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.