Harry Potter goes vertical and Optimus Prime appears for guests in today’s Orlando Parkhopper.  Yes, Universal Orlando Resort has begun meet and greets with the transforming robots and it has proven to be wildly popular.  Not far away, the Springfield expansion continues to grow as Moe’s and Krusty Burger get a little closer to opening.  Finally, we take a good look at the Transformers show building and run over to Islands of Adventure for the latest news there.  It’s a full update so let’s get to it!

HARRY POTTER PHASE 2

Just like some magical spell right out of a JK Rowlings novel, buildings have sprung up left and right at what will eventually be London, Diagon Alley and the 2nd phase of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We can begin to see what will eventually be the Leaky Cauldron, Gringotts, Kings Cross, and more.  Backstage, large cement footers for the Hogwarts Express train have been installed  between where JAWS once was heading towards Hogsmede.

TRANSFORMERS MEET AND GREET

Along with the Supply Vault opening, Bumble Bee and Megatron began greeting guests outside of Transformers.  With huge lines to meet these characters, it is clear that once Transformers opens we can expect HUGE lines for this highly anticipated attraction.

Supply Vault a Second Look:

Taking another look at the newly opened Supply Vault gift shop, we can see where the Transformers Ride will exit into this gift shop.  With two clear exits, it should be able to allow guests to easily flow out of the building.

TRANSFORMERS SHOW BUILDING

With the fast and furious construction schedule (remember this past July this was just a hole in the ground) we haven’t really had a moment to take in the new and massive addition to Universal Studios.  With the exterior mostly finished, we took some time this past Saturday to get photos of the Transformer’s building from around the park.  What are your thoughts on this new addition? Does it fit?

SPRINGFIELD

Even without an official announcement of the Simpson’s expansion at Universal, some walls have come down as the construction for the Duff Gardens area have expanded, and we are beginning to get a feel for what Moe’s and Krusty Burger will look like.  The painting is far from over, so we cannot judge just yet, but things are looking very promising, and we are excited for this area to open!

In front of the existing Kwik-E-Mart, the path gets a little tight.

Moe’s is really going to be fun.

Krusty Burger

MARDI GRAS

MiceChat was recently invited to experience Mardi Gras once again, but this time not as a member of the audience, but as a participant on one of the parade floats.  Guests at Universal Orlando can sign up to be on a float, Annual Pass members can enter a lottery to ride and American Express Card Holders also have their own float to ride.  I have been to Mardi Gras at Universal more times than I can count, yet I have never ridden a float, or thrown beads.   The experience was simply INCREDIBLE, and brought a whole new level of love and appreciation for Mardi Gras!  If you have gone to Mardi Gras at Universal before and are looking for a new way to experience the parade, you MUST find yourself on a float throwing beads to thousands of people! (Sadly we were unable to take photos of our experience, from the float, however please enjoy the photos of Mardi Gras performers)

CROWDS

Spring Break is kicking into gear here in Orlando, and you know it is busy when the line to buy an Express Pass has a 30 minute wait!

TRADING CO. SIGN

Universal pulled down the entire sign for the Trading Co. in the Port of Entry as they examine what failed and re-engineer the sign for safety and durability.

RIP SAW FALLS NOW OPEN

Dudley Do Right’s Rip Saw Falls opened to guests after a monthly long refurbishment which fixed some of the cosmetic issues we had discussed on here months prior.

HOGWART’S EXPRESS STATION

Vertical construction on the Hogwarts Express Station continues, as they begin installing large support columns for the track that will connect both the parks.

TICKET KIOSK

Theme details can be spotted on what will soon be the new Automated Ticketing Kiosk at the entrance to Islands of Adventure.   Hopefully this addition will cut down on some of the longer lines we have seen at the ticketing windows.

CABANA BAY BEACH RESORT

Construction continues as Cabana Bay Beach Resort moves forward towards its March 2014 opening! Reservations are being accepted for stays beginning on March 31, 2014.  There are two types of rooms at the resort. Guests can choose between a standard hotel room (from $119/night) or a 430 square foot “family suite” which sleeps six (from $174/night).  There’s also a seven night package from $47 per person per day, which includes hotel AND tickets to the Universal theme parks!

 Hopping the parks of the Universal Orlando Resort has now concluded for today.  We look forward to returning next week with more news and photos on the progress on the Harry Potter, Springfield, transformers, hotel and anything else we happen to spot. Thank you for reading!