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(6/27/20) Universal Orlando - Halloween Horror Nights 30 Is Still Coming (MORE...)
(6/24/20) Universal Orlando Lays Off Team Members This Week (MORE...)
(6/13/20) So Far The Crowd Levels Have Been Low (MORE...)
(6/8/20) A Look Inside The Reopened Universal Orlando Parks (MORE...)
(6/5/20) More Information About How The Parks Have Reopened (MORE...)
Click Here to read the full Screamscape review of Halloween Horror Nights 29
VOLCANO BAY IS NOW OPEN - Read the official Screamscape Review!
LOWES Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando - Read the official Screamscape Review!
General Resort News - (6/24/20) Sad news for Universal Orlando hit this week when it was confirmed that the company had been forced to lay off a number of their team members from various departments. Since Universal Orlando opened again, attendance has been said to be rather slow thus far. Steady… but slow, and even for those who are visiting, I’ve heard that guest per-caps are way down as well. It is said that the the loss of jobs is not just in Orlando, but jobs are said to have been cut at the Hollywood park as well.
(6/13/20) If you’ve been putting off a trip to revisit Universal Orlando, now could be the time if you love visiting parks with low crowds. According to all the reports I’ve been sent, the crowd levels at Universal so far are lower than expected, though keep in mind that guests have yet to begin traveling back to the Orlando area in the numbers they normally do. The majority of guests to Orlando typically would be flying in from all over the world and with air travel still very limited and even restricted from many parts of the world, some attendance decline is to be expected.
According to an interesting metric posted by Bloomberg, they report that the reported mobile phone traffic from the towers around Universal Orlando is currently only 20% of the level it was one year ago in June 2019.
Following along the same lines, apparently Universal has removed most of the previously posted blackout dates for annual passholders from Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.
(6/8/20) Our friends at Universal Experience have posted a new video update after visiting Universal Orlando this week, showing off the progress and changes made to the park since it has reopened, such as the all new version of the Raptor Encounter.
Another fun video that breaks down the changes you can expect (and tips on how to survive while wearing a mask) can also be seen in the second video below from VincentVision.
(6/5/20) With Universal Orlando now reopen to guests, one question some have been wondering is exactly how many people are they letting into the parks. While we don’t have an exact number, I’m told that Universal is attempting to keep the parks down to about 35% of their capacity at this time. While I haven’t heard anything about how things have been going with the general public on Friday so far, the comments I have seen about operations from the previous two days made it sound very much like, as I was anticipating, Universal is still trying to feel their way through the process. Being the first major park to open isn’t easy, and they are treading new ground here, so I was anticipating some difficulties and growing pains from the process of trying to figure out how to make things work in a pandemic. While I have not experienced the park myself, some comments did make it sound like the virtual queue system that was rapidly expanded to include several other attractions is still a bit rough around the edges, so be warned.
Some interesting things of note I have heard is that any attractions with pre-show experiences, especially the ones that would load guests into small tiny rooms for a time, are not currently using them. This means no pre-show room for The Simpsons, no fake Elevator down under Gringotts bank or to the MIB HQ and no ET saying your name at the end of the ride.
For those looking for something new to oggle, there is the massive construction site in the Jurassic Park area for the park’s new roller coaster, where new track seems to be rising daily right now. Nearby you’ll find an all new version of the park’s popular Raptor Encounter experience, though I’m hearing that the costumes being worn by the staff here seem to have swapped out the Jurassic Park logo for the Jurassic World logo, which does make one wonder if a swap-over of IP is in the works after all. One more change that might be popular in the Jurassic area is that the Pteranodon Flyers coaster (you know, the one where adults can’t ride without a child) is now loading only single riders on each car, so the ride is now open to all adults. Ride it while you can!
Oh, and for anyone wondering, the new Bourne Stuntacular is not yet open, but there are big signs and banners all around the building to let you know that it is coming soon.
(5/30/20) Universal Orlando has announced that they will begin to reopen select resort hotels starting June 2 as part of a managed and phased reopening plan. Look for the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific, Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and the Surfside Inn & Suites side of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort to open first.
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn & Suites will open at a later date. If you have existing reservations for either of these two resorts that will be affected by the current schedule, you will be contacted to modify these reservations.
All guests and staff will undergo temperature checks upon arrival and all team members will be required to wear masks in public areas during their shifts.
(5/23/20) Screamscape has been told that Universal Orlando has now confirmed that they will reopen to the public on June 5th (with preview dates for Team Members and Passholders taking place just before). The announcement indicates that Florida’s Governor has signed off on their plan to reopen, so now it is full steam ahead for Universal to make preparations to bring everything back online.
While I did not hear this the first time around, Universal has also confirmed that their reopening plans will also see the Volcano Bay waterpark reopen along with the two primary theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
All guests will have their temperature checked before being allowed into the resort, and if you are 100.4F or higher you will be turned away. All guests must wear face masks to enter and if you do not have one, Universal will have some available for purchase. Note that I was told that mask wearing will be required on the attractions as well, including the big coasters, so make sure your masks are tight fitting and secured.
Park capacity will be limited to prevent crowding and encourage social distancing, but they will not be requiring the use of any kind of online reservation system. Valet Parking service will also not be offered.
Interactive play areas will be closed in the theme parks (ie: the Curious George and Fievel playland areas) along with all single-rider queues and various water and mist elements in use on select attractions will also be turned off for the time being. I imagine that select attractions that are enclosed and very close quarters could also be closed for the time being… so combined with the water effects being turned off, I wouldn't be surprised if Poseidon's Fury stayed closed. They also confirmed that Virtual Lines will be in use at select attractions, but no list was provided.
(5/21/20) According to various reports a team from Universal Orlando made a presentation to the local government on Thursday afternoon with their plans to reopen the theme park resort. According to Screamscape sources, Universal not only believes that they are ready, but they are also hoping to be able to reopen before Disney and SeaWorld are ready. Please note that Universal will need to get approval from the Governor before they will be allowed to reopen.
That said, the plan they presented sounded like they want to open both of the main theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, starting on June 1st, but only for Universal team members as a sort of two-day preview / soft-opening practice. This will be followed by welcoming back Universal Orlando passholders for another two-day soft preview on June 3rd and 4th, before opening the park to regular guests starting on June 5th.
Attendance at the parks will be limited to a certain level well below normal, but it did not sound like they were planning on making all guests have a reservation ahead of time. All guests (and team-members) will temperature screened before entry, masks will be mandatory for all and social distancing will be enforced throughout the parks and attraction queues. I’ve also been led to believe that we may see Universal expand the use of their Virtual Queue system to most other park attractions. Previously it was only used on Race Through New York and the Fast & Furious Supercharged attractions.
I’m sure more information will be rolled out once the Governor signs off on the plan.
(5/9/20) Universal has sent out a survey to some guests and passholders which pretty much covers the entire field of questions to determine what they can do to make guests feel safe returning to the theme parks, and what steps guests may feel are taking things too far.
The survey also throws in some hypothetical questions with various reopening dates and operational / pricing scenarios just to get a feel for some interesting concepts. One question throws out possible reopening dates to determine how fast guests would return to the park, and the dates being thrown around seem to range from “Any time after May 31st” all the way out to December 1st. So far the early rumors suggest we could see at least one of the parks reopen sometime between early June to early July.
They also ask an interesting set of price questions, both including a scenario where one of the parks is open and the other is closed. All rides are open, with very limited capacity, and the park’s capacity is capped at at least 50%. I’ve seen one question ask about how you would feel visiting the park with admission was discounted to 50% off from the normal price, while another poses a similar scenario but asks how you would feel if the price of admission were increased.
Like I said, the questions are a bit “all over the place” but it is interesting to see how they are thinking of every possible scenario.
(5/7/20) An interesting tweet mentions that there may be plans to reopen restaurants in Citywalk at Universal Orlando starting Monday, May 11th.
(5/4/20) Universal Orlando has announced that as of May 1st, they have begun temperature screenings of all employees who enter the property. This screening applies to Universal team members as well as any vendors, contractors, and business visitors, and those with 100ºF or higher will not be allowed to enter and have to wait 72 hours before they can try again.
(4/26/20) Universal Orlando has filed a patent application for something really odd. From the look of it, it described a vehicle system that can take a ground-based transportation vehicle and secure it in one of two ways to an aerial gondola system where it will take to the skies. The images show either a way to attach a gondola hook to the roof of the vehicle itself, or to load the ground vehicle into a specialized gondola cabin for transport. I think I’d prefer the second method myself as just being more secure.
The idea itself does make you wonder just what Universal may be planning for their spread out Orlando properties going forward into the future.
(4/25/20) Universal Orlando’s CEO John Sprouls has talked a bit about what it will take to reopen the Universal Orlando parks. As mentioned elsewhere, the primary concern is to make guests feel safe in the parks, because if they don’t, they won't visit. Universal is still going over their options, but you can expect to see expanded use of virtual queue systems, limited attendance in the parks, and social distancing in place for everything. Staggered seating on rides is also expected along with increased disinfecting procedures in place throughout the parks. The park staff will be screened and must wear masks, and Universal is seriously looking into temperature checks on guests before they are allowed to enter the parks.
(4/19/20) Universal Orlando is apparently sending a survey out to former guests to see how they feel about different potential changes that might be made to the way the theme parks operate when they are allowed to open again. There are a wide variety of options they are asking guests to share their feelings about what they are comfortable with, what they would encourage and what changes they would have a problem with. The list includes ideas like:
Should all employees wear face masks?
Should all guests be required to wear face masks?
Should attraction seats be wiped down between each ride cycle?
Should a virtual queue system be put in place for nearly all attractions?
Should parades and night shows be closed for the time being?
Should indoor attractions and/or shows be closed for the time being?
Should all guests be required to pass a rapid results COVID-19 test before entry?
Should all employees take the rapid COVID-19 test before work?
Should guests and employees have to pass a temperature screening before entry?
Should park attendance be limited? If so to what point? 75%, 50%, or 25%?
The survey is long and asks a variety of other similar questions along with other ideas about possible changes that could be made to how paid parking is handled, how food is ordered and served, how sales are handled in the various shops and even floats the idea of temporarily stopping the current bag screening process to help move things along more quickly.
In the end, I think we can count on there being certain federal and state level requirements that will be put in place that all businesses will have to follow, but it is interesting to see that Universal is gathering guest feedback to determine how the public will feel about such a variety of possible changes. Following 9/11, many felt that guests would not stand for the new bag check stations for very long, but nearly 20 years later they are still in place and actually are something that many guests feel comforted and protected by while visiting the parks.
One final thought however… the idea of limiting attendance at theme parks has long been something talked about by theme park fans when they become frustrated by long lines. The simple truth is that parks rarely close their gates because they’ve hit an unknown “capacity” number, though it does happen to the big Orlando parks once or twice a year during major holidays like New Year’s Eve and sometimes on the 4th of July. While crowded parks are frustrating to guests, they do represent some of the biggest profit days for the parks, so they’ve had little reason to put tighter restrictions in place. Adjusting to a world where parks may have to limit their attendance for a time is an interesting thought that makes me wonder how they might want to financially adjust for this factor. In addition, what is the best way to make it actually happen? Do you just let guests pile in until the new limit is hit and turn everyone else away? Or would they require guests to use some kind of online advanced reservation system?
(4/13/20) According to information sent to Screamscape, Universal Orlando has sent out some survey questions to see how their guests would feel about adding another “month-long event that is similar in execution to Halloween Horror Nights but would feature popular stories from Science Fiction, Fantasy, Anime and Gaming.”
This concept should sound slightly familiar to Screamscape readers, as this sounds very similar in concept to the Universal Cool Japan event that has been taking place at Universal Studios Japan over the last few years, except that event is usually spread out over several months… often running from mid January through to May or so. Over the years Universal Cool Japan has brought various temporary mini-attractions to life themed around Japanese pop-culture IPs ranging from Godzilla, to popular Anime titles, along with video game tie-ins for Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy and Resident Evil.
Going back to the Universal Orlando survey, the idea here, much like Halloween Horror Nights, would be to put guests inside “houses, or multi-room sets, where each house would be a different story within the theme of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Anime and Gaming. Some of these stories might be familiar ones, and others could be unique creations of Universal Orlando’s creative team. The “streets” of the park would be transformed to include decor, character interactions and other activities related to the theme of the event.”
So think of this as a cross between HHN and Universal Cool Japan, done as a special ticket event. The survey throws up several IPs as well to judge which IPs would be most attractive to American park guests.
Movies: Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, Fantastic Beasts
Series: Westworld, Dr Who, Star Trek, Black Mirror, Game of Thrones, The Witcher
Games: Final Fantasy, Minecraft, Pokemon, Dungeons and Dragons, Fortnite, Legend of Zelda,
Anime: Dragon Ball, Death Note, Spirited Away, Attack on Titan, Naruto,
(4/10/20) As posted on our social media pages yesterday, Universal issued a new statement to say that they will be keeping their theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando closed until at least the end of May out of an abundance of caution for both guests and staff. You can read the letter sent to the Universal Orlando team in our post below.
While this is longer than I was thinking they might stay closed, it is nice to see Universal taking the lead role here for a change instead of following Disney’s lead. Disney has not made any new statement of their own yet, and I don’t expect them, but Six Flags and Cedar Fair theme parks were hoping to open by sometime in Mid-May for comparison’s sake. Everything is still fluid right now though, so dates can still shift and change as everyone keeps tabs on the status of the virus in each region.
(3/28/20) Here is a good bit of news for Universal Orlando passholders. According to Pirates and Princesses Universal Orlando is seeking to lessen the burden on their passholders and is officially postponing the monthly FlexPayments for Annual and Seasonal Passholders until further notice. According to the official statement, this was effective as of March 25, 2020 and they will be in touch with passholders about when they can expect payments to resume.
Unfortunately for those with Walt Disney World passes, Disney seems to be pushing ahead with monthly payment plans as normal for the time being.
(3/16/20) Universal Orlando has announced some further changes regarding venue closings in Orlando. Universal CityWalk will close at midnight tonight (March 16th) and they will prepare to close all of their resort hotels at 5pm on Friday, March 20. As before, the plan is to keep everything closed through to March 31, 2020.
(3/13/20) Universal Orlando has announced that, like Disney, they are opting to temporarily close their theme parks amid concern for the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure will begin at the end of business on Sunday, March 15th and they anticipate staying closed through to the end of March at this point. Universal CityWalk and the Universal Orlando resort hotels will remain open during this time.
Volcano Bay News - (6/2/20) An aerial photo of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando has uncovered an interesting rehab taking place. If you look carefully in the lower half of the picture, just to the right of center, you can see that the bottom half and splash-down troughs of the Punga Racers mat slides have been removed entirely. The slides were closed for some time last year following an incident with a guest claiming an injury. Following the incident the weight restriction for sliders was reduced to the point that only small children were allowed to ride.
Since the splash-down troughs at the end appeared to be much shorter than other matt-racer slides on average, I can only guess that the slides are being altered to allow for a longer splash-down trough at the end.
(10/19/19) You may have seen it mentioned here or elsewhere, but over the summer Universal Orlando made another head-scratching change to one of the attractions at Volcanao Bay. Similar to the previous policy change on the Kala and Tai Nui drop pod slides which started out with a 300 pound limit and suddenly dropped down to 200lbs before coming back to up to 275lbs, a new weight limit restriction was placed on the Punga Racers mat racer slide over the summer.
Previously I don’t believe the slide had a weight limit restriction at all, but suddenly riders who have enjoyed the slide since it opened in 2017 were suddenly banned from riding along with anyone over 150 pounds, effectically making this attraction one for tweens, small kids and only the slimmest of adults.
Unfortunately, we now know the reason for this sudden change, as a 47-year old / 215 pound tourist visiting from New York who rode it with his daughters on July 11th, 2019 and was described as slamming head-first into “a wall of water” in the shallow splashdown end of the slide, snapping his head back which left him motionless and his entire body numb. According to the lawsuit now filed, he suffered from “severe spinal cord compression” that left him almost paralyzed, and he had to undergo surgery while still in Orlando to remove part of his vertebrae and get a partial spinal fusion between his C3 and C7 vertebrae.
Compared to other mat racer style slides, I do have to admit that the Punga Racers does stand out as being different from most as the splashdown run at the bottom is shorter than most. Once the lawsuit is settled, I would not be surprised if the slide is modified to increase the length of the run here in order to allow normal sized adults to ride again.
2019/2020 - Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - (3/15/20) Universal Orlando has posted an update to say that the opening of their new Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites that was to take place on March 17 is being postponed. Guests will reservations to the new hotel during March will be relocated to their sister property across the street, the Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites.
This only makes sense, as there is no reason to open a brand new hotel during the middle of this event.
(2/25/20) Universal Orlando has released some new images looking at their new Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites, now set to open to guests on March 17, 2020. The addition of the Dockside Inn and Suites will add an additional 2,050 rooms to Universal Orlando by the end of 2020 when the final phase is complete, bringing the total number of rooms at Universal Orlando up to 9,000. This new Value category resort features both standard rooms as well as spacious 2-Bedroom Suites able to sleep up to six people with rates starting as low as $79.00 per night when a five-night stay is purchased during a value season. Like the other Universal Orlando resorts, guests will get the benefit of early park admission and complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks, along with the comfort and quality that comes along with being a Loews Hotels property.
(11/12/19) Universal Orlando has announced that the first guests will be able to check into the new Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn and Suites starting on March 17, 2020. By the end of 2020 when the entire resort is complete, the Dockside Inn and Suites will add an additional 2050-rooms to the Universal Orlando Resort.
“With rates starting at just $85 per night, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort combines the quality guests have come to expect from a Universal Orlando hotel with an extra-affordable price point – creating an experience that is unmatched in the Orlando area. Plus, hotel guests receive exclusive benefits, including Early Park Admission, complimentary transportation to and from the theme parks and more, creating a complete and seamless vacation experience. Dockside Inn and Suites will become the destination’s eighth property in partnership with Loews Hotels & Co, offering Universal Orlando guests a hotel choice for every style and budget.”
(7/4/19) If you follow along with Screamscape on social media, you should have seen various videos of our preview visit to Universal Orlando’s Endless Summer Resort a couple of weeks before it opened to the public posted to our Facebook page and on our IGTV. I’ve reassembled that video footage along with a bunch of photos I took on site into an all new video tour of Universal’s new resort that has room packages priced so low you just can’t go wrong staying there. Given the quality that the Loews Hotels are known for, and the low-price point they are asking for their first value level resort, it would just be crazy to stay anywhere else along I-Drive.
I kind of think that Universal and Loews are making a point here as well, as the majority of existing resorts on International Drive are old resorts from the 70’s and 80’s who typically haven’t invested much into upgrading their properties over the years. It is safe to say that the opening of the 750+ room Endless Summer Surfside Resort is like a warning shot to the rest of I-Drive, with Phase 1 of the massive Dockside Resort (over 2000 rooms) across the street set to open in March 2020 followed by the rest Dockside by Fall 2020. The message? Time to up your game or prepare to surrender.
(3/22/19) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites will officially open on June 27th, 2019. The second phase, Endless Summer - Dockside Inn & Suites were also announced to open in May 2020. You can check out the brief preview video of the resort below.
(1/11/19) While Universal hasn’t even opened the “Surfside Inn” side of their new Endless Summer Resort, Universal did just send out an email to their mailing lists that included details about how to be on the first guests to stay at the Dockside Inn and Suites side (phase 2) ‘before anyone else’. According to the website, available dates for the Dockside Inn will start May 1, 2020.
(11/13/18) Universal Orlando has released the first images showing off how the guest rooms inside the Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites will look when the new resort opens in Summer 2019.
“From the vibrant color scheme to warm wood tones, guests will step into the free-spirited lifestyle of surf culture at Universal Orlando’s first-ever Value category hotel. Surfside Inn and Suites will include 750 guest rooms and 2 Bedroom Suites all boasting bright and beachy design elements. The 2 Bedroom Suites sleep up to six and include three queen-sized beds, a separate bedroom and a kitchenette area, making them the perfect home base for Orlando family vacations. With rates starting at less than $100 per night, Surfside Inn and Suites will introduce extra affordability to guests’ Universal Orlando vacations without sacrificing exclusive theme park benefits like Early Park Admission and resort-wide transportation.”
(4/6/18) Universal Orlando has officially announced the names and timelines for the new resort properties to be built on the site of the former Wet 'n Wild waterpark. The overall site for both resorts will carry a single theme and be called "Universal's Endless Summer Resort". Like all the other Universal Orlando Resorts, this will be another partnership with Loews Hotels, with the resorts broken into two sides... the Surfside Inn and Suites, which will open first in Summer 2019 to be followed by the Dockside Inn and Suites in 2020.
The resorts will offer "a relaxed and easy vibe", featuring plenty of surf and beach style themeing. Best of all, these two resorts will launch an all-new "Value" level hotel for Universal Orlando, with rooms starting as low as $73 a night. About half the rooms on the property will be 2 Bedroom Suites, which will start at $111 a night. Like the other Universal Orlando Resorts, free shuttle transportation to Universal Orlando is included as well as Early Park Admission perks.
(11/9/17) Universal Orlando has confirmed their plans to add two more hotels to their resort line-up… this time just outside the existing resort on the former site of the Wet ‘n Wild waterpark at the intersection of International Drive and Universal Blvd. The good news is that these hotels, while slightly off-site, will be high-value options for families looking to visit Orlando with room-rates starting at less than $100 per night.
Between the two hotels, there will be a combined 2,800 new rooms (including 1,450 2-bedroom suites) along with complimentary transportation from the resort to the Universal Orlando theme parks and Citywalk. One hotel will offer 2,050 rooms while the other will just be 750 rooms, and between the two there will be three pools, two food courts, coffee bars, fitness rooms and more when they begin to open in Summer 2019.
“Brought to life by the same Universal Creative team behind the incredibly-themed Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, these all-new options will be destinations unto themselves. Guests will enjoy the sun, surf and sand with a laid-back coastal feel. Towering exterior murals with vibrant and natural colors will set a free-spirited and beachy tone, inviting guests to hang loose throughout their stay.”
Halloween Horror Nights 30 - (6/27/20) While everything is always subject to change, the early word is that Halloween Horror Nights is still going to happen at Universal Orlando this fall. This will be the big HHN 30 blow out and after the kind of year we’ve been having so far, this one should also be an event to remember. I’m told all the haunts are already either built or in the process of being finished, the various scenic elements for the scare zones are being constructed at offsite locations and for all intents and purposes, all things are “GO”.
We’ve also noticed that Orlando’s HHN Twitter account has been slowly increasing the frequency of their tweets lately, posting a bunch of fun throw-back posts in May and then even a fantastic and creepy background story was posted to the UO Blog about the legend behind one of the fantastic creations from HHN in 2018 that took place long ago in, where-else? Carey, Ohio.
I’m still very curious how things are going to play out in regards to the operation of the Haunts at HHHN 30, while still allowing social distancing. If you have attended HHN in the past you will be familiar with their typical “conga line” style method of traveling through the Haunts. While they do their best to pause to create some space between groups at the entrance, you always end up catching up to the group in front, creating this conga line effect. One concept I’ve seen put to use in several of the roadside haunts I’ve visited while living in North Carolina was to send groups through their haunts holding a very long piece of rope with knots tied into it at regular intervals. Guests are told to hold onto their knot and not let go of the rope while going through the haunt, which often involves long walks through the actual woods, so as to prevent guests from wandering off and getting lost, or showing up unannounced in a neighbor’s property. I could imagine something like this being put to use at HHN to keep guests from getting too close to each other, as well as giving them a place to put their hands so they don’t touch each other as well. (Note: That isn’t a rumor, just an observation and a possible idea)
(3/31/20) I’ve got some great news for Halloween Horror Nights fans. According to a Screamscape source, while construction on the major projects in the Universal Orlando parks has come to a stop, I’m told that work is already progressing on the construction of the mazes for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. They are working within the guidelines of social distancing and such, but since the mazes are all tucked away within the soundstages and other behind-the-scenes structures, work has been allowed to continue. Quite simply… it has to be allowed to continue, if for no other reason than that they would get too far behind to get it done in time for HHN to begin in September if they were forced to stop.
(2/20/20) Will The Walking Dead return to Halloween Horror Nights this fall in Orlando? The chances are good I’d say, as Universal Hollywood let it slip that The Walking Dead would be returning as a “focal point in our slate of Halloween Horror Nights mazes this fall.” This slip came out in a statement from the park confirming that the year-round walk-through “The Walking Dead” attraction would be closing for good on March 3rd.
Now Universal Orlando and Hollywood don’t always share every maze IP each year, so there is always a chance that it could just be for the Hollywood park, but you never know. And after all, with The Walking Dead getting ready to air new episodes once again, perhaps the time is right to make our first HHN maze announcement for the year, so stay tuned!
(11/6/19) Halloween Horror Nights 29 may be over and one for the books, but would you believe that Universal Orlando has already announced the dates for the epic Halloween Horror Nights 30?! That’s right… you’ve been warned and have no reason to miss this epic celebration taking place on select from September 10, 2020 through to Nov. 1st, 2020.
2020/2021 - New CityWalk Attraction - (2/5/20) Orlando Weekly has posted their own take on what Universal Orlando may be planning on doing next with Citywalk. Adding on to the theory I’ve already posted about Universal planning an Escape Room attraction, they also mention rumors about a possible Saturday Night Live branded comedy club that could be added as a replacement for the Rising Star Karaoke club.
There is also an interesting theory that the site of the closing stores and merging them into “a single merchandise space” could be used to make an even bigger and new version of the Universal Orlando store, which would then free up the site of the current Universal store, which backs right up to the Rising Star, which would allow for the combined pair of sites to be reworked into an SNL Comedy Club and an Escape Room attraction.
All good thoughts for sure, and I’ve also been hearing for years now that NBC and Comcast have been wanting to take advantage of the SNL brand somewhere at Universal Orlando, but they just had not come up with the right concept to do it in the theme parks. Making a more “adultish” comedy club certainly would be an acceptable way to bring it to life in Citywalk rather than in the parks.
(1/30/20) According to a report at Inside Universal, some new changes are afoot at within Citywalk. According to the report, the Fresh Produce and Island Clothing Co. stores have both closed within the past month. There are also rumors that P!Q (located between the two) along with Fossil are both also expected to close sometime this year. According to the report, rumor has it that all four of these side-by-side locations, once closed, could be turned into one giant mega site.
But what could possibly take up such a large footprint? Well, in addition to the possibility of adding another restaurant, I’m going to fall back on a much older rumor for this one. Would you believe… an Escape Room? Between Nov. 2018 and October 2019, Universal has registered several trademarks for an Escape Room style attraction and various merchandise to be sold under the name, “Universal’s Great Movie Escape”. All of these trademarks are still very much alive and have been granted to Universal, and now we have the first possible sign of where it may go.
Keep your eyes open!
Future Expansion Site / 3rd Theme Park - (8/3/19) Universal’s EPIC UNIVERSE was announced as the name of their next theme park coming to Orlando. All information and history about the rumors and development of this project have now been moved to an official EPIC UNIVERSE page for future reporting. Head on over and check out our complete breakdown about what was announced and what we think we know about this new park based on all concept artwork compared to the various rumors. (CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE NEWS ON EPIC UNIVERSE)