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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November 28, 2014
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
Universal’s Black Friday sale
Book your vacation between November 28 and December 1, and you can enjoy the classic retro-style and ultra-modern comforts of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort starting from just $119 per adult per night! The offer includes a Free Family Suite upgrade, a $50 credit for dining at the resort, and 2-Day Park-to-Park tickets with a 3rd Day Free. To see if they sale is right for you (or to find out about other deals), contact our trusted travel partner Jennifer Green with Destinations in Florida.
Annual Passholders get Early Park Admission too
November 3 through December 18 (excluding blockout dates), Universal is granting Annual Passholders access to Diagon Alley for Early Park Admission on weekdays. In other words, Monday through Friday now until December 18, Passholders can get into Diagon Alley at the same time as other guests with the Early Park Admission benefit. This is good for all Annual Passholders (Power, Preferred, and Premier). Blockout dates apply: November 17 and November 24 – 28. To learn more, visit our Guide to Early Park Admission. Or you can view more of the current AP benefits by clicking here.
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.
Universal has announced a new promotion for active and retired military personnel. 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
Thanksgiving festivities: Nov 27 – 29
From holiday buffets with live entertainment to a tree-lighting luau and Holiday Harbor Nights, see what Universal is cooking up this year for Thanksgiving by clicking here.
Holiday festivities: Dec 6 – Jan 3
Universal invites you to start “untraditional” holiday traditions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Enjoy the majesty of The Macy’s Holiday Parade, and splendor of Mannheim Steamroller live in concert, the delights of the Who’s of Who-ville, the naughtiness of The Grinch himself! To learn more, visit our Holidays 2014 guide.
Nickelodeon’s Every Witch Way Weekend: Dec 12 & 13
Inspired by the live-action series that’s charmed millions of kids and tweens, Nickelodeon’s Every Witch Way Weekend is coming to Universal Orlando December 12 & 13. Your family will have the chance to meet cast members and fellow fans, view never-before-seen episodes from the upcoming Season 3, enjoy Q&A and autograph sessions with the cast, and more! Details and discussion
New Year’s Eve: Dec 31
Are you ready for some of the most exciting New Year’s Eve activities outside of the Big Apple? From Universal CityWalk’s fabulous Eve 12.31.14 event – featuring Orlando’s largest dance floor – to the festivities at the on-site hotels, you can find the right party for every person in the family. Learn more and purchase tickets
*On-site hotel events*
On Friday, November 28, usher in the Christmas season at Portofino Bay Hotel’s Holiday Harbor Nights, a wine and music event designed to capture the ambiance of the Mediterranean. The evening will feature select wines and sparkling wines, gourmet food, live music and the grand illumination of Portofino Bay Hotel’s majestic Christmas tree under the twinkling lights of the Harbor Piazza! General admission tickets are $45 in advance or $55 at the door. Reserved seating is available for $75 and includes a general admission ticket, reserved seating, private wine station, and passed hors d’oeuvres. You can view the menu (PDF file), or you can purchase tickets online, or for more information, call 407-503-1200.
Then on Friday, December 19, enjoy a Velvet Unplugged performance featuring Carl Dixon (formerly of The Guess Who). This laid back acoustic show will includes hits such as “American Woman” and “These Eyes,” as well as festive holiday favorites. Table for 2 is $40; Table for 6 is $60; tickets include the performance, first round of drinks, and valet parking. The show can also be viewed from a complimentary standing room section (parking fees apply). Purchase tickets online, or for more information, call 407-503-2402.
Finally, on Wednesday, December 31, celebrate New Year’s Eve with family-friendly events at Universal’s on-site hotels. To check out the action, visit our New Year’s Eve 2014 page and scroll down past the CityWalk information.
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
Cinematic Spectacular – After being closed for much of September and all of October (during the running of Halloween Horror Nights 2014), Cinematic Spectacular is again scheduled to run regularly at USF’s park closing time and should continue to run well into the new year. However, do keep in mind that the evening lagoon show only runs when USF closes at 7:00pm or later. So just as an example, since USF is closing at 6:00pm on November 4 and 5, Cinematic Spectacular will not run those evening. To see Universal’s park hours, visit our free 12-month crowd calendar. 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.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – If you’re familiar with the thrill rides at Universal, you likely know that loose articles are not permitted on them, but you were okay if you could fit something in your pocket. The parks have now taken this policy a step further for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (USF) and The Incredible Hulk Coaster (IOA). On these two rides, absolutely no personal items are permitted, even if you can comfortably fit them into your pockets. This includes but is not limited to cell phones, wallets, keys, loose changes, and hats. The only published exception is a lanyard holding only tickets. Of course, free lockers are available for your convenience (learn more in our locker guide).
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.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster – If you’re familiar with the thrill rides at Universal, you likely know that loose articles are not permitted on them, but you were okay if you could fit something in your pocket. The parks have now taken this policy a step further for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (USF) and The Incredible Hulk (IOA). On these two rides, absolutely no personal items are permitted, even if you can comfortably fit them into your pockets. This includes but is not limited to cell phones, wallets, keys, loose changes, and hats. The only published exception is a lanyard holding only tickets. Of course, free lockers are available for your convenience (learn more in our locker guide).
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.
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, 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 November 2014, all the new venues are open. To go beyond our analysis for reviews and additional info, follow these links:
- The Cowfish
- VIVO Italian Kitchen
- Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
- Bread Box and Hot Dog Hall of Fame
- Menchie’s and the remodeled Universal Studios Store
NASCAR Sports Grille – On September 27, 2014, Universal posted an announcement on its Facebook Page that NASCAR Sports Grille was scheduled to close November 1, and so it did. This is not entirely surprising, as the closure has been rumored for almost a year. The venue’s replacement? Many suspected that an NBC Sported themed venue would rather quickly take its place, but the last chatter is suggesting a much more comprehensive demo and rebuild.
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.
Cabana Bay Garden Resort – The Garden Bridge & Walkway connecting Cabana Bay Beach Resort to Universal CityWalk (and the theme parks) is now open as of November 2014. For a full video and photo tour as well as a map and additional details, visit our Cabana Bay: Distance from the parks page.
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 Winter 2014 PASSPORT newsletter for Annual Passholders is out. If you missed your copy, you can view it here (PDF file).
If you’d like, you can also view the…
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