Prepare for battle! This week, Megatron attacks downtown Orlando with a spectacular billboard and viral video. The Hogwarts Express train tracks are now visible and a train ride to the school of magic becomes even more possible.  Finally, we’ll bring you an update of the new Harry Potter Phase 2 inside Universal Studios, plus a look at Springfield construction and other bits from around the Universal Orlando Resort.


Mark your calendars, because Universal has announced that Transformers will be opening June 20th, 2013. Annual Pass Holders can already enter a lottery for the Technical Rehearsals starting May 28th, and Universal Orlando is holding a “Battle Readiness” event on May 15th, where employees of the park can get a first look at at the new attraction. We will continue to monitor this ride as it gets closer to debut and will let you know the moment regular guests are able to get into the Technical Rehearsals (what Disney would call a “Soft Opening.”)

This past week Universal Orlando unveiled a guerrilla marketing campaign, in Downtown Orlando, with a giant poster on a building close to Interstate 4, urging Orlando to prepare for battle with a giant cutout of Megatron’s silhouette as if he crashed through the building. This was accompanied by a “viral” youtube video

The viral video is fun and the downtown marketing stunt was well executed.

Meanwhile, back inside the park, progress continues on the new Transformer’s Meet and Greet inside the park. This staging ground will give guests exiting the attraction a chance to meet their favorite Autobot or Decepticon after the ride. We can expect this construction to continue to move at rapid pace so that it can debut with the attraction on June 20th.


High above the back stage streets of Universal Studios, tracks have been installed for the Hogwarts Express train which will shuttle guests between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. This is a major milestone in the project and we cannot wait to see how the train will look as it crosses from one park to the other.

The massive Hogwarts Express station in Islands of Adventure continues to grow, as the steel for the roof is now being installed.


The gray looking beam under Rip Ride Rock It is the new Hogwarts track.


The train itself is fully enclosed, so you’ll never actually see any of these backstage areas from the attraction.


Phase 2 of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is rising quicker each week. The steel structural elements have already created the skeleton for what will be a completely immersive world.



The new additions near the Simpson’s attraction near completion.

A carnival type spinner attraction is going in here.


Signage mountings.



When the dome was painted over last year, it was left a bland burnt orange color. We had heard that more details were coming, but as the months wore on, we accepted that it might just be stuck “burnt orange.” This past week details and texture were finally added. The dome now looks aged and like it belongs in the Port of Entry.


Next to Port of Entry, on Marvel Super Hero Island, some pavement work is happening. While the work will be completed on the 3rd shift, we are happy to see some of the walk ways get some detailed work completed. Now if we could see this in Suess Landing….


We end todays article with a look at the progress of Cabana Bay, Universal’s answer to the less expensive resort options over at Disney World.

More Universal Orlando News and Chit Chat

MiceChat’s Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast is a great way to stay on top of all the new news from Orlando. We invite you to listen along with us (stream it below or choose the direct or iTunes link):

Direct Link | iTunes Link

There you have it.  Transformers will be battling at the Universal Orlando Resort beginning June 20th, The Hogwart’s Express is on its way, and Springfield is right around the corner.  We will see you again next week as we follow the last minute mad rush to get everything open in time for the Summer crowds.

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Eric

    Harry Potter is looking great. I cannot wait for it to be open. The structures look great and the train is going to be the icing on the cake.

    Universal know how to do a viral campaign. Not to cheesy and has a level of fear. It really looks like a amateur video.

    Spingfield looks great. Can’t to see it in person.

    Thanks Again Eric


    • KingEric

      You will have to let me know when you are out here! These parks are going to be sparkling!

  • LoveStallion

    Are they going to finish Springfield by Memorial Day? It looks a bit far off.

    I know nothing of construction, but should I be concerned that the iron gateway into the new HP expansion is already rusting?

    Great updates, though. Love to see Disney get some real competition.

    • KingEric

      I would say it is safer to say that it will open near the end of June close to Transformers, or a little after.

      And as far as rust goes, I think that just needs to be treated and coated.

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  • Truecoat

    From what I’ve heard, Springfield is supposed to open June 20th with Transformers.

    • KingEric

      We will see. The moment we have a date, I will make sure everyone knows!

  • jcruise86

    THANKS for another Universal Orlando update, Eric! And I love that you often respond to comments too! That sort of takes your column into a third dimension, while the other columns feel more like 2D. (Granted, there has been some classic 2D work!)

    I want Time, Vanity Fair, or New York Magazine to write a long, detailed essay contrasting how Universal Orlando has been beating WDW over the last 8 or so years, with many verified quotes from insiders. And I want Universal’s Steve Burke to take over as CEO of Disney instead of Thomas Staggs. (Burke is a more ambitious builder; he used to work for Disney; and his Universal contract will expire before 2015.)

    • MickeyFickey

      Oh HECKZ no! Steve Burke has been doing some amazing things for Universal and needs to stay at Universal to continue the amazingness he’s started. Disney doused themselves in gasoline and lit themselves on fire…let them burn for a few more years. Maybe their follies will sink in by then? In the meanwhile, this is UNIVERSAL’S time to shine. I say let them, and keep up the good work, Steve!


  • dsmith3373

    Thanks for a great update Eric its much appreciated.

    Its staggering to see how quickly things have moved on in the 7 months since we last visited.

    Great to see Universal with such ambitious plans and moving on with them at such a pace, after so many years of not that much change. That new resort seems to be going up at a staggering speed!

    Disney seems to have completely stalled at the moment pinning its homes on the Seven Dwarfs and a vague possibility of Avatar/Pandora. I’m sure they’ll have something in response to HP phase 2 soon (if Avatar doesn’t work out) and in the end Orlando theme park fans all win.

    Long may the Universal vs Disney fight continue.


    • Truecoat

      I’m waiting Disney’s answer to HP phase 1 let alone phase 2.

  • KingEric
  • thpurplepanzy

    I have an annual pass and when I called about the technical openings they had no idea what I was talking about… even after putting me on hold and doing research they said they had heard nothing and that they would be the first to hear of something like that. Do you know where there is info on this?