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---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/18/19) Ghostbusters Coming To Halloween Horror Nights This Year (MORE...)
(7/17/19) Yoshi Ride Details For Super Nintendo World (MORE...)
(7/9/19) Super Nintendo World Model Photos Found (MORE...)
(7/4/19) A Look at Universal Orlando's New Endless Summer Resort (MORE...)
(6/27/19) BIGFIRE Now Open at Citywalk (MORE...)
Click here to read the full Screamscape review of Halloween Horror Nights 27!
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 - (4/19/19) Not that we had any doubt, but Universal Orlando and Hard Rock have signed a lease renewal deal that will keep the Hard Rock Cafe location in the heart of CityWalk open through to at least 2039. The 20 year extension includes both the Cafe restaurant as well as the large concert hall themed like a roman coliseum attached next door. Glad to hear this too, because I can’t think of anywhere else in Orlando that would be a better home for the Hard Rock Cafe brand since they’ve been at Universal Orlando since Day 1.
(4/18/19) Universal Orlando quietly raised ticket prices this week for their parks. A 1-Day, Value Day ticket went up $1 to $115, a Regular day ticket went up $3 to $125 and Peak / Anytime tickets went up $6 to $135.
(2/13/19) Universal Orlando has extended their current ticket deal where you can “Buy 2 Days, Get 2 Days Free”. This is a limited time offer available right now, with the ticket use now extended for trips through June 30th, 2019.
“Universal Orlando Resort’s popular limited-time offer, “Buy 2 Days, Get 2 Days Free,” is now available for U.S. and Canada residents. Guests who purchase a 2-Day, 2-Park ticket (as low as $214.99 per adult) will receive TWO FREE DAYS to enjoy the thrills and excitement of the destination’s award-winning theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.” You can also upgrade your tickets to include access to Universal’s Volcano Bay waterpark for as low as $55. Visit UniversalOrlando.com for the official information and ticket purchase.
With all that said… a side note from me. Previously these tickets had to be used by May 31st, but now that the deal has been extended a month to the end of June.
(11/27/18) Our friends at Behind The Thrills have uncovered a couple of new trademark filings from Universal this month. The first is just the word, "Bigfire" which sounds like an alternate name to the "Bigfire Grill" name we told you about back in early August. The filing for Bigfire Grill is still listed as live, so I think they will be moving forward with that one, and have just filed for the shorter “Bigfire” name as well to cover all the bases.
The second trademark they filed for this month is more interesting. “Universal's Great Movie Escape" to be used for an escape game concept. Doing a little more digging on the subject, my sources tell me that Universal was toying with the concept of opening their own self branded Escape Game centers in both Orlando and Hollywood some time ago, but the concept seemed to go quiet for awhile before suddenly reappearing this month as a trademark filing.
(10/20/18) Came across an interesting tweet showing off a screen capture from the City of Orlando website that seems to indicate that initial inspections have been approved at Universal for “VB Modifications Phase 4” / “Phase 4 Element 6” with the VB likely meaning Volcano Bay. Hmmm… is it time for those rumored expansion plans to get underway?
Summer 2019 - BIGFIRE - (6/27/19) I’m sure you had to have seen our preview of the new BIGFIRE restaurant at Universal Citywalk by now posted here on the site and on our Facebook and Instagram pages. In short, it was a fantastic treat to be able to preview this amazing new restaurant concept. On Wednesday afternoon Universal Orlando has announced that BIGFIRE is now officially open to the public. According to the press release BIGFIRE is now open for dinner starting at 4pm daily.
(6/11/19) While there is no set date, BIGFIRE will open to guests later this month (June 2019), but we were invited down to preview Universals latest incredible restaurant. The atmosphere is great, the drinks are very strong and unique, but the food is simply stellar. You can’t really go wrong with any of the various menu items we tried but rather than describe them all, it is far easier to show you with our IGTV video of everything laid out all on the counter to drool over. There is much more to find on our Instram channel where we will also preview the Endless Summer Resort and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures later today as well and posting it there. Please follow our adventures there so you don’t miss a thing.
(4/10/19) At long Universal Orlando is adding an all new custom-themed restaurant to Citywalk. As rumored, it will be called BIGFIRE, and this will be a full-service restaurant like no other, themed as if you stepped into a “grand lakeside lodge” with fireplaces, cast iron and wood design theming everywhere. The key theme here is “open fire cooking” which will be taken to a new level, and even allow guests to cook their own yummy s’mores treats at your table.
At the heart of it all is a custom wood fire grill that will be visible from the entire restaurant, where you can watch your food get cooked, and for a first at Universal Orlando, each dish will be expertly paired with the perfect type of wood to bring out the best smoky flavor in each dish, from Cherrywood to Pecanwood and beyond, they say that the wood pairings will add bold new flavors to your meal, no matter if eating a signature bison burger, or trying chili and cocoa rubbed top-sirloin, of freshwater trout and more. Even the salads will have a fresh smoked flavor to them.
Look for BIGFIRE to open Summer 2019 located in the former Emeril’s location between VIVO Italian Kitchen and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants at Citywalk at Universal Orlando.
Halloween Horror Nights 2019 - (7/18/19) Who you gonna call? Yup… in dramatic fashion Universal Orlando and Hollywood announced the arrival of the Ghostbusters at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights. The mazes are said to pay homage to the original 80’s classic film featuring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroid, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis.
You’ll hit the streets of New York as the ‘rift between worlds’ opens releasing the spirits of the dead and other angry spirits into our world. From there you’ll come face-to-ectoplasm with Slimer, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Terror-Dogs (Gatekeeper and Keymaster) and of course… Gozer. Fire up the proton-packs, aim for the Flattop and remember one thing! Don’t cross the Streams!!!
(7/9/19) Universal released a fun new piece of artwork featuring the Stranger Things kids on a Halloween Horror Nights poster sheet. Check it out below.
(6/25/19) Universal Orlando just unveiled their next custom-brewed haunt coming to Halloween Horror Nights this fall.
This one is called “Yeti: Terror of the Yukon” and it will transport guests to an isolated logging camp in a nearly uninhabitable area of remote wilderness. The desolate camp has been brutalized by a tribe of Yeti beasts, “as brutal as the winter. If the cold doesn’t get them, the Yeti will”!
If I had to guess, this one may be one of the cooler haunts of the season, and I’m not just talking about the temperature inside. I’m picturing this as a sort of spiritual crossover between previous mazes done at HHN in Orlando for The Thing as well as the Predator aspect of Aliens vs Predator from a few years back. They hired some very big scaractors to play the very tall and bulky Predator characters that were quite physically intimidating to the average human being. Meanwhile blood in the snow and ice always scream “The Thing” to me, and even the title graphic for Yeti seems to almost be inspired by The Thing iconic title graphic. Either way I’m looking forward to this one.
(5/22/19) Universal Orlando announced their next new haunt coming to Halloween Horror Nights 2019 this fall. They call it Depths of Fear and while it is a local creation from the HHN team, it sounds a bit inspired from the likes of Deep Star Six and Leviathan, as miners working inside a deep water installation come into contact with “something monstrous”.
Turns out they dug too deep into the depths and encountered a “parasitic race of creatures”.
I got to say that I love it so far… the claustrophobic environment of a deep water base, cold, dark and wet… as you try to survive in an environment where everything can kill you very quickly… and painfully.
If done right, this could be one of this year’s standouts!
(5/4/19) This is a slightly late announcement as I had been traveling much of the past week, but Universal Orlando announced their next big maze for Halloween Horror Nights as being “Universal Monsters”. Yes, the iconic, but rarely used Universal Monsters are being unleashed upon HHN29 in an all new haunt where you will have to enter and try to escape from each monster’s domain.
The list includes Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon and even more surprises!
This is especially exciting as one of the rumored “lands” for Universal’s next park in development was to possibly be themed around Universal’s Monsters, so I’m guessing they will be carefully be watching the guest reactions to this haunt in particular with an eye towards possible future attraction concepts.
It is also fun to think that the way that Universal Orlando in particular has shown such great respect in honoring classic horror films of the past by creating highly detailed maze experiences for Halloween, An American Werewolf in London, The Exorcist, The Shining, Poltergeist and so many others, I’m anticipating that a great deal of planning, care and detail will be brought to life within the Universal Monsters maze.
As the good Dr. Frankenstein once said… “It’s Alive! Alive!!” (and then cue Oingo Boingo…)
(4/13/19) Universal Orlando has announced their second maze for Halloween Horror Nights 2019 called Nightingales: Blood Pit. This is an original story idea from Universal Orlando that is a continuation of the legend they created way back in HHN21 (2011) told in Nightingales Blood Prey. The original tale featured these bloodthirsty creatures disguised as World War II nurses who instead were Nightingales in discuise, bloodthirsty creatures with sharp teeth, eager to feast on the flesh of the dying… and anyone else who happened to be nearby.
In this new installment, we go way back to the Ancient Roman where the Emperor has declared that the Gladiator games will continue non-stop until the gods are appeased and the rain returns to stop an seemingly endless drought. The endless shedding of blood has attracted the attention of the Nightingales who are ever hungry. Can you survive alongside the gladiators as the hordes of Nightingales enter a feeding frenzy?
(3/28/19) As rumored, Universal dropped the first announcement regarding Halloween Horror Nights 2019 this week, confirming the rumors that Stranger Things will return as the featured theme for the event with an all new haunted house experience coming to Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Even better, the new maze premiering this year will be inspired by not only the events of Season 2, but also the upcoming Season 3 of the show premiering on Netflix on July 4th.
Halloween Horror Nights will begin on Friday, Sept. 6th in Orlando and on September 13th in Hollywood this year.
(3/24/19) So if the rumors are true, we should be bracing ourselves for the first HHN 2019 maze announcement to take place sometime during the next week or two, as Universal follows the trend of starting their stream of announcements in March, with a couple more to follow it before the summer season kicks off in June. This begs the question… what can we expect to find featured in HHN this year?
I’ve seen a few other lists posted so far, as well as collecting some rumors and general thoughts on my own, and have compiled them into a small list. Two things will factor in here however… as we’ve heard that any IPs that are property of WB or Fox associated sub-studios wont be happening this year. Disney has now completed the purchase of Fox, which means no Aliens or Predator stuff, as well as a confirmed end to any American Horror Story themed haunts. Meanwhile Warner Bros. seems intent on keeping their horror franchises to themselves for now, as they have started to push their own themed horror event in Hollywood, so this means no chance of “IT” coming to HHN, as well as all those famous horror characters from New Line Cinema (Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, etc…)
So what’s left? The obvious answer is more Stranger Things can be expected in 2019. It was a huge hit last season, and that event only covered the first season of the show. With a second season aired, and season three coming to Netflix this summer, it seems a safe bet that Stranger Things and The Upside-Down will return this year.
What else? We may seen a return to focus on some of the Universal Monsters characters, especially in Orlando after the Hollywood park created a great modern taken on these characters for a maze in 2018, which was aided by a custom soundtrack created by rock legend, Slash.
Comparing notes with our friends at BehindTheThrills, they’ve posted a few fun rumors I’d like to share as well, including the possibility of a full fledged Killer Klowns from Outer Space maze, Ghostbusters, HellRaiser, a Creature from the Black Lagoon maze to celebrate the films 65th anniversary, and one of those faithful film adaptation mazes we’ve come to love in the past few years (Halloween, American Werewolf in London, Exorcist, etc…) themed one of the best films of all time, The Thing.
Oh, I’d love for that that one to be true… it’s been a favorite film of mine forever, but I’d also love to see Universal go the whole hog here if they did it, taking a note out of the playbook of Ice at the Gaylord Palms and enclosing the entire maze in a extremely cold environment… so cold that they would hand out parkas for guests to wear while passing through the arctic nightmare, and watching the horror unfold before their eyes and the fog of their frozen breath.
I like the Ghostbusters rumor myself, as they’ve never been featured in HHN haunt form before and it would be a nice change of pace to have a slightly funny haunt, though it may have to wait for 2020 when the new Ghostbusters film hits theaters. HellRaiser is another interesting choice… as I’m not sure if Clive Barker’s famous horror icon, Pinhead, has been done in maze form in Orlando ever… though he did appear in Hollywood a time or two in the early HHN years.
Keep in mind that not all of these IPs, if any are used at all, will appear in both Orlando and Hollywood HHN events… some only end up playing on one coast for whatever reason. The Orlando event, which will also offer 10 haunts in 2019, is also known to put on a good number of custom creation haunts mixed in with the IPs… sometimes just a couple, while in 2018 the event featured five custom haunts mixed with five IPs. Bottom line… anything is possible, but your wait is almost over, as the 2019 announcements will soon begin. Stay tuned!
(2/7/19) Universal Orlando has sent out an early reminder that Halloween Horror Nights 2019 will take place from Sept. 6th through to Nov. 2 on select nights. Even better, there is a special package offer if you buy now… by your HHN Hotel & Ticket Package between now and June 5th and you’ll get a second night’s admission into HHN free! Packages start as low as $145 per person, per night… but there is limited availability for this offer, so I highly doubt it will still be around by June, so if you want it, you probably need to grab it before it vanishes into the night. Follow the link to see the official details.
2019/2020 - Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - (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.”
Future Expansion Site / 3rd Theme Park - (7/17/19) OrlandoParkStop has posted an interesting article about the proposed Yoshi themed omnimover dark ride expected to go into Super Nintendo World, based on the photos of that model found a bit ago. The interesting thing about this Yoshi ride is that it appears as if it will run both indoor and outdoor, which seems a bit strange given the crazy weather than can happen in Orlando. But they also have a satellite photo of Super Nintendo World in Japan where you can see the same track layout already built at the park there.
(7/9/19) I’m not sure how accurate or real this is, but OrlandoParkStop has posted a few pictures of a model that looks to represent what Super Nintendo World might look like when they build it. Of course this may be an early model, or perhaps even a model of the version going into Japan which may not look like how they do it in Hollywood or Orlando. The model seems to feature a MarioKart ride, a Yoshi themed attraction and the Donkey Kong Country area, complete with coaster track.
Early concept or not, the land does look fantastic and should bring a smile to the faces of Nintendo fans everywhere.
(4/10/19) We’ve talked about Universal upcoming secret new theme park in Orlando for some time, but we’ve never really gone into detail about what it will be like. After all… for the longest time as soon as I’d heard a rumor about one thing, another rumor would come up claiming something else entirely, so everything seemed very much in flux for the longest time. This is as it should be, considering how much money it costs to build a brand new from-scratch theme park, you know Universal isn’t just going to take the first idea and run with it, they’re going to work all the angles, all the possibilities, try out all the various mixtures of IP that could be used for the possible theming.
While I don’t know if they’ve finalized the design yet myself, this week ThemeParkUniversity has opted to post their own prediction on what the forth park may be like. This includes a strange idea I had not really heard much about which would see the center of the new park with a free-to-enter public hub space that would also serve a similar purpose to Citywalk at the existing resort. From there you would then pass through entry gates into each of the themed-lands, where you would be forced back into the central public space to transition from one land to another.
I’m not sold on this concept, and personally I’d got a hunch it could be axed before the park opens, as it seems like a giant logistical, staffing and security bottleneck just waiting to happen that will cause more problems than give advantages. This also sounds more like a “leftover” idea from one of the original concepts I had first heard about the project before being dropped, where the idea was to build it up with separate lands, where guests would arrive and stay in an on-site hotel and visit each land entirely by itself in the same way guests on a cruise-ship opt for various experiences as they arrive at each port-of-call along the way.
Speaking of hotels… you know there is going to be one, and they claim it will be a large and tall one at the backside of the entire new park, allowing guests to have room views down into the park itself, much like how guests staying in Cabana Bay’s end-towers get an incredible view down into Volcano Bay.
As for the lands… according to their report, the park will open with four and have room for at least two more to add as expansions, which they list as being themed to: Fantastic Beasts, Super Nintendo World, How to Train Your Dragon and Universal Classic Monsters. The first two have been fairly locked in for some time now, as well as the Dragons… though I had heard rumors of other plans that could combine the various Dreamworks Animation properties into one land, or give several Dreamworks Animation properties their own lands… but some of those could be for future expansions. To be honest, I find it odd they would limit their Dreamworks presence to just one film property, especially one that just released its final chapter.
The Universal Classic Monsters is an interesting choice, not because it doesn’t have a place at a Universal park, but more so because the Orlando parks have mostly chosen to ignore this part of Universal’s film history over the years outside of Halloween Horror Nights season. Previous rumors however had indicated they might have been looking at a land themed to the new ‘Dark Universe” reboot versions of the monsters, but since Dark Universe has been on-hold since the last Mummy film failed to find big box-office, I’ve got to wonder if they might be better off putting this on hold for a future expansion when they have more solid studio plans.
Meanwhile of all the other rumors… I can see how they may have opted not to try and go with anything Lord of the Rings/Hobbit related, though I’m surprised we’re not seeing anything more SciFi oriented, like all those rumors of trying to include Star Trek into the park just as the franchise is working itself back from a lull. Still… anything can happen between now and when they choose to announce it, so stay tuned!
(2/21/19) While there still isn’t much to be seen, some revised plans have been filed for Universal’s expansion site showing off how all the roads will be placed, along with some water drainage systems. As for the park site itself, while you can't see any buildings or structures, you can make out what looks like a backstage perimeter road system with various branches that venture in towards the center.
According to various sources, this new park is also supposed to be laid out more like Disney’s Magic Kingdom with the lands laid out like a giant wheel around a central hub district in the center and this backstage road system seems to back that concept up.
(2/13/19) The local news has posted a few more images from the infrastructure plans being made for Universal Orlando’s expansion site to the south based on revised filings. According to the article they confirm plans for a large surface parking lot that will offer around 16,200 standard parking spots plus 172 handicap accessible spots on the property.
(1/30/19) Parkstop has put together a good look at a document that was apparently handed out by Comcast at a meeting that talks quite a bit about the next park project in Orlando and once again includes the Fantastic Worlds name.
(1/22/19) Remember we saw Universal file some potentially new trademarks that could be used for their future theme park? It appears as if Warner Bros. may be planning to object to the use of the “Fantastic Worlds”, as they are said to have filed for two extensions of “Time to Oppose for Good Cause”. Now Warner Bros. clearly does not own a trademark for “Fantastic Worlds”, so the thought process is that they must feel that their “Fantastic Beasts” trademark could possibly be confused for “Fantastic Worlds”, especially inside of a Universal Orlando theme park which is known for having the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions. Still… that be a bit of a stretch, but the long-standing rumor was that Universal’s next theme park would likely have a third ‘Wizarding World’ themed land, likely one themed to the “Fantastic Beasts” spin-off series of movies. Clearly WB is concerned about any possible name confusion, so this almost seems to confirm that we will see some kind of Fantastic Beasts attraction in the new park.
My guess is that if the ruling goes in favor of Warner Bros, Universal will have a couple of back-up names waiting in the wings. Unfortunately, of all the names I’ve seen so far, I kind of dig “Fantastic Worlds” the most, so it would be a shame for WB to block this, and even worse, if Universal were forced to fight them for the rights to use it, it would likely cause some bad blood between the two studios who have been working well together for years.
(1/15/19) Universal has been filing a ton of new Trademarks as of late, most using names we’ve seen before, but for more specific uses. Several new filings were made for “Universal’s Epic Universe”, along with just “Epic Universe”... but they’ve also filed one for a new name I haven’t seen before: “Universal’s Great Movie Escape”. This new one specifically is described to be used “in the nature of escape room attractions”.
The interesting thing is that while that image that leaked out last month indicated that the next big theme park may be called “Universal’s Fantastic Worlds” (which was previously trademarked) that they are spending time to also cover the bases with the Epic Universe name as well. One theory may be that they could be considering the use of the Epic Universe name as sort of a nickname or new brand to be associated with the entire Universal Orlando resort.
Anyone else remember “Universal Studios Escape”? It was a failed attempt to describe the entire resort that came into play just as the Islands of Adventure theme park first opened, but it only served to confuse potential guests and was quickly dropped.
(12/15/18) You may recall back in July we uncovered a few interesting new trademark filing from Universal that sounded very much like possible names for a new theme park. The names includes options for “Fantastic Worlds” as well as “Epic Universe”. Now the other day an interesting photo leaked out from some kind of presentation that put the name “Universal’s Fantastic Worlds” in large letters across one of the concept art pieces Universal has previously shown for Super Nintendo World. At the top of the screen, it also clearly says Universal Orlando Resort, so is it possible that Universal has settled upon this as the official name for the newest Orlando area theme park in development? The choice of graphics also seems to confirm the rumors that Super Nintendo World, once expected to go into the original Universal Studios Florida theme park, is being held on reserve for this new park instead when it appears in the US.
Of course until the official announcement comes, a lot can change of course, but until then, this gives us something to dream about.
(10/31/18) According to this post Universal Orlando filed new paperwork detailing roads and some other planned uses for the new expansion property near the Convention Center. The planned roads even appear to indicate a potentially planned parking lot or parking structure location.
(7/25/18) Universal has filed a few interesting new trademarks this month that could possibly be for their next Orlando theme park, or perhaps even the name of a land or two within. Earlier this month they put in one filing for the name "Fantastic Worlds", but just a few days ago they put in for a new trademark for "Universal's Epic Universe" as well as just plain "Epic Universe"... and not just for one use, but they filed for seven different uses for version of the name for things beyond theme park or attraction use, but to use on all kinds of merchandise.
Or one possible other thought... both of these could also be used as some kind of new copyrighted tagline to represent the entire resort and all the parks in Orlando. Anyone else remember the failed, "Universal Studios Escape"? Maybe this is another thing like that... but both would work fine as the name of the new park as well, though I'm thinking Universal's Epic Universe fits that role better simply because it put Universal's name at the front in much the same fashion as Universal's Islands of Adventure.
(5/25/18) Is Universal looking into the possibility of building a SciFi themed land themed around Star Trek universe? In a previous update, we too had mentioned that Universal was looking into using Star Trek as a possible theme for whatever attraction might replace the former T2/3D attraction, but according to Disney & More, they could be eying Trek to play a much bigger role instead.
The concept makes sense, as Star Trek is perfectly poised as the other huge popular SciFi series that could act as a serious counter to Disney's push to bring the Star Wars universe to life. What better way than to excite all the Trekkies out there into a frenzy by building an entire Star Trek themed land as part of the next theme park. Just imagine the legions of Trek fans coming out in droves alongside the Potter fans to Universal Orlando.
Disney & More pushes the concept speculation even further by revisiting ancient plans once made for Las Vegas that would have involved building a huge casino themed to look like the starship Enterprise itself docked on the strip. Hmmm.... Disney is planning a Star Wars themed hotel... but what if you could spend the night inside the Enterprise? Temping... so very tempting...
(4/12/18) Universal has not only cleared the way to add their next theme park at the expansion site, but added even more property to what they own. According to a report posted by MyNews13, Universal has filed a deed with Orange County showing the transfer of property to them from former owner: Stanley E. Thomas. Thomas was also the one who was putting up a legal fuss about Universal not being able to build a theme park on the former Lockheed-Martin property, but from the looks of things Universal has simply opted to buy him out along with much of the remaining pieces of property he owned all around the expansion site. I haven't seen a map yet, but the report claims the new parcels are along Universal Blvd on the one side, south of Sand Lake on the northern side, and sections east of the current property towards John Young Parkway. With Thomas out of the way, so are any and all issues regarding restrictions of what can be built on the property.
In another report from the Orlando Sentinel, they confirmed that Thomas did retain a few parcels and signed new mortgage agreements on these sections, also the land sale to Universal from Thomas took place the day after Universal settled the lawsuit Thomas had ongoing against them regarding future theme park development of the property. While Universal has yet to comment on their future plans for the site, an attorney for Universal did reference future theme park plans to the judge, but mentioned they were still too "super, super secret" to be discussed further. Elsewhere, it was also mentioned that Universal's lead attorney did mention to the judge that the site could hold "two large theme parks".
For reference, you can see a map published in 2017 by the Orlando Sentinel here that marks the property Universal had previously owned in blue, and the property owned by Thomas in red. While we don't know exactly which of the red parcels have been sold to Universal, I would suspect most of the sections bordering the property they already own in blue were sold.
(4/6/18) According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal has filed various plans for their new expansion property that will allow for "mass grading", site prep for new development, adding new water retention ponds, new canals, as well as the removal of various small existing structures on the site.
(4/2/18) It's been awhile since we talked about what Universal may be planning for their next big theme park in Orlando, and this week Disney & More has posted their own story and findings that are worth a quick read. Bottom line however, whenever I try to do some digging myself into this subject matter, it seems like the contents of this future park and always in a state of flux, with various IPs included at one point, and then replaced the next by others... only to sometimes come back again. It's great that Universal has such a big vision to choose from to get the combination right, but this also says to me that the contents are still very much in flux, and it's hard to lock in any IPs for sure, unless they are owned by Universal themselves.
The DreamWorks Animation characters, for example, are not mentioned in this report, and I've always heard that we should expect them to be in this park one way or another. Either in their own DreamWorks land, or spread out into a few individual lands (Kung Fu Panda Land, How To Train Your Dragon Land, etc...)
There is also an interesting mention of dragging the entire Nintendo themed land or projects into this park, which I admit I've also heard was being talked about as well. Of course the first phase of Super Nintendo World could stuff go into the existing park as originally intended, and a second phase of attraction ideas could also end up in the new park as well. Like I said above... it's all a big shuffle until they are ready to lock it down and send out the bulldozers.
Of course, I also like to think that the constant shuffle of ideas is also intentional... as leaks on a project this big are sure to happen, and keeping an excessive number of wild and crazy ideas floating around is a sure way to make the competition a bit nervous themselves. After all, they wont know what they should be preparing to build to compete against it until the last second.
(2/6/18) Universal Orlando has also filed new plans to make use of some of their new property. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal is putting plans to build a couple of large warehouse buildings and a new multi-story office building onto the section of property that touches Sand Lake Road. (Note: This would be the red section of land on the map we made below.) The office-space is interesting, as it isn't known if this is just new office space, or if the plan is to retire any existing office space at the existing Universal Orlando property in order to allow for future park expansion.
(12/11/17) I'm not sure how accurate this report is, but OrlandoParkNews mentions that another report on GrowthSpotter claims that a rep from Universal told them that their vision for the new Universal property includes "two new theme parks" and not just the one we've been talking about thus far.
As I said... I'm not sure how accurate that claim is, or if perhaps it was just more of a forwarding thinking statement, perhaps claiming that the size of the property would allow for two new parks rather than a plan to build two, but it does give you something to think about. However... even if long term plans do point to extra park, I’d say you would be looking at a 2035-2040 opening date at best, so far enough away it isn’t worth getting excited for just yet.
(12/8/17) According to the Orlando Sentinel, more property next to Universal new expansion site may soon find itself being put up for sale, as investors are pushing to foreclose on eight parcels of property (200 acres total) around the Orange County Convention Center and the Lockheed Martin complex owned by Stan Thomas' "Universal City Property Management Company III" company. They apparently stopped making payments on the property back in June and I've got a feeling Comcast has their checkbook at the ready. As with much of the rest of the property Universal has been buying down that way, this was already owned by Universal years ago before it was sold off under Vivendi's leadership.
(11/1/17) A couple of big announcements have come out this week regarding the future expansion of the Universal Orlando Resort down near the convention center. Late last week Universal quietly mentioned that they would be converting a couple of their smaller parcels closest to the Beach Line and Convention Center into surface parking lots. Why? No one is sure at the moment, though they could be used a parking for a team working on the likely 3rd park plans, putting them close to the site.
The big news drop came on Monday however, when it was announced that Universal has closed on a $27.5 million land purchase deal to buy up another 101 acres of property along Sand Lake Road that is connected to their big main parcel just to the South. All together, with both of these main sites combined, plus the acreage from a few random spots here and there along Universal Blvd, Universal is said to now own about 576 acres down on this side of the tourist corridor... not counting the former Wet 'n Wild site that will soon be used for two more resort hotels.
If you check out the rough map I've put together showing off the various property Universal now owns, the picture of just how they may expand is becoming more clear and even includes a couple of options I can see for building some kind of transportation system that could eventually connect them all.