This page is our totally up-to-date one-stop-shop for everything that is currently happening at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and all of Universal Orlando Resort!
Now that you’ve found this page, you don’t have to worry about rummaging through thousands of message board posts or waiting until you get to the parks to find out about attraction refurbs, construction projects, special events, and everything else that could affect your visit. (Yeah, this is a good page to bookmark.)
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December 8, 2013
Reporting live from Universal Orlando
We visit Universal at least once a week to bring our fans live in-park photo updates direct from Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure! To see all of our photo updates, we invite you to follow us on Twitter. If you don’t use that service, then join us on Facebook for highlights of our adventures.
Finally, after each week’s tour we recently started uploading all of our images (usually around 100 new photos per visit) to our new Flickr page that don’t necessarily get uploaded here on the main site. But keep in mind the images on Flickr don’t have captions, so if you’re not sure what you’re looking at, Twitter is the best option!
Current promotions & resort-wide changes
Get an extra day free
Universal is now offering a 3rd day free to all U.S. and Canadian residents who purchase a 2-day ticket. The promotion is scheduled to end May 9, 2014. Visit Universal’s online ticket store to learn more.
Universal Meal Deal has ended
As of November 2 the traditional “Universal Meal Deal” has been discontinued and replaced by what the resort is calling their new “Universal Dining Plan – Quick Service”. View full details on our rebooted Universal Dining Plans page.
Discount: DoubleTree across from the entrance
We’d like to take this opportunity to remind our readers that DoubleTree across from the entrance to Universal — our choice for the best park hotel off-site — offers OI readers a special discount. Learn all about the hotel, view over 100 full-screen images, and get the discount by clicking here.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter scavenger hunt
Thousands have tried, only a few have succeeded.
If you’re ready to take on a challenge of your own during your next visit to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we welcome you to view/download/print the PDF file of our WWoHP scavenger hunt. Let’s see if you can succeed where so many others have failed!
Upcoming annual events & special celebrations
Holidays at Universal: Dec 7 – Jan 4
Start your untraditional holiday traditions at Universal Orlando! This year the festivities — including Grinchmas, the Macy’s Holiday Parade, and Mannheim Steamroller live in concert on select nights — are scheduled from December 7 through January 4. To learn about everything the resort is offering, visit our 2013 Guide to the Holidays!
New Year’s Eve: Dec 31
We finally have complete information for all of Universal’s New Year’s Eve festivities! For CityWalk, gone is the headlining band, in is the new EVE 12.31.13 reinvented party experience. We also have the scoop on NYE at the theme parks and the activities at Universal’s on-site hotels. Pop the champagne and start planning by visiting our New Year’s Eve 2013 page.
A Celebration of Harry Potter: Jan 24 – 26
Celebrate all of Harry’s adventures at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From interactive experiences, cast member Q&As, to a private evening reception and more, this exciting event will be three days of unforgettable fun for all ages, set against the backdrop of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Visit our Celebration of Harry Potter page to learn more.
*On-site hotel events*
There are no special events listed at this time.
Hard Rock Live
Located at Universal CityWalk, Hard Rock Live is a multi-use performance center that features a variety of acts, from pop and rock artists, to standup comedians, to special events both public and private. (For those who have visited Downtown Disney, it is similar in size and scope to House of Blues.) Because Hard Rock Live has dozens of events scheduled, we aren’t able to list them here — so be sure to check out the their website to see if one of your favorite acts will be on-site when you’re on-site!
Universal Studios Florida
Cinematic Spectacular – Universal’s nighttime lagoon show will not run on December 4, 11 & 12. To learn more about the lagoon show, visit our Cinematic Spectacular page.
Hogwarts Express – As of October 24 the Hogwarts Express is on the tracks connecting Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida to Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure. The actual attraction isn’t expected to open until the spring, so it isn’t easy to get a view of the train — but we found a good vantage point just off-site. You can learn more about the Hogwarts Express on our Harry Potter expansion page.
JAWS & the Amity area / Harry Potter expansion – JAWS and its home on Amity Island were closed permanently on January 3, 2012, to make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley set to open in 2014. This ‘London’ portion of the Harry Potter story will feature new shops, a themed restaurant, and two new attractions: a Gringotts Bank coaster and a real Hogwarts Express running between ‘London’ and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Islands of Adventure. Visit our Harry Potter expansion at USF page to learn more.
Terminator 2 – Scheduled to be closed for a one-day refurb on December 9. To learn more about this attraction, read real guest reviews, or write your own review, visit our Terminator 2 page.
The list above is only a summary of the current attraction refurbishments, openings, and closings at Universal Studios Florida. For a complete list of the park’s attractions, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.
Islands of Adventure
Closing early – The first week of December, from the 2nd to the 6th, Islands of Adventure is scheduled to close one hour earlier than usual at 6:00pm. (Usually during slower times, like the first week of December, Universal’s parks close at 7:00pm.)
Arctic Express / Starbucks – It seems the Arctic Express walk-up counter serving ice cream and other treats, located in Port of Entry, finally got sick of being overlooked. To get your attention the building is getting renovated into a Starbucks. You can take a look, or as of October 6 you can apply to work there.
Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls – Closed for seasonal maintenance December 2 through December 6 — take a peek. To learn more about this attraction, read real guest reviews, or write your own review, visit our Ripsaw Falls page.
Harry Potter expansion / Hogsmeade Station – The construction project currently in progress on the edge of the Wizarding World will one day become the Hogsmeade Village Station for the arriving Hogwarts Express, which is being built on the ‘London’ side of Harry’s world over at Universal Studios Florida. Visit our Harry Potter expansion at IOA page to learn more.
Jurassic Park midway games – A portion of the unused outdoor queue for Jurassic Park River Adventure is now home to a set of Jurassic Park midway games (also referred to as carnival games), which opened at the end of October. See our first look video
The list above is only a summary of the current attraction refurbishments, openings, and closings at Islands of Adventure. For a complete list of the park’s attractions, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.
Endangered Species – It’s been rumored for a few months that this store at the entrance to CityWalk (just past Bubba Gump’s) would be closing and replaced by Starbucks, which will be dropping down from its current second story location. As of October 1, the refurb has begun.
Latin Quarter – This restaurant, which featured entrees from Latin American nations and a Churrascaria Brazilian steakhouse, has closed as of August 1 for refurbishment. Universal hasn’t officially announced its replacement, but we have heard some rumors. Check out this RRU blog post for details.
Red Oven Pizza Bakery – The quick-service section of Pastamore is now Red Oven Pizza Bakery. This is an original concept for Universal (verses a franchise like many of the other CityWalk restaurants), and it is open as of November 16 serving lunch and dinner. You can take a ‘first look’ at the restaurant, menu, and Alla Benno pizza (prosciutto, pineapple).
By the way, for those keeping score at home, construction on Red Oven began the week of August 5. Also, please note that, for now, the full-service portion of Pastamore is still open for business.
Starbucks balcony – If you’ve visited CityWalk after October 1, you may have noticed that there is now a balcony under next to Starbucks — take a look. While a lot of guest would like to see that Starbucks location expand, the venue is actually rumored to be moving downstairs, where Endangered Species was located. So what’s taking the place of Starbucks? We heard from a trusted source that it might be Cowfish Sushi Bar — learn more.
Looking for CityWalk events? They are included in our Events section near the top of the page — skip up there.
For more information about Universal CityWalk, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.
Loews on-site hotels
Cabana Bay Beach Resort – We have begun our world-class coverage of Universal’s newest on-site hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This property will feature 1,800 new guest rooms, half of which will be family suites — a first for Universal’s on-site hotels. To view our new page with tons of info and a huge photo gallery of the construction site, click here.
Portofino Bay Hotel: Despicable Me rooms – Debuting on October 1, Universal’s flagship hotel property now features 18 Despicable Me themed Kids Suites. To learn more, and to see a video showing how the rooms were built and furnished, visit our Portofino Bay: Rooms page.
Portofino Bay Hotel: Interior refurb – All guest rooms were renovated in the quarter of 2013, and we have included images of the new look on our Portofino Bay: Rooms page.
Royal Pacific Resort: Character Breakfast – New this summer and continuing through the end of 2013, every Sunday families can enjoy traditional breakfast favorites with an island twist at Jake’s American Bar while Universal characters stop by for photos and unforgettable laughs. For pricing and reservations, call 407-503-DINE. See the menu (PDF file)
Looking for hotel events? They are included in our Events section near the top of the page — skip up there.
The list above is only a summary of the current projects relating to the Loews on-site hotels at Universal Orlando. For complete details about these properties, including over 700 full-screen photos, scroll to the bottom of this page or visit the OI Universal Center table of contents.
Universal Orlando PASSPORT newsletter
The Winter 2013 PASSPORT mailer for Passholders is out. If you missed your copy, you can view the PDF file.
If you’d like, you can also view the Fall 2013 Passport.
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