Construction continues at a rapid pace at the Universal Orlando Resort. Today, we’ll show you what’s new and hypothesize on a potential new lagoon show for Islands of Adventure.

Cabana Beach Resort Construction

Universal Orlando has wasted no time since the July 9th, 2012 announcement to start construction on the Cabana Beach Resort.  Vertical construction is visible from the highways near Universal Orlando, and it is going to be exciting watching this family suite hotel take shape.


Refurbishments can be found inside and outside the parks, with new additions being found in CityWalk.

HardRock Rock Shop under refurbishment

The HardRock Cafe store “Rock Shop” is undergoing a radical redevelopment.  We will let you know what the new store looks like when it opens, but as of right now it has been gutted and is empty.

New bar kiosk in CityWalk

The patio kiosks built this past year on the water front have been a huge success during peak periods when the parks are open late, and live music is playing all night in CityWalk.  Universal has now added an additional kiosk, not on the water front, but instead just  front of a rarely used corridor to the CityWalk clubs.

Transformers Merchandise now available in CityWalk and new “Spend and Get” Shopping incentive.

Transformers might be opening this summer, but Universal is already selling Transformers t-shirts and merchandise in CityWalk!

In January, Universal Orlando introduced the  “Spend and Get” where when you buy over $50.00 in merchandise you will be given a $10.00 Universal Orlando gift card. This is a great incentive to shop until you drop! The deal is only valid at Universal owned and operated merchandise locations.

Universal Studios

Construction continues on the major redevelopment of the Universal Orlando park, with Mardi Gras right around the corner, we are running into the final stretch that will take us to this summer and the grand openings for the new Springfield area and the epic new Ride Transformers.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras set up has been completed, and similar to Halloween Horror Nights 2012, the decorations are a bit reduced, and the parade route has been shortened.

In past years the parade route started near Jaws and ended in New York after making a giant loop through Hollywood.  This year the parade will kickoff in Hollywood next to the Horror and Makeup show, go up Hollywood Boulevard past Despicable Me, and through New York and end near Beetle Juice.

A great group of bands has been lined up for this years Mardi Gras, and the Orlando ParkHopper and the Unofficial Universal Podcast will be there on February 9th to provide exciting coverage, along with getting interviews with people involved with putting on Mardi Gras!


The exterior to the Transformers attraction opening up this summer is beginning to take shape. Walls facing the courtyard are receiving a very industrial treatment with a large “E7” being painted on it.  After some sleuthing I discovered that “E7” was the production name while filming Transformers 3: Darkside of the Moon.

I will be nice to see the exterior themeing take shape as we prepare for the summer opening of this blockbusting attraction!







Shrek and Donkey Meet and Greet

While the Transformers takes shape next door, the Shrek and Donkey meet and greet continues to move forward at a steady pace.


Next to the Simpson’s Ride, Springfield USA continues to take shape with the facades for Moe’s Tavern and Krusty burger being easy to identify.  Foundation work on the water front area is moving forward. From what I’ve seen of the foundation work being done, I’ve got to wonder if my source was incorrect and there could in fact be an attraction coming to the water front.  Though, it will still be a few more weeks before we can definitively say yes or no to whether an attraction is coming to the waterfront. . . Unless some kind soul sends me an email 😉

Harry Potter

Additional vertical construction is now visible over at the London/Diagon Alley expansion for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Large beams now visible over the wall, and the outlines for all the building structures can be seen with the orange fence when viewing from above.  The sheer scale of this addition is going to be massive.  There is plenty of cause to be excited here folks!

Islands of Adventure

Over at the Studios sister park, they are moving forward with refurbishments, and some new projects on the horizon.

 Possible Lagoon show for IOA?

Ever since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter became a runaway success, there has been serious talks of a new Lagoon Show for Islands of Adventure.  With the recent success (along with merchandise and dining figures) for the incredible Cinematic Spectacular at the Studios park, the talk has turned into action.  People living close to Islands of Adventure have noticed flashes of light coming from Islands of Adventure at night, and new buoys have appeared in the lagoon.  Could it be that a new lagoon show is on the way to Islands of Adventure this summer?  We will keep everyone posted as this story develops.

Entrance Work

Work at the entrance to Islands of Adventure continues with foundation being poured and construction work moving forward on this back of the house project.

Hogwarts Express

The location of the Hogwarts Express makes it incredibly difficult to photograph.  However, if you will get up close to your monitor (or pull your tablet close) and strain a little, you will see foundation work, and walls for the the station to the Hogwarts Express.  We hope to get better photos of this soon to share with everyone soon.

Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges

The seasonal refurbishment of Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rate Barges is continuing, with lots of painting going on around the entire attraction.


TNA Wrestling leaving Universal Orlando

After 8 years of taping at Universal Orlando, TNA Wrestling announced that March 7th would be the last day they would film at Universal Orlando.  It is sad to see this consistent production leave the studios.  Let’s hope that they put the soon to be vacant Sound Stage 21 to good use this Halloween Horror Nights!

Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast

BUT WAIT! That’s not all, we have a brand new Universal Podcast for you today. And it’s a good one too!

And that’s a wrap folks. So, what do you think is happening on the waterfront at Simpsons and in the water at Islands of Adventure?

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Eric

    USO and IoA hare pulling out all of the stops to have a fantastic future for the resort. They will need a hotel with the current construction at the moment. I would say when the Project London (as I call it) opens, the hotels will be full.

    With the expanded Simpson area (I just cannot wait to have a Duff Beer and a Krusty Burger), do you think they will have more character meetings, such as Moe, Krusty, Mr Burns, Smithers Skinner, Chief Wiggum? That would be (as Mr Burns says) Excellent!

    I cannot believe Transformers will open this summer. It only seems like Yesterday when they started Construction. Thanks for finding out what E7 is. It makes the show building have a more emersive feel with these hidden details.

    It is nice to see the changes in CityWalk and the new Shrek and Donkey meeting place. It is the little details and keeping things fresh which is making the resort sparkle, as seen in IoA will the upkeep of the Toon Lagoon.

    I can’t wait to travel on the Hogwarts Express to the New Potter Land. The construction is looking great, and I can see it will be a great place to feel part of the Potter Films and Books. I can’t wait to see how Universal’s ‘Imagineers’ will recreate the Joke Shop owned by Ron Weasley’s brothers (who I have forgotten their names)

    Finally, I think a show in IoA will be great, as it will compete with the ISO’s show, but, similar to Disneyland’s Fantasmic and DCA’s World of Color, it will keep people in the park, and have more days at the resort. With the curreent construction, it looks like I will be soending more time here that at WDW.

    Thanks Again Eric, and keeping these updates and your ‘detective’ work coming. They make my Tuesday complate, and I can’t wairt to visit USO and IoA when it is all finished.


    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for your comment Trumpet! There is really so much going on at Universal Orlando!

      I have Annual Passes to all the Central Florida theme parks, and I spend my free time at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. They are simply doing some incredible things.

  • jmuboy

    I think it’s great that universal is taking risks and putting forth all this effort to be a true competitor. Wdw is asleep at the whelk. Meanwhile universal Orlando is firing on all cylinders.

    A few comments / questions – Tranformers certainly is an ugly box. Hope it will blend well once it’s done.

    What exactly is the work for at the IoA entrance? Is it the Hulk side or Seuse side?

    • Eric Davis

      Well transformers is looking ugly… but I am hopeful since I was promised I would be really happy with the end result (still waiting lol).

      So we will see. As far as what is under construction at the front entrance, it is just some more back of the house infrastructure. I believe it is another security office.

  • parker4fm

    What is the expected opening date for London? Last I heard it was 2015. There seems to be a lot to do in that area, so if we had to guess…do we think it will open in 2015? I’ve always thought Universal Orlando needed more, and I’m beyond happy to see all these additions. Now if only they would do something with the Twister area! 🙂 IOA should consider doing something with that HUGE theatre in Toon Lagoon. It has gone unused for as long as I can remember. I actually think this may be a better place to do a nighttime show instead of the lagoon. The lagoon does not seem to have enough viewing spaces…

  • Great update Eric!

    I also think a lagoon show is in the works. However, I’d hate to see the ruin the shore line to create viewing spaces.

  • Bb5

    I look forward to Universal Orlando update every week! It’s the only reason I ever visit this site…

    • KingEric

      Thank you so much for the compliment!

  • SpectroMan

    I love all the investment in USO, but I do hope that after all these new attractions open that some love can be given to the older ones – such as E.T. New speakers, remastered sound, rehabbed track system and new animatronics could bring this ride into modern times.

    • KingEric

      i agree that there are some rehab projects that really need to happen on some of their classic attractions.

  • Gregg Condon

    Fantastic update Eric. This property is looking more and more amazing all the time. Can’t wait to get back to USO!!!

    • KingEric

      Trust me you will be blown away by all the changes in person!