Islands of Adventure
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(5/16/13) The Twitter for AutismAtTheParks tweeted a fantastic picture showing off the Hogsmeade station for the Hogwarts Express attraction.
(5/13/13) Add this to the juicy rumor mill for long term plans, but I’ve heard from one source that we could see Toon Lagoon come to an end in 2017 as Universal may be (MORE...)
(5/11/13) I’m not sure what effect this may have on those rumored new Jurassic Park attractions, but according to this news report the release of Jurassic Park 4 has been delayed (MORE...) also... Kong given a thumbs down... (MORE...)
(5/7/13) A Screamscape reader sent us this link via Twitter showing off a captured frame from one of the films showing the Hogwarts Express loading passengers inside King’s Cross station (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Jurassic Park River Adventure - NOW CLOSED through 5/22/13
General Park News - (5/1/13) Curious about what that Survey Crew was doing in Jurassic Park? According to the latest rumors, the park is planning on adding a Jurassic Park themed midway games area to this area in the future (Sparing no expense of course...) along with a backstage building (storage?) that is expected to take up a section of the Jurassic Park River Adventure extended queue that never gets used.
(4/2/13) Remember that twitter photo of the survey crew in the Jurassic Park area spotted a couple of weeks ago? The actual photo location has been nailed down, and it isn’t next to Thunder Terrace as I had guessed, but it actually to the right of the ride’s entrance not far away from the Pizza Predatoria restaurant. This means that the surveyors were looking in the direction of the JP ride entrance, and in fact, there are now blue markers nailed down into the ground in that very area from what I’m told.
(4/1/13) OrlandoParksNews visits Islands of Adventure this week, and shows off that new automated ticket pick-up kiosk area just outside the park now that the construction walls are down.
(3/22/13) OrlandoInformer posted an interesting photo to Twitter earlier, showing a surveyor crew at work inside the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure. Based on the photo, I’d have to guess they were located at the bottom of the stairs by the Splashdown area of the JP ride (behind them), closest to the Thunder Terrace restaurant (the Entrance of which I believe is to the left of the photographer). If so... that is a curious place to be doing surveying work... unless they were planning on building something in that area that might need access to the open space behind the restaurant. Something like the rumored King Kong 3D 360º attraction or one of the many rumored new Jurassic Park attractions maybe?
(1/9/13) OrlandoParkNews has posted a new photo update around Islands of Adventure this week, including dropping the news that IOA now sells flavored popcorn in Ranch and Cheese flavors. They also take a look at the construction walls for the IOA side of the Hogwarts Express, with a peek between the cracks here and there.
2013 - Nothing is known to be planned at this time...
2014 - Wizarding World / Hogwarts Express - (5/16/13) The Twitter for AutismAtTheParks tweeted a fantastic picture showing off the Hogsmeade station for the Hogwarts Express attraction.
ok at the new track system for the Hogwarts Express. If you look carefully in the background, where the track goes behind the Revenge of the Mummy soundstage you’ll see that it appears to get wider for the assumed by-pass portion of the run so two trains can get past each other.
(5/7/13) A Screamscape reader sent us this link via Twitter showing off a captured frame showing the Hogwarts Express loading passengers inside King’s Cross station at Platform 9 ¾. Notice the arched roof of skylight panels and then compare to the arched roof framework being put in place at the King’s Cross station at the Universal Studios Florida side of the line.
(5/6/13) A few more exclusive pictures of the Hogwarts Express construction were leaked through the Screamscape Spynet this week showing off the track sections behind the scenes, a clear look at double track bypass section in the middle, and even a look at what appears to be the London side station under construction.
(5/1/13) Today we have another really good lo
(4/23/13) It has been awhile since we’ve heard much of anything about the “show” that will take place within the Hogwarts Express train ride between the parks. Previous rumors had suggested that there would be different possible shows run to keep the experience fresh, and now I’ve heard that there may be at least 6 different possible show experiences you’ll encounter at random.
(4/10/13) An anonymous source has sent in a new picture showing off our first look at a section of the track installed for the new Hogwarts Express that will run from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure over to the new London / Ministry of Magic area at the Studios.
(3/12/13) An anonymous photo was sent my way this week, showing off what I believe may be our first look at the supports going into place for the Hogwarts Express.
(3/4/13) Screamscape sources tell us that vertical construction has begun backstage for Hogwarts Express support system. I’m told that there is one that looks to possibly be completed at the moment, and as rumored, it appears that the track sections will be cantilevered slightly over the backstage road below.
While Universal Orlando still has not official announced this project, even to their base level staff, they have warned all employees about re-routing ground traffic around this area while they “conduct infrastructure upgrades and utility maintenance” on the Perimeter Road for the next four to five weeks.
(2/19/13) According to Screamscape sources, my one speculation yesterday seems like it will be the truth, as the Hogwarts Express may indeed be a pair of side-by-side railways, instead of a single rail with a bypass in the middle. I’m told that the way the supports enter into the London side of the project looks the same as the Wizarding World side.
(2/18/13) Some great POV stills shot from the Fire side of Dragon Challenge show off the construction of the new Hogwarts Express station at Islands of Adventure. Click here to make the jump over to OrlandoUnited. Based on the supports I can see going up in the station building area, I do have to wonder if I’m looking at a structure designed to hold a single train, or if I’m looking at two separate side-by-side tracks, similar to what you use at the Orlando Airport to get to the various Terminals.
(1/21/13) A reader sends in a current picture of the Hogwarts Express depot work site tucked in close to Dragons Challenge.
(1/19/13) A couple of readers have sent in some new information about what’s going on at the Islands of Adventure side Hogwarts Express station building. I’m told that a section of concrete foundation walls has been poured within the Dragon Challenge coaster area and things appear to be speeding up. They have started to form a curved wall around the Chinese Fireball dragon’s rollover/helix inversion (the one right after the airtime hill) which will likely try to blend the element into the new train depot structure area, while blocking riders view of what’s going on back there when the coaster reopens on the 25th.
(1/3/12) A reader has sent in a picture of the work taking place in the current Wizarding World of Harry Potter land, as a new large crane has arrived on-site, likely to be involved with the construction of the Hogwarts Express station on this end of the line.
(10/19/12) ParkScope reports discovering a new permit from Universal Orlando this week to install a “Stage in Wizaring World of Harry Potter”. If you notice, it only says ‘install’ and not build or construct, so I’m guessing this is most likely some kind of temporary stage being put in for a limited time. Could this be for some kind of new unique Holiday entertainment additions to the Wizarding World, or could this be something related more to the eventual announcement about the expansion via the Hogwarts Express? We’ll find out soon enough.
(7/27/12) One of our readers was able to grab a few pictures of the construction walls set up near Sinbad to make way for the Hogwarts Express station
(7/24/12) A reader taking a spin on Dragon Challenge noticed from the ride that construction / demolition of a structure in the way of the future Hogwarts Express project has begun. Meanwhile, it sounds like work is preparing to start behind Disaster and Revenge of the Mummy over at the Studios as well.
(6/21/12) ParkScope has posted an image taken from new plans showing ofd a look at the Hogwarts Express station on the Islands of Adventure side. Much as I drew out months ago in my own layout, they show the station replacing the Dragons Challenge water pond closest to the Sinbad theater, with the track layout for the coasters clearly seen coming very close to the station on both sides.
(2/10/12) It’s hard to say if this is due to the expansion plans for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or not, but according to a report at ParkRumors, Universal filed for permits last month to destroy building “234A” as well as a nearby tent-roofed structure. According to the article, Building 234A is the Frozen Desert building just to the right of the archway entrance into Hogsmeade.
The immediate assumption is that this could be tied to the functional Hogwarts Express rumors, but I think it’s still far too early to say for sure. However these two buildings are right inbetween the Hogwarts Express display train and the footpath that winds between Sinbad and Dragon’s Challenge that leads to the backstage area. Unless they were planning on demolishing the Sinbad theater, freeing up a little space here may be the best and only way to fit a functional train into the area.
On a related not, lets go back and talk about those rumored survey markings spotted backstage last month. I’ve marked the two structures slated for demolition in a blue hue on the two overhead images of the park, while in the wider view, I’ve marked off a few reported survey marker locations sent in with Red X’s, which oddly enough seem to fall right in line leading from the backstage road that leads to Amity in one direction and right through the footpath next to Sinbad that leads right to the buildings to be removed.
While I don’t have any more specific locations, I’ve been told about possible survey markings spotted from here all the way down to behind the Disaster show building as well. (Oh… and if you’re a Universal employee… please don’t stop to take a picture for us. I don’t need to see it and it’s not worth losing your job for.)
???? - New Jurassic Park Attraction - Rumor - (5/11/13) I’m not sure what effect this may have on those rumored new Jurassic Park attractions, but according to this news report the release of Jurassic Park 4 has been delayed or put on temporary hold for some retooling. Various side reports claim they may have been some creative differences between some of the crew and the studio as well that led to the move. Universal has yet to commit to a new release date at this time, but you can consider the June 2014 date scrapped for now. The good news, from a theme park side of things, is if the movie is delayed until 2015 or later, this will give Universal a chance to try and open a new Jurassic Park themed attraction at about the same time that the new film hits the theaters.
(1/21/13) A fun new bit of insight into some of the Jurassic Park upgrade rumors has been posted to Orlando United. They talk a bit about an Amber Mine Rollercoaster, upgrades to Camp Jurassic and the River Adventure, and early rumors on a possible movie-style dark ride inside the JP Discovery Center building, which could be built in association with another one of the nearby concepts meant to take over the old Triceratops Encounter space.
(1/14/13) Lots of interesting news involving Jurassic Park this week. For starters, it was apparently leaked through various Hollywood sources that Jurassic Park 4 (in 3D) was given the green-light and given a release date of June 13, 2014 with Steven Spielberg confirmed to be returning as Producer.
This does go a long way to explain why I’ve been hearing about a ton of new Jurassic Park ride rumors and leaks for Islands of Adventure over the past week. New rumored variations of old ride concepts are returning to the drawing board for another look, with the only exception missing so far was JP HelicopTours, which was proposed to use the same ride system as Disney’s Soarin’ before Disney bought out the exclusive rights to it.
New rumors about an Excavation Dig Site coaster are back, the old giant Pterodactyl Dome concept that would have enclosed a B&M Flyer coaster is rumored as a new Wing Coaster design. Remember the old Jeep Tour people have been wanting since day 1? Some interesting artwork for a revamped version of the Jeep Tour drawn back in December 2010 were uncovered online this week, but I’m not sure how long they will stay online, so view them while you still can here because I really like this updated look to the Jeep Tour.
Look closely at the layout art for the proposed attraction and you see the tour starts nice and mellow, then things go wrong when what appears to be a Triceratops is blocking the road, forcing your jeep into a wild off-road journey that ends up in what looks like a Raptor Cave full of nastys before you can escape back to the safety of the theme park once again. I don’t believe it’s any mistake that you can see Triceratops on this ride, as it would make a fitting attraction to replace the old Triceratops Encounter, wouldn’t you think?
???? - King Kong 360º 3-D - Rumor - (5/11/13) I can’t say that I didn’t expect this, but rumor has it that the idea of cloning King Kong 360º 3-D to Islands of Adventure was given a thumbs down in favor of other more favorable project ideas.
(2/11/13) A very interesting rumor was sent my way has could have an interesting effect on the future of Islands of Adventure. Our source comes forward with rumors of yet another interesting new ride concept being pitched to the park… one that would see a new ride added into that big empty space between Ripsaw Falls and the tall Jurassic Park building, running behind the Thunder Terrace restaurant.
The interesting thing is that this new ride is not themed to Jurassic Park, not to Toon Lagoon… and not even to anything associated with Middle-Earth, but is distinctly a Universal creation. Breaking it down, this is essentially a ‘ride’ version of the King Kong 360º 3-D attraction added to the backlot tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. Guests would be loaded onto some kind of tram ride vehicle and taken for a tour through the jungles of Skull Island (I assume this part is outdoor) and then they would transition into an indoor building where the action finale scene would take place, as it does in Hollywood.
What do you think? Would this work in Islands of Adventure? Check out the video embedded below showing off the view on the left side of the tram in Hollywood and think about it. There are dinos in the attraction, but would it fit in next to Jurassic Park? Another possibility is, could they be considering transforming Toon Lagoon into Skull Island instead, possibly rethemeing Ripsaw and Popeye as well?
Or perhaps they may be taking a page out of the playbook from the Dubai park, where they planned an “Epic Adventures” themed land that would have featured a King Kong themed version of Dueling Dragons (Flying bats), a Jurassic Park River Rapids ride (like the one in Singapore) as well as a Dubai version of the Waterworld stunt show. I’ve got to admit, while I’m not sure how they will make the theme work, adding Kong and Skull Island to Islands of Adventure does seem like it might be a good fit, especially if added as just one phase of a project that could see many new attractions added to the park’s other islands.
???? - Tolkien’s Middle-Earth - Rumor - (5/13/13) Add this to the juicy rumor mill for long term plans, but I’ve heard from one source that we could see Toon Lagoon come to an end in 2017 as Universal may be looking at redeveloping the entire land into an all new themed area. It’s too early to speculate very much about if existing rides would be rethemed or scrapped, or what exactly may replace it… but for some reason those rumors about the rise of Middle Earth just have not gone away. I’ll just keep my ear to ground for now… as I’m sure we wont see any kind of development or movement on this front until after the Wizarding World expansion work comes to an end in 2014.
(2/4/13) Before anyone starts to try and plan a trip to Orlando to see the creation of a Tolkien’s Middle-Earth land at Universal, it seems there is a major road-block to be dealt with first that will likely keep any and all Middle-Earth theme park plans in limbo for the time being. To tell the story, a little history lesson is also required, as the ownership issues are a little complicated.
Back in 1968 J.R.R. Tolkien sold the basic rights (stage, film and merchandising) to United Artists, who later resold them to the Saul Zaentz Company in 1976, who licensed them out as Tolkien Enterprises, later renamed as Middle-Earth Enterprises in 2010. They have the rights to the both sagas, the characters, places, objects and events that transpired within these works.
Over the last few years as Tolkien’s works were translated to the big screen in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and now followed by the Hobbit trilogy, the Tolkien family has made it clear that they were not fans of these new works, as well as the series of video games that have also followed as gaming rights have moved from Vivendi to E.A. and now at Warner Brothers. In November the Tolkien family actually filed a lawsuit against Warner Brothers over their use of the property, as they felt they are stretching things too far.
The family is asking the court to establish and better define the contractual limits WB has available to them for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The family claims the original marketing / merchandising agreement from the 60’s was only to include “tangible property”, and today WB has extended those rights into realms that never existed or were conceived possible back in the ‘60s such as themed slot machines, console video games and now online only MMO games like WB’s Lord of the Rings Online. I’m sure the talk of a possible theme park project are also right there in the heart of it all as well, just as the trademarking filing this past week by Saul Zaentz for the amusement park rights to the term “Middle-Earth” can be seen as a preemptive strike attempt to claim the rights.
In the end, unless Universal Studios can get the blessing of both WB, Middle-Earth Enterprises and the Tolkien family estate, we are unlikely to see the realm of Middle-Earth in theme park form until the lawsuit is settled and there is a clear owner who can sign off on the IP rights for such a project. Universal isn’t going to invest a dime into actual construction until this is settled.
(1/31/13) According to this interesting news article, the Saul Zaentz Company who owns the worldwide rights to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises has now filed for a new trademark for the phrase, “Middle-Earth”. What makes this more interesting is the fact that the trademark application, filed on January 22, covers “Amusement arcades, Children’s entertainment and amusement center shows; Entertainment services, namely, arranging and conducting specical eents at an amusement park; Providing amusement parks; Providing recreation facilities; Providing theme park services.”
So is this a true sign that the world’s of Middle-Earth are being discussed for a possible theme park project, or did the rumors hitting the Hollywood trade papers give them a reason to go ahead and file their trademarks anyway, just in case? Either way, it does seem to move the rumored discussion of such a project from the realm of rumor and into the world of reality.
(1/19/13) Rumor has it that members of NBC/Universal’s top brass were seen touring Islands of Adventure with members of Warner Bros and Comcast top brass this week, with a heavy focus on looking over every inch of Toon Lagoon, as well as showing off the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Early Middle-Earth talks maybe?
(1/4/13) While there has been speculation about just what Universal Orlando may have in store for Islands of Adventure guests once the second phase of the PotterVerse is complete, all new rumors are starting to bubble up to the surface.
Previous rumors suggested that a new attraction was being looked at for Seuss Landing, themed to either The Lorax or The Grinch, but now it seems that the park’s focus may be elsewhere across the lake. The revival of an old dark ride / coaster project is said to be under consideration for the Jurassic Park area according to some. Meanwhile there is new talk claiming that Universal may be in talks to acquire the rights to use J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings universe to create a Middle-Earth themed land, possibly as a replacement for Toon Lagoon. What do you think? Is this something you would like to see in Islands of Adventure, or would this combined with The Wizarding World be a bit too much magic and fantasy themeing in one park? (On the other hand... can you imagine the lighthouse in front of the park being rethemed to Sauron’s Eye? Creepy!!)
???? - The Grinch / Poseidon’s Fury Replacement - Rumor - (7/18/12) With all the focus on Universal Studios Florida, fans of Islands of Adventure maybe wondering when IOA will get another new attraction. Sure, IOA will be linked with USF via the Hogwarts Express, but what then? Other than the Wizarding World the rest of IOA has mostly remained unchanged since it opened in 1999.
There have been a few major attractions rumored over the years since then which failed to get off the ground at the time, but one of these may be coming back for a second chance. According to the latest buzz, IOA’s next big attraction will be due to premier the year following Potter’s Phase 2 roll out, which would put it around 2016 or so. If things hold true between now and then, we can expect to possibly see that long rumored Grinch / Mt. Crumpet themed coaster ride added to Seuss Landing in an interesting location. I’ve been told that the Grinch coaster proposal may see it added as a replacement to Poseidon’s Fury, possibly even reusing the attraction structure after some cosmetic changes of course.
Technically Posiedon’s Fury is in what remains of the Lost Continent section of the park, so this would allow for Seuss Landing to expand beyond the borders of it’s own “Island” to take it over. This would also leave Mythos and the Sinbad stunt show as the only remaining pieces of the Lost Continent, expected to stay as they are for years to come. This isn’t the first time Universal Creative have pitched putting a coaster inside Poseidon’s Fury, as it was the original location pitched for the Gringott’s bank coaster before it all moved over to USF.
As for the ride itself… look for this to be a good fun for all coaster experience without any inversions. Beyond that, the only other interesting rumor I’ve heard is that Universal has been keeping a careful eye on Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg which features an exciting free-fall trick track section that could be put to use on Grinch. That said, I’d expect that they have also been talking with Vebolten’s creator, Zierer, about this as well. Stay tuned…
???? - Marvel Super Hero Island Replacement Concepts - (12/2/10) It seems the subject of what may become of the Marvel Super Hero Island has become something of a hot topic of speculation lately. Given the number of e-mails I’ve had since then asking about a particular topic… I’ll answer here as best I can. My previous article was mainly concerning the topic of a “What if’ they converted the island to DC characters and nothing more. This does not mean that there are not OTHER entire ideas under discussion, so the DC Universe is not a lock. One big example that many have asked about is the Transformers ride going into Hollywood and Singapore. It would be very possible to convert Spider-man into a Transformers ride… and this subject has apparently been given a lot of thought as well by Universal… but again, this is just another one of many ‘What If” lines of thought. For now, Marvel Super Hero Island will remain… until it has a reason not to.
(11/24/10) Screamscape sources tell us that Universal management had a discussion not long ago about what the future may be for Marvel Superhero Island. Now before I get in any deeper, I’ve been told that this was simply a blue sky meeting to discuss the various ideas and ‘what if’ scenarios and nothing more. There are currently no plans to remove the Marvel themeing to the land at all, so this is all very LONG term thinking only.
So why talk about it at all? While Universal had negotiated the rights to continue to use the Marvel universe theme for many attractions as long as they were willing to pay for them, there are periodic times when the actual cost for those terms (or for certain specific Marvel attractions) come under review and cost increases are expected to happen. From what I’ve been told, the first such renewal period will take place in 2018, roughly 20 years after the agreement was first signed.
That said, it is without a doubt that no one at Universal had even dreamed that Disney would have bought Marvel Comics years later, putting the entire future of Marvel Superhero Island in doubt. So those discussions that took place were simply to start coming up with ideas, just in case they are forced to throw Marvel out the window, and find a new cost effective theme to replace it with. One very interesting idea that was said to be given serious attention was looking into replace Marvel with DC Comics instead.
While Six Flags does have a semi-lock on the DC Comics universe character, it was felt that Universal may be able to negotiate a deal to use the characters in Florida only, as this would not cause any direct conflict with any Six Flags parks. This is very ironic because it’s been said that a few DC Comics themes were actually first developed for the island, and not Marvel. A whole Batman themed attraction proposal was seen for sale on Ebay a few years ago showing off a lot of concept artwork of this proposed land that would have had a Batman themed coaster, possible a Batman dark ride and a Batman & Robin Stunt Show. (You can find a few pieces of artwork from one such proposal here.)
While I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to convert Incredible Hulk into a Batwing themed coaster adventure, and retheme Dr. Doom to be a sick creation of The Joker, you’ve got to really be wondering what Spiderman’s fate could be. The easy answer? In a very budget saving manor, Superman could save the day here and the Daily Bugle exterior and queue themeing could be left virtually intact to become the Daily Planet instead, allowing all the money to go into the revamping of the actual ride experience, and creation of all new film sequences, all themed to a new Superman adventure.
Fear not Spider-Fans, please remember that this is all a big “What If” game, allowing Universal to have a game plan ready and filed away just in case they are forced to take action. Universal knows how important Spiderman is to the park, even with the Wizarding World now in place to steal some attention away. They’ll do whatever they can to keep it in place for as long as possible.