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

September 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 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.


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



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

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, September 25, Hard Rock Hotel continues Orlando’s hottest lobby party with its “Velvet Sessions” series featuring Bret Michaels. Purchase includes admission at 6:30pm with free specialty drinks, finger foods, warm-up tunes until the show starts, and complimentary valet parking. The featured entertainment takes the stage at 8:00pm. Learn more and buy tickets

On Friday, October 3, join your friends for Jake’s Beer Festival at Royal Pacific Resort’s Jake’s American Bar and under the outdoor Wantilan Pavilion, where you’ll enjoy samplings of more than 50 craft beers, specially prepared culinary creations, and live music. Learn more and buy tickets

Finally, on Friday, October 17, Harbor Nights “La Dolce Vita” at Portofino Bay Hotel invites you under the twinkling lights of the Harbor Piazza for a wine and music event designed to capture the ambiance of the Mediterranean. The event will feature select wines, sparkling wines, and gourmet cuisine from the hotel’s restaurants, along with a selection of coffee-infused fare to celebrate the opening of Portofino Bay’s new Harbor-side Starbucks venue. 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, 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 – USF’s nighttime lagoon show will not run on many dates this fall as follows: Rock the Universe event dates September 5 & 6, additional dates September 4, 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18, and all Halloween Horror Nights event dates starting September 19 and running through November 1. In addition, we’ve also heard in our forums that Cinematic Spectacular will not run on any dates in October. A call to Guest Services didn’t get us confirmation, but Guest Services also didn’t assure that it would be running on non-HHN dates – they only said that we’ll have to check with the park the day of. The takeaway for vacation planners is, until future notice, don’t expect Cinematic Spectacular in October. 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 will feature new shops, a themed restaurant, and two new attractions: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts Bank indoor coaster 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.

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 August 2014, all the new venues are now open except for Cowfish.

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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