Universal Studios Florida
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(1/9/2023) Next Tribute Store May Be Moving To New Location (MORE...)
(12/17/2022) Villain-Con Minion Blast Construction Update (MORE...)
(12/8/22) BREAKING – Universal Studios Florida Opening VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST in Summer 2023
(11/13/22) Holiday Parade and Holiday Tribute Store Pictures (MORE...)
(11/1/22) BREAKING- Universal Studios Florida KidZone Closing In January To Make Way For 2024 Project (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - These dates are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as refurbishments are subject to change.
Curious George Goes To Town - Permanent Closure: Jan. 16, 2023
DreamWorks Destination - Permanent Closure: Jan. 16, 2023
Fieval’s Playland - Permanent Closure: Jan. 16, 2023
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster - Permanent Closure: Jan. 16, 2023
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 - (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.
(9/28/22) Universal Orlando is asking park guests to dance and get loud along with the debut of their new high-energy street show, “ˇVAMOS! – BÁILALO” at Universal Studios Florida. The new show is kicking off in time for Hispanic Heritage Month and is described as “a high-energy Latin dance experience with a classic look and modern musical flair” that takes place in the streets of the New York area of the park.
(9/2/22) I knew it was only a matter of time, because a couple of POV videos of the new revised Revenge of the Mummy have finally surfaced. One is a more low-light camera view, letting you see more, but has more “noise” in the footage. The other featuring a more darker view, but this offers a noise-free view of the darker second half of the ride, which seems to have some enhanced lighting and minor effects along the way, including the upwards launch that starts off the high speed portion of the ride. In both videos you get a good look at the new scarab projection based effects scene.
(8/31/22) Great news for Universal Studios Florida fans… I’m told that Revenge of the Mummy finally reopened to guests sometime on Tuesday. There are still signs claiming it is in technical rehearsal, so you can expect some possible downtime here and there, but otherwise things are looking good. So far I haven’t seen any new POV videos online, but it’s only a matter of time…
(8/18/22) Team Members got the chance to ride Revenge of the Mummy last week on various days, which should mean that a public opening will take place very soon. According to what we’ve been told, everyone who was worried about Brendan Fraser being removed in some form, including the “Coffee” gag in the finale, you can relax. Pretty much the entire attraction has been refreshed back to an opening day state, with all the effects fixed new or better than new, and the coaster running very well.
The only major visual change I’ve heard about is that the dead-end with the Scarab gag has been rebuilt to remove the practical scarabs with the scene and effects being replaced by a video wall instead. I’ve heard something about better lighting effects on the big launch as well, but I can’t confirm this. The one other item reported to have been lost in the rehab was said to be some kind of fog effect, but I’m not sure if they meant missing from the launch or in the pit after the fire gag, or both. Of course, it could have just been turned off as well during the test rides.
Otherwise, Universal has been pretty mum about what was kept and what was replaced during the long rehab, but given the length of time involved, it seems possible that some sections of coaster track could have been replaced as well. As for the trains however, I’m hearing that they still appear to be the same trains as before, though I’m sure they got some TLC as well.
Meanwhile keep your eyes peeled for Revenge of the Mummy to reopen… if everything is working as it should, it could reopen any day now.
(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.
(7/3/22) Universal Studios Florida has been an interesting park to watch over the years. Since it opened in 1990 the park has spent the last 30 years slowly replacing and upgrading almost every single attraction in the park. Seriously… if you had only visited in the early 90’s and came back for your second visit now the only attractions that still remain from those early days are the Fieval themed playland, the Horror Make-Up Show and one single ride… the E.T. Adventure ride.
The Steven Spielberg film itself that the E.T. ride is based on will celebrate a 40th anniversary this year, complete with a brief return to the silver screen where it will be shown in some IMAX theaters later this summer. With that in mind, what serves as a beautiful love-letter of sorts to the E.T. Adventure ride has just been posted to Gizmodo that is worth a read.
Long time theme park fans will know that at one point there were actually THREE functioning E.T. rides in the worlds, with clones at Universal’s Hollywood and Japan theme parks. The Hollywood version was shut down in 2003 to make way for that’s park’s Revenge of the Mummy indoor roller coaster while the Japanese version of E.T. was closed in 2009 to make way for another indoor coaster, Space Fantasy: The Ride.
When talking about Disney’s theme park rides, many are considered to be untouchable classics that are expected to last forever. At Universal Studios Florida, this has not been the case, as now every single ride in the park that once-was has been replaced other than E.T., but rightly so. While E.T. Adventure may not be as thrilling as the newer generation rides like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts or Transformers: The Ride it has stood the test of time by offering a unique family ride experience fulls of sounds, full sets full of animatronics, an amazing musical score, and even scents to enthrall the riders along the way. So if there was ever a ride in the Universal line-up that was wrecking-ball proof, I think this last surviving version of E.T. would be it.
2023ish - VILLAIN-CON MINION BLAST & Minions Cafe - (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 - DreamWorks Animation Land - (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.