With all the Christmas activities and recent CityWalk announcement, we’ve been busy covering Universal Orlando Resort. Today, we are finally able to get back to a regular update with lot’s of great construction shots from all over the resort.  We also talk about the Hogwarts Express and look what what is happening at Diagon Alley. It all opens this summer folks, so things are REALLY going to start getting interesting from here on out.


Front Gate and Camera Shop

At the front of the park, the Camera Shop and front gate area and have been receiving some TLC, with the tiles below the gate getting replaced and painted, and the sign above the camera shop, removed and getting refurbished.


Hopefully this isn’t finished, but it sure does look like they spilled something.
The sign has been removed for refurbishment.

Irish Shop Refurbishment Complete

The Irish shop in the New York area has returned from a complete facade rebuilding, and looks fantastic.


Diagon Alley

The London facade that is hiding Diagon Alley is getting to that exciting stage when you can see where all of the details will be. The scaffolding is beginning to come down in some areas.  With beautiful details and a realistic look, it is hard to imagine that a magical wizarding world awaits behind these large facades for future guests.










Number 12, Grimmauld Place



Starting to look exactly as it did in the films. Only the rod iron railings are missing.








We have heard word that Universal has begun Team Member testing on the Hogwarts Express Train, and that this attraction will be the first to open.  Details on how ticketing will work between both parks remains a mystery, as Universal Orlando recently told us that they are not yet ready to release those details.  With Spring coming and families beginning to make their summer vacation plans, we hope Universal will release some more details for people looking to finalize their plans.

Springfield Work

Across the lagoon at Springfield USA, Chief Wiggum has now gone missing.  We hope that this figure returns soon, as it is a popular photo spot.



At the entrance to Springfield USA, the entire plaza is being repaved.





Macy’s Characters In The Park

For guests wanting to experience Christmas at Universal Orlando, you can meet the Characters from the Macy’s Holiday parade before the parade steps off in the afternoon around the Hollywood and New York areas of the park.







Sneech Beach Refurbishment Complete

The refurbishment of the Sneech Beach area of Seuss Landing has been completed with newly painted walkways, and a cleaned up area.  We hope to see more Seuss Landing get this treatment.




Hogwarts Express at Hogsmede

The Hogwarts Express Station in Hogsmede is getting brickwork details and a paint job with more details being added, and the outdoor queue getting some work.






This past Thursday we shared the concept art for what is coming to CityWalk in 2014, let’s take a look at what the status of this redevelopment is currently at.

American Express Booth

The credit card solicitors are back at CityWalk, but they are now in the Routunda, with a big booth, and an augmented reality screen that has become very popular with Guests.  The main complaint with the Credit Card solicitors who were at CityWalk before was that they were pretty aggressive.  Let’s hope that they have toned it down as guests enter and exit the parks.

IMG_7728 IMG_7724

CowFish and Prazzo

We learned that Pastamore is going to be transformed into a new Italian Restaurant concept called “Prazzo” which is only a working title.  And the 2nd story where Starbucks is currently located will become CowFish, the Burger Sushi fusion restaurant that has become a big hit in North Carolina.






Starbucks and Coldstone

Under the bridge, and next to the recently opened Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery are under construction.



BreadBox and Menchies

The favorite hang out of Universal Team Members, Cigarz, will soon make way for BreadBox, a restaurant with simple sandwiches and quality ingredients which should please families.  Next door is the future location of Menchies a Frozen Yogurt chain.






The facade for the restaurant concept that is replacing Latin Quarter, is getting ready for its rainbow paint job.  Antojitos is going to be a fun tapas restaurant that takes the street food from Mexico and puts it in a lively themed restaurant.









World’s Famous Hotdogs

Directly across from Antojitos is the old Galaxy Bar which was rarely used, it is going to be removed and transformed into the new World’s Famous Hotdogs location with a Jumbo-tron, certified Mustard Bar, and stadium seating.


Now, continue the adventure and enjoy the latest episode of the Unofficial Universal Podcast with your hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren and Hunter as they talk about Christmas at Universal Orlando, ticket prizes rising at Universal Japan, and other changes coming to the Universal Studios parks around the world.

iTunes | Direct | Stitcher

That wraps up this update, we are looking forward to seeing the Universal Orlando Resort transform and expand. If only we could wave a magic wand and have everything done right now! This sure is going to be an exciting 6 months to watch.

We’ll see you again next week, right here in the Orlando Parkhopper.

  • Thank you Eric. I LOVE what I’m seeing so far on the Wizarding World expansion. Those London facades are amazing.

  • Country Bear

    Great update Eric. Love the pictures.

    I am still surprised with how quickly they are moving along with these enhancements. I realize the clock is ticking, but the speed at which they are moving is so exciting to see. It’s building a lot of anticipation for me, that’s for sure.

    It would seem that some of the buildings in Diagon Alley are just facades. Is this true or have they simply not received their back walls as yet? Also, do we know when the new restaurants are scheduled to be open on CityWalk? I assume in the next six months as well, but don’t recall reading any info on that.

    Thanks for all your hard work Eric!

    • Malin

      Its a 12 month plan and will be completed by December 2014. All this by the way is only phase 1 of the City Walk redevelopment plan.

  • fnord

    fyi, it’s wrought iron, not rod iron. Great update!

  • Malin

    Truly another amazing update Eric. Its not until now that I realise how well Diagon Alley fits in with other areas of the Park. San Francisco, London and New York. I want Tokyo next…

  • MouseMe

    Thanks for another excellent report, and some great photos.

    Regarding Antijitos, am I the only one who would love to see it themed to the Mexican restaurant from Despicable Me 2? Bring on the guacamole chip hat!

  • danielz6

    How great is it to be able to say this park or resort is the best it has ever been? So many times great theme Parks simply decline as time goes on losing their former glory. 2014 – 2015 is definitely universal Orlando’s year, and the climax of its history so far. Reminds me of CA adventure in 2012. What a priveledge to be able to visit a great theme park/resort in its prime!

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