Universal Orlando Resort Refurbs and Construction Update

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Orlando Parkhopper, Universal Orlando

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Published on January 29, 2013 at 4:02 am with 26 Comments

January used to be ‘off season’ in Orlando, but thanks to an increase in international visitors, and growth in domestic travel, all the parks in Orlando have been experiencing record January crowds.  Even with the influx of visitors, Universal Orlando has moved forward with refurbishments, and construction is still going 24/7 as they prepare for what should be another banner summer!


HOGWART’S EXPRESS VERTICAL

The deep drainage and underground plumbing work has commenced between the Lost Continent and WIzarding World of Harry Potter. This is, of course, for the Hogwart’s Express train station that will connect Islands of Adventure to the Universal Studios park.  Vertical construction is also visible further away from the construction walls.


Behind the trees, you can see the walls of the Hogsmede Station rise.

The whole entrance to Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is going to be reconfigured in the next year to accommodate the new station area.

POPEYE and BLUTO’S BILDGE-RAT BARGES

The fantastic water raft ride in Islands of Adventure has gone down for its annual refurbishment   Universal Orlando is also taking the time to repaint the paths, railings, and Me Ship the Olive, as the whole area around Popeye’s gets some TLC.

We cannot get enough of these cute themed signs.

 

ENTRANCE CONSTRUCTION

Construction continues at the front of Islands of Adventure as they expand the infrastructure backstage.

SUESS FADING?

Last year, we reported that Seuss Landing’s walk ways got a beautiful new coat of paint.  However it seems this new paint job, is not  enduring well.  Only 3 months later, and much of the paint has worn off, or is very faded.

Let’s hope that Universal Orlando can find a paint that can keep this area of the park looking bright and beautiful.

JURASSIC FLOW

A new wall was installed next to the Jurassic Park store and the Express Pass line.  I believe this wall was added to prevent confusion, and non-express pass guests from accidentally entering the express pass queue.

The big construction projects continue over at Universal Studios where Transformers and Springfield near their Summer 2013 completion dates, meanwhile Diagon Alley continues to take shape in the new Harry Potter land.

TRANSFORMERS

Over the next few weeks, we will begin to see the exterior themeing of Transformers show building take shape.  There will be an industrial look on two sides of the wall and themed wrap on the other sides.

The entrance will feature a NEST theme.

The New York side is rumored to be receiving an appropriately themed wrap.

The Lagoon side will also feature and appropriately themed wrap.

The side facing the concert stage is going to have a very industrial Sound Stage look full of pipes and duct work.

Metal duct working is being installed to create the themed industrial look.

THE SIMPSONS

Springfield USA is taking shape as Moe’s Tavern can now be discerned (the middle facade) with Krusty’s and the third facade also taking shape.  Foundation work has begun on the Duff Gardens area, and for those of you hoping to see a flat ride installed here our sources say that no such ride is coming.


Moe’s Tavern is going up fast!


Duff Gardens area.

Foundation work being done at Duff Gardens.

SHREK MEET AND GREET

Ever since Sound Stage 44 was demolished, Shrek and Donkey have been homeless, greeting guests out on the streets.  A new Meet and Greet for Shrek and Donkey has begun to take shape next to where their old one was located.

HARRY POTTER 2.0

With each passing day, the excitement levels rise for the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Studio. Kings Cross and Gringotts Bank are now beginning to take shape.

Kings Cross is vertical with what appears to be some great architectural features.

This is only the beginning of what is in store for the Universal Orlando property.  There are a number of rumors of some great new developments which we are working on confirming for you on our future updates.

 

About Eric Davis

By day, Eric is in Marketing and Social Media. But on the weekends, he's a theme park addict. Eric is a frequent contributor to MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper columns and tends to focus his efforts on what's new and what's news at Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

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  • Lee Mallaby

    The Simpsons area us really coming along quickly.
    In a time when Disney are penny pinching, Universal are sparing no expense and it’s great to see.

    • Eric Davis

      I know come August when you come to visit, most of this should be ready for you!

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Eric

    The amount of work that is happening at the moment. I can’t wait to have a Duff Beer at Moe’s Taven in the summer, as the Springfield area will proberly be the best place in the park.

    One thing I can’ believe is that is a few months, Transformers will open. It is a fantastic attraction, and will delight Orlando’s guests who have never been on it (and the guests who have)

    Finally, can I say that the Hogwarts Express and Project London (as I call it) will be smashing additions to a very impressive lineup of attractions.

    Thanks Again Eric, and keep ‘em coming

    Trumpet

    • Eric Davis

      Thanks Trumpet, I really appreciate the feedback!

      I am chomping at the bit to be able to experience Transformers! It is going to be incredible! But I think we should plan a MiceChat Moe’s Meet Up.

      • Trumpet

        Let’s see if we can get a date together in July to celebrate the changes to USO

      • Trumpet

        Let’s see if we can get a date in July so that Micechatters can me up, drink a Duff Beer, chomp on a Krusty Burger and get a Squishee at the Kwik-E-Mart

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    It always surprises me how much quicker Universal and SeaWorld can build an attraction than Disney. Those Sprinfield, Potter, and Transformers buildings are popping up so fast!

    • Eric Davis

      It still baffles me how Disney can take 4 years to build a Kids Mine Coaster ride.

      • jcruise86

        Universal Hollywood announced our California Wizarding World of Harry Potter a year ago, but I’ll be happily surprised if it’s open before the summer of 2015.

        Universal Orlando’s creation of many major attractions make WDW’s dwarf coaster and Thomas Stagg’s $800,000,000 MyMagic+ look weak by comparison. There might be a bigger WDW backlash than that weird Sundance movie.

      • Eric Davis

        I will say in Universal Hollywood’s defense, at least they had a giant theater venue with various contracts to figure out.

      • Gregg Condon

        Agreed Eric. USH has it’s own obstacles to overcome that MK and WDW just don’t have. There is no comparison and IMO no excuse why it should take so long at WDW.

        They proved with the Test Track re-do that they can fast-track something and make it awesome. Hopefully with new WDW management they will put the funds behind making construction timetables faster in the future.

  • mainejeff

    Disney might be making their shareholders happy………but they haven’;t been doing much to please their theme park customers. That will come back to bite them………..

    • Eric Davis

      I agree. I feel like Disney has been doing a lot of withdrawing from their “brand bank account” for too long.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I have to day that I have never been to Universal Orlando as a destination. I usually go to WDW and then include a day or so for Universal. I think that is going to change. Disney World has nothing I have not already have seen. While Universal is loading up with some fantastic attractions. I now see Disney World = Limited Magic and Universal = New magic.

    • Awe_inspired

      JiminyCricketFan wrote:
      ” I now see Disney World = Limited Magic and Universal = New magic.”

      HA!! Well done.

    • Eric Davis

      I love your comparison. Just wait until you stay at a Universal Resort … your mind will be blown!

  • Ravjay12

    Disney is trying! Give them a little credit! They just opened Cars Land and fixed up California Adventure which is a major success! Then they acquired Marvel and Star Wars! Avatar will be coming to Animal kingdom soon. They’re also wrapping up new Fantasyland which cost a lot of money. Universal has momentum for now, but just wait until Disney catches up. Great article and photos by the way!

    • Eric Davis

      You are right Disney is trying, but Disney is the one who built Walt Disney World, Disney is the one who set the bar for excellence. So Disney is to be held to the bar that they set. If prices hadn’t increased, or if Disney wasn’t bragging about record profits, I would be A LOT more forgiving. However they are bragging about record profits, and prices have increased to almost absurd levels.

    • LoveStallion

      Sorry, but Avatarland will be a huge misfire. Sticking with the original Beastly Kingdomme idea would have been smarter.

  • Lee Mallaby

    I think Disney would have been better spending their MyMagic+ budget on attractions rather than something that is potentially going to annoy a lot of guests.
    Universal seem to be spending their money on giving guests more to do in the parks, rather than Disney who are trying to lessen the amount if time you spend in line, therefore giving you more time to spend your hard earned cash.

    • THE1andonlyAUZ

      As much as I am irritated by this whole MyMagic+ thing, I have to disagree with the idea that Disney shouldn’t be spending money on it. Whether we like it or not, it is the future of theme parks, Disney is just getting a head start in working out the kinks in the system. Interactivity and inter-connectivity are the future. We see it in TV, the way our phones work, computers, etc and Disney knows it.

      I will be visiting Orlando for the first time ever in a couple weeks, from what I’ve seen so far, you are 100% right that Disney should be spending money on new attractions and upgrading current ones, though I can’t say that from any experience…yet :-)

      • Eric Davis

        well you will have fun in Orlando. Orlando is a pretty incredible town whether you have a Disney-centric vacation or a Universal-centric vaction.

        I know that what Universal and SeaWorld have going on has me excited. The magic bands… not so much.

  • Gregg Condon

    Great update Eric!!! While we haven’t been to WDW in a little over 5 years, it’s been over 6 since we’ve been to USO/IOA. And while I’ve pretty much seen everything there is to see at WDW since our last visit, there are so many new things we haven’t seen at the Universal property.

    • Eric Davis

      Well you will be pleased! You can’t help but get a smile on your face, as you see all the incredible things coming to Universal Orlando!

  • darkamor

    Universal Orlando is wasting no time adding new rides & attractions, as well as making needed improvements (I trust the picture(s) of a Suess Landing needing some repainting will receive this attention once work is completed @ Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges / Me Ship, the Olive – & I’m curious to see how Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls is holding up) …

    I think this is something that Team Disney Orlando needs to pay attention to, because over the next two years Universal Studios Orlando will be competing with new rides, attractions and experiences (WDW can no longer sucker tourists into visiting just by saying “we’re a Walt Disney Co.”) ….

    C J

    • Eric Davis

      I am confident that the walkway paint in Toon Lagoon will be handled. I was just sad to see it get ruined so quickly, (as I am sure that UO isn’t eager to repaint this quickly either)

      But the Universal Orlando parks are feeling fresh and awesome!