Universal Orlando Resort Update: The Mad Dash to the Transformers Grand Opening

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

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Published on June 18, 2013 at 3:00 am with 10 Comments

Transformers the Ride: 3-D officially opens this Thursday, June 20th.  While all the focus will be on the newest addition to the Universal Orlando Resort, last minute projects are being completed elsewhere in the resort as well. Meanwhile, the biggest project of them all, Harry Potter 2.0 is moving forward in the former JAWS location.  So buckle up and prepare for battle as we bring you news from all around the Universal Orlando Resort.

Transformers

Last Minute Exterior Queue Work
For months now, we have warned that the overflow exterior queue for Transformers would be painful in the hot Florida sun. During Technical Rehearsals, the feedback was loud and clear, and Universal is now installing a canopy that will provide some much needed shade when guests are waiting 120+ minutes to ride this new attraction.

We are thrilled that the listen to guest feedback and that they are able to move so quickly. The ride isn’t even officially open yet! Minor, but very important upgrade.

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Standby Queue:
Last week, we brought you a look at the Single Rider Line. This week, we take a look at the Standby Queue that the bulk of guests will be experiencing. For the time being, Express Pass has been removed. However, the hope is that guests will enjoy this queue due to the multitude of buttons that will keep younger ones engaged while waiting.

Express Pass removed for right now.

Express Pass removed for right now.

 

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Save the Allspark!

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Go ahead kid, push the button. What could happen?!

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Transformers Meet and Greet Now Open:
The new Transformers Meet and Greet has opened to guests, and will now be the permanent home for everyone’s favorite Autobots and Decepticons.

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Energon detectors have been installed.

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Transformers Invade IOA:

Over at Port of Entry, Transformers have even invaded the sign-less Island Trading Company.

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Springfield

Androids & Dungeons Window Finished:
The finishing touches have finally been put on the window for the Androids & Dungeons restrooms, and is full of some great old Simpson’s lore.

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Duff Gardens:
Duff Gardens has been getting some great details, and should be a nice place to relax and watch the fireworks after a day of adventures.

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Wait a minute, is that an alien? ;-)

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Kang and Kodos:
Kang and Kodos Twirl N’ Hurl is taking shape. With the head of Springfield’s favorite alien added, we now have a real clear idea of just how great this simple spinner will look once it is completed.

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Fun isn’t it?!

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“My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!”

Diagon Alley

Progress has slowed for the time being on Diagon Alley as Universal rushes to finish other projects in the park which must be ready for this summer. Once Springfield is complete, prepare to see Diagon Alley move forward quickly to hit its own 2014 opening date.

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The scale of the Potter construction is simply massive.

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Universal Studios Store Remodel

The remodel of the Universal Studio Store at the entrance to the park is almost complete, including beautiful new floors. The store is now separated into themed “mini stores” that make getting your end of day purchases easier.

New Displays

All of the new displays have a sense of “place” that match the theme of the merchandise being sold.

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Guests can easily identify what area they need to be in to quickly grab their purchases.

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 New Floor

The new floors are full of different textures, which help showcase the merchandise on the shelves above.

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New Register Area

Gone are the random cluster of registers that once plagued this shopping area. Now, with the centralized register station, guests will be able to quickly make their purchase.

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Gone is this old tired carpet, and the gym-like wood flooring

Summer Concert Series

The Summer Concert Series has kicked off at Universal Studios, with Earth Wind and Fire, Adam Lambert and Kip More playing to guests included with their normal daily admission.

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Despicable Me 2 Photo Kiosks

Universal has begun promoting Despicable Me 2 with interactive photo kiosks that guests can use to get photos of themselves with the stars of the film.

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Cabana Bay Beach Resort Progress

In March of 2014, Universal will show Disney what it considers “value” when it opens its own family suite resort which will include a lazy river, bowling alley, wave pool, and more.

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The exterior finishing is beginning now and the lobby building under major construction. We can’t wait for this new hotel to open in March of 2014. From the look of it now, it’s very hard to believe it will be done in time. But they built Transformers in under a year, so we are confident that they’ll pull it off.

We will be back with more coverage next week, and some special LIVE Transformer coverage on June 20th starting at 9:00 AM EST, exclusively on MiceChat’s radio station V24 Radio.

With that, I would like to invite you to sit back and listen to the Unofficial Universal Podcast for a more in depth look at what is happening at the Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood!

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

    Love all of the finishing touches to the park at the moment. The Kang and Kodos Ride looks great, but will there be two, or just one spinner. What ever it is, the theming is looking great. Like the Harry Potter area, the scale is vast and I can’t ait for it to open.

    In response to the previous week’s article and USO will never be a destination resort, in my opinion, I would give it a go, as despite there ‘only’ being two theme parks, they are filled to the brim with attractions. The hotels look greats and I will be staying in one of them when I visit next year. USO are doing everything right to have a world class resort, but not having too many plates spinning. WDW have sadly got this situation as that there are too many parks, which have many attractions that have not aged well, and far too many hotels, which some of them, like the Grand Floridian , which have lost their sparkle. I am not saying that I will not visit WDW, I will, but they do have the problem of ageing attractions. All theme parks have this, but in my opinion, replacing them can help to reduce this and as we have seen with Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, it has rejuvenated a particular ride system. I know people will say that some of the dated rides in WDW are classics, but for DAK, Dinosaur should be replaced (that film has aged terribly) and in DHS, Indiana Jones and Great Movie Ride should be removed and new attractions should be put in these areas. The same goes for the Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom and Captain EO in Epcot. I know there will be a lot of hate against the Carousel of Progress and Great Movie Ride, but they are not ageing well at all. They reek of an era that has gone by. If they were updated to reflect modern changes and new films, then they can stay, but they seriously need updating.

    Thanks Again Eric, and sorry if this comment is more of a ramble, I just wanted to put my point across regarding last week’s comment section.

    Trumpet

    • red014

      I think what they need to do with Dinosaur is bring it back to its original ride, “Countdown to Extinction” and release it from any movie tie-ins altogether. Dated movies are what make rides seem dated (regarding perception, not disrepair–that’s another story). There’s an inherent obsolescence with “current movie” based rides–eventually the movie falls out of relevancy and the ride therefore becomes irrelevant. If the movie were already a classic, so would be the ride.
      Almost sounds like a prediction for Avatar Land, huh? *hint, hint*

      I also think this is what helps USO, they never plan on making *most* of their rides permanent. That way they’re easier to update.

      Now about that disrepair and the somewhat related misappropriation of funds…

      • FigmentJedi

        It was always a tie-in to the movie Dinosaur, even when it was Countdown to Extinction. To release it from any movie tie-ins you’d have to take out the Carnotaurus and the Iguanodon which are central to how the ride works. Hell, even the raptors are straight from the film’s designs.

        Really it just needs to lose the stupid generic title that is Dinosaur and go back to the original title.

  • KENfromOC

    Will they have the $1.50 hot dogs and drink combo at this Universal Costco?…. What? It’s not? Oh……..

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Thank you for the great update Eric! Really appreciate all the time and effort you put into this column every week.

    SO glad to see them adding a shade structure above the exterior switchback line for Transformers. What a brutal wait that would be without sun protection!

    Seeing Kang above the construction fence is really exciting. Can’t wait to twirl, twirl, twirl toward freedom! ;)

  • Big D

    Why did they think the shade wouldn’t be necessary in the first place? Are these things designed by by people who don’t live in Florida? Every time I get in line for a ride at either Disney or Universal after about 5 minutes it becomes less about getting on the ride and more about getting inside where the air conditioning is.

    • Zorro825

      Thats what I’m saying!! How could they not foresee this being a problem during the hot summer months?

  • Gregg Condon

    Great update as usual Eric. Nice to the see the park addressing feedback and putting shade up. Kind of seems like a no-brainer but nice to see anyway.

  • Effiel tower banjo

    Hey Eric me and my husband look forward to your post each week keep up the good work. All the improvements universal are making to the park are amazing they really know how to get things done, I think universal is a resort destination and can not wait for my trip there in September

  • AliciaStella

    The holes in the ground for the canopy posts have been in place since they poured the cement months ago so my guess is the canopy was always planned (by the Monsters Cafe side). Glad to see it going up before official opening day though. Good on them.