Universal Orlando News – HHN, Dining Plan and Attraction updates

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Features, Orlando Parkhopper, Orlando Parks, Other Destinations, Universal Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

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Published on July 02, 2013 at 2:00 am with 13 Comments

We have lots of news to share from all around the Universal Orlando Resort today. Universal has been moving quickly to make Summer 2013 a banner year, but with a watchful eye on 2014 as well.  We have Halloween Horror Night news, new dining plans, new bathrooms, new parking garages, ride testing and so much more!  So pull down the safety bar, and get ready for another Universal Orlando Update.

Halloween Horror Nights

It is that time of year again, when the faithful patiently wait for clues, hints, and suggestions to what we can expect at this years Halloween Horrors Night event.  We have been teased with the tag line “Evil has Taken Root” for the 23rd annual event.

The team over at Universal Orlando have revealed that one of this year’s haunted houses will be themed after the new cult hit, Cabin in the Woods, co-written by Avengers Writer/Director Joss Whedon.  Those who have seen the film will know that once inside, you won’t know what might be around the next corner. We won’t spoil any surprises, just don’t read the Latin.

Universal Unveils its new Dining Plan

As Universal Orlando begins to compete toe to toe with the big Mouse down the road, Universal has unveiled a new Dining Plan that will be available to guests booking a Universal Orlando resort package.

Guests booking the package will receive every day:

  • 1 Full Service Meal: Including Entree, Desert, and non-alcoholic beverage
  • 1 Counter Service Meal: Including Entree and non-alcoholic beverage
  • 1 Snack: From food carts or counter service locations.  Examples being: Hotdog, ice cream, frozen beverage

With over 100 locations accepting the Universal Dining Plan (UDP), guests will discover lots of ways to use their UDP.

Prices for the plan are $45.99 for Adults and $17.99 for kids including tax, but excluding gratuities. Universal’s Meal Deal – all day dining will still be available for day guests, and same day purchases.

Broken Signs

While some of these issues are not new, a combination of broken elements made me take note of some signs.  In CityWalk, the Coke display that historically has had issues, but was functioning after the last major fix, is now broken again.

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At Islands of Adventure the “Island Trading Co.” sign is still not fixed since we first reported it breaking back in March.

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And at the exit at the Studios, the sign for “That’s a Wrap” is also missing. Sad..

 

Islands of Adventure

Oh The Stories You’ll Hear

Over at Seuss Landing, they have installed a much larger and prominent sign for the cute stage show “Oh The Stories You’ll Hear.”  This show ends with a character meet and greet with the Cat in the Hat and others.

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Hogsmede Train Station rises

Over at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you can now begin to see what will become the Hogsmede station for the Hogwarts Express.  This is going to be a “WOW” building when it is complete.

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Universal Studios

Transformers Queue Covering Finished

The new awning for the extended queue at Transformers has been completed, and is sporting the same military theme that the N.E.S.T. building has.  With the attraction regularly posting 60 – 90 minute waits, I am sure guests are grateful for the shade and fans.

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Newly Remodeled Bathrooms Open in San Francisco

Themed as the Cannery, the newly refurbished bathrooms opened to relieved guests this past week, continuing Universal’s new campaign to create a sense of place for every restroom facility, with improved fixtures and amenities.

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Diagon Alley Update

Construction continues to move forward at a fevered pace on Diagon Alley, with the lagoon facing facades beginning to get sheet rock, and the outlines of the windows and more details becoming clearer.

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Backstage, Universal is preparing for 2014 by building a new Team Members parking structure. This will allow Universal to take the employees currently parking on the first floor of the parking structure and move them backstage. That will allow them to walk to and from their work location without being “onstage” by walking through CityWalk.  This will also allow Universal to make way for other future expansions and plans.

Duff Gardens and Lard Lads Donuts

Across the lagoon, the details are being added to Duff Gardens and Lard Lads, and day by day, this factory and donut shop are beginning to look like complimenting pieces of architecture for London across the pond.

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Kang and Kodos Twirl N’ Hurl Testing Begins

Next door to Duff Gardens, the new spinner attraction has begun. There will be an interactive element to the attraction as guests try to hit targets and activate interactive elements on this ride.

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You will notice in the video how Kang’s eye moves back and forth as the spinner turns.  I tip my hat at Universal Creative for that great little detail.

Universal Goes Vinyl

Many of you have written in and asked that I include more merchandise photos.  Well, ask and you shall receive.

Universal has unveiled their own line of Vinyls. While Disney might have Mickey shaped Vinyls, Universal has gone in a different direction, with different iconic characters such Chilly Willy, E.T., Betty Boop, a Minion, Woody Woodpecker, and more.

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Well that wraps up this weeks update!  Click the play button below to listen to the world’s #1 Universal Studios Podcast, with hosts Lee, Tracey and Darren!

 

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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  • Malin

    Thanks Eric,

    I have some concerns over the Dining Plan. At Disney its resulted in the standards dropping and has seen some dramatic changes to the overall Dining experience. Horror Nights is looking good for this year. The rumoured line up includes Havoc 2, Resident Evil, Walking Dead 2, Grimm: La Llorona, Cabin in the Woods, The Evil Dead, Legendary Truth, and American Werewolf in London. I am so impressed with Universal at the moment that I’m extending my visit to two days during my next trip. And if I enjoy the experience then the following year I’ll actually reward them by staying onsite. I doubt I’ll need to visit Disney anyway with the exception of one day to check out the Mine Coaster and Steve Davison’s new Parade. For Disney I’d much rather visit the Disneyland Resort or Tokyo Disney Resort.

  • Malin

    Should of mention I actually prefer these Vinyls to the standard Disney versions. And the Kang and Kodos looks cute. Any word on when it and the rest of Springfield might open?

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Eric

    I am astonished at the progress that Universal have been making. The spinner, despite being off the shelf has been dressed up perfectly and I can’t wait to see the secret feature, maybe water sprays but coloured green? Either way, with the eye moving on the spinner, it is the icing in the cake. I would of thought there would be to spinners ala Kang and Kodos, but there seems to be only one. Not that I am fused how many spinners there will be, but maybe in the future they will have another one. The interactional element will properly make we want to go on this ride, even though I have not been on any spinners at Disney (Astro Orbitor, Dumbo) for many years, properly when I was in single figures (1-9)!

    Also, the progress of Harry Potter will complement the Springfield over the lagoon. I love the fact that there are traditional London facades, for the Muggles, but you will walk into the world of wizards and itches, a nice tough!

    Finally, the new Transformers queue fits well with the attraction, and they were very quick to put that up, big thumbs up for USO!

    Thanks Again Eric

    Trumpet

  • Lee Mallaby

    Great update Eric. It is, once again, good to see that Universal are not only building big, but also making smaller additions such as the new bathrooms in SanFran.
    Diagon alley/ London is coming along great and will look awesome when it is finished. With that, Transformers and the new Springfield area, Universal are changing the whole feel of that park and lets be honest, it needed it.
    Speaking of Springfield, I don’t ride spinners, but I may make an exception for Kodos and Kangs Twirl n hurl, it looks great and with an interactive element that will lift it above the standard rides.
    Universal just keep knocking it out of the park and I am SO much more looking forward to visiting UOR in August than tired old WDW.
    Thanks Eric.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    It is so exciting to see this update every week and watch the progress of the multiple massive projects. Universal is REALLY trying to do the right thing. Though, I’d advise them to look at the horrid side effects of Disney’s Dining Program (over booked restaurants, pressure to reduce quality, reduced menu options, general loss of uniqueness) before moving forward with their own plan.

    • Eric Davis

      I understand that concern. And I am worried, but I am hopeful that Universal will have learned from the mistakes of Disney, that you must keep the uniqueness of each restaurant.

  • JCSkipr79

    I too an worried what the Uni. Dining Plan will do. If Mythos gets destroyed because of never been tourists, there is going to be MAJOR problems. I fear what this will also do to restaurants that have huge menu selections like Finnegans or Confiscos.

  • yellowrocket

    The spinner looks like Hong Kong Disneylands Tomorrowland spinner. Is it the same vehicle?

    Also, no mention of Universal Orlando’s new King Kong replacement for Disaster rumor?

  • Haven

    I love the look of the Klang & Kodos attraction. The tentacles on the supports are fantastic. Should offer a nice cool view of the waterfront while aboard. Great tie-in to their catchphrase “always twirling, twirling”. Looks like Universal is having FUN with their new ideas. Put fun first and leave the “business models” out of it and you end up with more attractions like this and Daigon Alley. Kudos to Klang and Kodos.

  • martinjbell1986

    Does anyone else think that the “Simpsons” theme is getting old and out-dated and should be replaced with something more current? I may be wrong but does a Krusty Burger and Quick-E-Mart really draw in the crowds still?

    • pianojohn

      Yes, Simpsons is VERY popular, and everyone I have seen go into the area marvels at the details and quality of food offerings. Universal was very wise to capitalize on this classic TV show.

  • ex-wdi

    Simpsons has a HUGE international presence, more so than the US. To draw visitors from other countries, Simpsons is a giant win for Universal. So yes, it has quite the draw.

  • JCSkipr79

    I thought there were going to be two spinners