Universal Studios Florida
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/17/18) Cinematic Celebration Is Now Officially Open
(7/5/18) Universal Studios Florida Previews New Night Spectacular (MORE...)
(6/15/18) Universal Studios Florida Confirms New Night Show Opening This Summer (MORE...)
(6/6/18) Universal Studios Florida Leaks New Night Show Details (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Nothing is planned at this point in time...
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - DIAGON ALLEY Review!
Screamscape Previews Diagon Alley!! We’ve Got All The Details!
Screamscape Review Part II: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Screamscape Review Part III: The Hogwarts Express!
Fast & Furious - Supercharged - Offical Review
General Park News - (6/1/18) In the latest photo update from Universal Studios Florida posted to OrlandoParkNews, they report that some changing are being made to the queue and lockers at Revenge of the Mummy. Earlier this month I noticed that the old ride Universal Express entrance doors to the left of the main entrance had been closed and walled off for some kind of construction. It turns out they are installing all new guest lockers in here that I suppose will replace the array of lockers outside near the exit of the attraction's gift shop.
(11/22/17) Screamscape was lucky enough to be invited down to Universal Orlando for a couple days to see a preview of their massive new Christmas holiday season entertainment offerings, featuring brand new additions and the return of some classics to both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks.
It is expected that these new lockers will be the same fingerprint free system that was put to use on the new version of the Incredible Hulk Coaster next door at IOA, where you are asked to scan your park ticket to get the free locker, rather than use a fingerprint. According to the report, Universal may be planning on replacing all the old fingerprint locker systems in the parks with these newer ticket based locker systems one by one. It is also worth mentioning that the lockers at Volcano Bay also don't use fingerprints, but instead use your Tapu-Tapu.
(2/10/18) For longtime Universal Studios Florida guests, you may remember the old Nickelodeon Studios facility that was at the park when it first opened. Once it closed down, not much was done with it for a good number of years until the Blue Man Group took over a portion of it for their show, but the rest lay dormant other than playing host to the occasional production inside Stage 19.
According to this article, the old closed Stage 17 building has completed a $1.2 million refurbishment project that begun in 2016 to create a new state of the art support building for production clients. Follow the link to get the breakdown on what the new facility has to offer production groups looking to shoot in Orlando.
The “Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” entertainment makeover spans from Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure over to Diagon Alley inside Universal Studios Florida as well. Just as you see in Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley has been decorated for the Christmas holiday season all over, and glows after dark from all the lights and lit-up garland strung all about. Stroll about the streets with a Hot Butterbeer in hand once you arrive, because the seasonal treat is not something you want to miss. You’ll also want to keep an ear out for the famous Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees show, as the singing group is now performing an entirely brand new show full of the most popular Christmas songs from the Wizarding World.
The fun continues outside of The Wizarding World where on select nights between Nov. 18 and Jan. 6, 2018, holiday music favorites, Mannheim Steamroller will perform for the crowds inside the park.
The big new addition for the year here is "Universal's Holidays Parade featuring Macy's" which is entirely brand new this year. This is not the same Macy's parade you may have seen at the park in the past... this is a full blown major nighttime spectacular parade the likes of which I don't think anyone has seen from Universal Orlando before.
The parade features several beautiful and highly detailed floats covered with brilliant lighting effects, themed to various popular characters from the Shrek, Despicable Me and Madagascar animated films. These are mixed in with live street performers as well as an assortment of all new Macy's balloon characters flying above you. Since this is a Christmas parade, it can't end without a special appearance from Santa at the end.
This new parade is sure to be a family favorite for years to come, something you’ll want to bring your family to see year after year.
2017 - Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon - (4/10/17) If you were following along with Screamscape on Twitter or Instagram this past week you probably caught onto our on-site footage from the grand opening of the Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon attraction at Universal Studios Florida that took place on Thursday.
I'll have a more in-depth review of the new simulator attraction later this week, which as the name implies, takes riders on a wacky Race Through New York in 3D. What I did want to touch base on at the moment is just a reminder that this is the first 100% virtual queue attraction at Universal Orlando, which does not feature a regular or stand-by line in any fashion. Guests must either first approach a kiosk located near the attraction to get a return time, or use the free Universal Orlando app to sign up for one. You then return to the attraction at the time given where you are given a colored card and enter what would normally be the ride's queue... if it had a queue... but instead you enter a museum of sorts, featuring moments and memorabilia from the history of The Tonight Show from over the years, with showcases installed for each of the show's hosts over the years. As I mentioned, there is no line, you are free to wander around and explore the first floor of the attraction building. Oh, and remember that colored card I mentioned? There are six different colors you can get, and every so often a color is called and everyone with the matching card can then proceed up to the second level of the attraction building.
The second level of the attraction is themed as a sort of giant "green room" waiting area for show guests, complete with plenty of big chairs to relax in, many of which with USB charging ports built in I might add, which is a very cool perk. There are also interactive desk stations you can play with (in case you want to send your own virtual Thank You card), as well as a stage area which is used for on-site performances by the Ragtime Gals singers or the Hashtag the Panda costume character. Like before, you simply explore and wait for your color to get called where you then proceed to the pre-ride boarding room for your safety spiel and final ride instructions.
Without going into any major spoilers, this is a large simulator attraction, where the rows you are divided into correspond with the rows of studio audience seats (aka: Ride Seats) you will sit in on the large motion platform. From what we were told, there are two separate theaters, each able to accommodate 72 guests at a time (6 rows of 12-seats across). With a ride experience that lasts about four and a half minutes, and if we guess they take about 90 seconds to reload and launch again, each theater can give 10 rides an hour, and with 2 theaters you are looking at a theoretical capacity of 1,440 riders per hour which isn't bad at all.
(4/5/17) Jimmy Fallon is at Universal Orlando this week and Universal has posted a video of Jimmy taking on the experience of the "Race Through New York" attraction himself for the first time. He seems legitimately blown away by seeing the whole thing brought to life. Check out the video below, and prepare for the official grand opening event to take place in the park on the morning of Thursday, April 6th.
(3/3/17) Good news for those of you in Orlando this week... Universal Orlando held employee preview rides on the new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday and then actually soft opened the ride to the public late on Thursday, following a second round of employee preview rides.
So far the first detailed report sent in from a reader said that they really liked the new ride. I asked for a brief spoiler-free report of the new experience and they were happy to send it in. As for the ride experience, while it wont compete with the "E" ticket likes of Gringotts or Transformers, our rider said Race Through New York was a solid "D" ticket attraction worthy of your attention.
As Universal claimed, the new experience is entirely free of a traditional ride queue. When it does open guests outside will sign up to wait in the Virtual Line and get a return time for the attraction if they are unable to go in right away.
The "queue line was very well made up. When you enter, you get a color coded card and when the lights in the room change to the color of your card, you proceed to the next room. You have 2 different area to wait in. One has different areas showing the Late Show through the years, from the beginning to now. The second room (editor note: themed to look like a green room) is where the monitors are, where you watch various clips from Jimmy Fallon and they have seating and interactive games to play while waiting on your color to be called. When your color is called again, you proceed to the boarding room, where you hear the safety spiel. After that, you go into the ride room."
The describe the ride room itself as being a large room based simulator experience, where the seats you sit in are set up to look like a studio audience. They didn't get an exact count, but they believe the ride platform had six rows of seats, possibly as wide as 12 guests per row, with a simple seat-belt restraint. The ride film is in 3D and riders were wearing the same style 3D glasses that are used on Escape from Gringotts. Again, they were not sure of the overall capacity, but they believe that there were at least 2, possibly 3, ride rooms within the building to help keep guests moving through.
"You are in a race through New York against Jimmy Fallon among the various highlights of NYC. Best part of ride was near the end."
(1/20/17) You can spot the first bit of released footage from the new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon ride in a video package posted to Twitter which includes information about entering a contest to win a trip to Orlando to ride it. You can check it out below.
On a related note, we did a little digging regarding the ride hardware itself and were told that the attraction building contains two very large simulator theater systems for added capacity. If the reports are true Universal Creative tapped DyMo Rides to provide the motion platform hardware for the new attraction as well. Early reports from sources describe the experience as being something simple and fun that the public should enjoy while using good company synergy tying in with The Tonight Show brand.
Below that you will also find one more Tweet, this one from Universal Orlando, who shows off some of the safety video Jimmy Fallon and The Roots shot for the new attraction as well.
Currently I'm told that Universal is testing the new Virtual Line system on the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction.
(1/18/17) Universal Orlando has confirmed that their new Race Through New York with Jimmy Fallon ride will open to the public on April 6th. In addition Fallon will be shooting the episodes of the Tonight Show from Universal Orlando from April 3 - 6.
The interesting news is that Universal has also confirmed that the attraction will open with their very first official "Virtual Line" experience. Guests will access the Virtual Line either through the free Official Universal Orlando Resort App, or through one of the kiosks located just outside the attraction entrance. Instead of standing in a line as you would on any other attraction, you will be given time to return to enter right into the attraction experience with no long wait.
Late 2017 - New Winter Parade - Rumor - (6/11/16) While there were rumors that Universal is planning to make a replacement for the Macy’s Parade winter event at the park, I’m told that the initial casting call for the Macy’s Parade has been posted in the park this week, so it looks like it will return for at least one more season, placing the new parade for Winter 2017.
(3/10/16) According to OrlandoInformer, Universal Orlando sent out surveys asking about possible new winter holiday entertainment concepts they are considering. As I mentioned last week, I believe the Macy's Parade is going away for good, so one of these ideas would likely be the replacement, as well as coming up with new ideas for other areas of both parks.
Ideas mentioned included new Harry Potter themed holiday ideas such as holiday version of the Frog Choir, a night projection show on Hogwarts castle, and even extra ticket / after-hours ideas such as a Yule Ball, Great Hall Dinners or other special night events in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Other ideas include glowing night parades, a Universal Holiday Parade (probably with existing park characters and IP), as well as getting opinions on the existing lineup and how it compared to the new ideas, or even alternate but similar ideas in the case of Grinchmas.
As Screamscape previously reported however, I’ve been told that the Macy’s Parade is very unlikely to return, as previous guest surveys indicated that guests were growing weary of it.
(2/26/16) Rumor has it that either this winter, or in 2017, Universal will premiere some kind of new winter parade experience that will serve as a replacement for the long running Macy’s Parade.
2018 - Fast & Furious - Supercharged - NOW OPEN -
(5/21/10) At the start of May Screamscape was invited down to visit Universal Orlando where we got to attend an official ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the new Voodoo Doughnut location in Citywalk, get a small update on the new Aventura Hotel opening this August (and try some of their new food and beverage offerings) and ended with a huge grand opening ceremony for the new Fast & Furious – Supercharged attraction, complete with a quick car chase and some celebrity guest appearances. On location to help open the new attraction were Vin Diesel (Dom), Ludacris (Tej), Tyrese Gibson (Roman) and Jordana Brewster (Mia).
The interesting thing was that Fast & Furious - Supercharged had been quietly running for park guests for several weeks ahead of this event, which means that virtually every blogger and wanna-be theme park critic in the state had already had ample chance to ride this before I did. Mix that with the fact that the main portion of the attraction is also a near-clone from the Hollywood park version that opened in 2015, means that a lot of opinions have already formed about this attraction well in advance.
For a variety of reasons, those who you might refer to as the “Theme Park Elite”, people who just about spend every living breathing moment inside theme parks on a near daily basis, they’ve made it clear they didn’t care for Fast & Furious - Supercharged. As I said, there are a variety of reasons here: some are just tired of screen based attractions, others were disappointed that this version was not in 3D, and there are those who simply expected more than a clone from the Hollywood park.
So at this point you’ve got to be wondering what I thought of Fast & Furious - Supercharged. Did I hate it? No… not at all. While it didn’t blow me away either, I found the experience was still fun. That said… my inner critic does wish that Universal Creative would have followed through with Fast & Furious - Supercharged in the same way that they did with Skull Island: Reign of Kong, by expanding what was done in Hollywood with some extra action scenes and thrills along the way, along with a custom finale.
I know I’m not alone here… as I took the time to listen in on the crowds at the exit as they finished their ride, and the most frequent comment I heard was that people felt that the ride was just over far too quickly. As I said above, had they expanded the on-ride experience just a little bit, especially if they could have added a custom ‘finale’ scene, much like they did on Skull Island when you come face to face with Kong himself, the mood may have been quite different.
The bottom line however is that Universal does not cater to the Theme Park Elite, but rather they are focused on entertaining the thousands of families that decent upon their parks daily from all over the world. In this light they did succeed, because Fast & Furious - Supercharged is still a popular family attraction that will thrill visiting guests who normally only get to experience what their local smaller budget amusement parks have to offer. Watching the crowds depart the ride, the kids still seemed to love it, the air was full of excited talking, and smiles were still all around. While Fast & Furious - Supercharged may not be as timeless as The Adventures of Spider-Man, they did manage to bring the action of the Fast & Furious to life in really about the only way I could see it being done while including the actual stars from the film series.
So while not everyone who reads this may choose to ride Fast & Furious - Supercharged every time you visit the park, I am going to give you some tips to make your ride experience as good as possible. For starters, the ride’s loading area has two load positions for a front and rear “party bus”. While each bus will run through the pre-action scenes on their own, the two buses do load into the immersive tunnel back-to-back, right behind each other, and after riding several times I’m going to tell you without a doubt that you really only want to ride in the FRONT bus. At a certain point in the queue you’ll see a sign telling you that the queue divided into a left and right lane and you can take either lane, you want the LEFT lane to ensure you are in the front bus.
Without spoiling the action of what takes place inside, there are many advantages to the front bus that are purely visual, especially if you are sitting towards the front of the front bus. Unlike Skull Island: Reign of Kong where the front cabin of the vehicle is masked by a visual barrier, the front of the party bus is open and gives you a view of the journey ahead… so when you are in the immersion tunnel action segment of the ride, the scenery here is actually projected in front of the bus as well as the sides, which helps quite a bit with your enjoyment factor and creating the illusion of speed. Also, while the action on the sides take place on both-sides of both party buses, the nature of the action and good segments always seemed to be directed to things happening around the front, which left me feeling a little left-out when riding the back bus as an action stunt would be setting up to happen, only for those involved to speed up and do the deed next to the front bus, rather than the rear. Also, while there is plenty of action on both the left and right sides of the party bus, I kind of enjoyed the action on the left side a little better. Your own opinion on which side you like best may depend more on which F&F characters you like the best, where you will see more of Hobbs and Roman on the left side of the action, while Dom and Letty deal with the bad guys on the right side for the most part.
It is also fun to wander through the ride queue and look for easter eggs… as there are plenty to be found. Not just easter eggs in reference to the Fast & Furious film series, but also references to other Universal Orlando theme park attractions, both current and those from the past.
(4/15/18) If you happen to be planning a trip to Universal Orlando this month and were bummed that Fast & Furious wouldn't open until May, you may be in luck. Apparently the attraction has quietly soft opened for technical rehearsal periods. What this means is... it may not be open all day... it may break down a lot... but if things are going well and you check in on it while at the park, you have a good chance of taking a preview spin on the park's newest attraction.
(12/26/17) It's not even 2018 yet and Universal Studios Florida has already opened the new Fast & Furious themed "Custom Gear Shop" that will also serve as the exit to the new Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction when it opens in Spring 2018. You can find a few pictures of the new shop posted over at the Attractions Magazine website this week.
(11/4/17) Universal Orlando has released some new art and details about the new Fast & Furious - Supercharged attraction this week. For starters, the attraction is now set to open in "Spring 2018" which is a good sign that construction is proceeding well inside those walls as Universal seeks to bring their huge Fast & Furious film franchise to life for the Florida park guests. While this is based on the attraction that was first created for the Hollywood park's backlot tour, they report that there will be some modifications and additions made to enhance the new Orlando version that will be a self-contained adventure ride.
In addition to all the characters included in the Hollywood version of the attraction (Dom, Hobbs, Letty, Roman and Owen Shaw), two more are being added to the Orlando attraction: Tej (played by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Mia (Jordana Brewster). As with the film series, the cars are also featured stars here, and 15 of them will be on site for you to see and take pictures with... 12 directly from the films and 3 more created especially just for the Orlando attraction.
The list includes Dom's iconic Dodge Charger and Letty's Turbo Truck, and as this attraction will feature the same Virtual Line system as Jimmy Fallon's Race Through New York, I'd say it was a safe bet that most of these cars would be put on display just inside the attraction in a holding area, similar to the Tonight Show museum-like area on the first floor of Race Through New York. Guests will use the Virtual Line system through a mobile device running the Universal Orlando Resort App or by using a kiosk located near the attraction entrance.
According to the details from Universal you'll enter the attraction into the underground headquarters for the "Fast family", enjoy music from the films as various scenes play out around you, and travel through other places inspired by the film series like the "Family Room" and Tej's high-tech "War Room". Eventually you are "invited to attend a race after-party that can't be missed" and you'll climb aboard a custom party bus Tej has arranged to get you to the party. As always happens in attractions, something goes wrong quickly as the villain Owen Shaw is spotted heading your way... and the rest is history as you go on the adventure of a lifetime.
Summer 2018 - Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration -
(7/17/18) According to Universal Orlando the technical rehearsal phase for Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration night show is now over and the show is now officially open as of Monday night's performance.
(7/5/18) Guests at Universal Studios Florida were in for a surprise on the 4th of July, despite stormy weather, the park put on a surprise test rehearsal of the park's new Universal’s Cinematic Celebration lagoon show. The images and brief video clips of the show that took place looked pretty stunning so far, and according to a Tweet from Michael Aiello the stormy weather meant that they had to cancel the pyro portion of the test rehearsal as well, so there is even more excitement coming to the final version of the show.
The good news is that this was not a one-night only Tech Rehearsal, but the start of many future Tech Rehearsals, as confirmed by the Universal Orlando Blog. Since they are still very much working on the show, these performances may be unscheduled and could be canceled at any time, and test runs may not include all aspects of the final show. So if visiting the park, keep your eyes open for a chance to view the new show if given the chance.
Check out the video clip below to see the final two minutes of the show to get an idea of what's in store... minus any additional pyro effects of course.
(6/15/18) Universal Orlando has confirmed at last their new night spectacular as Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration. "An epic new show is lighting up the night at Universal Studios Florida with a colossal celebration of music, water and light that transforms the park and takes you into the movies like never before. As music from the world’s biggest films fill the air, scores of shining, dancing fountains erupt. Massive walls of water blaze with incredible movie moments and powerful projections bring the entire waterfront into the movies. You’ll see and hear roaring dinosaurs from Jurassic World, feel the adrenaline rush of high-speed cars from Fast & Furious, watch the mischievous antics of the Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me, and so much more. Don’t miss the amazing new show that’s making nights at Universal Studios brighter and bolder than ever."
"“Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration” will seamlessly blend fountain-based media, a variety of state-of-the-art technologies and special effects in a whole new way. The show combines an all-new storyline with full panoramic water screens accented by additional multi-layer water screens, pyrotechnics and – for the first time ever – more than 120 dancing fountains and projection mapping to transform the entire waterfront and surrounding buildings into a vivid celebration of epic movie moments and beloved characters."
So far, they haven't posted an opening date just yet, but again... I'm expecting this to possibly go live in early July if possible. Meanwhile Universal's Michael Aiello posted a short video on Twitter showing off the new fountain units testing in the lagoon on Thursday afternoon.
(6/6/18) Universal Orlando accidentally leaked details about their new nighttime lagoon projection show on their website the other day, only to quickly yank it back down. Unfortunately the damage was done and various sites had already screen captured the details for the world to see.
Unless things change, the new night show will be called Universal's Cinematic Celebration - Epic Cinema Under the Stars. The description confirms it should start sometime this Summer "as music from the world's biggest films fills the air and scores of dancing fountains erupt. Massive walls of water blaze with epic movie moments and powerful projections bring the entire waterfront into the movies. You'll see and hear roaring dinosaurs from Jurassic World, feel the adrenaline rush of high-speed cars from Fast & Furious, watch the mischievous antics of the Minions" and so much more.
According to the last line, this wont be a nightly show, but it will take place "on select nights" all year long.
(5/10/18) While visiting Universal Orlando week I managed to grab a few picture pictures of the construction going on for the new nighttime lagoon show at the park, showing off the massive size of the platform in the water which is quickly being filled up with gear. Meanwhile the far shoreline which once held a pathway is being rebuilt to feature tiered viewing areas for the new show.
Also, while visiting for the media event, Universal did confirm that the new show will open sometime this summer, though no further details about the show were offered yet.
(4/30/18) Construction on that new lagoon show fountain platform is really moving fast it seems. According to the latest pictures posted to Twitter showing off that the platform is now bigger than it was before, and grading it taking place inside the former Central Park pathway, turning it into a tiered viewing area for the new show.
(4/21/18) Remember that new night show installation we mentioned was taking place in the Lagoon at Universal Studios Florida? Well, not only is it still ongoing, but it is starting to look very interesting, as a huge underwater platform has now been installed in the lagoon, along with ramps for workers to be able to walk out to it.
While we still don’t know exactly what the new show is going to be, or even a timeline… they certainly are working very hard on it right now. Given that there are only a few weeks left until the start of summer, my gut says that this new show may not be ready to go right away. Sure, they could surprise everyone and have it up and running by the July 4th holiday but I’m wondering if this may actually be something that won't open until later this year.
In the meantime a few photos of the huge underwater platform have been posted to Twitter, which reminds me quite a bit of a scaled down version of the underwater platform Disney installed at DCA for the World of Color show.
(4/4/18) Universal hasn't had too much to say thus far about the new nighttime show they are working on in the park's lagoon, but according to various reports we've been hearing for the past month, the progress of the work on site in and around the lagoon is ramping up quickly, as they appear to be in the installation phase for all the new equipment. Hopefully the park will be ready to make their big announcement in the near future. But will it open this summer or later?
(10/11/17) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Universal's Cinematic Spectacular night show is now closed for good at Universal Studios Florida. It will be replaced by a brand new nighttime lagoon show "that will include new animation featuring characters from favorite Universal attractions, a new storyline, new music, lighting and special effects." The press release does not however mention a timeline as to when this new show will be ready to open. 2018? 2019? We'll have to wait for a confirmation.
2018?? - Despicable Minion Christmas - Rumor - (4/28/17) Rumor time… Minions + Christmas Lights… could this be a thing? I’m not quite sure at this time, but I’m hearing rumors of a future Christmas season holiday entertainment proposal for Universal Studios Florida that would take the concept of what would happen if Gru’s Minions were let loose upon the park to decorate for the Christmas season, with the result being something that might have put Disney’s former Osborne Lights display to shame.
While the park did just announce new a new parade for the holiday season in 2017, it could be possible to see a unique light display added over the next year or two to help add-on to the holiday fun and offer a new kind of holiday attraction they’ve never tried to do at Universal before.
2019?? - Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit Update - Rumor - (12/24/17) According to a reader, he was asked by Universal Orlando to take a survey the other day which revolved entirely around the kind of music you would like to hear on the Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit coaster. After years of hearing rumored plans to update the soundtrack options that went nowhere, it looks like Universal may be ready to take another crack at it. Of course, since the ride opened in 2009, there is a chance that they could be facing some kind of deadline as well, as often times deals to use certain media on attractions come in 10-year terms, so perhaps Universal may simply have to renew or sign new contracts for the advertised music tracks by 2019.
Regardless, nothing major seemed to be asked in a way pointing to one theme or genre is general, as I'm told the questioned asked were about all kinds of music options once again (Rap, Country, Electronica, Rock, Pop, etc...) with the survey wanting people to rank their preferences, as well as enter their favorite songs in each genre. They also asked some questions about what it would take to get you to buy the DVD of your experience, and if you would be more likely to buy it if it had the song of your choice on it.
So stay tuned... we could see some kind of changes take place on the Rockit sometime between now and 2019.
2020/2021/2022/2023 - Super Nintendo World / Pokemon - In Development - (4/12/18) With any and all legal hurdles regarding adding new theme parks out of the way this week (see the story here if you haven't already), and with Fast & Furious - Supercharged now conducting employee previews, with a Media debut set for May 2nd, many are now looking to the future and want to know... "What's Next?"
(11/23/17) According to a local news report initial plans for the first phase of Super Nintendo World have been submitted to take over the current KidZone location at Universal Studios Florida, which means site clearing would likely begin in the first quarter of 2018, which would then likely be ready to open sometime between mid 2020 and 2021. Based on the report however, it sounds like the areas represented would mainly be for just the rumored Mario Kart and Donkey Kong attractions, with future Nintendo themed attractions now rumored to be planned to go in as expansions to both Islands of Adventure and eventually to a possible 3rd park project on Universal’s new southern campus property.
Obviously we know a new coaster is coming to Islands of Adventure into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which I believe should be ready to open in 2019, but beyond that? Well... we've previously talked about what could be planned to do into the next park to be built, but some of that is in flux... and quite possibly the Super Nintendo Land project.
How much in flux? Possibly several years if they opt to move Super Nintendo Land to be one of the premier attractions of the next park, but now there is said to be some discussion about instead remodeling the current kids land in the Studios into Nintendo, Universal could have expanded their deal with Nintendo to instead bring the world of Pokemon to the Studios park in 2020. This is all a rumor so far, so stay tuned until we know more.
The timeline is a bit interesting as Universal Studios Japan is supposed to open their Super Nintendo World area first, and while initial reports say that the Japanese version is planned to be open in time for the 2020 Summer Olympic games in Japan, I’ve long heard rumors pointing to it possibly opening about 6 months earlier (Late 2019) to allow plenty of test and adjust as well as break-in time on everything before the Olympic crowds descend upon the park.
With a new attraction set to open in Islands of Adventure by 2019, it only makes sense for Nintendo to come to Universal Studios Florida in 2020 or 2021.
(7/10/17) According to one source we can expect to see some sections of the existing Kidzland at Universal Studios Florida begin to close sometime between very late 2017 and mid to late 2018 in order to begin clearing them out to make way for Super Nintendo World.
According to rumored projections, Universal may be shooting to have it ready to open around 2021/2022, with the first one to open in Japan by Summer 2020.
(6/21/17) I don’t know how much of the artwork is legit, and I don’t think all of it is, but a nice collection of some new and old Super Nintendo World attraction art has been posted to Disney & More this week. The one that sticks out fo rme isn’t the Mario Kart art, but the one showing off the Donkey Kong themed jungle area. While the lower area seems to contain a jungle themed play area, if you look in the top of the trees you’ll see a coaster track for that rumored Donkey Kong mine train coaster. In fact, look very carefully on the top left and you’ll see a mine cart jumping a gap in the coaster track, as described as being possible for the Boom Coaster ride patent. Look closer still and you can see the hidden arm coming off that mine cart and going down, where it looks to be attached to the true track for the ride, hidden from view below the riders, which is twisted into an arch, to allow the mine cart to appear to jump the gap in the faux tracks.
(6/17/17) About a week or so ago someone posted a layout map of what Super Nintendo World might look like when built at Universal Studios Florida... and the collective internet lost their mind. I can't say for certain the exact origin of this map, as it does look like it was professionally done, but from what I've been told from a few sources, this was simply an old simple proof of concept proposal and never intended to be built exactly as shown. This may have simply been a graphic used for the initial presentation to get Nintendo on board in the first place. (Note: I’m not talking about the map posted on Screamscape, which is a non-detailed version of how new buildings could go up in Orlando for it.)
The layout shown was one that was quite cluttered and really doesn't look anything at all like what we've been seeing in the official graphics from Universal thus far. Plus it looked like a good bit of the land was dedicated to smaller attractions, and even playground style structures, so bottom line... don't believe it. The map did have one thing right however, the location, where we can expect Super Nintendo Land to take over the entire KidZone area.
So time to recap what we do know about Super Nintendo World:
Multi-Level - According to comments made at the ground breaking, the lands will feature multi-level buildings and pathways, which does match up with what is being shown in the concept artwork.
Super Mario Kart - They have also confirmed that what is expected to be the primary major attraction will be one themed to Super Mario Kart. Not only is this a good choice for the action element that can be translated well into a ride, but the nature of the game also allows for the inclusion of a large number of Nintendo characters to be grouped all together.
So what about the other attractions? Well, there are only rumors so far, but the long standing rumor has been that Super Nintendo World will feature 3 attractions, or at least it will in the North American installations. There is always the chance that the one going into Japan may cutback to just two attractions due to space issues, or to allow for the inclusion of more themed shopping, dining and character interaction spaces, as the Japanese market really appreciates those kind of extras.
That said... it has been pretty clear thus far that the second attraction would have to feature the giant ape in the room... Donkey Kong. As a character, Donkey Kong is easily just as well known as Mario and the popular rumor has been about that Boom Coaster ride patent Universal filed for, with a mine kart theme that has the ability for the kart to appear to jump gaps in the track and lean to the side on two wheels, while really running on a hidden track system. As rumored before, this is expected to be something themed to the Donkey Kong Country game series.
The third ride concept? Well... not a lot has been said, and I really don't know if even the rumor going around was locked in as the final concept or not, so take this one with a grain of salt, but if the rumor holds true, the idea I kept hearing about was for a Yoshi themed interactive dark ride concept. Even better, for capacity sake, the one rumor suggested it would even be an Omnimover style ride system, something Universal really hasn't tried yet. Given that the unique feature of the Yoshi character in games is typically his ability to lash out with a long tongue and gobble up things and even spit some of them back out at targets, so you can see how this could make for a fun interactive style dark ride. Fair warning... this is just a rumor... but it sounds like a good choice to me.
As for the rest? Well, for wanting Metroid, Kirby, Zelda or even Pokemon themed stuff in the land, I just wouldn't expect it yet. Maybe for a Phase 2... or something that could even be used as a second Nintendo themed land in another park, as all those characters really live within their own pocket-universe, while I think we will see Super Nintendo World focus on the core characters that cohabitate within the primary Nintendoverse.
(4/10/17) A collection of new patent images filed by Universal have been found this week showing off an onslaught of imagery showcasing small car shaped ride vehicles riding through some interesting terrain full of strangely shaped objects, tubes (pipes?) and more, all the while surrounded by projector after projector that would surround the riders in some kind of active and living themed environment.
Sounds perfect for what Universal may be dreaming up for the proposed Super Mario Kart attractions experience that will be the staple of the new Super Nintendo Lands planned for the Japan, Hollywood and Orlando parks. You can find a nice collection of patent clips posted to InsideTheMagic.
Now don’t go anywhere just yet however, because an eagle eyed reader pointed out something interesting to me the other day... that the layout artwork for the Universal Studios Beijing resort includes an interesting feature no one had yet pointed out. While everyone is squinting over the layout of the new theme park and taking notice of other features like a water park or resort hotels, most haven't given the future site of the second park on the map much more than a glance.
But when you do, it quickly becomes evident that the park layout dropped into the resort map is actually a mirror image of Universal Studios Florida itself that includes all the major attraction buildings like Transformers, the outdoor concert stage, Escape from Gringotts, Men in Black, along with a leftover Disaster attraction building still in place. However keep looking and there are also three large new attraction sized building structures in place that would run from the area just past E.T., to the largest one taking up the space where the Parade Float storage building currently is, and then another filling in the space between there and leading up to the area just behind where The Simpson's ride is located. To make way the existing buildings (Barney & Friends) and kiddie play structures have been removed.
Given that this location is also rumored to be the most likely location for Super Nintendo Land I have to wonder if we have been given a possible preview look at what the layout of this new land may look like and just how large the proposed attraction buildings for the land's rumored three attractions will be. Just something to think about, in the meantime I've flipped the image the right way to represent USF's layout and highlighted the new area for your consideration as a visual aid. Of course, this is 100% pure speculation on my part... I just found it interesting that the existing park layout was copied in almost every way with the exception of this area. Just take a look at see what you think for yourself.
(12/12/16) The Orlando Business Journey has reported that several new ride patents filed by Universal offer up a hint about some future attraction concepts in the works. You can see some of the concept art from the patent forms posted in a slideshow at OBJ, though keep in mind that they are keeping the themeing and concept as generic as they can in these patent forms, and focusing on the technology aspect of what the attraction will do to make it unique enough to deserve a patent.
Breaking it down however, there are images showing off a new two-passenger car ride where the cars appear to be able to fishtail out of control and/or simulate a "drift" style turn effect. There is a driver in the front with a steering wheel while the rider in the back seat has a console of buttons in front of them instead. The obvious answer here is that this is likely a mock-up for the future Mario Kart themed ride planned as part of a future Nintendo area.
Another mock-up shows guests loaded into some kind of over-head track mounted piece of hardware that holds a number of armored flight-suits. The appearance is that it could mimic the action of a super-hero character taking flight into the sky on an adventure. Screamscape sources tell us that this concept was proposed for an attraction that isn't expected to see the light of day at this point in time, but could resurface in the future.
Two of the concepts involve waterpark technology, one that could see technology added to a mat racer style slide (either controls or a video screen to the mat itself) or the possibility of setting something up on the mat before the slide that would trigger specific effects (lights, music, etc) to personalize the experience on the way down. A second waterpark concept is also an interesting new take on the popular new 'drop pod' idea, where in this case the pod that holds the rider would begin to actually fill half-way up with water before flushing the rider and human payload down the trapdoor.
The final idea shown is something called the Boom Coaster, showing off a mine-kart themed ride car that would look as if it was attached to a track system, but in reality the car is attached to a boom arm that goes down under the cart and attaches to an entirely hidden coaster style track system below the themeing. The concept would allow for the hidden track to lean, rise and fall, affecting how the car above appears to ride on the simulated themed ride surface. For example, it would allow for a coaster to appear to 'jump' a gap in the visual track, while staying connected to the hidden track system below. According to Screamscape sources the Boom Coaster concept is also a concept Universal is eyeballing for a future Nintendo themed ride concept that would involve a wild coaster ride through the world of Donkey Kong Country which often have mine cart coaster themed levels.
Universal may have a more complex time getting a patent on the Boom Coaster concept however, as I recall what seemed to be a very similar concept floating around the internet for years called the CANTILEVERED COASTER System, and in an interview with the creator posted to Coaster101 back in 2010, the creator of the Cantilevered Coaster says they were already granted a patent for their design in 2001. While the effect would be similar, there is a difference in the track systems between the two, as the Boom Coaster only appears to have one track system, while the Cantilevered Coaster would use two separate track systems, one to hold the car while the other would control all the extra movements, not unlike how S&S/Arrow's 4th Dimension coaster system also uses two rail systems for similar reasons.
(11/30/16) Universal has announced an update regarding their deal to build Nintendo themed attractions in the future. According to the press release "the fun of Nintendo" will be brought to life via "expansive, highly themed environments" at Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks.
"Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.
You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.
The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you – in breathtakingly authentic ways."
The new Nintendo lands will feature "multiple attractions" as well as themed shops and restaurants. Planning is already well under way and while they are not yet ready to announce any dates, they did mention that each will "open separately over the next several years." An updated announcement video featuring Mark Woodbury (Universal Creative) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) can be seen below.
As for the attractions... while things are still being planned, the early rumors indicate as many as three different attractions may be in development, one of the themes is said to be locked in for a Mario Kart themed attraction. It is worth mentioning that they only listed Universal Orlando as the site, an not one specific theme park. They also say that the first more detailed announcement to come from a specific park will happen "soon".
(2/26/16) The long rumored Nintendo themed land now looks to be locked in for Orlando in 2020. As Nintendo themed attractions are planned to first open in Japan in 2018 and Hollywood in 2019, look for Universal to take everything they learn from those first two versions to perfect the Orlando version, which will likely be the biggest one of them all.
While things are still in development, the land is expected to replace the current Kids Zone area, and feature at least two major attractions and possibly a number of smaller kiddie attractions, as well as a likely retheme of the existing Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse coaster.
(7/2/15) World of Universal reports that Universal has filed permits to build a Building 79B, described as a new 23,000 sqft warehouse building structure. The rumor going around claims that Building 79B would be a replacement for the current Building 79, also known as the Parade building warehouse which is used each year for Halloween Horror Nights as a home for one of the haunts each year.
While I’m sure Building 79B could and would be put to the same purpose, wherever they build it, another popular rumor says that since Building 79 bumps up right against the existing backside to the Curious George wet/dry play area, this could also be taken as a sign that the site may be put to better use as part of that new Nintendo deal that will bring attractions themed to the popular video game characters to the park, which would be a perfect theme to replace all of the park’s kiddie area.
(5/12/15) My initial gut reaction was to think that the new Universal / Nintendo partnership would likely be used as a possible way to retheme the Marvel comics themed island. However, as time passes, I'm hearing more and more than the actual intent for the IP is to completely replace the current KidZone attraction area, including Fieval's Playland, Barney, Curious George, and such. The fate of E.T. is unknown however, as it could easily be put under the knife as well, though many feel that E.T. is currently "untouchable" as the last remaining E.T. ride and nod to Universal's collaboration over the years with Steven Spielberg.
(6/27/13) I’ve mentioned it before, but the most likely new project coming to Universal Studios Florida once Diagon Alley opens may be a complete renovation and/or re-branding of the kiddie areas of the park. Curious George and Barney the Dinosaur are likely to be retired… and most certainly Fieval’s Playland will get a complete makeover along with rumors of a replacement for the E.T. ride.
What could replace E.T. you may ask? Well in Hollywood they replaced it with their own version of Revenge of the Mummy and in Japan the ride was replaced by the Space Fantasy indoor spinning coaster. So while I would like to think that Universal might try to reuse the massive E.T. building in a similar fashion, the actual rumor going around is that Universal may be in talks with Sony about bringing The Smurfs to Universal Orlando. In fact, one of our own readers was asked to take a survey in the past week which pitched new ride concepts based on The Lorax (for Islands of Adventure) and a “flying” dark ride concept based on The Smurfs that sounded very much like a plan to reuse the E.T. ride system
According to our source, the concept pitch for The Smurfs ride in the survey even mentioned having Papa Smurf say goodbye to the riders by name at the end of the ride… just like E.T. does. Universal has partnered with Sony to build an attraction before (Men In Black) and the Smurf village theme would actually be a good fit as a replacement for Fieval’s Playland as well. All rumors, surveys and concept pitches for now… but as Diagon Alley gets closer to opening we should know more about what the future may hold.
(11/15/12) While Universal Creative has their hands full right now with Transformers and then the Potter expansion, the early rumors for what could be next are already coming down the pipe. According to the latest buzz, the general plan right now is to overhaul the KidZone area in either 2015/2016. Expect Woody Woodpecker to say, but Curious George, Barney and Fieval may be given their walking papers. With the E.T. Adventure right in the middle of it all, it too may be either replaced or given an extensive overhaul.
???? - Diagon Alley Expansion - Rumor - (8/12/14) About.com Theme Parks has posted a very interesting bit of speculation regarding what might come as the next possible expansion to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Our good friend Arthur Levine went on a guided tour of the new London / Diagon Alley area with Alan Gimore (Art Director for many of the films and for Universal’s Wizarding World projects). Alan led him to the big red british phone booths sitting on the curb just outside Diagon Alley and instructed Arthur to dial 6-2-4-4-2 (M-A-G-I-C) on the phone and he was suddenly connected with a phone recording from the Ministry of Magic informing him that the office was not open that day. Alan went on to tease that perhaps taking Muggles on a trip into the Ministry of Magic might be Universal’s next Potter themed attraction.
This would make a good deal of sense, especially since the current Fear Factor: Live show stadium next door was being eyeballed by Universal Creative as the most likely place to expand Diagon Alley in the future. Of course this is only a tease and perhaps a glimmer of something once talked about in a Blue Sky meeting about future concepts. At this point anything can still happen, but it does give the Muggles something to think about for the next few years.