on it, or go into details, as I believe most of the stuff that went down happened long ago and may have nothing at all to do with the productions that took place at Universal. That said, it makes sense that Universal is getting ahead of this now however, based on what we do know, and has ended AOV’s association with their Halloween Horror Nights event, which was pushed as the big replacement for the lost Bill & Ted show at last year’s HHN 29. It is safe to say Universal will have to come up with a new headline show for the HHN30 now taking place in 2021... though with Bill & Ted Face The Music now released and a bit hit with the fans, maybe they should consider bringing them back.
(9/12/20) While Universal Orlando has not confirmed anything, Escape Authority has a scoop (see below) to share on their Facebook page regarding the plans to open two of the mazes built for HHN30 to park guests soon. According to their post the mazes will open starting on Saturday, Sept. 19, and as we posted as a rumor yesterday, they report it will be two of the non IP haunts created by the HHN creative team, one themed to Bride of Frankenstein and the other themed to The Tooth Fairy.
This will start on weekends and if all goes well it very well may expand to be something open on weekdays as well, possibly following the typically schedule you would have seen for HHN moving through October. According to Escape Authority there will be no upcharge to visit the mazes, but you will have to use a virtual queue system to gain access.
As I mentioned, it is now expected to just be these two mazes. There is always a change plans will change or they may opt to open another maze or two, or possibly even rotate, but for now this is less likely. Based on previous information, the official names of the mazes should be: “Universal Monsters The Bride of Frankenstein LIVES” and “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy”.
If they do opt to open more, there are will more non-licensed IP creations they could add, but as I mentioned before there is one “IP” maze built that will not return next year that could possibly be added before it is lost forever. This one is themed to musician “Billie Eilish” and apparently the reason it wont return in 2021 is that Billie Eilish’s personal theme/branding will be changing to something not “dark” before HHN 2021 rolls around. As I previously said, this won’t be seen as a huge loss to most, but to the biggest HHN fans out there, this could be seen as something of a white whale… an exclusive credit to be had by very few if they indeed do opt to open it, however briefly.
Again, and I stress this, don’t count on it happening. This is just something to keep your eyes open for in case it does.
(9/11/20) A new picture posted to IG by @UniNewsToday shows a truss style signage framework set up at Universal Studios Florida, in just the right place where one might want to put up an entrance sign for those rumored haunted mazes we talked about yesterday. Still nothing has been announced by Universal about this at this time, but like all things, they are going to need a government sign-off to operate this as a new/temporary attraction at the park, so it makes sense that this is all very hush-hush until they get final approval.
In the meantime, despite a few theories going around saying that Universal may only plan to open mazes themed around select IPs that they will lose if they don’t use them, I’ve been told that this is incorrect. Screamscape sources tell us that extension deals were already signed to re-use all the IPs they need to do for next year, with only one IP themed maze will be scrapped.
We’ll have more on the IP to be scrapped in a future update, but the majority of you won't even be even slightly disappointed by the loss of it, so there is a bright side at least. With that said, if Universal does announce and open two mazes, I’ve been told we can expect them to be home-brewed creations from the HHN creative team.
(9/10/20) Local Halloween Horror Nights fans (and those who booked a trip before it was announced that HHN was canceled this year), you may be in luck. If the rumors going around are to be believed, then there is a chance that over the coming weeks, during what would have normally been HHN season, Universal Orlando is planning on cracking the doors to a few mazes.
According to our sources, this will likely be an upcharge / extra ticket item, but each week Universal may staff and open a maze or two, and the selection may change from week to week to keep guests coming back. As we reported previously, virtually all the work on the HHN30 mazes was completed over the summer before management officially pulled the plug on it happening in 2020. A full blown Halloween Horror Nights event was just going to be too much to safely take place with the current COVID-19 restrictions. However, offering a very limited and capacity controlled access to a maze or two on select nights just may be within reach.
Our sources tell us that the announcement to confirm this could come within the week, and as early as later tonight even, so stay tuned and keep your eyes and ears open for the screams.
(8/29/20) A quick update on that Midnight Syndicate / Halloween Horror Nights soundtrack we mentioned the other day. This was limited to only 500 units, and only produced in red Vinyl format (no CD), and from what I’m told the complete lot sold out in a matter of hours on the first first day. Sold in the park for about $30, you can not find them being re-sold on Ebay from between $150-400, which is just unfortunate.
The good news is that Midnight Syndicate indicated on social media that they were in talks with Universal that same day about how the various ways they could possibly get more items into the store for sale in time for the fans. Obviously a CD would probably be the quickest way, especially since they were only selling the first one on Vinyl for some reason. (Sorry, not a Vinyl fan… I couldn’t wait to smash my old warped and scratched Vinyl in the 80s and replace them all with CDs at the time) I’d think a themed USB thumb-drive (Jack themed maybe!) loaded with the digital music files could also be a fun seller. Of course they could just press more Vinyl in another color too, so just keep your eyes and ears open, and hopefully they’ll find a way to release more.
(8/27/20) Behind the Thrills reports that Midnight Syndicate has teamed up with Halloween Horror Nights to release a special soundtrack album. The limited edition album is being sold at the HHN Tribute store and features some classic HHN audio tracks from over the years as well as some previously unreleased content.
(7/24/20) BREAKING - According to Screamscape sources, Universal Orlando just sent an email out to all team members to saddly announced that Halloween Horror Nights 30 is now being canceled for the year.
We have a copy of the official letter from Bill Davis copied below.
Dear fellow Team Members,
This year has played out in ways that none of us have expected, and we have had to make some difficult decisions under these unprecedented circumstances. I wanted to let you know about another difficult decision we are announcing today. Universal Orlando Resort will not hold our Halloween Horror Nights event this year and will be focusing exclusively on operating our theme parks for daytime guests, using the enhanced health and safety procedures already in place. I know this news is disappointing especially since this year we would be celebrating HHN’s 30th anniversary. I am disappointed too, but this is the right decision for our Guests and our Team Members.
Universal Studios Hollywood has also made the difficult decision to not hold HHN this year as they continue to face ongoing business restrictions and uncertainty around their opening timeframe.
I want to thank all of the teams for their hard work preparing for what would have been this year’s event. For so many of us, Halloween Horror Nights is a point of pride. Every fall, we get to experience what we are capable of when we put our creativity, operational know-how, teamwork, and ingenuity to the test. Over the past 30 years, the event has grown from its humble three-night beginnings to be named The World’s Best Halloween Event, for more than a decade running. Halloween Horror Nights is uniquely Universal, and we improve on it every year!
As you know, planning and development for Halloween Horror Nights is an ongoing process. We are truly fortunate to have Team Members put their blood, sweat, tears, and passion into Halloween Horror Nights, and I know how much our fans and Guests look forward to seeing it come alive. I have every confidence that our teams will adapt, and direct their energies towards making Halloween Horror Nights 2021 the ultimate homecoming of horror.
Until then, I know that our Team Members will remain dedicated to supporting each other and delivering unforgettable Guest experiences every day. For this, I am beyond grateful.
Thank you for understanding – and stay safe,
(7/20/20) It’s late July and strange black covered signs and truss steel structures are starting to appear around Universal Studios Florida. This includes some new signs, covered up of course, set up just outside of the former Fear Factor arena, which are likely a show time board for this year’s Academy of Villains show. Well, at least I hope they are still planning on having AoV return, I really enjoyed last year’s show. One of the big structures may actually be one of the big “wait time” signs for all the HHN Haunts as well. On the other side of the park, just to the left of the entrance for Revenge of the Mummy, a big gateway style piece of truss has been set up just outside the entrance to the I STEIN & CO. doors.
While Universal has yet to announce any details about this year’s HHN #30 event, not even a single haunt theme, I’ve got a feeling this may change in the near future. With luck, hopefully we’ll get some solid information about this year’s HHN by the end of the month.
In the meantime, Universal Orlando has also launched a special Halloween Horror Nights online store with tons of retro-merchandise featuring artwork and logos from previous year’s events.
(6/27/20) While everything is always subject to change, the early word is that Halloween Horror Nights is still going to happen at Universal Orlando this fall. This will be the big HHN 30 blow out and after the kind of year we’ve been having so far, this one should also be an event to remember. I’m told all the haunts are already either built or in the process of being finished, the various scenic elements for the scare zones are being constructed at offsite locations and for all intents and purposes, all things are “GO”.
We’ve also noticed that Orlando’s HHN Twitter account has been slowly increasing the frequency of their tweets lately, posting a bunch of fun throw-back posts in May and then even a fantastic and creepy background story was posted to the UO Blog about the legend behind one of the fantastic creations from HHN in 2018 that took place long ago in, where-else? Carey, Ohio.
I’m still very curious how things are going to play out in regards to the operation of the Haunts at HHHN 30, while still allowing social distancing. If you have attended HHN in the past you will be familiar with their typical “conga line” style method of traveling through the Haunts. While they do their best to pause to create some space between groups at the entrance, you always end up catching up to the group in front, creating this conga line effect. One concept I’ve seen put to use in several of the roadside haunts I’ve visited while living in North Carolina was to send groups through their haunts holding a very long piece of rope with knots tied into it at regular intervals. Guests are told to hold onto their knot and not let go of the rope while going through the haunt, which often involves long walks through the actual woods, so as to prevent guests from wandering off and getting lost, or showing up unannounced in a neighbor’s property. I could imagine something like this being put to use at HHN to keep guests from getting too close to each other, as well as giving them a place to put their hands so they don’t touch each other as well. (Note: That isn’t a rumor, just an observation and a possible idea)
(3/31/20) I’ve got some great news for Halloween Horror Nights fans. According to a Screamscape source, while construction on the major projects in the Universal Orlando parks has come to a stop, I’m told that work is already progressing on the construction of the mazes for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. They are working within the guidelines of social distancing and such, but since the mazes are all tucked away within the soundstages and other behind-the-scenes structures, work has been allowed to continue. Quite simply… it has to be allowed to continue, if for no other reason than that they would get too far behind to get it done in time for HHN to begin in September if they were forced to stop.
(2/20/20) Will The Walking Dead return to Halloween Horror Nights this fall in Orlando? The chances are good I’d say, as Universal Hollywood let it slip that The Walking Dead would be returning as a “focal point in our slate of Halloween Horror Nights mazes this fall.” This slip came out in a statement from the park confirming that the year-round walk-through “The Walking Dead” attraction would be closing for good on March 3rd.
Now Universal Orlando and Hollywood don’t always share every maze IP each year, so there is always a chance that it could just be for the Hollywood park, but you never know. And after all, with The Walking Dead getting ready to air new episodes once again, perhaps the time is right to make our first HHN maze announcement for the year, so stay tuned!
(11/6/19) Halloween Horror Nights 29 may be over and one for the books, but would you believe that Universal Orlando has already announced the dates for the epic Halloween Horror Nights 30?! That’s right… you’ve been warned and have no reason to miss this epic celebration taking place on select from September 10, 2020 through to Nov. 1st, 2020.
2020/2021 - New CityWalk Attraction - (2/5/20) Orlando Weekly has posted their own take on what Universal Orlando may be planning on doing next with Citywalk. Adding on to the theory I’ve already posted about Universal planning an Escape Room attraction, they also mention rumors about a possible Saturday Night Live branded comedy club that could be added as a replacement for the Rising Star Karaoke club.
There is also an interesting theory that the site of the closing stores and merging them into “a single merchandise space” could be used to make an even bigger and new version of the Universal Orlando store, which would then free up the site of the current Universal store, which backs right up to the Rising Star, which would allow for the combined pair of sites to be reworked into an SNL Comedy Club and an Escape Room attraction.
All good thoughts for sure, and I’ve also been hearing for years now that NBC and Comcast have been wanting to take advantage of the SNL brand somewhere at Universal Orlando, but they just had not come up with the right concept to do it in the theme parks. Making a more “adultish” comedy club certainly would be an acceptable way to bring it to life in Citywalk rather than in the parks.
(1/30/20) According to a report at Inside Universal, some new changes are afoot at within Citywalk. According to the report, the Fresh Produce and Island Clothing Co. stores have both closed within the past month. There are also rumors that P!Q (located between the two) along with Fossil are both also expected to close sometime this year. According to the report, rumor has it that all four of these side-by-side locations, once closed, could be turned into one giant mega site.
But what could possibly take up such a large footprint? Well, in addition to the possibility of adding another restaurant, I’m going to fall back on a much older rumor for this one. Would you believe… an Escape Room? Between Nov. 2018 and October 2019, Universal has registered several trademarks for an Escape Room style attraction and various merchandise to be sold under the name, “Universal’s Great Movie Escape”. All of these trademarks are still very much alive and have been granted to Universal, and now we have the first possible sign of where it may go.
Keep your eyes open!
Future Expansion Site / 3rd 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)