Universal Orlando Snapshot


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.)

By the way, we’re very happy to let you know that this is just one page out of over 200 we have in our next-generation ENCYCLOPEDIA of OBSESSIVELY UPDATED Universal Orlando vacation planning info.

Skip to: Promotions | Events | USF | IOA | CityWalk | On-site hotels | PASSPORT

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Last update

October 21, 2014

Today’s crowd estimate: Slow
Universal Studios Florida: Early Admission, 8:00am to 7:00pm
Islands of Adventure: 9:00am to 7:00pm

 

Reporting live from Universal Orlando

We visit Universal 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 as they happen, we invite you to follow us on Twitter. Then, once each weekly visit is over, we upload all of our photos to our Flickr page, where we already have nearly 10,000 images posted!

 

Current promotions & resort-wide changes

Free wifi & new Universal mobile app

It’s official: As of mid-June, Universal Orlando Resort now offers free wifi access across Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Universal CityWalk. They’ve also published an all-new mobile app for iOS and Android – to read our guide, click here.

Blue Man Group

Florida residents: save up to $40 on Blue Man Group tickets for performance dates through September and October. Purchase tickets and more

Military discount

Universal has announced a new promotion for active and retired military personnel. Today through December 14, qualifying guests may purchase up to six 3-day admission tickets for the price of a 1-day ticket, saving roughly $50 per ticket. An extra discount has also been extended for vacation packages including accommodations at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. To learn more, visit this topic in the OI Forums.

Buy two days get the third day free

Starting October 14, 2014 and running through June 7, 2015, U.S. and Canada residents can get a free day of admission when they purchase a 2-day park-to-park ticket for Universal Orlando. This equals about $10 in savings per tickets ($176 versus $186). Please note that this offer is specifically blocked out from December 26 to January 3, the busiest week of the year for Central Florida theme parks. To get your free day, contact your favorite travel agent (ours is Destinations in Florida!) or shop online at Universal. For discussion and full details, visit this topic in the OI Forums.

 

Upcoming annual events & special celebrations

HHN 2014: Select nights Sept 19 – Nov 1

Step right into some of the most pulse-pounding moments in horror history at Halloween Horror Nights, the nation’s premier Halloween event. Explore eight terrifying haunted houses, multiple street experiences, two outrageous live shows, and many of your favorite rides and attractions. Learn more

“Steve Harvey” show tapings: Nov 4 – 6

For the first time in the show’s history, Chicago-based “Steve Harvey” is taking the show on the road, broadcasting a week’s worth of episodes from Universal Orlando. The episodes will be taped in front of a live audience at Universal’s CityWalk Lagoon Stage on November 4, 5 and 6 and will air November 17 – 21, 2014. In addition to fan favorite segments like “Ask Steve,” Harvey will tape specialty segments at the Orlando shows including a “Family Feud” game with famous families competing against each other, “America’s Hottest Bachelors: The Men of Florida” and the show’s biggest “Family Bucket List” segment to date, featuring a family of 12 from Utah!

For tickets, visit SteveHarveyTV.com. For a chance to be on the show, see the links in our forums. General reminder: there is no admission charge to visit CityWalk, but you will have to pay Universal’s regular parking charges (starting at $17 for the day).

One Direction live at Universal: Nov 17

Global pop sensation One Direction will celebrate the release of their new album “FOUR” on NBC’s TODAY Show Monday, November 17 with a special performance live from Universal Orlando. Designated viewing will be available throughout CityWalk on a first-come basis and no admission is required (aside from paid parking). Fans visiting on November 17 will experience a specially themed Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster featuring music from 1D, a special 1D version of the “Universal Cinematic Spectacular” nighttime water and laser light show. To learn more and discuss, visit the OI Forums.

*On-site hotel events*

On Thursday, October 30, Hard Rock Hotel continues Orlando’s only rock ‘n roll lobby party with its Halloween-themed “Velvet Sessions” event featuring Molly Hatchet. Tickets include complimentary valet parking and admission at 6:30pm with free specialty drinks, finger foods, and warm-up tunes until the show starts. The featured entertainment takes the stage at 8:00pm. In addition, this month’s event will also include an adult costume contest with cash prizes! Learn more and buy tickets

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. Because Hard Rock Live has dozens of events scheduled at any one time, we aren’t able to list them here – so be sure to check out their website to see if one of your favorite acts will be on-site when you’re on-site!

 

Universal Studios Florida

Change in park hours – Starting Tuesday, September 16, Universal Studios Florida moves up its opening time to 8:00am for the rest of the month and all of October, which means Early Park Admission moves up to 7:00am. To see all of Universal’s park hours, visit our free 12-month Universal crowd calendar.

Cinematic Spectacular – Universal has officially announced that Cinematic Spectacular, USF’s nighttime lagoon show, will not run at all during the Halloween Horror Nights season (not even on non-HHN event dates). In other words, the show won’t run again until sometime after November 1. It’s worth noting that this is a change from previous years when Cinematic Spectacular did run on non-HHN event dates throughout September and October. No word yet on exactly when in November the show will start again. To learn more about the actual performance and read real guest reviews, visit our Cinematic Spectacular page.

Diagon Alley – 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, which officially opened July 8, 2014. This ‘London’ portion of the Harry Potter story features new shops, a themed restaurant, and two new attractions: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Bank simulator experience and a real Hogwarts Express running between ‘London’ and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Islands of Adventure. Visit our Insider’s guide to the Wizarding World to learn so, so much more.

Fear Factor Live – During Halloween season, the Fear Factor Live amphitheater is used for HHN’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Because of this, Fear Factor Live is “closed for seasonal maintenance” throughout August, September, and October, and could remain closed for much of November and December. To learn more about the show and read real guest reviews, visit our Fear Factor Live page, or you can visit the OI Forums to discuss Bill & Ted’s.

Park Plaza Holiday Shop – Get in the holiday spirit with festive decorations from USF’s newest merchandise location, Park Plaza Holiday Shop, now open as of October 15, 2014. Park Plaza Holiday Shop offers an assortment of themed decor featuring Despicable Me, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat and the Hat, The Simpsons, Santa Clause, Betty Boop, and more. The store also features a collection of gift items, including seasonal hats and scarves, jewelry, and mugs. Park Plaza Holiday Store is located across from Transformers, near Gramercy Park. To see photos inside the new store, visit this topic in the OI Forums.

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

Cat in the Hat – As of late May, this attraction now has a height restriction: 36 inches, and children between 36 and 48 inches must be accompanied by a supervising companion. This comes after a rumored guest incident earlier in the year caused Universal to reduce the ride’s considerable spinning down a sway. To learn more about the attraction and read real guest reviews, visit our Cat in the Hat page.

King Kong – The return of King Kong to Universal Orlando has been a rumor that is at least two years old. Nowadays, it seems all but confirmed that a King Kong “island” will be built at Islands of Adventure, between Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon, with a rumored opening date of summer 2016 to coincide with Lengendary Films’ Skull Island. Because this is still a rumor, we don’t have a page dedicated to it in the OI Universal Center, but you can learn more in the OI Forums.

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.

 

Universal CityWalk

Eight new venues – On December 12, 2013, Universal announced the largest expansion in CityWalk history, which includes the addition of eight new venues: The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, VIVO Italian Kitchen, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Bread Box, Cold Stone Creamery, and Menchies Frozen Yogurt. For full details and analysis, see this blog post. As of September 2014, all the new venues are now open except for Cowfish.

NASCAR Sports Grille – On September 27, 2014, Universal posted an announcement on its Facebook Page that NASCAR Sports Grille is scheduled to close November 1. This is not entirely surprising, as it has been rumored for almost a year. What is surprising is that Universal then took down the Facebook post. Nevertheless, Universal’s spokesperson Tom Schroder has issued a statement, so the news can be considered official. Its replacement? A relatively quick overlay is expected to produce an NBC Sports-themed venue.

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

Free wifi – Standard in-room wireless internet access is now offered for free at all of Universal’s on-site hotels as of late January 2014. (It’s worth noting that free wifi was already available in the hotels’ public spaces.) We mention that the access is standard because, while it is good enough for basic social media browsing, etc., it is not fast enough to handle massive photo gallery uploads or HD movie streaming. Guests wishing to have faster internet speeds can upgrade to a premium service for $14.95 per day.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – On September 9, 2014, Universal announced its fifth on-site hotel. The new property, featuring a Caribbean theme, 1,000 guest rooms, and substantial convention space, is scheduled to open summer 2016. It’s located between Royal Pacific Resort and Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This is a developing story – to learn more and see the initial concept artwork, visit our new section in the OI Forums.

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 Fall 2014 PASSPORT newsletter for Annual Passholders is out. If you missed your copy, you can view it here (PDF file).

Universal Orlando PASSPORT newsletter - Fall 2014.

Universal Orlando PASSPORT newsletter – Fall 2014.

If you’d like, you can also view the…


Do you have a question about the information on this page, would like to provide feedback, or did you spot an inaccuracy? Please let us know by posting in the OI Forums.


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Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida.

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