Universal Studios Florida
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---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(6/4/2023) A Look at Minion Land (MORE...)
(5/29/2023) Minion Land Construction Update (MORE...)
(5/18/2023) New Minion Land and Villain-Con Minion Blast Details Released (MORE...)
(5/13/2023) New Minion Theming Has Arrived (MORE...)
(5/10/2023) New Villain-Con Photos (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - These dates are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as refurbishments are subject to change.
Nothing is known to be planned at this 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!
Other Features & Reviews
Volcano Bay (2017)
Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (2017)
Fast & Furious - Supercharged - Offical Review (2018)
General Park News - (4/29/2023) With the closing of the Mardi Gras Tribute Store experience, Universal Studios Florida fans can look forward to the new Summer Tribute Store expected to open sometime in late May. According to the rumor mill, the new experience will be a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the film Jurassic Park.
If this sounds slightly familiar, you may be recalling the Summer 2021 Tribute Store that was themed to “Jurassic World”, timed to go along with the opening of the VelociCoaster next door at Islands of Adventure that summer.
Even if you can’t visit Universal Orlando, the Universal theme parks across the globe will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Jurassic Park in a number of ways this summer with oodles of new 30th Anniversary branded JP merchandise and more.
(1/9/2023) Previously it was mentioned that the Universal Orlando Annual Passholder lounge would be moving to a new location at Islands of Adventure, but what will become of the former space in the Hollywood section of the park?
The early rumors suggest that the next version of the Tribute Store (likely to open for Mardi Gras) will be moving from the currently location in New York next to Revenge of the Mummy to a new home in Hollywood, with interesting clues being dropped in place next the exit of the tribute store to back up those claims.
The departing Annual Pass Lounge area could be merged with the space opened up by two other closed locations next door, namely the closed “Dark Room” store next door and then into the former Hollywood Prop Shop space that closed over the summer. The merger of all three of these spaces would likely be big enough to become a new Tribute Store location.
Of course, then the next question is… what will become of the former Tribute Store location? As I recall, the space there was once used as part of the queue for the old Kongfrontation attraction and in the late 90’s it was separated to become a preview center when Universal was preparing to build the Islands of Adventure theme park. So it wouldn’t be unthinkable that the space could be used again as a preview center for the new Epic Universe theme park at some point, or perhaps Universal has something entirely new in mind.
(11/13/22) Our friends at Orlando Experience have sent us several pictures from this year’s Holiday / Christmas festivities at Universal Studios Florida to share this week, including a look at the Holiday Parade and Holiday Tribute Store.
(10/23/22) A few local Orlando blogs have been reporting something different is going on within the E.T. Adventure attraction lately. The E.T. ride is known for a few things beyond being the only remaining original ride at Universal Studios Florida from when it first opened in 1990. Guests typically remember two main things… that E.T. will usually know your name and say goodbye to you just before the end of the ride and that the indoor forest themed queue will ticket your senses with an overwhelming and fairly realistic pine tree smell.
According to the reports, the forest smell has changed. While there is still a pine style smell in the forest, it is as if Universal had to change their supplier and the replacement scent is not quite the same as before. According to one tweet, they describe the old scent as a “musty forest smell”, and the new replacement scent as being “much stronger, almost like a cologne-type sensation” and goes on to compare it to the kind of pine scent you would find in a scented candle store. They also claim that a new scent has been added to the ride (or perhaps a more subtle one replaced) in the scene where you first arrive at the Green Planet, which now has a somewhat smoky or “barbecue” scent to it.
(10/1/22) Our good buddy Arthur Levine has posted an in depth article about the amazing “The Bourne Stuntacular” attraction at Universal Studios Florida. I recall personally picking my jaw up off the floor after experiencing this amazing new attraction concept that is sort of like mixing a live action stunt show with a 4D Theater experience… but without the need for the annoying 4D glasses. The end result was simply movie-magic in the extreme, where you spend half the show in shock of what you are seeing take place before your eyes, and the other half just trying to figure out how all of this is actually being done seamlessly in real time, without any kind of pause in the action at all to reset the stage for the next scene.
(7/25/22) An article posted to CinemaBlend speculates that Universal may be willing to give up on their rights to use the Simpsons characters in the theme parks at the end of the current contract. IP contracts typically will be drawn up for an initial 10-year term with terms pre-set for two more 10-year extensions. The Simpsons attraction opened in 2008, so if the typical term-timelines were used, Universal would be approaching the end of the 20th year sometime between late 2027 and 2028.
At that point they would have to renew for another decade or opt to let the contract expire and release the Simpsons from the parks. It is worth mentioning that prior to this Universal Creative would be neck-deep in finishing up their new Epic Universe theme park slated to open in 2025, but this would give them enough time to come up with a new replacement idea for Simpsons at the Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando if need be.
While the Simpsons rides still draw a crowd, I don’t think it ever drew in quite the crowd levels that the attraction building did when it was first opened as Back to the Future: The Ride. However, even if the ride itself is just a mild draw, Universal has invested heavily in offering Simpsons themed restaurant experiences and merchandise shops that probably do generate a healthy profit for the parks currently. So the final decision will likely come down to how much profit Universal is actually making compared to the money they would spend to extend the IP license for another 10 year term.
Summer 2023 - VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST & Minions Cafe - (6/4/2023) Our friends at Orlando Experience have posted a video look at the new Minions Land at Universal Studios Florida as crews work to finish it all up.
(5/29/2023) MouseSteps ventured over to Universal Studios Florida this week to check in on the latest construction taking place for the new Minion Land area. New themed props, signs and colorful paint are now being applied everywhere as we get an idea of what to expect from Minion Land.
So what about Villain-Con Minion Blast? From what I’m now hearing, it is moving right along, but from the sound of things, the rest of Minion Land might get finished before the actual attraction is ready to open. They’re still “shooting” for a Summer 2023 opening, it may be more of a mid to late summer timeline, depending on how things go. We’ll have to wait and see.
(5/18/2023) Universal Orlando has finally released some new concept art and promotional images for the new Minion Land, featuring the Minion Cafe, Bake My Day bakery, and the new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction. They’ve also sent out some preview photos showing off some of the crazy new food items they will be offering guests in the Minion Cafe. Speaking of the Minion Cafe, inside guests will be seated inside one of three different themed dining rooms: The Kitchen, The Breakroom and The Dining Room. There will also be an outdoor patio dining space offered as well.
Meanwhile in Minion Land you’ll also get the chance to try new snacks, such as Banana flavored pop-corn at the Pop-a-Nana stand or Freeze Ray Pops. There will also be a character meet & greet space to visit with the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes plus some other visiting friends from the movie “Sing”.
In the promotional posted for Minion Blast we also get our first look at what the super-vilain themed ray guns you’ll get to test out inside Villain-Con will look like. “Guests can put their villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – an all-new attraction where guests compete against each other in a fully interactive gaming experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime. Afterward, guests exit through Evil Stuff, an all-new retail location where they can stock up on Villain-Con and Minions merchandise. More details about Villain-Con Minion Blast will be revealed soon.”
(5/13/2023) At last a dedicated new Minion piece of theming has been added to the corner of where the new Minion Cafe is under construction. As you can see in the video clip below, a massive pink cupcake has been installed to the top corner of the building, complete with a minion standing on the top with a pair of binoculars. Of course the cupcake itself may be a bit more than it seems, as the cherry at the top that the minion is standing on looks more like gun turret with the business end of the weapon pointed straight at the Villain-Con building. I’m wondering if this thing may be able to turn, as the video points out it is similar to one at Universal Beijing on top of a Minion Bakery building there. Given that this is Florida, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went a little further and given the cupcake the ability to shoot water just for the heck of it. (Not a rumor, just me thinking outlloud…)
(5/10/2023) A great set of photos showing off the current state of the new Villain-Con: Minion Blast attraction at Universal Studios Florida can be seen below.
(5/6/2023) Yesterday we posed some questions about the new Villain-Con attraction, but if you are also curious how things are going on the rumored new Minion Cafe restaurant, you can check out some construction photos of that as well over at WDWNT.
(5/5/2023) Is it just me or does anyone else feel like Universal Orlando has kind of forgotten to promote their upcoming Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction? The social media team which is normally on top of their game seems to be ignoring it, and upon visiting the Universal Orlando website, I not only found no mention of their “new for Summer 2023” attraction on the front pages of the website, but I had to actually do a search for the attraction name just find anything at all on a tucked-away “Coming Soon” page. I mean, when your “Summer Tribute Store” is getting more coverage on social media than your big new attraction, that’s a red flag to me.
So is the project behind schedule and they are avoiding talking about it on purpose, or is the marketing team just kind of phoning this one in this year? I mean come-on… Minions? A visit to Villain-Con?! The Vicious 6 characters? Crazy mad-genius style weaponry demos to try out? On top of everything else, this will be a unique attraction concept never built anywhere else before, so what’s not to like here? Sounds like a heck-of-a-party to me.
(3/17/2023) WDWNT has some new pictures showing off the outside of the new Villain-Con attraction where the giant “V” and other signage is being put into place over the entrance. Very little information has leaked thus far about just when this new attraction might open so far. On a related note, while the outside of Villain-Con looks to be finishing up the outer look of the attraction, there appears to still be a ways to go for the nearby Minion Cafe restaurant.
(12/17/2022) A current look at the outside of the Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction at Universal Studios Florida.
(12/8/2022) Exactly like Screamscape first reported in October 2021, VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST has now been officially confirmed by Universal Orlando to open in Summer 2023. Inspired by the scene in the first Minions movie from Illumination, guests will get to experience the fabulous VILLAIN-CON in version for an “interactive, blaster game experience” that will invite you to put you “villainous skills to the test” in a competition against each other in order to impress the film series most infamous supervillains and join The Vicious 6.
The attraction will involve a combination of “state-of-the-art gaming interactity” via screen technology mixed with elaborate physical sets “to create a one-of-a-kind, game-based adventure where guests encounter immersive environments, nefarious villains and tons of mischievous Minions from Illumination’s films in a whole new way.”
Ready for the challenge? “Grab an interactive blaster and step onto a motion-based pathway” and put your skills to the test! “They’ll wind and glide through various scenes where they earn points by blasting a variety of items and causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible. It’s a unique, mischief-filled experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime.”
The new attraction, located across the payway from Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem will combine with a new Minion’s Café and other surprise additions to create a new official “Minion Land on Illumination Ave.” themed area.
(5/14/22) As I warned everyone several days ago, Universal Studios Florida has now officially closed the Monsters Cafe for good. According to the memo sent out to team members the restaurant has been retired after over 20 years of service “serving dreadfully-delicious” offerings, to “make way for a new dining experience”.
While they are not ready to announce what will replacement, our previous rumor stands that the sitte will be transformed into a new Minions Cafe to go along with the yet-to-be-announced Minions themed attraction replacing Shrek 4D next door.
(5/8/22) Fans of Universal Monsters visiting Universal Studios Florida may want to visit the Monsters Cafe sooner than later. Word is that the themed restaurant may be transformed to take on a new Minion theme in the future due to the location being next to the existing Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction and the upcoming rumroed Minions themed attraction set to take over the former Shrek 4D site.
While it will be sad to see the Monsters Cafe leave, the Universal Monsters are supposed to be the theme of an entire land at the upcoming Epic Universe theme park, so I’m sure there will be some fantastic new themed eateries to enjoy there.
(2/11/22) Looks like Screamscape’s rumor about the new attraction planned to replace Shrek 4D is quickly turning out to be rock solid. First the Minion themed construction walls went into place overnight, and now a new building permit uncovered confirms Glidepath Limited as the contractor. Glidepath isn’t a company traditionally known for their work in the amusement park sector, but they are known in the travel industry for their work in building moving pathway systems used to move and sort luggage around airports as well as package sorting systems. From time to time, they’ve also build a moving walkway here and there to move people around as well, with unique systems actually able to move standing guests about complex pathways, including corners.
As we stated previously, the theme of the new ride would place guests on a moving walk-way system that would transport them into the world of the Villain-Con expo, guiding them past various convention booths and displays. The thought was that guests would get to try out various gadgets and super-villain style experimental weaponry along the way. From what I understand the new experience is still looking to open in 2023.
(1/11/22) Shrek 4D is now no more as many guests came to the park last night for one final viewing experience of the 4D theater attraction. The next morning construction walls had already surrounded the building featuring Minions theming, which seems to indicate that our rumor of an upcoming Minions themed replacement attraction is right on the money.
(10/16/21) Ready to know more about what’s replacing Shrek 4D? Then know that the new experience (not your typical new ride from what I understand) will actually tie in closely with those neighbors across the pathway. Yup… the popular Minion presence at Universal Studios Florida will be expanding to include a second attraction in addition to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
We don’t have a name for the new project yet, but I’m told it will tie heavily into a theme from the first Minions movie, as park guests will be allowed to visit “Villain-Con” for the first time, the annual convention held in Orlando for supervillains and criminals from around the world. I don’t know if guests will enter through the hidden entrance disguised as a bait-shop or not, but I’m told the overall experience will allow you to visit the trade-show floor and go booth to booth.
I’ve also been told this will be an interactive experience, where I’m guessing you get to try out various super-weapons as you move from booth to booth. So in a way, you can sort of think of this as a Minions themed version of Toy Story Midway Mania… just without the ride cars.
Whaaaaat? Yeah, as crazy as it sounds, you won't be seated in a ride vehicle for this experience. Anyone who has been to a major convention (IAAPA? Comic-Con?) knows that the true experience is found while walking past the endless aisles of trade show booths. But trust me, you’ve got to keep the crowd moving and not just standing there, so guests will take this rapid, and potentially explosive, tour of Villain-Con while standing on some kind of moving walkway.
I know it all sounds crazy… and kinda weird, but those two things fit right into the world of the Despicable Me and Minions films beautifully. I’m also very intrigued by the unique sounding experience this could offer, as something we’ve never quite seen before. So stay tuned, because with Shrek set to go dark in January, I’m told that our trip to Villain-Con will begin sometime in 2023.
(10/6/21) Huge news leaked out from Universal Orlando a few hours ago… some of which ties directly into our rumor on Shrek 4D closing in the near future. The bottom line, not only is it true that Shrek 4-D is closing, but an internal memo at to Universal Orlando team members confirms that Shrek 4-D will close forever in January 10, 2022. Shrek 4-D has hosted nearly 75 million guests over the last 18 years, and the time has come to retire the big green guy for something new.
(10/3/21) Screamscape is sending out a very early warning for fans of Shrek 4-D. Go see it, enjoy it, take it all in as if it was your last time to experience it. After after number of years of living on the chopping block, our sources tell us that it no longer is a matter of "IF" Shrek 4-D will close, but now only a matter of exactly “WHEN” it will close.
A new attraction concept to replace Shrek 4-D is in the works and before you know it, the big green guy will be heading back to the Swamp for good. It was often thought that Shrek 4-D was given an extension on life because a new Shrek feature film was greenlit for production. While prodcution on a "Shrek 5" film has been said to be in the works for a number of years now (the release window was delayed by COVID of course), the new film isn't expected to hit theaters until late 2022 at the earliest, but from the sound of things, Shrek 4-D isn't likely to be around by then.
If would be a nice touch if they could put a 2D version of the attraction film onto a future Blu-Ray and Digital Release in much the same way that the Back To The Future ridefilm was included in a Blu-Ray release of the BTTF Trilogy a few years ago.
2024 - New Night Show - (4/12/2023) Screamscape sources tell us to keep an eye on the lagoon at Universal Studios Florida. Big things are said to be in the works there, and that will become evident sooner than later. While Universal’s Cinematic Celebration closed for good there not along ago, our intiial assumption would be that something new would arrive to replace it in time for this summer. While the something new part seems to hold true, I’m hearing that it won't be ready to thrill guests until 2024.
(3/11/2023) Uh oh… if you never got a chance to see Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration show on the lagoon of Universal Studios Florida, you are now too late. According to posts on social media, the show’s run has now ended.
The good news is that an all new show will be coming soon to take its place. Based on past history with the park, the system of projectors and colorful fountains has proven very popular and very open to modification, as we’ve seen from the two extremely spectacular but temporary shows created to run for Halloween Horror Nights thus far. So with all that in mind, I’d expect we will soon be treated to a new and updated show concept ready to premier in the near future.
On a related note... did you catch our post from last month (copied below) where an armada of aerial drones with lights were spotted making test flights over the Universal Orlando resort? Could this new show involve some drone action too?
(2/1/2023) Is Universal Orlando working on their own aerial drone night show? A few Screamscape readers spotted the drones testing in the night sky this week over Universal Orlando, and Amusement Insider even posted a brief video which you can see below. Various shapes and patterns were being tested, including what looked like a swimming fish. Of course, this doesn’t mean any of this will be part of any future show, they may just be testing out a proof of concept to see what such a show would look like when viewed from select locations.
2024 - DreamWorks Animation Land - (3/5/2023) A great aerial picture of the former KidZone area at Universal Studios Florida has been posted by Bioreconstruct this week. The only things left standing right now are the former Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster along with the theater building that was being used for Dreamworks characters. Everything else appears to have been leveled, including the former Fieval play area, and machinery can be seen in the back taking apart the steel that used to house the Curious George town area and splash works. It does look as if the large two-level structure at the very back that used to house the Ball Factory play area may still be standing, with just the themed facade removed. So this could possibly be re-purposed for whatever Universal has planned here.
(11/1/22) The big breaking news this evening is that KidZone at Universal Studios Florida will be closing down in early January 2023. This closure will include the Woody Woodpecker family coaster, the Curious George wet and dry play areas, Fieval’s Playland and even the DreamWorks Destination building and recently moved Meet Shrek & Donkey area.
In fact, from the sound of things the only areas staying open will be the Animal Actors show, E.T. ride and the Spongebob gift shop up front, everything beyond here will close down and go behind a wall in January.
So what’s replacing it? Not Pokemon, and with Super Nintendo World is already under construction for Epic Universe something else is in the works. So what’s left? Well the hints have been arriving for months now as Dreamworks character after Dreamsworks character has been arriving and making their homes here. But I have to warn you... don’t get too excited.
Come 2024 the entire land and the closed attractions will all be staying, but getting a makeover to become a new DreamWorks Animation land. From what Screamscape has been told, expect the former Fieval’s Playland to be rethemed to the Shrek films. Woody’s Nuthouse coaster will likely be rethemed to fit into the Trolls movie universe, who will also be used for a new kids show in the theater building. And finally look for Kung Ku Panda theming to take over the wet and dry Curious George play areas in the back.
Oh, and if you’ve gotten a survey request from Universal Orlando this week, chances are it was hinting at this very project, but unless you have kids age 2 to 6, the survey will end immediately without getting into better details.
And just a bit of speculation, look for DreamWorks to play heavily into the planned new kids character parade, now expected to open in 2024 as a replacement for the old Universal Superstar Parade.
2024- New Parade - In Development - (5/7/22) Screamscape sources tell us that the Universal Superstar Parade will be coming to an end sometime around the end of May. Given the crowds that Universal is expecting this summer based on advanced booking, this may be for the best. Many of the themed floats however are expected to be set up in various locations around the park to serve as stages for character meet & greets to take place throughout the summer.
Rumor has it that an all new parade is being developed as a new future attraction experience that will launch sometime before the opening of the new Epic Universe park in 2025. If I had to guess, Universal will likely include a number of new characters and IP’s coming to Epic Universe into this new parade experience to help serve as a sort of preview of the new park. Of course this will also serve as an early gage of guest response to the various characters to help guide the future marketing (and merchandise) efforts of the new park as well.
So if the rumored themes of the lands for the new park hold true, I’d expect to see characters from Nintendo, How to Train Your Dragon in this production along with the expected cast of characters from Minions, Secret Life of Pets and along with maybe some other surprises. But come on… MarioKart in Parade form? Who wouldn’t want to see that.