This week it is all about Springfield USA, as the construction walls have finally come down around this latest park improvement. But we also have a short update on Diagon Alley as well as news about a $500,000,000 addition to Uni’s war chest. There’s also much ado about nothing on a ride ‘accident’ that really wasn’t.  So grab your Brain Freezin’ D’oh-Nut Sundae and get ready for an update that transports you to the world of The Simpson’s.

Springfield USA – Now Open

Over the past few months Universal has turned what once was a bland concrete waterfront walkway into a vibrant and exciting shopping and dining area based on one of the most recognizable fictional cities in television history.  As you come around the bend, passing the Kidzone, you finally begin to see some familiar places. . .

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Bumblebee Mans’s Tacos Truck

One minor character that has really endured on The Simpson’s is Bumblebee Man, who was a Character on a Spanish language TV show.  In Universal’s Springfield USA, Bumblebee Man has opened a taco truck that is selling a wide variety of Taco Fusion, with Fish Tacos, Chicken Tacos, Carne Asada Tacos, and Korean Beef Tacos.

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The exterior of the the Taco Truck is bright, vibrant and visually delightful. Note the front bumper is a taco.

Lard Lad’s Donuts (and IceCream)

Next door to the Taco Truck, is a GIANT statue of the iconic Lard Lad Donut boy.  The statue is so iconic and impressive, that guests might easily miss the actual donut shop next to it.  With a simple and clean design, the Lard Lad’s Donut shop is unassuming, but features a menu that is sure to delight crowds during the hot humid days here in Central Florida.

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Research I tell ya. That means no calories.
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Custom napkins. Does Disney even do this anymore?

While Lard Lad’s Donuts does serve donuts of all shapes and sizes (like the big pink),  what guests at Universal Orlando are sure to devour in mass quantities are the ice cream sundaes!  Universal has created a delightfully indulgent ice cream treat called the Brain Freezin’ D’oh-Nut Sundae, which features a frosted pink donut cut in half with Soft Serve ice cream in the middle, whipped cream, Oreo cookie crumbles and a cherry on top.  This has become my new guilty pleasure.

Duff Gardens Brewery

Next to Lard Lads is the Duff Gardens Brewery which is a dining and merchandise location.  In front of the Duff Gardens Brewery you will find the 7 Duffs, Tipsy, Queasy, Surly, Sleazy, Edgy, Dizzy, and Remorseful as beautiful topiaries, they make a terrific photo op.

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The large rectangular building allows for guests to walk up, and order a Duff, Duff Life, Duff Dry or a Flaming Moe along with some select food items that you can find inside at Krusty Burger like the Sideshow Bob Footlong Hot Dog.  Once you have your Duff and food in hand you can sit down under a nicely shaded table along the water front and enjoy your meal in Springfield USA.  One thing to note is the tables have some beautiful iron work details, that are really beautiful.

Duff Gardens Store

Attached to the Brewery is the Duff Gardens store where you can find new Duff Beer merchandise that you won’t find anywhere else.  Inside this outdoor merchandise location you will also find Duff Man, the marketing spokesman for Duff Beer.

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Jebidiah Springfield and Springfield Details

This land has been stuffed with great details, and visual treats for guests visiting Springfield USA.  The statue of Jebidiah Springfield has had a long and storied role in the Springfield mythology, so it is incredible to be able to see this statue realized, and with proper inscriptions on the front and back.

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Next to Lard Lad’s guests will find the lovable and incompetent Chief Wiggum – his police car crashed into a fire hydrant as he ran to get donuts.

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On a park bench, you can now find Millhouse drinking a Buzz Cola, just waiting for guests to sit next to him for a picture.

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Perhaps less notable to daily park guests, but no less important, are the custom printed napkins in the land. These napkins don’t say “Universal Parks,” the say “Greetings from Springfield USA.”  Then the Team Member costumes, are unique for each location.  Team Members who work at Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck have a red and yellow vest and a bumblebee hat.  At Duff Gardens they wear a nice yellow button up with a full white apron tied at the waste.  At Lard Lad’s they have bow ties and suspenders.  These costumes are all in addition to the 5 different costumes worn inside the restaurant across the street.

Another detail likely to be overlooked is the new themed covering for the projector system for Universal Cinematic Spectacular.  This themed covering matches the industrial theme of the Duff Gardens Brewery.  One little detail on the cover is where it says “Tank U” … well “Tank U” Universal Orlando for giving us the incredible new area to explore and escape to!

 Kang and Kodos Twirl N’ Hurl nearing completion

While the rest of Springfield USA is now open, the new attraction isn’t quite ready.  The interactive elements have been added and are now being tested for safety, but we can look forward to this ride opening very soon!

Diagon Alley Update

Almost all the facades for what will be Phase 2 of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter now have their exterior sheetrock. This is the point where the exterior details will begin to take shape.

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Accident on Rip Ride Rockit… much ado about nothing

This past week, local news reported on an accident on Rip Ride Rockit Roller Coaster.  With people on twitter abuzz about an accident and ride closures. It got out of hand pretty fast. The reality was that a guest was taken off the ride, seen by Universal’s health services, and then the park went back and enjoyed the rest of their day at the park.  Far from something catastrophic, or dangerous.

Universal Parks has an additional $500 million to play with

Universal Parks and Resorts are getting additional money from Comcast to invest in future projects.  While other Central Florida theme parks might be spending hundreds of millions on trying to get you to reserve your ride time on their aging attractions, Universal will be investing more into their parks as they begin to deliver value to the day guests to keep them coming back and spending money.  Universal has also been acquiring land again in Central Florida, with the purchase of the land they once leased below Wet-N-Wild to other land purchases near Universal Orlando and a little bit down the road on Universal Blvd. Now the big question is what is Universal going to do with all that money?  This is a story we really look forward to following.

Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast Meet-up

Please join myself and the 3 hosts of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast Meet-up as we take on Men In Black, and then take on the Kitchen Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel for Charity!  We welcome anyone who wants to join us and have a great time!  We will also be holding a silent auction that will benefit Give Kids the World.  So Click here to RSVP today!

The Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast will be hosting our very first podcast meet at Universal Orlando on August 23rd. While we are happily getting to know some of our lovely listeners we are also planning some fun events whilst raising money for a very worthwhile cause. Let me explain how …

Give Kids The World is a very special charity. If you don’t know of them, please allow me to introduce you. Give Kids The World is an organization that allows children with life-threatening illnesses to live out their dreams; whether it is visiting a theme park and meeting their favorite character or eating their fill of ice-cream for breakfast, the guys here ensure that no wish goes unfulfilled. We are working with the Give Kids The World village in Kissimmee, which is a 70-acre, non-profit, storybook resort for these brave children and their families. Village activities include Happy Harbor Fishing Pond, a sheltered area to fish that has been specially adapted so that wheelchair users can get close enough to be able to see; Matthew’s Boundless Playground, the world’s largest and only life-sized version of the popular board game ‘Candy Land’; Keaton’s Korral, which is horseback riding at a wheelchair accessible venue and so much more! To learn and see more (and I urge you to do so) visit www.gktw.org.

The Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast gang will meet listeners at 4pm for fun and high-jinks before making our way to the Hard Rock Hotel’s Kitchen restaurant at 5.30pm for some talks, fun and fundraising before being seated to dine… And dine a group of us shall – on the Kitchen Sink Challenge! There will be at least one guest speaker, an auction at the venue and an online silent auction for a Spiderman Baseball: send your bid to [email protected]. We will also be asking for donations on the night. For anyone not attending the meet who would still like to make a contribution to this wonderful charity, you can help us reach our $500 goal by donating here: UUOP Give Kids the World Event

 

 

Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast

Click play below to listen to the latest episode of the Unofficial Universal Podcast where Lee and Tracey interview Brent Young about the creation of the Madagascar Crate Adventure ride at Universal Studios Singapore.

That wraps up this weeks update!  We hoped you enjoyed your tour of Springfield USA, and can’t wait to see what else Universal Creative brings us in the years to come!