We’ve got quite the Universal Orlando Resort update for you here on Christmas day.  Universal continues with the rapid progress of Transformers ride construction, still aiming for a Summer 2013 opening.  Massive crowds have also been swarming to the Universal Orlando Resort to catch Harry Potter.  Soon enough though, there will be even more to see with the development of the Gringott’s Coaster expanding Potter to both parks.  We also look at the progress on the Springfield expansion for the Simpson’s ride as well as one sour note for the parks.


The circular Coca-Cola screen, that was boarded up for a period, has now been repaired and is looking better than ever.


Giant crowds have descended on Orlando.

But, we’ve got to say that Universal has learned a lot about crowd control since the 2010 opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For as packed as the park was, we were still able to have a great time.


Track installation is moving forward on the Gringotts attraction. With 2 years until this addition opens, it might seem premature to install Roller Coaster track which is usually a quick install. However, with the new technologies that Universal Orlando will be employing, the Universal Creative team is going to need a lot of time to test and adjust.

Just beyond the London retaining walls, you can see the Harry Potter expansion construction.


The Transformers attraction is now fully enclosed, and even with the busy Holiday weekend, crazy crowds, and holiday show schedule,  the construction continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The entrance to the attraction will be located here.

Along one of the walls is a door, high above the ground.


When Transformers started construction, the Shrek and Donkey meet and greet was removed. It now looks like they have begun construction on a new meet and greet for the duo, which will be located right next to where the old one was once located.


With demolition complete and concrete poured, construction of the Springfield expansion area has begun. By summertime, we will be enjoying a Duff Bear and a Krusty Burger in this very spot.



The Hogwarts Express construction is moving forward with vertical construction on the near horizon.


Even with rushed construction, it seems that Uni was not able to get the project completed for Christmas weekend. However, hopefully they will be able to complete the stage by New Years Eve.


The yearly refurbishment for this attraction cannot come soon enough, as paint, stucco, and ride elements are all in terrible shape. It is hard to believe that it was only 10 months ago that this ride was treated to its last full refurbishment. With all the refurbs that have been going on across the property, we are confident that this will be attended to once the Christmas crowds are gone. At least we hope so.

From a distance, everything looks great.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll see chipped paint on the rocks and rust on the track.
This is not a look becoming of a park which has become so proud of its maintenance.

We’ve got an idea for Universal. Dust off all those old plans for this ride and restore not just the props, but add in the ones which were cut from the original budget. This ride has always looked better from the outside than it does from the ride itself. Time to see what Universal Creative really had in mind for Dudley and pals.


The Toon Lagoon fountain that we reported the poor condition of just a few months ago, is now back after being rebuilt, and looks stunning.

Great paint job.

Fantastic attention to detail and color scheme.

This past year we have seen the Universal Orlando Resort transform in incredible ways. 2012 saw the debut of a reanimated and upgraded Amazing Spiderman ride, new Desicable Me attraction, the addition of the Universal Super Star Parade, Universal Cinematic Spectacular Nigh time Show, Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf at CityWalk, Spongebob Storepants, P!Q Store in CityWalk and lots of little touches and improvements throughout the resort.

With so much more on the way, we can’t help but be excited for 2013 and beyond! And the Orlando Parkhopper is looking forward to sharing it all with you!

Speaking of sharing, I’ve become a regular guest on the #1 ranked Universal podcast. Better yet, the show has recently partnered with MiceChat to bring you even more news from the Universal Orlando Resort. The edition below celebrates Christmas in the parks. I hope you’ll give a listen to the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast and let us know what you think.

Merry Grinchmas and have a very happy Who-liday everyone. I’m so thankful to have great readers like you with whom to share my enthusiasm for Orlando’s wonderful theme parks.

  • pianojohn

    PLEASE use spell check whenever writing an article.

    Case in point: “By summertime, we will be enjoying a Duff Bear.”

    I think you mean Duff BEER. Duffy the Bear is at Disney.

    • Terrytiger

      spellcheck won’t find those kinds of errors. Bear is spelled correctly.

    • lighttragic

      Relax its Christmas be thankful for what micechat is. First of all everyone at micechat does this for free and volunteers time and energy to put out a 7 day a week schedule. You can thank them for that. Sure a spelling error exists but so what who cares…. Dont be a grinch on a otherwise wonderful day!

    • Ian P

      1. Don’t suggest things that will actually not work, using the spell checker would not have picked this typo up.

      2. Get things in to perspective – you don’t pay for MiceAge, you don’t pay for these people to do this for you every day, and yet you feel you have some sort of right to complain, not only that you do it in a nasty way and SHOUT.

      3. You make no other comment about the work that has been done. Did you enjoy the story and all the other content you get for free here?

      4. Did you really want to post a comment that was 100% negative on Christmas Day?

      Perhaps the best thing you can do if you feel so strongly about minor typos is get your Disney / Theme Park news from somewhere else. But bear in mind – no one is perfect – even you.

    • Ravjay12

      Seriously? That’s all you got out of the article?

    • Eric Davis

      I must of had bears on my mind…. oops.

      • JulieMouse

        Haha, Eric! To err is human…and we appreciate you taking the time to write articles for us all to enjoy, especially during what is surely a busy Christmas week! Big thanks to all the contributors to MiceAge and MiceChat!!

        I think I’ll cut John some slack, he probably didn’t mean for the post to come across as negatively as it did and he may not have even been fully awake on Christmas morning when he suggested spell check (which obviously, the writers here use, and… obviously again, wouldn’t pick up this type of error).

        I hope everyone is having a magical holiday!!!

  • Malin

    Wow Piano John talk about a nit pick. These guys are hard working through the holidays to provide fresh content. So a little thanks would be nice perhaps.

    Great update. Everything is looking great and the fountain looks fantastic. A little paint goes along way. Unfortunately with Transformers soon being enclosed and the same for the Potter Coaster. Soon it’s going to be much more difficult to cover these projects. But much more work is being done, so plenty still to cover. Thanks for bringing attention to the state of Dudley’s. When you have areas of perfection. The more neglected spaces stand out.

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for the great feedback! What I am excited about with Transformers finally being enclosed, is that now we get to see what they are going to do with the exterior of the building.

      When I went to the press event, I was promised that we would not be getting California’s Sound Stage building. So I am very excited to see what we will get out here!

  • jcruise86

    or the Oriental Land Company,
    or The Four Seasons (hotel management company):
    Please buy Walt Disney World and replace everyone earning over $80,000 a year there.

    Thanks, Micechat, for even providing updates on Christmas day!
    Dusty, Norm, Wiggins, Al, Kevin & y’all MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    • Eric Davis

      I agree 100% with you. Someone… ANYONE needs to take control of the management team at TDO.

  • tloolgb

    Pretty funny that you scored a pretty cool shot of a bird of prey in the London construction picture (looking across the water). I paid more attention to that than the construction.

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for noticing! lol I sometimes like to slip fun easter egg esq photos into the update! lol

  • SpectroMan

    Wow – I can’t even imagine visiting Universal in crowded conditions like this. Every time I go it’s either around September or February, on weekdays, and it’s like I have the parks to myself. Think I’ll keep it that way!

    • Eric Davis

      In all honesty a few years ago, when Universal was this crowded it was definition of unbearable. But now, they know how to handle the crowds, with all the day time in park entertainment now, they really keep everyone happy, moving, and flowing.

      • Kandace Sparkles

        I’m glad they’ve learned how to deal with the crowds better. It still doesn’t make me want to jump over there with THAT many people in the parks. No thanks!

        Thanks for another great update Eric. You always keep me filled in with all of the happenings. Now, if only you could tell me if their food offerings have improved any? Last time I went there, it was terrible. I just left to find better food and someone who wouldn’t give me attitude.

  • Gregg Condon

    Great update. I really need to get back to USO since we haven’t even seen HP yet. But I think we’ll wait until everything is done and spend a few days on-site.

    Also, Duff Bears are totally awesome. Duff Beer, kind of gross.

  • MickeyFickey

    Excellent update! I had no idea that the London Potter expansion was still 2 to 2.5 years away. I was–for some silly reason–thinking it would launch in June(ish) 2014. Oh well, it will be amazing…can’t wait!