Universal Orlando Update: Attractions, Investments and Rumors

It’s time again to discuss what’s new, what’s happening, and what’s going on at the Universal Orlando resort.  New attractions, capital investments, and big time rumors are surfacing at the Orlando mega-resort.  Continue through the page break and let’s take a look at current and future projects inside and outside the theme parks.

Comcast Approves $1.5 Billion for Theme Parks

The parent company of Universal Orlando, Comcast Corp, has approved $1.5 billion dollars for future capital projects at Universal Orlando over the next 10 years.  The approval occurred sometime around October 1st and does not include the cost of the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  Part of the $1.5 billion dollar investment includes projects already underway like the new Transformers: The Ride and the London side of the Harry Potter expansion over at Universal Studios.  Beyond those two projects, that still leaves approximately $850 million dollars for future unannounced projects at the theme park resort.

Rumor – Springfield Coming to Universal Studios

Apparently, Universal has learned a lot from the Harry Potter addition at Islands of Adventure and is looking to continue the trend of themed lands around intellectual properties.  Rumors are swirling about the area around the existing Simpsons attraction becoming a land devoted to Springfield, the city and setting for the popular Simpsons TV series.  Included in the new land would be a Moe’s Tavern where you’ll be able to purchase a Krusty burger.  Near the waterfront a new Simpson’s attraction will rise.  It will be a spinner-type attraction with an outdoor queue themed towards Kodos and Kang.  The land will feature two distinct entrances coming from the Kids Zone and near the MIB attraction.  Also included will be several props from the TV series like Homer’s car and Chief Wiggum’s police car parked outside the Kwik E Mart.  Current speculation is leaning towards this project becoming bigger than just an overlay of the existing area.  Stay tuned for more in the coming months.

Harry Potter Expansion Moves Forward

Construction continues at the site of the former Amityville area inside Universal Studios where it’s highly speculated the London area of the Harry Potter expansion will soon exist.  Although Universal Orlando has not officially announced the expansion it has been speculated for months this area will become part of their Harry Potter plans.  Some have speculated you will be able to take the Hogwarts Express from the expanded London area to Hogwarts Village over at Islands of Adventure.  Also, additional dining and a new attraction will be part of the expanded area.  Construction at the site is well underway with foundation work and some structures starting to show up over the walls.   Expect Universal Orlando to make an official announcement with details in the coming weeks or months.

Transformers:  The Ride Construction Continues

The recently announced Transformers:  The Ride continues to get the attention of Universal Orlando and its fans.  The hit attraction already in place at Universal Studios Hollywood and Singapore is coming to Universal Studios Florida at the site of the old Soundstage 44.  The building is currently taking shape and rising above other structures becoming a big part of the Universal Studios landscape.  The ride promises to be one of the best inside the theme park.  It will bring the intergalactic battle between the Autobots and Decepticons together at Universal Orlando.  The attraction is expected to open and begin thrilling guests in the summer of 2013.  Stay tuned to the DIS Unplugged blog for more updates.


Islands of Adventure Gets a Make-Over

Sources close to the DIS have told us crews have been out recently at night and sometimes during the day giving Seuss Landing, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, and the Lost Continent a fresh coat of paint.  Crews have been seen blasting away old paint from existing structures before painting over the surfaces.  During a recent visit, I noticed peeling and dull paint while walking through most of the lands inside Islands of Adventure.  It’s good to see Universal Orlando is giving the necessary attention to its existing infrastructure.  Expect most of the work to be completed before the Holidays.

Update – Universal Orlando’s New Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal’s fourth on-site resort hotel was announced last summer and we can now see some of the land cleared where the 37 acre resort will sit.  The site just off of Hollywood Way and Turkey Lake Road adjacent to Islands of Adventure will be home to the new onsite resort.  Universal Orlando has said the resort will offer guests an affordable, incredibly themed on-site hotel experience.  They’ve also said families will be able to choose between value pricing or upgrade to a higher level of benefits and service that come with staying at the other on-site resort hotels.  The new resort will house 900 family suites capable of sleeping 6 and 900 standard rooms that can sleep 4.  The on-site hotel will be themed towards the old family-style driving vacations so many families enjoyed in the past.  The resort is expected to welcome its first guests sometime in 2014.

The Holidays Kick-Off at Universal Orlando

Expect more holiday cheer this year at the Universal Orlando Resort.  This year’s highlights include Grinchmas, The Macy’s Holiday Parade, Christmas music from the Mannheim Steamrollers, holiday festivities at the three on-site resort hotels, and a spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration at Universal Citywalk.

Grinchmas will take place over at Seuss Landing inside Islands of Adventure where guests can attend ‘Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular’ featuring The Grinch and the Whos from Who-ville.  Guests can also attend a special character breakfast on select dates featuring the Grinch and the Whos.  Be sure to check your theme park guide for specific show dates and times.

Over at Universal Studios guests can partake in the Macy’s Holiday Parade.  The parade will fill the streets with larger-than-life balloons similar to the parade seen in New York City.  Parade-goers will also enjoy colorful holiday characters, fantasy-filled floats, and a tree lighting ceremony hosted by Santa Claus himself.  Be sure to check your theme park guide for specific parade dates and times.

Beginning on December 1st Mannheim Steamroller, masters of holiday music, will be performing at the Music Plaza Stage just inside the entrance to Universal Studios theme park.  Performances will take place on 8 select nights during the holiday season; Dec 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd, & 23rd.  Theme park admission is required.  Be sure to check your theme park guide for specific concert start times.

Over at the three on-site resort hotels guests can expect special holiday buffets, glistening resort decorations, and tree-lighting ceremonies to get them into the holiday spirit.  On select nights Portofino Bay guests can enjoy ‘Holiday Harbor Nights’ complete with carolers, elf acrobats, and scavenger hunts.  Over at the Hard Rock Hotel on select nights Santa makes his way into The Kitchen restaurant where he’ll greet guests and prepare a special holiday dinner.  At the Royal Pacific Resort guests can enjoy a special holiday luau on very limited select nights.  Be sure to check with your resort concierge for specific dates and times.

Finally, Universal Citywalk rings in the New Year with a spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration.  This year’s event will feature a concert with REO Speedwagon, access to seven of the Citywalk night clubs, and an all-you-can-eat buffet with a champagne toast and confetti burst at midnight.  Tickets for this event are $124.99 if purchased before Dec. 15th and $144.99 if purchased after Dec 15t per guest.  Annual Passholders can purchase tickets for $104.99 before Dec 15th.  The celebration starts at 8:00PM and ends at 2:00AM.  This is a 21 and older event only.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned for more Universal Orlando updates coming up in the near future.

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