Orlando Parkhopper: Universal Orlando Resort From Above

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

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frontpagepicUSO

Published on March 05, 2013 at 4:03 am with 11 Comments

There’s so much going on at the Universal Orlando Resort that I decided it was time to bring you a unique view. Up up and away for a special Parkhopper from land and air!

Cabana Beach Resort

This past week, the Universal Orlando Resort began accepting reservations for their 4th hotel, Cabana Beach Resort.  Their first hotel since the major resort expansion in 1999 aims to be their moderate/value resort, offering incredible amenities like a lazy river, and bowling alley, without some of the enhanced amenities like complimentary Express Passes that the other onsite Resorts enjoy.   Cabana Beach Resort’s construction is moving fast, and Phase I of this project is slated to begin accepting guests in March of 2014.

JURASSIC PARK

When looking above Jurassic Park, we can see that the expansion pad has begun to be cleared out.  Could this be for the rumored Jurassic Park expansion coming?  We will have more details for you soon, as we nail down details and a timeline.

HARRY POTTER STAGE

The new stage at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter got some more work, with some improved themed elements that helps it better match the incredible look and feel of the area around it.

HOGWART’S STATION

The Hogwarts Express Station is in full build mode now, as this building has slipped a little bit behind schedule, Universal is working hard to get the timeline for this structure back on track.

 

NEW AUTOMATED TICKET STRUCTURE

The little project at the front of the park where some backstage infrastructure was improved will also give us a brand new automated ticketing kiosk area, where guests who have bought in advance, or who have complimentary admissions can go to those kiosk and get their tickets printed without any delays.

 

RIPSAW FALLS TESTING

Dudley Doo Right’s Ripsaw Falls has begun ride testing, as they prepare to reopen this newly refurbished attraction.  Sadly, it seems that most of the improvements were simply cosmetic, so don’t expect any real improvements when the ride opens.

 

SUESS LANDING

We hate reporting bad news here at the Orlando Parkhopper, but the sidewalks at Suess Landing have entered the dire category, as the remaining paint is now chipping and fading to levels that are just not acceptable for a park of this caliber. We took some ribbing from another site last week who thinks things look just fine. They must need new eye glasses. You be the judge.

FALLING SIGNAGE

On Saturday, in the Port of Entry, the giant letter “A” from the Islands TRADING Co fell off the building. Universal security promptly quarantined the area around the sign in the unlikely event that another piece were to fall.  We give Universal high marks for putting guest safety first and attending to this, but hope they are also examining proactive maintenance policies.

UNIVERSAL FROM ABOVE

This weekend we took our first Helicopter trip and wanted to share some stunning photos of the Universal Orlando Resort from a vantage point rarely seen.  From this point of view, the sheer size and scale of the construction projects at Universal Orlando become clear. I just can’t help but be excited for what the future holds for this resort!

 

HARRY POTTER 2.0

London and Diagon Alley continue to grow. These new aerial shots show the size and scale of this project as Universal works to connect the two parks .   Construction on the Hogwarts Express train has been moving forward with the installation of track support structures backstage.

 

NEW YORK RESTROOM

The quest for the best theme park bathroom experience continues with the addition of a newly remodeled New York Bathroom next to the Mummy ride exit. 


Swanky!

TRANSFORMERS

The quickly approaching opening date of Transformers can be felt as the walls start coming down around Transformers, and the gift shop, “Supply Vault,” opens.

Yesterday, the Supply Vault opened its doors to the public and we got a look at the merchandise.  It’s pretty much the same stuff that they have on the west coast, but with a few variations.

Let’s enter the vault, shall we?

A multi-panel screen loops Transformers graphics.

The cash wrap is adorned with buttons and dials.

Bumblebee will be a huge hit at the store.

The more expensive, collectable items are behind glass.

Why is that mannequin kid pouting? He’s in the cool new Transformers store!

And, of course, there is Decepticon (see Bad Guys) merchandise too.

But wait . . . there’s more! Our latest Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure!

And that’s our sorin’ over the Universal Orlando Resort for this week. We’ll see you again soon and look forward to your comments below.

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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  • Trumpet

    Great Update Eric

    Thanks for the aerial tour of the resort (how did you get permission to travel across the parks). The parks look good, but I can’t wait to hear if Jurassic Park will be expanded. What are the plan that you have heard of Eric? What ever it is, it would be awsome, and be one step ahead of WDW.

    Shame about the paint has failed in IoA, but they could be experimenting. Still, at least they have tried, and will probery paint in again soon.

    I do think that USO will need more hotel rooms. With the ever increasing expansion, they are going to need to increase their capacity.

    Loving the new bathrooms. The extra details in the restrooms make a theme park special. At least it is not a ‘major attraction’ like at WDW! (Tangled Bathrooms are a main attraction at the new Fantasyland, as it takes up space that could be used for an attraction)

    Potterland 2.0 or as I call it, Project: London looks huge, and with the detail they have put into Potterland 1.0, it will be the crowning jewel of the resort. In contrast, the crowning jewel of WDW’s expansion was a clone of a ride, a bedtime tory with Belle and a kiddies’ coaster, which despite being expansive, will not get the crowds in like USO.

    Thanks Again Eric, these updates are the jewels of Micechat

    Trumpet

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      I think the Dwarfs Mine Coaster will be much more than a “kiddie coaster” (see the barnstormer for that). This ride is going to be MASSIVE (I was looking firsthand at the construction yesterday and the scale of this project is much bigger than you may realize).

      But yeah… as a whole, New Fantasyland pales in comparison to Potterland (and the upcoming expansion). On its own though, New Fantasyland is really beautiful and I’ve spent more time back there than I have the rest of Fantasyland (which looks almost bland in comparison with the old tournament tent style facades).

  • Wagi

    Is there a secret way to make the photos larger? They seem to be full of details, unfortunately they are extremely hard to see!

  • Badgermann

    The JP Expansion Pad does not look particularly different than the last time I was out there a few months ago, but they do tend to use it for temporary storage on occasion so things do get shuffled around with some regularity. Then again, I am not in any high level rumor pipelines, should you hear anything different.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Eric! Impressive update! I wish you were writing a similar report about all the work Universal being done out here on the WWoHP at Universal City.

    There was a sign, “Oh, the stories you’ll hear!” with six times. What was that for?

    • Eric Davis

      “Oh The Stories You’ll Hear” is a cute little stage show where a nice woman reads some of the Doctor Seuss books aloud with some of the characters acting out some of the scenes.

      It is a simple and cute show.

  • BC_DisneyGeek

    It’s about time that Micechat aquired a helicopter ;)

  • JCSkipr79

    I opened IOA and the colored pavement in Suess has been a maintence nightmare from Day One. It’s chipped paint is nothign new at all.

    • Eric Davis

      It is simply time they honestly fixed it for good.

  • Truecoat

    Looks like a great spot for the Amber Mine ride.

  • dolewhipdude

    Great update, thanks!

    Curious if the Transformers building is themed to NYC on the side that faces that area?

    Also, is there a pic/diagram of where the HP train will go? It must be shown in the pics above, but not being familiar with the two parks I can’t make out where it will travel to connect the two parks.