Universal Studios Florida
NBC Universal / Comcast
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(2/24/2024) Dreamworks Animation Land Construction Update
(2/18/2024) Dreamworks Area May Add A New Flat Ride
(2/4/2024) Universal Studios Florida Opens New Monster Makeover Experience
(1/29/2024) Renovations Coming to Universal Orlando's Wizarding World Wand Stations
(1/14/2024) Demolition Could Start This Spring inside Universal Studios Florida
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 - (2/4/2024) Universal Studios Florida has opened a new upcharge guest “experience” attraction that is kind of different. Well… not entirely… you may recall seeing kids plopping down in chairs throughout the parks to get their faces painted right? Little Jimmy wants to look like Spiderman and his sister wants to be She-Hulk? Sure… why not, go for it. But what about the older siblings? What about Mom and Dad?!
Universal now has opened the solution… the “Monster Makeover: Become the Monster!” experience, which I’m really thinking is a sort of preview / proof of concept for something they’re going to build in Epic Universe’s “Dark Universe” portal. Located in the back of the 5 & Dime store, in the Hollywood section of the park (appropriately not far from the Universal’s Horror Make-Up Show venue), this is a more professional make-up experience.
Guests will get worked on by Universal’s true make-up artists, the ones who create all those roaming creeps in the park during Halloween Horror Nights, and for $125 you can choose your new face out of a book of 38 different options. There are also “half-face” options for just $65 as well.
(1/29/2024) For those who follow all the building permit news in the Orlando area, know that a number of permits have been filed by Universal to renovate and upgrade the various wand-interactive experiences within the Wizarding World lands at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.
For avid readers of Screamscape, this is news that I’ve already told you to expect. Going back to our update on the Epic Universe park from October 8, 2022 I described what we could expect from that park’s new French themed Wizarding World land, and that they had developed all new interactive wands with more abilities that would not only be introduced within Epic Universe, but that all the existing interactive wand stations in the existing parks would also be upgraded.
With Epic Universe on track to open in the Summer of 2025, it only makes sense that we will see the new renovations begin in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley this year as well. While I wouldn’t expect to see the new wands launched until Epic Universe is ready to open, the various interactive stations will be updated so that they will be ready for the new wands when they do launch, while still being backwards compatible with the old wands. But trust me, Universal is said to have developed enough new features that will only work with the new wands, that most Potter fans will be ready to upgrade.
(1/14/2024) Screamscape sources tell us to keep an eye on the former Fear Factor Live show venue at Universal Studios Florida. Over the years the venue has been closed and rumored for demolition a few times, only for plans to change and the replacement project to get dropped. Now that time has come again, and Screamscape has been told we could see demolition of the arena begin in March or April of this year to clear the site for something new.
Of course, you want to know about what is coming… but for the time being I’ve been sworn to secrecy. I may have dropped a hint however a few weeks back… but otherwise stay tuned, as once signs of activity in the park begin I should be able to share more. Just don’t expect for it to tie into the IPs of the attractions on either side of it. This will be something entirely new for Universal Orlando.
(1/1/2024) With 2023 now in the can, the 2023 Holiday Tribute Store should also be closing up shop any day now. Small teasers have been added to the store as hints as to the theme of the next version of the Tribute Store which indicate that it will be rethemed for the Mardi Gras event season. More than just Mardi Gras however, as there are hints about a New Orleans style Hotel & Riverboat theme as well that is likely going to present itself within the new Tribute Store decor.
(11/25/2023) A few riders on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket visiting Universal Studios Florida on Thanksgiving night got a little more thrill than they expected. According to news reports their coaster train came to a stop on the vertical lift hill, holding them in place for about an hour just shy of the top of the 167 tower.
From what I’ve heard elsewhere, the fire department was called out for a potential rescue but I believe the park staff were able to restart the ride. The riders were perfectly safe of course, but given that this was Thanksgiving night and the way those restraints come down high across your stomach, I’m feeling bad for anyone who might have stuffed themselves silly with a good feast just before riding. After an hour on your back with that bar crunching down on your stomach, it might start to feel like you’re ready to give birth before too long.
(11/11/2023) Universal Orlando has posted a great teaser of their new Holiday Tribute Store addition to Universal Studios Florida for the season. Check it out below.
(8/31/2023) Something interesting has taken place at Universal Studios Florida regarding the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster. According to a tweet from Orlando Informer, as of August 29th the music library of selectable soundtrack options has been reduced from 30 options to just 5. All 30 of the ride’s previous song options spread across five music genres, with six per genre, have now been removed in favor of five new ones, with just one song choice per genre, and some may be a bit odd…
Classic Rock / Metal is now represented only by “The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, which is technically neither Classic Rock or Metal, but I digress, and previous tracks like Born to the Wild, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Kickstart My Heart, Paralyzer, Rollin’ and Busy Child are no more, which is kind of sad really.
Rap / Hip-Hop is now represented only by “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar, replacing the previous tracks: Don’t Phunk with my Heart, Insane In The Brain, Pump It, Rock Star, Sabotage and Stronger. Note - In what may have been a hint of changes were coming, it was noted that Kanye’s Stronger as well as the song it was based on, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk were both removed from the coaster in Summer 2022 with no explanation.
Pop/Disco is now represented only by Waterloo by ABBA, replacing Bad Girls, Glamorous, Hella Good, I Will Survive, That’s The Way I Like It and U Can’t Touch This.
Country is now represented only by “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” by Shania Twain, replacing All Night Long, I Can Sleep When I’m Dead, Living in Fast Forward, Midnight Rider and The Devil Went Down To Georgia.
Club/Electronia is now represented only by Sandstorm by Darude, replacing Busy Child, Intergalactic, Keep Hope Alive, Le Disko and Pump Up The Volume.
For the big time Universal fans out there who are aware of the Secret Menu option of hidden songs embedded into the ride from Day 1, I’m told that those tracks are currently still available. Or at least most of them, as I doubt anyone has had time to check them all yet, and I think a couple have been dropped over the years, as well as having a couple of Blink-182 songs unexpectedly added in early 2022.
As longtime Screamscape readers know, I’ve had a the list of hidden track and instructions as to how anyone can play them posted to the sidebar of this very page since the ride opened in 2009, so you might want to commit a few new tracks to memory now that many of the ultra popular tracks are now gone. (For the record I was partial to Paralyzer, Daft Punk’s Stronger, Intergalactic or Rollin’ myself.)
On an interesting note, I was actually at the park the day before (Aug. 28th) and rode Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit myself, so I can personally verify that all the regular song options were in place just 24 hours before. I reached out to Universal Orlando for a comment on this and was told:
“The time has come for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit to welcome new music to the coaster experience, while saying goodbye to the former songs. The coaster now features one new song in each existing music genre. Moving forward we will only feature one song per genre to simplify the selection experience. We can’t wait for our fans to enjoy a new beat to this great attraction.”
So with that in mind, then the question becomes… what changed? The answer may simply just be that Universal’s licensing contract to use the original musical tracks may have come to an end. Licensing contracts can be for generated for whatever term both parties agree to, and while typically it seems that your average IP license for a theme park attraction is done in 10-year terms (with renewal options), my research shows that music licenses are frequently signed for much shorter terms, as the popularity of various music tracks are constantly shifting. Add in the fact that when Universal came up with the idea for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster, they actually did intend to update the tracks every so often to keep up with current music trends.
It is fun to note that Universal also played with the idea of incorporating seasonal music additions as well, such as new tracks to play only during the Halloween Horror Nights or Christmas seasons, or even the idea of playing special tracks from visiting music artists performing in concert during the Mardi-Gras event, but unfortunately it seemed that the tangled issues of getting the various licenses became too much of a headache to bother for such short term use.
While Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was originally intended to open in the Spring or Early Summer of 2009, the opening was actually delayed until mid to late August 2009, which would currently put us right at 14 years. Given that the ride was to open earlier in the year, and that the possible licensing contracts were probably finalized and signed closer to the start of 2009, there is a good chance that Universal may have been rapidly approaching the end of their current contract and needed to either renew or make a deal for something new.
As I mentioned before, when it comes to license contracts, they not only come with the initial term of use, but will often spell out the terms for at least two additional extension terms of the same length. Assuming neither party is found in breach of contract, and Universal was willing to simply just pay the predetermined fee for the two renewal terms, then I can easily see how the timing of all this would work out to the completion of three successful 5-year terms, and the end of the licensing contract as written. And thus… dropping us exactly where we are right now with five brand new songs, and the removal of those that have come before.
So how does the secret menu work? To be honest, I don’t know for sure, but when it comes to music licensing rights another item to consider is that if the music is being used in synchronization with something (like when edited into a show with visuals) then there are some different uses that have to be negotiated. Meanwhile theme parks do pay for general music licenses (ASCAP/BMI, etc) giving them the rights to play just about any music they want in the parks as atmosphere music for pathways, in ride queues, or even in live shows, as long as they are not considered to be programmed to be in sync.
However, the specific tracks used previously on the coaster that were just removed were edited or timed out to play in sync with the motion of the roller coaster (such as the scream in Beastie Boys’ Sabotage playing perfectly as the coaster making the first drop). So in theory, if the songs in the secret menu have not been edited or timed out to work in sync with any of the ride’s motion, and are not being promoted as such (or not promoted at all, as they are in a Secret Menu) then the use of them on the ride may fall under the fair use of the park’s general music license contract.
Again, I’m not a contract lawyer, but this is just my general understanding of how these kinds of things generally work within the entertainment industry. So, assuming this is basically what has transpired, where do things go from here? To be honest, this is probably it. After 14 years of operation, Universal knows that the “Rockit” is probably their least popular roller coaster and just opted for a much cost-effective music license going forward. As Universal Orlando has already confirmed to Screamscape, there will now only be one song per genre, but this also doesn’t mean that they might not change those tracks up from time to time to keep things fresh from year to year, or perhaps maybe bring back the idea of featuring some seasonal selections to rotate through. We’ll just have to wait and see.
(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.
2024 - CineSational: A Symphonic Spectacular - (11/28/2023) Screamscape has come across some info for the names of a couple of new Universal entertainment offerings coming to Universal Orlando in the near future. For starters we’ve heard the name they’ve settled on for the new 2024 big new nighttime spectacular will be “CineSational: A Symphonic Spectacular”. Look for this to serve as a replacement for the former Cinematic Celebration lagoon show, though we believe they may also incorporate drones into this new production, adding more light to the sky. For the moment, I have not come across the “CineSational” name in the trademark database just yet, but we are just coming off a holiday break, so if this is the real name, I’d expect to see it filed there sooner than later.
I also discovered something else...
(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 Land - (2/24/2024) Some great pictures of Shrek’s swamp house and some of the other visible features of the new Dreamworks Animation land at Universal Studios Florida can be found over at Attractions Magazine this week.
(2/18/2024) An interesting photo taken of the new Dreamworks Animation area at Universal Studios Florida shows off what appears to possibly be a new kiddie sized flat ride. Its hard to tell for sure, but it does look sort of like a kid sized Family Swing ride.
(9/24/2023) A couple of new entries into the official government trademark database from Universal that seem tied to the Dreamworks themed revamp of the kiddie land at Universal Studios Florida. Both filed on the same day by Dreamworks Animation are the names “Dreamworks Land”, and the ride name “Trollercoaster”.
This would seem to be a no-brainer of a new name for the former KidZone at Universal Studios Florida, and seems to indicate that the former Woody Woodpecker Nuthouse Coaster will now feature a Trolls theme, and be renamed as the Trollercoaster.
(8/6/2023) So what’s going on in the new Dreamworks Animation themed land under construction at Universal Studios Florida? So far it will appears to be aa lot of dirt at the moment, but a few structures are rising, including what is thought to possibly be Shrek’s swamp house located next to the queue for E.T.
The old Nuthouse coaster is still standing of course, as it is expected to be kept but given a new theme when it reopens as part of the new land. Surprisingly the large structure that housed the former Curious George themed ball factory play area, and the superstructure that held up the facades for the buildings leading up to it on either side are all still standing and could be repurposed for the new DreamWorks land as well.
(7/21/2023) Universal Orlando has confirmed the rumors that a new DreamWorks themed area will open at Universal Studios Florida in 2024. As speculated for months, the new DreamWorks area will take the place of the former KidZone area, just past the E.T. attraction. According to the press release the land will feature “interactive play spaces” based on DreamWorks IPs like Shrek, Trolls, KungFu Panda and more. No specific new attraction names were released at this time, including whatever the new name or theme for the former Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.
(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- Universal Mega Movie Parade - In Development - (11/28/2023) While searching through the trademark database I did come across another new name just filed on Nov. 17th for the “Universal Mega Movie Parade”. Based on rumors reported in 2022, the park was said to be working on a new parade for 2024 to replace the park’s former Universal Superstar Parade, so stay tuned!
(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.