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

July 29, 2014

Today’s crowd estimate: Busy.
Universal Studios Florida: 8:00am to 10:00pm.
Islands of Adventure: 8:00am to 10:00pm.
Throughout this summer, Early Admission is offered at both Universal theme parks from 7:00am to 8:00am.


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.

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.


Upcoming annual events & special celebrations

*On-site hotel events*

On Thursday, July 31, Hard Rock Hotel continues Orlando’s hottest lobby party with its “Velvet Sessions” series featuring Lou Gramm, former lead vocalist of Foreigner. 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. Regular guest tickets are $29 online, $30 at the door, and limited VIP tickets are $50 online only and include all the benefits of a regular ticket plus access to a special viewing area with private bar. Learn more

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

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 Diagon Alley page to learn so, so much more.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – SPOILER ALERT! Universal has released major details of the signature attraction inside Diagon Alley, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Because our complete guide to Diagon Alley is already so packed with information, for now we’ve opted to tell you all the incredible details – with new videos and images – in these two blog posts: the top five Escape from Gringotts features Potter fans have been waiting for and the top five features non-Potter fans will love. Escape from Gringotts officially opened with the rest of Diagon Alley on July 8, 2014.

Starbucks – Starting construction on April 28 and completed June 17, the Starbucks location at Universal Studios Florida (near Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue) has expanded. You can take a peek inside here and here.

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’s 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 sometime in late 2015. 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

Blue Man Group ticketing changes – As of May 2014, Blue Man Group at Universal CityWalk is offering a new ticket pricing structure and admission options, including “Meal and Show” deals, Poncho, and Premium seating. In the new pricing structure based on seasonality, tickets start as low as $60 (or $49 for Florida residents), but may go as high as $115 during peak dates and performance times. To learn more, visit Universal’s BMG page or contact the box office at 407-BLUEMAN (407-258-3626).

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 July 8, 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.

Parking fee increase – Universal’s deluxe on-site hotels have raised their parking prices as of April 23. For overnight guests, it’s now $20.00 per night for self-parking, $27.00 for valet. The on-site hotels also charge day guests for parking, but those fees have not increased. Also, the parking fees introduced when Cabana Bay opened recently have not increased. To learn more, visit our Universal on-site hotels page.

Think Disney is way better because they don’t charge for parking at their on-site hotels? Think again

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Phase one of Universal’s new Cabana Bay Beach Resort (North Courtyard) has opened to guests for the very first time as of March 31, 2014. Phase two, including the towers and Universal’s first lazy river, are open as of June 16. To learn more, visit our Cabana Bay pages in the OI Universal Center.

Portofino Bay Hotel: Despicable Me rooms – Debuting on October 1, 2013, 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.

Royal Pacific Resort: Character Breakfast – New last summer and continuing through 2014, 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 Summer 2014 PASSPORT mailer for Annual Passholders is out. If you missed your copy, you can view it here (PDF file).

Universal Orlando PASSPORT newsletter - Summer 2014.

Universal Orlando PASSPORT newsletter – Summer 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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Universal Orlando: Please pardon our dust.

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