Universal Orlando Update – Harry Potter Painted, Beetle Juice Revamp, Farewell Christmas

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

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Published on January 07, 2014 at 1:00 am with 19 Comments

Alright folks, it is 2014, and we have a busy year ahead of us!  With projects big and small at Universal Orlando Resort, it is going to be an exciting year ahead. We will soon welcome more Harry Potter, a revamped CityWalk, a new hotel and much more coming to the Universal Orlando Resort.  So we are going to kick off the first update of the year looking forward to the projects that are going to have you booking your next trip to the Universal Orlando Resort.

Holidays End with Big Crowds

Before we get going, this past week marked the end of the holiday season here in Orlando.  With massive crowds and another successful year, it is time to say goodbye to the residents of Whoville and the balloon handlers for another year.

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Fury indeed. Huge waits at the resort during the holidays.

London and Diagon Alley and Auditions

The project that everyone is looking forward to at Universal Orlando is the opening of the Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.  This new land has come a long way since January 2012.  When Jaws closed last January, fans around the globe said whatever was going to replace Amity had better to be darn good.  And with the current status of the London facade, what we see so far is that this addition is worthy of it’s predecessor. With most of the facades now painted, and the sculpting taking shape, London is looking beautiful.

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Starting January 27th, Universal Orlando will be doing internal auditions for team members to try out their best British Dialect when interacting with guests when this new land opens.

Beetle Juice Getting Revamped

Over in the San Francisco area of the Studios is the Beetle Juice Graveyard Review, which is a show that has been running for 18 years with a few revisions.  This past Saturday the Beetle Juice Graveyard Review held their last show, the theater will be closed for the next few weeks, and will be returning with an all new and updated show.  This is a welcome change since the Paris Hilton jokes haven’t been relevant since 2008.

So let us take a moment to remember this campy and fun pop culture show.

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Hogsmeade Station for the Hogwarts Express

Over at Islands of Adventure, the massive Hogwarts Express Station is coming together beautifully.  We will hopefully get a better look at this addition soon.

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CityWalk Update

Antojitos

The new Mexican Restaurant, Antojitos, is moving along with most of the interior now entering the final stretch, and with hiring underway we should see this eatery open in a few weeks.  While the paint job is a bit controversial with people online, I believe that it will help to draw people to this corner of CityWalk, and at night will look exciting and full of energy.

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Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery

The Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery on the first floor has finally seen walls framing up, and the cement floors have finally been poured.  Like all projects at Universal, this one is moving fast, so in no time we will see Starbucks relocated downstairs and Coldstone open.

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That wraps up this week’s update.  It will be a busy 2014, and we are excited to bring you all the news this year!

Continue learning about Universal Orlando by listening to the latest Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast with your hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren and Hunter as they talk about Universal Orlando and all the Universal Parks around the world.

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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19 Comments

Comments for Universal Orlando Update – Harry Potter Painted, Beetle Juice Revamp, Farewell Christmas are now closed.

  1. I think the Antojitos color scheme looks better than previous update views. Still kind
    of weird, but better. London’s looking great.

  2. We don’t have that chain in Illinois but we do have several pretty authentic Mexican locally owned restaraunts which made me wonder, is it truly authentic Mexican, or is it authentic Americanized Mexican food. Anyway, love the colors but I wonder if all these eateries will really make City Walk more of a destination. Unless you go out to eat then either choose to see a movie or play mini golf, doesn’t CityWalk need more entertainment value or did I miss something else that will be added.

    • It is Americanized Mexican. It will be as authentic as PF Chang’s is authentic Chinese.

  3. I don’t doubt this will be a worthy replacement for Jaws. But I do have to question why Jaws was removed while other areas at the Park are kept looking much more tired and dated.

    I welcome the fresh changes to the Beatlejuice show but if names like Jaws and ET are no longer relevant to today’s audiences then what the hell it he still doing at the Park? Universal should had replaced the show altogether with something new. If it wants to keep the format and theme then why not get the rights from Sony Pictures Animation to do something themed around the movie Hotel Transylvania.

    • Don’t forget, Beetlejuice is getting a sequel.

    • The classic Universal “Monster” characters are what put Universal on the map back in the 20s-40s. That’s the genre that they first became famous for, and I don’t think it would make sense for them to try to acquire another studio’s versions of some of the same characters, like you saw in “Hotel Transylvania”. It seems like it would be akin to Disney going to Universal and trying to obtain the rights to “Snow White and the Huntsman”.

    • Speaking of tired and dated, try explaining why anyone would consider Avatar for anything.

  4. I am blown away by the brickwork on those London buildings. They are gorgeous. I was afraid that Universal would go cheap on the facades, but they are really making things look great. So happy with that. I just wish something could be done about the ugly steel coaster tracks in blue and red that can be see around Hogsmeade. Really spoils the Potter illusion for me.

    I’m wondering what kind of impact the Diagon Alley addition will have for Universal though. I say that because today something interesting happened. I showed my sister in law the new pictures posted here and I was talking about them building this new Harry Potter area and she said “They already built that, my neighbors went”. I had to explain to her four or five times that this was a new area and not open yet. She didn’t understand. And she wasn’t excited because she said that it was just more Harry Potter. She wants to see it and she will love it, but she said it’s just more Potter stuff to do. It was not the same level of excitement she had when she heard that the original Potter area was opening.

    A lot of people who don’t read this site and follow theme park news are probably going to have the same reaction. I know this has got theme park super fans like me excited and Potter fans are thrilled to death and will be returning to see the new stuff…but the other 80% of people out there will be like my SIL and just say “That already opened” or “More Potter…cool” but not be jumping up and down and doing anything to get down to Universal.

    • Universal is going to be flooded with guests when London opens. Nothing to worry about here.

      Why would you think Universal would cheap out? WDW is the one spending 3 years and counting on a kiddie coaster. WDW cheaped out again by only putting 20% of the cast members needed to finish the Dwarf Mound in a reasonable time.

      I’m at Universal now, and from what castmembers are telling me, the Hogwarts Train is going to be an E-Ticket as well as the Gringott’s Coaster. The Hogwarts Train will take over 6 minutes and have several journeys simulated in the windows with dementor attacks, Ron’s car, English countryside, etc.

      Forbiden Journey, Hogwarts Train, and Gringott’s Coaster are all cutting edge new technology which WDW won’t spend money or creativity even trying to keep up with.

      • I love that Universal is spending the money on this. But, it’s good to remember how far Universal was from being on par with Disney. 80% of Universal’s parks still look really cheap and junky to me. Six Flags level. They cheaped out on the original Harry Potter attractions in Hogsmeade by recycling those coasters and leaving all the exposed steel. I love that London is not going to be cheap at all. LOVE IT.

        But, Disney doesn’t see Universal as competition. Disney is really in the hotel business now. Universal building things actually HELPS Disney. This isn’t going to cause DIsney to spend money on WDW.

        And Universal has a lot of work to do to bring the rest of its parks up to the level of London. It would be nice if Hogsmeade could be spruced up a little too, and those steel coaster tracks could be obscured somehow.

      • It seems you two can’t stop having ‘conversations’ in these columns!

        To be fair though, I think the facts stand for themselves. If you have new rides, that make people want to visit, not relics from the past, then Universal have my money!

        Also, Eric Davis has reassured me that when the new areas are opened, you will not be able to see the steel from the ground. Yes, you can still see it, but even the best themed areas have some things poking through. If you complain about that, then what are your opinions of seeing a Tangled Tower next to the Haunted Mansion in WDW. Or the large queue outside that attraction. Don’t forget, you can still see the power lines outside Cars Land in DCA. I know it is nitpicking, but isn’t it nitpicking about the Dueling Dagons (or what ever they are called) If people like it, why remove it?

        Also, the claim Disney do not need to spend money on their parks because of Universal. You are right, but that is just pathetic.I, for one, will be spending more money at USO that WDW, and more days there as well. It just shows that Imagination, which Walt Disney was proud of has just gone out the window. Also, 80% is an overstretch of an estimate. While it might not look as stunning, it is still a full day park, unlike DHS and DAK!

        And there is nothing wrong with Six Flags Level. While it might not be thematically perfect, SFMM is still a full day park.

        Also, I wanted to reply to BradyNBradleysMom second comment. No idea where this will end up.

      • this is for BradyNBRadley’sMom,

        is this what we’re saying now? Disney is in the hotel business, not the theme park business?

  5. Any idea when London will open (more precise than “summer 2014″)?

    • There is a big program from Universal on either January 23 or 24. This program is all about the new London area. They will probably give an opening date then.

  6. I wish we could still comment on a particular post and
    have it queue up with other comments directly after
    that post. It gets almost incoherent now.
    Come on Micechat, it worked that way before, why
    change it?

  7. The sign on Antojitos looks like an after-thought. The building colors are fine and will be beautiful at night when it matters most. Hope they fix the sign – not like Universal to mess that up.

    • I hate to say it, but I agree with your comment about the sign. It is very “shopping mall” and doesn’t seem to fit thematically. Perhaps that’s what they’re trying to say with it though. “Our restaurant is like the ones you visit in the mall.” Might work to calm fears about it being TOO authentic for most tourist tastes. I plan to visit regardless and give it a try.

      • Yes! It is “shopping mall”. Perhaps you are right in that it is a way to make it more familiar. I’ll still give it a try too. It’s fun to visit every new restaurant even if only for a few apps.

  8. Thanks for another great report Eric.

    Can’t wait to see more of the insides of these areas under construction. CaptainActions’ comments about the content of the Hogwarts train ride do make it sound very appealing, especially for multiple rides. The detail on these buildings just keeps getting better every day. I think we are in for a real treat. Two E-Tickets in the same year at one park. It’s almost unbelievable. Love you Universal!!!

    By the way, just today I received a D23 update which is indicating they are selling the Dwarf Mine Train Ride as an E-Ticket attraction. Based on the size alone, I think Disney is really setting themselves up for failure with this approach.