Christmas has come early for MiceChat readers, we have an exclusive preview of the Mardi Gras floats for Universal Orlando’s spring 2014 parade, along with updates from all around the resort. Grab your beads and your Santa Hat as we ride our sleigh to the Universal Orlando Resort.

Mardi Gras 2014

Universal is planning to go big on their Annual Mardi Gras celebration, expanding it from 14 weeks (in 2013) to 17 weeks (in 2014). Universal recently announced that Robin Thicke, the singer of the mega hit “Blurred Lines,” will be performing at the park on February 22nd, which is included with your daily park admission.

A major part of Uni’s Mardi Gras celebration is the amazing street party that is the Mardi Gras Parade.  Each year Universal Creative works with the team in New Orleans who build the actual Mardi Gras floats to build the floats for Universal Orlando.

Parade concept art with actual production work behind it.

We have gotten some exclusive concept art of the new floats being built this year, along with some photos of the floats currently under construction.








Christmas at Universal Orlando

Before we get too far ahead into 2014, we still have the 2013 holiday season to get through. Decorations have begun going up all around Universal Orlando, and soon the Macy’s Holiday Parade will be making its way through the New York street facades at Universal Orlando.




New York Refurbishment Complete and Another Starts

In the New York section, the scrims have come down and the Finnigan’s refurbishment has left the facade looking beautiful and fresh.


Across the street the Irish store’s facade is now under refurbishment.



Hogwarts Express Trains

When you find yourself in the parks, keep your eyes out for the Hogwarts Express trains now on the the tracks.




Diagon Alley Details

Beautiful details continue to emerge as Diagon Alley get’s closer to its Spring 2014 opening.  With new beautifully sculpted embellishments now visible to guests on the exterior, it is just a tease of what is to come.























Refurbs at Seuss Landing

Seuss Landing continues to get more refurbishments, with the area behind Green Eggs and Ham being closed, and the High in the Sky Seuss Trolly Train Ride getting a full refurbishment.






New Circus McGurkus Sign

At Circus McGurkus, a temporary sign has been installed while they refurbish the old sign.




Islands of Adventure Lake Clean Up

Sometimes it is nice to take a moment to contemplate what it takes to maintain these parks.  Making sure that the lakes and lagoons are free of trash is hard job, but we are grateful it is done.



Hogwarts Express at Hogsmede

The build out of the Hogsmede Station for the Hogswart Express continues as we draw closer to the Spring 2014 opening.



Toon Lagoon Refurbishments

Over in Toon Lagoon, refurbishments have begun on a facade.  This area of the park needs some work, hopefully these refurbishments will continue.







Red Oven Pizza Bakery

Red Oven Pizza Bakery is getting ready to open, with Team Members now inside training and preparing this new quick service location for guests.







Not much visible progress has been made this week on Starbucks.  Hopefully that will change in the next few weeks.



Don Quixote at CityWalk

The new large facade for Don Quixote is continuing to progress as this restaurant concept moves forward.




That wraps up this week’s Orlando ParkHopper, continue learning more about Universal Orlando by clicking play below on the latest episode of the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast with news, rumors and information on the Universal Parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Singapore and Japan with your hosts, Lee, Tracey and Darren.

  • phruby

    The picture of the guy skimming the waterway reminds me of the Jaws ride where the fisherman gets eaten by the shark.

    • Eric Davis

      lol I could see that. Personally i love seeing stuff like this at the parks. Helps to put things in perspective.

  • I love seeing those trains on the tracks! They are really moving along quickly on the Potter 2.0 project.

  • solarnole

    Universal is so well run that their City Walk updates will be open and done by the time WDW even starts constructing Disney Springs.

    Pleasure Island closed five years ago.

    • Eric Davis

      yeah… I keep thinking about that. Pleasure Island has been a ghost town since 2007. CityWalk is the party that just doesn’t stop! lol

    • renderman7

      i think all the work at citywalk is in response to disney’s plans.

      nice to see them updating a lot of the buildings but i dont know if it will matter. it seems like its a short term fix for a long term solution..

      city walk might have clubs and such but i have never seen a lot of people using city walk as anything but a walk way to the parks..

      • Country Bear

        I used to think that too. But on our last trip we made a point of staying late and just hanging out in City Walk. What surprised me was the amount of people that were there and how many of them were actually doing things like shopping, playing the games and eating/drinking. It was actually a lot of fun just people watching (and shopping). It’s a pretty lively place as the night goes on.

  • Tielo

    Great update. It would be much appreciated if you would present the photo’s in a higher resolution and zoom in more in the details on the construction site because a lot of detailing is hard to see now.

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for the feedback. I am currently looking into a new lens for my DSLR camera which will help get photos that look a bit closer.

      • Tielo

        OK, didn’t know it was a technical limitation.
        Look at these photo’s, they show so much more details and get me really excited, but again you are doing a great job. Can’t wait for the next update. So much going on at Universal and the float pictures are amazing!

  • Malin

    I can pass on Robin Thicke coming to Universal thanks. I think he’s more well known now days for that Miley performance and not the song. The theme parks are known for having three big seasons. Summer, Halloween and Christmas. So it’s nice to see Universal offering something for the off season. I’m liking the look of the new floats this year.

    I hope we’ll be getting sound effects from the trains as there stop and pass through the Parks. This always adds a touch of magic when done at Disney with the whistle from the trains being heard.

    It’s nice to see pictures of construction walls going up across areas of IOA in places that I myself spotted needing work on my last trip. And also in areas that I didn’t spot. Good to see them keeping up to date on these issues. It doesn’t excuse allowing areas of Toon and Suess to fall behind on upkeep but it does show an effort being made.

    While it’s nice to see them cleaning up the water features should some of this stuff not be done before opening hours.

    • Eric Davis

      To each their own. I think Robin Thicke will be a lot of fun personally.

      And in the Team Members defense, this was near park opening, so it was still early. But I like seeing boats out on the lagoon.

      • Malin

        I don’t really have a problem with Robin. I just wanted to slip in a Miley reference. I see the Wanted have also been announced. I like that Universal are using current artist for the event and not Stars from the 80’s and 90’s. Which another Theme Park group does rather frequently. You know the one Eric 😉

        If it’s early morning it’s fine I just felt it was a bit poor show if it was being done during peak Park Hours. I did one of the Backstage Disney Tours and it was really interesting going on to World Showcase before opening and seeing people at work. It gives you a much greater appreciation for the huge amount of work that goes into these Parks on a daily basis.

      • Tielo

        When I went to WDW frequently (years ago) I saw gardeners working at Epcot many times. Nothing wrong with that.

  • CaptainAction

    with all the great and FAST work on new rides and attractions all you can really do is try to find things to criticize.
    Kinda like some cowboy is having an excellent ride on a wild bull and you are yelling, “Your shirt is untucked!”
    Transformers, Simpson’s Land, Despicable Me, Gringott’s, Hogwarts train (which will be an E ticket), Diagon Alley, all in LESS THAN 18 months! You are there to say, “Yeah, but I saw a guy in a boat picking up leaves during the day and some paint looked bad at Suess Landing.”

    • Malin

      I comment on what’s shown in the pictures. If I see criticism then I’m going to mention it! It’s a discussion board after all and we’re here to discuss what is featured. Perhaps you could learn from it and how to stay on topic and not just try and repeat the same nonsense each week. We get your all excited about how quickly Universal are building these new rides. I’m truly happy for you. But unless your going to bring something new to the discussion please leave the talk to adults who want to make positive, fair and at times judgemental comments. What you wish to discuss we spoke about months back. We all agreed Universal was doing some amazing things and were amazed by how quickly the Transformers and Simpsons projects were being built.

      So do you have any thoughts on the Mardi Gras Concept art?

      • CaptainAction

        As soon as WDW gives me something NEW to comment on then you will have new comments.
        With WDW’s current pace, look for my new comments after Avatar completes Phase 1 in 2019.
        I’m sympathetic to WDW here because we all know how hard it is to get all those plastic light up plants, a mess hall, and a movie up and running.
        Unless you were using the castmembers and budget of Universal, then Avatarland would be completed in September 2014.
        Not a big Mardi Gras or parade guy, just new rides, lands, attractions, etc.

      • Malin

        But we are not commenting on WDW. I don’t understand why you feel the need to bring them up every five minutes. You are coming across as one very angry and bitter fan who is frustrated with the way WDW is being managed by Disney. It’s like we are talking about oranges and you just want to talk about apples. Stop trying to stir up tension with the whole Disney argument. If your that excited by Diagon Alley and the last 18 months of construction why would Disney even bother you!!! But it’s the same comments each week about New Fantasyland or Avatar and I just don’t get why you need to get these points across each week.

    • Eric Davis

      It is still crazy to think of all that has been built in the last 18 months! It is truly incredible!

  • Malin

    Absolutely and the same with SeaWorld and Antarctica. I just don’t think we need to mention it every week. Not when we have Mardi Gras, City Walk, Diagon Alley, upkeep, and Grinchmas to talk about…

  • Country Bear

    Great update as usual Eric! Thanks for the wonderful pictures.

    I continue to get giddy when I see the construction photo’s for Diagon Alley. It is looking better each week with all of the effort being invested into the details. I only hope the insides of the buildings match what the outsides have teased us with (I suspect they will).

    Mardi Gras Parade looks great and Universal seems to have a winning promotion on their hands with that project. The videos I’ve seen of the parade look like a real party.

    Eric, I hope in an up-coming article you can speak to what the details are for Christmas at Universal Studios. I have not been there at that time of year and I’m curious what the experience is like (shows, parades, etc.).

    Thanks again for keeping us in the loop.

  • Lee Mallaby

    Awesome update as usual. The construction and refurbs are a bit if an eyesore at the moment , but at least they ate doing it a lower crowd time of year . Personally I don’t mind seeing the guy cleaning up the lagoon, it shows they are doing it. As for citywalk, I have said many tines on the podcast since we returned from our last visit, that I could easily spend a full day there and these new editions will only strengthen that. Universal are going through a real renaissance at the moment and I for one am excited for now and for what the future holds at Universal Orlando.